Top 12 Best Music Visualizers in 2021

By Cecilia Hwung | Last Update:

According to American Psychological Association, about one in 2000 people is synesthete [1], who can hear color or see sound naturally, although that's 19-year-old data. Well, for the rest of us ordinary people, is it possible to visualize music? If yes, what are some best free music visualizer maker software? How to make an audio visualizer free for parties?

Quick Answers in Advance

1. Music visualization has been realized successively by:

  • Color organ in live performance
  • Electronic audio spectrum tool
  • Digital music visualizer software
  • Online/web-based music visualizer service

2. Top music visualizers in 2020 include, but are not limited to:

  • Online Renderforest music visualizer
  • Rainmeter Visualizer with Monstercat
  • Magic Music Visuals for power users
Music Visualization
Music Visualization

Besides auto dynamic music visualizer websites for a single music streaming platform like Spotify, there are a lot of music visualizer software/apps, coming with various templates for you to interpret any music soundtracks in the way you like. Well, it could be media player with music visualization option as well.

And to top it all off, you can manually adjust and export the music videos created with visualizer software for uploading to YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, etc. See our choices of best music visualizer makers 2020 in the following part.

1. Renderforest

https://www.renderforest.com/music-visualisations

We add Renderforest to this top list of music visualizer software, just as most articles do after search and test. Renderforest is one of the most popular online audio visualizer makers. What makes it so hot? We bet 49 templates is not the only reason. Check the highlights and limits below.

online music visualizer - Renderforest
Renderforest music visualizer templates

The Highlights

  • A deluge of psychedelic templates are available in Renderforest music visualizer, such as YouTube channel music visualizer, interesting Emoji visualizer, single/album promo visualizer, and 3D geometric shapes visualizer.
  • Every template is labeled with rating and exports to make it easy for you to compare and decide.
  • Free stock images can be added as background, or you can upload local pictures. Adding text is possible too.
  • You can export the music visualizer you create for sharing on YouTube, Facebook, etc. For example, this remix of Maroon 5 Memories music visualization video has reached 6.2 million views on YouTube.

The Limits

  • Signing up and logging in are required. If you only want to use this online music visualizer for free, then the output will be limited to 2 minute in 360p with watermark.
  • Error - Besides slow processing and sudden crash, the odd thing is there is no OK or Back button after applying filter during image editing.
How to make a music visualizer with Renderforest

Note - In spite of all the limits, Renderforest still is one of the best options if you need an online music visualizer ready-made and cheap. The Amateur subscription charging $9.99/month allows you to make 7 HD music videos per month without watermark.

2. Rainmeter Visualizer with Plug-ins

https://www.rainmeter.net/

What might be confusing to you here is Rainmeter is actually a desktop customization tool. Yes, it is not a music visualizer app in the usual sense. But once you get the hang of it, Rainmeter will be the most flexible software to visualize any sound played on your computer in real time, whether it's music played through web player/music app or songs recorded by yourself.

Basically, a free audio visualizer maker for any sound = Rainmeter + Visualizer plug-ins written in Lua, like Monstercat, HoloFFT, and many others on GitHub, VisualSkins, DeviantArt, etc.

Audio visualizers in lua for Rainmeter
Rainmeter visualizers with lua plug-ins

How to use Rainmeter to personalize a music visualizer? We will give you two examples here. To get started, you need to firstly download and install Rainmeter 4.3.1 final release.

Case 1. Rainmeter with Monstercat visualizer

Monstercat itself is an online music streaming platform. For working in conjunction with the popular desktop customization tool, it provides a spectrum plug-in for Rainmeter for music visualization.

  1. Download and install Monstercat Visualizer for Rainmeter_2.1.0.rmskin.
  2. Run Powershell to install WebNowPlaying for web player music visualization.
  3. Open your Spotify desktop app or go to YouTube to play a track.
  4. Launch Rainmeter and find it in the Taskbar > Show hidden icons.
  5. Right click Rainmeter > Skins > monstercat-visualizer > visualizer.ini and music visualization should start right away.
Rainmeter with Monstercat audio spectrum tool
Rainmeter with Monstercat visualizer

You can change how the visual appears from the Monstercat visualizer management panel, by adjusting visualizer scale and height, bar width, gap and count, skin color and even the sensitivity.

Case 2. Rainmeter Visualizer with HoloFFT

There are a lot of open-source music visualizer plug-ins for Rainmeter on GitHub. HoloFFT is one of them. Instead of presenting music simply in spectrum, it shows dynamic 3D cloud music visualizations.

  1. Download and install HoloFFT via Code > Download ZIP.
  2. Unzip the file to C:\Users\This PC\Documents\Rainmeter\Skins.
  3. Right click the music visualizer you are using, e.g. Monstercat visualizer, and choose Unload skin.
  4. Play a track and again go to the Taskbar and right click the Rainmeter icon.
  5. Choose Skins > HoloFFT > HoloFFT.ini.
Rainmeter with HoloFFT 3D audio visualizer
Rainmeter with HoloFFT 3D audio visualizer

3. Magic Music Visuals

Magic Music Visuals is desktop-based music visualizer software for both real-time audio animation and audio file playback. It supports various types of input audio, including MIDI, microphones, guitars, turntables, synthesizers, etc. Once your audio sources is playing, Magic Music Visuals responds with visual effects and animations that spin and dance to the sound. The best part? You can even tweak it to react differently to each source of input. Beside live audio, Magic Music Visuals also allows you to create visuals offline, and save them as MP4 or MOV video files.

There are two versions of this tool, Magic Studio costs $44.95USD and Magic Performer $79.95. You can check out the detailed feature comparison of these two editions before making an upgrading.

Availability: Windows and MacOS

Magic Music Visuals
Use nodes to create visuals for the music

The Highlights:

  • No restrictions on commercial usage
  • Draw and preview 2D and 3D graphics and shapes that react to the audio
  • Active forums maintained by the software developers to solve technical problems

The Limitations:

  • No option to stream the visualized video in the Studio Version
  • Limited control over MIDI files for live audio visualization

4. Plane9

Plane9 is a scene-based 3D music visualizer, making it fantastic for VR, oculus rift, or simply as a screensaver. Featuring more than 250 configured effect scenes, you will never have to stick to one view for the entire music track. Plane9 allows you to combine scenes with seamless transitions, offering you a continuous experience at the flow of the music. Besides responding to audio recorded from microphone, it readily dances to whatever you are listening, Spotify, iTunes, you name it. For hackers, you can also add music visualizer to OBS.

Availability: Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10

Plane9
The Plane9 graphics have a aesthetic of the millennium

The Highlights:

  • Support realtime audio feed and can analyze sound from up to 18 speakers
  • Support Multi-monitor displaying

The Limitations:

  • Cannot work with unprocessed digital audio such as DTS
  • Require some learning curve to set up everything

Note: If you are going to publish visualized music video on YouTube, Vimeo and other sites, make sure to include text credit to Plane9, in the video or description.

5. VSXu Audio Visualizer

VSXu audio visualizer is 3D OpenGL-based software for Windows. It is free and open-source, with a wide range of visual effects for your music. This standalone application works with any media player, by responding to the record channel on the soundcard. VSXu is an environment for running presets, and it doesn't produce visualization by itself. Anyone can create their own visuals and distribute the pre-sets to other enthusiasts. The ability to customize makes VSXu thrive with endless possibilities. Though it doesn't require you to write code, VSXu is still not your average graphic modeling program. You will need to invest time and effort to create visuals for the sound.

Availability: Windows 7/8/8.1/10

VSXu Audio Visualizer
Interface of VSXu Audio Visualizer

The Highlights:

  • Works with YouTube, Spotify, Tidal, etc.
  • Option to change the speed and intensity of each visual.
  • Great for parties: you can connect your PC to TV and run this music visualizer.

The Limitations:

  • You need some programming nerve to produce the graphics.
  • It is complex to implement VSXu in a stage production.

6. SongRender

SongRender is an online music visualizer made for busy musicians and content creators. If your aim is to quickly churn out a music video, with still background, and simple animated waveforms that dances with the sound, SongRender is the tool to go. You can click the social media icon to decide the output video size. After uploading background picture and the audio file, you can put the waveform, with options to adjust its shape, color, thickness, etc. Since there is no color templates, you can search for color schemes to make the color of shapes match with the background.

Availability: Online Tool

SongRender
SongRender is simple to use

The Highlights:

  • Easy to use, no learning curve required
  • Ready-to-use size profiles for YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter videos
  • Export 1080p HD music video at high quality

The Limitations:

  • Only support adding MP3 and WMV files
  • No other shapes except the bar and circle pattern
  • Watermark on video outputs

7. Videobolt Music Visualizer

Videobolt is an online music visualizer tool with stock templates. You can browse the visualizer templates by genre, including trap, pop, chill, hiphop, synthwave, and EDM music. Each template is highly customizable to create fantastic visuals that get along with the flow of your songs. You can add artists name and logo, which is handy for YouTubers running a dedicated music channel. Besides adjusting parameters of the waveforms, Videobolt also allows you to enhance the audio itself. There are options to tweak beat frequency and spectrum frequency to a certain range of Hertz.

Availability: Online tool

Videobolt Music Visualizer
Videobolt Music Visualizer

The Highlights:

  • Auto-saving unfinished projects online so that you can resume creating music video later
  • Ready-to-use templates to visualize music with trendy design

The Limitations:

  • If you sign in with Google account, Videobolt will require access to the associated YouTube account

8. Veed Music Viusalizer

Veed is a web-based music visualizer that allows you to create music videos at great ease. You can select 1:1; 16:9 or blank canvas to get the creative work done. 1:1 works nicely for Instagram stories and posts. You can add music, background picture, captions and titles, Emoji and shapes. Another unique feature is that you can hand draw anything on the cover art. For the animations, you can use progress bar or sound wave. There are a few styles and designs to select from.

Availability: Online tool

Veed Music Viusalizer
Veed Music Viusalizer works nice for Instagram square videos

The Highlights:

  • Option to add subtitles or lyrics to the music video
  • Option to manage FPS, and export by constant bitrate or constant quality

The Limitations:

  • Not so much choices for the visual designs

9. MilkDrop 2

Initially developed by Ryan Geiss as a music visualizer plug-in for the Winamp music player, MilkDrop has been around for 19 years. It now can be used as a separate package for other software since the update of MilkDrop 2, for instance, you can run Milkdrop in Foobar. When you listen to music in the player, MilkDrop will start to "paint the music" and trigger psychedelic effects with beat detection. GPU running Shader Model 3 or higher will yield out better performance of those cool effects. It also reacts to a live audio feed, such as when you talking to the microphone.

Here are some useful shortcut key:

  • Press Ctrl+K to call out a list of visualization plug-ins when the music is playing;
  • Hit Alt+K to configure options;
  • Press L to swipe between visual presets;
  • Press Scroll Lock to lock a specific preset that you don't like.

Availability: Windows 7/8/8.1/10

MilkDrop 2
Effects from MilkDrop 2

The Highlights:

  • Free and open source plug-in for Winamp
  • More than 700 visual packs to experiment with

The Limitations:

  • No native option to save the video as portable version to share
  • Not user-friendly to customize the visualizations
  • Need some workaround to visualize music in software other than Winamp

10. Sonic Visualiser

Sonic Visualiser is a free, open-source audio visualizer application for viewing and analyzing music and audio files. It is not the music visualizer for entertainment; instead, this tool is made for people interested in what lies inside the audio file. Therefore, it requires you to have some background knowledge in phonetics and phonology, so as to interpret what the visualized graphics signifies. The great part of this audio visualizer lies in the powerful third-party plug-ins it supports, such as pitch estimation and onset detection faculties. You can check the official tutorials on how to use it for musicological purposes.

Availability: Windows, macOS, and Linux

Sonic Visualiser
Sonic Visualiser UI

The Highlights:

  • Free and open source, with tons of plug-ins
  • Best audio visualizer for musicologist, archivists and other researchers

11. STAELLA - Music Visualizer

STAELLA is a lifesaver for artists trying to promote their work on Instagram and other social media. It visualizes your audio into enchanting video clips, and makes the project ready to publish directly from iPhone and iPad. Live audio is also supported. STAELLA listens and visualizes music from microphone input. Let's say you have a band, this app excels at drawing your guitar and bass playing into nice waves and graphics. You can use multiple photos as the background, so as the create something like a slideshow, coupling with abstract graphics and animations that dance with the music.

Availability: iOS App

STAELLA - Music Visualizer
Trendy effects in STAELLA

The Highlights:

  • The visuals are cool and trendy
  • You can use photos from iPhone camera roll as the background

The Limitations:

  • Limited options to adjust colors of the graphics and waved
  • No option to save different configurations for effects shuffling

12. Music Visualizer in Media Players

If an exquisite blend of sound and visuals is not your goal, don't bother to install plug-ins or software. Media players with music visualizer built in are good to use. One thing to note: there might be no cool music visualizations syncing to beats obviously. It looks like players just generate casual dynamic images.

So what are the media players that can be used for music visualization?

  • Apple music subscribers can use iTunes.
  • PC users can visualize music with Windows Media Player.
  • Or, just use VLC on any platforms.

How to use media player to make a music visualizer? Here is an example. Play your music track with Windows Media Player, then right click to choose Visualizations > Bars and Waves > Bars. You can also download visualizations in different colors and shapes from Visualizations for Windows Media Player.

Visualize music in Windows Media Player
Visualize music in Windows Media Player

FAQ

How to connect WebNowPlaying to Monstercat visualizer?

If you follow our steps above to install Rainmeter and Monstercat visualizer but "not working" problem happens, the possible reasons and solutions could be:

  • Re-install Rainmeter visualizer to the default path. Changing the installation path might cause errors.
  • Close Proxy or change VPN path (if there is), or else WebNowPlaying installation in Powershell might run into error.
  • See the following video guide of how to visualize Spotify with Rainmeter Monstercat visualizer.
Run WebNowPlaying with Monstercat visualizer

What is music visualization?

Music visualization is a way of seeing audio, normally by using music visualizers to generate dynamic images in real time. It could be spectrum, a dazzling mess of colors in different shapes, etc.

How does real-time music visualizer work?

Simply put, audio visualizers use beat detection to analyze music signals to get information like sound frequency, loudness, etc, all of which then will be mapped into shapes and colors in real time.

Relationship between sound and light

Why can music be turned into visuals? Because the relationship between sound and vision goes much deeper than you think. In a word, sound and light share common frequencies. See the following chart - The Color of Sound.

Relationship between sound and light
Image from flutopedia.com

Who will need the music visualizer?

  • Listeners who prefer visual effects instead of music art cover.
  • Artists who want to upload music to YouTube without the long process of shooting MV.
  • Live performers who want to use visual elements to attract audience.

Development of Music Visualizer

Music Visualizer Timeline

[1] Everyday fantasia: The world of synesthesia

About The Author

Cecilia Hwung is the marketing manager of Digiarty Software and the editor-in-chief of VideoProc team. She pursues common progress with her team and expects to share more creative content and useful information to readers. She has strong interest in copywriting and rich experience in video editing tips.

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