A free media player for your desktop
After a long hiatus, most users had settled on Winamp no longer returning. Little did they know, the old-timer app came back with a vengeance. Not only does it now have a customizable interface, but Winamp has also revamped its file manager and layout. It has also been optimized to work on Windows 10. The latest version of the app is now available.
Winamp is still free to download but is considered a Freemium app. If you’re looking for the classic model of the app, it may not be available anymore. However, Winamp offers a classic theme at the start of the setup process. Some users will prefer this option over the modern interface. The cluttered layout makes it look like they’re trying too hard. Compared to the easy navigation of VLC Media Player or WMP, Winamp feels like a bit of a maze.
Winamp is safe and easy to download. Setting up is fairly quick. There’s a custom install option as well, which lets you decide which components you’d like to install. It’s best to choose this option only if you’ve downloaded Winamp before and want to keep some files default.
Interface and performance
The user interface is one of Winamp’s most flexible features. Customize everything from the size of the player to each mini window. There’s a search bar, so you can find the songs you’re looking for more easily. The app allows adding media from either your hard drive or OneDrive. The app can also convert all your music and videos so that they’re associated with Winamp. This doesn’t actually do anything, except that whenever you play something with a Winamp tag, it would play in the app instead of loading through Groove by default.
Once you’ve uploaded your media into the app, Winamp will automatically sort them for you. Scroll through songs by their albums, artists, or titles; it’s up to you. There’s also an option to disable any style of sorting.
Viewing your files is much improved on Winamp. With the SmartView feature, you can modify and filter for specific attributes to create a “smart view”. These will be added to a playlist with all matching qualities, and you can look at them later. While this is a cool feature, some may find it unnecessary.
One of Winamp's signature features is still around: Equalization or EQ. You’re able to move sliders along audio frequency bands to change how audio sounds. Is your music sounding a little muddy? Try pulling down the 1-3K range. Is it too boomy? Pull out some of the low-end bass down at 320 and below. Turn up the treble and presence ranges up at 12K and 14K to add a bit of sparkle as well.
Radio and browser
You can listen to radio and podcasts on Winamp. Tune in to a variety of stations, covering popular genres like R&B, Rap, and Country. The only problem with this is that you have to download a Shoutcast file for each of the stations. This means the session you’re listening to isn’t live. Most of these files are corrupted on arrival and will not play.
Winamp is currently working on the podcasts section to let users listen to their subscriptions. You’re supposedly able to receive a Rich Site Summary (RSS) feed through the app if you have an extension. Nothing indicates that this feature actually works.
Next to the Visual tab, there is a built-in browser that lets you surf the web while listening to music. Although a little slow, the browser does work. You can sign in to your Google account or email just like you would on Chrome or Firefox. The beauty is that browsing the web on Winamp doesn’t increase its RAM usage by much, if at all.
The problem with the built-in browser is more about its relevance. Winamp is meant as an audio player, not an internet browser. This feature feels more like an attempt by developers to see whether or not they could achieve a goal rather than an intelligently informed design decision.
Winamp allows you to sync files from your phone or any smart devices. It doesn’t connect with your device directly, but rather through your computer. This essentially lets you transfer media from an external drive to Winamp and stores them in associated folders. It’s another cool thing to have, but not too uncommon of a feature among similar software.
Winamp has abandoned all of its former simplicity to go all out on modern utilities. From a technical standpoint, it’s an applaudable effort. Nowadays, playing anything offline is a little less mainstream. With all the advanced features, though, Winamp may be able to convince users otherwise. That’s a good thing, except a lot of users might still prefer the classic model where everything is straightforward.
It’s one of the reasons apps like VLC and Groove Music are so successful. They are much simpler and easier to use than Winamp. But, that’s not to dismiss all the great changes to the app. Convenience is the key, and most people still like having access to everything in one place.
The newest version of the app, Winamp 5.8, has improved support for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. It has also changed encoders for a number of file formats, like .mp3, and update libraries.