Hey y'all... making my bimonthly pop-in to DonationCoder...
I've been ripping a lot of music lately (I hate discs now) which has drove me to find new programs to play it all. I've tried most of the players mentioned (or their predecessors) and have a lil' something to say about them... I'll try to keep it short.
foobar2000 - This is probably the best player if you're willing to pretty much configure everything that is required to make a usable UI. If you want to take the time you can customize TONS and TONS of stuff about the player. The configuration process also involves downloading a bunch of .dll add-ons that usually consist of a single purpose "panel" (like a spectrum analyzer panel, album panel, or one to display the currently playing track). Configuring every single thing is a pain but what makes it worse is that the configuration dialogs for all the panels are not standardized... the method to open the configuration dialogs isn't even standardized. Also for me the customization interfaces (for both the standard UI and the "Columns UI" are very clunky and unintuitive.
Since I'd been ripping so many CDs, I needed a player that could read the "AccurateRipResult" tag generated by dbPoweramp. Foobar was the only player I tried that would read the tags from v13.1 of dbPoweramp ripper. I was also able to write a script that would not only display the AccurateRipResult tag, but would also truncate it and do a couple find and replace
operations. Very cool!
J-River Media Center - I bought this a long time ago but hardly ever used it. But after doing all these rips I dusted it off and used it to get the album art for a LOT of my albums. It's got the best album searcher I've seen. I don't know if the free "Media Jukebox" has the same album art search, but it's worth a look if you're trying to get the art for a lot of albums. Other than that it seems very responsive and feature packed. It's got some similar custom column features as foobar2000, but I wasn't able to get it to display AccurateRipResult tags at all (I guess they're written as APE tags, which MC12 doesn't support in MP3s). The program also looks pretty darn good IMO.
Media Monkey - This has a lot of potential. It's definitely worth a try. For some reason ($ probably) they made the program insert a little link to Amazon next to the Artist/Album/Song Title of each song when you select it. I would expect to hit these accidentally constantly during normal use, driving me even more insane.
MusicIP - Just trying this out for the first time (I still have a lot of files left to analyze) seems cool so far! I wont say "I'm blown away by the playlists it's generated", but it does seem to do a pretty decent job. I hope it has a convenient way to rate songs somewhere...
WMP - I'm too biased against Microsoft programs to consider it for my default player, but the few times I've used it have been painless. Also, it's been indispensable a couple times (like when I wanted to copy files from my Zen Vision M based on their ratings.
iTunes - I'm WAY too biased against all things Apple to even install this unless it's absolutely necessary. I would not be surprised in the slightest if it's biggest asset (after being able to sync with iPhones and the iTunes web store) is it's brushed aluminum appearance.
Real Player - I'm glad they've stopped inventing superfluous media formats, but the bloatyness of the old versions of Real Player is preventing me from trying it.