Android Media Players

There are many players on the Android platform, but almost all use the base Android APIs and media library that limits their functionality and performance that don’t make them much different than the stock player other than cosmetically.

One player app that breaks from this trend and I have been using for some time is GoneMAD. It builds its’ own database library, and key to me is that it supports the use of sort tags for Album, Artist, AlbumArtist, and Composer. It also supports multi artist and genre fields. And a huge plus is the metadata displayed in each library browser list and the Now Playing window are fully customizable as well.

I am in no way affiliated with these apps or developers other than as a user. These observations and opinions are simply my own.

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I'm in love with Musicolet. It's simple to use, yet powerful. The "Queues" feature is a killer. It's free, and actively supported by the developer.

And best of all, it has -zero- Internet access. The developer wrote it so it wouldn't use/need any online access. Doesn't have permission to go online, nor the code to do it.

MediaMonkey for android. Unfold it's full potential when synced with an MediaMonkey for Windows, that organises and shares your media tracks.

When it comes to a player that strives to be as true to the source as can be, it is tough to find one that stands taller than Neutron Music Player. The app works on Android, IOS, and even Windows platforms with a consistent look and feel. For any of us that are working across any or all of these platforms, this may be the only one that bridges them all.

While the UI may be a bit dated, it is fully functional with plenty of customizing opportunities. The Now Playing screen shows the standard fare with large album art, the song title, and artist. And of course there are the expected controls for play/pause, track up/down, and some user-definable quick access buttons that can directly access library menus, EQ, settings, etc. The library browser is pretty complete and also offers many ways to find the perfect track for right now. One area that is lacking is in the Artist list, where you are forced to choose between all Artists, or AlbumArtists - but not both.

The audio engine itself is pretty darn impressive. The big key is the "no resampling" option on devices with DACs that support a range of bit depth and sample rates. It uses a custom engine built from the ground up just for music playback. But just about every option for tuning is available for adjustment, from configurable graphic and parametric EQ's to tempo, compression, and more. If you have to tweak, this is your app.

Just be prepared to spend some time on the learning curve. This is a highly technically app with more bells and whistles than you can imagine. It is not designed for simplicity. But if you have external equipment like a headphone amplifier, or high end audio system with USB or digital inputs, this is one app to consider.

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Foobar2000 is a well-known player from the Windows PC world, with a massive amount of plug-ins and customizable options. There is a mobile version of the player (currently free) that is a very simple design that works well for local library media, as well as having support to access local network media servers.

The design focus is on simplicity. The browse tree is text based and very straight-forward. The Now Playing screen is also quite simple, with large album art, a seek bar, Song/Artist/Album tags, and basic controls for play/pause, track up/down, shuffle, and repeat. There is a handy option to also display the next track, including a small thumbnail of the cover - this is a nice touch that other players don't often have.

The only gestures currently are swipe from the edge from the left of the Now Playing screen to get to the browser, or from the right of the browser screen to go back to Now Playing. And there is swiping up/down to scroll through the library lists. I do wish it would add Now Playing gesture controls, at least swipe left/right for track change, and perhaps tap to play/pause. Maybe this will come in future development.

There are minimal preference settings to adjust, mostly focused on some DSP options, Replaygain, and some view options for the library and browser. There is also an option for skinning the player, although there have been few packages distributed that I have found outside of what is in their forum.

But being simple in design doesn't take away from the strength of foobar2000 Mobile. As a cross-platform player, it performs remarkably well. Performance is very snappy, and it plays virtually any file format on any device.

As a free download on most mobile platforms, it can't hurt to give it a test drive. Since the topic is for Android players, I'll link to that page here.


I'm going to test drive this one over the weekend on my DAP, thanks for sharing.

Poweramp is yet another Android-only music player app that I will share some thoughts on based on my experience. It has a huge download base, and had been actively developed for a very long time. It is currently in it's third major revision, and in my opinion is one of the best looking UI's available. And for those with premium devices that support hi-res playback with built-in or eternal DAC's, this is a serious contender as one of the best.

The REALLY Good:
Poweramp is pretty nice looking with-out-of-the-box default settings. There are plenty of options to allow you to tailor the two views to your preference (a light and dark mode, each with selectable settings). If these don't suit your taste, there are several 3rd party skin apps out there that range from a minimalistic design scheme to one that can change virtually every displayed aspect of the app. So plenty of options to get it "just right" for your application.

The library browser is also pretty top-notch. With folder-based and tag-based options, most users will be happy with how this is managed for them. And drilling down is quick and the transitions are smooth and seamless. You can choose from many list views for each heading as well, with different text sizes and thumbnails available. I have a library of 25k files on a dedicated µSD card, and fast scrolling through them doesn't choke Poweramp on my older Android DAP (version 8.1).

The Poweramp library is also independent of the Android built version. It has support for multiple genres, artists, etc., and you can even define one or more separators based on whatever you have used in maintaining your metadata. This is a pretty significant feature that makes a big difference when it comes to managing my library on the go. Only GoneMAD seems to have integrated this idea, but lacks the option to choose the separator.

For sound tuning, there are many extremely powerful options with several DSP effects (Tempo, Stereo Expand, Mono, and a full compliment of Reverb options). More importantly, you can choose to use a graphic EQ with up to 32 bands, or go for the ultimate control with a parametric EQ that can also have a ridiculous 32 bands (with Low Pass/High Pass, Low Shelf/High Shelf, Band Pass, and Peaking Band filters, and user selectable Gain, Frequency, and "Q" adjustments). I can't think of too many other apps that offer this much tuning combined with a very user-friendly UI to control them. A huge plus in my opinion.

What Can Be Improved:
One of the few things that Poweramp does not currently customise is the metadata displayed in both the browser and Now Playing screens. All have a main line that shows TITLE and a smaller secondary line that displays ARTIST - ALBUM (or in some optional cases ALBUMARTIST - ALBUM). It would be nice to have some flexibility here, changing some of these tag fields to any of the other key tags you may prefer to see.

Sonically, Poweramp sounds fantastic thanks to the tuning features, and the proprietary audio engine that has been developed completely outside of the standard Android engine. It is almost on par with Neutron, with just one exception. It currently does not have an option to "follow" the source frequency. For most without hi-res capable devices, or if your library mainly consists of CD rips (choose 44.1kHz) or downloads (choose 44.1kHz or 48kHz to match the majority of your library), this may not even be an issue. [Note: This will be device and headphone/DAC dependent, most Android devices without hi-res DACs are internally capped at 48kHz]

A couple of other missing features that are notable include the lack of a "Smart" playlist function, and no support for the sorting tags for Artist, AlbumArtist, Album, Composer, or Title. The tag editor is pretty limited as well, really it is designed to simply make quick fixes on the fly. And while Poweramp does have basic lyrics, this could be improved.

Poweramp is a well-built player for modern Android devices. It checks almost all of the boxes for sound quality, and the UI is robust and quick. The few minor critiques will likely be addressed in future development updates. If you are on an Android device and haven't taken Poweramp for a spin, I highly recommend it.

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