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Alive 13

xsc 2

                      An SNDH zik player for Mac OSX

There  has been a lot of favourable publicity and feedback upon the  release
of the new version of Cream's 'Jam' player for Windows.  At least one person
asked  whether a version of this was coming for the Mac.  At the same  time,
quietly, and without ceremony, such a player slipped out. This is 'Xsc', now
in version 2. This does everything that Jam player does, and more besides.

One of the key people involved in the making of this essential  application,
is none other than Evil of DHS. He kindly lent me a copy of the beta test of
v.2.0,  shortly  before it came out,  but this review is based on the proper
release version.

Very  briefly,  Xsc is a soundchip music player for the Mac.  It can take on
the  common SNDH format,  which has coincidentally just had the main library
updated,  or even SC68,  which gets you into many of the Amiga formats,  and
even some ST-based digi-sounds like Quartet music files.

It  was  compiled on a 'proper' Mac,  that is,  a PowerPC based Mac.  I've no
idea how compatible with the new Intel machines it is,  and it is explicitly
stated that this should be run under the PPC emulation on one of those.

The interface is austere,  a CD-player style console in keeping with the OSX
desktop with the usual controls,  nothing more.  This isn't a bad thing, I'm
not expecting iTunes style visual easter-eggs and lightsynths just yet!  All
Xsc has to do to impress me, is to replay the ziks correctly.

And yes, the news from Sweden is good. The tunes I threw at it encompassed a
wide range, from classic Mad Max, spending quite a lot of time in the folder
marked 'Jess',  which took care of 'early' ST-SID.  I went on to hit it with
something  pretty  contemporary,  that is,  505's soundtracks for the 'POSH'
demo. On all of these, it sounded as it would on an ST.

It  even happily took on the hybrid format 'Knucklebuster'  conversion  from
the  Cuddly  demos.  One tune which Xsc 1.0 struggled with,  the theme  from
Federation  of Free Traders by Ben Daglish,  seemed to be okay this time  as
well.  I  then  shifted over to some of the example files which  weren't  ST

Xsc  handles Amiga formats quite well.  It gave a good account on the chippy
sounding  Future  Composer  tunes,  and on other Amiga formats too.  It  was
interesting  to  compare  Quartet,  which had a high noise  level  from  the
unfiltered ST sound, with the smoother Amiga counterparts.

There's not a lot more to add.  It does what is stated on the packaging, and
no more,  but then it isn't needing to do any more. Xsc is an essential item
if you are a Mac owner, and into chip music in any form.

Now  go and wipe the smug smiles off the faces of those Peecee  owners,  who
think you are zik-impoverished, because you don't have Jam for Windows!

CiH, for Alive Mag, April '06..

Alive 13