Apple’s marquee iTunes application has earned a lot of reputation as well as notoriety, depending on your requirements and stance on bloatware. The app works great with iOS devices but for most others, alternatives like MediaMonkey and Winamp are still among the top choices. Recently, I reviewed a light-weight music player for Windows called GOMAudio that is built with minimalism on mind but today, I have a feature-laden audio manager for music enthusiasts called aTunes. No, it’s not another iTunes rip off, but the application does look cool. This open-source cross-platform program holds tons of features under the hood, boasting incredible skin customization options and stellar playback performance, streaming & Last.fm support, automatic lyrics downloading, syncing with portable media players, and a lot more. Let’s take a look at the player and its features in detail after the jump.
In many ways, the application UI seems to be the culmination of several major media players available for different platforms, especially the previous versions of iTunes and Windows Media Player. The default skin comprises of a blue and white color scheme from top to bottom, with all the navigation buttons at the top. Upon launch, aTunes asks you to manually select your music directory, instantly scans your audio collection and adds it to the library. However, you can also do this later on from the File menu. It contains all the basic features that one would ask from a music app such as shuffle and repeat modes, playlists, lyrics support, album art, metadata tags, radio and podcast support etc.
When it comes to playlists, you can create as many as you like via the arrow button near the playlist tab. The context menu allows you to add a new playlist, rename an existing one, close, arrange columns and so on. Clicking an audio track from the music repository automatically pushes it to the selected playlist.
If your audio hardware doesn’t do justice to your ears, the native Equalizer can come real handy here. The equalizer houses a wide array of presets including the commonly used classic, club, live, pop, rock etc., while also giving you the choice to manually adjust it according to your liking. Just don’t forget to mark Equalizer toggle to enable it before making any changes.
Another noteworthy feature is the ability to customize aTunes’ skins, and there are lots of them to choose from. In the Preferences window (Edit > Preferences), you can select from themes like Sahara, Twilight, Graphiteglass, Nebula and a whole lot more. Another noticeable mention is how it handles portable devices. For instance, you can manage music on your portable MP3 players or a smartphone, all within the aTunes’ interface. However, the application failed to recognize the iPhone during testing.
To evaluate a great music app, there are some extra perks that also need to be taken under consideration. aTunes doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its radio and podcast streaming options. You can click the miniscule Radio button on the left to access a huge library of stations spanning across a number of genres. You can even add your favorite radio station in a separate playlist for instantaneous access.
Another interesting feature of aTunes is its Stats panel. Here, you can see the number of songs that you have already listened to from the collection of tracks in your music library. The application uses a pie chart for graphical representation of played and non-played songs, and the graph can be sorted by songs, albums or artists.
The Preferences console offers a multitude of options under different panes named General, Repository, Player, Navigator, Playlist, OSD, Content Information, Internet, Last.fm, Device, Radio, Podcast feeds, Import and Export. You can change theme skin and layout under General pane, while Navigator allows you to customize hotkeys.
aTunes also allows Last.fm users to log into their account and listen to their favorite music from right within the app. The Context Information section enables you to select the search engine to be used for automatically downloading appropriate song lyrics.
Having spend a lot of time playing around with it, I can conclude that overall, aTunes is an awesome music manager that does a great job at all the features it offers. The application works on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux.