Overview: mp3 software

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.



iTunes screenshot

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
Download: iTunes


Winamp screenshot

Wikipedia provides this general overview.

Platform: PC
Download: Winamp

Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player 11 screenshot

Platform: PC
Download: Windows Media Player

Musicmatch Jukebox

Musicmatch screenshot

Read PC Magazine’s (very positive) review.

Platform: PC
Download: Musicmatch Jukebox



Songbird screenshot

“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
Download: Songbird


Audion screenshot

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.

Platform: Mac
Download: Audion

Colour Player

Colour Player screenshot

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

Retro Player

Retro player screenshot

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


Krix screenshot

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
Download: Krix
Last updated: October 2006


Clutter screenshot

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
Download: Clutter
Last updated: February 2005


One Response to Overview: mp3 software

  1. themilkman says:

    I am rather conventional when it comes to MP3 players I’m afraid. I pretty much only use iTunes. I find it easy to use and practical enough for me to use as I intend. So far, I haven’t really had any problems with it apart perhaps for it being a bit slow to rip CDs on my old G3.

    Somehow, I’ve never been able to make any sense of Winamp. In the old days, I liked the idea of skins for my player, and therefore looked into the Winamp option as an alternative to Windows Media Player, but I just found it unusable. I know it is a very popular player, just not popular with me.

    I quite like the idea of Retro Player, if only for the novelty factor, although I doubt aforementioned G3 would cope too well with it.

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