Top Five Best Desktop Music Player

Everyone has a favorite desktop music player. For some of us, it's the one that just plays our music fast, with no fuss or hassle. For others it's a tool that organizes your playlists, syncs with your smartphone, makes your music collection easy to dig through, and looks good while doing it. This week we're going to look at five of the best desktop music players

MediaMonkey (Windows)P

Five Best Desktop Music Players
MediaMonkey seems like an impossible combination of jukebox and library organizer. Sure, you can use it to just play your tunes, organize playlists, and sync with your mobile devices, but if your music library is a mess (like mine is), you can also use MediaMonkey to clean it up without a ton of effort. The layout and UI is customizable, and the player is snappy and fast even under the load of many-thousand song libraries, which is more than we can say for some of the other programs in the roundup. MediaMonkey does the basics too: It'll rip CDs, download podcasts, support file types like OGG and FLAC in addition to MP3, AAC, and others, and it'll automatically update your library based on changes to your library folders—so you can copy in new music without worrying MediaMonkey won't see it. If you like auto-generated playlists seeded by songs you own or like, MediaMonkey can do that too. It can convert file types on the fly if you need it to, stream media via DLNA to other devices on your network like a TV, receiver, or wireless stereo.P
Those of you who praised MediaMonkey specifically called out its customizability, customizable hotkeys, watch folders, and more. Even those of you who noted that you don't care for it as a music player love it as a music organizer, and turn to it to keep your files arranged, properly tagged, and easily searchable should you want to find something you downloaded a long time ago. Plus, MediaMonkey is free—although $25 gets you MediaMonkey Gold, which adds on some more features.P

Winamp (Windows/Mac)P

Five Best Desktop Music Players
Winamp has been whipping the llama's ass for over 15 years, and that's not a bad thing. it's has come a long way since its early Nullsoft days, back before it was picked up by AOL, and in fact we were just reflecting on how far it's come. Some of the changes were good, some not so much, but overall it's still an amazing jukebox and media player that's relatively lightweight, fast, and customizable. The interface can be as minimal as a shade at the top of your display with tiny playback controls, or as blown out as a full-screen jukebox UI that features search bars, library information in multiple windows organized by artist, album, and song name, a full web browser, and more. It all depends on what you're looking for. Winamp handles all the tasks you'd expect from a media player: It can rip CDs, support crazy file types, sync with mobile devices either via USB, or wirelessly through its well-crafted native Android app. Winamp still has the features you loved about it if you've used it for a long time too: Skins, themes, ShoutCast radio support, visualizations, and more.P
Many of you praised Winamp for keeping up with the times and adding more streaming music sources to its app, while others noted that its Android app and its beta Mac client show that the developers behind it show no signs of slowing down on it. Winamp is definitely more bloated than it used to be (adding things like AOL music, video support, etc) back in the old days, but it's still flexible, functional, and completely free. There are a few extra features available in the $20 Winamp Pro version, but the free version is probably enough for most people. Winamp has been straightforward, easy-to-use, and a solid app for years—almost a constant compared to other apps that have come and gone since.P

foobar2000 (Windows)P

Five Best Desktop Music Players
foobar2000 is one of the most flexible, customizable, and tweakable music players available, and it doesn't shy away from that fact. foobar2000 calls itself an "advanced" freeware audio player, largely because it's lightweight, can play virtually anything you throw at it, and while it's powerful and flexible, it can be a little daunting to get used to at first. More than a few people have given up on foobar because they'd rather spend more time listening to their music than tweaking their media player, but if you're the type who wants a personalized listening experience and a tool with just the tools you like (and none of the bloat you hate), foobar2000 is worth a look. The learning curve isn't as steep as some people make it out to be. It does all the things you would expect from a media player: It supports gapless playback, has tons of customizable hotkeys to control playback, supports CDs and crazy file types, and more. Perhaps most interestingly, foobar2000 supports ReplayGain, which does an amazing job of making sure your music is all played at the same relative volume and loudness.P
Those of you who called out foobar2000 almost all rallied to the fact that it's extremely light on system resources, well-developed, and has a wealth of plug-ins and add-ons that extend its functionality. Many of you mentioned that it supports incredibly rare file formats, and it can handle massive music libraries without choking. It's completely free. If you're the type of person who likes to start from scratch and build essentially the ultimate music player that's just right for you, foobar2000 will get you there, and you'll be happy with the end product.P

MusicBee (Windows)P

Five Best Desktop Music Players
In contrast to many of the music players that have tons of options, tweaks, and toggles, MusicBee starts you off with a super-lightweight but still customizable utility that you can load up from there pretty easily. A little effort gets you things like song lyrics, album art, artist info, and so on. You get a wealth of built-in skins and customization options to get you started, but none of them slow the player down or make it feel bloated or slow. MusicBee can also handle large libraries, podcasts, less-popular file types, CD ripping, and more. You can use it to organize your library, tag your songs, and download additional data about your tracks. It supports syncing to mobile devices as well, and much more, all in what's often described as a "deceptively simple interface."P
Many of you praised MusicBee specifically for being so deceptively simple: Out of the box it's fast and easy to use, and you won't spend a lot of time just getting it to work and play your music. However, the more time you sink into it and into exploring its plug-ins and added features, the more rewarding you'll find the app to be. Some of you noted it's a perfect replacement to show people still using iTunes or Windows Media Player what a lightweight and customizable player can be, others pointed out that even while other tools offer way more features, MusicBee is the perfect balance between features and usability. It's completely free.P

Zune Music (Windows)P

Five Best Desktop Music Players
Well, color us surprised. The actual device is long gone, and the Zune Music service is now Xbox Music, but many of you nominated and voted for the Zune Music desktop player. Whether it's the player's gorgeous interface, podcast organization and downloading options, auto-generated backgrounds, seeded and custom playlists, or unique look and feel, it's earned a lot of love from many of you, and even though it's possible Microsoft will pull downloads for it tomorrow, we have to agree: Just because an app isn't in development anymore doesn't mean people shouldn't use it if it's great at what it does. The Zune Music Player is indeed good at what it does. It supports a ton of file types, and while it's not the most flexible or customizable, it's fast and can handle large libraries, and in full-screen mode, it's fun to use.P
Those of you who praised it specifically notes that you liked the fact that it's "not an Excel homage" like so many other players, according to reader sab0tage, and the auto-generated backgrounds, downloaded artist art and information, and other visual cues won over many of you. It's free, and it's still available, but we're not sure for how long. If you want to give it a try, grab it now and save the installer in case you ever need to reinstall.