Winamp review

A classic media player that's starting to lose some of its luster

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Our Verdict

Winamp is still a great media player, and has all the essential tools you need for managing and enjoying music and videos, but it now relies on third-party extensions to add features found as standard in more modern players.

For

  • Huge selection of plugins
  • Simple to navigate
  • Easy disc burning, format conversion and streaming

Against

  • Hasn't been updated recently
  • No automatic tagging

Free media player Winamp is a one stop shop for managing your music library. You can sync your music collection to an MP3 player or smartphone, and you can also stream it over the internet, allowing you to share your favourite tunes with your friends.

Winamp

Download here: http://www.winamp.com/

Type: Media player

Developer: Radionomy

Operating system: Windows, Mac

Version: 5.666

The music sharing functions don't end there. Winamp provides access to a huge number of online radio stations, and enables you to scan sites for downloadable MP3 files to add to your library.

Winamp is also ideal for ripping and converting music It can rip music from DRM-free CDs and encode music in the aacPlus, AAC and WMA formats, ready for burning to disc.

If that's not enough, you can extend Winamp even further with its catalog of free plugins, including downloads to help boost 3D sound, graphic equalizers, crossfading, and support for the lossless FLAC format.

Before making it your main media player, it's worth noting that Winamp is currently in a state of limbo; the latest release (5.666) was published in 2013, just before publisher AOL announced that it was terminating the project. However, the site was never taken down, and in 2014 the brand was acquired by Belgian music company Radionomy. It's unclear exactly what the future holds for the player, but its huge community of users are actively developing exceptional plugins to expand and improve it, so it never stands still.

User experience

Importing music to Winamp is easy – just select the appropriate directory when you first launch the player and everything will be cataloged automatically. There's also a built-in tool for importing existing iTunes playlists, and a third-party plugin to help you migrate from Windows Media Player.

Winamp comes with a small selection of skins to change its default appearance, and many more are available to download through the software's main menu. The standard look is busy but informative, with tabs for switching between your media library, the currently playing video (if applicable), colorful music visualizations, and a web browser designed to help you find and download media files from websites. This is an interesting feature, though not as simple to use as a third-party media download manager

Winamp doesn't offer as many playback optimization tools as more modern media players like MusicBee, but all the essentials are covered.

There's no automatic tagging to help organize a sprawling music library, either. The auto-tag option is still visible under the View File Info menu option, but it requires a service called Gracenote that has terminated its contract with Winamp. If your songs are a mess, you'll need to use a third-party tool like Musicbrainz Picard to correct the tags, or do the job manually.

Winamp is still a great player, and its third-party plugin support is second to none, but its age is starting to show and today you'll be better served with a more modern tool like MusicBee or VLC Media Player.

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