Top 5 Media Players For XP

Gnomie TechMarshal from the chat room writes in with his top five favorite media players for XP:

  1. VLC: There is only one major reason that this is in my number one spot: it plays SEVERAL media formats. It even plays *.flv files. It is also a very small program that doesn’t take up much disk space or slow down your computer.
  2. Rhapsody: Rhapsody supports music videos and pictures. It also has a music subscription service. The only drawback that I can find with this program is that if you download music from Rhapsody it comes in *.rax format, which is very difficult to convert to mp3 and/or mp4.
  3. Windows Media Player: This is Microsoft’s creation and it did not do a bad job by any means. It is a very sleek, nice looking program and it is used with multiple mp3 players out on the market today. It supports quite a few music formats, which is always a good thing. It also does video and pictures.
  4. Winamp: This is an alternative for Windows Media Player haters. It has nice features like custom skins and it also plays multiple formats. It is also an alternative to iTunes in the sense that you can use it to sync music to your iPod.
  5. iTunes: This is a very popular media player and has a lot of content for downloads, but it can be slow and it uses a ton of virtual memory if you have a lot of songs. Another disadvantage of using iTunes is that it does not support very different types of formats for video and audio. iTunes also doesn’t have a music subscription service, which I know Chris is waiting for.
Article Written by

  • Ellie

    I like Media Monkey for syncing to my iPod and playing music on my computer.

  • VitaminCM

    Seriously, Real Player (Rhapsody)?
    That thing is the worst POS ever.
    I’d rather have the old MusicMatch player on there than Real Player.

  • Keith

    Recently I was looking for a low-cpu music player as WMP was taking 75-90% of my P3 CPU. I came across the Zinf player. Its not the best looking player in the world but can be skinned with themes and has a nice Equalizer. Music sounds very good on it. –

  • Rob V

    These are all good suggestions – in fact, I’ve tried each of them with the exception of VLC (I use the free FLV Player for that).

    I’d suggest that ranking the “top” player depends a lot on your needs. Here’s a few key questions I’d ask: Do you just want a basic lightweight player for local PC files? Do you need to sync to a portable device — and is it an iPod or one of the others (or maybe even multiple devices)? Do you have a large or small music collection? Are you compulsive about keeping your music library organized and fully tagging each track using online data from Amazon, Gracenote, CDDB, etc? Do you need an integrated service for paid downloads, or is most of your music ripped from CDs? Do you need to also catalog classical music, where the organization and tags are quite different (composer, performing artists, conductor, etc.)? And do you really want video and audio support within the same tool?

    For me, the answers to those questions eliminated everything on your list except perhaps Winamp. But I always found Winamp’s user interface a bit lacking, and a lot of the needed functionality had to be added via some of the many user-contributed plugins.

    Then I discovered MediaMonkey, and have never looked back. The price is right (ie, free). Underneath, it uses a ‘real’ SQL database to manage your library, so it’s lightning-fast and can handle massive collections with ease. It has built-in support for bi-directional syncing to/from almost any portable devices, including iPods — that means you can also sync FROM the portables back TO your PC, including all tag info (very handy if a friend has tracks you’d like to have!). It has extensive support for tagging via lookup to Amazon, so you even get album reviews and cover art. Also has amazing flexibility to reorganize/rename your physical music files on the hard disk into any pattern you like (folders, subfolders, file name conventions, etc.) It can play almost every audio format known to man, with built-in one-click transcoding to other formats (eg, WMA to MP3). I have yet to find a single thing I’ve ever needed that isn’t built in, particularly using the newest beta version — which I’ve found more than stable enough to run fulltime. But if you do trip across something, there is a large MediaMonkey community that has written tons of plugins for it — and you can even use Winamp plugins as well. Fully supports both XP and Vista.

    Sorry for the long post, but MM is an amazing product yet for some reason isn’t as well-known as some of the others. I like it so much that I actually paid to license their “gold” version that has just a few added features. I manage a library of over 35,000 tracks of every genre, and just can’t imagine a better solution. In particular, the newest MM can actually handle classical music properly — something I could never do with any of the other tools I’d tried.

    Usual disclaimer – no connection other than being a very satisfied user. But I highly recommend giving MM 3 a try if you’re a serious music collector!


  • Edouard

    If you have an album/cover oriented collection, Siverjuke is the best by far. You can’t rip (not his purpose), can’t synchronize with portable audio (not yet) and it’s not free but it worth every penny. With a clean and nice interface, It’s a different approach than all the other players, it works really like a real jukebox, it seems very basic but have a lot of unique features to bring the best and the simplest audio experience. Try it only one hour (14 days trial) and you risk to be very surprised by his power and simplicity.

  • Edouard

    I have made a mistake, it’s not Siverjuke but Silverjuke of course

  • Rakan Rabayah

    Songbird FTW!