Best Free Music Player and Organizer

 
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 26 listed music players and counting!

Latest article update: Added more quick links at the top (8-27). Current product reviews in the discussion section are from a previous editor (they are his "I" statements).

 
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Discussion
Light Music Players and Organizers

The following had to have light resource efficiency while impressing us with music centric features. They were the best candidates to be our primary 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.

 

JaangleJaangle was not, when testing first began, my first choice as my favorite music player and organizer, but when the others having first impressions wore off and they started to show their weaknesses, Jaangle returned to completely capture my attention and the Jaangle icon is now a permanent resident on my toolbar.

As it comes, Jaangle's looks are superior with a lot of built-in options to customize it to your liking. Along with a number of colorization options to ease or dazzle your eyes, as well as the library viewing options you can basically create your own player. You can select which panes you want to see, their size and where you want to see them. There's also a mini-mode for those who prefer to have Jaangle heard, but not seen.

For those who don't feel like creating play lists, just play a song. If you do nothing, Jaangle's auto DJ mode which will randomly go through your .mp3 files. It's like a radio DJ who knows all of your favorite songs and plays them all the time. The library is where Jaangle separates itself from the competition. It displays small thumbnails of every album in your collection along with the artist's picture and bio that it automatically downloads from the internet. Should Jaangle be unable to find the artist you can also manually insert or change the photos and bios. Right clicking on a song will bring up an option to download its lyrics.

A note of mocking laughter rang out when I saw the three-band equalizer, but it is surprising effective, more so than many 18-band equalizers I've used. There also an adjustable cross fading control. Click them off and automatic digital signal processing takes over for optimum sound.

While you can edit tags manually in Jaangle, extended tags cannot be edited. Just like any of the reviewed players, proper tagging, before you load up the library, is essential to your sanity and can reap many rewards. Seemingly, insignificant differences in entries can wreak havoc. Example: having or not having the decimal point in .38 Special will cause these items to be listed on opposite ends of the library. This looks like another motivation for using a separate tag editor. (Psst! You didn't hear it here, but I use a program called, MP3Tag. You can find it at Best Free MP3 Tag Editor.)

And here's a first for ANY music player. You'll notice a little icon on the top toolbar called "Games." If you click on it, you'll be presented with a "Name That Tune" type trivia game based upon the music in your library.

With all its features, Jaangle is the personification of a music player & organizer.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/files/images/pc_freeware/multimedia/aimp...

 

AIMPAIMP is a cute little Russian import that should win the award for doing much more with a lot less. It offers many features for its diminutive installation size of 9.39MB, something I found hard to believe and kept checking the properties over and over.

That tiny size is a bit misleading because, like anything that seems to be too good to be true, it comes with a couple of small negative aspects. The size of the AIMP folder grows as you create play lists. AIMP does not use the standard .m3u file that many of us are so used to. If you created a number of play lists with another player, they are useless in AIMP. The player makes its own unique play lists (.plc) that it stores within its own borders, which means the more you use AIMP, the bigger its footprint becomes. The other problem is that the average .plc file is 3 to 4kb and your AIMP folder will grow by that much with every play list you create. By comparison, the equivalent size of a .M3U file for the aforementioned files is less than 1kb each. Still, as I said, it's a little problem. If you were to catalog 1000 average albums in AIMP it would only weigh about 40MB more…still less than some of the other players here.

There is something very nice that I noticed about the play list editor. It reads the folder the music files are coming from and uses that name for the play list itself. Since most of my mp3's are arranged in complete albums, in folders with the album's name and year it came out, my play list naming is cut to almost zero.

Despite its little shortcomings, AIMP is a very versatile and useful little player. It supports more than 20 audio formats and 32-bit digital audio. AIMP can also access Shoutcast and Icecast internet radio and allow you record what you hear. It has a 16-band graphic equalizer along with controls for speed, tempo, flanger, pitch, echo and reverb. It will play your CD's, but it cannot rip them, nor can it convert files from one format to another because, unfortunately, the ripper and converter parts of the software have been separated and the only download is located on a site with a rather dubious reputation.

I did have a little trouble finding out how to access the top-notch library. After checking all the buttons on the player, I found you could bring up the library through the Utilities button on top, in the left-hand corner (or simply hitting Ctrl-M.) It will not only show you your play lists, but give you more information than need to know like the name every song you ever played on the player and when you played. The Utilities button also accesses the tag editor. Clicking on the center portion of the player's main window will bring up the visualizations. Being old school, I really like the VU Meters.

The player is skinable and comes with six skins already installed. A simple Google search will reveal a plethora of additional skins online.

All things accounted for AIMP a sleek looking player that is all about the music.

I would recommend this to beginners.

A word of warning…as stated AIMP is Russian and readily available on Russian sites, but please do not download from any Russian site due to security and virus considerations. I have provided download links located in the U.S.

 
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 (sometimes doubling the light players above on some resource measures), but on modern computers they could serve as primary music players.

 

MusicBeeMusicBee is a musical Swiss Army Knife and I can see why so many people like it. Where do we begin?

Let's start with music management. You can listen to your music and categorize your collection in an appropriate manner with help of the program's array of utilities to help edit and find tags. You have your music arranged by genre, artist and album in the three top panes while other small panes display the current play list, song details, artwork and lyrics and a search tool to quickly locate any specific artist or track. Another panel helps you access internet services such as Shoutcast, internet radio, podcasts and audio books. You can import music from your personal music folders as well as from your iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries and sync with iPods and other MP3 players

The player itself has an impressive range of controls such as a 10-band equalizer with presets, along with a preamp, digital signal processing plug-ins, an AutoDJ and a volume analyzer to normalize your collection so that you never have to touch the volume control again.

The package also includes a CD ripper with secure CD ripping with AccurateRip verification and a file converter. MusicBee supports the following formats: MP3, OGG, WMA, AIFF, ALAC, APE, BWF, CDA, FLAC, M3U, MP4, PLS, TTA, WAV, TAK, SPX.

With all this functionality, I am surprised that I didn't find a CD burner lurking inside. I guess you can only pack so much into 40.6 MB.

MusicBee does require a bit of extra software in order to function. You'll need Microsoft.NET Framework 2.0 and the file converter requires the Lame encoder (Lame isn't a MP3 Encoder) to function.

 

Foobar2000Foobar2000 (Windows only) is a bit of a special case: if you're an average Joe or Julie with no particular skills in handling computers, Foobar will seem rather bland. Its features will appear to be very simple and perhaps limited or lacking imagination and style. Depending on the origin and previous manager of your collection, it might even fail to read a lot of tags (though that's not Foobar's fault). The majority of its configuration will look like Chinese to you (given that you do not speak Chinese already ;) ).

However, the story becomes very different if you're an advanced user with perhaps some skill in programming or otherwise "understanding" computers. If you're looking for a very technical, serious, obedient and not-dumbed-down music player and are not afraid of spending some time on setting everything up, then you will love Foobar. Its features include

  • small memory, disk and CPU footprint leading to very fast startup and reaction times;
  • completely customizable interface (a panels system that you can rearrange as desired, custom colors and fonts, etc);
  • easily created and instantly updated library;
  • direct access to everything about every file (direct access to metadata tags in particular, even offering things such as stable batch manipulation of over 8000 files at once and automagic copying);
  • built-in converter based on commandline encoders, just as customizable as everything else;
  • and a plugin system on par with Firefox's.

The most powerful feature of Foobar comes by its own name: Title Formatting and the accompanying query syntax (think SQL queries). Basically, if you can think of something and you can turn it into a programming string, Foobar can do it for you.

Title Formatting is a scripting language centered around functions, return values and variables. Functions include maths, string and date manipulation, raw and semi-processed tag handling and control logic (if, then, else). You can specify the display value of each and every piece of the interface (and create new columns/fields as desired) by writing a simple programming string containing any of the functions mentioned. Processing tag fields is independent of the filetype and tag protocol (ID3, VorbisComment, etc), meaning you can write TF strings as if all your files were of the same type and format.

A very short and simple example of TF would be a string that displays a track's Composer or its Main Artist if the former is not specified: $if2(%composer%,[$meta_sep(artist,', ')]). Now take this example, and know that you can use similarly simple coding to have Foobar automatically

  • create folder structures and move + rename the files accordingly;
  • display any tag or combination of tags as desired;
  • render a treeview of your collection where the branching logic is under your control;
  • list specific tracks as if you were querying a database, either on-the-fly in the query box or persistently in autoplaylists;
  • write scripts (for plugins such as Masstagger) that can automatically parse, clean and reform thousands of tags at once;
  • etc. Your imagination is the limit.

Being a programmer and having a very serious attitude toward file handling and such, Foobar is the best music manager and player (if not software in general) I've ever used. Not only have I learned a great deal about the technical aspect of music and tag protocols, but I've also been able to make Foobar automatically do what would take me days of manual work in other players (Mediamonkey, Winamp, etc) to make my music march at the pace of my own, very strict tag rules, folder structure and display wishes. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who considers himself or herself a poweruser, such as Linuxers and programmers.

Foobar2K review by Faziri

 

MediaMonkeyMediaMonkey is on my "Nay" list, but I will review it because of its popularity.

Right from installation, my immediate impression of MediaMonkey is that it is not a monkey, at all, but a 1000 lb. gorilla. Just like another well-known media player that will remain nameless, it wants flex its muscles all over your computer and be your be all-do all media player. It instantaneously began searching my hard drives for media files, without my permission, while registering itself as the player of record making it necessary to go through my files and reset their associations so that all would be well once I uninstalled this beast. With all that off my chest, let's get on to the features as there are many.

First and most important MediaMonkey can organize music and edit tags in your audio library with a potent and insightful interface. It will rip and burn cd's. Its audio converter can convert MP3s, OGG, FLAC and WMA files into other formats. It will download and show album art. For those who want to play DJ for your church group or social organization, there is a Party Mode which lock down your media files while still allowing requests. Last of all, but most important some, is MediaMonkey's ability to synchronize with iPods and other MP3 players. There are more features, but they are too numerous to mention here.

While I shouldn't concern myself with the following, but believe I must bring it up for reasons which will become immediately apparent. There is Gold Edition with additional features available for $19.99 and $39.95 for a "Lifetime license for all future updates." In the computer world there is no such thing as "Lifetime." Does anyone remember music software known as MusicMatch? It's still around, but totally commercial payware. At Version 1.0 it was a fairly good program for its time and I purchased a "Lifetime license" for $39.95 for full program. Two years into the "Lifetime license," I began to have difficulty upgrading the software. The good folks at MusicMatch were very accommodating and issued new registration codes. A year later the company was sold and my continuing references to the fact that, "I wasn't dead yet." Fell on deaf ears. Despite the good intentions of the people at MediaMonkey, they cannot realistically, offer a "Lifetime license."

I have no idea how they managed to fit all this functionality into 34.2 MB, but as far as I'm concerned MediaMonkey is just bit too over the top and is far more than I or the average music fan needs and far more than the novice can handle. If I were a professional DJ, then all bets would be off.

 
A Note on 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).

 
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).
 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

Download Music

Related Hot Finds and Articles

Additional Third-Party Tools

  • SharePod: Allows you to manage and sync with iPods ("Change, Backup, Share") to replace iTunes.
  • Free Music Zilla: Helps you record and download songs from members of online music-sharing communities.

Audio Editor and Music Creation

Play and Organize Media

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

Guides

 
Quick Selection Guide - Light Music Players and Organizers

Jaangle
4
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
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.
http://www.jaangle.com/
0.98i.977
2.3 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP/2003/ Vista

Portable version available (files only version)

Audio Formats: MPEG audio (MP1/MP2/MP3), M4A, MP4, AC3, AIFF, APE, CDA, FLAC, MIDI/MID, Musepack (MPC), Tracker Music (UMX, MOD, MO3, IT, S3M, MTM, XM), OGG, WMA, and more based on directshow filters installed

Play List Formats: opens and saves M3U

Screenshots | Skins | Wiki | Forum | Change Log
v0.98i.977 released 24 April, 2012

AIMP
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
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
http://www.aimp.ru
3.55.1324
7.27 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP/ 2003/ Vista/ 7/ 8

Portable version available (the AIMP installer gives an option between a standard and portable installation; just select the portable installation)

*Note: I don't recommend downloading from the main website because it links to a download site (Brothersoft) that receives yellow ratings from WOT and block status from certain Host file providers (hpHosts, MVPS). A previous version had an unpatched Secunia advisory (may still be present).

Audio Formats: MPEG audio (MP1/MP2/MP3), MP4, M4A, AAC, AC3, AIFF/AIF, APE, CDA, FLAC/FLA, MIDI (MIDI/MID/MI/KAR), Musepack (MPC, MP+, MPP), OFR/OFS, OGG/OGA, Speex/SPX, Tracker Music (UMX, MOD, MO3, IT, S3M, MTM, XM), TTA, WAV, WavPack/WV, WMA

Play List Formats: opens/adds PLC, M3U, M3U8, ASX, PLS, CUE, XSPF, but saves PLS, PLC, M3U, M3U8

Screenshots | Skins | Forum | Change Log

v3.55.1324 released 17 November, 2013

 
Quick Selection Guide - Full Music Managers

MusicBee
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
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)
http://www.getmusicbee.com/
2.2.5069
13.9 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP/ Vista/ 7/ 8

Developer now offers a fully portable version here

Audio Formats: MPEG audio (MP1/MP2/MP3), AC3, AIFF/AIF, APE, BWF, CDA, FLAC, Musepack (MPC, MP+, MPP), OFR/OFS, OGG/OGA, Speex/SPX, TAK, TTA, WavPack/WV, WAV, WMA (see the vendor 'Help' link if you need AAC)

Play List Formats: opens/saves M3U, ASX, PLS, CUE, WPL, XSPF

Screenshots | Addons | Help | Forum | Change Log

v2.2.5069 released 18 November, 2013

Foobar2000
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
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
http://www.foobar2000.org/
1.2.9
3.6 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP/server 2003/Vista/server 2008/7/8

Audio Formats: MPEG audio (MP1/MP2/MP3), MP4/M4A/M4B, 8SVX, AAC, AIFF/AIF/AIFC/AFC, APE, AU, CDA, CUE, FLAC/FLA, MKA, MIDI, Musepack (MPC, MP+, MPP), SND, Speex, OGG/OGA, WAV, WavPack/WV, WMA, and more with additional components

v1.3 beta 5 is available here

Play List Formats: opens/loads ASX, FPL, M3U, M3U8, PLS, WAX, WVX, but saves FPL, M3U, M3U8

Screenshots | Components | Wiki | Forum | Change Log

MediaMonkey
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
All-in-one music manager, excellent for organizing complex music collections, user friendly navigation
Heavy on system resources, simplistic mini-player
http://www.mediamonkey.com/
4.0.7.1511
14.3 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private use only
Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7, WINE (Linux)

Audio Formats: MP3, MP4, AAC, APE, APL, CDA, FLA, FLAC, M4A, M4B, M4P, Musepack (MPC, MP+, MPP), OGG, WAV, WMA

iPhone 5 / iOS 6 and iTunes Compatibility

Play List Formats: opens/adds M3U, ASX, PLS, XSPF; saves M3U

Screenshots | Addons | Help | Forum | Change Log

The developer has many betas available with bug fixes. They are available here

 

Editor

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

 
Tags

best free music player and organizer, MP3 and audio software, MP3 player, media library, lite music player for windows, music manager, sound enhancements or effects, online radio browser

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Comments

by mwalimu (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 22:17  (59543)

I haven't tried most of the players mentioned here. I mostly use Winamp, Foobar, and an app called MusicIP Mixer.

Anyhow, here are a couple of features I consider to be virtually deal-breakers on any player I use:
1. Supports ReplayGain (doesn't necessarily need to generate them but should at least use it when playing if the tags are present).
2. Supports gapless play.
3. Never updates files (most notably tags), without asking me if I want it to, if I'm not doing something where it should be reasonably obvious that it's going to. Certainly, simply playing a file should be a 100% read-only operation - no exceptions (at least one version of Windows Media Player fails this test).

I mentioned MusicIP Mixer, which I can think of plenty of reasons not to recommend simply as a player, not least of which is that it is now orphanware, but I use it for one reason alone, and that's its ability to create random "mood mixes" of songs from my library based on acoustic signature (in fact I normally export the lists to another player rather than playing them within the application). If there is any other player that has the ability to generate "mood mixes", I'd love to hear about it.

Another feature I'd like to see is the ability to mark two or more tracks to be treated as a unit and played consecutively and gaplessly. For example, if I have 'The Beatles - 14 - Golden Slumbers.mp3', 'The Beatles - 15 - Carry That Weight.mp3', and 'The Beatles - 16 - The End.mp3', I'd like a way to catalog them so they are always played together in order, even when generating random mixes or if I have the player on shuffle.

Hope this helps.

by MichaelinGranada (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 20:48  (59540)

I think that Steamwhistle has done a great job and I have enjoyed reading his quality reviews.
However, I do not understand why he is so dismissive of Winamp. I moved to it from Jaangle as I have a vast collection of classical music and Jaangle was not really up to arranging things to my liking especially in respect of the composer tag. It has never asked me to buy anything is this is what I don't understand. (Nor has Mediaplayer for that matter asked me to purchase anything, but I dislike Mediaplayer anyway and hardly use it.)
Winamp might be a bit bloated, but it is free and very flexible in respect of classical music. It also has a modern and very professional appearance.
I think it deserves at least some credit!
I would be interested to hear of other player/organisers that are suitable for classical music although the Winamp/mp3tag combination work almost perfectly for me.

by Steamwhistle on 14. October 2010 - 22:44  (59545)

Don't get me wrong, I was a big fan of Winamp back in the days when it was shareware...before AOL bought it out. If fact, I was a paid registered user. Back then the only popups that I saw was when I upgraded to a new version and I got a thank you for supporting Winamp. The Winamp I have now cannot be started without without nag screens to upgrade to this or that.

If that weren't enough, Winamp's interface is outdated and no longer kicks the llama's butt.

by MichaelinGranada (not verified) on 16. October 2010 - 16:47  (59639)

I just don't understand. I have never had a nag screen and I have the latest AOL version 5.581. If those starting appearing, I agree and I would look for something else. You must have a different version to me as your observations just do not apply to my free version here.

I think the interface is very clean and the look with the standard Bento skin is fantastic although some of the other skins are awful.

The point is that it would be totally impossible to achieve what I have with my classical music collection on Jaangle. I know because that is what I was using it before Winamp and it became totally unmanageable. Following your review I returned and had another look at Jaangle - no way, it is just does not have to features or flexibility to achieve what I have in Winamp.

I think that I might be able to have a decent usable system with either Foobar or MediaMonkey but it could take a considerable amount of effect as I have never used either. Winamp was quick and easy to configure and I am really delighted with the results.

by Steamwhistle on 19. October 2010 - 7:46  (59728)

The interface may be clean, but it is very small and hard to read. If you use the double-sized option, the interface just pixelates badly, while the playlist editor stays the same small size. The Bento skin was the one I used, but like all the Winamp skins, it does not do anything to aid those with less than perfect vision. You would think with all of AOL's money, they could spend a little to improve the original 1997 Nullsoft design...they really should be put in the same trash bin they put Netscape in, but it won't happen because it is a revenue generator which is how it differs from Jaangle, QMP and the other players reviewed.

by George.J on 13. October 2010 - 23:31  (59488)

hope this article is gonna be updated soon!

by Steamwhistle on 14. October 2010 - 10:33  (59508)

George,

With all due respects, I had to throughly test a number of media players. After all, how can I give an opinion on something I haven;t used or seen. Several of these programs give fits and one wiped my hard drive completely clean of mp3's...not one remains. It makes it kind of hard to test a media player when you have no media.

On top of that, I have to learn the editing software for the site. WYSIWYG is not an exact science. If I were using Microsoft Publisher, I could blow this place away, but I'm not.

The reviews have been updated. I am not at all happy with the way they look, but I will clean it up in the coming days. I still need to update the links.

by MidnightCowboy on 14. October 2010 - 8:38  (59501)

Please stop continuously bumping this thread for an update. The editor has already gone to great lengths to explain what he is doing. This takes time which all of our volunteer editors need to fit in with their every day commitments.

by Schnuffi (not verified) on 6. October 2010 - 5:06  (59099)

I have been a long time user of Media Monkey and Just switched to Music Bee and I find it much better then MM .
I posted a question on the MB web site and it was answered in a couple of hours I love the program. I think you would be hard pressed to find a better one. I have 37K of mp3 all most all from Radio Tracker Witch all had good tags with the help of tag runner but Music Bee still managed to find some missing info in the tags. Also for some reason MM sometime took over an hour to scan in my files music be did it 10 quicker.

by Geroge.J (not verified) on 6. October 2010 - 16:53  (59118)

+1 for MusicBee

by Steamwhistle on 4. October 2010 - 13:34  (59017)

Songbird Update

Apparently I was too hasty with my warning about Songbird. It didn't wipe out my entire Southern Rock collection, it wiped out EVERY SINGLE .MP3 ON MY HARD DRIVE. To add insult to injury, it left behind something that disabled my playlists. (Playlists were opening with notepad and no amount of re association seemed to work.)

Do not install or run Songbird...in fact, don't even download this turkey.

I'm going to put some .mp3's on my hard drive so I can continue testing, then I'm going to take a couple of weeks off to restore my library to it's former glory.

by Anupam on 4. October 2010 - 15:04  (59023)

Ouch... that's bad! :(
I hope you had backup of the mp3 files?

I had worked with Songbird a bit on my brother's laptop. While, it has got good features, and was extensible with very useful add-ons, but it appeared bulky, and took a lot of time to startup, a thing inherited from Firefox.

by Steamwhistle on 5. October 2010 - 16:57  (59070)

No backups except for some Cd's I have around here somewhere with some older hard to come by items. I have no worries. My music library will be back bigger and better than before.

I'm looking on the bright side of things...now I have to test the media player software under fire and it can really change how you look at things. Two of my front runners have fell to the back of the pack and a new leader has emerged and in running away from the rest. I cannot wait to post my findings here.

by Anupam on 5. October 2010 - 18:36  (59072)

Really good to see that deletion of your music collection has not dampened your spirit :). If you have an external hard drive, or a secondary hard drive, you should take backup of your collection, just to be safe. While doing tests, these things can happen, and you should be careful.

Looking forward to your review :). Good luck!

by George.J (not verified) on 5. October 2010 - 19:06  (59074)

yeah here too,eagerly waiting for your review. sad to see ur mp3's was washed away. why could songbird become so cruel?

by Steamwhistle on 5. October 2010 - 19:06  (59073)

I have 5 external hard drives (60GB, 250GB, 500GB, 1TB & 2TB) The mp3's took up about 650MB on the 1TB drive...too large to backup on the 60, 250 or 500) The 2TB is PACKED with movies with about 6GB to spare. In fact, I've been storing movies on the mp3 drive, waiting for a sixth drive.

What I was doing was putting a small portion of my mp3's into each player for testing. On the first run of Songbird it hunted down my mp3's as if it were on a seek and destroy mission. I'm still wondering...that Songbird startup screen was just a little too professional looking for freeware...Hmmm.

by Steamwhistle on 1. October 2010 - 9:23  (58767)

ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!

I just wanted everyone to know that during testing, Songbird WIPED OUT my entire Southern Rock collection. Here sits a not so happy camper.

by MidnightCowboy on 1. October 2010 - 10:49  (58775)

Never mind, think positive. It could have been your Barry Manilow collection! :D

by Steamwhistle on 1. October 2010 - 16:00  (58826)

As a matter of fact I do have a Mary Babalow collection. :D :D

by Steamwhistle on 24. September 2010 - 2:04  (58340)

Hello Everyone,

My name is Bill Leighton (aka/Steamwhistle)and I am the new editor for the Best Free Music Player and Organizer.

When I took on the editorial duties of this category, I quickly realized that my views on music software differed significantly from those of my predecessor, as I am sure my opinions will differ from yours.

Yes, we’ll have all the brawny muscles of the giant do-all, play-all, and pump it into your cell phone music players and organizers, but we also have a few simple players that the fellow who just unpacked his first computer this morning, who has, at least, mastered the art of drag and drop, can enjoy sweet music coming from its speakers.

Let me clue you in on what I will not be reviewing. I believe someone below mentioned ITunes. While, technically, it is freeware, its sole purpose of design is to entice you to purchase songs to the tune (no pun intended) of $.99 or more a pop. It’s music to Apple’s ears, but not your wallet. To add insult to injury, ITunes clogs up your hard drive with 195.76 MB’s of bloatware.

I believe that the function of this site is to review and offer the highest quality free software with no strings attached. That means nagware is also out. Sorry, Winamp, your constant popups begging the user to upgrade to the Pro Edition leaves you out of the running.

I will be testing the many the music players and organizers that are available and should be able to begin to update this section.

Funny thing is that I still have to test all the players I can find, even though I've already found the one that is staying on my machine once the tests have concluded.

The above opinions are my own and not necessarily those of this site.

by mwalimu (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 22:30  (59544)

I've been using Winamp for a long time and have never had a problem with it giving me nagware popups to upgrade. That's not to say I wouldn't switch to another player if I found a better one (and honestly I've never had a chance to check out some of the ones suggested here, and I probably should) but I haven't run into that particular issue with it.

by George.J (not verified) on 29. September 2010 - 9:03  (58634)

Hello editor. We are looking forward to your latest reviews and the best among the category. Hope you will update it soon.

by Steamwhistle on 29. September 2010 - 10:06  (58635)

It will be soon. I'm over halfway through the testing stage, but I already know which one will stay on my machine when the testing is done. I also know which one to avoid like the plague. I do want to thank all those who suggested players to test.

by George.J (not verified) on 29. September 2010 - 18:01  (58657)

oh really? this interests me here. just wanna hear it from you. when would be the possible update.could you give a hint?

by Steamwhistle on 30. September 2010 - 13:37  (58719)

Hi George,

I can't peek into the sealed envelopes, but I can tell you this. MusicBee has already been tested. I didn't have 100,000 tracks to test with, just 61,802 to be exact. I just have five more players to test and only two are "biggies." One of them has a serious problem. I have an e-mail out to tech support. Freebie software usually doesn't get the greatest of tech support so we'll see what happens.

by George.J (not verified) on 30. September 2010 - 17:31  (58726)

Wrong notion!. The musicbee forum is active and most questions will be answered by the developer himself Steve. The responses are lightening fast(answer in hours) and weekly updates to a newer version is the best part.Our recommendations are taken into account and if found good he actually implements it in the next update,that too in a week! Actually i had given 5 recommendations in the musicbee wishlist and he made it practically possible to my surprise in few days

by Steamwhistle on 30. September 2010 - 17:58  (58729)

As I said, I've already finished testing MusicBee and it's fine. It's another player that is having fits and if a response isn't received before the end of testing, the player question will go in the can for lack of tech support.

I really like being an editor, but sometimes I wish I had taken a category like Best Freeware Notepad Replacement. :) <-- Smileys don't work well here

by kibz (not verified) on 28. September 2010 - 11:31  (58572)

Looking forward to your views.

by kalca (not verified) on 22. September 2010 - 12:40  (58267)

Depend what u need but simple and fast music player with many futures and cool sound : AIMP 2

My 2nd Best is Foobar2000 but u cant see his true power till u instal some nice config [skin+plugins] from DeviantArt.Best skin for me :D

http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2010/209/2/2/TECH_1_4_by_Br3tt.png

by George.J (not verified) on 10. September 2010 - 20:34  (57605)

i guess musicbee is the most outstanding player available. it has weekly updates done by one of the best programmers out there and its creater Steven.He is open to all comments and replies extremely fast. Hence its improving with every second and shames all the shareware musicmanagers. so no use referring to the bugs.

Musicbee outshines Jaangle to a huge extent both as player and as manager.Its just an amazing music manager,just try it out u will never switch to another one guarentee!

Install the main version available in the website and then go to the forum and install the latest beta.

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