Listening to music on the computer now is a very normal thing, but you want to listen to it with style. Scrobble your music, organise your petabytes of it and have a snazzy player. Lets look at some of the options ( will be adding more, don't worry ):
Windows Media Player. Lets face it, you've all tried it at least once and you can take it for granted that it is the most widely used media player. But not necessarily the best, as we know from MS products.
iTunes. Same as above, really. Of course, iTunes is used a lot because of iPods and because people are scared of moving away from it incase they brick their beloved player, Apple is allowed to control a substantial part of the market. Is it fair? We shall see.
Winamp. Sometimes described as the "Ultimate player". 3rd in the most popular music players. Does it deserve to be there?
Songbird. The new music player courtesy of Mozilla. Open source and snazzy, but with flaws.
Media Monkey. Promising player with the key features and some nice extras. Still, does it have the graphical "umpf"?
Less commonly known players
Foobar. Small yet powerful, is it good enough to be with the top applications?
aTunes. A GPL media player based on the linux versions. Powerful and customisable, but missing some features.
AIMP. Free and powerfull little player developed by the Ruskies. Seems like it could be good.
JetAudio. Cowons own media player. It's meant to be quite the beast of a player, it should be, seeing as they make some interesting gadgets. I will go in depth in this one once I have tested it.
TeenSpirit. Quite a new media player, seem promising as well.
Currently Updating with more, give me time
Pros and Cons of Each player
Windows Media Player
+ Comes bundled with Windows.
+ Can be easily set up
+ Lovely graphical interface
+ Very easy to use.
+ Easily the most manageable of all players. In terms of music.
+ Integrates seamlessly into Windows taskbar
- Lacks majorly in codec support. Ranging from FLAC to m4a
- Core features lacking - will go indepth later
- Some DRM issues
- Sometimes "too" simple
- Can rape your memory usage
+ iTunes Store (podcasts, TV shows, movies, applications)
+ Easy organization and browsing
+ Read, write and convert between AAC, Apple Lossless, MP3, MP4, AIFF and WAV
+ Genius (finds similar music automatically throughout your entire library)
- Lack of lossless playback (and AVI) with the exception of Apple's own lossless format
- Stability and lag issues on Windows in comparison with other applications
- No resyncing if out of sync (video:sound, video:subtitles etc)
- Customization, both visually and in terms of audio playback are limited
- Major DRM failure
+ Easy setup
+ Clean interface
+ A huge number of incredibly useful plugins, from album art to last.fm scrobbling
+ Supports most file formats - more than iTunes and WMP
+ Is a true breath of fresh air when updating. Does it automatically.
- HUGE memory leaks. Terrible if you are doing other things at the same time. Especially if you are playing FLACs and the sort
- Very buggy. As it is still only version 1, there are many flaws out there. From loading certain MP3s to playing certain flacs
- No decent mini player or taskbar player.
- Browser is pretty shit and utterly useless.
- Song classification and the sort still isn't as good as WMP or iTunes
- Doesn't remember what you were playing when closed down.
+ Supports nearly every file format you throw at it.
+ Native sort for last.fm
+ Good use of memory. Not too heavy.
+ Taskbar player
- Very very ugly interface. Can take a while to get used to.
- Song organisation is hard, even harder so than Songbird
- No decent themes to replace the Bento theme. Nothing clean.
- Still unstable with large libraries of music.
- Album art is an absolute pain
+ Open source music player - will play anything
+ Tab system is a great and intuitive new addition to music players. Brilliant way of managing playlists
+ The setup is fairly easy
+ First theme you get is acceptably nice. Not bad at all
+ Artist information and recommendations on the side
+ Brilliant integration of a taskbar.
- Is still not perfect. Flaws here and there
- Creates a new playlist for every "Now Playing" attempt. A bit stupid.
- No updates to media library. Need to reload it again to get the new songs you dumped in MUSIC
- Can be a bit of a pain to get used to. Many features that aren't instantly required but are there anyway
- Again, album art is still fussy
+ Incredibly fast
+ Setup is easy and painless
+ HUGE number of customisation options for listening to your music. For advanced playlists to a flat EQ and advanced equaliser
+ Graphical interface is not too bad and is customisable
+ Barely any memory footprint
+ Actively updates your library like WMP and remember exactly what you were playing when it was closed down
+ Switching from song to song is flawless ( some players will lag ) and it will fade out at the end ( you can switch that off )
+/- Music organisation is incredibly advanced
- Not much support for outer plugins, although it's scripting system is advanced, it doesn't have enough dedicated users to create nice things
- Graphical interface could be better. It's acceptable, but it's the same kind of layout as Songbird. Should really be like WMP
- Too many icons, creates confusion as to what is what. The hovers over the icons for more information are buggy.
+ plays 99% of all audio formats, m4b seems to be the only thing it doesn't know
+ very customizable, you can make it look like you want it to
+ needs very few resources, working with huge music libraries (60GB +) doesn't lower the performance
+ a lot of plugins available
+ tagging your music is very easy, also has freedb support
- rather complicated to set up, knowledge in coding is needed to make it look nice
- "stock"-version doesn't look too good
- does not play video files
foobar2000 can do everything you want it to do, but only if you have the time and the knowledge to set it up properly. For low-end computers it's probably the best choice because you will not notice any influence on the computer's speed while running this program.
Currently updating with the rest of the information. Will be a while
Before I go any further, of course, your input would be appreciated. I am trying to create the most unbiased report on media players. I don't have a preference, therefore I believe I can sum up most media players fairly, but if you think I have missed something out or said something wrong, then tell me and I will fix it.
Note that the number of PROS v CONS does not mean its a better or worse player.