Sunday, 9 September 2012

Play MP3's on Your Amiga With MAS Player Evolution

One of the things I love about tinkering around on out of date technology is getting them to perform tasks that they simply weren't designed to do. Some would argue that it's rather pointless, and they may be right. So, why do I do it? Because it's FUN, that's why!

Earlier this year I decided to enhance my expanded Amiga 1200 Tower setup with a MAS Player Evolution Interface. This is a small grey box which connects to the Amiga's parallel port, enabling it to play MP3's up to 192kbps.

This small box of tricks contains MP3 decoding hardware, meaning the Amiga can pass the task of playing the tunes over to an external piece of circuitry, and leaving the Amiga's CPU to deal with other tasks as and when required.

Installing the hardware
Installing the hardware is a five minute task. The MAS Player plugs into the Amiga's parallel port, and a joystick connector comes from the device and goes into port 2. L and R audio jacks come from the Player, and connect to the respective ports on the Miggy.

The more observant of readers will have no doubt noticed that this device uses the Amiga's joystick port for power. Thankfully, the designers of the MAS Player have provided you with a through-port on the device, so you simply connect your joystick/pad to this.

Finally, sound comes out of the Player through a 3.5" audio jack, which you hitch up to your sound system.

Installing the software
Installing the software is rather more involved. The device comes bundled with some public domain MAS Player software, which is simple to install and get up-and-running. The probem is that it doesn't run in a Workbench window. Instead, it runs on its own screen, with some really odd screen resolution that shifts everything off to the right. Not good, but at least it's a quick way of testing the hardware works!

Thankfully, Amiga Amp works brilliantly with the MAS Player, and once you've got that installed you can not only play MP3's directly from your Amiga's hard drive, but create playlists, and even listen to audio streams off the internet. Absolute 80s seems rather appropriate in this case!

If you're thinking about adding a MAS Player Evolution to your Amiga setup then you'll need an Amiga with a 68020 or higher, at least 2 megabytes of fast RAM and a hard drive. Be aware that many MP3's have extremely long filenames - a feature not supported by the Amiga's bundled Fast File System. This isn't a major problem, but it will mean that you'll have to truncate filenames if you're importing tracks from a PC, Mac or Linux box. I'd recommend installing Smart File System, as this not only supports long filenames, but hard drive partitions up to 120GB.

The MAS Player Evolution is priced at £48.95, and can be purchased from Cardiff based

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