Head to Head: XMPlay vs Winamp

xm.jpgWinamp and XMPlay are two solid audio players that, while in appearance are very similar, serve different purposes. We’ve decided to pit the two applications in a little face-off to see how they compare in a number of features like appearance, playback, managing media and extra tools.

Let’s start with the installation process. XMPlay beats Winamp hands downs here simply because it doesn’t need any installing. Once you’ve unzipped the application it’s on your PC. For that reason you can perfectly carry it around on a USB stick and install it on any PC you use. However, do keep in mind that Winamp does also install very quickly.

While the two applications have similar, multi windowed interface, Winamp might have the edge in appearance. The program is slightly more polished and all the windows can be dragged together. Also, while both programs can be customized, it seems Winamp has much more skins to offer, and these can also be tweaked by adjusting alpha blending or color themes. The XMPlay window is a bit smaller and less polished and doesn’t let you modify skins.

How do these two apps fare in playback? Both of them can handle all the big audio formats. In XMPlay we liked how the graphic equalizer is immediately accessible as a pane on the left side of the main window. By right clicking on it you can choose environments like dance, jazz or movie. In Winamp, the equalizer is just a click away and can load your presets quickly.

XMPlay’s interface is very easy to use and although it certainly has much fewer options than Winamp, the simplicity of the application should attract basic users. For one, all the essential information like play time is well presented in the main window. The controls are right underneath and there’s a little cursor you can drag to move in a track. Double click on the main window to turn into a very discreet mini player. Winamp has some more features, like the oscillating equalizer graph and a button to toggle playlist shuffle. Also, it allows you to rip and burn CDs and encode in AAC, options not available in XMPlay.

win.jpgWinamp definitely beats XMPlay as a media manager. It’s really easy to drag and drop new tracks and select them by most played, recently added, listen to radios in SHOUTcast or use Winamp’s online services. In comparison, XMPlay shows a basic list of the tracks you have added. Winamp is also excellent at handling playlists. Once again, you can drag the tracks you’ve selected and save your playlist in seconds. In XMPlay you have to click the plus and minus signs to add or remove tracks, but we recommend the search tools, which finds as you type.

These two apps are both excellent audio players with good music quality. XMPlay is probably the best lightweight player around and has all the necessary features like playlist creator, equalizer and library. Winamp is more advanced and has a multitude of links to its online services like streaming radio, videos or even games and can even serve to rip and burn CDs. Both audio players are highly customizable thanks to a large collection of skins and adjustable windows. If you want a player you can carry around, set up XMPlay. If you’re looking for the most advanced player on the market Winamp will be your choice.

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