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.