5 Lightweight Music Players That Don’t Sacrifice Features

Over the past year or so, I’ve made a conscious effort to search around the web and find the best free music players out there. Time and time again, I find myself coming back to my tried and trusty Foobar2000, but every once in a while I wonder if there might be anything even better. In terms of sheer power, yes, there are great programs like MediaMonkey and MusicBee, but is there anything both awesome and lightweight?

Let me first define what I mean by lightweight: good performance even on older systems, does not suck up loads of CPU while running, and requires no more than 75 MB of RAM. Foobar2000 fulfills those requirements with flying colors, but for some reason or another, you may not like Foobar2000. Personally, I’m just bored looking at the same music player day in and day out. Won’t you join me as I explore these high-performance alternatives?

GOM Audio [Windows]

foobar alt gom audio   5 Lightweight Music Players That Don’t Sacrifice Features

GOM Audio is a lesser known music player that shares a lot of similarities with players like Winamp, a media player so popular I probably don’t need to elaborate, and AIMP3, which you can find further down on this list. Right out of the box, GOM Audio is slick, clean, and presents itself with a warm theme that’s best described as inviting. Coming from the same developers behind GOM Video, you can be sure that GOM Audio will deliver the same level of polish.

I installed GOM Audio for the first time a few months ago and I still use it on a regular basis. It comes equipped with playlists, an equalizer, a flexible interface, skinning, and a plugin system for extensibility. It does NOT have a library feature so don’t expect to manage your music with GOM Audio – it’s just a music player.

For a deeper look at this program, check out our GOM Audio review.

AIMP3 [Windows]

foobar alt aimp3   5 Lightweight Music Players That Don’t Sacrifice Features

AIMP3 is a music player that reminds me heavily of Winamp, except much cleaner and more modern. The interface is a bit more sophisticated without being more complicated and the whole thing just feels more complete to me. The base program is feature-complete as is, but with the plugin system, you can extend functionality even further.

A wonderful feature of AIMP3 is the Audio Library, which opens up and allows you to manage all of your music files with ease. Another great feature is the Tag Editor, which can be a bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be keeping your music organized left and right. For someone who’s as obsessive about music tags as me, the Tag Editor is a godsend.

For a deeper look at this program, check out our AIMP3 review.

Nightingale [Windows, Mac, Linux]

foobar alt nightingale   5 Lightweight Music Players That Don’t Sacrifice Features

Nightingale is a fork off of the more widely known Songbird Classic, but with Songbird recently closing its doors, Nightingale has pretty much become the main branch of Songbird’s codebase. And to be frank, Nightingale is everything that Songbird should’ve been from the start: fast, clean, with a focus on performance instead of eye candy. If you want extra features, there’s always the addon system.

One draw to Nightingale is the built-in web browser – a feature that never made sense to me, but apparently some people like being able to browse the web from right inside the player. The other draw is Nightingale’s Smart Playlists, which can set up dynamic filters and parameters to automatically create and adjust playlists for you on the fly. With Songbird out of the way, maybe Nightingale can finally shine as a powerful, lightweight music player.

For a deeper look at this program, check out our Nightingale review.

Clementine [Windows, Mac, Linux]

foobar alt clementine   5 Lightweight Music Players That Don’t Sacrifice Features

Clementine is somewhat of a middle-of-the-road music player. It provides more features than a typical lightweight player, but because of that, it ends up requiring a bit more resources than a true lightweight player. The interface is clean and intuitive, the controls are good, and it comes with managers for your music, cover art, cloud syncs, and more. I like Clementine because it has a strong audio library without sacrificing too much speed.

Out of all the programs on this list, Clementine is probably the least lightweight for the reasons mentioned above. Depending on how many songs you load into its library, the RAM requirements can hover close to the 75 MB cutoff that I use as one of the criteria for lightweight. Still, Clementine is a great piece of software that operates well even on older machines, so if none of the other choices appeal to you, give it a go.

For a deeper look at this program, check out our Clementine review.

Spider Player [Windows]

foobar alt spider player   5 Lightweight Music Players That Don’t Sacrifice Features

Spider Player is not the most amazing music player that you’ll ever see, but when you need a feature-complete music player that’s easy on the resources, it’ll do just fine. What’s even greater is that Spider Player can be portable, which means you don’t need to install it to use it. Stick it on a thumb drive and take it with you to use Spider Player on any computer you plug it into.

The interesting thing about Spider Player is that it used to be premium software, but a few years ago, the developers pushed out a final version and released a product key that allows anyone to unlock the Pro features for free. Don’t be frightened by the “hasn’t been updated since December 2010” aspect of Spider Player because it is pretty much complete and, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have any major bugs.

The product key to unlock Spider Player Pro (for version 2.5.3): 27U3Z909I95-KK147A893S4K6Y1M0F-780363812

For a deeper look at this program, check out our Spider Player review.

Conclusion

Foobar2000 took the lightweight music player market by storm many years ago, and it still reigns as king year after year. Many music players have tried to overtake it since then, and many of them have failed, but the music players on this list have enough merit on their own to be considered plausible alternatives to Foobar2000. Definitely give them a go if Foobar2000 isn’t perfect for you.

For those of you who have tried these music players, what do you think? Do you like them? Hate them? What other lightweight music players can you recommend? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments!

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

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37 Comments -

0 votes

HH

And don’t forget the linux text console based mocp!

2 votes

Kuba

Where is Foobar?

0 votes

Joel L

This article was originally supposed to be “lightweight alternatives to Foobar2000″ but it took a small turn somewhere along the way. That’s why Foobar isn’t on there. I love Foobar!

2 votes

John Dee

What about 1by1? The king of lightweight and a brilliant player:
http://mpesch3.de1.cc/1by1.html

0 votes

Akhil K

1by1 is my favourite. With launchy just press Alt+Space, 1, Enter, Space….and my music is on in 2 seconds.

0 votes

Joel L

Never heard of 1by1 but it looks pretty slick. I’ll give it a go!

1 votes

vBm

Don’t forget about BOOM (from creator of foobar2000)
http://perkele.cc/software/boom

1 votes

Francisco Alvarado

I like AIMP because it is lightweight, fast and packed with features, without cluttering the screen as unfortunately ended up doing Winamp. This is the AIMP official website (into english): http://www.aimp.ru/index.php?do=lang&lng=en
there you’ll find they even have released an AIMP for Android app (still beta, but it works).
The other music players on this list seem too ugly for my taste.

0 votes

Joel L

AIMP for Android? That sounds promising. Thanks for the heads up!

0 votes

Ellis

I love AIMP but keep having conflicts with my video player, Potplayer. Also started getting random bugs after installing it. I’ve tried reinstalling from the developers official website but still have regular crashes on Windows 7 when starting Potplayer at the same time. I like Potplayer so much that I’m ditching AIMP…

0 votes

Francisco Alvarado

Ellis: Try using the portable version of AIMP. I like Potplayer too and I have it installed in my PC, and I use the portable AIMP from LiberKey portable apps suite. I am watching some videos while listening to music just now, and my Windows 7 runs them without any hassle.

0 votes

w

billy sheep friends,
totally beat them up !

1 votes

John

XMPlay (http://www.un4seen.com/) isn’t too bad either!

0 votes

Joel L

Ha, reminds me of Winamp and AIMP. I’ll give it a try. Thanks!

2 votes

Bryan M

This is a great list, but I doubt I will be switching from Foobar anytime soon.

1 votes

Jeremy G

I tried Clemantine last year, but found it does eat up memory. I currently use a portable version of MediaMonkey.

1 votes

Larry Davidson

Nothing beats the good old Winamp.

0 votes

Lars

I agree

1 votes

Mike D

Mpxplay is a small and fast DOS (Disk Operating System) based 32-bit audio player with text based GUI. Supported file-formats: AAC,AC3,APE,DTS,MP2,MP3,MP4/M4A,MPC,OGG,WAV and CD player/ripper.
Supported soundcards: SB Live/Audigy,CMI,VIA,SB16,ESS,GUS,WS

http://sourceforge.net/projects/mpxplay/

1 votes

Perry

It’s always good to try new music players, but they often have so much overhead with plugins etc, and I don’t know why so many of them make managing the database so difficult. Best I’ve found – Quux Player – http://www.quuxplayer.com/

0 votes

Joel L

I tried Quux but it wasn’t one of my favorites. As far as I know, it hasn’t been updated since 2011, which kind of turns me off as well. But hey, if you like it, keep going. :)

1 votes

maxwell gama

I would say potplayer (daum) does it for me. very light, configurable and much much better than the good old winamp mentioned above

0 votes

Joel L

PotPlayer is a nice media player but I didn’t know anyone actually used it for music management. Interesting!

1 votes

Sayed I

Excluding Foobar from this list is like a crime :)

0 votes

Joel L

This article was originally supposed to be “lightweight alternatives to Foobar2000″ but it took a small turn somewhere along the way. That’s why Foobar isn’t on there. I love Foobar!

0 votes

likefunbutnot

I actually think Music Library software is largely useless since it’s often fixated on the sorts of categorization that only works with popular music. Classical Music, Jazz, movie soundtracks and even to a lesser extent rap and club music (because of the distinction between DJ, performer and featured artist) don’t fit very well in to the schemes of organization that music libraries want to use.

Anyway I use Winamp , omitting the library function, for music playback on Windows. I seldom listen to music on *nix systems I manage but like as not if I do it’s through Plex’s web application.

0 votes

Robson

Qmmp on linux!

0 votes

Mercede

I do not understand how you decide the “light weight” thing. I’m a developer and I know that custom skins take more resources, too many features take more resources. anything that looks tiny on your desktop does not necessarily have to be lightweight.
to me a lightweight player is the one that does not take many CPU cycles, that does not consume much memory and still delivers most of the functionality.

0 votes

DiogoCosta

These lists ALWAYS forget Jaangle, my personal favorite for a few years now. Super light, super simple, super efficient.

0 votes

Joel L

Jaangle looks interesting. I had it on my list of programs to check out long ago but I lost it and never remembered to check it out again. Thanks!

0 votes

Diogo Costa

I really really love it. It suits my needs perfectly, and if you’re into Last.fm, it has a built-in scrobbler. The only downside is that, for what I can understand, its development has stopped.

0 votes

colarado

Hi,

Thanks for good article.
I tried http://spider-player.com/ but site is just blank page

colarado

0 votes

WTF

Since when Clementine is lightweight and clean on Windows? It’s smooth on Linux, but on Windows crawls like a slug.

0 votes

Kiernan

kaseta.co is the best youtube music player I know so far..

0 votes

Ciza

Just have to say, that my MusicBee is munching just about 40-50 MB RAM ;)

I really love it and I also tried MediaMonkey but MusicBee suits me even a little more.

1 votes

Ryan

I wouldn’t say GOM is lesser known. On CNET it’s ranked #2 in Media Players beneath only Windows Media Player.

0 votes

Joel L

That would be the video player. Most people don’t realize that GOM also has an audio player, which is what this article was about.