Once upon a time, the world of Windows music players was ruled by Winamp. It was resurrected a few months ago and works quite well even though it has not received much love in years.
If you want the look-and-feel of good ol' Winamp, with better features, Audacious may be the music player you're looking for.
I tested the program on Windows and Linux. And since they are quite similar, we'll be discussing the Windows version here. The Winamp interface uses a context-menu for most features, so we will focus on the default GTK interface to explore the options.
You can add files, folders and URLs, or search your library from the file menu. The playback menu lets you pause/play, stop, jump to next/previous, repeat, and shuffle tracks. You can also shuffle by Album, view song info (metadata), jump to a specific time stamp or set a custom repeat point (looping music) from this menu.
Tip: Click on the search icon to disable the pane when you don't need it.
The playlist menu lets you create and manage playlists. You can remove duplicates or unavailable tracks from playlists with a single-click. Export options support playlists in the ASXv3, Audpl, M3U, PLS and XSPF formats. The program's settings has more options for playlists and it features a title format and custom string selector. Audacious supports resuming playlists, i.e., if you switch to a different track/playlist and come back to a previous one, it will pick up where you left off.
The services menu can be used to access the plugins, while the Output menu houses the volume controls, equalizer, and effects. The record stream option is handy if you wish to save a streaming audio to your library. The View menu has toggles for various UI elements such as the menu bar, info bar, status bar.
You can use the toolbar to search for tracks, open or add files, control the audio playback and the volume. It's not very different from other players.
The pane below the toolbar lists the audio tracks that you have added to the current queue. It displays the song's title, artist, album, and playing time. The bottom of the pane displays a thumbnail of the album art (cover art) along with the track info and a spectrum analyzer (visualization). You can add more columns from the program's settings.
Each playlist has its own tab which is great for keeping an overview. You can right-click on a tab to play, rename or delete it. A double-click will play it as well.
One of Audacious' biggest strengths is that it has a lot of plugins; all of the plugins are included in the installer. Plugins include decoders, visualization, audio effects, album art and more. To enable a plugin just click on its name. Some plugins open a pop-up window to display additional elements (album art, visualization, lyrics..).
Audacious gets lyrics for the playing track from Lyrics.fandom.com. The lyrics are displayed in a pop-up pane but you can't customize anything related to it.
Note: The LyricsWiki plugin doesn't work on Windows. It has been acknowledged as a bug. The Linux version works flawlessly.
Winamp's minimal interface has always been my favorite. So, if you want the mini-player experience switch to the Winamp interface from Audacious' Settings. There are a few themes pre-loaded in the installer but you can add more.
Download any Winamp Skin (.WSZ format), extract the archive into a folder, and move the folder to the following location.
Note: The Windows version only supports PNG theme files. Download the WSZ, and convert all the BMP images in the archive to PNG (use Paint or any other editor). Place them in a folder and move it to the location mentioned above.
Note: You will need root permission to access the share folder.
Audacious was able to play any audio file I threw at it including FLAC lossless format audio files. It never hiccuped once and the cross-fade is excellent. The majority of my tests were done with headphones plugged in, but the speaker output was crisp as well. The Winamp skins worked flawlessly, including the roll-up player.
A portable version of Audacious is available at the downloads page.
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