The End of ‘Winamp?’

For better or worse, technology is ever changing.  Most of the time I hold on to a good stable program for as long as I can, avoiding updates with an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.  But sometimes you find a product that you trust–or one that annoys the heck out of you until you fold.

For over ten years, Winamp has been my choice for playing music.  It’s one of the few programs I’m eager to update, mostly because of the annoying pop-ups on first start.  Late December I noticed Winamp’s latest cry for help created crash-worthy script errors until I completed said update.  To avoid that mess, I decided to give it a go.  To my shock, the download page suggested that, after 15 years of service, Winamp was being discontinued.

Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date. See release notes for latest improvements to this last release.
Thanks for supporting the Winamp community for over 15 years.

The above disclaimer isn’t entirely accurate.  The big “FREE DOWNLOAD” button is seemingly devoid of Javascript functionality, but if you scroll down you can still download the “Lite” version (4 MB).  The Lite version, however, does trigger a McAfee pop-up regarding a warning risk (phishing or other scams).  If you do some further hacking, you should be able to find a few previous versions easily, but use these at your own risk, of course:

5.61 — http://download.nullsoft.com/winamp/client/winamp561_full_emusic-7plus_en-us.exe
5.62 — http://download.nullsoft.com/winamp/client/winamp562_full_emusic-7plus_en-us.exe
5.63 — http://download.nullsoft.com/winamp/client/winamp563_full_emusic-7plus_en-us.exe
5.64 — http://download.nullsoft.com/winamp/client/winamp564_full_emusic-7plus_en-us.exe
5.65 — http://download.nullsoft.com/winamp/client/winamp565_full_emusic-7plus_en-us.exe

I’m sure someone more tech savvy (or someone using an advanced Google search) might be able to find other archived versions.  But how, or why, is Winamp done?

Winamp began in 1997 under Nullsoft, which was bought by AOL in 1999.  The buyout led to SHOUTcast’s popularity, and all the other fun Winamp radio stuff, while the Nullsoft llama ran supreme.  15 years later, and Winamp will now become property of Radionomy.com, “an international aggregator of online radio stations headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.”

As of right now, no one really knows the full extent of what Radionomy will do.  But while we can still use and download versions of Winamp, I thought it would be fun to go over two great uses of Winamp aside from using it as a music player or digital radio streamer, or two great reasons as to why Winamp is all I used over the last decade plus over other programs, such as the bulky Windows Media Player.

#1) Meta Tags
One of the coolest features of Winamp is the ability to edit song meta tags, the things that show up on your MP3 player like Song Title, Artist, etc.  For anyone who makes music, or has to deal with mislabeled ripped music via, oh I don’t know, Windows Media Player, the Meta Tag editor in Winamp is a valuable tool.

How do you get there?  Just right click on a song in the playlist panel, and choose “Edit metadata for selection…”  A great tool for music enthusiasts and quick fixes.

#2) WAV Output
The second coolest feature of Winamp is the ability to take any playable song and convert it to .WAV format.  This process is more tricky than Meta Tag editing, and you have to be careful of certain things, like turning off “loop” functionality (endless WAV output here I come), and, perhaps more importantly, you need to remember to change “output” back to “input” when you’re done, or else you’ll create a .WAV every time you try to start up a new song.

The first step is to find the menu, which should be in the top corner but might change depending on your Winamp skin.  After that, hover over “Options,” and then slide right and click on “Preferences.”

When you click on Preferences you’ll get a new menu which has a ton of options to look at.  What you’ll want to do is scroll all the way down and look for “Plug-ins.”

Write down or remember the current selection on the right. You’ll want to change the selection to “Nullsoft Disk Writer,” then select “Configure.” Make sure you check out the Output File directory, and I would suggest putting a check mark on “Output to directory containing source files.” This option makes it so you will get your .WAV copy in the same folder as the original audio file, which is quite handy.

Hit “Ok,” hit “Close,” then play a song as normal. The song should act as if it’s playing but there won’t be any sound. Instead, it’ll generate a .WAV file. Next, go back to Plug-Ins via the menu, and change the Plug-In back to what it was, such as “Nullsoft DirectSound Output.”

Why are .WAVs useful? Mostly for file conversion reasons. It’s a good, base audio file which can easily be converted to other types. Enjoy the .WAV!

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