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Monday, March 10, 2014

8 Best Music Players For Android

With the current size that the Google Play Store has grown to in sheer number of apps available, it’s more than just a tough call to pick a definitive best in any category. Still, there are always contenders that outshine all others. This especially holds true for those app genres that are more sought after, and that have a higher user base. One classic example is music players, which, although by definition, should serve only one purpose, but have so much more to offer that one could easily get puzzled as to what would suit their needs best...
A few days back, I went on a crusade to hunt down the best music player alternatives that Google Play Store carries for Android devices. Without declaring a decisive winner (which is almost impossible, to be honest), the following is the list of the top contenders that might suffice for all your music playback and library management needs, while getting extra info/lyrics on your favorite artists, tracks and albums. Enjoy!
Best-Android-Music-Players_th

Poweramp

There would hardly ever be a list of top music players for Android without the mention of this beast. Of all the music players that I tested, Poweramp reproduces the best audio quality, thanks to the great rendering engine as well as massive equalizer, bass booster, reverb and effect settings. All of this is packaged in a decent looking interface that only adds to the class of the player.
PowerAMP (1) PowerAMP (2)

Pros

  • Massive file format support
  • Versatile equalizer with lots of presets and control over bass, treble, reverb etc.
  • Lyric display with support for musiXmatch
  • Cover art animation
  • Support for themes and skins
  • ID3 tag editing for tracks
  • Last.FM scrobbling

Cons

  • Free version is just a two-week trial, after which you have to buy the player
  • Huge number of features can become confusing for basic user

Winamp

Nullsoft’s Winamp was a huge success for Windows before it found home on the Google Play Store as well, and since then, the player has gradually improved. It offers some great features like SHOUTcast online radio boasting over 45,000 stations, support for Android’s native voice commands and more. It’s also somewhat resource intensive and can prove to be challenging for older devices.
Winamp for Android (1) Winamp for Android (2)

Pros

  • Offers queuing of tracks similar to its Windows variant
  • SHOUTcast online radio service
  • Wi-Fi-based sync with desktop library
  • Attractive and catchy Now Playing interface with info overlay
  • Lock screen player

Cons

  • Unintuitive music management controls
  • Setting up playlists requires adding one song at a time
  • Large memory footprint of 30MB for background playback

Mixzing

This one has a very versatile feature offering set in a simplistic (read: not minimalist) interface. The app comes in a bright red color with music sorting/playback possible by Artist, Folder, Video and more. There’s an online radio offering as well that you can use, should you run out of choices in your local collection. Mixzing is also one of those few Android music players that offer music video playback. Also to be lauded is the app’s equalizer, which easily rivals Poweramp in sheer functionality.
Mixzing for Android (2) Mixzing for Android (1) Mixzing for Android (3)
Mixzing also takes pride in pulling information from the web regarding the playing track, including lyrics, artist info, YouTube videos and Wikipedia information, to name a few.

Pros

  • Song info with playback
  • Excellent and functional equalizer
  • Recommendations for similar songs from your local music library
  • ID3 tag editing
  • Extensive customization of interface
  • Sleep timer

Cons

  • Very intrusive in-app advertisement that can ruin the whole experience
  • Huge memory footprint of approximately 40 MB in background operation
  • A rather overly simplistic interface
  • Lack of a help section (it was recently removed from the app)

N7player

The most distinguishing feature of n7player is the way it is designed to be extremely beautiful and well-laid-out in both portrait and landscape modes. Of course, that’s not the deciding criteria for a music player, which is most likely to run in the background for you most of the time, but this app doesn’t leave you wishing for more in the looks department. If offers a unique tag cloud approach to artists that you have in your local music library, with the possibility of pinch-to-zoom to pull in album art thumbnails for them. Complementing the beautiful design are its home and lock screen widgets, tag editing, online lyrics search etc.
n7Player for Android (2)
The major downside of n7player is that for free, you only get a trial version that gets annoying due to its nagging reminders of purchasing the full version. We really don’t appreciate that a lot – really!

Pros

  • Excellent interface design with well-thought elements
  • Suitable for both portrait and landscape mode of operations
  • Artist/Genre tag clouds with multitouch controls
  • Home screen and Lock screen widgets
  • Tag editor
  • Online lyrics lookup

Cons

  • Free version is a nagging trial
  • Intrusive in-app advertising
  • Equalizer not very useful
n7player for Android

Cloudskipper

Cloudskipper is one that leaves us with mixed feelings. It’s pretty decent, no doubt, but it’s not being actively developed anymore, which is a huge turn off for quite a few users. On the other hand, the interface is rather neat, and comes with all the usual sorting and playback options. There’s an equalizer as well, although its working is something of a hit or miss. Sealing the deal are lock screen player controls, with the option to even set Cloudskipper itself as your lock screen!
Cloudskipper (1) Cloudskipper (2) Cloudskipper (3)

Pros

  • Neat interface with pleasant design elements
  • Decent equalizer (when it works)
  • Social sharing of the currently playing track
  • Online album art and info lookup
  • Low memory consumption in background operation (around 12MB)
  • Lock screen widget and player controls

Cons

  • Not being actively developed anymore
  • Lags on older devices (due to equalizer)
  • Equalizer functionality is fiddly

Meridian Player Transcend

Before anything else, just the name of this music player is a mouthful. It is one of those apps that you use just for the sheer number of features that they offer, and decide to tolerate their ugly interface for that reason. I’ll be honest; the interface is hardly acceptable, but Meridian is one of those few players that allow you to play audio and music videos from within the same interface. You can rate songs and build playlists based on these ratings automatically, and can even pull existing playlists from certain other music players as well. In my testing, for instance, Meridian imported playlists from Mixzing, Cloudskipper and Sony’s Walkman music player. Furthermore, Meridian’s ID3 tag editor is most powerful that we’ve seen so far on Android, as it lets you edit album art as well, based on images in your device’s storage.
Meridian Player Transcend (1) Meridian Player Transcend (2)

Pros

  • Offers features that are rarely found in a free package
  • Most comprehensive tag editor with album art editing support
  • Supports the standard 5-star rating system
  • Playback of videos alongside audio within same interface
  • Quick playlists

Cons

  • Unpleasant interface at best
  • Intrusive in-app advertisement
  • Useless equalizer
  • Largest memory footprint (60MB in background operation)

MusiXmatch

To classify musiXmatch as a music player would be injustice, as the app is so much more than that. It primarily started off as a lyrics discovery service and then incorporated music playback along the way. Its main strength, however, remains in lyrics. musiXmatch doesn’t offer a lot when it comes to playback options, but makes up for it in pulling the right music information from online sources to complement your music library. Nothing gets stored locally, so you’ll need internet connectivity all the time in order to view that information. A slight turn off for me was the fact that most of the modules (like fixing album art, for instance) require you to make in-app purchases, making musiXmatch more of a freemium app.
MusixMatch Android (1) MusixMatch Android (2)

Pros

  • Powerful app with largest lyrics search engine
  • Lyrics sync with song playback and display accordingly
  • Beautiful interface & design
  • MusicID service to identify playing songs
  • Lots of information available from online sources regarding artist, album, track etc.
  • Several purchasable modules to improve experience
  • Can pull lyrics for songs playing in other apps as well
  • Decent memory footprint at 20MB

Cons

  • Interface navigation could have been better
  • Almost everything other than simple playback requires purchase
  • Limited feature set
  • Requires constant data connection to display the song info & lyrics

Beat

Unlike the rather uninspiring name that this one carries, beat packs quite a punch in a small space. It’s the freshest candidate to embrace Google Play Store, and is undergoing continuous development to improve further. Key highlights include the ability to play both local music as well as from Google Drive and Dropbox. There is an upcoming Webradio as well, but as of now, it’s only a placeholder on the main interface. To complete the package, you get intuitive floating controls, in addition to everything else that you’d expect from a quality music player. You may want to check out our full review of beat for Android for more details.
beat_Main beat_Cloud

Pros

  • Streaming support from the cloud via Dropbox and Google Drive
  • In-app ads can be turned off free of cost!
  • Floating controls for music playback
  • Tag cloud support for stored music
  • Capable equalizer
  • Open-source libraries used

Cons

  • Less polished compared to other seasoned apps
  • Poor equalizer presets
  • Webradio still to be developed
  • Tracks usage data (although you can opt out)
beat for Android
This pretty much concludes our list of best Android Music Players for now. We’ll be updating this article with more contenders in the days to come, as and when they surface. I know I have left out some apps that people would definitely miss, like RealPlayer, Cubed, Double Twist Player & Holo Music Player just to name a few, so let them be honorable mentions in this roundup. The objective was to identify the best music players that you can load on your device without much detriment, and hence, this list is based on my personal experience. Should you agree or disagree, leave us a comment and let your voice be heard.

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