It all started over a beer — as most great things do — re-envisioning what a tiny and powerful music player might look like in 2017. The most classic and beloved small audio player, Winamp, was first released almost exactly TWENTY years ago. Written in a low-level language, it ran on Windows, and was limited to playing files on the local (or networked) filesystem.
Plex, on the other hand, provides a best-in-class client/server model, an extremely metadata rich library, is highly portable, and gives you access to your entire music collection from anywhere in the world; we wanted to pair this with a similarly excellent music player. Literally the only requirement we had was “small”; Plex has plenty of bigger apps already, but nothing that sits unobtrusively on a desktop, beguiling and delighting. We even forced ourselves to limit the design to a single simple window.
● Runs on macOS and Windows, and works like a native app (e.g. media keys for skipping tracks and toggling play/pause are supported, as are notifications).
● Direct plays just about any music format you could dream of throwing at it.
● Companion support: can be used to remote control other Plex players and can be remote controlled itself.
● Works in offline scenarios (e.g. on an airplane with server running on laptop, or on your private submarine).
● Global activation hotkey: Besides support for standard media keys, it offers a global activation hotkey much like Spotlight on macOS (cmd+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!
You can download Plexamp from the link below. Click here for more information on how the app was built and the technologies that power it.