foobar2000: a new kind of music player

April 18, 2009 at 2:55 am 4 comments

foobar2000_logoWell it’s actually been around since 2001 (that’s how old the license is, anyways), but this is the first time I’ve tried foobar2000. I’m in a fresh Windows XP setup until Ubuntu 9.04 comes out. Of course, I can’t go 10 whole days without crankin’ up some tunes, so I downloaded MediaMonkey, my standard music player. After I got error messages upon trying to import my music library, I decided to try something new for a change. I picked foobar2000, since I’d heard about it but never tried it.

If I were to describe foobar2000 in one word, it would be “unique”. Although, my first thought when I ran it was, “Wow, this is very… bland.” It’s true; the GUI is not much to look at. (It looks alright in Vista, but right now I’m using the Windows Classic theme in XP :S). But, as I soon found out, foobar2000 has something much better to offer than shiny visuals.

After poking around a bit I found that I could completely customize the interface. Not just adding different skins like in most music players. I mean COMPLETELY customize the interface. You want the playlist view to be on the other side of the layout? Just move it over. You want two playlist views? Just add another one wherever you want it. You want an album view and library search in the same place? Put them in a tabbed pane. You want 5 visualizations spread out across the screen? Sure. You can even build an entire layout from scratch.

But sometimes it’s a little cumbersome to get it to be just how you want it, especially since there’s no easy way to move a UI element to a different spot. Instead of intuitively dragging ia UI element over to where you want it, you have to go through a tedious process of splitting and joining elements. But seriously, who cares if it’s a little inconvenient if you can make the layout EXACTLY how you want it? This is definitely my favorite feature of foobar2000, not because it’s useful to me, but just because it’s so… unique.

There are plenty of other great things about it. You can customize the functionality of foobar2000 with lots of plugins, you can create totally new info columns in the playlist view, and there’s a built-in tool to convert music to different file types. All this for around 20 mb of memory used… nice. And I’m assuming you already know, it’s free. šŸ™‚

All these things are great… for people who like them. If you’re not the type who likes to tweak programs to be just the way you want them, then you probably won’t like foobar2000. If you like flashy visuals, foobar2000 isn’t for you. If you like basic, easy-to-use music players, you’ll get lost in trying out the more advanced features of foobar2000.

But even if you think you won’t like it, you should give foobar2000 a try. It’s an amazing program. As for me, I fixed the problem that I had in MediaMonkey and now I’m back in musical bliss. It seems that every time I find a great new music player, in the end I still like the good old Monkey the best.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that you can also customize the visuals as well. But I thought foobar2000 couldn’t look as good as other music players no matter how much you customize it, until I saw the awesome screenshots in this thread. Check out the last two screenshots on that page. Wow. Here’s one on deviantArt that has nice instructions. So the bottom line is that if you’re willing to put time into customizing foobar2000, the possibilities are endless, both in the functionality and the visuals. Now I feel like using it again…


Entry filed under: software, Windows. Tags: , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. diggy  |  April 19, 2009 at 8:48 am

    I think I’m gonna get a different music player. I really like the way iTunes looks and how easy it is to manage my music with it (all 37 gigs!), but lately it’s been really annoying. once in a while I’ll start it up and when I go to play a song it doesn’t play it. I double click the song and it thinks it’s playing it (the play button turns into the pause button), but the time just stays at zero and no sound comes out. normally when this happens I can just close it and start it up again and it works. but now that’s not even working! grrrr! maybe I’ll try MediaMonkey…

  • 2. fipi  |  April 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Yeah you should try MediaMonkey. WinAmp is pretty good too. I use MediaMonkey because of all the organization features, but lately the free version has been kinda limiting me. (The gold version costs $20 I think). I’m a cheapo so maybe I’ll switch to another one. It’d be nice if there was one that had both Windows and Linux versions, but I can’t seem to find one like that.

  • 3. diggy  |  April 20, 2009 at 3:25 am

    I got MediaMonkey today. when I first opened it up I was a little scared by all the buttons because I’m used the minimalistic look of iTunes, hehe. but I told myself, “it’s ok… you can do this.” so I added my music and was very delighted to find out that it can play my iTunes protected files, and even all the music I downloaded with Ruckus! (iTunes won’t do that). I’m kinda bummed that it has so few equalizer settings… but I can probably download more of those. after a little while of listening to music I noticed my speakers were clipping, like the music was too loud. but it didn’t remember it doing that with iTunes. so I fiddled with the equalizer settings a little bit and got it to stop doing that. now it sounds good. anyway, I think I’m really gonna like it.

  • 4. fipi  |  April 20, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Sweet, glad you like it. But yeah, seems like the sound quality in MM isn’t as good as in other players. Sometimes in quiet parts of certain songs I can hear a little bit of crackling, and when I played the same songs in WinAmp it sounded fine. But I didn’t care that much because I hardly ever noticed it.


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