Trackermusic on Atari STE
1. Atari STE sound capabilities
The Atari STE was equipped with same soundchip (YM-2149) that was already used for
its smaller brother, the Atari STf. But furthermore the STE came along with the
big advance of a DMA-chip, which allowed digital soundreplay much easier, similiar
to the Paula-chip in the Amiga. Now it was quite easily possible to replay samples
and modfiles in 8-bit stereo with a replay frequency up to 50 khz (in those days
also called "crystal clear" sound). But that was not all of the goodies the Atari STE
offered sound-related. Another clear advance was the integration of a standart audio
lineout (cinch) for left and right channel. So now the user could connect external
boxes or a hifi-tower to the computer and was not only able to enjoy sounds via the
It was just a matter of time, until those hardware specifications found use in software.
So the first modplayers optimized for the Atari STE popped up. Those improved more and
more and finally even played up to 8 channels in high quality (25 khz or faked 50 khz).
This was a kind of revolutionary on Atari, the techniques were used in a lot of STE-demos
and also games.
The MOD-format was dominating the nineties. So a lot of players for this format appeared
and still appear today from time to time. The quality and use of the players is rather
differing. So here are some of the (from my view) most important modplayers for this system:
The CD-PLAYER done by the democrew Light is a kind of legendary for the Atari STE. As
far as I remember I was highly impressed by its graphics and audio features. The player
comes in the look of a real CD-player and offers a kind of playlist. You can replay
4-channel modules in 25 khz and also toogle bass, treble and volume. However, from
todays view on things the player is simply old and outdated. It does not feature
newer commands as well as totally blocks the working flow on the Atari. However, it
is pretty to look at and let it play old mods if you have nothing else to do with
PAULA was one of the earlier ones. The highlight of this player was (and actually is)
that it could be used as an accessory, which means you could use it on the desktop
while working with other programs (sort of multitasking). The player replays 4 channel
modules only and the interpretation of the commands is rather old school. Means that
some commands are not recognized, some newer more special modules cannot be played
at all. However, the selectable frequency (12, 25, 50 khz) is a good feature along
with the repeat und random functions. On the other hand the use of 50 khz replay
frequency is almost impossible as the player seems to be pretty slow.
PLAYER is the modest name of one the better players. It does not come along with a lot
of comfort, but if you once got used to the shortcuts it is really outstanding. The
simple interface actually hides the fact, that this player one of the best replay
routines around. It plays 4 as well as 8 channels in high quality and stability. And that
can be done as an accessory as well, so it is great to use along with other
programs (I think I even used it in the painting programm CrackArt). All in all this
piece of software can be highly recommended for Atari STE-owners.
Another great mod player is OSZI coded by Dynacore/.tSCc. This programm is not - as PAULA
or PLAYER - working as an accessory, so it interups all other programs and
enters singletasking mode. It also does not feature a GEM-interface but a rather colorful
screen with information like song- and samplenames, songlength and osciloscopes. If you
start it on monochrome monitor the computer does not crash (yeah!:) but the modfile is
normally replayed by showing a black screen. If you press space you can leave the player
and you get back to the file selector to either select another modfile or to quit.
This player is in a lot of ways my definite favorite for Atari STE (and even Falcon).
It is specially optimized for the STE hardware, so you get up to 8 channels in high quality
replay. The command interpretation is very good as well and the programm is very
stable. So whenever you feel like listening to a mod once, it's never a problem to
drag and drop it on this lovely player and enjoy it. The more scenish character of this
player comes clear when you regard that the player is also able to load songs that are
compressed with different packers (e.g. ice, atomic) and save the mods in unpacked form.
Futhermore its possible to toogle the bpm-speed by using the arrow-keys up and down. For
more of those special features press help to get information about the shortcuts. Summarized:
A great player!
The democrew Cream tried to make a big step forward in the development of Atari players
by creating JAM. The letters stand for "Just Another Musicplayer" which is a sort of
true. But in contrary to the other players this programm is a multiformat musicplayer.
It features plugins for a wide range of formats such as MOD, SID, SAP, FC, TSD, SND, AON and
a lot more. Some of the modules however run on the Falcon only. For the Atari STE the
SID-player is probably the most important part of the programm. This originally came out
of Creams former release called "PlaySid STE" which was already astonishing. So this
programm, working as an accessory too, gives the STE-owner the possibility to enjoy various
soundformats with one player. You can also edit a playlist, view information on the song
and set a maximum playing time for each song. A small minus of the player is the stability.
Sometimes I could get it to crash completely, which is on the other hand not a big wonder
regarding all the different formats included. However, this is one of the view (or even
the only?) multiformat player in a newschool appearance (GEM-interface, playlist..) and
is really useful for the Atari STE range of computers.