Not all music you love is on your streaming service of choice, and you have plenty of great tracks on your hard drive too. Plus, there’s always the question of getting recommendations for new tunes. These alternative music players can help.
From bringing all your streaming services into one app to a gorgeous and minimalistic new player, there’s something for everyone here. And there’s a bit of nostalgia for those who miss the classic Winamp.
1. Voltra (Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS): Minimalist Music Player With a Free Streaming Twist
If you love a minimalistic interface for your music players, Voltra’s desktop and mobile apps are worth checking out. The clean white-and-black design is gorgeous, and also a breeze to interact with.
The app itself has everything you would want from it. You can build your media library, browse artists and albums, and create playlists. Voltra supports every common audio file format too.
Here’s the differentiator: Voltra includes a streaming service. Any user with a Voltra account can stream any song for free once. If you like it, you pay to stream it again. And after the 10th time, you stream it, you own the track for unlimited play. It’s not the best system nor the cheapest, but you might discover some cool indie artists through it.
And no matter what, Voltra itself is an excellent music player for songs stored on your computer. So use it freely for that without worrying about the streaming part.
Download: Voltra for Windows, macOS, or Linux (Free) | iOS (Free)
2. Harmony (Windows, macOS, Linux): iTunes Without Bloatware, Plus Streaming Services
Good God, Apple, fix your iTunes already! It has become a bloated application that simply isn’t good enough as a music player anymore. If you like the iTunes interface but can’t stand how much of your resources it hogs, try out Harmony.
Obviously, Harmony works with your stored music. But it also includes a host of plugins for popular streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, Google Play Music, YouTube, Reddit, and others. Install the plugins, sign in with your accounts, and Harmony becomes a powerful music player that will play almost any song you search for.
Apart from Harmony, there are some other great alternatives to iTunes for macOS X too. But having tried them all, my vote would go for Harmony today.
Download: Harmony for Windows, macOS, or Linux (Free)
3. Plexamp (Windows, macOS): For Those Who Miss Winamp and Others Like It
The developers at Plex, one of the best media server apps, recently released a new standalone music player. Plexamp is inspired by music players of old, with a distinct tip of the hat to good old Winamp, both in name and design.
It all starts with the visualizers, which are patterns of colors that play on screen in tune to the beat. It’s a mesmerizing (and nostalgic) experience, and if you’ve never seen something like it before, you’ll love it. PlexAmp adds some of the other things that old music players used to have, like volume leveling (to avoid one song being louder than the next) and gapless playback (to switch to the next track without a distinctive skip).
On top of these old flavors, Plexamp adds new features from its server-based technology. For example, it turns your existing media library into a radio station, based on popularity or dates. Similarly, each artist can be turned into a radio station too. Here’s a full breakdown of everything you need to know about Plexamp.
Download: Plexamp for Windows (Free) | macOS (Free)
4. Reddit Music Player (Web, Mobile Web): Stream Reddit’s Best Recommendations
On various subreddits, users of the internet’s largest public forums are constantly sharing their music recommendations. Reddit Music Player brings them all under one roof, ready to be played on a desktop or mobile browser tab.
It’s a huge list of subreddits that covers every genre and sub-genre you can think of. Choose one of the various supported subreddits to see a playlist of all the songs listed in it. You can filter by trending, new, or top tracks this day/week/month/year/all-time. As with any good music player, there’s a shuffle button too.
The cool part is that you can sign in with your Reddit login to vote or comment on the track you’re listening to. There is no need to ever leave the Reddit Music Player interface, and you can keep rocking on.
5. Cymbal (Android, iOS, Chrome): A Musical Social Media Working Across Streaming Services
While music has a different effect on each of us, it is as much about sharing tunes with others and hearing their recommendations. Cymbal is a new music player based on the premise of finding more music you’ll like.
The app is a bit like a social network. You tell it the track you currently love the most, your all-time favorite, and an underrated hit. Cymbal will create a music profile for you, and show people with similar tastes. Follow them, and see each other’s recommendations as they come up. Tap any song to start playing it in Spotify, Soundcloud, or Apple Music immediately. Neat, eh?
It’s an excellent way to discover new music you will love, and tell others about tracks they might have missed out on. The Apple Music connection didn’t work well in our test, but try it out, you might have better luck.
Download: Cymbal Android (Free) | iOS (Free) | Google Chrome (Free)
Do You Use iTunes or Windows Media Player?
It always surprises me to find out how many people continue to use iTunes or Windows Media Player (or the new Groove music player) for songs stored on their hard drive.
Are you an iTunes or Windows Media Player user? Will you switch to one of the better alternatives listed above?