Most Windows users limit themselves to the pre-installed software that comes along with the OS. Why bother? They’re already there, they carry out the tasks for what they’ve been programmed and overall, they seem ok. But, as you should know by now, the Internet is filled with alternatives to the standard programs which, in many occasions, are way better than the pre-installed software.
In terms of audio applications, people are used to hear their favorite tunes in Windows Media Player, the default player for Windows. While it actually is a good option (especially since the release of the highly improved version 11) using it should be a result of a thoughtful decision and not a choice made out of laziness or ignorance. So, if you are a music lover like me and want the best to play your songs but you don’t know where to start looking, here’s a small list of several apps (and their pros and cons) I’ve compiled just for you.
Windows default player is great for several reasons: it supports a wide variety of files and formats, it already comes installed with the OS, it can rip and burn audio CD and it’s very simple to use. It’s the standard audio application and an excellent option for beginners.
PROS: Simple and easy to use. Intuitive commands. You can create and burn CDs in a blink of an eye. Streaming contents from the Internet can be enjoyed with almost no adjustments. It upgrades automatically.
CONS: The quality of the ripped contents isn’t the best. Whenever a new codec is needed to play a file, WMP connects to a service which finds it for you (however, this doesn’t always work). Doesn’t have iPod support. If you’re looking for a more specialized app, WMP will appear to you as too basic.
2 – Winamp
Nullsoft’s popular application is a great alternative for intermediate and advanced users. It features numerous functions to customize the appearance and the sound of the player. Besides, it has a great community backing it up and providing plugins for a better performance.
PROS: More specialized than WMP, Winamp sounds better and its equalizer is more accurate. Totally customizable (via skins and plugins). Offers a good number of options. Winamp can retrieve track information from the Internet in a very precise manner. You can upgrade it to the Pro version for a small fee.
CONS: Its commands can be difficult to understand. It requires too much resources (for an audio player, at least). Installing plugins can be complicated.
This Apple’s alternative for WMP and Winamp and is the favorite of iPod users. It’s perfect for library management. It integrates with iTunes Store to provide you with the best music available online. You can enjoy Podcasts easily.
PROS: Great interface (especially its Coverflow feature, which displays your album covers in an elegant fashion). Ideal for iPod management. Excellent playlist management options.
CONS: It requires even more resources than Winamp. Doesn’t support a wide variety of portable devices.
One of the best players out there. Not only has the features you would expect from an audio player (audio effects, CD ripping and burning) but it also comes with a built-in browser with which you can access to Amazon MP3 and Last.FM. It also has a CD label utility for you to create your covers.
PROS: All of its functions make it one of the best of its kind. Great alternative to iTunes for managing your iPod contents. It provides a very interesting podcast service.
CONS: It’s shareware and the trial has some limitations, so you must purchase it in order to check its full potency. Doesn’t have multilingual interface nor support.
5 – JetAudio
Cowon’s application is great for playing, managing, ripping, burning and even recording audio files. It’s packed with options and features to work with your songs in a variety of ways. Besides, you can customize it almost in full. All in all, is an excellent software for picky users.
PROS: Built-in audio converter. It includes an interesting series of audio effects for use while playing. Great album manager incorporated.
CONS: Doesn’t support a great number of formats. While the program is free, some extra functions require you to pay a fee. Some options can be hard to understand.
These are only a few options for you to explore. There are plenty of alternatives on the Web so is up to you to find the one that fits you perfectly. Ask, surf and research to find it. It’s the key to encounter what you really want. Now that you are done reading, tell me, what’s your favorite audio player?
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