The release of macOS Catalina brought a major paradigm shift in iTunes. Apple decided to split the app into three media-specific apps – Music, TV, and Podcasts. The music app retains the core functionality of iTunes and can manage both local and cloud music libraries.

While Apple made some excellent design choices to simplify the music app, some people may not find all of these changes to their liking. So, if you're not locked into the Apple ecosystem and have no choice but to use it, then consider switching to one of these alternative music player apps for Mac.

1. VOX player

VOX Player is one of the few audio players that can properly process Hi-Res music. It's our top pick for the best Hi-Res music players for Mac. The secret of the VOX Player lies in its proprietary audio engine, a variety of audio control settings and presets.

The app supports the file formats FLAC, MP3, ALAC, DSD, PCM, APE, CUE, M4A and more.

The tabbed user interface is divided into five parts: Playlist (to add tracks from your computer), Collections (including Local, iTunes and Synced), Library (including Vox Cloud and iTunes), Queue, Internet radio, and SoundCloud.

Unique functions

  • Sync with your music library and update it when the application starts. To use Apple Remote and AirPods with VOX, an extension is required from the VOX website.

  • The premium subscription gives you unlimited online storage and advanced audio settings like hog mode, tweak buffer, crossfade, output channel setup and more.

  • Configure an equalizer with over 30 presets and 10-grid manual settings for fine-tuning.

  • You can even stream music directly to Sonos speakers.

Download: VOX Player (Free, subscription available)

2. IINA

IINA is an open source audio and video player for Mac. Because it is based on the native Swift programming language, the user interface follows the modern Mac design philosophy. The app lets you control playback navigation and volume using the Touch Bar, Force Touch trackpad, and other gestures.

Related: How To Make MacBook Pro Touch Bar More Useful

click File> Open and select a folder that contains your audio files. IINA immediately switches to music mode and displays playback controls and album art. To activate this, go to Settings> General and check Automatically switch to music mode.

Unique functions

  • Save unlimited viewing history. Go to Settings> General and check Enable playback history. Then press Shift + Command + H to open the playback history.

  • When listening to an audiobook or podcast, you can quickly navigate between MP3 chapters to skip topics.

  • Supports multiple button binding configurations including IINA, MPV, VLC and Movist. Using a different video player eliminates the need to remember different shortcuts.

Download: IINA (Free)

3rd gear

Cog is an open source music player that supports file formats like WAV, ALAC, Opus, Vorbis, RealAudio, DTS, Musepack and many more. The dual pane interface integrates the “file drawer” with the playlist window on the left.

The file tree area is collapsible; You can freely choose any music folder. To get started, drag and drop the music folder into the file drawer. In the right area you can see all tracks with configurable columns.

Unique functions

  • Configurable output device setup and built-in ReplayGain support for either albums or tracks. Go to Settings> Output to optimize the settings.

  • Find or skip a track or album with hotkeys to control playback. It even allows the Last.fm app to control media buttons.

  • Support of soundfont and MIDI plugins. Useful for musicians to synthesize music with loops, vibrato effects and velocity-sensitive volume changes.

Download: Cogwheel (free)

4. Strawberry music player

Strawberry Music Player is a comprehensive music organizer and cross-platform music player. The app is a branch of the now defunct Clementine. There are many advanced features that users will appreciate for managing their music collection. It comes with a cover manager, tools for managing playlists, a music transcoder, and a tag editor.

The app supports WAV, FLAC, WavPack, MPC, TrueAudio, AIFF and Monkey’s audio as standard. To start, go to Settings> Collection and click Add new folder. Also activate Monitor the collection for changes to update your playlist as you add new albums.

In the left pane you can group music by album, artist and year. To add a track, Ctrl + click an album and select Append to current playlist, or Queue play them next.

Unique functions

  • Integrated with various services including music streaming (Tidal, Qobuz and Subsonic), album art (MusicBrainz, Discogs) and scrobbling services (Last.fm, Libre.fm and ListenBrainz).

  • View lyrics with an option to choose from providers like AudD, Genius, Musixmatch, and more. Optimize the album art (by dragging to Tools> Cover Manager) and view an album's background image while music is playing.

  • Edit metadata to add missing track information. To do this, Ctrl + click an album and select Edit track information.

  • Turn your music library into smart and dynamic playlists. Any playlist you prefer is displayed in the dynamic tab, while the smart playlist organizes songs according to specific criteria.

Download: Strawberry Music Player (Free)

5. DeaDBeeF

DeaDBeeF is a modular, cross-platform player. It supports many audio and chiptune formats like MP3, OGG, FLAC, NSF, VTX, VGM and more. All formats supported by FFMPEG work with the app. The developer has made sure that the native UI toolkit is used on each platform to provide the best experience.

Press the Add a file or folder Button to add your files directly from the Finder. With the support of a tab-based user interface, it is possible to add different types of music to your playlist. Ctrl-click the tab to rename files, close the window, select the playback order, or add a new playlist.

The columns are configurable; You can add, edit, or remove columns. To view the album art, Ctrl + click any column and select Add column. In the dialog box that appears, select the option Album cover from the drop down menu. Then Ctrl-click again and select Group by> artist / date / album.

Unique functions

  • Easy to use tag editor with support for various metadata and tag formats, including ID3v1 to ID3v2.4, Xing / Info and VorbisComments.

  • 18-band graphic equalizer and other DSP plugins. The app also supports gapless playback and playback amplification for album or track.

  • Supports title formatting scripting compatible with the popular Foobar2000 app.

  • Transcode audio files to other formats. Just Ctrl + click any track and select Convert.

Download: DeaDBeeF (Free)

6. Pine player

Pine Player is a hi-res music player for Mac. When you first start it up, the UI might look compact, and it may seem like all the features in a single window crammed with illegible text and poor font selection, but despite its shortcomings, this app is feature-rich.

It supports MP3, FLAC, APE, AAC, M4A, WAV, AIFF, WMA, BIN / CUE and more. To get started, add or select a playlist File> Open to add a folder. There's a drop-down menu at the bottom to change genre, and you can mix, import, and export playlists too.

Unique functions

  • Supports different types of PCM formats. It can play back sound from 16- to 32-bit files and reproduce clear sound quality by supporting a maximum of 768 kHz.

  • Use an oversampling filter for a better listening experience. You can also sort playlists by album title or track.

  • 12-band graphic equalizer with over 27 presets. It also supports crossfade and gapless playback.

  • Transcode music to another format, edit metadata, and add album art.

Download: Pine player (free)

Which Mac Music Player Should You Use?

There are good reasons to keep using the Music app. It's easy to use and has a great collection of music. However, if you don't like subscriptions or have a lot of albums, try these alternative music players for Mac and see which one suits your needs.

Photo credit: fizkes / Shutterstock

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About the author

Rahul Saigal
(154 articles published)

With an M.Optom degree in ophthalmology, Rahul taught for many years at the college. Writing and teaching others is always his passion. He's now writing about technology and making it digestible for readers who don't understand it well.

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