Monday, 15 November 2004

iTunes 4.7 vs Winamp 5.0

The news of the death of Winamp has spurred me to try to use the Windows version of iTunes, or rather, to resuscitate the moribund iTunes on my computer. Ultimately, I've come to this conclusion: much as I like the look and feel of iTunes, ultimately I find the program quite infuriating.

Plus points of iTunes (version 4.7):
  1. The iTunes store. Not that I've purchased anything, since they don't let those of us in Asia do so, but it's good for listening to samples of songs that I may wish to purchase, and for the simple purpose of verifying attribution on my MP3s. Winamp's Media Library is very iffy on album info.
  2. The ability to set when songs should start/end. Good for those pesky MP3s that are poorly cut.
  3. Look and feel - of course. iTunes looks good, and the option of including artwork is nice.

Main annoyances:
  1. ID3 tags. My main source of iTunes grievances. With Winamp, I can update both the ID3 v1 and v2 tags. iTunes just updates the latest version. I also like that it adds the "Disc x of x" to the ID3 tags, and in general works better at classifying compilations, but I don't like that it's stripped the Copyright field - I use that to hold record label information. (And don't tell me to use Comments, I'm using that for actual comments on the songs.)
  2. ID3 tag updating. I know that Winamp will update all tag info every hour or whatever time I choose to specify in the preferences, and will definitely update if I close and re-open the program. I can't figure out whether iTunes even updates, although this discussion thread makes me think that it doesn't. Which makes it much harder to work with external tag editors. The kluge apparently is to make a group change in an unused field but I don't even know why there should be a need for a kluge. And I use almost every ID3 field.
  3. Library. Winamp 5.0 automatically scans my music folder and adds in any new files I may have downloaded to the Media Library. iTunes doesn't, so I have to keep forcing a rescan through the "Add Folder to Library..." option.
  4. Footprint. iTunes takes up large screen acreage, and its Mini Player version doesn't have as many controls as Winamp's small-footprint version.
  5. Video. I prefer Winamp as my MPEG/AVI player.
  6. Order of information. Why can't I seem to put the song name as the second field in a list, after the Artist name? I can click and drag every other field around, and yet song has to remain in the primary position?
  7. Auto-sort. A minor point, but I hate that once I update an ID3 tag for a song, it promptly places itself into the "right" place in the playlist alphabetically. Right now I have a whole set of MP3s without albums. Once I look up the album and type it in, suddenly that song pops up in wherever the album name is alphabetically, and that's weird when I'm trying to work through my improperly tagged songs one by one methodically.
  8. The song name field. Why do artist names appear in it with regularity?
Bottom line: right now, it seems to me that if you put in a lot of effort into your ID3 tags, Winamp works with them better. And it seems like iTunes forces you into its way of working. If iTunes had its way, my songs would be organised by folders according to artist name instead of by genre, leading to thousands of folders. So colour me unimpressed.




An interesting list. You might be interested to see my own comparison between Winamp and iTunes at the following URL:
http://www.skytopia.com/project/articles/music/players.html

I'm not sure Winamp died by the way - it's just that AOL have taken over. Hehe, maybe that's as good as dead though ;) We'll just have to wait and see...


Thanks for the link! Seems to agree with quite a few of the poins I raised. I like the look of iTunes in general, but I think it's the least customisable of the big few players.


I've always liked winamp better but i recently installed itunes and it seems to be pretty cool.. pretty slow but i can handle it. I like the song sharing stuff and it support my ipod better. but i never really had any problems with winamp ipod support plugin.


I'm using the new version of winamp and, in my opinion, it has some new good features: remote music, video playback and Sharing, fully integrated Web browser and customizable links and access to almost 20,000 SHOUTcast Radio Stations.


I'm using the new version of winamp and, in my opinion, it has some new good features: remote music, video playback and Sharing, fully integrated Web browser and customizable links and access to almost 20,000 SHOUTcast Radio Stations.


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