Dopamine - a fantastic music player developed by one of our readers

Earlier today, we reported on a concept of Xbox Music app for Windows 10, rating it highly for the design and the vibrant UI. Now it appears that there is a music player even better than the previous concept, and yes this one is quite real and functional and not limited to an abstraction of what a music player should be like. The desktop application named "Dopamine" is under active development and is highly popular among the Neowin community. The best part? It's created by long-time Neowin member, Raphaël Godart.

Raphaël joined Neowin way back in 2004 and has been an active member since then, regularly contributing to the community. But perhaps his greatest contribution of all is Dopamine - a music player with a fantastic UI, developed for desktops. Dopamine follows musiX, a similar software Raphaël developed last year as a personal project, which received overwhelming support from his fellow Neowinians. However, due to its limitations, Raphaël had to start anew with Dopamine, a new music player which according to him isn't "an upgrade to musiX" but a fresh project which he showed off to the community early in February, to critical acclaim.

"Why Dopamine? It sounds weird", you may ask. For those of us not fully aware of advanced sciences, Raphaël explains:

Dopamine?! What a strange name... Don't worry, I myself had to get used to it. But it grew on me.

Dopamine is actually the name of a chemical in the human body, which plays an important role in defining human behavior. It is a chemical released by the brain when we experience pleasure. And it was discovered that it is also released by our beloved brain when we enjoy music. And there is the link :)

The desktop application has been designed for Windows 7, Windows 8.x and Windows 10 and plays mp3, ogg vorbis, flac, wma and m4a/aac music formats quite well. We took Build 144 for a spin on Windows 10 Technical Preview, build 9879 and we have to say, it is more beautiful than it looks. The responsiveness of the design is remarkable and the fluidity of the app only makes it even more fun to use.

After installing, users are asked to choose between a dark theme and a light one. On the same menu, you can also change between different colors including blue, yellow, orange and green. Further in the installation process, users are prompted to select a language - the app currently supports English, Dutch and French. The final step involves users choosing the locations of the folders they place their music in. The selected folders are then quickly synchronized with Dopamine, complete with titles and album art (if there is any). Remember, you can change your settings any time from within the app.

The Modern UI is commendable, the icons used as controls for the music are simplistic and easy to understand, found at the bottom of the application, they include "loop", "previous", "play", "next" and "shuffle". A volume bar can also be seen at the bottom right corner. Artist names are displayed in a column on the right and your entire collection of music is displayed on the right, all in alphabetical order.

A settings tab can be found on the top which allows users to navigate between music folders, the app's behavior, its appearance at its response on start-up. The "collections" tab on the lower menu gives users the ability to scroll through artists, albums, songs, playlists and "now playing" - the last three are currently labeled as "Coming soon".

But perhaps the most interesting feature is the mini-player which can be accessed from the upper right corner beside the "minimize" button, it practically changes the size of the application screen to a ratio suitable for mobiles, quite useful when multi-tasking. An optional spectrum analyzer is also available.

With that being said, the application is itself awesome as a whole and is quite a decent change from the Xbox Music app found on Windows 8 and above. It has the potential to replace the music players you use daily on your version of Windows. Raphaël has mentioned the new features in Dopamine which were not found in its predecessor:

  • Mini player
  • Organizing of music by Artists and albums
  • Notifications have a close button
  • Progress (in %) is shown during indexing
  • Now playing screen hides the playback controls when no mouse movement is detected for some seconds
  • Improved welcome screen (some basic settings can be set up in a user friendly way before the main UI is shown.

It's also noteworthy that Dopamine is a very very early build of what could be a fully-featured music player in the near future. It does have a few caveats including the lack of tagging and reviewing support and a relatively basic searching system but after all, it is in early development. Build 145 of the desktop application was launched during the time of writing which is evidence of the active development it is going through. It brings with itself:

  • Added workaround for ID3v2.3 bug and Artist “Ghost/Light”
  • Added an optional spectrum analyzer
  • Mini player buttons are only shown when the mouse is over the cover picture
  • Fixed positioning when external display is missing.

The download link for Dopamine can be found on Raphaël's Tumblr, there's also an option to donate to his Paypal account as a way of saying thanks for his hard work. If you're interested in future development of the music player, you can join in on the discussion going on in Neowin forums to help shape Dopamine as one of the best fully functional music playing software for Windows.

Kudos to Raphaël from Neowin, may you enjoy similar success in the future! :)

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

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