capsule review

Audion 2.1

If you need a change, but you don't quite have the energy to rearrange your room or plant flowers, then try a new MP3 player.

Audion is a Mac-specific MP3 player and encoder, and version 2.1 contains many new advanced features, while maintaining its ease of use. It can play your CDs and MP3s, of course, as well as play streaming network audio, but if you purchase the player/encoder package, you'll also be able to encode, using either the popular LAME encoder or the old standby, Fraunhofer. The makers of Audion will claim it offers "one-step encoding," but in actuality, it takes just a bit more than that -- drag and drop a CD or playlist to the program, and then select a track to encode.

In the new version, you can edit each track's information to include the artist, album title, track title, year, comments, and equalizer preference. And you can make equalization and volume adjustments for each song. This is handy if you've got a few MP3s that have a lower volume than the rest of your collections.

One of Audion 2.1's best new features is real-time DJ crossfading. This allows you to open two control windows and cue two tracks at the same time.

If you think you might get bored with your Audion player, you can give it a fresh new coat of paint by shifting the hue.

Better yet, why not give your player a whole new face? There are over a hundred different faces available to download from Panic.

Like the free iTunes ( www.apple.com/itunes/ ), Audion is an easy-to-use MP3 player with gems and treasures that are easy to reach. But with iTunes, you won't find many advanced features like those in Audion. The only problem I found with the program was that it left tiny graphical artifacts on the screen from time to time. Panic provides great and responsive technical help, and their Web site is informative, especially for first-time users who are interested in learning about the product.

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