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Improve iTunes' visualizer frame rate on some setups Apps
I use an aging G4 as my backup -- printserver -- media center, using the plasma display in my living room for the screen. One of the (many) problems I ran into is that the visualizer in iTunes is incredibly slow -- so slow as to make it not responsive to the music at all. After mucho mucking, I found a solution...

Here's how I solved my frame rate issues with the visualizer on my older G4...
  1. Get G-Force; there are a few versions available there.

    G-Force allows you to specify at which resolution it will run (in full screen) by hitting the letter M while it is running. To see the frame rate, press R. You have to exit and re-enter full screen for changes to take effect (command-F). One problem you are going to see, if you run a setup like this, is that when G-Force switches resolutions, your image won't be centered on the screen anymore. This is where DisplayConfigX comes in...

  2. Get DisplayConfigX.

    Here is where it gets tricky. First of all, when you get DisplayConfigX, you are going to be able to really play with the resolutions on your monitor. This allows you to fine tune the plasma (or LCD or whatever) to display the clearest image. In my case, with a Panasonic TH-42PWD6, the best resoltion is 1136x640 at 60hz. This is because anything larger makes text (like track titles in iTunes) hard to read. Why exactly 1136x640 you ask? Well, the resolution of my monitor is 852x480. That works out to an aspect ratio of 71x40. Add to that the fact that you want to keep your total resolution a multiple of eight. Therefore, 1136x680 happens to be in the ballpark of good screen visibilty and also a multiple of eight and a multiple of 71x40.

    How does that help us speed up the visualizer? I'm getting there... bear with me.

  3. When you find the "right" resolution for you plasma, lcd or whatever, you need to also find the "right" refresh rate. Play with different rates, until you find one that makes it so the picture fills the screen without having to mess with the display's controls too much.

  4. Now we need to find a very low resolution that will also fill the screen perfectly. Go back into DisplayConfigX and add a resolution that is smaller than what you think will look good ;-). In my case, this was 568x320. You will notice that again, this is a multiple of eight, and a multiple of my actual display aspect ratio of 71x40. Add this resolution to your Mac, and while you are at it, add it at a bunch of different refresh rates. Restart. (We're almost there, I promise it will be worth all this effort).

  5. Go to your Display Prefs window, and put it in the top leftmost corner of your screen. Select the small resolution you have added, and look at what happens. Probably, the image will be way off of the display. Try a different refresh rate, until you find the one that centers the image with not too much overscan (a little is OK in this case), and not too much black border anywhere.

  6. OK, one more step. We have to go back in to DisplayConfigX and delete the refresh rates that didn't work, otherwise G-Force might "pick" the wrong one. Do it, restart, and then start iTunes and go into the visualizer (G-Force), preferably not in fullscreen mode. Hit M until you see the very small resolution you have added to the Mac (in my case, 568x320 at 80hz).
We're done. Hit Command-F to go into fullscreen mode. Wait a few seconds for G-Force to stabilize its frame rate, and hit R to see what it is. In my case it went from 9 (unusable) to high 20s (very nice). Sit back and enjoy!

At this point, you might want to head on over and pay the shareware fees for these two excellent programs.

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one...]
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Improve iTunes' visualizer frame rate on some setups
Authored by: Slinkwyde on Nov 27, '05 08:32:58AM

Did you try setting the visualizer to not be fullscreen, so that the Options button could appear in the top right of the window and you could then choose "faster but rougher graphics?"



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