Music is the most important thing about my phone. I remember first upgrading to a smartphone (iPhone 3) years back and even then the major selling point wasn’t necessarily being connected to the web or using social media, the ability to send and receive emails or watching YouTube; for me, it was iTunes.
Of course as a child of the WalkMan generation (which was later ousted with the advent of portable CD players and later, mp3s,) I developed a penchant for bringing my music with me pretty early on. With paying no mind to the ‘preference of audio format’ argument and using the earliest forms of mobile music to simply draw a parallel, it can be said that making your favorite music portable has never been easier or more logical.
Come to think of it, now that I’m on my fourth smartphone, my music library is still the most used app by a long shot. Since ‘converting’ to Android, I’ve used the Play app exclusively and it’s been very good to me. Other than a few qualms with it’s appearance and functionality, I cannot bash Google’s music app and for some Android users, I can understand why it’s a favorite of theirs. But I’d also guess that said Android users have not yet been exposed to the n7player app by N7 Mobile SP. Z 0.0.
Lookin’ good, soundin’ good, feelin’ good
To be as short and to-the-point as I can be, n7player is beautiful. It’s main screen shows your music library laid out by artist name in a long alphabetic cluster. It appears more as a grid, with each name filling an imaginary ‘box.’ You’d think the format would be overwhelming, but it really isn’t. The software automatically adjusts each artist’s font size based on length and number of characters in their name.
You can scroll throughout your list and most impressively, pinch-control to expand on the next layout screen, an album artwork checker board. It really is nice to see what you have lined up like this — quick, visual, perfect for quick album switching.
After you’ve selected your album and opened it up, a ‘selected album’ screen appears, providing another nice grid, spotlighting the artwork above a clickable track listing. One key thing here, a personal favorite feature is the scrolling text of each song title. Solving my problem with other music apps of not scrolling a song selection across the screen to show it’s full title, the n7player quickly won my heart with this.
Sometimes, especially with modern hip-hop albums, tracks are labeled in their metadata as the track title followed by the producer’s name and/or featured lyricists on the track. When you can’t read the full track name, you’re left on the train arguing with your friend if the second verse was ‘this guy or that guy,’ or that the beat was made by ‘that one producer from uptown.’ It’s totally nerdy, whatever. Tech is supposed to help resolve your pet-peeves too, right?
n7player’s chosen font is a clean, sans-seriff type with sufficient spacing between letters and although small, it always seems readable, even with a quick glance. I’ve run into a tiny bit of trouble, though it’s enough to mention, when selecting tracks from a playlist. My fingers are somewhat fat (I eat a lot of salt) and a stylus is always a best option for me when using this app. It can be annoying to choose the track you didn’t intend to choose but I really don’t mind using my stylus or clicking a few extra times. (And a quick fix is always to convert your phone to landscape mode.)
A control bar appears on the bottom portion of the app, which is pretty common in my experience with music player apps. You can quick skip up and down through tracks, pause/play and fast-forward/rewind by holding the direction keys down. Also, you can drag it up to see the album screen or just continue navigating the app. If all this is still not for you, you can click the music note icon for a more traditional ‘button-style’ navigation.
n7player will do its best to find that album cover for ya (and that’s cool)
Another feature that seems to go hand-in-hand with music player apps is the ‘album cover finder.’ Concerning music that’s been installed on my phone from blank CDs originally or public mp3 downloads via artists’ websites, album art work seems to hardly ever make itself into the music app alongside corresponding music files during the importing process.
n7player offers a pretty comprehensive one-click ‘album finder’ feature, which can be accessed in the settings menu. Upon launching the app for the first time, it asked if I wanted the feature to run and I did. About five minutes to load and run it’s course later, it shows it’s search results and about fifty-percent of my album collection was assigned with the same Quadron album cover.
You can see that featured in ‘album screen’ view photo with Aaliyah’s album open and another album of hers was selected to be Quadron’s. I appreciate the feature but since it was a off — even failing to include artwork that other music players had no trouble finding — it’s a “nice try, thanks anyway” situation. Depending on where you get your music (iTunes and Amazon or Google Play seem most reliable for artwork,) I’d recommend skipping this option from n7player.
Alas, I am partially to blame about this; I’m not too on top of my metadata. I’m not the neatest person either.
If the software can’t find your album cover, it gives you an option to select an artist photo (using Google Image Search) instead. Pretty sweet. But overall, your best bet is going to be doing it manually (a much better option in general.) It uses integrated Google search to find your album cover quite simply. Following the app’s attempt to automatically assign covers, for me the ‘manual’ function has been friendly though time consuming. Again, overall an awesome feature and the best I’ve seen so far.
Equalize your music your way
One of the best features of n7player is the equalizer. Many popular music players (not mentioning any names) will not even offer this feature and possibly as a result of that, I’ve found many users aren’t looking for one — some people won’t even consider advanced sound options. Thankfully n7player has a built-in five-band equalizer (available for Android 2.3 users and up,) which is equipped with presets for specific music genres and can be fine-tuned by adjusting the slider assigned to each frequency.
Also offered and at times appropriate for the music you’re listening to are ‘environmental effects’ like a ‘bass boost’ feature and ‘sound virtualization technology’ by SRS/Dolby Surround (again for Android 2.3+ users.) These tweaks have benefitted me most notably with bootleg albums, specifically non-professional analog recordings of early Bob Dylan shows and of course, field recordings from street musicians. I’ve found that outside noise, i.e., crowd sounds, talking and clapping appear more under control and overall less irksome.
Going the extra mile
In addition to providing a wonderful mobile audio experience — a sure improvement to your Android’s stock player — n7player has a few additional small features worth mentioning. For one, there’s a sleep timer that comes in handy when I’m going to sleep. I like to pass out to soft tunes and it’s best when I’m not half-waking up through the night continuously hearing them. It can also be used as widget, even on your lockscreen if you prefer and it supports your lyrics if you like to have them in your metadata. Recently the company added Pebble Watch compatibility and it supports the most common audio formats: mp3, mp4, m4a, ogg, wav, 3gp, mid, xmf, ogg, mkv (4.0+), flac (3.1+) and aac (3.1+). It will adhere all of your .m3u playlists and now supports Last.fm scrobbling.
The n7player music player app is available in the Google Play Store. There’s a 14-day free trial version of the complete app, no ads and no BS. If you decide to permanantly adopt n7player as your music app of choice, as I have, the $3.49 hit for Full Version Unlocker app won’t hurt so hard.
That’s what has been cranking my mobile tunes as of late. In fact, I feel somewhat left out for sleeping n7player since it was updated to 2.0. I prefer it and will continue using it, at least until something better comes along. If anyone out there has another music player app that they prefer, please let us all know about it in the comments below.