Most Mac owners use either iTunes or a streaming service to manage and listen to their music. That’s great, but if you’re an audiophile who prefers high-resolution audio, iTunes simply won’t cut it.
If you own music in a high-fidelity format, you may need to look beyond iTunes. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options available to you, so here are the best hi-res music player apps for Mac.
If you’ve looked around at solutions for playing FLAC files on a Mac, the chances are you’ve run into Vox. In addition to FLAC, Vox features support for other hi-res formats like ALAC (Apple Lossless), DSD (Direct Stream Digital), and uncompressed formats like PCM, WAV, and AIFF.
Vox can play hi-res audio in up to 24bit/192kHz. On the off chance that you have music in surround format, you also get 5.1-channel support. This isn’t especially common, but it’s a nice feature to have. All in all, Vox is one of the best alternatives to iTunes for Mac users.
Vox is free to use, but Vox Premium is an optional subscription that adds several features. You’ll pay either $49/year or $4.99/month for the subscription.
With the subscription, you’ll also get advanced audio settings, like a built-in 10-band equalizer to tailor the sound to your tastes. The subscription also adds gapless playback and the ability to automatically set the sample rate of your output device to that of the file playing.
Vox Premium also includes unlimited storage with Vox Music Cloud, which is handy if you’re running out of hard drive space. This feature is also useful as it ties into the Vox iOS app. With your files in the cloud, you can listen on your Mac or iPhone whenever you want without worrying about running out of space.
Download: Vox (Free, with optional Vox Premium subscription)
On its website, Audirvana+ is described simply as “the audiophile music player”. The use of this term likely either excites or bothers you. If you think hi-resolution audio is a scam, Audirvana+ is probably not for you. Especially when you consider the price tag.
Though it’s not the most expensive player on this list, Audirvana+ is still far from cheap. You get a fair amount of features for your money. Some of them aren’t even found elsewhere on this list. You also get a three-month trial of Tidal, plus a three-month trial of Qobuz if you’re not located in the U.S.
Audirvana+ features support for the major hi-res formats, including MQA (Master Quality Authenticated). This app was the first to integrate the MQA Core Decoder, which brings out the full quality of the music, even if you’re not playing through an MQA-capable audio device.
The app also supports formats like FLAC, ALAC, DSD, and even SACD ISO. Audirvana+ also features extensive features to catalog your library, including extended tags for classical and jazz. Full text search makes it easy to find your music.
Download: Audirvana+ ($74, with a 15-day free trial)
The cheapest player on this list that isn’t free, Colibri offers plenty of features for its low price tag. The website even points out that this is a one-time purchase and guarantees free upgrades. That isn’t even mentioned on the websites of the more expensive players.
Colibri offers bit-perfect gapless playback of lossless audio formats, and it supports lossy formats as well. Supported lossless formats include FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF, APE, TTA, DSD, and WavPack. When it comes to lossy formats, Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and AAC/M4A are supported. The app includes support for Cue sheets as well.
If you prefer your Mac apps to look like Mac apps, you’ll love Colibri. The website states that one of the project’s goals is to be “as native to macOS as humanly possible”. It also aims for a tiny memory footprint and minimal battery impact. That’s great if you want to listen while you work from a coffee shop without having to plug in.
Download: Colibri ($4.99)
4. Amarra Luxe
At $99, Amarra Luxe is the priciest app on this list. It’s also one of a few Amarra-branded products from developer Sonic Studio. This isn’t cheap, but the app does have some unique features.
Amarra Luxe supports a host of file types, including DSD, MQA, and FLAC. The app features built-in real-time DSD to PCM conversion, meaning you can listen without the need for a fancy digital-to-analog converter. You also get integration with Tidal and Qobuz, letting you listen to streams from multiple services in one place.
One of the bigger features of Amarra Luxe is iTunes integration. If you love the iTunes interface but want the format support and sound quality of Amarra Luxe, this is an attractive feature.
Download: Amara Luxe ($99)
5. Pine Player
As the only fully free player on this list, Pine Player is anything but barebones. While the player may not be as flashy as some of the other apps, it should still does justice to your hi-res audio files. If you’ve just blown a bunch of money on digital albums, that’s a nice thing to know.
Pine Player supports a ton of formats, including MP3, FLAC, APE, AAC, M4A, WAV, AIFF, OGG, WMA, DSD, and SACD ISO. It also supports listening to BIN / CUE files. Even better, it supports hi-res audio all the way up to 32bit / 768kHz.
If you’re a fan of keyboard controls, you’ll find a lot to like in Pine Player. You can control nearly every aspect of the app with a handful of keyboard shortcuts. This includes playback, volume, and playlist editing.
Other features include crossfading and gapless playback, as well as an automatic isolation function for damaged files.
Download: Pine Player (Free)
What If You Don’t Have a Hi-Res Music Collection?
These hi-res music player apps are great, but what if you don’t have a hi-res music collection? To start, you could use a streaming service like Tidal, which offers hi-res audio in the MQA format. Deezer is another option, but it only offers CD-quality sound, not hi-res.
Streaming can still be less than ideal. So, if you’re looking to start a collection, take a look at our list of music sites all audiophiles need in their lives.