Question about MP3 CPU usage in OSX


Is it just me, or does it seem like the MP3 players in X are CPU hogs?

BTW, before I get started, I'm on an dual USB iBook, 256MB RAM. OSX upgrade path of X.0.3 -> X.0.4 -> 5G64 (still waiting on 10.1 shipment from Apple). All MP3s I tried are 128kbps MP3s.

I've noticed this the most with iTunes. Doing a top command in a Terminal shows around 20-25% CPU usage by iTunes while playing an MP3 with no visualization except the slider bar telling how far along the song is. But, since iTunes does a lot more than play MP3s, I figured I might try a more light-weight mp3 player. So I downloaded Audion and tried it out. I got the same performance from Audion -- 20-25% CPU usage.

If I try Winamp on my p3 450 at home in Win2K, I use anywhere from 3-5% CPU. Is there something about G3/G4s decoding MP3s that makes it tougher than on a x86 chip? I'm just curious about this -- if I'm doing other things in OSX, it tends to start bogging down (most noticiably surfing with OmniWeb while using iTunes to listen to MP3s). I read in another thread about doing a fresh install of 10.1 (wiping the hard drive when upgrading) that I am going to try when my 10.1 comes in. Is there something else I'm not doing?

Thanks in advance,


mach-o mach-o man
I'm almost positive that this is due to the Carbon tool kit, but I'm not completely sure.

I know that if you download mpg123 (, I think), you can play mp3's from the command line quite effectively.

I was working on a fount end for this, but I REALbasic (I don't know c, boo hoo) gives me a spinning rainbow whenever the mp3's start playing, and ths I can't implement even a stop button. (Even tried creating different threads, still didn't work.)

I bet there is a low-cpu usage mp3 player out there somewhere.

Ps: on my beige g3, iTunes frequently used +30% of the cpu.


I have a B&W PowerMac G3 (500MHz) and I usually get between 12% and 25% when running iTunes. Way back about a year ago when I was running LinuxPPC 2000, there was one MP3 player already installed, called XMMS. XMMS is a GNU WinAMP clone. The visualizations were slow, BUT it only took between 3% and 5% of the CPU time according to 'top' in the terminal window. I often wondered about the discrepancy between Mac OS X iTunes and LinuxPPC 2000 XMMS. The only thing I can think of is that iTunes is doing some other things that XMMS is not, or possibly the code used to write them is different (i.e. XMMS is written incedibly efficient, or iTunes is written incredibly poorly, OR Apple just writes it to be purposely slow so they can make more $$$$ on new hardware sales.).


Barking at the moon.
That is pretty interesting, i did the top command and watched it as iTunes chugged along. It averaged 10-12% until it hit 22% on Jimmy Buffett. I dunno what that's supposed to mean but oh well. ;)