There are a lot of music player software for Windows, and Linux. But, some music players can use more system resources like RAM, and CPU resources because of a more advance and bloated user interface, and having Internet ads, or too many features which are not needed to play music. But, there are now many lightweight music players which work fast even on older and slower Windows, and Linux computers, laptops, netbooks and tablets which have 256MB-1GB of RAM, a slower single core 800MHz or slower CPU, and a smaller storage drive which is 16GB or less which is still common on cheaper Windows 8 and 10 tablets and laptops.
Lightweight music players usually only have the basic features like playback buttons, playlist, playlist editor, and support for different audio file types like MP3, WMA and Ogg which you need to play music and audio files on your computer or tablets. A lot of lightweight music players has audio enhancement features which make your music sound better by using your soundcard’s hardware compared to using other players.
When using a lightweight music player on Windows and Linux, you would have more free RAM, CPU, and storage space resources because lightweight music players use less RAM, and CPU resources compared to more resource heavy music players. Your battery life on your tablet and laptop, and power usage on a desktop computer would be longer because lightweight music players use less CPU, and RAM resources, so they use less power/electricity. Lightweight music players also open a lot faster, and run faster even on older, and slower computers with less RAM, and CPU resources, so you can start listening to your music faster. You can also have more programs opened without worrying about your music player slowing down your PC when you use a lightweight music player which use less system resources. Lightweight music player software do not crash, and freeze as much when I use them on a computer since they run faster, and have no un-needed features which can cause a computer to crash or freeze. You also save some internet data/bandwidth by downloading, and using a lightweight music player because there are many lightweight music players which has an installer file which is under 1MB in size. Lightweight music players usually don’t have internet ads, song recommendations and don’t send usage data back to the creator. By using a lightweight music player which does not send back usage date back to the creator, your music listening habits, and privacy would be better than using a music player which tracks its users’ music player usage.
I searched the internet, software download websites, and tried out a lot of these music players which I listed in this article about the best lightweight music players for Windows and Linux.
Windows-only Lightweight Music Players
Windows-only music players sometimes have the advantage of having the most users like Foobar2000 which has many users worldwide. Windows music players are also optimized for Windows instead of many operating systems, so the maker of the music player may release updates, and improvements for their Windows player more often compared to a music player for Windows, Linux, and Mac where the maker needs to make many versions for different operating systems.
Foobar2000 is one of the most popular music players for Windows. It has a customizable user interface, and a lot of nice features. The default user interface is very simple, and includes a playlists viewer, playback buttons, menu bar, volume slider button, seekbar, album art, and a basic theme. Foobar2000 can play a lot of different file music formats like mp3, ogg, flac, wma, and wav. It uses very little RAM, and CPU resources. Foobar2000 also supports third-party components to add more features to Foobar2000. It has Gapless Playback, advance tagging capabilities, ripping cds, Support for DSP effects such as equalization and crossfade, trancoding audio using converter component, Full ReplayGain support, customizable keyboard shortcuts, and Open component architecture. The Foobar2000 installer is only 3.7MB in size, so it should download, and install fast on your computer.
Boom Audio Player
Boom is a simple music player which can play MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Musepack (MPC), WavPack, WAV, AIFF, MP4/M4A, WMA audio files. Boom features a playlist viewer, playback buttons, album art, and an easy to use user interface. Boom can be run from a removable storage device like a USB Flash drive or external hard drive, so it does not need to be installed on your computer to run. Boom features a simple to use, and basic user interface. It’s file size is 2 MB.
GOM Audio is a simple, fast, and lightweight music player made by the maker of the Popular GOM Media player. It uses very little system resources, and has a nice and simple design. It comes with 3 skins, and let you change the design of the audio player on your own with its program. GOM Audio can play most audio file formats like MP3, WMA, OGG, Flac, and music CD. It has A-B Repeat, Equalizer, Audio Effects (Reverb, Surround, Normalize), shuffle, repeat, playlists, Edit ID3 Tags, Plugin Support, Playback Speed controls, and shortcuts. GOM Audio can open internet radio streams, and come with some bookmarked internet radio streams. There are power options in GOM Audio to let it automatically shutdown your computer, or put it to sleep after it is done playing music in its playlist. It’s installer download size is 7.2 MB.
MusicBee is a music manager style music player for Window. MusicBee can tag music files, use the internet to find information about your music files, and create playlists. It can also rip audio cds to your computer, and sync them with your devices. You can change the appearance of MusicBee, and add plug-ins to add more features to MusicBee. It also has advance audio tools to make your music sound better. Its installer download size is 15MB.
AIMP is a full-featured audio player with great audio quality and it is easy to customize with plug-ins from Winamp. Its user interface is simple to use, and looks modern. It has a playlist viewer and editor to make and listen to custom playlists. Users can also use multiple playlists at once. Audio is processed in 32-bit for very clear sound. It can play MP1, MP2, MP3, MPC / MP+, AAC, AC3, Ogg, FLAC,APE, WavPack, Speex, WAV, CDA, WMA, S3M, XM, MOD, IT, MO3, MTM, UMX music files. Aimp has a 18 band visual equalizer. It can convert Audio CDs to MP3, OGG, WAV or WMA. AIMP has a timer to shutdown your computer after a certain amount of time. AIMP can stream, and listen to internet radio. It can create bookmarks and playback queue, and has keyboard shortcuts. It has file search in its player. It can edit MP3 tags, and record audio from any device on your system to save as MP3, Wav, and other sound format. AIMP’s installer file size is 7.22 MB.
Quintessential Media Player/QMP
QMP can play MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis files, and music cds. You can change the skin, and add plug-ins to QMP to add more features to QMP. It has a playlist editor, easy to use user interface. It has three user interface modes which include small, medium and full. It can view videos, rip music CD, convert audio files to different audio formats, and save audio streams. QMP installer file size is 4.3 MB.
Winyl is a music player and music organizer which can play all the popular music file formats like MP3, OGG, WMA, M4A, MPC, APE, FLAC, etc. It can download song lyrics from the internet. It has Gapless playback, WASAPI and ASIO audio outputs for the best sound quality. There are 5 custom pre-bundled themes for changing the appearance of Winyl. It has a modern and simple to use user interface which you use to organize and play your music files. It comes with bookmarks to popular online radio stations which play Pop, Rock, Classical, Electronic, Comedy, etc. Winyl can also edit tags for MP3 files. Its music search tool is very fast. Its installer file size is 2.5MB.
Cool Player+ is a fast, and simple music player which has a simple user interface, advance playlist editor, internet streaming support, ID3 tag editor, file renamer, fast MP3 to Wav file converter, OGG vorbis support, MAD mpeg engine, Winamp Input plugin support, small executable file size, continuous play, and 8 band convolution equalizer. Cool Player+ is programmed in C programming language which is very fast. It’s download size is a very small 270.1KB from SourceForge.
XMPlay is an audio music player which can play popular music formats like MP3, OGG, WAV,XM, etc and has playlists support. You can play more music formats by installing plug-ins. You can change the appearance theme of XMPlay to make it look the way you want it to look. It has 32/24-bit & multi-channel output for the best hardware sound quality, Gapless output, Interpolation & volume/pan ramping, equalizer, online audio streaming, playlist, playlist queuing, track information, disk writing, keyboard shortcuts, archive opening support, unicode file support, song visualization, and no installation required where you can run it without to the need to install XMPlay on your PC. XMPlay file size is a very small 365 KB.
1by1 is a small simple to use Folder music library player. It plays music in folders, and does not require playlists and databases. It can remembers last track and position which you played. It has Gapless play, simple crossfading, and an Audio enhancer. Folder tree navigation, and directory finder. It can play OGG, WAV, FLAC, AAC, MP4, CD music files. 1by1 supports Winamp 2.x input plugin. This player can copy, move, rename while play, delete, date change a music file. It also has Folder compare tool, Rename tool, Big title display. It has Cue sheet support, Playlist support and Favorites. It comes with a few preset themes. 1by1 file installer size is a tiny 177 KB.
Lightweight Music players which work on Windows and Linux Operating Systems
Using the same music player for both Windows and Linux would make using the music player easier because you just need to use one music player user interface which is usually the same in Windows, and Linux operating systems like Linux Mint and Ubuntu.
Clementine is a music player which can play both your local music on your computer, and online music which is hosted on online storage accounts like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, etc. It has an easy to use user interface for quickly playing your music, and searching for music to play on your computer, or the internet on your online storage accounts, and online music streaming services like Soundcloud, Spotify, and online radio stations. It has an easy to use user interface where the right side of the player displays your playlist, and the leftside is used to search for files, display information related to the song, artist, and album. The left sidebar is also use to find your music on your computer, and music which is on the internet. Clementine also supports playlists, tabbed playlists, playing music cds, visualizations, transcode music to MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Speex, FLAC or AAC, edit MP3 tags, fetch missing tags from MusicBrainz, find and download podcasts, Download missing album artwork from Last.fm and Amazon, native desktop notifications on Linux, support for Remote control with its Android app, Nintendo Wiimote game controller, MPRIS or the command-line. It has a Queue manager, and can be used to copy music to your MP3 players like an iPod. It’s installer download size is 21.1 MB for Windows, and 4.9 MB for Ubuntu Linux Trusty 14.04 64bit.
XiX Music Player
XiX Music Player is a simple to use music player which can play MP3, OGG, M4A (non-DRM), AAC, FLAC, OPUS, APE, DFF, and WAV file formats. It can rip your music CDs to MP3 or Flac. It has CD-Text and CDDB support. You can use it to rip DVD audio tracks to MP3 or Flac, but Mplayer needs to be installed on your PC. XiX also supports playlists, online radio listening, recording online radio, schedule recordings for online radio, listen and download podcasts, listen and download audio and music from the Internet Archive. Xix show the lyrics, and album art of the song being played. It has repeat, shuffle, and playback buttons,reverse play, change speed, Crossfading and Trimming, music file search, song ratting, equalizer, sound effects, Copy, Delete or Rename the file, edit ID3 Tags for audio files, multi-tag and rename, and theme support. The installer file size for XiX Music player is 7.5MB for Linux, and 8.5 MB for Windows.
Audacious is a music player which is a descendant of the popular XMMS music player. Audacious has a simple to use user interface, music search tools, tabbed playlists, album art display, and drag and drop file and folders music adding features. It can play music CDs, and online radio streams from internet radio stations. It has a graphical audio equalizer and LADSPA effects for you to customize the sound output of your music.It uses the modern GTK user interface, and you can change the user interface to the classic Winamp user interface skins/themes. Audacious also has plug-ins to fetch song lyrics for the music file which is currently being played on its player. There is a plug-in to use Audacious as an Alarm clock, so you can wake up listening to your favorite music. There are other plug-ins for doing other tasks as well. Audacious file size is a very small 530 KB to download audacious-3.6.2.tar.bz2 for Linux, and 19 MB for audacious-3.6.2a-win32.zip for Windows.
Open Cubic Player is probably one of the lightest weight music players because it uses plain text for the user interface which makes it start up instantly, and run super fast. It can be used to play music files even on older audio hardware like the sound blaster 1.0, and it works with very old operating systems like Windows 95-ME, and XP. It supports 32Bit Super High Quality floating point mixer. and 32Bit High Quality integer mixer. It also supports 16-bit standard integer mixer. It can play MP3, WAV, MIDI, CDA, PLS playlists, and many other file formats. It also has visual features like a spectrum analyzer, phase graphs, track view, online help, instrument view, song message, note dots, oscilloscopes, peak power levels, and it is the only software on earth which uses Würfel Mode.
Qmmp is a music player software which user interface is similar to Winamp’s user interface with the player on the top, equalizer in the middle of the player, and the playlist editor on the bottom. It is a QT-based music player. It can play MP3, OGG, FLAC, Wav CD Audio, and other formats. It has DSP effects which has BS2B effect, sample rate conversion, LADSPA effects, extra stereo, and crossfade. It also has visual effects which include pprojectM visualization and spectrum analyzer. You can change the appearance with XMMS and Winamp 2.x skins. There is a 10-band equalizer, online streaming support, lyrics, video playback via Mplayer, cover art, multi-playlist support, Last.fm/Libre.fm scrobbler, audio formats conveter, support for plug-ins, and more. Qmmp download size is 1.1 MB for Linux, and 15MB for Windows.
XMMS2 is a simple music player which can play mp3, mp4, vorbis, aac, alac, wma, mac, sid, mid, mod, wav, flac, mpc, speex, wavpack, flv, nsf, spc, nsfe, gbs, gym, vgm, sap, ay, tta and shn files. It also has a playlist editor, command line user interface and visual user interface by using GTK and KDE clients. It has Network transparency which means users can run and control XMMS2 remotely like run XMMS2 on your ‘media server’ and control it over network using a PDA, smartphone, or PC, etc. It can also be used to stream music with http, samba, daap and mms on your network or the internet. You can add music to your playlist from rss, xml, asx, xspf, html, m3u, pls, and cue files. You can play music from samba shares without the need to mount it to your local file system. Its Medialib database driven media library stores metadata as music is being played, so your playlist works faster. XMMS media library is easy to manage and search using Collections. XMMS2 also has Gapless playback, and coverart. I download size is 1.7 MB for Linux and 7.2 MB for Windows.
Music Player Daemon/MPD
MPD is a server side program for playing music over your network with plugins and libraries which can play many different sound files while being controlled by its network protocol. It can also open playlists, stream music (HTTP streams with different sub-protocols) and organize playlists. It is designed to be super lightweight, and stable. It can run fast on older Intel Pentium 75 chips which let you use your old PC for playing music without slowdown problems. MPD has gapless playback, buffered audio output, and crossfading. You can choose your own user interface which best suites your need, and MPD is independent from your user interface for controlling MPD music streams. MPD installer file size is 764.7 KB for Linux, and 6.1 MM for Windows.
Linux-only Lightweight music players
Linux is a great operating system for playing music because there are very lightweight Linux based operating systems like Puppy Linux, Lubuntu, Tiny Core Linux, and Debian which can be used to listen to music even on very old computers and laptops from the year 2000 or older.
LXMusic is a simple music player which is designed to play music. It is based on the popular XMMS2 music player for Linux. LXMusic user interface looks similar to Foobar2000 music player for Windows. It is made by the same creators as the popular LXDE desktop environment for Linux based operating systems like Lubuntu which uses LXDE as its user interface. LXMusic has a playlist viewer/editor, Filter/Search playlist tool, playback buttons, repeat modes, volume, File Properties, and CD Audio support. It’s package download file size is 102.8 kB.
C* Music Player/CMUS
CMUS is a small, quick, and powerful console music player for Linux, and UNIX-Like operating systems. It can play Ogg Vorbis, MP3, FLAC, Opus, Musepack, WavPack, WAV, AAC, MP4, audio CD, and other audio file types which are supported by ffmpeg like WMA. It has Gapless audio playback, replay regain, mp3 and ogg streaming from shoutcast or icecast, play queue, and optional playback resume during startup. CMUS starts up very fast, has powerful playlist filters, simple to use folder browser, customizable colors for the user interface, dynamic key binding, Vi / less style search mode, and Vi style command mode with tab completion. It also has Que sheet support, unicode string handling, music scrobbling with Last.FM and Libre.Fm with Status Display program, run external command like tag editor for currently selected file, can be controled with UNIX-socket using cmus-remote command. CMUS installer file download size is 290 KB.
Potamus is a simple GTK-based music player which has high quality audio. It can play FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, Opus, MPEG audio, MP3, and more. It uses the File System for sorting music. It uses libmad’s high-quality decoder to play MP3 files, so your music sounds great. It has a playlist editor/viewer. Playback buttons, seekbar, and there is repeat. Files and directories are added to the playlist by dragging-and-dropping them with your mouse to the playlist, or by setting potamus command-line parameters on startup. You can also change the sound output to mono, out-of-phase stereo, Phase phase-inverts, Left and Right feed, and swap feeds. Potamus-16 download file size is 142 K for Linux.
MOC/Music on Console
MOC is a console/text based music player which plays music in a text-console. It can play Supported file formats include: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Musepack, Speex, WAVE (and less popular formats supported by Sndfile),MOD, WavPack, AAC, SID, MIDI, and other music file formats. It is very lightweight because it is text based. It plays music on a folder/directory which you selected to play with MOC. MOC does not require playlist files to show files since it uses folders to play music files. But, you can still create, and use m3u playlist files in MOC to display custom playlists. Pressing the q key on the keyboard lets you detach MOC, and continue using the console for other tasks while MOC plays music in the background. MOC uses output buffers in a separate thread, so your music plays smoothly even when your computer is busy reading and writing a lot of data on your PC. MOC precache the next files which will be played, so MOC has gapless playback.MOC supports internet radio from Shoutcast and Icecast. Key mapping is customizable. It also has a hardware and software sound mixer, simple equalizer, color themes, directory and playlist search, Configurable title creation from filenames and file tags, Optional character set conversion for file tags using iconv(), OSS, ALSA, JACK and SNDIO output, User defined keys, Cache for files’ tags, and more. MOC file size is 581 KB.
Gmusicbrowser is a jukebox style music player designed for users who have over 10000 songs in their music library. It has a customizable user interface layout. Gmusicbrowser has artist/album lock which let you easily restrict playlist to current artist/album. You can easily find songs related to the song which is currently playing like songs from the same album, albums from the same artist, and songs with the same title like covers and other versions of the song. Gmusic browser can play ogg vorbis, mp3 and flac files (and mpc/ape/m4a with gstreamer, mplayer or mpv). It has simple mass-tagging and mass-renaming. It has a powerful song search engine, and it has album art. It has a system tray icon, with a customizable tip window, which can control the player. It has a customizable song tree widget which displays the song in a nice list. You can tag the songs with multiple artists, and music types. You can also add custom labels to each song. It has a customizable weighted random mode based on rating, last time played, label,… Gmusicbrowser can act as an icecast server to allow you to listen to your music remotely. It also supports plug-ins , and come with now playing, last.fm, find pictures, simple lyrics, artist and album info, and customizable desktop widget. Gmusicbrowser is 2.2 MB to download from its website.
DeaDBeeF is a music player which can play mp3, ogg vorbis, flac, ape, wv/iso.wv, wav, m4a/mp3 (aac and alac), mpc, tta, cd audio, and many more. It can also play nsf, ay, vtx, vgm/vgz, spc and many other popular chiptune formats It can read and write ID3v1, ID3v2.2, ID3v2.3, ID3v2.4, APEv2, Xing/Info, VorbisComments tag, and other music tags. It has no Gnome and KDE dependencies. It has a clean fast user interface using GTK2 and GTK3. It supports minimize to system tray, with scrollwheel volume control, etc. It is easy to use because it has drag and drop, both in playlist, and from other apps. It can be controlled from the command line. It also has Global hotkeys, multiple playlist with tabs, album art, notifications about current playing songs, 18-band graphical equalizer and DSP plugins, built-in high quality tag editor, with custom fields support, customizable groups in playlists, streaming radio support for ogg vorbis, mp3 and aac streams, gapless playback, lots of plug-ins, and more. It was tested on x86, x86_64, powerpc, arm, mips architectures, so it should work on most modern computers.DeaDBeeF installer file size is 3.3 MB to download from its download website.
Quark is a music player designed for more advance users. The music player runs in the background with with access provided with the FIFO in the filesystem. Xine-lib is used to playback the music, so it can play any audio file format like MP3, MP4,WAV, OGG, etc which are supported by Xine. Quark comes with a few frontend user interfaces like charm-quark which is a CLI user interface and strange-quark which is a GTK System Tray user interface.
What is your favorite music player for Windows or Linux based operating systems?