MAD Plug-in for Winamp

configuration screen shot

"The MAD MP3 decoder plug-in for Winamp is by far the best decoder I've ever heard. The levels of detail this thing puts out are astonishing..."

"I enjoy all kinds of music and I thought my existing setup sounded pretty good, but I'm literally taken aback by the difference your MAD decoder plug-in makes... I had no idea MP3 could sound this good; I can't even tell them from CD quality anymore."

"The bass is amazingly clean and tight. All my MP3s sound better when decoded with the MAD plug-in. This is how MP3s are supposed to sound."

"Finally I can listen to MP3s as a serious medium."


This is a MAD input plug-in for Winamp 2. It replaces the MPEG audio decoder functionality that comes with Winamp to provide superior sound for MP3 and other MPEG audio files. It supports output resolutions from 8 to 32 bits.

Please note: There is not yet available a plug-in for Winamp 3.

Hear the Difference

The following sound samples demonstrate the audible difference between MAD and most other decoders. These samples were created at an 8-bit resolution so that the difference is readily apparent; naturally the quality improves with more resolution, but the difference remains.

You may want to turn up your volume to really hear the difference.

How it Works

High-quality output begins with a highly accurate decoder. MAD fully satisfies the ISO/IEC 11172-4 computational accuracy requirements for compliance. However, accuracy alone is not enough.

Internally, MAD represents the decoded audio signal with high precision. Combined with a form of dither, this allows output samples to be calculated with less objectionable quantization noise and more audible dynamic range than most decoders produce today. The result is unusually high-quality output that is a more faithful reconstruction of the signal encoded in MPEG audio than you may have realized possible.


You can use this plug-in with any sound card using either 16- or 8-bit output resolutions. Output is dithered so that you will perceive an increased dynamic range even at these low resolutions.

If your sound card supports higher resolution output, you can choose to have MAD produce output directly in 24- or 32-bit formats.

High-resolution output also depends on support from your Winamp output plug-in. At this time, 24-bit output is reported to work with Nullsoft's waveOut plug-in if the "Max blocksize" and "Min blocksize" configuration parameters are set to 16kB and 4kB respectively.

24-bit output is not reported to work with the DirectSound plug-in.

It is not yet known if any combination of output plug-ins and sound cards will support 32-bit output. If you are able to try this, please report the outcome. Note that the sound quality from 32-bit output is identical to that of 24-bit output; the samples are simply padded to a 32-bit word length for compatibility with hardware that requires this.


A beta version of the plug-in is available for download. Source for the plug-in is available in the regular source code release of MAD.

Preliminary streaming support is implemented, but you may wish to leave the default decoder installed for more complete handling of play from URLs until full streaming support is available.

Mailing Lists

To receive announcements of new releases, you may subscribe to the mad-announce mailing list.

To discuss MAD in general with other users, you may subscribe to the mad-user mailing list. This list also receives announcements from mad-announce so it is not necessary to subscribe to both. Pre-release versions of the plug-in are sometimes made available to subscribers of this list in order to get feedback on new or experimental features before an official new release is made.

Both mailing lists are for MAD in general, not just this plug-in, so please be sure to identify your use of the plug-in in your messages.

Copyright and Author

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

Send inquiries, comments, bug reports, suggestions, patches, etc. to the author, or visit the SourceForge project to contribute to the public forums or submit bug reports or patches there.


  1. Make sure Winamp (or the Winamp agent) is not running, then download and execute the plug-in installer.

  2. Follow the on-screen instructions.

File Size
MAD plug-in 0.14.2b.exe 145K

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