Which Player Is Best For Syncing To Android?

Syncing an iPhone with iTunes is about as seamless as it gets, while Andorid users are often left with a much clunkier experience — or at least having to figure out what desktop music player best fits their syncing needs. Here's how our favourite music players stack up against one another in Android-syncing prowess.

We know the choice of desktop music player is an extremely personal one and you have so many great players to choose from. However, if you have an Android phone, you not only have to worry about features on the desktop, but also how well it syncs to your device — and sometimes that's a bit harder to see. Every player works a bit differently, so we've tested them all and put together a handy chart to help you see which players are the most Android friendly, along with a breakdown of how each one performs.

A note about syncing playlists: For the most part, you manage your syncing preferences through the desktop players. However, all players sync playlists in M3U format, which isn't recognised by the default Android music player. As such, we've outlined which programs will sync playlists for you, but if you want to be able to access them, you'll need to use an alternative player on your phone (like our personal favorite, PowerAMP).

iTunes (Via iSyncr)

iTunes obviously doesn't sync with Android out of the box, but if you have to manage your music library in iTunes (say, if you also have an iPod), previously mentioned iSyncr will get the job done. iSyncr is an Android app slash portable Windows app that you install on your device, and when you want to sync, you just plug it in and run the EXE on your phone's SD card. From there, you can choose what playlists to sync, including videos and it'll even sync play counts for you.

With the addition of the iSyncr Wi-Fi addon, you can even sync your device without plugging it in. If you edit your playlists on your device, it'll edit them on your phone and delete any tracks you no longer wish to sync. Short of trans-coding and support for podcasts, it's one of the best syncers out there. The fact that it's packaged as a portable app is very nice too.

Winamp

Winamp is easily the best player on Windows for syncing to your Android phone. There's very little it doesn't do. When you first plug in your device, Winamp will recognise it and show it under the "Devices" tab in the left sidebar. From there you can configure which playlists sync to your device and/or specify an advanced search query to decide which songs get synced. You can set it to automatically sync as soon as you plug it in, choose which podcasts are synced to your device, automatically fill empty space with higher-rated songs, and trans-code higher-bitrate and incompatible tracks on-the-fly, so everything works correctly on your phone (though it sadly won't trans-code videos).

You can even tell it what folders to sync your media to and if you remove a track from your sync list, it will ask you if you want to delete them or leave them — which is awesome to be given the choice. It'll even sync over Wi-Fi, if you have Winamp for Android installed on your device (though you don't need to use it as your player for this to work — you just need it to communicate with your computer). In short, Winamp syncs with Android as well as iTunes syncs with iOS devices — if not better.

MediaMonkey

MediaMonkey syncs with Android almost as well as Winamp, with a few caveats. When you plug in your device, you'll see an iTunes-like pane that pops up and asks you what you want to sync. You can select playlists, music and podcasts from there and set your device to sync every time you plug it in. You can also fill any unused space with high-rated songs from your library. It'll also delete files you remove from your sync list and sync files from the device back to your PC. It doesn't sync over Wi-Fi, however and you have to purchase MediaMonkey Gold to trans-code songs on-the-fly.

MusicBee

MusicBee is a lesser-known, but fantastic music player for Windows that syncs surprisingly well with Android. You can tell it where to sync music, choose what playlists are synced, choose how to copy artwork, convert tracks on-the-fly and set it to sync as soon as you plug in the device. It also has podcast support, though it only lets you sync all episodes or all unplayed episodes — nothing in between. Unlike all the other players, though, MusicBee won't sync videos, because it doesn't support having videos in its library. It also has no option for Wi-Fi sync. Overall, though, it's a great balance between solid media management on the desktop and great Android support, if you aren't a fan of Winamp.

Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player may not be the worst program in the world, but its Android syncing leaves a lot to be desired. The only advantage it has over just dragging your music folders to your phone in Windows Explorer is that you can selectively sync playlists — but it won't sync the actual playlists themselves, just the songs on it. It also won't delete any tracks you remove from the device, doesn't support podcasts and won't trans-code, or sync over Wi-Fi. All it provides is a method to copy songs from your library to your device — it doesn't truly "sync" anything. If you want any kind of real syncing, we recommend staying away from Windows Media Player.

Foobar2000

We didn't want to neglect Foobar2000, but sadly, Foobar2000 neglected us. Being the minimalist player that it is, there's little to no support for syncing devices, short of an Android plugin that we couldn't even get to install. So, we've left it out of the chart above, but if you know of a reliable way to sync Foobar2000 with your device, please let us know.

There you have it. These obviously aren't the only music players on Windows, but they are our top five favourites, and between them you should be able to find one that suits you in both desktop and Android-syncing features. Winamp is still our favourite, due to its extremely powerful Android syncing, though MediaMonkey is a close second, with MusicBee and iSyncr being good second choices.


Comments

    This is a problem I'm finding for a few apps etc. for my Nexus S.

    If I wanted to use iSyncr, where would I save it on my phone, as the Nexus S has no SD card slot. Is there a workaround, or a standard process I should follow for apps like this one which require an SD card?

    Consider using subsonic if you can spare the data. U can setup a web sever on a home PC (win/linux/mac) and stream you entire library!

    If the data usage is too high, then you can always increase its cache size, i.e. it will keep the last say, 2GB of music you have played... I use it... and Love it. Will never go back to the old way...

    http://www.subsonic.org/pages/index.jsp

    No mention of doubletwist with airsync?

      i was thinking the same thing.

      The equivalent US lifehacker article has been updated to include some suspect commentary on DoubleTwist.

      http://lifehacker.com/5877855/music-player-showdown-which-desktop-player-is-best-for-syncing-to-android?tag=lifehacker-faceoff

      He suggest iSyncr is better than DoubleTwist because you don't need to install a second PC client. Which of course implies you already have iTunes installed and have all your music in iTunes. This is not the case for me. iTunes the whole reason I left Apple and got an Android phone.

      DoubleTwist's biggest selling point is that it isn't iTunes and I don't need that iTunes pig client installed on my PC.

      Poor form to simply dismiss DoubleTwist and not include it in the review.

        +1 Boris. I can't stand iTunes and DoubleTwist with Airsync is very good.

        I use Doubletwist Pro at the moment and I'm looking for a replacement.

        The player is nice, as is airsync, but the client is horrible and very buggy. In fact, it's more just a sync library for iTunes these days.

      Yeah, strange that they were missed. It's the only useful solution I found on OS X. iSyncR stubbornly refused to work.

    What about Google Music?

    Cheetah sync + tasker.

    I just drop the files into a folder on my PC and every hour my phone pulls them over via wifi.

    Simples.

    WinAmp Android sync is buggy. So is DoubleTwist. Both only partially sync library forgets tracks. Songbird's sync doesn't allow one to dictate where to sync to. Haven't tied the rest listed here but basically so, syncing music to Android has been a disappointing affair. Especially when you have to migrate libraries from one PC side client to another just to facilitate the sync. When one app actually does it without the caveats, please let me know.

      As usual YMMV. Winamp worked for me but was very slow. Doubletwist with Airsync has worked flawlessly on both my phone and tablet and I have synced my music in the opposite direction onto my work computer without issues.

    Why anyone would want to replicate or emulate the horrid experience of iTunes is beyond me.

    However, for something that actually works, Google Music is about as seamless as it gets.

    Otherwise agree with Cheetah Sync. Too easy!

    Winamp wifi sync doesn't work for me can't find the device. Even regular syncing tends to just lock up winamp. Overall I've found the player to be quite good and use it all the time. But can't give it any credit for the sync, given me nothing buy hassle. Back to the old copy paste using a wifi file sharing app.

    Some up to date notes for those of you brought here by google. Winamp wireless makes use of SD card difficult. And generally getting device recognised via USB is a chore (and poorly documented). Certainly not slick. Sync doesn't appear to transfer ratings made on the phone back to desktop winamp. (NB that Android Winamp can't read or do ratings - I suggest Player Pro). Overall, the best solution (assuming syncr does 2-way rating/ID3 syncs, would be PlaerPro + isyncr (and just keep itunes).

    Update: Am now using PlayerPro (full version) Plus iSyncr. This allows very easy two way syncing between phone and computer. I can sync the whole library, or just choose my itunes smart playlists. Podcasts are also covered. Album art syncs fine and play counts and ratings are synced both ways. It is also quick (over USB 3.0). NB that PlayerPro allows you to set up Smart Playlists also. These two apps are by far the best money I have spent on any apps so far. PlayerPro is also great for grabbing album art and artist pictures on its own and using them to give you a beatiful playback interface. Finally, the player allows a lot of tweaking of sound. Equalisers, virtualisation etc. I seriously suggest you try the trial version (free for 1 week).

    Musicbee now supports video. Use it. It's fantastic.

    Foobar Rocks and i am a big fan of it using for a long time now .

    Wish there was a option to send songs to MP3 player /pendrive /portable device from playlist. i miss it .

    Before coming here i tried http://code.google.com/p/foo-androidsync/
    But could not succeed

    After getting my Galaxy S4 I was dismayed to find out how difficult it is to properly sync music and playlists. I did a lot of research and tried all the suggested ways I could find for syncing music and playlists to an S4 (including WMP, iTunes/iSyncr, Winamp, and dragging files directly into the card's Music folder). It has taken me a couple of months, and I finally found one that works both [I]perfectly[/I] and [I]easil[/I]y: MediaMonkey. Here's how to do it:

    [LIST=1]
    [*]Delete all the playlists and music off of your phone just to ensure a clean first sync.
    [*]
    [*]Install the freeware MediaMonkey. You don't need the phone app.
    [*]
    [*]Export all your playlists from your usual media software to .m3u format
    [*]
    [*]Drag the .m3u playlist files onto the "Music" tab in the list on the left bar of MediaMonkey. MediaMonkey will take a while importing all the playlists and all the music files associated with them.

    [*]Connect your phone to your computer as a hard drive, wait for it to show up in the left bar of MediaMonkey, and then in MediaMonkey select the card you want to store your music files on (for most people this will be an external SD card.)
    [*]
    [*]Double click on the card in MediaMonkey and choose your "Auto Sync" settings. Click Auto Sync, and let it run overnight.
    [*]
    [*]Check your phone in the morning and rejoice that all your playlists and music files are there and correct!
    [*]
    [*]Continue to be relieved throughout the day that the playlists on your phone don't suddenly change or disappear.
    [/LIST]

    Hope that helps!! :D

    P.S. No, I do NOT work for MediaMonkey. I'm just an up-until-yesterday frustrated S4 user who finally solved a long-standing problem and I want to help other people avoid having to go through all the trouble I did!!

      MediaMonkey works... until I have to restart my phone. Once restarted, the playlists are messed up, and in order for MediaMonkey to sync correctly again, I have to delete all playlists and songs from my phone and redo all steps above.

      I found a better solution: the Easy Phone Sync app. It syncs perfectly with iTunes! Just import your playlists to iTunes and then run Easy Phone Sync. It works with external SD cards too.

    I need to sync back the ratings and play counts from my android device back to the library. Which is the best app of the above for this need?

    It also seems that MediaMonkey supports wifi sync now. I believe it is only in the beta build at this stage.

    Not tried it yet - might be replacing Doubletwist soon though (at least on the desktop anyway).

    no need with other music player, you can copy itunes music to android and enjoy these songs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCp1I9wgsxU

    Last edited 14/05/14 7:49 pm

    Would really love to see a similar thread/article about best program to sync with Sony's new Xperia/walkman app. and whether or not using the stock player is the best option. I have yet to try as I'm still moving everything from my *GASP* iphone....

    MusicBee is the BEST!!! Does everything one could want. Only thing missing is Sync over WiFi.

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