Choosing a media player – a music player, to be precise – for a Mac is a no brainer. iTunes is the crowd favorite and has the chops to entertain both an audiophile and the casual listener. Despite becoming bloated and unduly heavy over the years, iTunes is more or less the default audio player for the Mac ecosystem. Even folks who are die hard Windows users and those who don’t own an iOS device also are fans of iTunes.
But as I just alluded to, iTunes is a tad bulky and lacks the advanced features of a full fledged media player. The choice of full blown music players for Mac are pretty thin when compared to any other vertical. Winamp hardly needs an introduction. For more than a decade, it ruled the roost as the popular media player for Windows.
Winamp for Mac is a free download and promises to offer the same powerful featureset it is known for. Is it awesome enough to replace iTunes? Read on to find out!
A splash screen with a soundbite, hailing the lama makes for a dramatic intro. The annoying voiceover plays only on first launch, so you can breathe easy. Still, in an era when even website banner ads have started to mute music in autoplay mode, this is a bit ridiculous. Right off the bat, Winamp offers to import content from your iTunes app or the music library from your hard disk. If you choose either one (or both) of the choices, the app will also dutifully monitor those folders and keep your music collection updated, making changes when new files are added.
Winamp doesn’t look anything like iTunes. The dark color scheme and minimalistic design are refreshingly cool. Though the app did offer an easy way to import playlists and files at first launch, you can do it later from the Preferences screen. I would have preferred to have the option somewhere easily accessible, either in the menu or the GUI. Apart from these import options you can add albums and tracks by using the Add to Library option.
Ease of Use
Winamp did find tracks real quick and imported them all in a few seconds. A lot of attention is paid to metadata and each one gets its own column too. You can arrange tracks based on any one those. The search box at the top is fairly useful and results show up as soon as you start typing.
Sadly, Winamp is anaemic when it comes to features. The playback was great, but besides being able to shuffle or repeat the tracks, there is hardly anything that you can do. There isn’t even the option to change the preset equalizer modes, let alone an option to create a custom one. You can create, edit and update playlists, but there is nothing ground breaking to report here.
For Android mobile users, Winamp offers a simple way to sync their entire music collection without much of a hassle, over wifi nonetheless. The feature works like a charm, but you will have to have the Winamp for Android version (available for free).
Like every other legendary product out there, Winamp has recently started to make itself available for the modern and most happening platforms: Mac and Android. I’ve used Winamp over the years and was enamored by the simple user interface and powerful feature set that could set both a tiny headset and a home theater on fire. Sadly, I started using the Windows Media Player – which has gotten better over the years – to save precious hard disk space.
Personally, I prefer not to replace a stock app that’s bundled with the operating system unless it’s totally useless or a web app version of something similar is available. Without a doubt, Winamp for Mac is nowhere near an iTunes replacement and doesn’t even match the features of its Windows counterpart.
It’s disheartening too see that plugins and skins that are a rage among Windows users are not available yet. And whatever happened to the Shoutcast radio, that lets everyone listen to songs streaming over the Internet for free?
Since this a beta release with a version number of 0.7.2, it’s only reasonable allow them sometime before the features start showing up. So, if you are bored with the iTunes interface or looking for a compelling alternative that doesn’t swamp you with too many features, have a look at Winamp.