Alternative Media Player Software Roundup

This week we take a look at the free software options available for playing digital media files, including MP3s. We're all familiar with the big players such as Windows Media Player and Winamp, so we take a closer look at the underdogs and see what they have to offer.

Zoom Player

Zoom Player 2.71 weighs in at a lean 565k, making it one of the lightest media players available for Windows. It was designed to be primarily used for playing DVD and DivX movies, but it's more than capable of playing MP3 files as well. It's skinnable, like Winamp, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. While it does have a playlist editor, it's not part of the main interface. All in all, Zoom player is excellent as an all-in-one media player, but if you spend more time playing MP3s than movies, you'll probably end up switching back to Winamp or WMP for the added convenience they provide. Three stars.

Ultra Player 2.112

Ultra Player is very slick. It's nicely designed , and it doesn't take up anywhere near as much screen space as Windows Media Player, for example. It incorporates everything such as playlists, visualisations and configuration options in the main screen, making it very efficient, but it does mean you can't see everything at once, like you can in Winamp. One of the features that sets it apart from other players is the alarm. So now you can be woken up in the morning by your favourite MP3s! Three stars for this one.

Ashampoo Media PLayer 1.8

The Ashampoo Media Player 1.8 has a lot going for it. It has a clean and skinnable interface. It supports playlists and has some reasonable visualisation plugins. The reason that this player will find resistance, though, is that it's option screens are marred by banner ads. Sure, you can register to have these removed- and registration is free- but, let's face it, why bother with it when there are dozens of other players to choose from that don't require you to join a mailing list. So while the player might have got at least three stars based on it's software merits, it gets bumped down to two and a half for being intrusive-ware.

Fmod 3.6

Fmod 3.6 is lean. It's just an EXE and a DLL file which total to 133kb on disk. Now it's not much to look at, although the rudimentary oscilloscope and level meters will no doubt be eye candy enough for those who like their software to have the smallest possible footprint. With CPU usage constantly on display, and never even getting near 2 per cent on an Athlon 1800, this application really grows on you! It is as far from the big guns as conceptually possible, but at the end of the day it does the same thing- plays MP3 files. Four stars!

Traktor DJ Player

Favourite amongst DJs and musicians, the Traktor player comes forth from Native Instruments, a company famous for their music software- software synthesisers in particular. Their full Traktor DJ Studio is a complete virtual DJ application that towers above the competition, and is used professionally by a lot of DJs. Traktor DJ player is the little brother of the Studio version and has a very minimal feature set, but it does one thing that makes it unique. It incorporates two playback "decks" and performs automatic mixing of songs. You can also use the crossfade slider to do your own live mixing. Sure, it lacks the beat matching and EQ features of the Studio version, but for a freeware app this thing really kicks. Four stars for Traktor!

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Daniel Potts

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?