Turn Up the Volume on These Android Music Apps
When it comes to mobile music players for your Android phone, you're not hurting for options. Google Play Music offers traditional functionality and cloud streaming, and it's right there on your phone. But if you're looking for something more, you can turn to third-party apps — even one from Apple! — for greater customization, sound control and variety. Whether you're a casual listener or have thousands of songs to organize, here are our picks for the best music players on Android. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)
Google Play Music (Free)
Let's start with the default choice, just because you may have overlooked it. That would be a mistake: Google Play Music offers a number of perks that ought to make you give it a whirl. Google makes a pretty clever upload manager that lets you add up to 50,000 songs from iTunes or any other program where you’re currently storing your music. And if you subscribe to the $9.99-a-month premium service, you get access to the entire Google Play catalogue along with YouTube Red. This grants you ad-free viewing of nearly all videos on the service and access to programming developed specifically for YouTube Red subscribers. And even if you don't shoot for the cloud and streaming services, it still does a good job of playing music in your device storage, though with less frills than other players.
Apple Music (Free)
Apple Music isn't just for iOS anymore. And even the most ardent Android fan would have to concede Apple's streaming service is pretty good. You get access to Beats One, your music playlists, and Apple’s catalogue of 30 million songs. This option is most likely going to appeal to those who generally stick close to Apple’s ecosystem, but it's nice to have the ability to throw an Android phone into the mix. Apple Music subscriptions cost $9.99 a month, but you can enjoy a three-month trial at the start. (And if you happen to sign up for an unlimited data plan through Verizon, you currently can get six months of Apple Music for free.)
Poweramp is a feature-filled Android player available free for a 15-day trial, with a $3.99 upgrade to the full version. The app includes support for a wide variety of audio formats, a 10-band graphic equalizer, support for lyrics, .cue files and numerous playlist formats. A tag editor, fast library searching, home and lock screen widgets and numerous visual and setting customizations make Poweramp a heck of a choice if you're willing to shell out for a nice Android music player app.
Musicolet is an ad-free music player that eschews syncing and fancy cloud features in favor of delivering offline functionality and a boatload of features for playing your local music files. Musicolet supports a variety of music formats, and includes a nice multi-queue manager for queuing up multiple albums or playlists, a tag editor, embedded lyrics support, a sleep timer and widgets. You won't find a ton of cosmetic customizations here, as Musicolet is all about functionality rather than style.
The lesser-known BlackPlayer is a slick, minimalist app with a clean, configurable interface that packs decent features under the hood. Swipe controls let you easily navigate the library's various views (track, album, artist, genre) as well as playback. Vertical swipes to bring you to next or previous tracks. On the audio end, BlackPlayer includes a 5 band equalizer, as well as a variety of audio effects such as a bass booster and virtualizer, and gapless playback and crossfade on devices that support it. BlackPlayer also comes with three widgets, an ID3 tag editor, and support for FLAC and embedded lyrics.
Phonograph is a sleek-looking Android music player that hews closely to the flat and bright look of Material design and provides users with a clean-looking user experience that hides features like tag editing and playlist management behind contextual menus. The result is a very clutter-free interface (complete with colors that can automatically change to match the album art), though you might need to make an extra tap or two to get to features like the sleep timer or equalizer.
Pixel Music Player (Free)
Pixel Music Player combines local music playback as well as online radio and podcasts into a single convenient package. The free app gives you the option to navigate your music files through a library format, or by a more traditional folder explorer view. Pixel Music Player comes with a five-band graphic equalizer, video player, and Material Design themes that keep things bright (with Black and Grey options). On the organizational front, you can have the app download album art and lyrics, as well as manually edit your music’s metadata from within Pixel Music Player. You’ll also find a control widget as well as lockscreen and notification playback controls.
Rocket Player offers some solid features, even in its free tier. The app features a clean and bright design that never gets in the way of doing its job — playing good music. Basic player functionality, a built-in equalizer, library search and management tools, podcast support, and home and lock screen widgets are among the free features. Allowing the app to display adverts gives you more features like expanded file format support, a 10-band equalizer, and gapless playback. Or you can make an in-app purchase to unlock all features without the advertisements. You can also subscribe to cloud backup and sync features, as well as iSyncr for syncing your iTunes library and metadata to Rocket Player.
JetAudio HD Player Plus ($3.99)
Another solid choice for an Android music player is JetAudio HD Player Plus, a premium music player that plays a variety of file formats stored locally or in your network folders over Wi-Fi. The pro version of the player comes with a 20-band graphical equalizer, lock screen widgets, and a lot of neat playback controls for things like cross-fading, gapless playback and automatic gain control to avoid volume fluctuations. You can also find tag-editing and search tools to keep your library organized. Support for a number of audio plugins such as AM3D audio and Bongiovi DPS are available as in-app purchases. The free version of the app, which is ad-supported, has downgraded features like a 10-band equalizer.
With support for music, podcasts and radio, DoubleTwist is the audio player that does it all. The app's Magic Radio feature provides a customized mix of songs based on your existing library, and you can use doubleTwist to instantly sync iTunes or Windows Media Player playlists from your PC to your phone via USB. This handy app is as stylish as it is functional, with a refreshed design, artist bios and photos that accompany your favorite tracks. DoubleTwist can stream your tunes to your Xbox 360, PS3, Sonos speakers and other devices.
Shuttle is a free, lightweight, yet feature-packed music player that also offers some neat extras for paid users. Shuttle's interface is reminiscent of the stock Google Play Music's card UI, and the player comes with an equalizer, gapless playback, album and artist downloads, and Last.FM scrobbling to name a few of its features. It also takes full advantage of Android UI features, with lock screen and notification controls and widgets. Users who upgrade to Shuttle+ ($0.99) gain additional interface customizations, as well as tag editing and Chromecast support.
Amazon Music (Free)
Amazon Music allows you to play locally stored music, create and edit playlists, and stream music to your car or home stereo via Bluetooth. The real selling points, though, are the market integration and cloud locker streaming. Users can search for and purchase new music, and then stream or download tracks and album straight into your device to enjoy at your leisure. With a $99 annual Amazon Prime subscription, users also gain access to a massive library of music that they can stream and download at will ad-free, along with the other perks of Amazon Prime.
MORE: What Is Amazon Prime?
Musixmatch covers your basics with playback controls and a 5-band equalizer, but the real draw is how the app automatically displays synced lyrics for each song as the track plays. Musixmatch also plays well with other music player apps such as Spotify or Play Music, using a feature called FloatingLyrics to display synced song lyrics as a track plays. Chromecast and Android Wear support, as well as the ability to pull up artist or band Twitter accounts, albums, and top tracks round out the extras.
Pulsar's library view can sort through your music by album, artist, genre or folder, with audio effects like an equalizer, bass boost and reverb requiring an upgrade to the paid version. The app also includes a lot of neat extras such as Chromecast support, automatic download of missing album and artist images, gapless playback and ID tag editing. It's a nice player, though it suffers in comparison to other free players by gating its equalizer behind a paywall.
GoneMAD Music Player ($3.99)
GoneMAD Music Player is a nifty feature-rich music player that supports a wide variety of file formats and sports a nicely configurable interface in its latest major update. Covering the ubiquitous .MP3 to more esoteric formats like FLAC, OGG, and MPC, GoneMAD should play most music file formats you throw at it, while its wealth of configurable audio effects such as a 10-band equalizer, auto volume adjustment, crossfading and bass boost let you configure playback to your liking. The interface also comes with a wealth of themes based on Holo and Material design. You can download GoneMAD for free and enjoy it for 14 days before you have to pay the $3.99 fee to unlock the app.
Neutron Music Player ($3.99)
Neutron Music Player's interface may be clunky, but it pitches itself as a professional music player for discerning audiophiles. It backs that assertion up with a ton of audio tweaks, settings and functions. Besides support for a wide variety of audio formats, the app packs numerous DSP settings for things such as surround sound, crossfeed and rumble filtering, as well as normalization, pitch control and other audio tweaks.
PlayerPro is a feature-packed media player loaded with numerous options and settings to customize your listening experience to just how you like it. Easy library search and filtering by artist, album or folder combine nicely with a built-in tag editor, while a more visual album art wall provides a nice gesture scrolling experience. A built-in, 5-band equalizer with reverb, bass boost and audio presets gives you some hard and fast audio configurations. A more powerful (and free) DSP plugin offers a 10-band equalizer, gapless playback, crossfade and even more options.
The king of streaming music keeps getting better. Spotify now has plans that are comparable to other services — a premium account costs $10 a month, and a family account covering six people runs $15 a month. The streaming music space is highly competitive, but Spotify distinguishes itself through the impressive amount of curated playlists and suggestions for helping you power through the work day or rock the late night party.
YouTube Music (Free)
In addition to offering Google Play Music, Google's YouTube Music now offers audio streaming in addition to its previous focus on video content, with access to more than 30 million music videos. You can search for artists, videos and albums to automatically generate a non-stop station, with personalized stations learning from your preferences. If you're already paying $9.99 a month for Google Play Music, be aware that you get the premium version of YouTube Music included with your subscription.
Tidal (starts at $9.99/month)
Tidal's claim to fame is the ability to stream high-fidelity music (either at CD quality 320kbps AAC or lossless FLAC audio) to your mobile device. Translation, if you're not an audiophile? It sounds fantastic. Tidal features an extensive library of more than 25 million songs, and users can also watch any of more than 75,000 ad-free music videos. Other extras include curated lists and music identification and discovery tools. The catch? There's no free tier, with Tidal Premium (320kbps AAC) costing $9.99 monthly, and Tidal Hi-Fi (lossless FLAC) setting you back $19.99.