Foobar2000

toggle-button

Foobar2000

A very technical, serious and obedient music player

4

Our rating: 

4

Pros & Cons:

Extremely customizable interface, native Windows appearance (consistent, fast and predictable), many extra components and a forum at the official site, typical library capabilities, includes all necessary tools for building and maintaining a collection in detail.
Not very flashy design, no mini player, somewhat steep learning curve and requires moderate to advanced computing skill.

Our Review:

Foobar2000 is a bit of a special case: if you're an average Joe or Julie with no particular skills in handling computers, Foobar will seem rather bland. Its features will appear to be very simple and perhaps limited or lacking imagination and style.

However, the story becomes very different if you're an advanced user with perhaps some skill in programming or otherwise "understanding" computers. If you're looking for a very technical, serious, obedient and not-dumbed-down music player and are not afraid of spending some time on setting everything up, then you will love Foobar. Its features include:

  • small memory, disk and CPU footprint leading to very fast startup and reaction times;
  • completely customizable interface (a panels system that you can rearrange as desired, custom colors and fonts, etc);
  • easily created and instantly updated library;
  • direct access to everything about every file (direct access to metadata tags in particular, even offering things such as stable batch manipulation of over 8000 files at once and automagic copying);
  • built-in converter based on commandline encoders, just as customizable as everything else;
  • and a plugin system on par with Firefox's.

The most powerful feature of Foobar comes by its own name: Title Formatting and the accompanying Query Syntax (think SQL queries). Basically, if you can think of something and you can turn it into a programming string, Foobar can do it for you.

Title Formatting is a scripting language centered around functions, return values and variables. Functions include maths, string and date manipulation, raw and semi-processed tag handling and control logic (if, then, else). You can specify the display value of each and every piece of the interface (and create new columns/fields as desired) by writing a simple programming string containing any of the functions mentioned. Processing tag fields is independent of the filetype and tag protocol (ID3, VorbisComment, etc), meaning you can write TF strings as if all your files were of the same type and format.

A very short and simple example of TF would be a string that displays a track's Composer or its Main Artist if the former is not specified: $if2(%composer%,[$meta_sep(artist,', ')]). Now take this example, and know that you can use similarly simple coding to have Foobar automatically:

  • create folder structures and move + rename the files accordingly;
  • display any tag or combination of tags as desired;
  • render a treeview of your collection where the branching logic is under your control;
  • list specific tracks as if you were querying a database, either on-the-fly in the query box or persistently in autoplaylists;
  • write scripts (for plugins such as Masstagger) that can automatically parse, clean and reform thousands of tags at once;
  • etc. Your imagination is the limit.

create folder structures and move + rename the files accordingly; display any tag or combination of tags as desired; render a treeview of your collection where the branching logic is under your control; list specific tracks as if you were querying a database, either on-the-fly in the query box or persistently in auto playlists; write scripts (for plugins such as Masstagger) that can automatically parse, clean and reform thousands of tags at once; etc. Your imagination is the limit.

Being a programmer and having a very serious attitude toward file handling and such, Foobar is the best music manager and player (if not software in general) I've ever used. Not only have I learned a great deal about the technical aspect of music and tag protocols, but I've also been able to make Foobar automatically do what would take me days of manual work in other players (MediaMonkey, Winamp, etc) to make my music march at the pace of my own, very strict tag rules, folder structure and display wishes. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who considers himself or herself a power user.


Foobar2000 was reviewed by on