foobar2000 review

Look past its ugly duckling exterior and you'll find a powerful, flexible media player

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Our Verdict

Underneath its initially unappealing interface you'll find a surprisingly powerful music player and manager that can be tweaked and tuned to suit you perfectly.

For

  • Flexible interface
  • Effective tagging and organization
  • Can be extended with plug-ins

Against

  • Interface is initially unappealing
  • Steep learning curve

foobar2000 is a powerful and flexible music player with a unique modular design and a raft of hidden features.

Download foobar2000 freeIts primary function is media management, and it specializes in ripping and converting CDs - copying tracks your discs for you, tagging them automatically and keeping everything neatly organised in an efficient media library - but to be think this is dismissive of the program is to do it a disservice. It might 'only' be a music conversion and playback tool, but it's incredibly well designed and adaptable.

User experience

You might be a little taken aback by the appearance of foobar2000; it looks rather dated at first glance, and the interface is very sparse. However, once you've pointed the program in the direction of your music collection and the library is populated, it become much clearer how things work.

If you're particularly troubled by the look of the player, you can use the Theme Editor to tweak things to your liking - but be aware that this can take some time and once you've got the knack you can easily sink hours into getting it just right,

With music imported into your library, you can play your tracks by browsing by artist or album, or create a playlist. In fact, foobar2000 makes it easy to have several playlists available at any one time, with each conveniently housed in its own tab.

However, despite everything in foorbar2000 has in its favour, there's no getting away from the fact that it has something of a learning curve. This isn't a piece of software that beginners will just jump in to and feel at home in straight away. Once you have got use to the way things operate, and spent a little time configuring the seemingly endless raft of options, you can just leave the player to work its magic. Any music you add to watched folders will be added to your library automatically, ready to be worked into playlists or played individually.

foobar2000 interface
It might take you a while to get used to foobar2000's minimalist interface, but its modular design makes it very flexible, so you can tweak it to suit your preferences or emulate a different player

We liked

Right from the offset, even if you don't realize it (see below), foobar2000 probably does pretty much everything you could ask of it. But one of the most exciting features of the program is that is open for developers to build plug-ins and extensions that add even more features.

As standard, there are a number of music-tweaking effects available to play with, including the all-important equalizer, but you'll also find a crossfader, a downmixing option, and a couple of resampling tools.

foobar2000 equalizer
The well-implemented equalizer is one of foobar2000's many tools for taking manual control of your music. Check out the Preferences menu for lots more

We disliked

Perhaps the most obvious complaint to level against foobar2000 is its looks. This is a basic-looking player and this might fool you into thinking that it is in fact very basic. It is not. In reality, the program app is endlessly customizable, although you have to be willing to put in a little legwork to tinker with all of the settings.

This is perhaps the second issue with foobar2000 - many users will dismiss it simply because the various tools and options are not presented in an upfront way. There's a lot there, but you have to dig for it as well as getting out of the habit of expecting everything to be handed to you on a plate.

foobar2000 custom interface
It's a powerful player, but some digging and experimenting is necessary to get the most out of foobar2000. Also check out the range of plug-ins to extend its feature-set

Final verdict

Download foobar2000 freeIt might take a little while to get used to, but when you've got to grips with its quirky approach, foobar2000 is well worth your time. Once you've tweaked it to your liking, it can easily become your main music player.

Specifications

Developer: Piotr Pawłowski and contributors

Licence: Freeware

System requirements:

  • Operating system: Windows XP, Vista 7, 8, 10
  • Processor: i686 or newer x86
  • RAM: Not specified
  • Disk space: Not specified

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