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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 Play Music Like An Audiophile With Foobar2000 [Windows] Play Music Like An Audiophile With Foobar2000 [Windows] Foobar2000 is the desktop music player of choice for audiophiles, tinkerers and anyone looking for a lightweight, efficient program. We have it listed on our page of the best Windows software for a reason, although... Read More , 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 MediaMonkey 4: An Extremely Powerful Music Management Program [Rewards] MediaMonkey 4: An Extremely Powerful Music Management Program [Rewards] I recently got my hands on a copy of MediaMonkey Gold, the premium version of the free music player, MediaMonkey. This full-featured music manager was once known as Songs-DB back when it first hit the... Read More and MusicBee MusicBee: Your Powerful, Yet Simple, All-In-One Music Manager [Windows] MusicBee: Your Powerful, Yet Simple, All-In-One Music Manager [Windows] What do you use to manage your music library? iTunes certainly is the popular choice, even on Windows. There are other options like Winamp, Songbird, Mediamonkey and Foobar just to name a few. I stumbled... Read More , 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

GOM Audio is a lesser known music player that shares a lot of similarities with players like Winamp, a media player Winamp - A Solid Media Player That Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows] Winamp - A Solid Media Player That Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows] Winamp is a Methuselah among the third party Windows media players. First released in 1997 and originally developed by Nullsoft, it has become a subsidiary of AOL in the meantime. However, it hasn't lost any... Read More 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 Tired Of Big & Bloated Music Players? Try GOM Audio For Free! Tired Of Big & Bloated Music Players? Try GOM Audio For Free! Read More .

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AIMP3 [Windows]

foobar-alt-aimp3

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 AIMP3: An Excellent Music Library And Player - Lightweight & Free! [Windows] AIMP3: An Excellent Music Library And Player - Lightweight & Free! [Windows] Music players come and go. Yesterday, a particular player might’ve been the #1 music library manager. Tomorrow, a new music player could come out and decimate the current competition. The cycle has always been true... Read More .

Nightingale [Windows, Mac, Linux]

foobar-alt-nightingale

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 Nightingale: A Faster, Cleaner Cross-Platform Fork of Songbird Music Player Nightingale: A Faster, Cleaner Cross-Platform Fork of Songbird Music Player I’ve tried so many desktop music players that I’m starting to lose my mind. So far I’ve tried Clementine, Spider, GOM Audio, AIMP3, and a few more. How does Nightingale fare against its fierce competition?... Read More .

Clementine [Windows, Mac, Linux]

foobar-alt-clementine

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 Need A Lightweight Music Player Without Sacrificing Features? Clementine! [Cross-Platform] Need A Lightweight Music Player Without Sacrificing Features? Clementine! [Cross-Platform] Sometimes you don’t really know what you want until you’re holding it in your hands. There are not-so-resource-intensive music players out there that are bland and there are monster RAM hogs that provide tons of... Read More .

Spider Player [Windows]

foobar-alt-spider-player

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 Need An Alternative to Winamp? Try Spider Player [Windows] Need An Alternative to Winamp? Try Spider Player [Windows] I’m a big music junkie. If I’m sitting at my computer and there is no music coming out of the speakers, then it actually puts me on edge a bit and I end up unable... Read More .

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!

  1. Lyn burger
    August 24, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    actually i was using Music Bee and havnt had a chance to try media monky i dont know if ill use it or not, and i just went with foobar20000, the name is weired but so am I, sound and looks good so far I realy like the setup options.

  2. Lyn burger
    August 24, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Hey thanks man good review. You didnt realy mention anything about the players sound itself. like back in the day i remember listening to Db power amp and being blown away by the bass and high and lows etc, Maybe you could talk about that in you review, I remeber aAIMP3 and totolly forgot about that player, Im really getting bored too it seems like theres alot flooating aroung but i just cant seem to find one i like. Im trying Media Monkey right now for the first time. The sound is ok, I usually play my music with VLC hah, just lazy i guess, But Media Monkey has way to many bells and whistles for my, I Like your lightweight aproach and will be giving these others a try, Thanks,

  3. Thomas
    May 10, 2016 at 11:26 am
  4. Thomas
    May 10, 2016 at 11:25 am

    AIMP3

    You missed the best one

    For audiophiles foobar is the best. Extendable, component based, frequently improved, and vast amount of options. Requires just a little bit reading up on the site to figure out how you can install just about any theme you want, and much more,.

    Twice as lightweight as the cpu hogs listed above. I used foobar for 5 years on my laptop and there's no going back. By the way, winamp is utterly horrilble. So is AIMP.

  5. Brian K Schoeler
    March 24, 2016 at 12:30 am

    I use Winyl to play music files, it automatically splits albums with cue files when you load new files to your library. It took about 20 min. to load 67,000 files after splitting single file albums, I now have 78,797 tracks. It has a beautiful interface with thumbnails for each album, if the art is in the ID tag. You can easily add cover art. It has a great mini player, that also has cover art. I have had paid players that where nowhere as good as this player.

    • Xenia
      April 23, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      I also use Winyl, for a year now. It's footprint is light, the quality of the sound is good and it's fast. It also has some bells and whistles (library, covers, radio, etc.) but not millions of them to become clattered or difficult to use. Actually, it's surprising easy and simple. I migrated from Winamp and I can't say I miss it. .

  6. Cenon
    September 8, 2015 at 7:29 am

    What about xmplay?

  7. Ryan
    January 18, 2014 at 7:58 pm

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

    • Joel L
      January 29, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      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.

  8. Ciza
    November 27, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    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.

  9. Kiernan
    October 7, 2013 at 9:10 pm

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

  10. WTF
    October 7, 2013 at 10:42 am

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

    • Ilham
      March 26, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      That's why I just deleted the portable version. Now I'm lurking for a good replacement since I also got tired with AIMP3.

  11. colarado
    September 30, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Hi,

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

    colarado

  12. DiogoCosta
    September 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm

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

    • Joel L
      September 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      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!

    • Diogo Costa
      September 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      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.

  13. Mercede
    September 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    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.

  14. Robson
    September 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Qmmp on linux!

  15. likefunbutnot
    September 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    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.

  16. Sayed I
    September 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Excluding Foobar from this list is like a crime :)

    • Joel L
      September 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      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!

  17. maxwell gama
    September 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm

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

    • Joel L
      September 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm

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

  18. Perry
    September 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    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/

    • Joel L
      September 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      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. :)

  19. Mike D
    September 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    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/

  20. Larry Davidson
    September 10, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Nothing beats the good old Winamp.

    • Lars
      October 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      I agree

  21. Jeremy G
    September 10, 2013 at 5:43 am

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

  22. Bryan M
    September 10, 2013 at 3:29 am

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

  23. John
    September 10, 2013 at 3:22 am

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

    • Joel L
      September 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm

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

  24. w
    September 10, 2013 at 3:04 am

    billy sheep friends,
    totally beat them up !

  25. Francisco Alvarado
    September 10, 2013 at 2:44 am

    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.

    • Joel L
      September 10, 2013 at 10:08 pm

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

    • Ellis
      February 9, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      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...

    • Francisco Alvarado
      February 10, 2014 at 6:25 am

      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.

  26. vBm
    September 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm

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

  27. John Dee
    September 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm

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

    • Akhil K
      September 10, 2013 at 11:36 am

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

    • Joel L
      September 10, 2013 at 10:12 pm

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

    • Abey
      February 20, 2015 at 11:45 am

      Liked 1by1 very much :) But, the application opens twice when I open another mp3 from a folder instead of opening it one the same window. Can I stop this anyhow in the settings or any other way to achieve this?

  28. Kuba
    September 9, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Where is Foobar?

    • Joel L
      September 10, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      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!

  29. HH
    September 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm

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

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