Plex launches Winamp-like miniaturized music player for Mac

Media software developer Plex on Monday released a standalone Winamp-like music player for Mac, called Plexamp, which integrates with your existing Plex music library.

The company said the project aims to re-envision what a tiny and powerful music player might look like in 2017. Whereas Winamp was limited to playing files on the local or networked filesystem, Plexamp can play your local music and stream your entire Plex music library from anywhere in the world.

The app supports media keys, notifications and just about any music format.

Plexamp is built for music lovers with interesting features such as gapless playback, soft transitions, a global activation hotkey, loudness leveling to normalize playback volume, offline playback, remote control of other Plex players, search, a graphical waveform view of the track for precise scrubbing and much more.

Smart transitions are particularly nice.

As part of the loudness analysis, the app computes the optimal overlap times between any two tracks, ensuring transitions are seamless. Combined with loudness leveling, this can provide unsurpassed listening “flow” across even widely different genres and styles.

Another great feature, visualizers, takes advantage of both the loudness profile and key colors from the album artwork to really showcase your music.

Plexamp offers nice visualizers that showcase your album artwork

The app can also be remote controlled itself.

Key features include:

  • Global activation hotkey: Besides support for standard media keys, Plexamp offers a global activation hotkey much like Spotlight on macOS (Command + Shift+ Space). This makes it quicker than ever to find something in your music library. There are a number of additional nice keybindings for power users.
  • Gapless playback: As anyone who owns Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” or any of the approximately 1,534 live Dave Matthews concert albums will tell you, this is a very important feature for a music player.
  • Soft transitions: We really wanted to sweat the little details with Plexamp. Whenever you pause a track, instead of abruptly stopping, we do a quick little fade out and then fade in again when resuming (we also do this when seeking and skipping). Subtle difference, but a sweet one. Want to know just how obsessive we are? Those three little animated bars which show the currently playing track in the play queue? That’s actually a working spectrum analyzer.
  • Visualizers: What would a music player be without a fun set of visualizations to enjoy while you listen to your music? The technical details here are pretty insanely cool (we perform FFT with psychoacoustic tuning in the MPD process and then ship timestamped data over to the app process via UDP) and we have built hosts for Canvas API and WebGL visualizers. Try ’em all and let us know your favorite!
  • Album art key color extraction: We extract important colors from album artwork to use for various purposes (e.g. computing optimal opacity values for overlays, and providing a palette for the visualizers to use). Again, details matter.

Plexamp offers two ways to shuffle: Library Radio and Time Travel Radio. Library Radio works across your entire library, in no particular order, while Time Travel Radio starts with earliest released music and works forward.

Each artist now also provides an artist radio station on Plex which gives you a nice way to kick off a playlist of similar music. “As the station goes on, it explores more corners of your library, inspired by the starting point,” wrote developers.

Plexamp is the first project to come out of the Plex Labs incubator.

Announced earlier this week, Plex Labs is their testbed for new services where company engineers can share detailed Medium posts, ideas and passion projects.

Plexamp is in may ways inspired by Winamp, which younger generations may not remember as it debuted almost exactly twenty years ago but is still the most classic and beloved small audio player for desktop.

Plexamp is available for macOS and Windows.

Download Plexamp from the Plex website.