Winamp, the best media player around?

Posted by Flo in Freeware on March 12th, 2009.
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At the moment, the most popular media players are definetely Windows Media Player and iTunes. Nevertheless, Winamp is also a pretty big player in this market and until a little while ago I was really sure that Winamp was the best media player around. But now VLC has made me think twice about that. However, I still have a few arguments why Winamp is the best mediaplayer, and not VLC…

Winamp is one of those applications that is on my computer as long as I remember. For no real good reason, I first downloaded it when I had downloaded my first music file, just because a few people said it was better than windows media player. Throughout the years I discovered that this was indeed the case from the questions that I received from other people who couldn’t open files because they didn’t have the right codec.

One click and you have the information about the artist of the playing track.

The big range of supported file formats and codecs is indeed one of Winamp’s strong points. I think that I can go as far as to say that if you only would use Winamp for music, you would never have to dowload a single codec. However, the codecs aren’t so complete on the video side of the story, but it seems to support more codecs than windows media player (WMP). Of course, Winamp gets beaten by VLC if it’s about supporting different formats, but Winamp does got a few things that lack in both VLC and WMP.

First of all, something relatively new in Winamp, an easy media library. I must admit that it doesn’t look as good as in iTunes and WMP, but it works a lot better than Microsoft’s attempt. It works nearly automatically, except that you decide yourself what’s added and what’s not. You select the folders on your computer that you want to be monitored by winamp, and winamp automatically adds the files to the library. It also regulary checks if there’s new content, and there’s even an option to remove duplicates.

Visualisations… standard, but it’s there!

The second point where Winamp beats the competition is the internet radio and television. You can listen to an extreme variety of SHOUTcast radio channels and AOL radio channels with an easy search function. You select your favorite genre, and you select the channel from the list, it’s as easy as that. It’s all the same for the SHOUTcast television, and it doesn’t cost you a thing. That’s a lot better than windows media player. You can listen to music that is not on your computer without having to download a streaming file for it or having to pay for it. 

Not only do you have access to this incredible amount of music, but you can also listen it how you want with the build-in equaliser. It has several presets for dance, rock, classical, etc. but if you don’t like it, you can customise it yourself, and the sound is not the only thing you can customise. If you don’t like the default skin, you can change the color, change the elements you want to see (who the hell uses the equaliser? away with it!), or download a total different skin from the skin database on You can even add new elements by downloading plugins from that same site, for free.

Winamp even has a browser, not that there’s any reason to us it…

There’s so much free stuff that you would nearly forget that Winamp is commercial software, and therefore there are some limitations on the free edition, although you probably won’t notice them. There are actually just two events where you are remembered that you don’t have the free edition. The first event is when installing it. You see that there’s a paid edition, and you download the free one… The second event is when you suddenly realise you want to use winamp to rip and burn music… So the real music listening part is free of "go pro!" nagging… great huh?

So much great things about Winamp… isn’t there anything wrong with it? Well… to be honest, there is. The winamp media library seems to eat up a lot of RAM memory, but you can turn it off if you don’t want it (it’s turned off by default). A little bit more serious is an occasional crash and if you open certain media types, especially the kind that need a plugin (musepack, *cough*), Winamp can crash as well. However, it usually works when opening the file a second time. And then there’s the lack of windows vista support… but oh well, I can live with that, it seems to work anyway.

One of the other standard skins that supports adding and removing of components.

If you look at the whole picture, Winamp is really an application for people who listen a lot of music, and want to listen to it in a way they want. You can see this at the great internet radio, the equaliser and the customisable skin. Next to that, it’s easy in use and it’s codec library is complete enough for the average computer user.

And what about Winamp vs. VLC? Well, I personaly think that the mainstream computer user (and audio junkie) is better off with Winamp, but if you are addicted to strange filetypes, get VLC, everything seems to work with that.



Pro’s and con’s
+ Slick interface that you can mount on the top of your screen.
+ Natively compatible with the most music formats.
+ Build in internet radio.

– Some nagging about going pro.
– Some compatability issues with a few codecs. 
– Available on a very select amount of platforms (no vista…).


Windows 2000, Windows XP, or higher

Download Winamp

5 Responses to “Winamp, the best media player around?”

  1. mrzib says:

    I prefer Media Monkey gold, I used Musicmatch, Mediaplayer and Winamp before. Media Monkey is superb in organizing music and it let drop and drag songs to your Ipod without having the bad Itunes interface

  2. Chrisclap says:

    This was a great review on winamp.
    But…….i have to say that i am still gonna HoldTight with Moovida
    It is what i believe to be the most suited for me an therefore best media player out there.

    You should check it out.


  3. james says:

    Chrisclap, looks like you’re a troll, unless you can give some reasons why it’s better than winamp?

  4. Les says:

    I don’t know about the later versions of Winamp. I haven’t really checked out any of them yet. But, as far as I am concerned, the older versions of Winamp, up to version 3, still have, by far, the best performance & interface around. And do you know what is even more awesome about Winamp? It’s the fact that, even though Winamp is made just for Windows, it is nevertheless possible to use it on systems other than Windows(Linux, Mac OS X, etc.). As far as iPod support, I don’t know about the older versions of Winamp(it doesn’t matter to me; I don’t even have an iPod) but I do know that it is possible for the newer versions of Winamp to interface with it.

  5. shake826 says:

    i just downloaded WINAMP last nite cuz i wanted a nice look to go wit my pc other than itunes plain boring look and wmp’s confusing look and i gotta say im loving although im still tryin to see if theres anything i dont like but i cant find anything wrong wit iit 🙂

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