Though Windows Media Player is a serviceable app, it may not be the best choice for your PC-based music listening needs. Whether you’re an audiophile or a casual listener, if looking for a Wind0ws-based music player that caters to your needs regardless of what they are, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve taken the liberty of narrowing down the best free music player options for Windows. This list contains programs for both the hardest of hardcore music lovers, and for listeners that prefer to use something more simplistic as well.
Feel free to also check out our side by side comparison of Spotify and Beats Music to see how they fare against one another, along with our guide on the best free music players for Mac OS X.
MusicBee is an excellent pick for those who have huge collections of tunes that need to be organized. MusicBee can import your existing iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries, and lets you tag each file as you see fit. The program’s Auto DJ feature lets you sync with Last.fm, and will play similar artists/genres based on what you play. You can also set MusicBee up to organize your favorite podcasts, audiobooks, and radio stations as well.
With its 10-band to 15-band equalizer options, cross-fade function, and gap-less playback options, audio quality options are plentiful with MusicBee. MusicBee also packs some visual flair in the form of a five-band Spectrum Visualizer that matches up with the tracks you’re playing. Plug-ins are available for added customization as well.
A couple other things we liked: The latest sync support between mobile devices is handy, and the ability to change theme colors is an unexpected bonus among other free software choices. The program also supports up to 5.1 surround sound if you have an array of speakers and want the best result possible. There are a few other hidden goodies waiting in MusicBee as well, so if you’re interested we suggest you take a closer look.
Foobar2000 is a remarkable underdog story, an open source music player project that has managed to persist for years and remain not only usable, but one of the best free music players for Windows 10 on the scene. Don’t let the basic interface fool you into thinking this isn’t worth your time: You can customze the interface however you want, and play anything from MP3s and WMA to Musepack, Speex, and even rarer formats with the right plugins. There are also extensive tagging abilities and fully support for keyboard shortcuts, which makes Foobar a great piece of software for managing more complex, living lists of audio files.
The program also includes options for gapless playback, ReplayGain, and ripping audio and converting it. Plus, all components and download options are easily available on the site, and the software continues to be updated to this day. If you prefer open source, start here!
Media Monkey is similar to MusicBee, and boasts many of the same features. Though it lacks Last.fm synchronization, Media Monkey is compatible with podcasts, audiobooks, and can be set up to download your favorite podcasts for you.
Media Monkey supports a whopping 100,000 file and playlist types, while also making it easy to tag and organize your files. The software is also pretty smart. It automatically identifies tracks, syncs or fixes tags, and looks up related information, which is all great for getting an old collection of music back in order. We’re also impressed by the playlist tools, which makes them easy to create (or automatically spawn via Auto-DJ). The syncing and recording capabilities are great for amateur musicians as well. When you add the party mode, the visualizer, and the exported audio file reports, it’s hard to see why you would pay for a music manage when something like MM exists.
AIMP’s continuous updates have yielded an impressive, clean interface for music lovers who prefer to get down to business. In addition to support for an array of formats (including DirectSound and SIO for output), the software also includes Internet Radio support, a Sound Engine with an 18-band equalizer, and smart playlist capabilities. Need to convert audio? No problem, AIMP can handle that too, as well as provide editing options for all your audio tags and scheduling options for setting timers or shutdown times if you like mixing music and sleep.
Clementine has many familiar features, but it offers quite a bit more connection to the wider world of technology than our other picks. Sure, you get basic features like smart playlists, Internet radio, visualizer, multi-format support, and so on. But you also get more unique capabilities for cloud and device support. That includes tools that make it easy to copy music onto mobile storage drives, or the ability to search and play songs from the cloud if you’ve stored audio files in Box, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and so on. You can even use a Wii Remote, Android device, or other mobile tool as a remote control for the software. When you add in the connections to MusicBrainz, Last.fm, and Amazon, this is a brilliant solution for those who have a lot of music in the cloud and really don’t want to use iTunes.
Songbird adds a welcome social element to music management software. The interface itself is very basic (and in some areas, could use an update), but you get the ability to share photos and discover artists with other fans, a bit like Spotify but with your own audio files included.
An important note here, however: Songbird has not been updated for Windows 10, so while it still works with the OS there may be an eventual deadline where it just won’t function with the latest software. The good news is that, if for some reason you are stuck with an older version of Windows, this is probably your best music management option
This article was updated on November 3, 2016, to include updated features, and remove apps that were no longer supported.