[dropcap1 color=”blue”]W[/dropcap1]inamp undoubtedly by far has been the most successful Music Player till date. But, some like me who constantly keeps on thriving for better alternatives can’t be made to follow a digital orthodoxy of “my-tech-friend-uses-it-so-should-I”. To put it more honestly, I sparingly use Winamp and WMP for my music files. Winamp, as I said is a very good player indeed, but what if the options available are both compelling & potent ? Below is my roundup of the best possible alternative (or even better) solutions available.
1. Quintessential Media Player (QMP)
For me, its been the best music software that has been ever written after good old Sonique (development closed). And since its first use, QMP enjoys the premiership of being default player for all my mp3 files. Being an able contender of Winamp, it packs all the goodies with some extra features. QMP is also skinnable & have various plugins available on the site. Though its community is not as strong as Winamp for some obvious reason, but if one’s usage is limited to mp3, then it is a must have player. For the audio quality, which matters the most for the purist like me, it has the best available Codec to its disposal (especially mp3). The mp3s plays like a breeze with significant difference in quality – both equalized and non equalized. Whereas in Winamp, the overall reproduction is slightly weak with the thumping and smooth Bass, QMP’s sound is somewhat aggressive with notable attacks and punches (in Bass) and clarity (in Treble) – and this is the reason why I primarily use it. QMP also comes with tons of options and settings to tweak as per personal taste and preference. The only setback is that that player have not been updated since long (worrying me slightly) and community seems to be little dormant. But this shortcoming shouldn’t be a discerning factor as it still plays flawlessly over Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
2. Spider Player
Prima facie, it seemed to be a Winamp clone again ! But, under the hood, it packs a feature laden audio player with wider support for various music formats. It plays almost all major audio files (both lossy & lossless) out of the box with no need of extra plugins and hassle of downloading the same. The player also boasts of 32 bit sound processing, CD Ripper and a Portable Version. Spider Player performs exceptionally well for high frequency notes with equalizers turned on and tweaked perfectly. The sound comes to be bright and can be even made ear piercing because of its ability to produce high frequency notes with much shrillness (I personally use it for the playback of string instruments). Other frills include Internet Radio Recording, Multichannel Audio Support, Skins etc.
This one is a real stunner when it comes to both looks & functionality. AIMP’s sleek looks and intuitive interface makes it a real heavy weight against any other multimedia players – also, a full fledged player in its category. Though its website and download channels seems to be a bit unprofessional, but the player itself compensates for all those caveats. Since Portable Version these has become one of the most sought after feature, AIMP makes no mistake to do away from the same. Though it also comes with various skins, but the skin editor is just an icing over the cake. The impressive mini mode & song notifications is yet another utilitarian feature for multitaskers like me who always want music playing in background & also sitting atop for frequent calls. AIMP also packs a good balance of frills and utility. Online radio listeners will find its song grabbing capability very handy along with other song ripping facility. The overall implementation of concepts, polished UI and sound quality makes this player a worthy contender of its accomplished counterparts.
Definitely not a Winamp killer, but XMPlay can give it a run for money for the small memory footprint it has while playing. It is a tiny music player, but mind you, the minimalism it offers should not be confused with a featureless software. When tinkering with further settings and options available as plugins or add-ons, this comes out to be a musical monster with enough juices. The best part is that XMPlay comes for measly 325KB and plays straight after unzipping. For eye candy, it also has good skin support with numerous of them them available over the native site. Furthermore, the audio quality is simply commendable for the size it comes in. A worthy option for those on older systems with limited memory & processing resources.
Audiophiles’ darling with plain vanilla look (or boring too !). This player has come a long way since its first release and has got its own base of fan following. Foobar is also known for its few advanced features ABX Comparator, Archive File Playback, Binary Comparator, iPod Manager, HTTP Controls etc. The player is more of an Audio Enthusiast piece with flexible GUI and various capabilities which one can keep on stumbling till eternity. This also has a native support of popular music formats with loads of extra components available online. Foobar greatest strength lies in its open component architecture which allows third party developers to have some value additions.