from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Logo Winamp
Basic data

developer Nullsoft (1997–1999)
AOL (1999–2013)
Radionomy SA (2014–)
Publishing year April 21, 1997
Current  version 5,666 (5,666,3516)
(December 12, 2013)
Current preliminary version 5.8 Build 3660 Beta
(October 19, 2018)
operating system Microsoft Windows
programming language C ++ , C
category Audio player
License Proprietary
German speaking Yes
Former logo, until 2013

Winamp [ ˈwɪnæmp ] is a media player available for various operating systems from the Belgian company Radionomy SA


Winamp can use MP1 , MP2 , MP3 , MP4 , ( Ogg ) Vorbis , AAC , MIDI , MOD (and many derivatives), MPC (via plug-in), WAV , WMA , WMV - (since version 5.12 also with DRM ), FLAC and NSV files. With input plug-ins, the list of supported file formats can be expanded almost at will. Winamp can also be customized in its appearance using so-called skins . Additional functions can be added to Winamp using additional plug-ins, e.g. B. enhancements to the user interface or encoding and converting to other file formats.

As a special feature, Winamp supports an automatic volume adjustment during playback ( replay gain ).

In addition, modules can be integrated for audio visualization , which receive music or sounds as input and generate “matching”, mostly very abstract images using complex algorithms . At least one can "see" the rhythm of the music with it.

Another function is the media library, with the help of which you can manage all locally stored media files and create your own compilations. In the Media Library Audio CDs can be copied to the computer and burned, as well as music and playlists can (so-called Playlists ) with portable music players, such are exchanged smartphones.

Winamp has supported Unicode since version 5.3 and thus catches up with alternatives such as AIMP , foobar2000 or XMPlay . Winamp's media library has also fully supported the Unicode format since version 5.33.

Winamp runs under Microsoft Windows version 2000 or higher. The last version that ran under Windows 98 / Me / NT4 was 5.35.


Winamp was released as shareware in May 1997 . Winamp was programmed by Justin Frankel , Dmitry Boldyrev and Gianluca Rubinacci, who founded the company Nullsoft to market and secure the rights .

In April 1999, Winamp was translated into German from the MP3 information site, initially from version 2.10 in the form of a retrofittable language file. From version 2.72 the program appeared as a complete package in German. It was the official German version that was authorized by Nullsoft. The last official fully German version was 2.91c.

On June 1, 1999, Nullsoft was acquired by AOL for around $ 100 million. A few months later, Winamp became freeware with version 2.50. The support of the program by AOL is considered to have failed. A manager of the company at the time said in retrospect that around 2000 Winamp had the potential to achieve the position in the music market that iTunes later achieved.

After the flop of the third Winamp version, version 5 was released in December 2003, which, according to the manufacturer, represents "the best of 2 + 3 = 5" and should be based on the familiar. Previously, version 2 was also further developed in parallel to version 3, so that, for example, version 2.9 only appeared after version 3.0, which is also due to a lack of user acceptance of the third version.

Even after the release of Winamp 5, many users continued to use version 2 of the program, as this should have significantly lower resource consumption; However, Winamp 5 achieves almost the same values with the Classic Skin in terms of memory and CPU utilization. The Modern Skins, on the other hand, offered a variety of different designs and could be downloaded free of charge from the Winamp website.

On January 27, 2004, Frankel left Nullsoft and AOL. Winamp was still actively developed.

In the last few years, new functions have been added for the optional display of information downloaded from the Internet about the titles being played, links to other online content in the media library and the display of advertising banners. The number of input plug-ins has also been continuously increased, so that Winamp can often play the latest audio formats. Since version 5.5 you can choose the language directly in the program, which was previously only possible with language packages that free programmers wrote themselves.

At the end of November 2013, AOL announced that it would discontinue Winamp on December 20, 2013 and no longer offer it for download from this date. A short time later, Microsoft expressed interest in buying Winamp. Despite the announced date, there was no shutdown of the Winamp services on December 20.

Relaunch after the Radionomy takeover

In January 2014, the acquisition of Winamp by Radionomy , a Belgian web radio platform , became known. In February 2014 the website was relaunched with a fundamentally revised design in HTML5. The draft put online in advance - with a photo of a llama (the original company mascot from Nullsoft) and the words There's more coming soon shows a structure optimized for touchscreen operation.

While a previous member of the Winamp team has been developing a distribution of Winamp 5.666 with new plugins, "WACUP", work on the first official successor version 5.8 continued until October 2018 for legal reasons. On October 19, 2018, Radionomy released version 5.8 as beta. The update to version 5.8 mainly makes minor improvements and fixes. In addition, the paid pro features will be removed: Winamp is now freeware again.

Features in version 5.x

The following versions refer to version 5; earlier versions may not have all of the functions described.

If you look at Winamp without the plug-ins, only a playback program with basic functions (play / pause / stop etc.) and a simple module for editing the playlist are made available. Winamp is only able to play audio CDs or videos with plug-ins, for example . However, many of the most important plug-ins are automatically installed when Winamp is installed.

Media library

The supplied media library, which can be integrated into the main window as standard from version 5.5, is used to manage all playable media, similar to programs such as iTunes. It is also able to check predefined directories and subdirectories regularly or manually for changes. A real-time search is available as well as the “intelligent playlists”, which Winamp calls their own views and which enable a playlist that updates itself (with previously defined criteria). So z. For example, a separate view can be created for audio and video files , but also for "all files that are longer than four minutes and have been added to the library in the last two weeks". It is also possible to rate songs and videos (between one and five stars).

Numerous plug-ins are available for the media library that expand the range of functions.

Stream playback (Internet radio and Internet TV)

Another special feature of Winamp was playing from the earliest versions Shoutcast - streams ( internet radio , not yet offered) than other player programs that function. Today, streaming playback is a standard feature of almost all media players.

Winamp has integrated these functions into the media library. The search for radio streams and TV channels takes place directly in the media library window without having to go to the corresponding websites.


The plug-ins can be divided into nine (originally five, see below) categories. Each plug-in works independently and independently of the others. Because of this independence, Winamp maintains a high level of dynamism. Using the appropriate combination of plug-ins, it is possible, for example, to add echo effects to files in MP3 format , convert them to WAV files and then burn them to a CD-R .

A number of plug-ins are included to meet most needs.

Input plug-ins

The input plug-ins ensure that Winamp can handle a wide variety of file formats. This includes, for example, audio files such as MP3 or WAV, but also video formats such as AVI, WMV or MPEG, even playing music CDs is made possible by the appropriate input plug-in. Various input plug-ins are available on the Internet that also support unusual formats such as SPC , SID or NSF . Input plug-ins are already supplied for many common file formats.

For example, if a WAV file is to be played, the list of registered input plug-ins is checked to see whether one supports the WAV format. If so, Winamp lets this plug-in process this file. The plug-in converts the data saved in the WAV file into audio signals. These signals are not yet output via the sound card, but are initially passed back to Winamp.

DSP / effect plug-ins

The audio signals extracted by the input plug-in are first passed on by Winamp, if switched on, to the equalizer and then to the selected DSP / effect plug-in. These plug-ins change the signals and adapt them to the needs of the user. Here, for example, bass can be amplified or noise can be removed. It is also possible to add reverb effects or lower the quality to that of a telephone .

Usually only one or no DSP / Effects plug-in can be selected at the same time. But there are also plug-ins of this type that do not change the sound themselves, but gradually send the audio information through several selected DSP / effect plug-ins. For Winamp it looks like only one plug-in is selected.

The audio information that has now been changed is then passed on to the active output plug-in.

Output plug-ins

As the name suggests, output plug-ins control the output of the audio data. They are normally used to emit the audio signals and thus make them audible for the user. But it is also possible to redirect the output to a WAV file and thus convert an MP3 into a WAV file, for example. Still other plug-ins allow own radio streams or crossfading to allow two tracks to run into each other, or the simultaneous use of several output plug-ins.

Visualization plug-ins

MilkDrop screenshot (v1.04d); a visualization plug-in from Ryan Geiss

Audiovisualization plug-ins make the music visible and vivid in the truest sense of the word. Abstract, moving graphics are drawn in a window , across the screen, or even as a desktop background . The appearance of these graphics depends on both the selected plug-in and the music. The visualizations change rhythmically with the music, move towards it.

The spectrum of visualization plug-ins is large, starting with the more technical-looking oscilloscope , frequency analysis and simulation of flames up to the imitation of light effects in discos . Some plug-ins such as Nullsoft's Advanced Visualization Studio allow the user to create their own visualization. Plug-ins are also supplied here.

General ( General Purpose ) Plug-ins

In contrast to the extensions mentioned above, general plug-ins do not affect playback, instead they add additional functions to Winamp. For example, using a plug-in it is possible to operate Winamp at any time and with any program from the keyboard. Other plug-ins add media libraries to Winamp, in which pieces of music and videos can be cataloged and organized. Extensions are already supplied for both of the areas of responsibility presented here.

Media library plug-ins (since version 5.22)

The supplied media library is in itself a general purpose plug-in. Since Winamp version 5.22, however, it has also been divided into plug-ins, namely media library plug-ins. These make the media library z. B. local media management, access to online services, creating playlists or reading (ripping) and burning audio CDs. These functions were already available in earlier Winamp versions, but only since version 5.22 has it been possible to uninstall them individually in the form of plug-ins, for example the Rip & Burn plug-in on PCs without CD Burner.

A MusicIP Mix (formerly Predixis MusicMagic ) the company MusicIP for the automatic generation of harmonic software named playlists was removed in Version 5:35 from the installation package, but is available as an optional plug-in ready for integration into Winamp.

Encoder plug-ins (since version 5.0)

Since version 5.0 there are encoder plug-ins for the various file formats in which audio CDs can be stored on the hard drive when they are read . For example, plug-ins for encoding audio CDs in MP3, AAC / aacPlus, Ogg-Vorbis, FLAC and WMA formats are included. With the help of new encoder plug-ins, this list could theoretically be expanded at will. Audio CDs can be saved in uncompressed WAV format without using an encoder plug-in .

Portable media device plug-ins (since version 5.2)

Since version 5.2, Winamp is able to access various portable audio players. Plug-ins are also used for this, the Portable Media Player (PMP) plug-ins. Plug-ins are supplied as standard for devices from Apple's iPod series, for devices from the Creative company and for those that support the Microsoft PlaysForSure standard. Since version 5.3, simple USB flash devices are also supported, such as those on the market as inexpensive MP3 players in the form of USB sticks.

Auto-Tagger (since version 5.5)

Winamp has been equipped with an auto-tagging function since version 5.5 . This means that missing ID3 tag information (names such as title, composer, album, etc.) can be completed via the Internet. The module examines the music file and compares its data with a database on the Internet. This service became available through Gracenote .

Winamp Pro

In addition to the free version of Winamp, there is also a paid Pro version. This enables z. B. copying CD titles in MP3 format as well as faster reading and burning of CDs.

Since version 5.57, decoding of H.264 videos in NSV streams is also supported.

Winamp for Android

There is also a Winamp version for the Android operating system , which was first released on March 10, 2011 in version 1.0. Special features of the mobile version include the synchronization of Winamp and iTunes playlists via WLAN as well as the support of typical Winamp services such as SHOUTcast. Version 1.4.15 of Winamp for Android is currently available (as of March 30, 2015). Winamp is no longer available in the Google Play Store.

Winamp Sync for Mac

At the same time as the release of Winamp 5.622, a beta version of Winamp for Mac OS X was also presented. This is called Winamp Sync for Mac to emphasize that the focus of the application is mainly on synchronization with Winamp for Android and the iTunes library. According to the manufacturer's product description , Winamp Sync for Mac does not yet claim to oust iTunes as a desktop media player under Mac OS X , although its own complete Winamp media library and playback functions are integrated.

However, the manufacturer's blog points out that Winamp Sync for Mac is only the first step in Mac activities and is intended to pave the way for future product developments under Mac OS X.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. News entry of 25 October 2006 on the official FLAC website November 1, 2006
  2. Janko Röttgers : Nullsoft in future without Winamp inventor Justin Frankel., June 3, 2003, accessed on March 10, 2020 .
  3. Gregor Lawatscheck: Winamp 2.50 is now freeware., August 26, 1999, accessed April 3, 2009 .
  4. Ars Technica: Winamp's woes: how the greatest MP3 player undid itself , June 24, 2012
  5. Winamp inventor Justin Frankel leaves AOL
  6. Heise Online: Winamp media player is at the end. November 21, 2013, accessed November 21, 2013 .
  7. Heise Online: A new life for Winamp - at Microsoft? November 22, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013 .
  8. GameStar: The End of Winamp & Shoutcast - "Obviously something is happening". November 20, 2013, accessed November 22, 2013 .
  9. TechCrunch: AOL Sells Winamp And Shoutcast For $ 5-10M To Radionomy, Takes 12% Stake In Belgian Digital Audio Startup. January 14, 2014, accessed January 16, 2014 .
  10. Winamp News 29th January 2014, 12:51 pm. January 29, 2014, accessed February 1, 2014 .
  11. WACUP (Winamp Community Update Pack). Retrieved April 21, 2017 .
  12. Eddy Richman: Information on Winamp 5.8. January 5, 2017, accessed on April 21, 2017 : "If it were up to me, a Winamp 5.8 public beta would've been out months ago :)"
  13. Winamp 5.8 Beta, Build 3660 (official). In: Winamp & SHOUTcast Forums. October 19, 2018, accessed October 21, 2018 .
  14. heise online: Winamp 5.8 is here: First update for five years. October 19, 2018, accessed October 21, 2018 .
  15. Winamp. Retrieved on October 21, 2018 (English): “A leaked version of Winamp 5.8 recently spread over the Internet. Consequently, we have decided to make this new version available to you, revised by us. "
  16. Winamp No Longer Includes MusicIp Mixer ?, Version 5.35 of Winamp caused a loss of the mixer ( Memento of the original from August 31, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  17. Download the MusicIP plug-in ( memento of the original from June 2, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  18. Comparison of the different Winamp variants ( Memento from January 12, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  19. ( Memento from April 15, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  20. ( Memento from February 27, 2014 in the Internet Archive )