In the late 90s and early 2000s, it was nearly impossible to find a PC that didn’t have Winamp installed on it. The music player with its sparse interface and plethora of plugins was everybody’s favourite. Its simplicity and ease-of-use for a non-techie was an instant sell, while the audiophiles were thrilled with the options it offered.
Since then, there has been no shortage of music players released, and while Foobar comes closest to capturing the glory of Winamp of old, it doesn’t quite match up. Try giving Foobar to someone who isn’t tech-savvy and see them struggle with it.
I’ve long been on the lookout for something that had the simplicity of the old Winamp, but had a modern and easy interface, so that my mom could use it. And it needed to be light so that it can run well on her netbook.
Gom Player still is my favourite movie player, so when they announced an audio player, I just had to take a look. So does Gom Audio match up to the Winamp of old?
After a quick install, GOM Audio was off to a good start. It first throws up a Preferences page where you can set up the player how you want it. This includes the file types associated with it, whether it loads on Windows, whether it’s always on top, window transparency, keyboard and mouse shortcuts, skins and more. You can dive in and fiddle around to see what works best for you.
Once you’re done, it’s time for the main player to pop up. And its simplistic interface did remind me of Winamp instantly. Check it out for yourself:
As you can see, all of the controls you would need are instantly available, including the playback buttons, repeat and shuffle, eject and the equalizer.
Focus On Playlists
If you are someone who loves a neatly catalogued music library to search through your vast collection, then sorry, GOM Audio isn’t for you. In fact, there’s no place to even add a music library.
The point of this app is to focus on creating playlists. The ‘browsing’ of your library is restricted to your Windows Explorer itself. This is something that my mom finds a lot more convenient than learning a new interface, but it is still a missing feature that many others I know would love to have built into the program.
Adding playlists is super-simple. There’s a bar of tabs, where you can either double-click or hit Ctrl+T to create a new playlist. Rename it to your liking and then just drag-and-drop your files straight onto the playlist of your choice. You can also add files and full folders through the ‘Add’ button at the bottom-right.
Once you are done populating your playlist, GOM Audio will show you a count of the number of songs currently in it or the total runtime of your playlist in the bottom-left corner.
What I really liked about the app was that you never have to bother about ‘Saving’ a playlist. Once you create it, it’s there till you delete it. It’s a feature present in several other players, of course, but it’s just nice to have. However, more importantly, it remembers the last played song in each playlist, so you’ll never have to start over. This is quite cool, if you ask me, since I have a tendency to make large playlists, but once the app shuts, it forgets what I’ve played and doesn’t resume from the last song I listened to.
Plus, no matter how many playlists you have open, it doesn’t slow down the player even on a single-core netbook.
But there is one major feature missing: Search! Even if I make a large playlist of 100 songs, there’s no way for me to quickly locate what I want. Sure, I can sort it in different ways, but there’s nothing that beats the convenience of a quick search. This is a huge failure, in my opinion.
Much like any other audio player out there now, you can edit the ID3 tags of any song in the ‘File Info’. Unfortunately, there is no place to look at these tags.
My mom’s music collection is entirely from Amazon and iTunes, so it’s meticulously tagged with all the information she would need, such as lyrics. But there’s no pane in GOM Audio to look at this, or any of the other information she would like to know (since the player shows only the artist and track name).
In my opinion, this is a major miss and perhaps a deal-breaker for many. Sure, you can have third-party apps like MiniLyrics running on Windows, but the fact that it’s not built-in is a major miss.
The one other cool feature is that you can stream Internet radio stations on GOM Audio. It comes with a few URLs loaded already, but you can add as many more as you want.
The broadcasts, in fact, can be added as a ‘track’ to the playlist. For those who love online streaming music, this can be a cool feature since you can make a playlist of different stations.
If what you want is a simplistic, no-frills audio player, GOM Audio is what you should go for. It’s really easy to use and, in my mom’s words, “just works without having to learn anything new”. And for playlist-lovers, this could be the best player out there.
However, it’s severely limited for a wider audience. There’s no media library, there are no panes to view lyrics or other information about your song, and it doesn’t have Jumplist support in Windows 7. And most importantly, the lack of a search feature will be a deal-breaker for most.