[Ask The Readers] Winamp vs. iTunes, MediaMonkey, Xbox Music: Your Favorite Windows Music Player?


We’ve previously discussed and asked you about your favorite archive manager, and now it’s time for discussing a subset of the media player category: music managers. I’ll be discussing why I prefer a certain music manager, before leaving the stage to hear your opinions about your favorite software for managing your ever-growing digital music library.


Image via Shutterstock

Before I start: I humbly ask you to not judge me for this, since the digital jukebox software I prefer is among the desktop software most hated by advanced, power users. Yes, I am talking about Apple’s iTunes. Bloated, uncustomizable, I’m-never-coming-on-Linux, iTunes.

iTunes gained popularity after the launch of the original iPod, because it was a necessity for syncing music between a computer and Apple’s portable music player. Since then, Apple has launched the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad that still invariably rely on iTunes for some advanced tasks.

iTunes itself has evolved considerably since its earlier years. It used to be a simple music player, but has since expanded to include a digital music store, App Store, video playback capabilities, a music discovery service (Genius + Radio), and support for dozens of iOS devices. As such, it has indeed become bloated. It’s slower, it’s less powerful and it’s a lot less customizable than its competitors, but I still prefer it over anything else.

I prefer iTunes because I am deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem now. I’ve got an iPhone 4S that works better when used with iTunes for syncing music, apps, and other personal data. It also displays all music metadata properly, which is something I find lacking in other players.  I’m subscribed to iTunes Match ($25/year) which uploads all my music online to Apple’s servers* for easy access on other supported devices. It ‘matches’ songs in your local library with iTunes’ own digital library of over 10 million songs so you can download DRM-free high-quality music at 256 kbps AAC to replace your low-quality rips downloaded from YouTube.

In short, iTunes also just works for me. It’s my one-stop shop for all things music-related. I generally don’t have to go anywhere else for syncing music with my devices, converting it to a more efficient format, discovering new music, controlling desktop music from my phone, etc. Besides, my computer is fast enough now that there isn’t a huge difference in performance between iTunes and, say, something like MediaMonkey.

However, that’s just my opinion of the digital jukebox scene. It’s your turn now: tell us about your favorite desktop software for managing and enjoying your music library. Maybe you’ll change my mind!

  • aimp3???

  • s h a r o n


  • fred

    Simply, VLC !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • E.Cayazzo

    I use Winamp since I was a kid, simply by its shuffle algorithm that makes no one song repeat until the playlist finish, and for its playback priority. And because I just want to listen music, I keep the classic skin, and doesn’t take any memory.

  • I tried everything and when it all came down to it, my somewhat large collection (~120GB … which I actually get to all corners of relatively often) was just too much to handle for most players. My best luck was with Songbird and WMP, but in the end Windows Media Player 11+ was the fastest to boot, and generally the best networked player in the house. I haven’t turned back once since settling in and don’t regret the decision at all. Gotta say, I really loved Songbird’s interface and add-ons, but man they dropped the ball when Phillips bought out their souls.

  • Armando Santiago

    google music

  • Simon Clough

    AIMP3. Surprised its not on the list. But if iTunes and Apple are there abandon all hope. Why, oh why, do you need so much code to play a tune? Do you use a 7 ton truck to deliver a pillow?

  • Chad Fonger

    MusicBee is amazing.

  • KMPlayer

  • Analog33k

    Have tried many, but always came back to Winamp, maainl

  • Yimoshikato


  • JJ Q

    Google Music through Chrome 🙂

  • lucidor20

    MusicBee is the best for me.

  • Poena

    Tried them all – settled on MusicBee

  • Xyrax


  • Scott Elsdon

    I used to use WinAmp, used to use something else before that but it escapes me, then itunes, but moved out of the apple pit thankfully, Now I use mediamonkey, however in the last few months we seem to just be loading Pandora and streaming.

  • ma_t14

    MusicBee. There is no coming back once you start using it

  • Anabolikfrolik

    Google Music all the way and when its local music, which is rare, it’s winamp.

  • starkcitizen

    Foobar2000 and sometimes aimp3

  • Ryu

    I always prefer Winamp, which will close next december T_T R.I.P winamp…

  • John Hance

    If I’m playing something locally I use WMP on Windows 8. But I normally just open Google Music in Chrome tab since I’m more familiar with the interface and it syncs nicely with Android.

  • blaszta


  • Windows Media Player all the way. Best library organization hands down, nice interface(not a mess like most other player), performance, crash free. Not to mention the queuing is in its own class.

    • XtremWize

      I agree with you, Windows Media Player + K-Lite Codec Pack Mega on default Windows Media Player is the best choice.

  • boardies

    XMplay or Xion Player for listening, MediaMonkey for managing.

  • rheinland

    I really like BZRPLayer. Easy to use, small footprint and it supports a huge number of formats including many old retro formats

  • Jonas Nykvist

    Spotify for streaming and also has the “local files” option. All else is oooooold 🙂

  • ม.ร.วกิ๊ก ณ นิวยอร์ค

    xion player

  • pworm


  • Tom

    AIMP3 as music library manager
    VLC to play single files

  • E

    XM player!

  • Kiên Trần

    JRiver Media Center ftw

  • Rauldinho


  • Mwikarago Christian

    Why did you leave out musicbee. Once you try it, there’s no coming back.

  • mike

    Foobar2000 for mp3/ogg and xmplayer for older format

  • scott


  • hackRme

    musicbee all the way… Nothing even compares when you look at its feature list and customizability… and that too for zero dimes

  • iamspartacus

    Unfortunately, it was announced that Winamp will be discontinued this year.

  • KJ


  • ser

    I use Windows Media Player

  • Prabu

    Media Monkey best choice for music manager but latest versions have some sound quality and performance issues i hope they fix it in the future, simple, small, searching library by different category , UI very customizable, has some very impressive plugins, its so easy to select from lib what you wanna listen and put it on now play and just drift a way hummm no can do in “i”

  • anon

    AIMP3 is the best

  • Sujash

    Musicbee <3

  • Bosanac

    Aimp 3

  • duck-ponds

    I have iTunes to keep my whole library organized but I use AIMP3 to actually play my songs.

  • tesst24

    Media Player Classic – K-Lite codec pack

  • ericflores

    Desktop music manager? For me that concept is as archaic as Winamp (already announced to be retired), and yes, the obsolete iTunes.

    Regardless of how I buy my music (usually Amazon MP3), I copy it to my QNAP NAS and have Twonky Server index it and serve it via upnp (DLNA). From there I consume my music at home from the XBOX 360/Sony TVs (connected via toslink to sound system), tablets or smartphones.

    Tablets and smartphones use BubbleUpnp for streaming from the NAS (local playback), and also to control the playback at the TVs and Xbox (upnp controller). Since I also installed BubbleUpnp server component in the NAS, I can create a playlist in my phone for playback in the Xbox and leave home without problem…the NAS will take care if playing the rest of the playlist. Actually, I can retrieve the playlist from another tablet and control it from there.

    This setup also let me stream music from my home to my smartphone – no need to have music on my phone, but I prefer to save my plan data. So, each member of the family uses BubbleUpnp and downloads the desired music from the NAS directly to their phone/tablet. No need to manage individual files.. You just select an artist, song, artist, genre or playlist and click download to queue it. Simple. This is the modern way. No need to sit in a desktop to select songs and then sync from a capable computer (desktop) to a incapable computer (smartphone). My smartphone is capable enough and does not need a desktop to be managed.

  • Saturnio Rhea


  • Ardi

    Foobar2000. No other player even comes close.

  • Windows Media Player with DFX Audio Enhancer.

  • elt


  • goulav

    I think the best I’ve found for a stand alone player is Clementine. I like the sidebar and when I’m listening to something and want to add to the now playing, I just drag and drop from the sidebar.

  • goulav

    As stand alone desktop player goes, Clemetine has been my favorite. I like the sidebar and when I’m listening to something I can just drag and drop from my music to what’s now playing. Worth a shot if you want just a reliable player.

  • Marcelo

    I use VLC media player on shuffle and play files within a folder by right-clicking on them. If I want to have tracks blend together, which is best for downtempo and ambient, I use Winamp on shuffle. I use MP3tag for tagging. All three work well with FLAC files which I started to introduce to my collection this year, unlike Windows.

  • Joe


  • myhy23


  • Sérgio Silva

    foobar, of course

  • This article is really odd. Itunes for me does NOT read metadata correctly…and you talk about 256kbps being high quality? LOL. 320 minimum is standard. The rest of what you said is legit though. I dropped Itunes about 6 years ago because it kept saying “No file at location” on all my songs after a few days. I’d re-install it every year and I still get the same bug. It’s happened on 8 different Installations of Windows lol. Itunes just hates me. I used winamp (may it RIP) from 2001-2005 when a friend introduced me Foobar. I’ve tried other players since then but Foobar’s level of customization is just insane and it displays everything perfectly from Unicode to metadata. Foojesus has also saved me hundreds of hours of work when a harddrive crashed. Foobar is just the greatest piece of software on my computer, IMO. All the benefits people list about other players, Foobar does. And often times better….and if it doesn’t do it, there’s probably a plugin for it.

  • Arslan Akhtar

    WMP coupled with K-lite codecs. Plays everything.

  • AIMP3