For audiophiles, there is no limit on how much a music player application can do. From customizing its looks, to changing equalizer settings in a jiffy to correctly identifying tags from their music libraries. They always demand more. Over the years, I’ve tried many players, right from Windows’ own Media Player to the much loved (and missed) Winamp.
But, rather than remiss the ol’ days let’s talk about 2 modern players and which one of these you should choose.
There’s just way more things built into MusicBee. Not only can it manage all your audio media files, but it supports all major audio formats including MP3, AAC, M4A, MPC, OGG, FLAC, APE, Opus, TAK, WV, WMA and WAV. It can manage and create new playlists, also has the ability to make its own ‘smart’ playlists based on custom filters and also has integration for Podcasts (much like iTunes).
Right below Podcasts, there are also tabs for Audiobooks, Radio, Inbox and History. The others are self explanatory, with the History showing your recently played music and so on, except Inbox. I didn’t quite understand how we are supposed to send and receive messages via this application. Anyway, it’s not like I want to, I’ve got plenty of mailboxes to worry about another.
It doesn’t end there. MusicBee also allows you to control your equalizer settings a lot better than others. Hit that EQ button on the bottom right and another pop-up window will show you what you can do here, including importing your Winamp settings to customize your DSP output just the way you want.
There are presets available too, in case you don’t want to spend too much time here. There is also an option to adjust the EQ to a 15-band channel rather than the default 10. A nice touch.
What’s more, there is also an option to switch to a Mini Player by hitting the MusicBee icon on the top left, then going to View and selecting Mini Player.
The default view only shows you the name of the song playing with the artists name, but hover your mouse over it and you get even more controls, as shown below.
Here, you got more controls like skipping tracks and managing the volume. Hitting the hamburger icon opens a pop-up window which shows the Now Playing queue. This is handy to choose which song in your long queue you want to jump to without losing the Mini Player view.
Little Things Matter
If you’re like me and love customizing things just the way you want, then you won’t be disappointed with MusicBee. Right-click on the panel on the right which shows the Track Information and then click Customize Panel Settings and you’ll see how you can pretty much change the whole look of this player.
You can change the font, the opacity of the floating window and the placement of panels. There literally is so much going on here that you can perhaps spend an entire day customizing the player just the way you want.
If the looks aren’t a big deal for you, then there’s still more. (Yes, no jokes). Just like the default Windows Media Player, MusicBee also gives you a nice option to pause the music playing by simply hovering your mouse over it in the taskbar. A handy option especially when you want to take a call or switch over to YouTube to see another cat video.
foobar2000 doesn’t have this feature, which made me wonder why did those guys did not include it?
Also, once a song finishes (and assuming the application is minimized to the taskbar) there is a pop-up on the right bottom corner which gives you the details of the new song that started playing. Sweet!
Foobar2000 over MusicBee
Good Things in Small Packages
foobar2000 is a favorite among a lot of audio enthusiasts I know personally, including some of us here at GT. These folks are the ones who don’t want too many features, but more granular control over the files they are listening to and doing things quickly. Looks can be deceptive, though.
foobar2000 is light weight, launches quickly and within a second of hitting the song you want, it will start playing. That is not always the same with MusicBee, with it taking more than 5 or more seconds to load a song. It might not seem like much, but people are known to be impatient in this world of short attention spans. (Or so I’m told).
Customizations Should Be Easy
The basic DNA of this application seems to be simplicity. Yes, you can customize foobar2000 as well, but it won’t take a whole day. Go to View > Layout > Quick setup and here you can change the layout colors, how the layout should look and playlists layout.
There is a nice option to view different albums by genre or by artist and so on, easily done from a drop-down menu. Right below that is the Spectrum which keeps jumping along with the current song that is being played and shows the values in dBs. Right below it is a nice addition, details of the file being played without clicking anywhere. It’s a persistent notification and something I missed sorely in MusicBee.
Like Foobar2000? Then try out these plugins to make it more awesome and don’t let the minimal look fool you.
Drumroll for The Winner!
With its myriad of options and Podcasts, Radio and other integrations (it has Soundcloud integration too, but I just couldn’t figure out how to get it working!) there is no doubt in my mind that MusicBee is the clear choice here. Granted, there are many ways to optimize foobar2000, but that takes quite a bit of tinkering.
But, that’s just me. If you think otherwise, let me know which player you prefer and we’ll jam to some music while discussing it in the comments section below.