Play Music Like An Audiophile With Foobar2000 [Windows]

Chris Hoffman 02-01-2012

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 The Best PC Software for Your Windows Computer Want the best PC software for your Windows computer? Our massive list collects the best and safest programs for all needs. Read More 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 Music Streaming With Spotify: What You Get For Free The long awaited streaming music service, Spotify landed in the U.S. last week. Unlike other streaming services, however, Spotify offers an ad-supported free option, which makes millions of albums and songs available to you through... Read More  and Rdio Rdio Now Offers Free (Limited) Streaming Music [News] Feeling some heat? That might be coming from the battle of the streaming music providers, which currently includes a number of competent competitors, each trying to find some edge against the others. Now Rdio has... Read More  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

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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:

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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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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.

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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.


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

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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.

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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.

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


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.

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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).

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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, 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.

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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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  1. Terry Brown
    June 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    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.
      June 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      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
        June 20, 2012 at 10:43 pm

        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.

  2. Chris Hoffman
    January 19, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Awesome! I'm impressed -- I couldn't find it.

  3. Chris Hoffman
    January 16, 2012 at 9:15 am

    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 ( ), the "Groove" link on the page prompts us to download a PLS file. We can add the address of the Groove link ( ) 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.

  4. Aibek
    January 16, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Hey Nicolas,

    Thanks for the tip.

  5. Chris Hoffman
    January 13, 2012 at 4:40 am

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

  6. Nathan Brattan
    January 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Foobars upnp plugin enables streaming of your entire library to ipods, android devices and browsers meaning ANY device. Spotify sucks because the music isn't really yours it's not on your computer in folders.

    • Chris Hoffman
      January 13, 2012 at 4:39 am

      That's both an advantage and a disadvantage.

      It's not on your computer, so you can listen to anything you want without downloads -- you certainly couldn't store Spotify's entire music library on your hard drive.

      Different strokes for different folks.

  7. metairierealestate
    January 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    gonna check out foobar. thanks for this. i use sptify but also looking for something better.

    • Chris Hoffman
      January 5, 2012 at 12:10 am

      Foobar's for the old-school people that have a music collection on their hard drives, so don't expect Spotify's massive music library!

  8. Chris Hoffman
    January 4, 2012 at 12:25 am

    That's a great example of what you can do with foobar. You certainly can't add such a detailed equalizer pane to iTunes!

  9. Anonymous
    January 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm


  10. Fu Man Chu
    January 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I just wanted to also add that you can get the portable version of Foobar (and i believe still keep most of the important features of a fully installed version.. though haven't delved too deeply into that).. this way you can take your music, playlists, settings, etc. etc. with you if you're always on the go.. :)

    • Chris Hoffman
      January 4, 2012 at 12:22 am

      Ah, I never saw that option. I always fly past that screen when I install it.

      Anyone who's interested can just select "Portable Installation" rather than "Standard Installation" in the main Foobar2000 installer.

  11. Krzysiek Drozdowski
    January 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

    I'd just like to add that foobar2000 can easily play Internet radio stations. ;-)

    • Chris Hoffman
      January 3, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Thanks; I've never noticed that feature before!

      Just hit Add Location in the File menu and give it an Internet radio station's address -- the station just appears as another item in your playlist. Pretty awesome.

  12. Kinshi
    January 3, 2012 at 7:25 am

    I use foobar for a year or sth and it's really great. Having all the playlists in tabs is really useful (though it becomes a mess when too many playlists are put there). Also another function that wasn't mentioned is a really useful and rich tool for setting keyboard shortcuts which i use a lot.

    • Chris Hoffman
      January 3, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Foobar2000 just has too many awesome features; I couldn't fit them all in here. I really love its tagging features; it's easy to quickly clean up messy tags.

  13. Na
    January 3, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Ehhhhh I'll stick with Winamp. 

  14. Todd Sims
    January 3, 2012 at 1:58 am

    I use spotify but i prefer media monkey over foobar as my desktop app.

    • Chris Hoffman
      January 3, 2012 at 2:35 am

      Media Monkey is also pretty popular. It's a great alternative for users who don't need Foobar's tweakability.

  15. Bruno James
    January 3, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Spotify seems to be a very popular music service because I've seen lots of people who connect Spotify with Facebook, though.

    • Chris Hoffman
      January 3, 2012 at 1:37 am

      Yup -- personally, I'm into cloud music services these days. Being able to access a massive library of music without buying and downloading individual tracks is just amazing.

      Spotify is awesome, but it's not available in Canada yet so I use Rdio.

      • Stefan Joci?
        January 3, 2012 at 2:22 am

        @Chris_Hoffman:disqus There is alternative for Spotify - Grooveshark. It is available worldwide. Songs and albums aren't sorted well like those on Spotify, mostly because all songs are being uploaded by its users, but still they have a large base of songs.

        • Chris Hoffman
          January 3, 2012 at 2:34 am

          Grooveshark is also pretty awesome, but it has problems. Songs are uploaded by users, so you never know what the quality will be like, and music isn't as organized for browsing.
          Plus, it's in sort of a legal gray area. Some of the music is licensed and some isn't. I suppose that just makes it the YouTube of cloud music services, though.