How to Choose The Best Audio Video Player Software

In any live presentation environment, from churches to schools and universities to corporate events and even weddings, the capability to serve up audio and video media files without issues is absolutely crucial. And for many events, it’s important to have an audio-video player app can perform consistently across a wide range of file formats.

Businesses, organizations, and professionals today turn to a number of vendors for audio video player software. In today’s short post, we’ll guide you through today’s landscape and show you how to choose the best audio video player software for your needs.

We’ll also highlight some of the newer or more professional-grade capabilities present in ProPresenter, features that pros rely on — and that freeware or open-source utilities can’t deliver.

Today’s Landscape: Popular Audio Video Player Software Choices

Commercial customers looking for an audio-video player software solution gravitate toward products in two distinct categories: those that are free, open-source, or included with a broader operating system, and more professional solutions.

These are the top solutions of both types, along with a quick rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Amateur, Semi-Pro, and Free/Open Source Players

VLC: VLC Media Player is far and away the most popular free and open-source audio video player software. It has a robust catalog of codecs and can play back a surprisingly wide range of music and video formats. While the cross-platform multimedia player is widely used across both Windows and Mac and is generally very reliable, it isn’t always seamless or invisible.

GOM Player: A popular video and music player in South Korea, GOM Player is catching on in the US and other nations as well. Similar to other free media players, this cross-platform multimedia player offers a few standout features, including a “find missing codec” service and better capabilities for playing broken media files.

Windows Media Player: 10 years ago, Windows Media Player was a respectable free player. Today, it’s much weaker and hasn’t kept up with the competition in terms of compatibility. The need to download random codecs has also caused compatibility issues.

QuickTime: a lightweight playback software that comes standard with Mac, the Apple default player leave plenty to be desired. But as the defaults included with every Mac, they still enjoy plenty of use.

Pro-Grade Solutions

Playback Pro: Playback Pro used to be a common app in commercial and professional settings, capable of delivering pro-grade features that the above solutions couldn’t. However, the app is getting dated and increasingly companies are looking for a replacement.

Hardware Players: Another popular choice for commercial and professional users, relying on a dedicated hardware player like a HyperDeck, AJA Ki Pro, or similar hardware. This removes the processing load from the primary computer, but it can increase the complexity of a setup since you’re now adding another mission-critical device.

ProPresenter: Commonly thought of as presentation software first, ProPresenter has a powerful media engine built-in, and it includes support for all kinds of inputs and outputs, including native SDI and NDI outputs, with support for DeckLink cards, and linear (alpha) keying. ProPresenter is more than just a better presentation tool; it’s also a pro-grade audio/video player that supports a wide range of codecs, including multiple layers of video output in different formats. If you need to play a video in 4K, and to an LED wall, and output to an old 4×3, all at the same time, you can.

Why ProPresenter Is the best Audio/Video Player Software

ProPresenter offers more than nearly anything else on the market in terms of multimedia playback. And when you factor in everything else packed into this powerful software solution — from live streaming to pro-grade presentations to unlimited unique presentation outputs — it’s clear that ProPresenter offers a fuller presentation and media playback experience than anything else.

Here’s a rundown of the advanced features and capabilities you’ll find in ProPresenter. Nothing else on the market combines all of this into one feature-packed and highly capable platform.

Native SDI and NDI Outputs

Professional broadcasters and others working with pro-grade video formats will rely on ProPresenter’s native SDI and NDI outputs. ProPresenter can handle multiple streams concurrently, and the SDI hardware can handle genlock.

Internal Audio and Video Routing

With internal audio and video routing, ProPresenter allows operators to send content to different outputs, including a separate output for the operator setting cues.

Multiple Flexible Audio and Video Inputs

ProPresenter supports multiple concurrent audio and video inputs across a variety of input types. Included is support for NDI and Syphon live inputs.

Lots of Remote Control

ProPresenter is one of several high-end solutions that offer app-based remote controls. Simply download the iOS or Android app and connect via local Wi-Fi (meaning you don’t even need a functioning Wi-Fi network for use).

The ProPresenter API was recently announced, in case you need custom control solutions, as well as a plugin for the Elgato Stream Deck. There is also an unofficial but very popular Bitfocus Companion plugin, giving you extensive control over ProPresenter.

ProPresenter can also trigger cues simultaneously to video playback. Send DMX, RossTalk, Sony, GVG, CITP, and other cue types to control lights or video hardware within any presentation or video playback scenario.

Wide Format Compatibility

ProPresenter supports a wide range of video and audio formats, including the most common (.mov, .mp4, .mp3, .prores), and many more. See the full list of supported formats.

For more technical users: video container files like .mp4 and .mov can hold a range of video codecs, and ProPresenter is widely able to handle these, as the underlying engine is quite robust.

Advanced Playback and Scheduling Features

Most lower-tier video playback apps let you play a video (or perhaps a sequence of videos), and that’s it. ProPresenter gives you so much more flexibility, allowing you to play a video as either foreground or background. Being able to display other content over the top of video content is crucial functionality in many pro environments, and ProPresenter makes it easy.

ProPresenter also includes scheduling playback support, the ability to Loop for X, Loop for Time, and separate video and audio playlists.

Works the Way You Need Presentations to Work

Many users still build linear shows, like PowerPoint-style slideshows that move sequentially through slides. ProPresenter handles this with ease, including with embedded audio and video content.

Other users need a non-linear format, where the show progresses as directed, jumping around between different cues. For example, unveiling which team will be selected at the NFL Draft changes between 32 options, and needs to be instantly cued.

Scaling and Layering Outputs for Variable Screen Sizes and Types

In complex environments with multiple screen types and sizes, video playback can get complicated. What looks perfect on the primary screen may look skewed, cut off, or otherwise distorted on other screens. ProPresenter supports scaling and layering outputs to solve these issues. This could look like:

  • Streaming your content in 1080.
  • Showing content in-house in 4K.
  • Stretching content to fit a video wall.
  • Adding overlays, like a clock and countdown, for the talent’s Stage Screen.

These can all be done from a single machine, and operation is simple enough to be done by someone unfamiliar with the software.

Try ProPresenter Today for Your Audio Video Player Needs

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ProPresenter is a robust, powerful, flexible solution for audio and video playback — and so much more. To see ProPresenter in action for yourself, you can start a free two-week trial today. Download now to get started!

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