Foobar Music Player Software: A Review

By Daniel McAdam.

I'm very careful about adding programs - or apps - to my PC, or to my phone. One reason for this is that I like to think of myself as a minimalist. A second reason is that, all things being equal, fewer programs equals better performance. And the third reason is that I am wary of everything; I don't need a computer virus, or malware, or adware, or whatever-else-badware criminals can dream up. I'm especially wary of "free" downloads, because very few "free" downloads have ever worked out for me. One that has, and one that I would be loathe to part with, is Foobar, aka foobar2000.


What Does Foobar Do, And Why Would I Need It?

Simply put, Foobar plays music on your computer or on your phone. You are about to say that you already have programs that do that; I know that. So do I. In point of fact, on my current PC, I have three programs that play music in addition to Foobar: iTunes, Groove Music, and Windows Media Player. Compared to Foobar, all three are awful. Why? Here's the very quick answer:

Microsoft's Groove Music - I even hate the name - has one purpose in life, and that is to sell you something. Playing music is just a side issue. It can't even organize music properly; last time I tried it, the program could not even sort music by genre. It's worthless.

iTunes would also like to sell you something, but it's more subtle about it than Groove Music. There are continual updates, none of which appear to have any real purpose other than to waste one's time updating iTunes. And iTunes cannot play FLAC files, presumably because it petulantly does not want to. (Visit our FLAC, ALAC, and Other Digital Recorded Music Formats page for more information on FLAC files.)

Windows Media Player is outdated and clunky, and apparently even Microsoft believes so; you have to hunt for it in Windows 10, and it is not the company's preferred default music player.

All three programs above are more resource-intensive than Foobar. That alone should make you want to try the program. But Foobar is much more than a slimmer version of the above music players.


Principal Features

My number one priority for a music player is that it play lossless FLAC files, of which I have a very large number. Foobar does. According to the Foobar website, supported audio formats include, "MP3, MP4, AAC, CD Audio, WMA, Vorbis, Opus, FLAC, WavPack, WAV, AIFF, Musepack, Speex, AU, SND," and more with additional components. That's pretty comprehensive.

Foobar supports gapless playback.

Foobar has a customizable layout.

Foobar has a very important feature for those who care about how their music sounds; you, the user, can go into the program's Replay Gain setting and set the processing to apply gain and and prevent clipping according to peak. Rather than get into a technical discussion here of precisely what this means, I will simply state that this allows you to optimize your listening experience, and that recordings sound significantly better when played through Foobar than when played through other music playback programs.

Foobar is non-intrusive. I often listen to music through headphones when I am working on other things on my computer. The visual component of Foobar just disappears into my hidden icons folder, and allows me to concentrate.


Where To Get Foobar

In summary, Foobar is highly recommended, especially for audiophiles. I noted that Foobar is free - it is, and the program does not pester you for a donation - but after you've tried it and are sure you like it, you might want to make a donation, so please consider that.

To get started, all you need to do is to pay a quick visit to the Foobar download site.





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