Miscellaneous Ramblings

Cabrio a Simple, Compact, Free MP3 Player Ideal For Older Macs

Charles Moore - 2002.11.18 - Tip Jar

There are a lot of choices available in MP3 players, including, of course, Apple's own iTunes, which is wonderful. I especially like its ability to play my extensive MIDI collection of classical stuff as well as MP3s.

However, iTunes, even the older versions, requires OS 9.x, and my daughter's PowerBook 1400 is running OS 8.6. Enter Melonsoft's Cabrio - a cool little freeware application that takes up an extremely small amount of screen real estate and demands very little memory. It's ideal for an older Mac like the 1400.

Cabrio default skin
Cabrio's default skin

Cabrio allows you to have music playing in the background during even the most memory hogging tasks. If you get tired of the attractive brushed blue default interface, there are eight other bundled alternative interface "skins" included in the standard installation, or you can download a new skin from the SkinCity or create your own with Cabrio's Skinventor.

Bundled alternatives include CABRIOSX, ChromeSkin, Cindy Margolis Skin, Deep Salmon, Gigaflop, Green Monster, Long John Silver, and MelonLogo.

Most of the interface skins are quite compact. When you are working with an 11.4" screen, you appreciate economical use of pixel space.

The application itself is only 2.1 MB, and it will run with a modest 4035k of memory (with virtual memory on), although 5035 k is the recommended default.

Cabrio uses the Subband Millennium MP3 playback engine, which claims full skip protection - and that seems to work. I have not noticed any skips running Cabrio on the PowerBook 1400.

Cabrio's playlist is minimalist compared with iTunes, but it does the job. You can add selections to the playlist by opening them, by dragging icons into the Playlist folder, or using the button in the playlist window, and they are listed in the order they're added. To access the playlist, there is a handy pulldown menu on the interface window.

There are several playback options in the Preferences, as well as a Sleep control panel.

Stuff you have to get along without when using Cabrio includes things like a track progress bar and fast forward and rewind controls. And, of course, no wave form monitor or graphic equalizer. This is a small program that does one thing well - play back MP3s without a lot of RAM or screen real estate demands. This makes it ideal for use on lower-powered, RAM-challenged, legacy Macs like Deirdre's 1400/133.

Saint Louis, Missouri based Melonsoft was originally started in March 2000, as Melonhead Software, a one man Macintosh development team consisting of Ryan Staake. Its two initial entries into the Mac freeware market, ShuffleWorx and PicPocket, were crude at best. Still, these two applications seemed to strike a chord with many users and gave Ryan the knowledge and insight needed to begin development of Cabrio.

Staake began design and development of Cabrio in August 2000. Six months of coding and testing later, Cabrio was released to the Macintosh community as a totally free player. It quickly gained praise for its simplicity, ease-of-use, and stylish design. Hundreds of skins created by the newly hooked Cabrio users were posted and distributed via SkinCity, a depository consisting entirely of Cabrio skins maintained by Melonsoft.

Cabrio Features:

  • Simple, stylish, compact interface
  • Drag and Drop simplicity
  • Powerful playlist window
  • Customize with skins
  • Reads ID3 info
  • Alternate popup playlist menu
  • Sleep Timer built-in
  • Scrolling track info with custom speeds

System requirements: System 7.5 or higher and a PowerPC processor

Got OS X? Melonsoft has developed Cabrio X, a stable version of Cabrio that runs natively on Apple's new operating system. You can find both it and the Classic version of Cabrio one the Melonsoft website.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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