Music playback on the X5000
Today has seen an update to the A-Eon Enhancer Software package that came bundled with my X5000 motherboard to the latest version 1.3. Rather than cover what has been updated on this latest round of updates, I thought I would look at a specific piece of software which comes with the A-EON enhancer pack that has been updated and which forms an essential part of the X5000 experience in terms of it being your main day to day use music player.
However, If you are interested in what has been updated as part of the Enhancer Software package you can of course look at the following link http://www.a-eon.com/PDF/News_Release_EnhancerSoftware_v1.3.pdf. The Enhancer Software pack is available as a digital download via the Amistore, or from the usual Amiga retailers.
Anyway back to today’s topic and the update to Tunenet which as of today now stands at version 2.7. Like a lot of current Amiga programs, Tunenet isn’t particularly new, truth be told it’s actually been knocking around in one form or another since at least 2004 by a gentleman called Paul Hearns. Tunenet also appears as program in Amiga OS 4.1 Final Edition, however the version itself on this disc is quite dated but you can find this on your Amidock under the players sub-docky.
Sadly Paul Hearns decided back in 2015 that he no longer had the time to keep updating Tunenet and sold the rights, source code and binaries to A-Eon who since then have been busy updating this and supplying the new version via their Enhancer software pack.
So what is new in the A-Eon version, well for ages I was not able to play MP3 files via Tunenet as I was unable to find a plugin that worked with the version that came with OS 4.1 Final Edition, so the arrival of the A-Eon version last year meant that the MP3 plugin was finally included. The update that came today isn’t too big a change to proceedings, however there are now some welcome features which have now been implemented such as the support for Shoutcast v2 API and animated notifications during search and playback.
Tunenet supports a number of different formats from MP3 to WMA to ALAC, indeed a quick trip to the OS4 Depot repository http://os4depot.net/index.php?function=browse&cat=audio/play/tunenet shows that you will find all manner of formats and plugins, so the player is quite versatile and also more importantly for classic Amiga users, it will also handle all your mods, so you can kind of consign Hippoplayer to the dustbin.
One word of warning however, in order to play m4a files i.e. anything from I-Tunes, you will need to install the Faad Library and place this in your Libs folder otherwise you will get no playback at all from these files within Tunenet. The file can be downloaded at OS4 Depot here: http://os4depot.net/index.php?function=showfile&file=audio/misc/faad_library.lha
You can create playlists from your music collection which are saved in a m3u format and these can be played as required from the main screen or drag and dropped into Tunenet.
Thanks to the latest update today, the biggest change is the extra support for Shoutcast V2 which means a hell of a load more Internet music channels can now be streamed from Tunenet. From the screenshot below you can see a list of music streams which number in the 500 and you can now pull across streams based on a specific genre of music such as Rock, Dance, Classical etc.
Notifications of the next song are supported using Ringhio which is the default Notification system within Amiga OS4.1 and a clever update from today is that it flashes in different colours.
Talking of different colours, it is possible to customise the look of Tunenet using different skins
It is also possible to minimise the player so it shows just the current track which is playing:
You also have the ability to stream direct a URL Stream or make recordings of a stream.
Overall Tunenet is a pretty good music player, the current updated feature of being able to select any number of internet tadio streams from within the program is a feature which is worth shelling out for a version of the Enhancer Software pack, although truth be told there are other goodies on that CD that you should be buying the complete package for and Tunenet is not just one of the reasons to buy it.
However, i thought it fair to cover another option which is available and which received an update over the past few months which is AmigaAmp.
Based on WinAmp, AmigaAmp currently stands at version V3.22 and is an Amiga OS4 native version. However in terms of functionality it is not too dissimilar to Tunenet or even WinAmp itself in so much as they kind of do the same thing. You can play back your files via the player, you can stream a URL, you can play and create playlists. Playback options AmigaAmp will support MP3, AIFF, WAV,FLAC, OGG,M4A,MOD,XM,S3M formats and a whole host of other formats providing you have the relevant Tunenet plugin.
You also have the option to download some more skins which can be downloaded from the main AmigaAmp website www.amigaamp.de
There are also a number of visual effects that you can add as plugins to the player. This will ensure that when your music plays you are presented with a number of cool effects like this one which can look a bit trippy depending on the music being played. Hint the harder and faster the beats, the more impressive the effects so Hard House and Techno fans like myself prepare for the indoor rave!
You can also choose to minimise the player to only show the player itself or you can also choose to display an equalizer which will allow you to tweak things like the bass and treble similar to on a stereo system.
In fact the only thing I’ve found that differentiates between this and Tunenet is that you are missing that big long list of Internet Radio streams. However you always have the option here to input these in manually and save these as a playlist.
Which one of the players is better, If i am honest i do prefer the cleaner interface of Tunenet over WinAmp, but WinAmp allows you to modify the sound via the equalizer and some of the skins and graphic effect plugins do look cool. In truth on a day-to-day basis I use both, but Tunenet does get more use.
In terms of managing your music collection, I thought it a good idea to have a quick look at A-Tunes which a piece of software that can be found on the rather useful Z-Tools package which is sold online at the Amistore. Further information on the other packages included in Z-tools can be found here http://apps.amistore.net/zTools/ but i would definitely recommend buying a copy as it contains a whole host of really useful and in my view indispensible programs which make using Amiga OS4.1 a lot quicker and easier.
A-Tunes as its name suggest is a bit of a play on the well-known I-Tunes but don’t expect to be buying the latest hits here or being able to log into an I-Tunes account. A-Tunes simply is a way of managing your music files and music repository on your computer.
You can do one of two things here, you can either drag and drop files into the program or ask A-Tunes to do a scan of a specific folder in order to pick up tunes which can be in any format supported by either Tunenet or AmigaAmp.
You also have the option to create and manage playlists which will be created in the m3u format. You can also specify A-Tunes to look after your music streams and then specify where these are to be played back via.
Album cover art is also supported as you can see in this example of the Danish pop group Alphabeat.
Tunenet will also display this information under Tune Info label which is something that WinAmp does not support fully as whilst it will show you which track is playing, it will not display the full album art.
So there concludes managing and playing of your music files and internet music streams on the X5000 and indeed on next generation Amiga machines. It’s nice that in 2017 I can actually use my Amiga instead of my PC at home to listen to my music collection and stream podcasts and Internet Radio shows, or more importantly have it running in the background whilst I am doing other tasks like surfing the net or doing some office work, you know things you kind of take for granted on a PC or a Mac.
Until next time, have fun with your Amigas!