Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gapless Playback in iTunes 7

Having used iTunes 7 for several weeks now, I'd have to say the worst thing about it (for me) is the whole "gapless playback" idea. On the surface, it seems fine. iTunes analyzes all the songs and figures out which ones don't need any silence between then when they're played consecutively. The gaps have always bugged me on, for example, Pink Floyd's "The Wall" where one song trails off into a bunch of sound effects and dialog, which then segues straight into the next song. But consider:

  • iTunes 7 tries to analyze every song in the library the first time you run it. (That process is very slow, you might have to let it run all night and all the next day.)
  • If you interrupt the analysis, iTunes tries to run it again for your whole library the next time you import any music.
  • If you use the technique of removing the iTunes library data file, and re-importing a modified XML data file, iTunes does the analysis yet again! The "gapless / not gapless" setting isn't preserved in the XML file. I've used this technique several times recently while moving songs between hard drives, and the constant "analyzing songs for gapless playback" is driving me up the wall.
  • How often do you actually listen to an entire concept album with shuffle turned off? I'm much more likely to hear a song from "The Wall" as part of some playlist. For me, it would be more useful to have a way to join two songs into a single unit retroactively. You can join songs like this, but only when you rip them; neglect to plan ahead, and you have to go back to square one with that CD.

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