As the author of foobar says himself, foobar doesn't have a better sound than the other players like winamp and Co. From a theorical point of vue, the sound from foobar2000 is not different from the sound given by other softwares, a player isn't able to improve the sound incredibly, (it can only alter them if not correctly setted). Your hardware is much more important (audio card, speakers, headphones, even cables..), as is the audio source (audio CD, lossless encoding, quality of the lossy encoding process). The software part is only secondary. And even if DSP or other sound modifiers are used, it only widens the gap between the source and the listening, which may prove to only degrade the sound itself.
Foobar could produce a good sound thanks to several components listed below:
decoding and work in 64 bit float mode, reducing approximation while calculating.
24 bit audio card support, which means that datas are sent according to the audio card necessities (24,32 bit, padding management)
high quality resampling (SSRC), important because some audio cards are unable to read whithout modifying with bad quality resamplers datas sampled at 44100Hz (even the Audigy 2 does so!!),
a dithering algorithm, a kind of advanced reduction, which allows to keep a bit of the high definition information lost in this operation . Also supports 3 algorithm of noise shaping, allowing you to reduce the usual disturbance caused by dithering
A kernel streaming output theorically better for lossless data (but it's a troll subject..)
An advanced clipper, limiting distortion appearing in lossy format
Crossfeed for headphones listener
an advanced equalizer on 18 frequencies (I believe that prefessional use about thirty frequencies..)
Moreover, you can use all these options at the same time.
Having some interesting components doesn't mean changing a clipping file, encoded at 64kbps into a lossless quality file.. But it could be adapted to music-lovers, listeners ear abilities and their hardware.
But foobar isn't really interesting only as a track reader, it has also a wide range of use for tagging, management, bench, encoding, listening and other things.
Nowadays, an audio reader should do more than only read files. Especially as the size of hard drives and the sharing of files has boomed. A PC could be a synonym of a real listening platform. But having such files are both a benediction and a curse. Because organizing them reveals to be hard and who has never searched longer for files than their length? Even perfectly organized, it's sometime hard to manage your files from the audio point, as a profusion of encoding formats are used not considering the huge range of encoding abilities for a single format. In this background, Foobar 2000 has been created to overwhelm these needs. Only some abilities of foobar are listed below:
the management of huge playlists (more than 100 000 tracks if needed)
a wide range of formating abilities, to fit all the needs
components allowing a full view of your record library as virtual trees (record list, tunable into Label list, Artist list, performer list)
advanced searching tools to find data contained even in inusual tag fields
a masstagger, with the possibility to create unusual fields, allowing you to manage pertinently or marginaly your files
the capacity to tag automatically your files thanks to a dedicated database
a global renamer/remover allowing you to create a physical tree whithout any effort
foobar fully supports Replaygain to smooth the level of your audio file, with the capacitiy to adjust the output level, change the gain value, change between to values or go back to the original level. It doesn't alter the original file, it's digital processing
different ways to avoid clipping, with replaygain, preamplification, clipping limiters, with alarm and VUmeter to see the efficiency of the audio treatment
decoding, encoding, re-encoding capacities with more than twenty formats and codec avaible, with tag conservation, audio level modifiers, different DSP etc.. You can also extract audio CD
You can burn CD with Nero components installed, with automatic support of replaygain informations, advanced options, correction filters, dithering, noise shaping etc..
Mp4 utilities , allowing you to extract AAC and mp3 flow from a mp4 container, in both ways, optimization of an internal mp4 stream, unique support of gapless linking files obtained with Nero AAC and Faac, creation and tag management with the mp4 standard, with MP3-MP4 and AAC-MP4 files.
support of the media container matroska
gapless utilities for mp3 encoded with LAME, and ability to do so with other encoders
the ability to record everything passing through your audio card, with timing options and Co
the ability to listen blindly two tracks to know which one is better
the ability to do a bit to bit comparison between two files, so as to know if lossless encoding is pertinent, whithout any interference from tags or other headers
the ability to sort your files, and configure the sorting and datas which will be displayed
decoding in 64 bit float mode for a great accuracy in calculation, lossless support up to 48 bit integer
ability to run different signal modifications thanks to the 64 bit engine, with a great capacity of calculation
Kernel streaming for direct audio output, ASIO supported with an additional component
buffer memory supporting great values
ability to tag mp3 files to integrate them from your virtual record library organized by tags
native support of various young formats (both lossy and lossless), able to satisfy even the most demanding listeners
native support of zip, rar and 7-zip archives and .cue files
display of different playlist with tabs, allowing you to switch between them instantaneously
Of course their are also a lot of ather possibilities, sometimes needing additional components (must-have for some ones). Fortunately, thanks to an effervescent community, the software is perpetually in development. In a word, foobar will be able to replace several softwares and enhance the management of your record library.