Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've no doubt heard of the MP3 audio format. The support of this format in QuickTime 4 finally makes MP3 available to millions of Mac users. Unfortunately, the QuickTime Player does little more than allow you to listen to songs, and adjust the bass, treble and balance.
MacAMP, now out of beta, is a full-featured MP3 playback system. It also supports playback of AIFF, CD Audio, MP1, MP2, Shoutcast/Icecast Streams and WAV formats. Once a song is loaded, either by double-clicking or via drag-and-drop, a player window and a playlist window will appear. New songs will be added to the list. You can load an old list, save a new list, get info on a specific song, or clear the list.
The player window at first looks plain, with the standard rewind, play/pause, stop and forward buttons. There is a graphical display in the center of the window. Clicking on the bottom of this window reveals a few more controls. On the left are buttons that will place an equalizer in the display area, toggle the playlist window on and off, minimize the player window, and set your position in the current song. On the right are buttons for repeat, randomize and auto-sleep.
When you start to play a song, things liven up. The graphical portion of the display will show a spectrum analyzer, with each bar responding to a specific frequency range. If you click on the analyzer area, things get even more interesting. There are eight additional display types, as well as other visualization tools, including a spiffy rotating 3D display.
But the fun doesn't stop here. You can also use different "skins" which affect the style of the user interface, similar to Mac OS Appearances. Two examples are below. A converter is available so you can check out the numerous skins available for the PC WinAmp player.
Get the most out of your MP3 playback experience, and give MacAMP a try. Make sure you have enough horsepower before you do. MacAMP requires a PowerPC processor, and processor speed of at least 100 MHz.
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John is a software engineer who works in the corporate R&D group of a Fortune 500 company, focusing on all aspects of communications technology. He has several degrees that claim he knows what he's doing when it comes to computers. After watching co-workers reinstall Windows, search for device drivers, and experience other horrors during the day, he's glad that he comes home to a Mac (compatible) computer. Have any comments, suggestions, or favorite Gadgets? Drop John a line at