Winamp add-ins

A couple of weeks ago I suggested that you download the fantastic Winamp 5 (www.winamp.com) as a possible alternative to Windows Media Player which is a program, although perfectly capable and indeed free, could do with some enhancing.For those of your with your heads thoroughly in the sand I should state that the core function of both the programs listed above is to allow you to play media (audio/visual) files on your PC.

What I didn’t realise until a reader Ian McMillan pointed it out to me was quite how many skins were available to customise the program to suit your particular taste.On further inspection I found a vast collection of visualisations and plug-ins which could be downloaded to further enhance this great little program and I thought it would be nice to spend this week introducing some of what is available.

Skins:

Skins are available to completely alter the look of the program; you can make it so that the player looks like an conventional Hi-Fi, an Apple iPod or even just to customise graphics of the player to reflect your favourite band.Essentially nothing is changed with the player as all of it is pretty much skin deep but those of you who like to customise everything they use should find this feature helpful.

Visualisations:

Again, no features as such as added to the player by the addition of visualisations but they do look cool.Sometimes when you like to unwind it is nice to start one of your favourite songs playing and then load up one of the Winamp visualisations so that you can actually see the graphics change with the music that you are listening to.For example, load up the ‘geiss’ visualisation, switch to full screen mode, put on a song and the visualisation will project psychedelic colourful patterns that change in time with the music.

Plug-ins

This is where things start to get a little bit interesting as you can download little programs called ‘plug-ins’ and integrate them into Winamp.At first I assumed that the range was extremely limited but ultimately I was surprised to find the lengths some people had gone to in order to add something to Winamp; most of these programmers are just members of the public doing everything off their own back for no financial reward which makes it even more impressive.Amongst my favourites that I found this evening include a program that ‘listens’ to your music collection to decide what type of music each song is that then arranges them into a little mix where each song follows on nicely from the one that immediately preceded it.There were a few plug-ins to allow you to manually mix MP3’s together much in the same way that a DJ would with two vinyl’s and of course there were a hundred and one plug-ins that allowed you to change the sound of the music as to speed up the tempo, increase the pitch, add additional base, make a standard MP3 into a surround sound MP3 and so on.The list is pretty extensive with plug-ins going as far as to allow you to control your PC’s TV tuner, play new music formats and even to play a few games from within Winamp.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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