Play AAC-encoded music in Rhythmbox Share postShare icon

Don't bother gstreamer1.0-plugins-bad, use gstreamer1.0-libav instead

Recently I just switched from Foobar2000 (which requires Wine to run in Linux) to Rhythmbox. The first issue I encountered was it didn’t add AAC-encoded songs when I set it to scan library. A quick search for solution resulted in installation of gstreamer1.0-plugins-bad. While it did resolve the issue, but it also installed many packages:

libgupnp-igd-1.0-4
libopenal1
libnice10
libsrtp2-1
libvo-aacenc0
libofa0
libusrsctp1
libsrt1
libwildmidi2
libopenal-data
libfluidsynth1
libmplex2-2.1-0
libmpeg2encpp-2.1-0
libsoundtouch1
libmjpegutils-2.1-0
libvo-amrwbenc0
libspandsp2
libmodplug1
libgstreamer-plugins-bad1.0-0

Guest what, most are not even related to decoding AAC. In searching for leaner solution, I purged them and tried install libvo-aacenc0 only. But now Rhythmbox couldn’t play AAC, at the same time it suggested installing gstreamer1.0-libav or gstreamer1.0-plugins-bad. So, I proceed to install gstreamer1.0-libav and AAC can be played once again. Rhythmbox still can play it even after I purged libvo-aacenc0, so it’s not needed after all.

To make sure not only Rhythmbox can play AAC, but also recognise it during library scan, I also reset the library by removing “~/.local/share/rhythmbox/rhythmdb.xml”. No issue on that.

One thing still puzzling me is that gstreamer1.0-libav is not actually an AAC decoder itself, (my understanding is that) it acts as a bridge between gstreamer and libav/ffmpeg to enable apps that utilize the former to encode/decode using the later, without additional code changes. The actual decoder I believe is in one of the following packages:

  • libavcodec58
  • libavformat58
  • libfaad2

In my case, the above packages are already installed beforehand, perhaps shipped by default in Ubuntu (maybe not the libfaad2). So if Rhythmbox still can’t play AAC after installing gstreamer1.0-libav, just make sure those packages are there.