Plex’ new Winamp-inspired music player for your desktop is pretty, but needs work

Plex’ new Winamp-inspired music player for your desktop is pretty, but needs work

If you’re one of those old-school desktop users who still have a library of MP3s and FLAC music files kicking around on your hard drive or media server (welcome to the club!), you’ll be happy to know that the folks behind Plex have just released Plexamp, a free music player for macOS and Windows.

Inspired in spirit by Winamp and built on Electron using the open-source Music Player Daemon, Plexamp features a modern interface and pulls in music that’s indexed in your Plex server (which could be the lone laptop you use, a refurbished spare desktop, or a NAS-equipped server configured for the task).

You can use Plexamp offline, or remote control other Plex players when you’re connected to your network. Additionally, it supports a range of music formats, including lossless ones like FLAC. The interface features a fairly small player with four different sizes, including one that hides the app entirely.

Instead of letting you browse your extensive music collection, Plexamp is built around a ‘discovery’ framework – it’ll show you recently added and played albums, and playlists you’ve updated. You can search through your catalog, but don’t expect to see a grid of every album you’ve indexed in Plex.

That makes it a little less than ideal for people who want to casually scan through all their music like I do – but it does make for a more streamlined experience if you know what you’re looking for. There are also a few nice touches like gapless playback, automatic soft transitions between songs, and a UI that adapts to the colors present in the album art of whatever you’re listening to.

The sparse interface design will likely appeal to minimalists: buttons appear when they’re contextually relevant, and disappear when you switch between screens: when you hit ‘play’ on a chosen track, you can hover over Plexamp to see playback controls and buttons to switch between a visualizer from the good ol’ days, and a lyrics view. The rest of the app’s menu is accessible from the system tray.

In my brief testing, I found Plexamp to be a lot less flexible than Winamp when it came to doing things like browsing music and curating playlists. It also seemed a bit finicky with certain files, and some visualizations didn’t load for me. But that’s just me – if you’re looking for a better way to play tracks stashed on your hard drive, this is a good way to go. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that it comes with a price tag of free.

Give Plexamp a try by downloading it from here; you’ll need to first install Plex, sign up for an account, and have it index your music before you can play tracks through Plexamp (don’t worry, it’s easy enough, should only take a couple of minutes, and the free tier includes most of the features you’ll need to get started).

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