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Drobe talks to DataPlayer author John Duffell: MP3 playback for smaller machines

By Chris Williams. Published: 20th Dec 23:16:58 | Permalink | Printable

After reporting on John Duffell's usenet announcement of DataPlay, we caught up with the author himself to find out a bit more about his new music player. For those who don't know, DataPlay is a fast and reliable 'no-frills' sample player. It is aimed at users with RISC OS computers that can't quite play the more processor demanding yet popular MP3 music format.

To get around this, DataPlayer will take a file of pre-processed music and play it straight off the file. Normal music players process and play MP3s and the like on 'the fly' into an audio form that people can appreciate. As these players demand more than what most lower-end computers can give, Dataplayer addresses this and allows users to pre-process music files ready for easy playback later. Music can be sampled off audio applications like !SampleCD, dmpa or !AudioFS.

DataPlay is written in 100% ARM assembly code and is subsequently compiled in RISC OS module form to enable other developers easier access to DataPlay's music playing abilities; John has also taken the trouble of officially registering the DataPlay module with the RISC OS equivalent to the internet's ICANN- thus ensuring the module will not clash with other software. Included with DataPlay is the full source and SWI documentation as well as a few notes on the module's 32bit compliance.

"The program is still under active development..I'm open to suggestions though for anything from anyone" John also intends to add a pre-caching system so that music that flows in one seemingly continous track is played without any silent gaps in between.
"When a tune is read to the end another one can be loaded so we can carry straight on, so, e.g. an album like Kid A sounds correct". Currently, Dataplayer will play stereo 16bit linear samples although John does intend to expand DataPlay's capabilities;
"The player itself is just about finished, although I might add support for other formats that are just data streams. In particular, 8 bit linear and big endian should be fairly easy, as should different frame rates".

DataPlayer: www-users.york.ac.uk/~jwd104/
MP3 music: www.mp3.com
MP3 music encoder: homepage.ntlworld.com/david_chapman/
Dave Chapman's MP3toWAV utility decompresses and processes MP3 music files in to samples that DataPlay can play for low-end machines. It has a fair few features aimed at looking after converted music files as well.

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