I have just installed the new version 5.3 of Winamp. First I really have to say: GREAT WORK! Especially the lots of improvements (e.g. the speed improvements when recognizing dead links, and the overall speed in the library) are VERY GOOD!!!
But there is one - actually small, but VERY important - thing that will make me use the previous version again:
=== Positive part of this post ends here. ===
THE SOUND QUALITY OF MP3 PLAYBACK IS WORSE THAN IN ANY PREVIOUS VERSION!!!
This ist the most important thing of an MP3 player I think, and it was one of the reason why I pasty
loved Winamp: It just sounded better than the others (WMP & Co.).
But as with version 5.3, something must have changed in the in_mp3.dll. Winamp adds very annoying
alias frequencies to all output. It has nothing to do whether I enable or disable the new "dithering" or "24 bit" options, or whether I use out_ds or out_wave.
In most pieces, you will not even hear it - okay. But in classical music or especially: in vocal music it can be heard very clearly.
That cannot be the future quality standard! Even WMP sounds better!
In the company in which I work (a german studio equipment company who built almost all european tv studios) we have software and hardware for performing spectral analysis.
For those who do not believe me the presence of the alias frequencies, I made them visible:
In the first picture (spectrum_original.png)
you can see the spectral histogram of the song "Time" by the Alan Parsons Project (around the point of c. 02'45"). Played from an external MP3 player and recorded on the spectral analyzer's harddisc:
(Click image to enlarge)
You will definitely see the characteristic synthesizer line which makes a "pitch bend" upwards. It consists of several harmonics. But in the original, they ALL go up.
In the second picture (spectrum_winamp.png)
you see the same song PLAYED BY WINAMP and recorded in the spectral analyzer:
(Click image to enlarge)
In the winamp playback, we have one other line above the others! And at its end, it is even going DOWN!!! This is a "mirror flipped" band of the frequency spectrum, copied into the signal from top->downwards. This is called "aliasing" and is a result of wrong sample calculations in the MP3 decoder.
What I want to say is: PLEASE offer a fix for in_mp3.dll very fast! (Question: Until then, can I use the old one from 5.24, or will winamp crash?)
It is certainly an in_mp3 error, WAV and WMA files don't show this issue!
Winamp must sound like before!! PLEASE!