Streaming takes center stage for music consumption, but some of us like to compile our own collections of tracks. Maybe it takes you back to the days where you had hundreds of CDs scattered across your bedroom. Today, though, if you’re trying to play music on your Windows PC, any old media player just won’t cut it. We put together a list of the greatest music players out there, starting with simple options like MusicBee and including more complex choices as well.
MusicBee is our top choice and an excellent pick for those who have huge collections of tunes that need to be organized. It 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 or genres based on what you play. You can also set up MusicBee to organize your favorite podcasts, audiobooks, and radio stations.
With its 10- to 15-band equalizer options, cross-fade function, and gapless playback options, audio tweaks are plentiful with MusicBee. It even 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.
The latest sync support between mobile devices is handy, and the ability to change theme colors is an unexpected bonus. MusicBee even supports up to 5.1 surround sound if you have an array of speakers and want the best result possible.
Foobar2000 has a remarkable underdog story. An open-source music player project, it has managed to persist for years and remains 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 customize its look however you want, and play anything from MP3s and WMA to Musepack, Speex, and even rarer formats with the right plug-ins. There are also extensive tagging abilities and full support for keyboard shortcuts, which makes Foobar2000 a great piece of software for managing more complex 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.
MediaMonkey is similar to MusicBee and boasts many of the same features. Though it lacks Last.fm synchronization, MediaMonkey is compatible with podcasts and audiobooks and can be set up to download your favorite
It 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 it also looks up related information, which is all great for getting an old collection of music back in order.
We’re impressed by the playlist tools, which makes playlists easy to create or automatically spawn via Auto DJ. The syncing and recording capabilities are great for amateur musicians as well. When you consider party mode, the visualizer, and the exported audio file reports, it’s hard to see why you would pay for a music manager when MediaMonkey 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. There are also a number of notable UI options, including options to customize your own 4K skin.
Dopamine is an extra-simple music player that is built to be easy to use. The download is fast, setup is painless, and updates are all automatic. Just tell Dopamine where your music is and the app will take care of the rest. The interface is incredibly basic and intuitive, with large titles and obvious controls. You can also change the theme shade to whatever color makes it easiest for you to see songs at a glance. The default dark mode does a great job of this if you aren’t sure what to choose. All the simplicity is great, but keep in mind that Dopamine can’t do much with metadata or find missing artwork, so it works best with more complete collections.
Groove Music had a rocky launch as a rather halfhearted attempt at replacing the Windows Media Player, but increased support over time has transformed this simple, intuitive music app into software well worth considering. It supports downloads on up to four devices and can sync music between Windows, iOS, Android, and Xbox, delivering music pretty much wherever you want it.
If you keep most of your music in OneDrive or on your Windows computer and don’t do too much except play it, then Groove Music is worth trying out.
VLC is better known as a universal video player that can handle your video content no matter where you get it from. The free player has compatibility with several types of audio files, including FLAC, ALAC, WMA, and all common formats, plus a number of uncommon ones, which makes it a great option to play your saved music.
While VLC can handle anything, it’s not really designed to automatically organize and display your audio files. This option works best if you already have a well-curated music library and just need a dependable player to handle it. In many cases, people already have VLC downloaded and can start using it for music.
Do you mostly prefer streaming music? Spotify is a great choice for those who have ditched the digital library in favor of shuffling music and playlists for a curated, radio-like experience. If you ever want to upgrade to Spotify Premium, then you can download your favorite music for offline playback and get rid of intermittent ads, too. With Spotify’s immensely comprehensive library, this is an option for music lovers of every genre.
Prefer your music to be a little more portable than the above solutions? Here’s our guide to the best portable MP3 players.
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