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%%  Review:  D.A.S.ModulePlayer V3.2a           By: Andreas Jelvemark   %%
%%                                              jelvemark@homeros.ct.se %%
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[Ed:  The review of D.A.S.MP and the start of the author-sponsored
D.A.S.MP are in no way related.  They just happened to arrive at the same
time.  This review was not commissioned by AR, but was submitted jointly
to AR and to comp.sys.amiga.reviews.]


PRODUCT NAME

 D.A.S.ModulePlayer V3.2a


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

 DASMP (short for D.A.S.ModulePlayer) does what the title claims;
i.e., play music modules.  It is capable of playing modules of various
formats such as ProTracker, S3M, MTM, MED/OctaMED, QuadraComposer and
FutureComposer.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

 Name:  Pauli Porkka
 Address: Innanlantie 5 D 29
   FIN-37600 VALKEAKOSKI
   FINLAND

 E-mail:  paporkka@freenet.hut.fi
 FidoNet: 2:221/112.4


LIST PRICE

 DASMP is shareware, and the current price is $20 (US) or an
equivalent amount in any other currency.

 There are two registration sites mentioned in the manual, situated in
North America and Australia, which simplifies registration for the users
located in those countries.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

 HARDWARE

  None.

  At least 1 MB of memory is recommended due to the size of
  some modules.  More is recommended if you want to use
  the program to its full potential.

  Works on all processors (68000-68040).  A faster processor
  is recommended if you want to play any of the multichannel
  modules with a high mixing rate.

 SOFTWARE

  MUI (Magic User Interface) is required.

  AmigaDOS 2.04 or higher is required.
  Having AmigaDOS 3.x enables some extra features in DASMP.


COPY PROTECTION

 None.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

 Amiga 1200, 2 MB Chip RAM, 8 MB Fast RAM.
 120 MB Conner HD.
 Kickstart version 39.106, Workbench version 39.29 (AmigaDOS 3.0).
 C= 1940 multisync monitor.


INSTALLATION

 DASMP features an Installer script to simplify the process of
installing.  It works like a charm. :-)


BACKGROUND

 Playing modules has been an essential need of any Amiga user since
the first NoiseTracker program was released.  Various module players have
been released over the years, some of them better than others, and some even
worse.  Today, there are a number of different module file formats to look
out for, and compatibility with the various formats is a necessity.  Another
option that is strongly needed is the possibility to crunch/archive modules
in order to save hard disk space, since modules are getting bigger.  A nice
interface is of course a feature that should not be neglected.

 DASMP features all this and much more.


EXTERNAL PLAYER LIBRARIES

 DASMP supports S3M, MTM, MED(OctaMed), QuadraComposer and
FutureComposer modules through External Player Libraries ("EPLs").  This
modular approach allows the user to choose what libraries to install and
what
libraries to use with the player, giving the user greater control of how
much resources the program should be allowed to use.

 S3M and MTM are multichannel PC formats which are getting more and
more followers. I've tested only S3M modules because I haven't been able to
find any MTM modules on my local BBSs.

 The S3M format supports the use of 4-32 channels, and DASMP allows
you to configure what mixing rate to use for each type. (Higher mixing rate
values make the module sound better but it also intensifies the workload of
the processor.  It is recommended that you adjust the settings to suit the
power of your system.) You can also choose play modes that consist of the
following features: Mono, Stereo, Surround, Real Surround, and Stereo
14-bit.
The playing of these modules works perfectly, and the user will not notice
that you are playing them after you have enabled and configured the EPL.

 Another commonly used EPL is the MED(OctaMED) library. It requires
the medplayer.library and octaplayer.library to be present in your system,
and when they are present, MED/OctaMED modules are played like any other
module.

 For those who haven't got access to huge amount of Chip RAM which is
often required to play big modules there is a solution trough the use of
dasFAST.library. It plays ProTracker-compatible modules from Fast RAM using
a
technique that is everything but perfect, according to the author. It seems
to work well for me, however, and I hardly noticed any loss in quality when
playing some of my modules from Fast RAM. You may choose the size of the
modules to use this player, the priority of the player, the mixing rate, and
some different playing modes.


PACKED MODULES

 DASMP supports mainly XPK-packed modules.  Through the use of the
XPK package, you can get it to play PowerPacked modules too. Another great
feature is the ability to play modules that are archived in almost any
format; e.g. LHA, ZIP, ZOO, etc. It even allows the handling of multiple
files within the same archive, and it can also play XPK-packed modules from
within an archive.

 I recommend the use of the SQSH-library which is especially well
suited for packing 8-bit sound data.  It gives you an excellent result.
Decrunching speed is quite fast, but if speed is your main priority, use the
xpkFAST.library or xpkNUKE.library instead.


THE INTERFACE

 The interface to the user is perhaps the most vital part of any
program. Due to the use of MUI, DASMP features all advantages of that
package; i.e., tremendous configurability. You can rearrange almost the
whole
GUI to your liking. DASMP features a "special" menu which allows you to
enable and disable certain groups of gadgets to give you some quick
possibilities to change the interface.

 DASMP's strongest point is without question the module list
handling. To be able to play modules, you add them to the listview using the
appropriate function. When the list is created, you are able to configure
each entry separately.  Fade speed, preload, volume and FAST relocation are
selectable for every module. (FAST relocation means that DASMP will put the
song data in Fast RAM in order to save as much Chip RAM as possible.) The
name of the module in the listview doesn't need to be the same as the name
of the "real" module, and there is a "Get" function which is able to fetch
the real name of the module from within the module.

 DASMP also features a unique author system that allows you to enter
an author and a style for each module. To play just the modules in a
particular style, click the "Au" button of the main window and select your
desired style from the listview that pops up. The module list will then
change to contain only the modules in your selected style. It is as simple
as that!  There is one disappointment with this feature, however:  it is
impossible to select an author and a style at the same time. Even if most
composers produce work in only one style, this is indeed a limitation even
if it is a small one.

 DASMP supports the use of two groups called group A and group B.
For example, group A could contain the modules that you have easily
accessible (on your hard drive), and group B could contain the modules that
aren't easily accessible (e.g., on your floppy disks.)  When you want to
play a group B module, you just double-click it and DASMP will ask you for
the required disk. Since you are able to choose which groups to show in the
listview, this is a great option, and you don't have to scan all your disks
in order to find a particular module once you've added the modules to the
group.  To add a module, you select the "Add" button and a requestor (ASL or
ReqTools, depending on your configuration) allows you to select modules to
be added to the list.  There are three options which should be mentioned:
Normal, Date updating and Check. Date updating adds only modules newer than
your current module list date, suitable for the inclusion of newer modules
that you've copied into your module directory. The Check option checks if
there is a real module that corresponds to the listview entry, suitable for
updating the listview when you've erased modules from disk without notifying
DASMP.

 Of course, no player program would be complete without programming
and randomizing functions. Programming is dead easy when using DASMP's
listview capabilities.  Just delete from the listview the modules that you
don't wish to play, and play the remaining ones. The new module list can be
saved as any other module list, and you can have as many "programs" as your
hard disk allows.

 Another nice feature of DASMP is that it shows and remembers the
playing time of the modules. There are four different clocks.  One shows the
the total time of the currently playing module and how long it has been
playing. The second shows the total playing time of all modules which
currently are in the module list. It is (IMHO) actually quite amazing to
know that all my modules have a total playing time of 5 hours and 32
minutes.  The third shows the total playing time for today, and the fourth
shows the played time of a module and the remaining time to be played.

 DASMP also supports the use of some effects: QuadraScope,
DoubleScope and a big QuadraScope that is scaled using some new functions in
AmigaDOS 3.0. The effects contain a bug that sometimes messes up your
display, and the author has no clue what is causing the problem. I've
encountered the same problem while using another module player's effects so
it isn't a problem that is all that special for DASMP. It is advised,
however, that you use the lowest priority available for the effects to
reduce the problem.

 DASMP has a full-blown ARexx port which is very valuable to simplify
the process of playing modules; e.g., from within a directory utility. It
also supports a few very useful tooltypes that allow you to load a module
list automatically during startup and define an AppIcon for DASMP.


DOCUMENTATION

 The documentation is in standard AmigaGuide format and explains
everything that you need to know about using the program. Like any good
program, DASMP has on-line help available by just pressing the HELP key.
The
program recognizes in which state it is currently in and shows the
appropriate section of the documentation.

 The documentation is quite easy to understand, but unfortunately
there is no section for the novice. But if you have a bit of patience, you
will most certainly be able to have it configured shortly.

 Some features are omitted from the manual of version 3.2a. It seems
like the manual hasn't been updated to fit the current version, and there
isn't any on-line help when you are configuring the EPLs either.  I would
like an explanation of what the different playing modes do.  (By the time
you read this, I will have notified the author.)


LIKES

 I like everything about the product! It gives you everything that
you could ask from a module player and more. The most useful feature is
indeed the unique handling of modules in the listview which makes your setup
so much more professional.


DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS

 I have only one small dislike about the product. It isn't possible
to save the bpm (beats per minute) setting separately for each module. I
have some modules that should be played at a different speed and it is
annoying that you have to change the tempo slider each time you want it to
be
played at correct speed.

 It would be nice if you were able to multiselect both an author and
a style at the same time, but this isn't as important as most composer stick
to one style in their work. But it would be a nice feature.

 The documentation in version 3.2a isn't entirely up to date.


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

 I've used quite a lot of different module players -- more that I can
remember really -- but my needs haven't been fulfilled until I got hold of
DASMP.  The other players either had too few features or an awful GUI.


BUGS

 There is a problem with the effects messing up the display.  The
author is aware of the problem.


VENDOR SUPPORT

 The support of Pauli Porkka is one of the strongest points of DASMP.
Pauli claims that he will answer *all* e-mail that has to do with DASMP, and
he has always done his best to answer my sometimes silly questions.  DASMP
has been developed with a lot of user interaction, and it shows on the
result.


WARRANTY

 None.  It's shareware, for God's sake!


CONCLUSIONS

 DASMP is the best module player for the Amiga platform today (IMHO).
I rate it 5 stars out of 5 with a slight minus due to the lack of handling
the bpm of modules separately.

 Finally, I would like to say that it is really a great program and
you should try it out immediately if you haven't done so.


AVAILABILITY

 You can always find the latest version on Aminet in the
/pub/aminet/mus/play/ directory.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE

 Copyright 1994 Andreas Jelvemark.  All rights reserved.

- Andreas Jelvemark
  andreas.jelvemark@homeros.ct.se