Play Music Like An Audiophile With Foobar2000 [Windows]

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foobar2000 reviewFoobar2000 is the desktop music player of choice for audiophiles, tinkerers and anyone looking for a lightweight, efficient program. We have it listed on our page of the best Windows software for a reason, although it may not be obvious when you first install it. Foobar2000’s default interface is spartan and hides powerful features and nearly infinite customizability.

Cloud streaming services like Spotify and Rdio are becoming more and more popular, but there’s still a place for desktop applications and local music collections. If you still play music stored on your computer, you owe it to yourself to check out Foobar2000.

Quick Layout Setup

foobar2000 review

After you install Foobar2000 and start it up, you’ll see the Quick Appearance Setup window. Foobar2000 uses your system colors, a simple tabbed playlist pane and a traditional playlist layout by default. Here’s what it looks like:

foobar 2000 review

Now here’s what it looks like after selecting Visualization + Cover Art + Tabs, Blue, and Group by Albums in the Quick Appearance Setup window:

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foobar 2000 review

We’re already getting an idea of how much we can customize Foobar2000. See how Foobar2000 now groups each album’s tracks in the playlist pane instead of repeating the same album name on every line? That’s the Group by Albums setting in action.

Feel free to play with the options here; you can reopen the Quick Appearance Setup window at any time by clicking the View menu, pointing to Layout and selecting Quick Setup.

foobar 2000 review

Media Library

Like other media players, Foobar2000 can watch folders for new music and automatically update its media library. Foobar2000 automatically watches your user account’s music folder by default. If you store your music elsewhere, click the Library menu, select configure and use the Add button to add more music folders.

fubar music player

Foobar2000 comes with two media library viewers — click the Library menu and select Album List to browse the albums in your library or select Search to search for specific music files.

fubar music player

Any of these viewers can be added to your Foobar2000 layout, so you don’t always have to open them from the Library menu.

Advanced Layout Customization

Foobar2000’s layouts aren’t limited to the layouts provided in the Quick Appearance Setup window. You can use its layout-editing mode to assemble your own layout; just click the View menu, point to Layout and select Enable Layout Editing Mode to get started.

fubar music player

Right-click an interface element in layout-editing mode and you’ll see a menu. Select Replace to replace the interface element with another one or select Cut to delete the interface element entirely.

Perform a cut on every interface element, including the vertical and horizontal splitters, if you want to start from scratch.

Just click an empty area and you’ll be prompted to add a new interface element. Add a splitter if you want to divide areas into sections and add multiple interface elements.

Here we’ve added playlist tabs at the top, a vertical splitter down the middle and a horizontal splitter on the left, which gives us two empty spaces on the left and one on the right. We’ve filled them in with an album list at the top left corner, an album art viewer at the bottom left corner and a playlist view on the right.

Click the Enable Layout Editing Mode option in the Layout menu again after you’re done to disable the layout editing mode.

ReplayGain

Different music albums and songs have different perceived volumes. If your music player is playing music from different albums, you might have to adjust the volume up and down as louder and quieter songs come on. ReplayGain does this for you — Foobar2000 can automatically scan your songs, determine their volume and change the volume in the background so everything plays at one appropriate volume.

You can choose between two ReplayGain modes from the Playback pane in Foobar2000’s preferences window. Album mode considers entire albums when setting the volume, preserving volume differences between songs on the same album. Track mode just considers a single track, so every song that plays will be about the same volume. Foobar2000 uses album mode by default, ensuring that volume differences between songs on a single album are preserved.

ReplayGain is enabled by default, but it depends on ReplayGain tags embedded in your music files. Many of your songs may not have these tags, but Foobar2000 can scan your files and add them. Assuming your music files are tagged correctly, the easiest way to add the tags is to select all your music in a playlist, right-click the selected files, point to ReplayGain and select “Scan Selection as Albums (by Tags).

Foobar2000’s excellent support for ReplayGain is one of the reasons audiophiles love it (another one is gapless playback; Foobar2000 automatically plays back music files with no pause in between them if the files support it).

Components

Components, available from Foobar2000’s components download page, are Foobar2000’s plug-ins. Components can extend Foobar2000 with support for new audio formats, add additional media library viewers or replace Foobar2000’s entire user interface.

Install components from the Components pane in Foobar2000’s preferences window after downloading them. Just click the Install button and browse for your downloaded components.

Components are also available on other websites. For example, you can download a component that adds support for Windows 7’s new taskbar features here.

foobar2000 review

Do you have any favorite components or other tips and tricks for Foobar2000? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments (26)
  • Terry Brown

    Foobar2000 is a really interesting music player. I’ve been using WMP since Windows XP, but started experimenting with DoubleTwist after I tried the Android app. Since then, I’m trying WinAmp and really like it on Windows 7.

    I’ll try out Foobar2000, but in your opinion, which is better out of the non-WMP media players?

    • Hannz K.

      Winamp is quite bloated since 5.xx versions, but foobar2k is clean and light-weight, a really useful property, if you have a slower PC. Also, downloading new themes is better, because you can tweak it as much as you want, if you know, how.

      Before foobar2k, I used Winamp about 6-7 years and loved it, then a year ago I decided to give foobar2k a go. I was overly impressed that, how much faster it was, compared to winamp. And now I’m still using foobar2k with Mono Lite Plus skin, you can get it at DeviantArt.

    • Chris Hoffman

      Oops, how did I miss this question? Foobar2000 is definitely my favorite desktop media player, although I use streaming services most of the time these days. I definitely agree with Hannz.

  • Chris Hoffman

    Awesome! I’m impressed — I couldn’t find it.

  • Chris Hoffman

    You can use File -> Add Location, provide the location of the radio station and you’re done.

    There’s a problem, though: This only works for Internet radio stations that provide direct streaming. So, for example, if we wanted to listen to Monkey Radio ( monkeyradio.org ), the “Groove” link on the page prompts us to download a PLS file. We can add the address of the Groove link ( http://groove.monkeyradio.org/ ) into Foobar and it’ll work perfectly.

    The France Inter radio station seems wrapped up in a Flash player. If they had any sort of link where you could download  a PLS or M3U file and listen in your media player of choice, this would work fine. But I can’t find one. It looks like they want to force you to use their website.

  • Aibek

    Hey Nicolas,

    Thanks for the tip.

    In regards to your question, if you don’t get a reply here I recommend you to post this a new question on MakeUseOf Answers, http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/

    Aibek

  • Chris Hoffman

    I’ve never heard of it, but it looks pretty good! Certainly looks easier to configure than Foobar2000. Thanks for the tip!

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.