This page is divided up into two sections:
Mainstream – contains links to the mainstream MP3 playing programs
iTunes, Winamp, Windows Media Player, MusicMatch Jukebox
Non-mainstream – to more playful, alternative players.
Songbird, Audion, Colour Player, Retro Player, Krix, Clutter
Please let me know at the address in the comments if you have any suggestions for programmes that should appear here.
Love it or loathe it, iTunes has set a defacto standard for music storage and playback. Apple’s integration of the iTunes Music Store and the production of a PC version were brilliant moves. However, the expansion into movies, podcasts, tv shows and so forth does endanger the original core function. The overlap with FrontRow on Apple machines also raises questions about the programme’s future. The addition of the bought-in Coverflow in version 7 provides a much-needed visual component, although some users – including myself – would argue that much more is needed to improve the user experience to bring it anywhere near the experience of CDs or vinyl. The creation of smart playlists and various flavours of shuffle go a long way, however, towards refreshing listeners’ experience of their music collection.
Platform: PC and Mac
Wikipedia provides this general overview.
Windows Media Player
Download: Windows Media Player
Download: Musicmatch Jukebox
“Our mission is to incubate Songbird, the first Web player, to catalyze and champion a diverse, open Media Web.” As of early 2007, this programme is still very much at an early stage pre-version 1 stage. Visually, it’s pretty unattractive and functionally fairly limited. It will be interesting to see how it develops though, as its remit of providing an open-source alternative to iTunes and Windows Media Player is to be applauded.
Platform: PC and Mac
Audion has been retired. It is now free of charge, is no longer being actively developed/supported, and is provided as-is and without warranty. Thanks for using Audion, we hope you continue to enjoy it!
Hi! I’m a single app that bravely handles all your audio needs – I’m easy to use, but with gobs of advanced features ready to be discovered! I can play your Audio CDs, your MP3s, and your streaming network audio, I can encode, edit, mix, sort and manage, visualize and hypnotize. And now that I’m 3, I can broadcast, record, crossfade, and even hang with your iPod. Best of all, I’ve got that Panic design – light, simple, and powerful.
I still use Audion because sometimes it will rip CDs that iTunes refuses to. Worth a look.
Colour Player is the result of a study into how we associate music with different colours. It turns out that most of us are able to create, with explanation, a strong link between a piece of music we are listening to and a specific colour.
I can’t vouch for this one as it’s PC only, but it looks interesting!
Platform: PC only
Download: Colour Player
Last updated: February 2006
RetroPlayer is a music player with which you can listen to music as if it was played by an analog record player. You can re-enjoy a piece of music that you have listened to for many times.
This is great fun: MP3 files are played via drag and drop – the record spins round, but most importantly the preferences allow the user to set parameters like ‘distortion’, ‘skip’, ‘noise’ and ‘effects’ – all the fun of an old 78 player in the digital age!
Platform: Mac OS X 10.3 and later
Download: Retro Player
Last updated: July 2006
Described as a visual music player, in my experience it’s interesting if rather slow (on a MacBook Pro). Worth a try.
Platform: Mac OS X
Last updated: October 2006
Clutter is a small Mac OS X application that lets you put music CDs on your desktop. You can drag them anywhere — they’re really windows. Line them up neatly or put them in piles, it’s your choice. Each one looks like the real CD’s cover, and double-clicking it tells iTunes — or your SqueezeBox or SoundBridge — to play that CD… Think of Clutter as an alternate user interface to your music collection. When deciding what to play next, instead of searching through a huge alphabetical list, let your eye roam over the covers of your favorite CDs and those you’ve been listening to recently.
Platform: Mac OS X
Last updated: February 2005