I was using songbird for a couple of months, until a recent update they released which actually destroyed part of my music library. During the update process the application would freeze every single time not allowing a full update. The only way to remedy this was to delete the previously saved library and start everything from scratch. This meant I had to import all of my music back into the app which was very frustrating. There were lots of features that I really enjoyed, like native FLAC playback, last.fm scrobbling, additional artist info, tour dates and many more online integration features. Yet I also found the program to be laggy in OSX, especially with the search feature. My music library is about 4000 songs which isn't much. After the crash I switched back to iTunes simply for the stability and speed that it offers. I can't recommend Songbird to anyone just for the stability issue alone which was a huge let down.
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Mac OS X Music Players - alternatives to iTunes - Page 2
Head-Fi's Best Sellers
I use Amarra, Decibel and Audirvana. I would gladly settle for the latter two if they offered what Amarra does, to use Itune as the music manager. I used to be alarmed by the early cost for Amarra, it has since come down, still expensive.
On the other hand these music players are primarily for management of high resolution audio. I don't think I have seen debate on the quality of Highrez to standard 16/44 digital music in Head-Fi. Perhaps I have not looked?
Decibel has a nice script you can download that allows you automatically load and play your selected iTunes tracks. Even if Decibel isn't open, it opens it for you.
I've played around with most of these and like Amarra best for sound, especially in cache/playlist mode. It's current version is probably the most buggy of all these players. They promise an update any day now, so we'll see if it's more stable. Pure Music has the best iTunes integration but it's too clean sounding. Amarra has a tube-like sound and Pure Music is very digital. Pure Music is more dynamic and has better soundstage but missing the rich, liquidy texture. Decibel captures this texture pretty well. It's my second favorite soundwise. Not a fan of the other players interfaces. They don't have a direct iTunes integration. I want to be able to select tracks in iTunes and have it automatically loaded in other player or be seamless like Amarra/Pure Music.
Great list Currawong!
Although not a music player per se, a nice addition to the list would be Audio Hijack Pro. It hijacks the audio of pretty much any app and lets you use any sort of plugins, which include the graphic or parametric equalizers (Apple's and third parties'), so it makes iTunes a much more capable player.
+1 for Pure Music. This program literally traansformed the sound of my system. There was a five fold increase in soundstaging, tonal realism and instrument separation. It has many cool odds and ends as well such as reverse play, automatic sample rate changes, dithered volume control and memory play. For the price compared to amarra its a no brainer and a obvious improvement over itunes sound quality. do all of yourselves a favor and pick this up, at least for the 15 trial and i assure you you wont be disappointed
Great job Amos!
Might want to note that VOX also supports three cross feed methodologies, which are great for us Head-Fi types and don't forget to add Audacity for Mac, one of the best free editors out there.
Oh, and Rogue Amoeba/HiJack Pro is good stuff too. I've used it for a couple years.
I've been using Decibel for a while now, both initially when it was AyreWave and latterly with it's present moniker. The sound is fulsome, musical and dare I say it 'analogue' to my ears. The interface is minimalist and somewhat basic, but it's reasonably specified and functions well. There is a comprehensive thread regarding this music player and it's development on Computer Audiophile (http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/AyreWave-New-OSX-Audio-Player-Released-RMAF) so if head-fi users are experiencing problems with Decibel, posting a message there usually elicits a helpful response from other users.
I've been looking for an iTunes replacement for quite some time as there seems to be very few worthy ones out there, I downloaded Decibel and noticed an immediate improvement in my HD650s performance, might just be placebo but I felt compelled to post.
Thanks for the list! I'll have to give these players a try. Right now, I have music stored on an external HD and some still on my macbook's HD. Will these players be able to automatically integrate the music from different locations? I haven't had time to try to figure it out on iTunes.
Nice job Currawong. Hopefully, one or more of these programs will mature to make for an easy way to manage our music libraries (hopefully with iTunes) plus allow hi-res file playback with output control as well as access to equalization via core audio or third party plug-ins. I didn't like the Pure Music interface (the funny, unsmooth way that it hangs on iTunes). Amarra is too expensive, Decibel and Fidelia look promising but don't work with my desktop computer (G5, OS 10.5). The others are too simple/limited to make a good alternative to iTunes.
Cog is another simple music player. Is it still in active development or did it die?
Maybe I'm just being a simpleton by asking this but all I want is a simple plugin that works with iTunes and makes iTunes recognize FLAC. My second choice would be a player that rips in AIFF or FLAC. Any suggestions from anyone out there oh and by the way I'm a Windows user.
DigitalFreak, Max will convert FLAC files into ALAC and put them into your iTunes library. (http://sbooth.org/Max/)
Cheers for this topic Amos! The only player you forgot that I think is worth mentioning is Clementine.
I've played around with Amarra 2.1 (with iTunes and all my music in ALAC), Decibel which is what I use recently, Vox was my go to player for a long time after giving up on library based players and Clementine before that. I've tried to love Audivarna but can't, same with Songbird. fidelia looks like it might have potential, but I'll have to see.
My problem was getting so caught up in which player is the best and what can I live with, that I neglected the fact I don't have an external DAC, so it all seems a bit fruitless until I buy one. What I have learned from my time with all these players is using finder as a music manager, and maintaining a standard of tags and naming (which is VERY time consuming) is the best solution that will allow you to easily experiment with different players and even operating systems.
There is no be all and end all player in my opinion, so my advice to anyone who cares to listen is try as many as you can and decide from there. Placebo or not, all these players offer something unique. You just have to find the right one for you.
I would like to know which of these players are FLAC compatible, and which ones will interface with my iPod. I suppose I could click on all the links and do my own homework, just putting it out there in case anyone already knows.
- Mac OS X Music Players - alternatives to iTunes
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