Winamp, Musicmatch Jukebox, & Me
There’s a new version of the Winamp media player out, and I really REALLY am into this new version – so much so that I wrote my history with Winamp, MusicMatch Jukebox, and how iTunes got me to go back to Winamp (sort of). :)
When Winamp first came out, I really liked the program – was essentially a universal audio player. I know it really wasn’t, but for what I used it for, it did everything, so I dug it. I dug it so much so that I registered Winamp back in the day when you could register it. Hell, I still have the email with the registration key from May 13, 1999!
So I used that for awhile, but the thing I never much cared for was the fact that it didn’t do any ripping. Back then, ripping wasn’t the net sensation that it is now, but it would have been nice to have. I forget exactly when, but I was told about Musicmatch Jukebox. I bought it way back when, at a point where you could register it and you get lifetime upgrades – I’m not sure if they still do that.
So I started using Musicmatch for my ripping, but still used Winamp for playback. Mostly I did that because Winamp was much faster, and while Musicmatch did play everything (or so my memory tells me) that Winamp did, I used Winamp for the speed aspect (which hasn’t changed much over the years).
(The comparisons in this paragraph are to Winamp v2). A little further down the line, I got fed up of resetting all the file associations to what I wanted them to be each time I upgraded to a newer version of either, so I decided one day to stick with Musicmatch. To MM’s credit, it does have superior tagging abilities, which only got better over time anyway. MM had some real library stuff. As I have rather a lot of mp3’s, the ability to organize them became of paramount importance to me. Plus MMJB has a cool AutoDJ feature I like. So I went there, and was there for a rather long time. Over time though I started getting irritated as a lot of people did with the load time of MMJB. It took forever to run the program, and it’s part of the reason I still played wav & midi files with Winamp, as it would take you 10 times as long to load MMJB as it did to play the wav file (as I work in the game industry, most of the wav filse I have are short 1 or 2 second sound files of some sort).
At some point in all this Winamp v3 was released. Being a big Winamp v2 fan, I checked it out, and I think like most everyone out there, was really turned off by the god awful slowness of the thing, and I’m not just talking about load times, but usage. It was like playing through molasses. I toyed around with some other programs, but decided I’d stick with Musicmatch, as I didn’t want to be back in the same boat with multiple programs all over the place. So Winamp 3 was discarded, never to appear again on my machine.
So now we’re in late 2003, and Apple releases iTunes for Windows. I wanted to check it out because of all the buzz it had from MacLand. The program is nice, the connection to their store is great, and this hit (Windows) right aroudn the time that “Buying songs online for 99 cents” has become quite the rage. I REALLY liked iTunes’ libary organization. It was seperated into columns (Genre, Artist, Album). I never cared for Genre, so I pretty much ignored that one, but I liked it how you could click on an artist and be shown the albums for that artist, and the tracks below. I also really dug the display of the last time a particular track was played, as well as the number of times played. I really dug that info – a lot. I thought this was a totally awesome way of organizing one’s mp3’s. I considered switching to iTunes alone for that reason. However, I decided against using iTunes mostly because it does some odd things with organizing mp3’s, plus it’s tagging features are inferior to MMJB. If I hadn’t already paid for MMJB, I probably would have switched to iTunes, as it’s free, it’s got great integration to a music store, and overall is a nice program. MMJB’s library (seen at top of this post) let you group by various categories, but never in the way that iTunes did, nor did MMJB have the last played thing – I really dug the way iTunes did it.
It’s December 2003 now, and Winamp releases Winamp v5. I checked it out because being an old Winamp fan, I thought I’d check out the new release (There was no v4). I have to say, I was utterly shocked at how good this upgrade was. Winamp v5 is what v3 should have been. It’s not as lightning fast as v2 was, but with what’s new, that’s to be expected a little. But it’s still boatloads faster than MMJB, and in what is what I consider a pants changing feature, they have the totally awesome library stuff that is in iTunes. I was totally blown away with how impressive an upgrade that Winamp 5 is. So much so that I’ve gone back to Winamp for playback of everything at this point. I’ve always felt Winamp is faster, and I like that. Plus I can have the stuff I like in a library. Once Winamp makes the Pro version available, I’ll probably be registering it. There’s other stuff that is cool, like recently added, never played, and many other cool library features. Winamp5’s library is for me the best one out there now. Given that I have about 25GB of mp3’s I need a good library system, and Winamp’s is way faster than MMJB’s is, although I do wish MMJB’s superior tagging stuff can copied in Winamp.
I used to recommend MMJB to folks, but now I have to say I fully recommend Winamp v5 as the main media player of choice. It’s free, and is fast, and totally awesome again – v5 has again ascended Winamp to the top of the player heap again. There are some minor issues – according to the notes on their site, there’s no support for secure files (iTunes, MMJB, etc), but they intend on adding that in soon. Also, they don’t plan support for mp3Pro ripping, from what I believe to be a “format bigot” stance. Here’s what they have to say about it in a thread on their forums.
Some summary stuff:
- Winamp’s speed is better than the others
- MMJB’s tagging is far superior to the others by far. Their store is “OK”.
- iTunes integrated store is the best, and their library is great.
- Winamp’s library is (for my uses anyway) the best of the lot.
- Give me MP3Pro & the tagging stuff in Winamp 5, and I could probably uninstall MMJB and go with Winamp 5 exclusively.
Winamp is back – rejoice!