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Your music collection may be gigantic, but your music player doesn't have to be. That's the idea behind MusicBee, a free music player for Windows PCs that's designed to deliver a simple but powerful way to manage your music collection.
MusicBee is simple and speedy to set up: once you download and install the app, you point it at your music collection and it automatically adds your tracks to its music library. It scanned my mid-sized music collection in just a few minutes; before I even had time to monitor the progress of the scan, my MusicBee library was complete.
Unfortunately, playing back my tunes wasn't quite as easy. All 4,298 songs in my library refused to play until I either enabled QuickTime in MusicBee's Preferences screen or until I downloaded a file called BASS_AAC.dll. MusicBee's creator says this step is necessary to play back M4A files, because if he were to include BASS_AAC.dll with the app, he would be faced with patent fees. And while many freeware music players don't require this step, he says they should. Enabling QuickTime was, well, quick, and even though MusicBee says that downloading the .dll file will provide a better playback experience, I had no issues with MusicBee's performance.
MusicBee's interface is a bit text-heavy, but it's easy to customize. You can move panels and windows as you wish, so you see less of the current playlist and more album art and song lyrics. You can change the application's skin--it comes with several options installed--to give it a completely new look. And you can switch between a full version of the player, a compact view that shows just the current playlist, and a mini player, which is simply a thin bar that you can move around your screen.
MusicBee is strictly for music only at this point, but the developer plans to release a video playback plugin later this year. It's not as visually pleasing as Clementine, nor does it support as many platforms, but MusicBee will appeal to Windows users looking for a speedier, lighter-weight alternative to Windows Media Player.