Using Winamp 2 plugins (in Spectrum Lab)


Spectrum Lab 'natively' only supports reading and writing wave audio (*.wav) and Ogg/Vorbis audio (*.ogg) files. But other audio files can be read (or, maybe one day written) using external audio codecs. An attempt was made to use winamp input- and output plugins.

Note 1:
Only plugins from Winamp version 2 can be used, because newer winamp plugins use an utterly complex system of callbacks into the winamp main application, so it's quite difficult to "host" these plugins in one's own application (like Spectrum Lab) without emulating a lot of the winamp internals.

Note 2:
The 'good old days' of Winamp as a light-weight player are over (in favour of e.g. VLC media player), thus there are no plans to integrate a winamp plugin host for newer Winamp versions in Spectrum Lab. In 2022, a few of the 'good old' light-weight Winamp 2.x versions were still available at (they are not available at Fortunately, these old plugings -at least the mp3 input plugin- have no external dependencies, and are thus very easy to use in a simplistic plugin host like the one integrated in Spectrum Lab.

Details about how to use Winamp plugins "directly" (so you can read MP3 or OGG VORBIS files in Spectrum Lab, and possibly some others) can be found in this readme-file in the 'winamp' subdirectory in the Spectrum Lab folder.

Please note that the Spectrum Lab installation archive will never contain any of Winamp's "own" plugins, last not least because doing so would be a copyright infringement. Again, only plugins written for Winamp 2 can be loaded in Spectrum Lab, as described in \winamp\readme.txt . Ask your friendly search engine if you cannot find Winamp 2 on the web. The author of SpecLab successfully used the MP3 input plugin from Winamp V2.90 .

Note 3:
The "winamp-to-SpecLab" plugin is a different matter: It works with Winamp 2 as well as with Winamp 5, since this plugin was written by the author of Spectrum Lab, and doesn't use the "new" features of Winamp 5. It can be used to send an audio stream from Winamp (2 or 5) to Spectrum Lab, without the need for a 'virtual audio cable' or similar. How to configure Spectrum Lab to receive an audio stream from this special plugin is described here. But unlike the plugins described further down in this document, the "winamp-to-SpecLab" plugin is actually loaded into ("hosted by") Winamp. The same applies to the SpecLab-to-Winamp plugin, which was written to send data in real time from SpecLab to Winamp.

How to use Winamp (2) input plugins in Spectrum Lab

  1. Install an "old" Winamp version 2.x (the author tried Winamp V2.90, installer "winamp290_full.exe, 2279290 byte)
  2. Copy the plugins you want to use into SpecLab's "winamp\plugins" folder
    (this folder will be empty after a clean SL installation)
    For example, to analyse/play MP3 files in SL, copy "in_mp3.dll".
  3. Read the notes in SpecLab's \winamp\readme.txt (it contains some info about plugin-DLLs which require other DLLs, and where to find them)
  4. Launch Spectrum Lab
  5. In the main menu, select "Options"..."System Settings"..."Winamp Plugins"
    Spectrum Lab will look into the folder mentioned above, and try to load all plugins found there.
    Note: Spectrum Lab will NOT try to load anything from the Winamp installation directory, because it's your responsibility to decide which Winamp plugin you want to use. Trying to load a plugin from Winamp Version 5 will definitely crash the system, because there are too many dependencies between Winamp 5 plugins and Winamp 5 - it's almost impossible to host these plugins in anything but Winamp 5.
  6. On the tabsheet "Input Plugins", set a checkmark for each plugin you really want to use.
    For example, check "in_mp3.dll" if you want to play MP3 audio files directly from Spectrum Lab.
  7. Click the 'Close' button to close the WA Plugins dialog shown below.

If all works as planned (!), the plugin will tell us which audio file formats are supported by it. The file extensions will be added to the file selector box in the "File" menu from now on. For example, when selecting

"File"..."Audio Files"..."Analyse and play" (in Spectrum Lab's main menu),

you can select a few new file types in the file selector box:

Screenshot of file selector box with *.MP3 and *.OGG

On this occasion: You can select more than one file in a windows file selector box by selecting the first file, then, with the SHIFT key pressed, click on the last file. Or, hold the CONTROL key pressed to select / unselect individual files. All files selected this way will be added to the internal playlist.

See also :

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