In between everything else that’s going on here — including this week’s move to a new location, and the normal day-to-day crises — I have managed to make a little more progress understanding audio processing and control at very low processor speeds.
As a recap to anyone who hasn’t heard the story thus far, I’ve been wrassling off and on with audio playback in very old machines — some as old as mid-90s (i.e., pure Pentium) grade hardware.
The downside is that invariably, playback was terrible — scratchy, stuttering results when using standard-quality variable-bit recordings in ogg or mp3 format.
I’ve tried several different distros and players, with my favorite being Music on Console, even if it was terrible to listen to. In between distro hopping, I decided to test a couple of other players, this time under Debian.
It seems that cmus, which I thought I had tried, gives me perfect playback (or at least as perfect as can be enjoyed with laptop speakers ) even when mocp is unacceptable.
Same files, same quality and bitrates, and the difference between cmus and mocp is night-and-day. mocp kicks back any amount of skipping and kicking.
Exiting the moc player, as I already knew, cleans up the playback, and that means basically that the interface itself is just too heavy for a slow processor like this.
On the other hand, cmus plays clean and clear. System load is rarely above 30 percent, with a meager 15Mb of memory (out of the 28Mb available of 32Mb physical) actually taken up.
In fact, the only way I can force it to skip is to demand something rather intensive of aptitude, such as a repository update. That much calculation and contemplation drives the processor all the way up to 100 percent anyway, so it’s no surprise if audio failures result.
So all in all, moc’s interface was just too much for a system this slow. It’s a shame, because moc is my favorite in the field of console audio players, but there’s little to be done about it.
In the mean time I’ll be trying to get my bearings on cmus, and possibly adding it to the 133Mhz Pentium, which otherwise is really only working as a file server and torrent slave. Playing music might also be in its future.
P.S.: Just for the record, all this was installed and tested on that same CF card from months ago. …