Foobar2000 is an advanced music player that sports a very minimalistic look and can manage features TNT size – at the same time. Developed for Windows by Peter Pawlowski, a former freelance contractor for Nullsoft the company that makes WinAmp, Foobar2000 is totally the player of dreams for anyone who needs power, control and speed at the same time in the same player.
However, just after installation, you’ll notice the GUI is very simple, in fact, it’s the most simplest. It’s just grey. That’s all. Then how is it powerful? That’s what you’ll find out in this post.
Although Foobar2000’s base is closed source, it’s development kit, the SDK, is licensed under the BSD license. So there’s a plethora of plugins and modules that can enhance the player’s functionality. Moreover, a lot of advanced features are actually hidden under its hood, that we will tell you about today.
Settings and Configurations
There are several changes you can make to the default installation to make Foobar more happening and useful. Let us check out what they are. Below are some components that we recommend.
1. Add all your media files to the library (and keep them in sync): Just like any other player, you can import all your library into Foobar. The folders that you wish to add will be synchronized and any deletion/addition of music from those folders will instantaneously reflect in your Foobar library.
- Click Library â†’ Configure. In the dialog box that opens, click on Media Library’ in the sidebar.
- Click on Add to add the folders you wish to monitor. Once added, Foobar will import all music files present in those folders and also monitor them for any changes.
2. Associate File Types: Foobar supports a large list of file formats. To select Foobar’s association with different formats, follow these steps.
- Click Library â†’ Configure. In the dialog box that opens, click on File Types’ in the sidebar.
- Select for which formats you wish to make Foobar the default music player.
3. Configure Keyboard Shortcuts: Keyboard shortcuts play a very important role for any music player. And Foobar does a very good job of handling them. You can create and edit keyboard shortcuts in Foobar, it’s just so easy.
- Click Library â†’ Configure. In the dialog box that opens, click on General’ and then Keyboard Shortcuts’ in the sidebar.
- Click the Add Newbutton. Select an action in the Action’ column. Use the Filter box to quickly browse through the actions you require, example: next, play pause, volume up/down.
- Go to the Key’ box and type in the keyboard key you wish to make the shortcut for the specified action. It can be a combination of keys. Also, if you wish to make it a Global Hotkey, click the corresponding checkbox. Making it a Global Hotkey will let you use the shortcuts even when Foobar is not selected, or you are using another application!
4. Make the cursor follow playback: When songs are being played in a playlist, by default, the song selection does not automatically shift when a new track plays after another. It means, the window will not automatically scroll up or down as per the track’s location. To fix this:
- Click on Playback’ and select Playback follows cursor’ and Cursor follows playback’
5. Set the order of playback: You won’t see the usual Random’ or Shuffle’ button here in Foobar. It is, in fact, just a click away under a submenu.
- Click on Playback’ â†’ Order. Select the order of playback you want from the options given. Ample options, eh?
6. Minimize to Notification area and Balloon Tooltip: You can minimize Foobar to the Notification area with a single config edit. Enabling balloon tooltips also needs just a click.
- Click Library â†’ Configure. Select Display â†’ Default User Interface. Under the System Notification Area’ column, select Always show notification area icon’, Minimize to notification area’ and Show balloon tooltip on song change’. Of course, you may select the options you desire and not necessarily these.
7. Installing themes: Foobar also supports GUI customization and theming. There are several themes available on the internet, most popularly on DeviantArt. Each theme has its own installation instructions and many themes also require certain modules to be installed. More on modules later. Anyhow, to install a theme:
- Click Library â†’ Configure. Select Display â†’ Default User Interface. Under Theme Management’, click on Import theme’. Select the theme file you’d downloaded from DeviantArt or any other place.
Components and Modules
Functionality can be added to the player by using several components or modules that are available. A bunch of them have been developed and supported by the developer, rest are community developed.
The Fooblog has an interesting read on useful components. You should definitely check it out. Fooblog notes:
Installation of components couldn’t be simpler, once downloaded browse to your foobar2000 application directory, typically:
From here enter the componentsdirectory, making sure that fb2k is closed, paste the newly downloaded component .dll file here. Close the folder and open up fb2k again to check the component has installed go to File > Preferences (CTRL+P) > Component. This page lists all the installed plugins, their titles and their version numbers. Double clicking the component will bring up some basic information about it, for instance its purpose and the author.
Each component will have a different method of configuration but ultimately these options will appear in the preferences panel under the associated section, e.g. Display, Tools, Library, etc.
1. Enable Last.fm Scrobbling
- Download Audioscrobbler (foo_audioscrobbler.dll)
- Save the file in [InstallationDrive]:\Program Files\foobar2000\components
- Restart Foobar2000
- Go to Library â†’ Configure â†’ Tools â†’ Audioscrobbler and set the settings. You’re done.
2. Decoding support for Apple Lossless Audio Codec files (.M4A)
- Download foo_input_alac.zip
- Extract the file and paste the dll file in it to the components folder as mentioned previously.
- Restart Foobar2000
3. Customize Columns. Make Layout iTunes Like
This module makes it very easy to customize the layout of your Foobar2000 player. You can customize where what is displayed. Different modes are already available for you to choose to select the layout.
- Download Columns_UI
- Extract the dll and file and paste it in the components folder
- Restart Foobar. You’ll be asked which UI you want to choose. Select Columns_UI
- From the Quick Setup window that appears next, select the layout you prefer.
4. iPod Manager
iPod management component which allows you to manage most Apple iPod models without the use of iTunes. Features include:
- Artwork support
- ReplayGain to SoundCheck conversion
- Gapless playback support
- Conversion/transcoding of unsupported audio formats
- Smart playlist creation
Extract the downloaded archive – using suitable compression software, such as 7-Zip – to the components sub-directory of your foobar2000 directory. Additional requirements/steps and Download here.
5. Add ASIO output support
Useful for rare/obscure soundcards that provide ASIO drivers but no regular Windows audio drivers, as well as for bit-exact output on any soundcards that provide ASIO drivers.
- Install the ASIO component from the foobar2000 official components site.
- Configure it – Preferences / Playback / Output / ASIO Virtual Devices. This step is necessary because there’s no automatic way to detect which ASIO device channel corresponds to which speaker; additionally, multiple identical soundcards present in your system are presented as different ASIO channel groups provided by one driver rather than different drivers.
- Set your output device to one of configured ASIO devices.
6. Audio CD Burning Support
This module allows you to burn audio CDs from any of supported audio formats, through context menu commands. No longer requires Nero to be installed.
Download dll file and place it in your components folder.
7. Displays your media library in multiple list views.
Facets is a flexible media library viewer for foobar2000, based on linked lists. It provides a very sleek and modern looking playlist view that you must be familiar with while using other players like iTunes, Songbird etc.
8. Pause Playback when session is locked
This module adds the menu command “Pause On Lock” which will automatically pause playback when the desktop is locked or when a Fast User Switch occurs, then resume when the desktop session is restored.
9. View Playback Statistics
This module collects playback statistics for your Media Library content. Statistics can be displayed in the Properties dialog or using %first_played%, %last_played%, %played_per_day%, %play_count%, %added% and %rating% in the Playlist view of the Default User Interface under the Library â†’ Configure.
10. Quickly Tag Music with Quick Tagger
Quick Tagger adds customizable context menu commands for quickly setting tag fields to preconfigured values (for rating and such). Can be used to bind keyboard shortcuts to simple tag modifications.
The configuration for the Quick Tagger can be found in the foobar2000 preferences on the Tools > Tagging > Quick Tagger page. For example, it can be used to write a rating tag to files. Click the Add New button to add a new preset, and change the name to “Rating” (without the quotation marks) and press Enter. Then press F2 or click on the values column and change the text to “1; 2; 3; 4; 5″. This will create a new submenu in the context menu at Tagging / Quick Tagger. The new commands can be invoked directly through the context menu, or they can be bound to keyboard shortcuts as usual. [by foosion]
Adding Quick Tags Values:
Now setting up keyboard shortcuts for the values:
11. Install Equalizer Presets: Foobar2000 has a built in Equalizer, but there are no presets for you to choose. But we can download some and load them as we need.
- Download Equalizer Presets (Second option, under the Download heading)
- Extract the zip package and put the preset files somewhere you can find them later.
- Restart Foobar2000. Go to View â†’ Equalizer. Check Equalizer Enabled’ and click the Load’ button. Select any one preset you downloaded previously.
12. Channel Mixer
This module lets you make certain changes to the way sound output is done. Like:
* – (up|down)mix (to|from) 1-6 channels
* – redirect bass to subwoofer channel (6-channels output mode only)
* – delay rear channels by 1-40 ms (4 or 6-channels output mode only)
* – surround sound effect (2->4 or 2->6 mode only)
* – changing virtual width of a stereoimage
13. Grab Song Lyrics and Update the song’s lyric metadata:
This component, once installed, let’s you download lyrics for one, or any number of songs selected from the LyricWiki or LyricPlugin Database.
Select one or multiple songs, right click, select Lyric Grabber and click on one of the two sources:
Once it searches for lyrics, you click the Update File button, and then the lyrics will be stored in the music file as a ID3 tag.
To know more about ID3 tags, click here.
Foobar2000 is a minimalistic yet powerful media player. It’s got a wealth of customization options. A good deal of developers can be found at HydrogenAudio Forums where you can also get support for the application. A list of ALL components can also be found here.
Even though, it lacks some features such as Video playback, it does Audio playback nicely and is well, very snappy at what it does. Whatever number of components you load into it and whatever functionality you add, it still takes no more than a second to start up.
With a totally customized version, a number of components installed and monitoring a music library of 30Gb, Foobar on my machine does not take any more than 14Mb of RAM at a time.
Isn’t that great? Download Your Own Foobar2000 Today!
PS: I call it the player of geeks! :P