For a fast, light, music-only player, try CrystalWolf

This compact free player emphasizes the basics over bells and whistles.

As your music collection grows, do you sometimes wish for a simpler media player, not a more complex one? Maybe you prefer to manage your music collection in your own file structure and need a small, fast, yet capable player that doesn't take over your system. Or maybe "simple is better" just makes sense sometimes. CrystalWolf Audio Player covers those bases. It's not a video player, slideshow maker, or media center: it's a free music player optimized for high-quality playback of most audio files, including MP3, WAV, WMA, ACC, OGG, FLAC, and APE. It has a spectrum display, hot keys, and numerous language options, but few unnecessary extras.

CrystalWolf Audio Player's small interface is very plain, which we took as a good sign; there's no lack of skinnable players, there just aren't many skinny ones, and keeping the bells and whistles out of the interface is the way to keep an app fast and agile. Not that CrystalWolf is lacking in the basics: it has a full set of play controls and counters as well as Repeat and Shuffle buttons and a Volume slider. We clicked File, browsed to some tunes, and added them to CrystalWolf's Playlist, which is as plain and simple as the main player. Audio files sounded just fine in CrystalWolf. The small spectral display isn't much use, but it's pretty cool and adds some visual interest.

Under the Settings, we could open a simple ID3 tag tool as well as the General Settings sheet, which includes default file associations and program options, including disabling the spectrum analyzer. The Hotkeys button displayed a list of available hot keys, but you can't change them, so any conflicts will have to be resolved in other apps.

For all the reasons we outlined, CrystalWolf Audio Player is a good choice for anyone looking for a fast, compact, yet capable standalone music player. If you don't need to access online music retailers from your player, and you don't want to play videos with it, and you're tired of music programs that commandeer your files and consume system resources, it might be the answer.

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