Audion 1.0.1 ($17.95, 30 minute time limit after 15 days) Panic, Inc.
Everyone knows that the Mac is a great tool for both recording and playing all sorts of audio. Past Gadgets have covered programs that can be used to play a music CD (such as NetCD) or MP3 files and streaming audio (such as MacAMP). How about a program that can handle playing all of these formats?
Audion combines a CD player with CDDB access, an MP3 file player, and an MP3 streaming audio player in one package. All of these features share the same handy control panel. But you're not stuck with one look. You can pick from several faceplates included with the package, or get on the Net and download even more.
The CD player has the standard play/pause, stop, forward and backward track, and eject buttons. If you have CDDB access, the author and title of the CD will be displayed. There are also some extra goodies. A track selection button will let you jump to any track. If available, the track name will be displayed.
An Info button will show additional information about the disc and track, using CDDB for a CD, and ID3v2 tags for MP3 files. If the artist name is available, the Info window will also contain a URL which will search the CDNOW web site for other titles from this artist. A mode button will rotate among CD, MP3 and Net modes. Rounding out the controls is a volume control. If you have the N2MP3 program, you can encode individual tracks, or the entire CD, to MP3.
The MP3 and Net modes share most of the CD controls, but offer some additional features. When in MP3 or Net mode, you have access to a graphic equalizer. There are several predefined profiles, or you can experiment on your own. In MP3 mode, you can create custom playlists, so you don't have to pick titles one by one. The Net, or streaming MP3 mode, provides an additional Streams Guide window, which lists currently available streaming audio channels. You can drag favorite streaming sites into a Favorite Servers window.
About the only thing missing is some sort of graphic display during playback. But do you really need this feature? When it comes to providing an effective interface which will let you play, encode and organize your music, Audion is a winner.
More Streaming Content Than You Can Shake a Stick At
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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