Gapless Playback in iTunes 11 | iLounge Article

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Gapless Playback in iTunes 11

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Q: Has Apple removed support for gapless playback in iTunes 11? I’ve noticed that the Part of a Gapless Album option has disappeared, and although my existing gapless albums still seem to work okay, I’m not sure exactly how to deal with any new music I add in the future if I want it to play gaplessly, since this setting is no longer there. Does this mean I have to buy all of my gapless music from the iTunes Store now or is there some other hidden setting that I’m missing here?

- Leon

A: Actually, the Part of a Gapless Album setting in iTunes has never had anything directly to do with enabling gapless playback, although the name obviously sparked some confusion and may explain why Apple chose to remove it.

Gapless playback is determined automatically when you import a CD, based on whether the original CD is gapless or not, and iTunes has actually never provided any way to manually enable gapless playback for a given album or set of tracks. This is also why tracks acquired from sources other than the iTunes Store or original gapless CDs don’t necessarily play back gaplessly, even if they’re otherwise from a gapless album.

The only thing that the Part of a Gapless Album option for a track in iTunes has ever done is to allow the user to disable the crossfading feature between specific tracks.

Logically, this is something that iTunes should have always been able to handle automatically, since if it knows that a track is supposed to use gapless playback, it also already knows to disable crossfading. In fact, this is exactly how iTunes 11 now handles gapless albums—crossfading is always disabled for those albums. In fact, the Part of a Gapless Album option in older versions of iTunes was really only useful for turning OFF gapless playback for a given set of tracks in favour of crossfading. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that even gapless albums will only play gaplessly when played back in the standard album order. If you enable shuffle mode or mix these tracks into a playlist in a different order, they will be played with the normal small gaps between the tracks.

The bottom line is that iTunes 11 continues to handle gapless albums as it always has. The only impact that the removal of the Part of a Gapless Album option has is that users will no longer be able to choose whether to override gapless playback with crossfading when listening to tracks directly in iTunes.

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Comments

1

I don’t agree with that answer.  I’ve had albums that had gaps in them, I’ve ticked the box for “gapless play”, and the behaviour changed.

Posted by Joe Siegler on January 13, 2013 at 4:58 PM (CST)

2

I listen to a lot of audio books on my Ipod shuffle at work.  Since I got the newest Itunes, and haven’t been able to tick the “gapless playback” box, there is a second or two cut off the end of every disk. It is frustrating to miss details.  Is there a way to fix this?  (I’m assuming it’s the gapless issue, but am not positive.  That’s the only thing I’ve noticed that’s different.)

Posted by Joe on January 20, 2013 at 11:57 PM (CST)

3

I also don’t agree with that answer. I’ve had live older albums such as CSN&Y 4 Way Street which, until I clicked “gapless play”, there was the typical pause between tracks and after I choose “gapless play” the behavior most definitely changed.

Posted by Dan on January 25, 2013 at 5:20 PM (CST)

4

This is BS.  I just imported a gapless album and it has gaps between the songs.  I can’t take them out.  Every time I try to do something that I’ve done for the past 5-10 years in iTunes it turns into a giant mess.  No wonder Apple’s value is tanking.

Posted by Greg on January 28, 2013 at 12:05 PM (CST)

5

+1 not agreeing with the answer. I’ve had many live albums added in the past (those are the ones where I use this feature) and thanks to that option they weren’t played with gaps. I actually used the feature to remove them myself. Now I was adding another live one and… bam, the feature is gone.
Wish it was still there :/ live albums with gaps suck. any alternatives?

Posted by Kevin on February 18, 2013 at 11:59 AM (CST)

6

I also disagree with this answer. I have albums that I ripped years ago (‘Smile’ by Brian Wilson is one that immediately comes to mind), before Apple introduced gapless playback into iTunes. There were always gaps between what should have been seamless transitions. Gapless playback fixed that, and it has played perfectly ever since. Now that manual gapless playback has been removed, the album plays with the gaps right back where they were. Apple really needs to fix this.

Posted by MysteryD8 on February 23, 2013 at 11:07 PM (CST)

7

Also a big disagree.  Had put off downloading itunes 11 for a while but now i have it the lack of “gapless” feature is a big let down.  Albums already on ipod seem to be OK (the few that I checked anyway)but when I add new stuff the gap is present and noticeable.  Maybe it can detect if an album should be gapless when it’s bought from itunes but otherwise it can’t be depended upon.  Are we really that stupid that one extra option would be too much for our simple brains.  Come on apple- sort it out!

Posted by Pottsy on March 1, 2013 at 5:15 AM (CST)

8

I just got off the phone with Apple Support…

They have eliminated gap-less playback of albums, so now EVERY song on a mixed DJ set or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (or millions of other albums) - each track will have a 1 second gap between them.  Completely ruining the way the album was meant to be listened to.

They reverse-engineered and went back to crappy playback like Android and Windows OS phones USED to do.  Doesn’t make much sense does it? 

I repeat - do NOT upgrade to iTunes 11, you will be severely disappointed.

For those that have already upgraded and lost gap-less playback, submit a Feedback request and demand for gap-less playback to be brought back into iTunes ASAP!!!  Fill out the form here:

hXXp://www.apple.com/feedback/itunesapp.html

Posted by randynchicago on March 5, 2013 at 5:34 PM (CST)

9

More on gap-less playback and an OS X workaround:

hXXp://bitperfectsound.blogspot.com/p/gapless-playback-problems.html

Posted by randynchicago on March 5, 2013 at 5:41 PM (CST)

10

That answer is wrong. I have several LIVE CDs that I ripped to iTunes using gapless and the albums played without ANY annoying gaps between songs. This includes LIVE CDs with more than one disc.  However, when I updated iTunes, all of my LIVE CDs that I rip have a very noticeable GAP between tracks. What is iTunes going to do about this? Why did they make it worse, and why is Jesse Hollington not being honest?

Posted by Richard Carter on April 6, 2013 at 6:50 PM (CDT)

11

That answer is wrong.

The gapless playback option did a few things.

First, if you had crossfade turned on, the albums with the gapless option selected would not crossfade and play through without gaps.

Second, the gapless option would detect the silence at the front and end of MP3s and cut them out during playback.

Third, even if the CD that was ripped was gapless, without the gapless playback selected for that album, you would still hear a very short pause or stutter in between songs. Enabling gapless playback preloads the next song so that microsecond gap isn’t noticeable.

What I’ve noticed with the new iTunes is it seems that the gapless playback is always on or it seems to detect the alumbs that need it really well.

Posted by mmmke on April 7, 2013 at 5:22 PM (CDT)

12

The answer in this article is actually based on specific testing done in just about every version of iTunes since the feature was first introduced in iTunes 7, along with very specific testing done after iTunes 11 came out in response to this question.

The “Part of a Gapless Album” setting in iTunes has worked consistently since the feature first debuted in iTunes 7 until it was taken out in iTunes 11, and in fact it has been discussed extensively in our discussion forums over the past few years, in threads such as Definitive Explanation of “Part of A Gapless Album” Checkbox, Changing a non-gapless album into a gapless one in iTunes 8, and Gapless Playback - What Does it Really Mean in Practicality (just to highlight a few that came up in a quick search).

I have not yet had time to determine exactly why some people in this discussion are seeing different results, but I do know that it works fine in several test iTunes libraries as well as my own personal iTunes library, which consists of several dozen gapless CDs imported myself across several versions of iTunes as well as a number of gapless albums purchased from the iTunes Store. 

Note that gapless playback isn’t as simple of a matter as it may seem when working with separate tracks, since it requires iTunes or your iPod or iOS device to be able to identify how gapless tracks should be blended together across multiple audio files. There have been problems with iTunes in the past regarding improper identification of gapless tracks, and it’s worth noting that the gapless information is stored in the iTunes database, not within the files themselves. As a result, if you replace the underlying files, this can break gapless playback in several different and odd ways—for example in some cases users have found tracks ending prematurely due to the gapless algorithm having marked a specific transition point that no longer applies to a different bit-rate track.

So that said, it is entirely possible that iTunes 11 has introduced a bug regarding gapless playback, but the key point is that the “Part of a Gapless Album” setting never had anything to do with gapless playback in the first place, even when it was there.  If gapless playback is no longer working in some cases, this has nothing to do with the removal of this particular option, or the suggestion that Apple has dropped the feature. However, it definitely could be the result of some other problem.

I should note that all of the libraries in question—where gapless playback continues to work fine for me—have tracks that have been imported directly into iTunes in either 128kbps or 256kbps AAC format.  As a result of this thread, I attempted importing a gapless CD into my library in MP3 format, and it played gaplessly without any issues. However, I do not have any older tracks in other formats available so I cannot comment on whether that works or not.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on April 8, 2013 at 4:03 PM (CDT)

13

I recently updated to itunes 11. I’m a Deadhead and I have a large collection of LEGAL live recordings on an external hard drive (about 500 gigs of dead shows). In the past when I wanted to listen to a show I loaded it onto my ipod shuffle, manually set it to gapless playback and everything worked great. Now I load a show onto the shuffle and there’s a break between every song and at every track change even if its in the middle of great jam…  It totally ruins my listening experience. Apparently there’s no way to fix this, and if the issue isn’t resolved I will be looking for an alternative to itunes and start moving away from Apple Products (of which I have many).

Posted by Kelly Klassen on July 7, 2013 at 10:09 PM (CDT)

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