VLC Media Player stands tall in a landscape of feature-rich multimedia playback applications that are available on the PC. While Windows 10, just like previous versions of the OS, comes with some pretty neat media playback abilities of its own, nothing beats having a dedicated program.
A dedicated program like VLC Media Player, and the features and extensibility that it offers.
This free and open source software comes with a ton of options, but also a few annoyances of its own, including what some consider an unfriendly user interface. Several great options have similar, even better, features.
Best VLC Media Player Alternatives
Media Player Classic
Low Configuration PC
Audio Video Playback
Podcast & Audio
HD Video Playback
VLC Media Player may have racked up a couple of billion downloads, and even though it may do a lot of things right, there are programs that one up it in specific areas. Want to play an extreme quality video, or would rather have your music look good as it sounds? Then you’re in luck, with plenty of choices.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ones you can download now.
1. Media Player Classic | Free
Your search should start with Media Player Classic, a lightweight media player that stirs up nostalgia for users of earlier versions of the Windows operating system. A blend of the old and new, this program was released back in 2003.
Development stalled in 2006, though, and the program forked into two separate projects, namely Home Cinema and Black Edition — known more commonly as MPC-HC and MPC-BE. Home Cinema is the simpler of the two, a lightweight solution designed to support the latest audio and video standards.
The most significant selling points of the open source Media Player Classic is its small installation size, fast performance, and low resource usage. It plays almost all of the popular file formats without requiring any additional codec packs and handles DVDs just fine.
Media Player Classic even comes with some advanced features of its own, like subtitle download, video capture, and Skype integration. If you loved the classic Windows Media Player, MPC might well be where your search for a VLC alternative ends. It is simple to use, customizable, stable, and reliable.
2. Dopamine | Free
Another downright excellent option for those seeking an audio replacement for the VLC Player. This program exists due to the efforts of a single programmer. But one look and Dopamine, and it becomes clear that it provides an unmatched experience — at least when it comes to style and ease of use.
A modern and utterly optimized design for Windows 10, with exclusive features like notifications and tray controls, this application has all it takes to become your default audio player. The only factors that weigh against it are the lack of advanced functionality, but its playback is supremely sublime.
Media management may not be its strongest point, but it also keeps things simple on this end. Dopamine asks for a scan of your library when you first start it, and the program smartly adds the audio it finds into its database, ready for playback at the click of a button.
Format support is excellent, and the UI intuitive, meaning this is a unique application for those that work long hours on their PCs and like to play their audio in the background. The developer rolls out updates regularly, and each new refresh improves the experience that is already top notch and unmatched.
3. Winamp | Free
Yes, Winamp. This program may have established itself in the 90s, but it still stands out for being a highly customizable and fully featured media player. Its highlight feature is its extensive plugin library that allows you to extend its functionality with some excellent extensions.
Want to add additional codec packs, or get the ability to rip DVDs? There’s a plugin for everything! Out the gate, Winamp offers support for a vast range of features and file formats, including all the popular ones, but it’s good to know that you have a plugins library to sift through for added functionality.
The user interface has gone through subtle revisions over the years, but at the end of the day, this is still Winamp. You get a modern looking UI, with stylish blocks that you can turn on or off. Hundreds of skins and many visualizations are available for it, designed by a passionate community.
Although you will not see this name thrown around much these days, Winamp remains an excellent solution for playing media on your Windows machines. It may be more suited for audio, but video plays fine on it, and you can play all your content without being annoyed by ads or distracted by the interface.
4. PMPlayer | Free / Paid ($35)
The stylishly designed PMPlayer is a good bet if you want something that is free, and free of ads or tracking. This program packs in all the essential playback functionality you can expect from a modern multimedia application and comes with a few unique twists of its own.
Including advanced options like video recording, networking steaming, video calls and conferencing, and even motion detection when used with video capture devices like webcams and IP cameras — really handy when used for security purposes.
It is equally proficient when playing media files, though. You get excellent subtitles and subtitle translation support, and there are enough configuration options for both audio and video to satisfy demanding users. Particularly, if they are into using image processing filters, and whatnot.
This program is not all that popular when compared to some of the bigger names in this list, but the developers have done a great job of creating a program that handles a range of file formats and delivers the content in the most excellent quality possible. That too, with a sleek UI, and with no ads or spyware. Quality.
5. Banshee | Free
Looking for an alternative to VLC Player for audio and song? Then it’s hard to go wrong with Banshee, a player that not only allows you to play songs on your PC, but also sync them up with your Android or iOS-powered mobile devices.
Banshee comes integrated with Amazon, and the store allows you to buy your music directly, or even download the free ones that become available there. Support for podcasts also comes included, and you can subscribe to your favorite podcasts with ease, or even discover new ones.
This multiplatform software is light on resources and high on functionality, with features like track queuing, smart shuffle, playlists and search, as well as automatic fetching of cover art for your music from a variety of different sources.
That said, the program has not been updated for a while now. It last saw an update in 2014, but even considering that there is enough here to justify a look. Chances are, you will come for the features and stay for the functionality.
6. PotPlayer | Free
No shortage of users swears by PotPlayer, a neatly designed media player that will play pretty much any video you throw at it. In fact, the only real downside of this program is the complicated interface — the menus are a tad complex and the navigation a tad cumbersome.
Regarding features, there is not much to ask. You have support for 3D playback and options like screen snapshot and scene bookmarking. You can even play damaged or incomplete video files using PotPlayer, and data that are downloading. These are the functionality that few programs offer.
On top of, that is the ability for seamless playback of multiple files in a collection, support for the screen and webcam recording, picture-in-picture, keyboard shortcuts, and video filters, and you have software that rivals the best in the business.
PotPlayer may have closed source development, but the folks behind this program have done well to create an incredibly lightweight program that performs smoothly even on older hardware. The UI is slick out the box, if a little confusing, but there’s much to like with this program.
7. KMPlayer | Free
For quite some time, KMPlayer has stood tall as the most popular alternative to VLC. Also going by the name of K-multimedia Player, this is a program that supports all the favorite audio and video formats without the need to install or download any additional codecs.
And although it has seen its popularity overtaken by new entrants like PotPlayer and 5KPlayer, it still enjoys a significant user base that has stayed true due to its streamlined user interface and extensive feature set.
You get options like advanced playlists, media filtering, and video capture, as well as abilities like changing the playback speed. Even a subtitle editor comes baked in, and you also get access to a ton of skins that can completely change the look of the program if you want.
The only thing that drags this neatly designed program down is that it tries to install adware during and after installation. If you can give up on some features, you would do well to get an older version of KMPlayer. Anything below version 3 is up to the task of handling all the major formats.
8. 5KPlayer | Free
One of the newest arrivals making waves is 5KPlayer, an alternative to VLC Media Player that surpasses it by playing even the most demanding content. Got something in 8K resolution? Just run it through this program to play your videos in the jaw-dropping 7680 x 4320 resolution. Mind boggling!
A saner scenario, however, is 4K UHD and standard HD content, and even 3D, which 5KPlayer handles with complete ease as well. Add in stuff like online video downloading features, and AirPlay streaming and mirroring, and you are playing with power.
While the media playback functionality of this program is second to none, it shines in how it can download online videos directly from more than 300 websites, and even convert music clips in MP3 format. Management of media files is also its high point, just like streaming and conversion.
It has unique props for the silky and smooth user interface. 5KPlayer offers a slim and minimalistic UI, which makes navigating through its various functions a joy. There is a lot to like in this program, not all that much to dislike. Give it a try, if you want something different, something new, something good.
9. GOM Player | Free
GOM Player is a software that likes to keep things simple. You will not find anything much fancy in this package that prioritizes convenience over style. It does nothing special, or out of the ordinary, but what you get a is a highly refined experience — particularly on the video side of things.
This program can play all your media, even one that is downloading or incomplete. File format support is excellent, and GOM Player can handle all types of audio and video files out the box. You even get an integrated codec finder here that allows the player to search for a required codec and install it.
You can synchronize your mobile devices like tablets and smartphones with GOM Player over WiFi. Other features include DVD and network playback and output to different displays, good subtitles, and playlist support, and the ability to fast rewind, bookmark, and repeat a selection.
The program does show ads when you close the window, and may not be that good an option for folks who value their privacy. But if you’re okay with this, you get access to an advanced feature set, customizable controls, and unflinching support for skins.
10. DivX Player | Free
The DivX Player comes with everything you need to play your media, as long as the video is in the popular audio and video formats. That’s because you need some additional tinkering to play specific content, like DTS audio, which requires plugins.
Look beyond that, however, and you have a solution that is at ease with video up to 4K resolution. The player is optimized for media playback, as well as streaming via the integrated DLNA functionality that allows you to stream your videos, music, and photos to compatible devices like Chromecasts.
As far as the UI goes, you are looking for a stylish black implementation that is easy on the eyes, and easy to navigate. You get convenient access to options like chapters, subtitles, video sizes, aspect ratios, and playback controls, and the DivX Player even keeps track of content to resume from where you left off.
Overall, this is a software that balances everything out rather nicely. It doesn't have lots of features, that means the program is not overwhelming. It’s not dripping with options, and that means users new and experienced will be able to find their way around things without much fuss.