Winamp – A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

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App Winamp Intro   Winamp   A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]Winamp is a Methuselah among the third party Windows media players. First released in 1997 and originally developed by Nullsoft, it has become a subsidiary of AOL in the meantime. However, it hasn’t lost any of its charm and we have elected it as one of our best audio tools for Windows.

Winamp remains a beast of a media player with an extensive, yet fully customizable interface. Since its beginnings, it depended on plugins for many of its features. Winamp is a cross-platform application available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. This review will focus on the Windows version fo the Winamp media player, without any but default plugins.

Winamp Media Player Setup

The first small disappointment came while installing Winamp. While it’s not sneaky about it, the setup procedure does offer to install a third party game along with Winamp. You have to check I don’t agree to opt out. Fortunately, no option is selected by default, so you cannot accidentally proceed with the ‘wrong’ choice.

When the installation is completed, you are taken through a four step setup process. Apparently, the most important and thus first step is to select a skin. This is followed by picking file associations, online services, and finally providing contact data for collection of feedback and usage statistics. All these steps are optional and you can finish the setup at any time.

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The First Launch

Winamp launches in a huge multi-pane window playing its famous Llama jingle. If you have never used Winamp, this screen might be a bit overwhelming. But at least it’s comprehensive and clearly organized.

Here is a quick walk-through. The element in the top left is the actual player. It contains basic media fiile information, as well as playback and volume controls. To its right is a summary of the current file. On the far right you’ll find the playlist.

The lower 3/4 of the player contains a tabbed window. In the Media Library view you see the Library on the far left and information for any added files on its right. The other tabs contain the video (if available), audio visualization, and Winamp’s internal browser, which offers additional artist and album information via AOL Search.

Winamp Launch Screen   Winamp   A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

Adding Files

To gain a better understanding of what each pane in the Media Library view does, drag&drop some audio and video files into Winamp and it will automatically organize them. Alternatively, you can go through the File menu in the top right and select Add Media to Library… This will open a small Explorer window. You can also add files by clicking the + button in the bottom left of the playlist.

Winamp Add Media to Library   Winamp   A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

Unfortunately, Winamp does not come with a large selection of internal video codecs, so be sure you have the necessary codecs installed to play your video files. Winamp does, however, support most audio files, including MP3, MIDI, MOD, MPEG-1, AAC, M4A, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, and WMA. In fact, it was one of the first players to support the Ogg Vorbis format by default.

Cool Feature Overview

Once the Media Library has been fed with some files, you will quickly figure out what all the different windows and panes are good for. In case you didn’t see them all, here are some cool features you shouldn’t miss.

In the Media Library tab, view your audio or video files, and click on an artist name. This will load additional artist information in a small horizontal pane at the very bottom. Click on the little i button or on the More Info link to open the AOL Music artist page within Winamp.

Winamp Artist Pane   Winamp   A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

In the top right player pane, when you right-click the scrolling song title, you get a menu that will let you view similar tracks, jump to another file (via a search), to a specific time within the playing file, or send the file to various locations including a new playlist, CD burner, or bookmarks. A similar menu opens when you right-click files in the playlist.

Winamp Playing File Menu   Winamp   A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

Winamp’s look can be fully customized. For example you can change the content that the area between the player and the playlist shows. Click the small button in its lower right and choose what you want to see.

Winamp Customization   Winamp   A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

If you would like to see a more compact view of Winamp, you can hide the playlist through the View menu or by clicking [ALT] + [E]. Moreover, you can collapse the lower 3/4 window by clicking the button in the bottom right.

Winamp Compact   Winamp   A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

Furthermore, many of the menus, buttons, and pieces of information can be hidden to create a leaner interface. Explore the Options and View menus for all possibilities. For the ultimate lean an unobtrusive interface, Windows 7 users can hide the Main Window and operate Winamp exclusively via the taskbar. Hover your mouse over the Winamp icon in the taskbar and a thumbnail with player controls should show.

If this works, you can safely right-click into an empty space in Winamp and uncheck the Main Window or click [ALT] + [W]. To bring the Main Window back, right-click the thumbnail, click Winamp and select the respective item.

Winamp Taskbar Thumbnail   Winamp   A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

One of Winamp’s key features is ripping CDs or DVDs and encoding files. Insert an optical disc and switch to the respective drive in the Media Library. Winamp will automatically search for artist and album information. When it’s done, click the Rip button and select CD ripping preferences… to choose encoder, ripping speed, output file settings, and playlist creating settings. Available formats are MPEG-4 AAC, FLAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, SHOUTcast MPEG-2 ADTS-AAC, WAV, and WMA.

Winamp Rip CD   Winamp   A Solid Media Player that Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

Finally, the Winamp media player offers great mobile apps that tie into the desktop application presented here via Devices in the Media Library. We have written all about the Android app here.

Another aspect I am not covering in this review is that of Winamp’s online services, which essentially are extensions to the media player.

Verdict

Winamp is a strong audio player with a focus on pulling in album and additional artist information. It works decently as a video player, but lacks advanced features, such as loading subtitles. The various menus are extensive and promise lots of features, unfortunately most are concerned with changing the player’s visual appearance. In its default view Winamp is huge and clunky, but the interface can be stripped down significantly to create a simplistic or highly personalized interface. Winamp is a solid media player and it might be the perfect choice if you need your desktop media player to manage files on your Android devices.

If you like the Winamp media player, but would prefer a lighter version, try Winamp Lite.

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25 Comments -

Garris Rago

Tried winamp before, but what I personally find it’s interface too complicated for what I want to do (just wanna listen to some music!)

Tina Sieber

Totally agree, the interface is way too bloated if you just want to use it as an audio player.

I know you already have a favorite audio player, but everyone else, have a look at Winamp Lite, which we reviewed here.

Terafall

Winamp is too complicated and bloated for me

Akhil Kumar

Hmm, gonna check this out. I mostly find media players heavy for my netbook, so I use ‘1 by 1′. I just press Alt+Space, 1, and Space. Simple!

Tina Sieber

If you need a light player, try Winamp Lite.

Dr Ramraj

i never has used winamp before . is winamp greater than aimp3 .

Tina Sieber

I haven’t used aimp3, so I don’t know. If you’re curious, give it a try – Winamp is free – then let us know! :)

Tina Sieber

Oh yeah, we have reviewed AIMP3 here. Joel noted that it looks similar to Winamp, but he wasn’t clear how exactly it compares.

Gui

I have never stopped using winamp since the golden age! =]

Tug Ricks

I used to use Winamp, but eventually found MusicBee to be much more intuitive. Just throwing that out there for simple minded folks like myself.

Gary Volk

MusicBee looks interesting. Gonna have to try it out. Normally I use MediaMonkey, but the free version is lacking in some features.

suneo nobi

agree!!!

Gideon Waxfarb

Those of you who just want the music part without any of the other crap should download the Lite version of Winamp :) it’s available on their site.

Rubis Song

I feel nostalgic! Winamp was one of the very first software I installed on my old old computer. I loved it so much because it was better than the tradional Windows media player found in Windows 2000. And it was also very beautiful. But I can’t remember why i’ve just left it and completely forgoten it. I will try the Winamp lite again and see if it will hook me as it did on the past. Thanks Tina!

Nevzat Akkaya

After I discovered great AIMP, I don’t want Winamp anymore :)

Alexander Carstensen

I used to use winamp for my music, but after i discovered mediamonkey on this website i have been using that for everything, and i got mediamonkey gold from the rewards system, and that makes the player better :)

Alexander Carstensen

I have already read the review :) It was that review that convinced me to download and try mediamonkey (and later getting a gold code from the rewards system!)

Tina Sieber

Oh, I understood that, Alexander. I was just on a quest adding useful links for anyone else coming across your comment and wondering about MediaMonkey.

Alexander Carstensen

Ahh! Okay :)

Scott Macmillan

I love Winamp but lately have been turning to VLC more often for my music.Simple and easy.

Ashok Kumar

Just started using Pot Player as media player(audio n video). It’s working good.

harley bellwood

I use Winamp & Media Monkey. Winamp has lots of plugins and options, but nothing for duplicate files.

greyz14

Just launch the EmoPlayer and it will update, now you can watch your fav youtube video even if you are offline from EmoPlayer’s cache, see the video below. http://www.emoplayer.com