As ardent fans of the Commodore 64 and it’s SID chip, we were more than a little excited when we spotted a tweet announcing the release of SidAMP, a SID player designed specifically for Android phones and mobile devices.
The app is the work of Vladimir (@igvlada), a coder and C64 fan developing games and apps under the pseudonym ‘GarageApps’.
Available for download via the Google Play Store, requirements for the app are meagre to say the least, needing a mere 4 MB of space and Android 4.0 (or better); the fact that this is completely free means there’s no reason NOT to try it out, which is exactly what we proceeded to do!
While the DeepSID web-player is great for listening to tracks on your desktop and laptop computer, the fact that Android prevents the Chrome browser from playing audio or video when the device’s screen is locked makes it difficult to use on-the-go.
Crucially, SidAMP functions just like any other dedicated music player, continuing to stream music even after the device locks!
Having fired up SidAMP for the first time, I was delighted to see that it provided the ability to install the latest version of the High Voltage SID Collection, proceeding to download and unpack all the files without any kind of intervention. Even though it’s possible to access tracks from local storage, HVSC means you’ll have access to classic tracks from Martin Galway, Matt Gray, and every other SIDician you could possibly want within easy reach!
Before you begin, however, one of the first things you might wish to do is disable audio notifications for the app, which prevents your device from playing an (annoying) audio notification whenever you change tracks.
The user interface is, as you might expect, designed around the retro aesthetic of the C64 BASIC command prompt, complete with blue colour scheme, authentic font, and PETSCII-style characters for UI elements. Everything appears to be well-laid out, and I had no trouble finding my way around the various menus.
The app includes a search facility that allows you to search through HVSC for your favourite music, and it even replaces the stock Android keyboard entry with it’s own C64-inspired design. Admittedly, the keys are rather small, and found it quite fiddly to type things accurately our device, even with it’s 5.7″ screen, but we’re prepared to overlook this issue on the grounds that it looks cool!
The interface includes a button for creating custom playlists, although the functionality has yet to be implemented, simply displaying “Coming Soon” when pressed – this will definitely be a welcome addition.
The actual music controls include the ability to navigate through each track contained within the SID file itself, complete with all the controls you’d expect from a music app. There’s a very cool graphic equaliser showing the current waveform in a wonderfully pixelated style, and it’s possible to view metadata on the various tracks as well.
As for the actual playback quality and track handling, it just works as you’d expect, and I didn’t notice any particular glitches or distortion while listening. There doesn’t seem to be any way to switch between 6581 and 8580 revisions of the SID, but that really is of little concern here.
We must have spent over an hour browsing and listening to various tracks, enjoying the novelty of listening to Jonathan Dunn’s ‘Platoon’ playing out of the speaker on the handset’s internal speaker. Vladimir has done an excellent job in creating what amounts to an accessible, fully-fledged SID player that works remarkably well on a mobile device; just resolve the issue with the minuscule keyboard and everything would be near-perfect!
The bottom line: if you’re a C64 fan and want to listen to enjoy classic C64 SID tracks on-the-go, SidAMP is the perfect solution!