May 21, 2022

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Hero hobbyist puts Winamp into a portable MP3 player

Hero hobbyist puts Winamp into a portable MP3 player

Despite the fact that almost every device I rely on has the ability to play or stream digital audio files, I’d still be happy to bother carrying a standalone MP3 player if it was put on. Winampone of the oldest MP3 players for PCin my pocket.

Before the MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer III) specification was officially introduced to the public in 1993, it wasn’t impossible to compile a set of digital audio files on a computer. In fact, extracting digital files from a music CD was very easy, and the problem was finding a place to store them all. I bought my first PC in 1996 before I headed off to college with a massive (at the time) 1.6GB hard drive—which was nearly enough storage to hold two music CDs.

The MP3 format became popular during the late 1990s because it reduced the storage space needed for digital audio files by nearly 90%, without making the files look painfully compressed. One minute of audio needed only 1MB of storage space, but the other thing that helped make MP3s so popular (besides the advent of file sharing) was a media player called Winamp, first released in 1997. Out of the gate, It was incredibly polished, fully featured with support for playlists, and it’s easy to use Draw-EQ, and an ever-growing range of surfaces and visualizers. If you had a large collection of MP3 files in the late ’90s and early twentieth century, you were also a loyal user of Winamp, and you probably still have a poor place to apply.

Adafruit contributor Tim C obviously has fond memories of llama skin (quote from the application sample file that will be shown the first time Winamp was launched) so they converted $55 Adafruit PyPortal—A Python-powered IoT device similar to a touchscreen smart alarm but endlessly configurable and hackable —in a standalone Winamp device.

Although it calls for a custom case to make the PyPortal Winamp MP3 Player easier in the pocket and safer to carry around all day, Tim C shared a detailed tutorial About how PyPortal turned into the definitive throwback device in the late ’90s, even if standalone MP3 players back then were hopelessly basic compared to this.

But before you shout at Adafruit to shut up and take your money, it’s important to note that this is not a complete Winamp UI implementation. You can tap the top of the screen to pause and resume music playing. TPressing either side of the playlist editor at the bottom will go to the next or previous track. The individual buttons throughout Winamp’s classic user interface simply don’t work, nor do the sliders on the equalizer graphic. Complicating matters further, playlists can only be created and modified by editing a JSON file on your computer. But at least it still repeats choppy scrolling of the currently playing track name.

Tim C has released his code into the public domain, so there’s a chance someone will take this idea and work it out along the way, and completely recreate the Winamp experience on a mobile device. When that time comes, I’ll be ready for my credit card.

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