Music Players: A Comparison Review

Music is personal. It often sets the tone for work days and our play time. Finding the right music player to meet your needs can be frustrating in a flooded market with constant innovations, with each product fighting for attention. The brave volunteers at GenXMedia took on the task of testing and reviewing music players, and here are the results…

Mufin Player
Calling itself the next generation music player for PCs, it claims to play all common audio formats, and have a fast data base as well as the ability to transfer to portable devices. It boasts a 2 GB online cloud data base of music it makes available for its users, but none of us were interested in the little-known or obvious material it had to offer. Depending on your connection, it could take a while to download and install. The interface was standard, rather large and chunky, and not the most fetching default colors. It’s niche is being online-oriented, but there are other free players out there with much more to offer. Not cross platform, it works only on Windows operating systems and Android, and offers both free and paid versions. Not a clean uninstall, it left behind folders and links. While not a bad player, we’ve come to expect better, and our rating reflects this.
RATING C-

Winyl 
If you’re running Windows and looking for a simple audio player with a library, this might be the player for you. Download and install are fairly quick, and the default interface is attractive. This player’s skinnable and the options for different looks and feels are included in their forums. It’s an easy task to scan your library and add files for it to read and access. One tester reported it added over 10 K worth of files in less than a minute. And then it crashed. Recovered, it has a decent footprint and uses little resources. It has a good variety of built-in radio stream presets with the ability to add your own.. It delivers great sound, has an easy to use lay out and uninstalls cleanly. This is a great option for anyone who wants a simple player.
RATING B+

CrystalWolf Player 
If what you want is to just click a button and listen to your music, this player’s for you. Fast download and install, it uses the windows native skin so it blends in to your desktop scheme. Very, very light footprint so it never taxes resources. For a minimlist, this is the player you’ve been looking for. For those who want more features, it may not be your cup of tea; but it does what it does well (sound, play back, hot keys, multiple formats, response) using so little resources that we were impressed. Drag and drop supported, Windows only, cleanest uninstall ever.
RATING A-

Jaangle 
This open source, cross platform player wants to please you and tries very hard to accomplish this goal. Moderate download and install, its user-friendly interface loads immediately and prompts for your library, adding files very quickly. Drag and drop of tracks is enabled and easy to use. Easily plays, sounds great, and retrieves data about songs including full info and visuals. It’s easy to find songs and play lists, and generally performs well. There are loads of different coloured skins to try. The default is “Snow & Dirt” and goes with just about everything. It’s a great little player, good looks and sound, and easy to understand and use. I’ll up the grade when they add more options for streaming radio and podcasts. They get points for making a game out of your music collection. Hit “games” and they play you a song from your collection and give you multiple choices for identifying it. That was, believe it or not, a lot of fun for many of us, especially those of us who are trivia buffs and/or have larger music collections. This player’s great for people who like to have fun with their music. Easy uninstall and no complaints.
RATING B+

Clementine
This is a grown up player – in look, feel and function – that includes play back, library, pod casts, streaming radio, visualizations, tabbed play lists and more. Cross-platform, it works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Public domain fans can take note that it even has LibriVox feeds for easy listening. Quick download, easy install, simple set up. It’s attractive and easy to navigate. It uninstalls neatly, but some of us didn’t find out because we kept it as our player of choice.
RATING A-

aTunes
Cross-platform and open source, aTunes seems to want to be an alternative for people who don’t like the commercialism of the proprietary iTunes; however, it doesn’t offer enough features or resources to truly compete. Taken as a stand-alone player, it’s a good one with fine sound quality and a plethora of standard features. Download and install are quick and easy, and while it doesn’t skin, it has colours schemes to choose from. It takes forever to load my heavy library of music but it’s easy to navigate and use. It streams. It pods. It plays. Easy uinstall. It lands in the high end of the middle of the congested players market, and could do with a distinction to set it apart.
RATING C+

Kantaris
To be fair, this is a media player not just a music player, but there was so much buzz about it that we had to review its music ability in this segment. The download was a bit slow and the install went along at the usual pace. There’s a lag to loading the player, but it comes loaded with the standard fare and there are options for further add-ons, like pod casts, so the user can customize. I like the feature that allowed me to listen to other people’s play lists while I’m working on projects, and I discovered a few new artists this way. Other than this, it’s not very useful to me and no one else was impressed, either. It could be more attractive. It’s okay but nothing special. While some testers had a difficult uninstall, I uninstalled the player using Revo, which found over 700 registry items and several files it left behind. Naughty, naughty!
RATING C-

SongBird 
Hyped as the alternative to the resource-heavy iTunes, everyone raves about SongBird but I find it a bit bloated for my tastes. It’s not like it’s doing anything other players can’t do, so when it crashes (and it crashes more than the average player) it’s kind of irritating. I’m not too fond of the interface (too shiny, too usual) but it’s not difficult to navigate. SongBird offers the usual fare, including pods and streams, but so do other players that aren’t as bloated or prone to crash. For Mac and PCs (no Linux) with options for Web App, Android and iOS, the uninstall is not tidy, and required the use of cleaners to fully remove. Perhaps time will bring improvements and this software can catch up to its hype.
RATING C

Amarok
If it didn’t crash so much most of us could tell you if we liked it. When you’re not trying to add to the library, stream music or play a song, it’s a rather pretty player. When it does play a song. the sound is quite good. It’s a lovely little player when it works, which is about half the time. Too bad, because I suspect it has a lot to offer and we’ll keep an eye on this one. Open source, amazingly cross platform, installs and uninstalls cleanly.
RATING C-

Foobar
Fast download, quick install, regrettably Windows only. It plays any music file we threw at it and we threw a lot of them. With customizable features in a native interface, it’s low on resources, good on options, and the sound’s great. I can search my library using key words. This tickled my fancy, although I can’t tell you why.  If you want an easy, lightweight player for Windows that you can tweak for use, this is a good option.
RATING B-

Quintessential Music Player
It used to be the rage but, skinnable or not, it’s lost its edge and, as a result, its popularity. It’s a good little player, better than most and capable of much – including tagging, edits, conversions and more – but I think other players offer more and there’s just no going back after that. Catch up, QMP, you used to be the leader. What happened?
RATING C-

XMPlay
It’s ugly. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s ugly. That aside, it’s lightweight, the sound is excellent and it has quite a few nifty tricks for a small player. But it’s not enough so it just doesn’t matter. I hate to  look at it and this is my desktop, Please make it not ugly. Thank you.
RATING C-

Aqualung
Nothing makes it stand out from other players (at least it’s only somewhat ugly) but it’s easy to navigate and the sound’s good. Expect more from a player, even a minimal one. Easy uninstall. Linux only.
RATING C-

Zinf
Relax, this one’s not ugly. The skins are actually quite cute. The sound is good, I just wish it wouldn’t crash so much so I could use it more often. The uninstall (upon choosing “custom”) allows you to choose all files to uninstall cleanly from your computer, which I appreciated. Open source for Linux and Windows, we’ll keep an eye out for future developments.
RATING C

Xion
If you love to skin your player, this is the one for you. They have outrageously creative skins for this thing. It’s kind of amazing actually. That aside, the sound is quite good, too. This pony doesn’t have a lot of tricks but when it doesn’t crash, it plays very well. Windows only, clean uninstall.
RATING C+

VLC
Although it’s a media player, one of the things it does is music, and it does it very well. Without codecs, add-ons or any other extraneous things. It can literally open and play any file, and I do mean any file. If the file is damaged for some reason, it can usually repair and play it. Sound quality’s great with lots of options. It also includes built-in choices for streaming radio, adding pod casts, and you can broadcast with it. With all this and more in a player that already does video so well, many opt to use it for all their media rather than have a separate music player.
RATING A

WINNERS: VLC media player for the all-in-one preference, Clementine for a music player suite, and Crystal Wolf for a simple Windows stand-alone player.

14 thoughts on “Music Players: A Comparison Review

  1. I've been using Real Player forever and it's okay but Clementine looks really good so I'm trying it now. The icon's a cute little orange, too! 🙂
    xx Rita

  2. This is an awesome review !!! Thank you for making it easy for people like me who aren't in the know about all things internet. Do you have more reviews like this? JASON

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