In which I pimp foobar2000

Well, if I’ve been going through music burnout as I mention in my previous post, at least it’s been mitigated by the fact that my recent spike in interest in computer nerditude has led me to upgrade my playback software to foobar2000 v0.9 (from v0.7 — it’s been a while since I upgraded). This is really the ultimate music playing software for the slightly geeky crowd. It’s practically infinitely customizable, though since it comes with a totally bare-bones, ugly interface, it’s not really for the casual computer user, and won’t be fully appreciated except by those who really want to take the time to customize their music software.

Aside from the customizable user interface, foobar also has amazing batch tagging capabilities, native support for a wide array of popular audio formats, including OGG and FLAC, powerful organizational possibilities through an album database function, ReplayGain support to deal with albums of widely different mastering levels, and the fact that it’s stable, bug-free, and will run breezily on systems that bloated pieces of shit like RealPlayer, iTunes, Windows Media Player and some versions of WinAmp would slow to a crawl.

Below is what I’ve done with my foobar (I cheated and stole someone else’s basic config, then built around it); you can click the thumb for a full-size version. I usually have it taking up most of the real estate on my secondary display:

For those interested, check out the foobar2000 official website for a download of the stable 0.9 build (if the TAGZ scripting language scares you off, you can always do what I did and steal someone else’s config from forum threads like this or this), read the extremely active and helpful official forums for hints on how to customize the look and feel, and download what I think are the most essential plugins for the latest version (one of the examples of how unfriendly foobar is to unsuspecting non-geeks is that new versions are almost never backwards compatible with plugins written for older versions):

  • foo_ui_columns Columns User Interface — the one single plugin you need to make foobar actually start looking good; an absolute must.
  • foo_uie_albumart Album Art — displays the cover artwork for the currently playing album in a Columns UI sidebar. Requires a bit of work to get all the cover scans you need, but it’s well worth it and you can use software like the Album Art Aggregator to make the process easier. (See the upper left of my screenshot above.)
  • foo_uie_albumlist Album List Panel — Adds the powerful database-driven album list functionality (allowing searching and sorting by artist, album, genre, directory structure, and more) to a sidebar panel using Columns UI. (See the lower left of my screenshot above.)
  • foo_infobox File Info Box — Adds essential tag-editing functionality, especially for torrented files.
  • foo_input_shorten SHN decoder — adds support for the mildly popular Shorten lossless format. Mostly for folks interested in live recordings and torrents.
  • foo_playcount Playback Statistics — tracks how many times you’ve played a song. Inessential but fun.

Between foobar, the Exact Audio Copy CD ripping program, and the LAME MP3 encoder, I have everything I need to encode my entire music collection to convenient electronic files — and all these software packages are completely free. I now have my computer hooked into my amp and bookshelf speakers instead of using crappy computer speakers, so this is pretty much how I listen to all my music at home these days.

Ok, here ends my plug. I’ve been having fun playing with foobar for a couple days now; hopefully soon my excitement for the music itself will get back up to its normal levels!

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