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The best free music players

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By Jon Martindale


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Although music streaming services may be some of the most popular ways to consume music today, that’s not the case for everyone. For those with their own local collections, you need a decent music player, and sometimes Windows Media Player just doesn’t cut it. Here is our guide to the best free music players for Windows PCs.

This list contains applications for both the hardest of hardcore music lovers, and for listeners that prefer to use something more simplistic.

If you’re an Apple user, don’t feel left out. Even if you’re used to using Spotify or Apple Music, you can bring your local collection back to life with our guide to the best free music players for MacOS.

The best: MusicBee

Musicbee

MusicBee is 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/genres based on what you play. You can also set MusicBee up to organize your favorite podcasts, audiobooks, and radio stations.

With its 10-band to 15-band equalizer options, cross-fade function, and gap-less 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 among other free software choices. MusicBee even supports up to 5.1 surround sound if you have an array of speakers and want the best result possible.

The rest

foobar2000

Foobar2000 is a remarkable underdog story. An open source music player project, it 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 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 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.

Media Monkey

Media Monkey

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.

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 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 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 manager when Media Monkey exists.

AIMP 4.50

AIMP 4

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

Clementine

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 expansive 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, and OneDrive. 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.

Groove Music

Groove Music

Groove got a rocky launch as a rather half-hearted attempt at replacing the Windows Media Player, but increased support over time has transformed this simple, intuitive music app into software well worth looking at. 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 — well, play it — then Groove is still well worth consideration.

Songbird

Songbird

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. At the time of writing, we can confirm that the software works well enough in Windows 10, though there’s no guarantee that will be the case in the future.

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

Prefer your music to be a little more portable than the above solutions? Here’s our guide on the best portable MP3 players.


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