The latest version of Winamp, version 5.5, has been released. It’s also its 10th anniversary. It seems like a couple of years since Gavin showed off a program at a LAN party he’d got off a cover disc that could play music but small enough that you could carry several albums on a CD. If my memory serves me right that was 1996 (I went to Uni the following year) which makes this their 11th anniversary but hey – they should know. Also I believe it was version 1.2 I saw way back then.

The problem with MP3’s is the tagging. Several programs have been released, that try to automate the tedious problem of labelling the albums but they all rely on human input to a greater extent and as such takes a lot of time, effort and above all else, patience.

The best of these tools was TagScanner, which is rapidly updated. This removed a lot of drudgery from the task, but the best feature was the album tagger which used the FreeDB database for the track info.  The only drawback was that the renamer would only do one album at a time – if you tried anymore it would fall over without warning. Also since it uses the FreeDB not all albums are registered and some which are incorrect.

So Winamp 5.5 appears with a clean up of the interface, a new skin and several new features the coolest of which is the Auto-Tagger. This is similar to TagScanner, but Winamp uses Gracenote’s service and works per song. It is more accurate than TagScanner, faster (because you can select every song, set it going and write a post about it) but not perfect: Some of my rarer goth compilation albums have the tracks listed as being from other albums (usually the album it was originally released on).

So its running and running.  It has 6,900+ tracks off of ~550 albums to rename and write to disk. The writing of the tag has taken the longest part so far.  I think it will take around 4 hours to do all the tracks.

Another cool feature is that it can also get the cover image of the album playing – a feature I started using Last.fm for inside Mediaportal.