Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Music Management Software: Alternatives to iTunes

Photo: Tomahawk

by Callan Carow

Although it is perfectly acceptable to listen to your music through iTunes, there are times when we all might crave something a little different. If you're tired of iTunes' constant updates and occasional glitches, or if you need other features from your music-listening experience, here are ten alternatives (in no particular order) to check out:

1. Ecoute
Ecoute, free for both OS X and iOS, automatically syncs with your iTunes library and offers an iTunes-like interface (albeit a bit cleaner). Though it's not a big switch, Ecoute does offer more ways of sorting your music, and the interface can be resized to fit your taste. If you're just looking for a nice, simple, all-around alternative to iTunes, Ecoute is probably your best bet.

2. Tomahawk
Available for Windows, OS X, and Linux, Tomahawk is a free app that integrates all of your music libraries (including Soundcloud, Grooveshark, YouTube, Spotify Premium, and Last.fm) into one place. Although it doesn't have the most appealing interface, it does have some other interesting features, like the ability to connect and see friends' music libraries via Google, Twitter, and other social media sites.

3. Swinsian
Swinsian is an OS X app with a fast, easy-to-use, iTunes-like interface that is able to support many different audio formats. However, importing your music from iTunes can be tricky, and the app costs $19.99 after a free 30-day trial.

4. Fidelia
Fidelia, as the name suggests, is all about providing high quality sound (like using an HD TV for HD channels, it lets you take advantage of high-quality recordings). The app, which is available for iOS and OS X, also easily integrates with iTunes, accepts a variety of formats, and has a cool visual interface that mimics a stereo. But you'll pay $19.99 after the free 15-day trial, so it's only worth it if you really care about sound quality.

5. Vox
Vox, a free app for OS X, is clean, pretty, and on the minimalist side. It appears as a simple sidebar on your screen, so it's good if you don't want your music getting in the way as you work. However, it may not be ideal if you want a lot of control over organizing and managing a large music library, and it takes a bit of practice to get used to the interface.

6. Sonora
Sonora, free and available for OS X, is another clean, streamlined, minimal alternative to iTunes. Sonora also lets you connect to Facebook and Twitter for a social experience, but the app is still in its beta phase, so you'll likely encounter some bugs (and possibly some trouble with importing large libraries).

7. doubleTwist
Although available for OS X and Windows, free app doubleTwist is particularly good for Android users. It helps sync your music libraries between devices via a Wi-fi connection, and also allows you to play and manage music, videos, and photos. If you're just looking for a music app for your computer, however, doubleTwist doesn't offer as many useful features as other apps.

8. Vinyls
Looking for something a little...different? Try Vinyls for OS X, an app which turns each piece of album artwork into an image of a vinyl record. It's one way to switch up your browsing experience, plus it's easy to sync with your iTunes library. But this interface won't be for everyone, so be sure to try the free 20-day trial before you commit (the app is normally $14.99).

9. Enqueue
Enqueue for OS X looks much like older versions of iTunes, but with some added features. It's fast, it supports many different audio formats, and it has an easy-to-use queue so you can play exactly what you want to listen to. However, it can be tricky to import your music from iTunes, and the app comes with a price tag of $9.99.

10. Rdio
If you haven't already heard of Rdio, it works much like Spotify, with many of the same features. The app is free with no ads, though like Spotify, certain features require a monthly subscription (but they do have a nice student discount). There's also a nice iOS app, making it easy to sync between your devices. The drawbacks are that the free version has monthly listening limits, and there's not as much content as Spotify (yet).