Best Free Music Player and Organizer

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Introduction

This article compares audio software that enrich the music experience or enhance everyday listening, and provide impressive music centric features. The best MP3 and audio player ought to quench our passion for music, such as by inspiring us to rip or download music, organize our music libraries, learn more about our favorite artists or music, or just listen to music.

The reviews evaluate products on sound enhancements, usability and unique features, support for common and useful audio formats (MP3, WAV, FLAC, WMA, and others), performance, security and privacy.

Thanks to our faithful followers, who have been pitching their favorite players and organizers, we have a set of carefully considered selections. We have more than 25 listed music players and counting!

Index:

Full Music Managers
Light Music Players and Organizers
Micro Music Players
Cuts: The Other Players
Notes on Sound Quality and Lightest Players

 

Full Music Managers

The following are the best for managing music files and creating complex music libraries or play lists. They don't have light resource efficiency but on modern computers they could serve as primary music players.

MusicBee  

A musical Swiss Army Knife


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
All-in-one music manager without the shady background connections, excellent tagging and music managing features, many sound enhancements.
Some tag categories not updated. Not much else, but it's still a bit buggy - online help didn't always connect, memory use jumped extremely high (in very rare instances), experienced a few bug/error messages (without program crashes or data loss).
Read full review...

MediaMonkey  

A music manager excellent for organizing complex music collections


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Limited features)
All-in-one music manager, excellent for organizing complex music collections, user friendly navigation.
Heavy on system resources, simplistic mini-player.
Read full review...

Foobar2000  

A very technical, serious and obedient music player


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Extremely customizable interface, native Windows appearance (consistent, fast and predictable), many extra components and a forum at the official site, typical library capabilities, includes all necessary tools for building and maintaining a collection in detail.
Not very flashy design, no mini player, somewhat steep learning curve and requires moderate to advanced computing skill.
Read full review...

Light Music Players and Organizers

The following have light resource efficiency while impressing us with music centric features. They were the best candidates to be our light music player and organizer, satisfying avid audiophiles for daily listening. They aren't the best for managing music files (ripping, converting, tagging), but they often have unique advantages over bulkier programs depending on your tastes and needs.

Jaangle  

The personification of a music player and organizer


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Attractive and easily customizable interface with large album art, artist's photo, bio and easy access to lyrics.
Doesn't display some some extended tag info, not yet fully 7 compatible.
Read full review...

AIMP  

A sleek looking player that is all about the music


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
Visually stunning design, special focus on sound enhancement features, excellent mix of features and light design, comes with two other utilities (tag editor, online radio browser), decent library and history features.
Security concerns, requires patience finding features, most support materials not in English.
Read full review...

Micro Music Players

There are also basic and further stripped down music players that either didn't make the cut for the main review or don't fit the review criteria. They are listed in order of impressiveness (for sound enhancements, usability and unique features, support for music formats, state of development, performance and security).

  • Winamp Lite: I recommend the separate lite download (you have to scroll to the bottom of the download page) since the lite installer doesn't have the controversial OpenCandy, but it still has a pre-checked option to send off your usage stats. Privacy issues aside (just be sure to carefully inspect all the installation options), it plays an impressive number of audio formats for such a lightweight and resource efficient player, and mimics the wide array of options and feature richness of the full version. It lacks a library for organizing music (unless you already have the full version and use the 'Winamp classic' skin). Quick tip: save your eyes and use 'Double Size' from the options.
    Note from site:  "Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date"

  • XMPlay: Has a wide range of sound enhancements (gapless output, 32 bit output, DSP and MOD settings), additional downloads (skins, visualizations, ASIO), and hidden capabilities (Internet streaming). It didn't support my primary music format (FLAC), but the site has many additional 'native input plug-ins' that expand XMPlay's compatibility. A minimal library sorts by various categories based on tag information (use control + A to select your folders and drag and drop them into the play list or queue or library).

    The negatives: a scattered interface (with many independent components) may not be to your taste, and the random play feature didn't work (random play only worked for me by manually right-clicking the play button each time, which I would only do to test whether it works). Developed by un4seen (known for the BASS audio library and MO3 audio format). Portable installation, very lite download.

  • Spider Player: Solid 'middle weight' music manager and player. It uses the trustworthy BASS engine, has many impressive enhancements (32 bit output, DSP effects support, 9-band equalizer and many presets, cross fading) and music managing tools (CD ripper, converter). One of the most interesting capabilities is an auto lyrics down loader, which displays lyrics in a pane next to your play list (you can manually save lyrics to tags), and an Internet radio player and recorder. If only it came with a library organizer it could have been a contender. And I couldn't pretend that a 'favorites editor' was good enough since I ran into error messages with it. The Pro version is now free and unlocks many extra features (mentioned above).

  • VUPlayer: Plays many audio formats and has a simple and user friendly interface (though some of the icons seem outdated). Comes with several sound enhancements (32 bit mixing, gapless playback, adjustable cross fade, 9-band graphic equalizer, and MOD/MIDI mixing) and other tools (converts files, grabs/rips CDs, retrieves freedb tags). In the forum some users report that it works in Windows 7. But it hasn't been updated since 2007 (it uses an old BASS library version) and has 1 moderately critical Secunia advisory (related to opening un-trusted play list files).

  • Winyl: Refreshingly simple and lite BASS player that is well worth watching for future improvements. For now it has a few basic enhancements (32 bit processing, equalizer) and tools (tag editing). More interesting is the care that went into its design. The library comes with long lists of radio stations and a few 'smartlists'. The smartlists automatically display your most played or highest rated songs, and you can create additional smartlists. The 6 skins that come with it are diverse and useful to fit your taste. To further please music fans, Winyl needs to work on additional sound enhancements and play options (I'd also like a random play option or perhaps better play list access).

 

Cuts: The Other Players

Here are music managers and players that are impressive enough for a quick mention, but not quite enough to get featured in the review:

  • Quintessential Media Player (qmp) had great potential, but testing was mired by equally great difficulty in finding a FLAC plug-in. Otherwise, it surprised me with a small download size, a thorough MusicID updater, and feature richness. Massively edits tags, renames files, and writes MusicID info to tags (or updates its library info from tags). It has flashy visualizations, three mode sizes, and automatic online radio lists.

  • JetAudio: Surprisingly lightweight and efficient for such a feature rich, flashy, and capable music/media player. It has many features to help build and manage your media library. Rip, Convert, Record, and Burn all in one program. Use countless auto play lists (the most I've seen, but some are based on tags you must create) in its library, view a simple lyrics windows, get radio stations (many languages), browse to music stores and fan sites from within the player, and choose between several unique skins. However, I found its separate media center/main window setup confusing (the media center does not reduce to a mini player and I kept accidentally exiting the whole program). Other negatives: limited tag editing, no 32 bit output capability in the free version, and 1 'less critical' Secunia advisory (and four past advisories in a previous version).

  • Songbird: An open source, refreshingly simple interface that highly integrates to Internet resources like a browser (integrating many Mozilla Firefox features). One advantage is the ability to expand and customize it through add-ons, but the underlying interface is still the most bulky and inefficient of all tested music players (nearly as heavy as Firefox and getting heavier all the time). But I keep going back to it, so maybe they have something for the future there. It's in constant development, with nightly Beta versions for testing. See its "Roadmap Wiki" for information on its ever growing list of new features.

  • Winamp Full has privacy concerns and now includes the controversial OpenCandy in its installer. Read its privacy policy to see if you agree with its automated data collection of non-personal information (some of which you can only opt out of by hiding or not using certain features). Privacy concerns and nags aside, the program is popular and professional with excellent support for many music file formats, good integration with Internet resources, and top-notch library and music organizing features (it's somewhat incorporated as the media library in The KMPlayer).

Some of these have fans, but didn't impress me in comparison to other players in the review. The quick negatives beside each aren't comprehensive comments; visit the respective sites for plenty of positives. Listed alphabetically.

  • 1by1 — High I/O bit activity, limited support for music files.
  • Billy — High I/O bit activity (esp. for WAV files), limited support for music files.
  • Clementine — Stealthy association of files.
  • Cool Player — Unpatched Secunia advisories (related to using un-trusted play lists and skins).
  • Cool Player+ — High memory use (near Media Monkey size).
  • Evil Player — Simplistic interface, problems running in a standard account.
  • iTunes — Ad-supported: promotes purchasing Internet products as an essential feature.
  • J. River Media Jukebox — Ad-supported: promotes purchasing Internet products as an essential feature.
  • Moo0 AudioPlayer — High CPU use, limited support for music files.
  • QuuxPlayer — Poor interface design/usability.
  • Trout — Problems with interface usability (slow loading of audio files, error messages).
  • Xion — Problems with interface (CPU spikes, crashes), Secunia warning (un-trusted play lists).

 

Notes

Note 1: Sound Quality

Occasionally I see claims that a particular piece of software has superior sound quality, and I too would want the player with the best sound quality (regardless of its features or lack thereof). Sometimes I've played individual products and thought “gosh that sounds crystal clear and rich”, but then found that the volume was maxed on the player's initial settings (and that other players sounded the same at their max volume settings).

It's difficult to rule out wishful thinking and inexact comparisons until you try out many players on your sound system to judge for yourself. I've opened music players side by side, gone through their settings to ensure equivalence, and found that it's seemingly impossible to detect sound quality differences on the sound equipment that came with my computer (Foobar's FAQs and forum posters make this argument as well).

However, Gizmo noted in some of the first comments on this article that sound enhancement plug-ins, such as ASIO, have a noticeable improvement in sound quality on expensive equipment. Note that your sound card must support higher output settings, or the settings could degrade sound quality. And if you maximize the settings on your sound card, then music players will use significantly higher system resources.

 

Note 2: Lightest Players

Here is a list of music players with the best average of three measures: CPU use, I/O bytes, and RAM. The overall test list included MP3, FLAC, and WAV files (using Process Explorer and Vista Ultimate to measure).

  1. Cool Player
  2. Evil Player
  3. XMPlay
  4. Winyl
  5. VUPlayer
  6. Winamp Lite
  7. Trout
  8. Foobar
  9. AIMP
  10. Jaangle
  11. JetAudio
  12. Spider

The lightest player above was measured as an MP3 player (and is included because no other product did better as an MP3 player).

Some micro players (that are light on RAM memory) didn't make the top 10 (they often have high CPU or I/O bit activity).

By the way, mini player modes and tray icon modes (that shrink or hide the visual size of a player's interface) don't decrease the consumption of system resources, but some players have graphics that subside when the player loses focus (resource hungry visualizations were disabled for this comparison).

 

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

Download Music

Manage Media -- Rip, Tag, Convert, Burn, Record

Audio Editor and Music Creation

Play and Organize Media

Related Hot Finds and Articles

Guides

 

Editor

This software review is copy-edited by Jojo Yee. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

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Comments

Catalog, organize, sort, customize your mp3, iTunes, WMP, playlists, music database audio files and play your music with Song Director – Great for a DJ, music collector or any music lover:
http://songdirector.com/

Blues Media Player is a media player for Windows platform which can play a large number of formats: http://bmplayer.net/ Kaku is an online music player which supports many differnt platform Like YouTube, Vimeo ...: https://github.com/EragonJ/Kaku http://kaku.rocks/ Calaym: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Audio/Audio-Players/QuickPlayer-... Urrofi music player: http://urrofimusicplayer.blogspot.si/
moggio - a multi-source music player: https://mogg.io/

Hi,
I guess that many of these softwares are good for a Normal tagging. But what about Private tagging?
Let's assume for example that you want to add to your music files Private Tags according to where you love to listen to those files:
Songs for:
Home, Work, Car, Running etc.

There are several questions should be asked:
1. Which tag/field out of the file tags/fields should be used for Private Tags?
2. Which Tagger software is the best for adding such Private Tags? I guess this Tagger should be also a good Music Player, so that you can use this Tagger as the default Music Player, having the ability to add Private Tags at the same time you are listening to the file.
3. How to use this Private Tags? Which Tagger/Player/Search software is the best for Tag filtering/searching. For example: You want to filter/search your Music Library by the following criteria:: Rock, 5 Stars, Songs_for_Car [Genre, Rating, PrivateTag]

Notes:
4. We probably will want to save those filtering/search rules, for using later, like a playlist. It's actually Dynamic Playlist. We won't need to update the Playlist, since it will be based on filtering/searching the Music Library by tags.
5. This method is good not only for music, but for organizing photos too.

I am new to music management and can barely use iTunes
But I have a lot of music and need to organize it
I was hope for some input on the easiest programs to use

XMPlay has been updated to 3.8.2. (as of 12/22 2015)

A new version of Resonic is out (0.7b):
https://resonic.at/home

I'm strongly dissagree, if you have high quality sound system foobar200 is only viable choice because foobar2000 mandates sample-exact seeking for the sake of accurate timing and processing. BTW with that kind of audio system you will be able feel the diference on your own. Free sowtware doesn't mean that it will be play on 10-cent headphones ) musicbee even can't play .iso.wv :( foobarr and AIMP can.
And about AIMP insecurity...Really ? Because it made by russian developer and hosted there :)
for example vanilla winamp can't separate tracks from .flac.cue ) AIMP can ) and new AIMP version (4.0) is really great.
And one feature that i really appreciate - AIMP has built-in-out-of-the-box-one-click ability to record streaming audio, for example internet radio ) with user defined save_format and split_track options. English translate included.

ps. I often use your site for choose some software, and always your ranking was well grounded, but not this time :)

Musicbee plays .wv files just fine. With same quality as Foobar.
edit: there are some files, that makes MB a problem, but there are some formats, that put fb in trouble... (I use both of them)

But I agree with you that foobar 2000 deserves at least half star more :-).

By the way, I'm using stream recording for over a decade with Xmplay (great light player - much more than just mini player!).

I've told about .iso.wv ) not just .wv

Sorry, never used those. Like to put my music in folders, so no use of extra iso package.

Ask for it in MB forums, MB developer is usually very helpful.

About past choices (Gizmo's): I used a lot of Gizmo's choices myself too. These days I usually settle for 2nd or 3rd, maybe they are even left out of list. I guess, we are getting older, but not editors. This is an old article, mostly written by another editor (if I recall correctly), so some details could be outdated.

I just discovered that iTunes seemingly deleted all my songs on its own; after a Google search, I found the same thing has happened to a lot of other users. The popular theory seems to be that it has something to do with synching your songs with other devices, or it may happen when it automatically updates itself.

So I'm trying to find another music player which will not synch or auto-update or even check the internet without my permission. I tried Windows Media Player, but I don't find it user friendly and the help menu is no help at all. It also refuses to play my music; it shows the song is playing, but no sound comes out (and my speakers work fine for everything else). So a friend suggested Windows Classic Media Player. That seems to be working okay, but I can't find an option to shuffle my music. And the layout seems to suggest it's more of a video player than anything else.

So I'm trying to see what else is out there, but I can't find a review that mentions iTunes' habit of deleting songs and includes suggestions of other music players that do not do that. Any ideas?

You can prevent the software from accessing to the internet from windows firewall. Can't help you with the iTunes syncing since I don't own any iOS devices. For playing music on my PC, I mainly use musicbee, awesome little software.

"... Espera is an open-source media player that plays audio files, YouTube videos, SoundCloud songs and has a special "party mode" ...":
http://getespera.com/

Have a concern about Media Monkey. There eSupport seems lacking, and no call-in help. I wrote them this ticket:

I am so tired of trying to stop WMP from using it's low-level media info metadata database. I like independence for album art, times (they differ on same titles of say "Bare Trees - Japan and Warner issues as well s many others where you duplicate songs. For The Beatles, I have all Mono and Stereo from 2009 UK masters, and 2014 combo set, and US Capital Albums. It's a repetitive nightmare to stop WMP from doing what its metadata link is for updates. I know (I think) all the tricks to try and stop this, but if you ever select "Update album info" by accident - lookout - it's a poop-storm!

Also the consistent info between the Windows System Music folder and what WMP shows is another "pain in the 'arse' ")

So what I want is a reliable metadata database, kept current with various CD's (like the Beatles example above), and a way to stop global updating of my music data files and the media player.

Also the digital info needs to be reliable as I want it displayed in some stand-alone media player like the Sony HAPZ1ES 1TB Hi-Res Music Player System (i have not done any price vs performance analysis of a digital system yet - any suggestions (links) would be appreciated. At 62, and 40 years of collecting, I am done with vinyl analog vs digital game (and "whose ears" is the real bottom-line ).

I am willing to pay for a competent, easy-to-use media player (just for music if possible) support. MS Windows support SUCKS!!!

Is there a call-in to assist me with your product (in the US?) and my needs above?

Thank you as a first time respondent.

Jim

***END of ticket***

The response I got was basically DL the free version. But even that is better than MS WMP 12 support.

Given what I stated in my message to Media Monkey, can someone please give a short compare to MM and Musicbee (or any other listed). I am technical so depth of setup is not important. Though I would prefer not to have any coding interface work. If I could change the media metadata database WMP uses, and stop the its attempt to constantly update, I'd probably keep it.

I basically started to use WMP because it was part of Windows, & was the original method I used to backup all my CD's in loseless format (.WAV) in the system Music Data file folders. But then sorta got use to streaming, so why not a player/burner

So, a media player to; 1) keep the artwork I select, 2) update only when I ask for each WMP music file, 3) A decent eSupport (or phone too), 4) be able to migrate & operate the same under Windows 10 as it does on 7. Operating stats are good as well. WMP uses ~ 7.4MB - MM twice that, so I hope MM is coded more everyday user-friendly - especially being a cost product.

I don't really care about pictures or video media for now.

Thanks to all who help

Foobnix - lightweight and functional music player:
http://foobnix.com/en/index.html
Windows version can't be downloaded from official page, so use this link instead:
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Audio/Audio-Players/Foobnix.shtml

"... 5kPlayer ... it is a music player embracing MP3 music, DTS multichannel surround sound, AAC, AC3, WMA, and FLAC & ALAC lossless audio files. In a word, the free media player plays everything. More amazingly, it enhances audio video effect using TrueTheater technology to confront you with a real scenario ...":

http://www.5kplayer.com/

Resonic Player is now in beta: Release Summary: - This is a maintenence release, it does not introduce new features. - Update only if any of the fixes apply to you. - You can install on top of your existing installation. Improvements: - More visible status bar notices - Improved the way long paths are handled Corrections: - Application crashes during startup with certain system locales -Application does not start on latest Windows 10 Pro Technical Preview -Files in deep folder structures (long paths) will show, but won't play http://resonic.at/

I've been using Winyl music player (portable version) for a few days and I fully endorse the editor's comments under Micro Music Players. It is refreshingly simple with very low memory and CPU usage. Installation size is only 5MB. The developer has most basic requirements covered plus tag editing. The Smartlists are quite novel. The skins are minimalist. It has customised library views, a mini player and a popup window which can be customised for position and timing. Playlists are stored as Winyl databases. Prior to this I was using AIMP (portable version), but find this suits my more basic needs.

I think its incredibly unfair to slate MediaMonkey so harshly, it sounds to me like there's some personal thing going on there.
Let's look at some facts:
It's not a 1000lb gorilla, in fact it's less than 15 meg! It also gives you the option to install portably which I love, and does not at all scan your harddrive. The wlcome screen has all scanning options but it only does so when and where you ask it to.

Also on first launch, it offers you the chance to make file associations and there is a complete index there. By default it is associated with none.

It is slated for it's licensing terms, however that's not within the scope of this site. This site is concerned with FREE software, and as there are only a few functions extra when you do pay I think again that tells me the review is heavily biased by someone who for whatever reason dislikes the software for no good reason.

Media Monkey imho is by far the most powerful yet simple to use piece of audio software out there and I've been using it for years.

I couldn't agree more with your statement! Not sure why he's so bent about MediaMonkey as it's the best media program out there!

"... ZPlayer is a music player written in Java, because of this it can be run on any operating system that has a Java Virtual Machine installed (version 1.6.0 or higher). Below, some of the features that this player supports: - Native support for MPEG files Layer I, II and III (MP2, MP3), PCM Wave (WAV), Vorbis Ogg, Flac, MOD files (S3M, MTM, IT, XM, UMX, MO3), Dolby AC3, MID (with SF2 SoundBank support) and CDA; - Support for Winamp2 plugins (only for Windows and Java of 32bits); - Support to extended audio format (24/32bit / 7.1ch / 192Khz), in Windows with JNI DirectSound implementation, and Linux with JNI ALSA implementation; - 16-bands equalizer; - Sound effects such as bass redirect and wide stereo; - Automatic matrix conversion between channels: Mono, Stereo, 4.0, 5.1 and 7.1; - Anti-aliasing and interpolation in resampling audio to provide the best possible quality; - Independent volume channels with redirect between them; - Support for multiple languages; - Support for developing plugins to support new audio formats; - And an innovative skin, where the speaker vibrates according to the intensity of the bass ...": https://sites.google.com/site/zankuroplayer/us

I don't have a comment to make about music players/organizers/ rippers, etc. Rather, I would like to ask a question. Does anyone know of any program of this kind that includes a print function? I would like to be able to print out lists and catalogs of my music, but aside from printing file lists from a folder, I haven't found anything like this. Can anyone help me?

Ok I have a new HP laptop and downloaded MusicBee for my collection. I just went in to a grouping of my music and hit 'select all', then I right clicked on the selected songs and pasted them into a new Notepad document. Came out perfect. That is the only way I could do it in this program, hope it helps. Have a nice day.

I'm not looking for a media player per se, because I play my mp3's and other audio files on the same player I use for video: K-Lite Mega Codec Pack with Media Player Classic Home Cinema.

What I want is an mp3 organizer that will let me create and edit ID3 tags for my mp3's. This is important to me because my Sansa ClipPlus chokes on mp3's that don't have a valid ID3.

Mp3tag is better than nothing, and I do make use of it.

A much better program would be "MP3 Organizer Pro" (freeware despite having "PRO" in the name). Unfortunately it seems to have been discontinued in 2010 and it does not work well on my 64-bit Win 7 computer.

Is there any modern program that could replace it?

I'll take a look at that. Thanks.

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