Review: Open Cubic Player v2.5.1

Written by Fractal/GP

I've just downloaded the latest version of OpenCP (as of 19.12.98), which is version 2.5.1a. After looking around a bit, I wanted to write something about this great player. I don't know how many of you out there have not heard about OpenCP or Cubic Player, but I doubt it's many. So, what's the point in writing this then? Hell, I don't know, but there might just be someone who doesn't know about this player, or doesn't know that it has been given attention since it was Cubic Player v2.0++e. That was about a year ago. Pascal (ex. Cubic Team) had better things to do than code a music player for the demoscene. Not too long ago KB (Tammo Hinrichs) started working on the Cubic Player, calling it the OpenCP.

Cubic Player v2.0a++e was a great player. The XM player routine was great, although there was little screen output. The IT player wasn't very much to brag about. Back then the player supported many filetypes, and Pascal had included an MPx loader too. Besides being a module player, the player played WAVs, MPxs and CD-Audio too, and not to forget MIDI. Great. KB added support for SIDs, which is music made on the C-64. All this results in a very long list of supported file-formats. To sum it up, Open Cubic Player supports all major module-formats, and then some, it supports MIDI, MPx, WAV, SID and CD-Audio.

OpenCP can read archives. OpenCP can read lots of archives. Currently OpenCP supports the archives RAR, ARJ, ZIP, LHA and ARC. In addition to that, OpenCP supports the music archives from the games Death Rally (Remedy Entertainment) and Unreal (Epic Megagames). Both games have great music by (previous) members of the demoscene (respectively Purple Motion / FC and Siren / Kosmic ^ Straylight), and it's worth checking out if you have the games.

OpenCP supports a wide array of soundcards. On the soundcards where hardwaremixing is availiable, OpenCP utilizes it. This includes the GUS sound card series from Gravis. Furthermore, there is the possibility to write the track onto the disk as a waveform using the diskwriter. If you can't get your soundcard to work with OpenCP, you have some sort of weird soundcard. This is usually not a problem, since all low-life soundcards are Sound Blaster compatible. :) An interesting feature of OpenCP is that it supports two Gravis UltraSounds simultaneously. If you have two amplifiers, and a pair of speakers for each of them, it will give you a once-in-a-lifetime-experience.

OpenCP has a great text-based user interface. It hasn't been changed much since the first releases of Cubic Player. The user interface has only been tweaked to perfection in the past years of development. The important thing about this player is the playback routines, not the user interface. That is a good thing. It's better that Pascal uses time on coding, bugfixing and optimizing the code for the playback routines than making some sort of fancy graphical user interface. The textbased user interface of OpenCP is naturally controlled by the keyboard. Many will perhaps find this clumsy and are screaming for mouse-support. But when you get the hang of it, it's a thousand times better than using a mouse. It's faster and more convenient, and you can fill up the screen with other things than buttons for the mouse. With the release of version 2.5.1 you can also change the colours of the user interface to your liking.

OpenCP also has graphical screens for various 'views' of the music you are currently playing. Examples are graphical spectrum analyzer, notedots, oscilloscopes and phasegraphs. The standard resolution for these graphic mode functions is 640x480x256. The graphical spectrum analyzer can be viewed in 1024x768 if you wish to do so. This, however, is not recommended on a 80486-based system, unless you have a Gravis UltraSound to take care of the mixing.

The playback of the OpenCP is great. As far as I can hear, it plays XMs, MODs S3Ms perfectly. It's a bit more buggy when it comes to ITs, but it's not a big deal, and it plays most ITs great. OpenCP is also under constant development, and my guess is that the IT player is one of the more important things they are working on. I don't hear any flaws when playing other module-formats either, but I don't have the trackers, so I can't compare the playback.

The player consists of many different functions. Therefore a hypertext help-system has just been implemented, making it easy to get help in the player. You don't need to quit playing and search the web for information on various subjects that's related to the player in any way. It's all there.

If this is supposed to be a review of the OpenCP, I guess it's appropriate to list the few downsides of the player that I have not already mentioned. Here's the list:

- OpenCP can be a bit unstable under Windows. It is clear, however, that KB has worked on this before the release of v2.5.1, because it's much more stable than its predecessors.
- I wish there was a graphic mode with a large fullscreen spectrum analyzer.
- I wish there was a possibility to sort the modules by their composers in the fileselector.
- OpenCP is being distributed with only one background picture for the graphic modes, which is of KB, with a sign pointing to him: 'This man roxx'. :) What about holding a opencp-gfx-compo?

To sum up this list: more or less nothing is wrong with OpenCP. The three last parts of this list is just things that I mean could have been implemented or changed, making it just a bit better. It's a great player, and if I should rate it on a scale from 1 to 10, it would receive 9.

Just in case you mean that this 'review' was a bit on the subjective side, I would like to state that I do not have any relations to Open Cubic Player, Niklas Beisert, Tammo Hinrichs or anyone else involved in the OpenCP project.

At last, I would like to thank you for reading through this, as this was my first attempt in writing anything for a diskmag. I know this didn't turn out to be much of a review, but more of a description of how great OpenCP is, but I hope you can live with it. I also hope that you point your browser to http://www.cubic.org/player/ to give this great player a chance, if you have not done that already. I would appreciate any feedback you are willing to give. Tell me what I did wrong, and what I did right (if anything).

Regards, Fractal/GP