The 3 Best MP3 Players For Portable USB Drives

Simon Slangen 15-12-2009

musicostickLast week we talked about the advantages of carrying your music with you on the go – not on an MP3 player, but on an ordinary USB stick.


Accompanied with a portable audio application, you would be able to play your music anywhere, anytime; be it at home, at work, or even at your grandmother’s place.

We already showed you how to do a custom portable Winamp install How To Make A Portable Version Of Winamp For Your USB Drive Read More , making it fit for any portable storage device, but this time we’d like to focus on native MP3 players that are portable. That is, audio application that can be put on your USB stick without messing around. Some of these are adapted to run on portable media, others simply work.

CoolPlayer+ Portable

This one is, if we may, a ‘real’ portable application. Based on the original CoolPlayer, PortableApps has modified the application and repackaged it as a portable app. With 1.5 MB and over 2 million downloads to date, CoolPlayer+ Portable has proven itself both a lightweight and a fit candidate.

best mp3 player portable


Apart from audio playback, CoolPlayer+ Portable supports MP3 to WAV conversion, internet audio streaming, and even regular Winamp plug-ins. With CoolPlayer+ Portable, you’ve got slick looking music playback, but also a whole team’s worth of extra horsepower if, and when you need it.

1by1 [No Longer Available]

Who said we don’t listen to our readers? This application was recommended in the comments section of the portable Winamp article.

1by1 is an audio directory player. This means that instead of keeping a music library, 1by1 just browses your music folders. On the left side of the screen, you’re able to browse through the different folders on your USB stick. For the sake of usability, it’s best to drop all your MP3’s in one folder,or otherwise arrange by artist.

best mp3 player portable


No overly fancy cacophony and useless tools, 1by1 is still an incredibly light application and will occupy near to no memory resources. Nevertheless, it’s as versatile as one might hope for. Add the retro, high contrast look, and we’re all set to go.

Songbird Portable

Songbird is an audio player by Mozilla, the guys that have been entertaining us with Firefox. Although deemed buggy in some its earlier releases, Songbird has evolved to an incredible media player. Like its browser counterpart, Songbird also has great extendability. With numerous add-ons available online, you can adapt Songbird Eight Great Songbird Extensions Worth A Test Drive Read More to your every need. You won’t meet a more personalized audio player soon.

best mp3 player portable

Like the first application mentioned, Songbird Portable is also modified and repackaged by PortableApps. Unlike CoolPlayer+ Portable however, Songbird takes up a noteworthy amount of space; up to 65MB on your USB stick. With smaller thumb drives, this is something you might want to avoid.


In the end, you’ll have to decide what you’re looking for. If you want an extensive media management suite with lots of bells and whistles, you might deem it worth the extra space.

These are only three applications and perhaps we missed your favorite one. Do you ever use portable audio apps? Tell us which ones in the comments section below!

Related topics: Media Player, MP3, Portable App, USB Drive.

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  1. Walter Brewer
    February 9, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Look for players using the Bass Audio Library. I think it sounds really good.

  2. Keshav
    December 16, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Songbird is not an audio player "by Mozilla".

    It only employs their XULRunner platform. Joost and Miro also employ the same runtime environment.

    • Simon Slangen
      December 18, 2009 at 8:50 am

      Seems I was mistaken, thanks for clearing that up. :-)

  3. Jon
    December 16, 2009 at 5:40 am

    Another thumbs up for Aimp2 :-)

  4. pospam
    December 15, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Ditto for Dmplay.
    Its ability to play complete albums from zip or rar files makes it a winner for me

    • KevinH
      December 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

      thanks for the info about the zip/rar ability. I didn't know such a player existed (also I think that's a typo for xmplay, not dmplay, correct?). I used to use 1by1 (very nice, small, portable), but I'm going to try xmplay for a while.

  5. turtaf
    December 15, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    xmplay is a must have

    foobar can be a great portable app too.

  6. zinek
    December 15, 2009 at 1:11 pm


  7. mark
    December 15, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I think MediaMonkey is pretty much the best, and I've used Songbird. I guess if you have under 25,000 tracks songbird is good, but it gets cranky at high volumes.

  8. Famf
    December 15, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Foobar has a portable option too.

    • Sean C.
      December 15, 2009 at 4:36 pm

      Agreed, foobar is my favorite.

    • Aibek
      December 15, 2009 at 7:30 pm

      I third Foobar portable as well

      • Keshav
        December 16, 2009 at 9:13 am

        I prefer foobar too.

  9. Kashim
    December 15, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Songbird? Would you carry an elephant on a fishing boat?

    You should've included Aimp2, it can be installed as portable app.

    • Sotiris Z
      December 15, 2009 at 1:24 pm

      I agree, AIMP2 is a great player,probably even better than Winamp.

    • Leon
      March 11, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      Aimp2 is my favourite as well. For older machines though I use VLC. Both great programs.