I’m quite picky about selecting music players. I’ve been trying lots of them, and now I’ve settled that a music player should:
- Have separate panes for tracklist and playlist: I wonder why this feature wasn’t implemented in most music players. I’m not the only person who likes to listen to individual songs and create my own playlist, aren’t I?
- Read ID3 tags and lets me choose between (at least) artists, albums, and genres: I’m quite obsessed with tagging my music. It makes my music collection more organized and easy to go through. I know that this point is a basic feature for most music players, but I’ve tried some music players (usually minimalistic/folder-based ones) that ignores tags.
- Doesn’t slow down the system: I don’t use my computer only to listen to music, mind you.
- Uses cover arts: Cover arts are nice to look at, and sometimes it would be faster to find an album by looking for its cover instead of selecting it from a list.
- Doesn’t require you to learn how to use and customize it: This is why I don’t use Foobar2000. I have spent too many hours getting it to suit my taste (see #1) than actually using it to listen to music.
So, here are my favorite music players for all three of my operating system. I have two of them for every OSes I use.
Linux: gmusicbrowser and Clementine
I’ve been a gmusicbrowser user for 2 years. It might not look impressive at first – a slightly cluttered interface, no amenities like internet radio and CD player – but it has everything I need. To start with, gmusicbrowser comes with a selection of layouts to choose from, from the very bare-bones , netbook-optimized, to emulating other music players like Rhythmbox and Itunes. If it still doesn’t suit you, the panes are customizable.
gmusicbrowser lets you create a filter for your music library, if you want to listen to more than one category. For example, do you want to play Techno songs from the 90s which are longer than 5 minutes? It got you covered.
gmusicbrowser uses 60 MB of memory, which is neither lightweight nor heavy.
I guess that Clementine is the most popular and most-used music player in this article. It’s a complete music player with a reasonable size and CPU usage. It’s also available for Windows and Mac OS (and a remote version for Android).
Most of Clementine’s interface is dedicated to its playlist. Your library is shown as a nested drop-down list. It has a very organized interface with tabs on the left side to access different functions.
Clementine could play audio CDs and manage your portable devices. But my favorite feature is its integration with internet services. Clementine could play music from your cloud storage providers, music subscription services, internet radio (my favorite), and subscribe to podcasts.
Clementine uses 58 MB of memory – only slightly better than gmusicbrowser.
Windows: Jaangle and MusicBee
Jaangle is my to-go app for a simple and lightweight music player. Just like gmusicbrowser, it could only play music files from your library. It has a Clementine-like way to show library, which is by using nested drop-down list.
The default layout is quite weird, but fortunately, you can change it easily by adding and removing the panes.
This is the layout I’m comfortable with:
One unique feature of Jaangle is its ‘Music quiz’ feature, where it would generate a song-guessing game using your music library.
Jaangle’s memory usage is very satisfying – it only uses 17 MB.
MusicBee is a heavier player for Windows which has a great number of features – playing media files and CDs, internet radio, audio books browser, podcast downloader, file conversion, and even a web browser.
MusicBee is the most customizable music player I’ve seen. Right click on a pane and you can choose whether to show or hide it, where to position it, and show/hide some elements. I always love the ability to customize, but having too many options can be confusing.
But the disadvantage of MusicBee is its fluctuating memory usage. On my test, it uses 38 MB at first, which then would rise into 62 MB after loading some tracks, went down to 58 MB, and then rises again to 80 MB.
Android: BlackPlayer and HikiPlayer
BlackPlayer is a music player for Android which has a Windows Phone-like interface. For me, this look is very clean and refreshing. The interface is pretty customizable; there are three available themes, several header font selections and styles, and you can choose whether to view the tabs as a list or as a grid. It could fetch album covers, artist picture and data from Last.fm.
HikiPlayer, admittedly, is the only player in this article that doesn’t have separate views for tracklist and playlist. It’s a folder-based media player; instead of scanning your music folder, you direct it to your music folder (or any other folder containing music files) using a built-in file manager.
A unique feature of HikiPlayer is that it will change its player’s color scheme based on the dominant color of the currently playing song’s cover art.
So these are my favorite music players. Although I’m quite satisfied with all of them, it doesn’t mean that I won’t switch if there are better alternatives.