If you are a Mac user, then it is quite probable that you use iTunes for managing and listening to your music. A lot of people have a love-hate relationship with iTunes, which is primarily because they are stuck with iTunes – Apple makes it horribly difficult for you to use any other player. iPods, iPhones sync with iTunes, and your media buttons are hard-coded to work with iTunes. iTunes has also become pretty bloated over time, with features such as Genius, iTunes Store, Podcasts, iTunes U, iPhone Apps, Radio, TV Shows most of which has nothing to do with music.
Cog is a lightweight, free and open source music player that attempts to change that. It only handles music, like a music player should. I won’t lie to you; Cog is a pretty ugly music player, and looks out of place on your Mac. But Cog is designed in a way that you shouldn’t need to look at it more than once or twice during a session of music.
Cog has no concept of a library, it rather focusses on browsing music directly from the directory where it is stored. By default, it looks in your ~/Music directory (inside your home folder), if your music directory is different, you can change it in the preferences. Pressing Cmd + D causes the file drawer to slide out from the right.
From here, you can directly browse all your music files. To play music, you simply need to add music files to a playlist. You can save your playlist by pressing Cmd + S.
The best part of Cog and its most prominently advertised feature is its simplicity – It does only music and does it good. The one thing that iTunes does not do is multiple formats. iTunes only supports playback from a very limited number of formats. On the other hand, Cog plays –
- Ogg Vorbis
- Monkeys Audio
- Apple Lossless
- Video Game (nsf, gbs, gym, spc, vgm, hes, and more!)
- Tracker (it, s3m, xm, mod)
- m3u and pls playlists
- Cue sheets
For audiophiles like me who enjoy music in high or lossless quality, FLAC support is great news. iTunes does not play FLAC, and this has been a reason of much disapproval from iTunes users.
Cog also uses your media buttons (F7, F8, F9) by default, but does not override iTunes (which isn’t possible on a Mac, anyway) so using those buttons will send signals to both Cog and iTunes and result in music playing on both players. Cog also generates Growl notifications, which is must-have for any music player. If you use last.fm, Cog has in-built scrobble support, you don’t need to download the scrobbler separately.
The Bad Part
Cog is pretty responsive, but is slow in indexing and reading metadata from music, which is an annoyance. Also, it does not support syncing to iPod/iPhone, so for users who have any of those, Cog cannot replace iTunes.