Plex has spent much of 2017 releasing exciting new additions to its service. Summer saw the introduction of Plex Live TV, and in the Fall the company launched its own news service. But it turns out that there was more to come. Now, Plex has unveiled another new feature: Plex Labs.
In this article, we’re going to quickly explain what Plex Labs is, then move on to take an in-depth look at its first standout app: Plexamp.
Introducing Plex Labs
The Plex team has three initial goals for the project. They are:
Technical Writing About Plex: Plex’s official documentation has always been streets ahead of the utterly confusing official Kodi wiki. But as part of Plex Labs, the company will now publish regular in-depth feature pieces on Medium.
Community Projects: These are apps created by third-party developers. The third-party community has been thriving on Plex for several years. The company hopes Plex Labs will help bring all the projects together under one roof.
Internal Projects: The final strand is Plex’s own internal projects. They are addons and apps that are not officially supported by the company, but they’re all built in-house. Plex Labs launched with two such projects: Webhooks and Plexamp.
Webhooks is like a Plex-specific version of IFTTT. You can configure the Plex Media Server to ping particular URLs when certain things happen, thus letting you integrate Plex with your smart home. For example, you could automatically dim your smart lights whenever a movie begins.
Plexamp is a music player. And that’s what we’re going to focus on in the rest of this piece.
What Is Plexamp?
A surprisingly high number of people still use Winamp. In 2017, the ubiquitous music player celebrated its 20th birthday. And while it’s not as popular as it once was, millions of people around the world still rely on it each and every day.
Plexamp is Plex’s answer to Winamp. However, unlike its namesake, it cannot “browse” music libraries in the traditional sense. Instead, it focuses more on search and discovery.
The app is built on the Electron platform and using an open source audio player called Music Player Daemon for music playback.
Users can enjoy gapless playback, a global activation hotkey (like Spotlight on a Mac), and soft transitions. But that’s only scratching the surface. Let’s delve into the features in a bit more detail.
What Features Make Plexamp Worthwhile?
For such a tiny media player, Plexamp already packs an impressive punch. Let’s take a look at some of the app’s key features, starting with playing and discovering music.
Searching for Music
When the app is open, you can click on the search bar at the bottom of the screen to find any song, artist, album, or playlist on your machine. Just start typing, and you’ll see a live list of results.
One of the most significant downsides of desktop music players is their music discovery tools. They just don’t have the same power as tools on Spotify, Google Play Music, and other streaming services.
Of course, you’re always going to be limited to the music that’s on your Plex server, but with automatic playlists for Recently Played, Recently Added, Recent Playlists, and more, you can be sure to find some gems you had forgotten about.
Music app “radio” is nothing new. Spotify has been offering artist radio for a few years, and the other major streaming services have all followed suit.
Plexamp offers a twist on the theme. The more extensive your music collection, the better your radio experience will be.
You have three radios to choose from:
- Library Radio: Uses popular or highly-rated tracks in your library to formulate the playlist.
- Time Travel Radio: Time Travel uses the song’s year as the playlist’s main determiner. It starts with early songs and works forward towards the current day.
- Artist Radio: This uses the same methodology as the Spotify equivalent. Pick an artist, and Plex will mix a healthy dose of their work in with similar artists.
There are a few smaller features that also warrant a mention.
- Multiple Libraries: If you have a local library and someone has shared a library with you, you can flip between them with ease.
- Seekbar: The track seekbar has taken its design cues from Soundcloud. Drag your mouse to move around the song.
- Visualizer: Click on the VIZ icon to activate the on-screen visualizer.
- Lyrics: Click on the LYR button to see a song’s lyrics (if they are available on the server).
All the other typical music player features are included, such as Play/Pause, Skip Track, and keyboard shortcuts.
How to Get Plexamp
To download Plexamp, navigate to plexamp.com and click on the appropriate button for your operating system.
At the time of writing, Plexamp is only available on Windows and macOS, though Plex has promised a Linux version will be released very soon.
Setting Up Plexamp
Once you have downloaded the file, double-click on the icon to install Plexamp on your system.
After the installation process is complete, a small window will pop up on your screen. You need to give your new player a name and click Sign In. Clicking the button will redirect you to the Plex online portal.
Once again, enter your details and click Sign In. You Plexamp app will now be linked to your Plex Media Server and ready to use.
Will You Be Installing Plexamp?
Hopefully, this article has made you realize how powerful Plexamp can be. If you use it in conjunction with an existing Plex setup, it’s now the best way to access and listen to your music on the system.
But does it offer enough for diehard audiophiles? Or would they be better served by sticking to a more traditional desktop music player? As always, you can leave your opinions, thoughts, and feedback in the comments section below!