My 4 favorite music players for MacOS (that aren't Apple Music)

If music is your jam and Apple Music isn't, don't fret because you have plenty of outstanding options from which to choose.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Headphones on an iMac
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

I'm an audiophile.

Although I prefer my music to be heard via the glory that is vinyl, there are times when I need to be out of my office and in another room of my home. When those moments arise, I'm using my MacBook Pro and I am here to tell you that I don't care for Apple Music. Why? It's too basic. Even the advanced options are not even remotely advanced.

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So, when I'm with my MacBook and I want to listen to locally-stored tunes, I turn to an alternative player. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps in the Mac App Store that serve this purpose.  

I know this is all very subjective (as is the choice of music to be played via these apps), but these apps are likely to please most people.

With that said, let's get this music fest started.

1. VLC

The VLC media player isn't just for videos. In fact, VLC is perfectly at home playing music files, CDs, and even many streaming protocols. VLC is powerful, highly flexible, and can play nearly any audio file type you've got. VLC can play ASF, WMV, AU, AVI, OGG, MPG, MP3, WAV, DTS, XA, and many other file types. As far as features are concerned, you'll find plugin support, online radio, visualization effects, Last.fm support, and more. If you open Audio Effects (from the Window menu), you'll find EQ, compressor, spatializer, and filter options. VLC is one of my favorite all-around media players.

You can install VLC from the Mac App Store for free.

2. Pine Player

Do you miss the days of Winamp and XMMS? I certainly do. I not only loved their UIs, but the feature sets and size of these music players were just so spot-on for me. 

If you're looking for an app to recapture that feeling, there's Pine Player. Although Pine Player doesn't nail the Winamp UI exactly, it's very close. You can view it in full or minimal mode and enjoy features like file conversion, meta info editing, playlists, playlist sorting, iTunes support, album art, crossfade, gapless playback, and more. Pine Player supports audio file types such as MP3, FLAC, APE, AAC, M4A, WAV, AIFF, OGG, WMA, DSD, SACD ISO, OPUS, and more. There are more advanced features, such as a 10-band EQ and an Over Sampling Filter to upconvert ordinary MP3 files to 32-bit/768kHz for the best possible sound. These features are only available in the Pro version, which costs $29.99.

You can download Pine Player and purchase Pine Player Pro from the Mac App Store.

3. VOX

VOX is all about Hi-Res sound, which means you hear music exactly how it was meant to be heard… without loss. Not every audio player is capable of producing Hi-Res sound, but VOX is one of them. 

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VOX lets you play traditional music files (such as FLAC, MP3, CUE, APE, and M4A), but also Hi-Res audio formats up to 24bit/192kHz resolution and via 5.1 multichannel playback (only available in the Premium version). VOX also allows you to export playlists, so you can import them into other devices. You can control music from the main VOX window, from the Dock context menu, the main menu controls, or your keyboard's media keys. You can also easily add music from the Finder context menu and enjoy music with the built-in EQ. VOX is the music player for those who like to get the best sound from their music on MacOS.

You can install VOX from the Mac App Store for free but you should be aware that there are optional in-app purchases (such as Radio access). The Premium version of VOX is $4.99/month and includes HI-RES support, device sync, advanced settings, manual EQ, and access to over 30,000 radio stations.

Unfortunately, you have to create a VOX account to use this music player.

4. Silicio Mini Player

Every once in a while, I just want a mini player on my desktop. When I feel this mood hit me, I'll open the Silicio Mini Player and have at it. One thing I really enjoy about this player is that it's themeable and can be resized. Because I have a MacBook Pro with a TouchBar (why Apple decided to get rid of this feature, I'll never understand), I can control Silicio Mini Player from there.

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Silicio Mini Player's main purpose is to control iTunes, Apple Music, or Spotify. I often listen to Spotify, but I have never really liked the app's UI. With this mini player, I can control Spotify without having to open that hideous interface. Other features include notifications, keyboard shortcuts, Last.fm integration, and podcast support (from iTunes and Spotify). Silicio Mini Player might not be the most flexible music player, but if you use iTunes, Apple Music, or Spotify and don't like their UIs, this little app certainly comes in handy.

You can install Silicio Mini Player for free from the Mac App Store.

If you're as into music as I am, you'll appreciate any one of these players for MacOS. As for my go-to, that would be VLC (unless I'm listening to Spotify, in which case it's Silicio). I'm confident you'll find a music player from this list that will have you dancing, swaying, or headbanging all day long.

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