Updated on 2018.06.12 | First Published on January 16, 2018
Nowadays, most of us are buying smartphones in order to entertain ourselves. Watching videos, playing games, surfing the internet as well as listening to music are just some of the possible things that we can do.
But, keeping intact with our topic today – not all music players are created equal, nor hardware which is used to playback your precious MP3, iTunes or Lossless music files. We’ll focus with the software aspect though, so we’ll keep the hardware as well as technical terms away, for now.
I tried tons of music players at the Play Store, as well as tons of music players from the most Android firmware that comes with most smartphones, including the ones from Samsung, Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo, Huawei, Xiaomi, LG and even Nokia.
But they all have one in common: Limited File, Theme and Feature support
Why do we want to replace our stock music player? I’ll break them down into a list so that you can easily get the point.
- First, we wanted to try further audio customization, such as EQ, Reverb and Surround effects
- Next, you want to get more out of your audio file, and your smartphone has a good quality DAC inside it that supports Hi-Res audio.
- In example, you have a 24-bit, 96KHz Hi-Res audio file on your smartphone, but your stock music player only supports up to CD quality (16-bit, 48KHz), we’ll replace it with a music player that can unlock that capability and customize it to the fullest.
- Skins and themes can be downloaded or bought to change the look of your music player
- Plug-ins such as Last.fm, MusixMatch and other lyric/metadata integration, giving you the capability to complete your music’s metadata such as Artist’s Name and Album Title and Art even without your intervention.
- Cool visualizers and software volume knobs
- Expanded possibilities that only software restrictions can limit
- Much better-looking user interface and widgets
Below are my top 6 suggestions for music players that you should try (in no particular order)
Update: A new PowerAmp beta (v3) is now available through the PowerAmp official website, all with new UI changes and new features, but I advise you to wait for the official stable version before downloading unless you’ll want to contribute to its development by beta testing and providing feedback, as well as to experience all the bugs.
For just PhP99 (PH users) & $3.99 for other countries, this is a purchase that surely you’ll never regret.
PowerAmp Alpha is the new version of fan-favorite PowerAmp music player. As the name implies, it is still in Alpha version, meaning that the software isn’t yet fully finished, some features are still experimental and occasionally, some bugs might occur. However, in my experience, there’s only minimal amount of bug that didn’t get me irritated at all.
Why you should try?
It comes with cool Visualizers, Hi-Res Audio support (experimental, but working for most devices), and so much more options like Reverb, 10-band EQ, Tone Adjustments for Bass and Treble, individual device preset mapping and so much more.
It also comes with the minimalistic UI which PowerAmp users are already accustomed of.
The only bad side I’ve seen is that PowerAmp’s skin-changing is disabled for the Alpha, as the developer claims that skin changing might affect the program badly and they haven’t checked it just yet. We hope that this version will be fully released anytime soon, though.
But, the features packed within are enough for me to switch to this as my daily driver from my stock Samsung Music app.
Links to download PowerAmp Alpha (trial):
Since most of you can’t find the app on Play Store (lucky for those who can see the beta test option there), I’ll include the mirror link from APKMirror, where you can just install the APK without signing up to anything.
This player was made for lightweight smartphones but with plenty of customization and functionality options. And oh, it’s fully offline and THERE’S NO ADS AT ALL.
Before I discovered PowerAmp Alpha, this is my daily driver. Musicolet is a fully-offline player (as the developer claims) which has a nice user interface and a ton of functional options but what I loved the most is that its Black theme for AMOLED screens, which nearly gives the user interface a dark minimalistic look, and slide navigation to navigate between music playlists such as Artists, Album and other options.
If your phone unluckily doesn’t have Hi-Res audio support, I’ll suggest you to use this than the PowerAmp Alpha instead, as this one is legitimately free, and doesn’t need to connect to internet at all to work – you’ll just depend on your file’s ID3 metadata tags (if they are filled) to have your album details shown.
The bad side though, is that this doesn’t have support indicated for Hi-Res audio playback, so it just depends on your phone’s capabilities when playing back Hi-Res files, and there’s no option to change the slide navigation to just previous or next of a song instead of sliding between playlists and folders. I just love swiping to change songs, so that would be a downer for me. I hope they’ll do it with the next update.
Retro Music Player
What I loved about Retro Music player is its simplicity and being constantly updated from time to time, improving capabilities based on user’s feedback. There’s also the Black AMOLED theme which I’m also a fan of and its material design/iOS-esque interface is something that makes it included on this list.
It also integrates with Last.fm, searching metadata for your artists and albums in the background, giving you some factual information about your favorite artist such as BLACKPINK, TWICE, EXID or RED VELVET.
The bad side though, is that it only uses your system’s audio equalizer and doesn’t have its own equalizer option. Even Musicolet has their own equalizer so a little bit of improvement would be adding that function inside the player itself, so that you can always turn it on and off without touching your preferences for other applications.
A player that I applaud for labeling your precious lossless files for bragging rights, but that’s all.
I tried HibyMusic due to many recommendations from the Philippine audiophile community (in which I wouldn’t mention the name of), and I am quite satisfied with it, making me to recommend it if you don’t like my other 3 recommendations above.
It has support for Hi-Res audio playback, marking your FLAC/ALAC or other Hi-Res/lossless and normal media files (usually for bragging rights), for easy distinction between crap and quality audio files. (Files marked with yellow disc are FLAC, HR for Hi-Res).
There’s also some add-ons such as Balance Audio and Sound Field, but they’re essentially included with PowerAmp already. Of course, the complementary EQ is also present.
However, the lack of option to change theme is actually a little bit frustrating, since I’m not really a fan of that blue-greenish interface at all. Maybe they would consider putting a dark theme for consideration to us. But I loved the blur and prism thing along the design on some elements. It also requires to have a separate file for lyrics (.lrc) and doesn’t read ID3 Metadata/Tags of lyrics at all (which most song lyrics are embedded into.)
Stelio Music Player
Update: There’s also a new version of Stelio Music Player which has a brand new UI and brand new features as well. Like PowerAmp, it’s still on beta phase but is much safer to download than the new PowerAmp v3 beta. Head on to Stelio’s official website to see links for download.
Stelio Music Player is another alternative for those folks who tried JetAudio+, but minus the excess amount of audiophile stuff that player has. It also supports Hi-Res / lossless audio files so let’s move on.
Its collection of free themes includes their classic theme, material theme and flat which actually was applied by default – so I thought that if this was the case, Stelio looks like something that I’ll mention on the next paragraph below.
Stelio and Korea’s popular music platform app Melon has some resemblance especially with the circle disk where the seek for playback skipping is located. Both have blurred backgrounds and stuff but Stelio’s color changing to which color is dominant is something that aces itself from Melon.
If Melon can act as a standalone music player without dependency on its online platform, and/or has an English translation for non-Korean users, I would put it on this recommendation as well. (but you can use Melon to playback local audio files)
However, I would appreciate if Stelio takes notes from it. I have the Melon Music app on my phone for a quite time now (you know, for legit K-Pop HiFi and chart-monitoring stuff). The UI is extremely simple yet pleasantly looking. Consider taking inspiration from this.
Even the lyrics support doesn’t detect the embedded ones on the file, and instead – it searches online. I mean why don’t they include support for offline embedded lyrics for those who don’t like to search online?
But, it has tons of audio customization options such as 12-band EQ, Z-Bass, Compressor, AGC (Automatic Gain Control), Echo, AutoWah and Reverb. Not bad for the free version.
And if you want to say goodbye to those intrusive ads, you can purchase it on the Google Play Store through the links below.
Links to download Stelio Music Player:
(UPDATE: Apparently, it seems that it was removed from the Play Store due to undefined reasons. Instead, we’ll put on mirror links to its APK, for now.)
Don’t like Stelio Music? This is your last resort.
If you really want to get all that tweaks and settings for your ultimate audio customization setting, I’ll consider getting the JetAudio Music Player. It has TONS of tweaks, from its most numbered of EQ bands (paid version – 20 bands), to bass/treble and mids boost controls, to surround and other tweaks, this player is considered to be one of the most versatile among all the candidates out here.
For UI conscious, this also has the same UI principle as Musicolet, so I’d give JetAudio points for that as well.
However, the free version limits some essential features, such as LYRICS SUPPORT and more EQ-bands. The widgets also don’t look elegant for me. So if you are into that, you can stay away from this player.
Other than that, I don’t have any negative comments with JetAudio. If you really like it, I recommend to purchase the full version to get away with all its annoyances (the thing with freeware).
While PowerAmp Alpha is my daily driver, I’d nominate Retro Music Player for its wonderful modern UI. Just add Hi-Res audio support processing and visualizer as an add-on and I’ll be definitely switching. The others will remain, although, as an alternative for those who don’t like the aforementioned apps.
Now, that’s the end of my list. What’s your favorite music player? Let me know in the comments section so that I can see which player you’re using.
DISCLAIMER: This post is not sponsored by any of the publishers of these applications, as what’s on our reviews and partnerships policy which you can read HERE.