Being a music junkie, I've tried quite a few audio players in the past few months. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
- Windows Media Player has looks to kill for. But it's system heavy and too fussy about file formats.
- RealPlayer is fantastic with streaming audio but has a reputation for being heavy on the CPU and memory.
- Yahoo! Music Jukebox is great for LAUNCHcast addicts and integrated well with Yahoo's Music Store. But it lacks features and with Yahoo! deciding to outsource its music business to Real Networks, this client isn't too appealing anymore.
- Winamp integrates well with the fantastic AOL Radio, has a small footprint and a very powerful interface, too powerful and confusing in fact.
- VLC plays anything, no matter how corrupted the file or outdated the format. But the vanilla features let it down.
I never tried iTunes. It's worthless if you don't have an iPod and have no intention of buying music from iTunes Store. It probably has the worst reputation for being a PC resource hog.
Enter the best audio player: MediaMonkey. It has an amazingly powerful interface and yet remains simple enough not to intimidate the average user. Best of all, it allows you to browse through your archive natively (original directory hierarchy). So you don't need to create playlists (I HATE them) if your file hierarchy is intuitive enough. Review sites all over the web have sung songs on praise of MediaMonkey and I can see why. My only gripe is that its support for audio streaming is almost non-existent. Thankfully, I still have Real.
I also tried the G-string of all music players today: foobar2000. It's so cute!