Most Mac owners use the Apple Music app or streaming services to manage and listen to their music. That’s great, but if you’re an audiophile who prefers high-res audio, Apple Music just won’t cut it.
If you have music in a high-fidelity format (such as ALAC, AIFF, FLAC, WAV, or DSD), you may need to look beyond Apple Music. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options available to you. So here are the best hi-res music player apps for Mac.
If you’ve been looking for solutions to play FLAC files on a Mac, chances are you’ve come across Vox. In addition to FLAC, Vox supports other high resolution formats such as ALAC (Apple Lossless), DSD (Direct Stream Digital) and uncompressed formats such as PCM, WAV and AIFF. If you’re clueless about these formats, read our guide on choosing the best audio formats for your use case.
Vox can play Hi-Res Audio up to 24bit/192kHz. If you have music in surround format, you also get 5.1 channel support. It’s not particularly common, but it’s a nice feature to have. Overall, Vox is one of the best Apple Music alternatives for Mac users.
With a subscription, you’ll also get advanced audio settings, like a built-in 10-band equalizer to tailor the sound to your tastes. The subscription also adds gapless playback and the ability to automatically set your output device’s sample rate to that of the file being played.
Vox Premium also includes unlimited storage with Vox Music Cloud, which is handy if you’re low on hard drive space. This feature is also useful as it is tied to the Vox iOS app. With your files in the cloud, you can listen on your Mac or iPhone whenever you want without worrying about running out of space.
To download: voice player (Free, subscription available)
2. Studio Audirvana
Many people describe Audirvāna Studio as “the audiophile music player”. The use of this term probably excites or disturbs you. Although not the most expensive player on this list, Audirvāna Studio is still far from cheap. You get a good amount of features for your money. Some of them are not even found anywhere else on this list.
You also get a three-month trial of Tidal’s streaming service plus a three-month trial of Qobuz if you sign up for the Studio Access subscription.
Audirvāna Studio supports major high resolution formats including MQA (Master Quality Authenticated). This application was the first to integrate the MQA Core decoder, which brings out the full quality of the music even if you are not playing through an MQA compatible audio device. The app also supports formats like FLAC, ALAC, DSD, and even SACD ISO.
Audirvāna Studio also offers extended features for cataloging your library, including extended tags for classical and jazz. It can bypass the internal audio mixer to block unwanted sounds from other apps or macOS. The app decodes and processes all audio before playback, minimizing jitter and delivering better audio quality over Bluetooth, all with reduced memory usage.
To download: Studio Audirvana (Subscription required, free trial available)
Colibri offers many features for its low price. The website even emphasizes that this is a one-time purchase and guarantees free upgrades. It’s not even mentioned on the most expensive players’ websites. This application provides flawless and gapless playback of lossless audio formats, and it also supports lossy formats.
Supported lossless formats include FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF, APE, TTA, DSD, and WavPack. As for lossy formats, Ogg Vorbis, MP3 and AAC/M4A are supported. The app includes support for CUE sheets and Chiptunes. It is perhaps the only player that reduces the “stereo fatigue” that can be experienced when listening to music through headphones.
If you prefer your Mac apps to look like Mac apps, you’ll love Colibri. The website says one of the project’s goals is to be “as native to macOS as humanly possible.” It also aims for a small memory footprint and minimal battery impact. It’s great if you want to listen while you work in a cafe without having to plug in.
To download: Humming-bird ($9.99)
4. Amarra Luxury
Amarra Luxe is one of the few Amarra-branded products from developer Sonic Studio. The app supports a host of file types, including DSD, MQA, and FLAC. The app offers built-in real-time DSD to PCM conversion, which means you can listen without the need for a fancy digital-to-analog converter. You also get integration with Tidal and Qobuz, allowing you to listen to streams from multiple services in one place.
The app has deep integration with Apple Music. All you have to do is export the Library.XML (found by going to File > Library > Export Library), Click on iTunes Scanner, and import the file. If you like the Apple Music interface, but want the format support and sound quality of Amarra Luxe, this is an attractive feature.
To download: Amarra Luxury ($99, free trial available)
5. Pin Player
As the only completely free player on this list, Pine Player is anything but bare bones. While the player might not be as flashy as some of the other apps, it should still do your hi-res audio files justice. The app supports a ton of formats including MP3, FLAC, APE, AAC, M4A, WAV, AIFF, OGG, WMA, DSD, and SACD ISO. It also supports listening to BIN/CUE files.
Even better, Pine Player supports Hi-Res Audio up to 32-bit/768kHz. If you’re a fan of keyboard controls, you’ll find a lot to like about Pine Player. You can control almost every aspect of the app with a handful of keyboard shortcuts. This includes playback, volume, and playlist editing.
Other features include a 12-band graphic equalizer with over 27 presets, a metadata editor, the ability to transcode music, crossfade and gapless playback, and an auto-isolate feature for damaged files.
To download: pine player (Free)
Use a dedicated digital audio player
These hi-res audio player apps for Mac are great, but what if you don’t have a hi-res music collection? For starters, you can use a streaming service like Tidal, which offers hi-res audio in MQA format. Deezer is another option, but it only offers CD quality sound and may not be available in some countries.
If you are an audiophile, we recommend getting one of these dedicated digital audio players as they offer superior audio quality, lossless music support, and expandable storage.
Your phone can play music, but if you want a dedicated music player, you’ll want to check out these best standalone digital audio players.
About the Author