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GAPLESS Playback now in iPods - New!, Apple just announced today! GAPLESS playback...!
slashjunior
post Sep 20 2006, 21:44
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To me, this is the best update Apple has done to its iPod + iTunes line. Pretty much gives everything what everyone has been asking for plus more. I like the end of the event where Steve Jobs shows where Apple is going with iTV. Using iTunes to play music, movies, tv shows and podcasts on your computer or television or in your pocket or in your car. That is exactly what I want, to have everything on a central point (server) and control everything from there.

This is something a lot of companies don't seem to have exploited. Apple knows what the consumer wants and they do it well, to the point and simply, even though some of their products are slightly overpriced for some. However, prices are falling quite rapidly. $349 for an 80GB iPod is a bargain in my opinion, considering my 60GB photo was 320!

Still going to be sticking with foobar2000 and Video LAN Player as my music and video player respectively, but if Apple keeps these significant updates then I may be forced to go back to iTunes full-time instead of just for updating my iPod.

Speaking of iTunes. At university I was on my girlfriends computer in the halls and you could see all the people who had their music shared on the campus. Some of the music was pretty good and took my fancy. Anyone know anyway of copying their music to my computer? Or does iTunes prevent this?

Thanks.

This post has been edited by slashjunior: Sep 20 2006, 21:49
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Digisurfer
post Sep 21 2006, 00:07
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This news definitely has me leaning towards replacing the Rio Karma, which I bought specifically for it's gapless playback and audio quality, with an 80GB iPod. To get my entire music collection onto my Karma (the wife has one too) requires Vorbis (which has a higher impact on battery life than mp3 or wma) at 80kbps or lower, and this is obviously starting to become a problem. Even she has started to notice that some songs sound odd, and she's not into encoding, bitrates, or any of that stuff at all. Would be nice if AAC-HE support was added too, particularly in light of that recent 64kbps test, though with 80GB I guess it wouldn't be a priority for us for quite a while. That is unless we start using video a lot, which I could see happening. Sure am glad we've held off on the whole iPod craze for as long as we have actually, because it's sure going to be nice to get one at this point now that the product has matured so much. That and the fact that iPod's have so much third party support are truly making it hard to resist any longer.
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Axon
post Sep 21 2006, 15:10
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So would I be correct in summarizing this thread to the following?
  • iPod 5G and Nano support gapless playback. 4G may or may not depending on who you talk to. 3G and below, and Mini, do not.
  • Codecs known to work include, at least: iTunes AAC, iTunes ALAC, LAME MP3.
  • Codecs known not to work include Nero AAC and virtually all other MP3 codecs.
  • If your configuration does not support gapless playback for whatever reason, you will perceive a very small gap (on the order of tens of milliseconds) between tracks.
  • Music file uploads must occur through iTunes for gapless playback to be preserved on the iPod. (foo_dop in particular does not work yet.)
  • The Gapless flag on each track in iTunes does not have anything to do with iPod gapless support; it is a way to short-circuit crossfade playback in iTunes.
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Maurits
post Sep 21 2006, 16:24
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QUOTE (Axon @ Sep 21 2006, 15:10) *
[*]Codecs known not to work include Nero AAC and virtually all other MP3 codecs.

They still will be perceptually/near gapless. Nero AAC native gapless info is not used and non-LAME MP3 have no native gapless info. However, they will sound practically gapless because iTunes uses its own 'magic scanning routine' with surprisingly good results.

'Not work' is a bit too harsh.

QUOTE
Music file uploads must occur through iTunes for gapless playback to be preserved on the iPod. (foo_dop in particular does not work yet.)

The next version of Winamp (5.25) is supposed to support 'gapless uploads' to iPods.


Good summary by the way! I was thinking of doing something like this but you seem to have covered it well, apart from my two minor comments.


This post has been edited by Maurits: Sep 21 2006, 16:45
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Axon
post Sep 21 2006, 17:13
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I'm going to make a new post with the summary, with the hopes that the mods will sticky it.

EDIT: New thread.

This post has been edited by Axon: Sep 21 2006, 17:38
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davechapman
post Sep 21 2006, 23:25
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QUOTE (Gabriel @ Sep 18 2006, 23:56) *
QUOTE (greynol @ Sep 19 2006, 08:03) *

If older iPods are gapless with rockbox, wouldn't that suggest that the hardware IS capable?

No. RockBox is doing a full software decoding, thus reducing battery life. In (previous) iPods there is a chip dedicated to decoding, and this chip is not used by RockBox.


Yes, Rockbox is doing a full software decoding, but so is the Apple firmware - none of the ipods have a dedicated audio decoding chip. They all just contain a simple DAC which is fed PCM data via i2s from the CPU.

If you want more info on the hardware in the ipods, the ipodlinux wiki has a nice breakdown of every ipod going back to the first generation devices, as well as links to documentation describing the functionality of those chips:

http://ipodlinux.org/Generations

Rockbox's poor power management (we have almost no hardware documentation to help us) and relatively unoptimised code (ARM CPUs are a new target for Rockbox) are the main reasons for the reduced battery life compared to Apple's firmware.

On other players (e.g. iriver H120/40, H320/40), Rockbox uses less power than the manufacturer's original firmware, and still manages gapless playback.
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garym
post Sep 21 2006, 23:35
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QUOTE (Axon @ Sep 21 2006, 08:10) *
So would I be correct in summarizing this thread to the following?
  • iPod 5G and Nano support gapless playback. 4G may or may not depending on who you talk to. 3G and below, and Mini, do not.
  • Codecs known to work include, at least: iTunes AAC, iTunes ALAC, LAME MP3.
  • Codecs known not to work include Nero AAC and virtually all other MP3 codecs.
  • If your configuration does not support gapless playback for whatever reason, you will perceive a very small gap (on the order of tens of milliseconds) between tracks.
  • Music file uploads must occur through iTunes for gapless playback to be preserved on the iPod. (foo_dop in particular does not work yet.)
  • The Gapless flag on each track in iTunes does not have anything to do with iPod gapless support; it is a way to short-circuit crossfade playback in iTunes.


Great summary, but I disagree about other mp3 codecs "don't work". I have many old mp3's done with the Fhg codec from MusicMatch 7.5 and I at least perceive these as Gapless from listening (through headphones trying to locate any gap and even watching the ipod for timing). So I'd say gapless "works" on these mp3's. I admit I haven't tested in any technical way to establish this, just the listening....

This post has been edited by garym: Sep 21 2006, 23:36
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jagwap
post Sep 22 2006, 11:51
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I'm using windows media player 11 beta (and happy enough) but due to nasty gaps it puts on any burns I use itunes to convert wma lossless to wav etc...

For compelations I just use WMP as I don't mind the gaps then.

Most annoyed when installing itunes 7 and all it's glorious gapless newness, it seems to have knocked out wmp's ability to see my CD-R/DVD-R drive as anything but a playback device.

I upgraded to wmp 11 beta2 hoping that may reset stuff...

Any ideas?
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Gabriel
post Sep 22 2006, 13:09
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QUOTE (davechapman @ Sep 22 2006, 00:25) *
Yes, Rockbox is doing a full software decoding, but so is the Apple firmware - none of the ipods have a dedicated audio decoding chip. They all just contain a simple DAC which is fed PCM data via i2s from the CPU.

If you want more info on the hardware in the ipods, the ipodlinux wiki has a nice breakdown of every ipod going back to the first generation devices, as well as links to documentation describing the functionality of those chips:

http://ipodlinux.org/Generations


Thanks for correction.
So if Portal Player's chips are only a pair of ARMs with some I/O and controllers, obviously Apple could provide gapless support to older iPods.
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greynol
post Sep 22 2006, 17:31
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QUOTE (jagwap @ Sep 22 2006, 03:51) *
I'm using windows media player 11 beta (and happy enough) but due to nasty gaps it puts on any burns I use itunes to convert wma lossless to wav etc...

For compelations I just use WMP as I don't mind the gaps then.

Most annoyed when installing itunes 7 and all it's glorious gapless newness, it seems to have knocked out wmp's ability to see my CD-R/DVD-R drive as anything but a playback device.

I upgraded to wmp 11 beta2 hoping that may reset stuff...

What does any of this have to do with gapless playback in iPods?

This post has been edited by greynol: Sep 22 2006, 17:32


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Steve999
post Sep 24 2006, 18:44
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I love the new Itunes 7.0. However, I've tried everything with my 4g 40 gb ipod photo, and I don't get gapless on the ipod. I use MP3s exclusively. I ripped Abbey Road and Dark Side of the Moon with Itunes 7 (MP3-VBR), made sure my ipod was as up to date as possible, marked the tracks as part of a gapless album, and still don't get gapless.

Gapless works fine on the computer. Very nice.
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spoon
post Sep 24 2006, 20:15
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You need a 5G ipod.


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tycho
post Sep 24 2006, 22:32
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QUOTE
Codecs known not to work include Nero AAC

@ivan or @menno: will this be addressed?

QUOTE (Digisurfer @ Sep 20 2006, 15:07) *
This news definitely has me leaning towards replacing the Rio Karma, which I bought specifically for it's gapless playback and audio quality, with an 80GB iPod. To get my entire music collection onto my Karma (the wife has one too) requires Vorbis (which has a higher impact on battery life than mp3 or wma) at 80kbps or lower, and this is obviously starting to become a problem. Even she has started to notice that some songs sound odd, and she's not into encoding, bitrates, or any of that stuff at all. Would be nice if AAC-HE support was added too, particularly in light of that recent 64kbps test, though with 80GB I guess it wouldn't be a priority for us for quite a while. That is unless we start using video a lot, which I could see happening. Sure am glad we've held off on the whole iPod craze for as long as we have actually, because it's sure going to be nice to get one at this point now that the product has matured so much. That and the fact that iPod's have so much third party support are truly making it hard to resist any longer.

Having always disliked the iPod concept, I still found myself inside the local apple store yesterday, buying the black 8GB Nano. After trying it, all initial regrets were gone.

Personally, I would think twice before buying the 80GB iPod. Compared to the nano, it's bulky and heavy, has a mechanical HD, and battery capacity is 14 vs. 24 hours. (My main use is for running). Yes you can put your complete CD collection on it as lossy compressed files, but you'll still need a lossless backup. I find it more convenient to get the 8GB Nano and a 250GB external HD for lossless files. Together it's less than $349, which is what you'd pay for the 80GB ipod. You can put your favorite 200 albums on the nano, while having the lossless backup elsewhere.

Would you really watch many full movies and TV shows on such a tiny screen? I know I wouldn't. The nano can do photo slideshows of my 8 months old kid. That's good enough for me.

PS: iTunes is basically a nice piece of software, but it need to be optimized. E.g. I simply can't stand that *two* memory hogging processes (iPodService.exe and iTunesHelper.exe) are running at all times (even when iTunes is closed). Too bad. Will have to wait for Winamp 5.25.

This post has been edited by tycho: Sep 24 2006, 22:49
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Turok
post Sep 26 2006, 00:01
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Sorry for the second time I ask, but does anyone know if the stuttering problem is still a problem!? Or is there a new firmware version available for mini 2g?
I can't test it myself at this time, but it's the most important thing for me. And yes, I think it's more important than gapless playback. wink.gif 10-15% of my songs are stuttering - what a disaster. crying.gif
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michael.conner
post Sep 26 2006, 00:07
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QUOTE (tycho @ Sep 24 2006, 16:32) *
Personally, I would think twice before buying the 80GB iPod.
<snip>
Would you really watch many full movies and TV shows on such a tiny screen? I know I wouldn't.


This is a little OT -- but I watched entire season of "Battlestar Galactica" on my iPod. Or better said, VIA my iPod on a 25" TV screen. The video out capabilities of the 80gb unit are nothing to be sneezed at... it does automatic PAL/NTSC conversion on the fly, too.

Not that your stated reasons for preferring the Nano aren't perfectly reasonable, esp. if you're a runner...

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grommet
post Sep 26 2006, 00:18
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QUOTE (Turok @ Sep 25 2006, 16:01) *
Sorry for the second time I ask, but does anyone know if the stuttering problem is still a problem!? Or is there a new firmware version available for mini 2g?
I can't test it myself at this time, but it's the most important thing for me. And yes, I think it's more important than gapless playback. wink.gif 10-15% of my songs are stuttering - what a disaster. crying.gif
Way off topic, but Apple will probably never fix this. It was fixed on nano (1G) earlier this year, but it was still a "current" product at that time. mini (of any generation) is long retired. Apple can prove me wrong, of course.
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chrisgeleven
post Sep 26 2006, 02:10
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The shuttering issue has definitely been fixed with the last 2 versions of the Nano firmware.

However, us Mini owners are apparently left behind.

I am seriously considering getting a 2G Nano though. Gapless playback, no shuttering issues, and the ability to use this while running really have me interested to say the least.


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pika2000
post Sep 26 2006, 03:27
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QUOTE (Axon @ Sep 21 2006, 07:10) *
  • Codecs known to work include, at least: iTunes AAC, iTunes ALAC, LAME MP3.

I tried iTunes7's MP3 encoder, 128kbps VBR highest quality, and it's gapless. However, the encoded MP3s are not gapless with foobar.


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michael.conner
post Sep 26 2006, 04:36
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QUOTE (pika2000 @ Sep 25 2006, 21:27) *
QUOTE (Axon @ Sep 21 2006, 07:10) *
  • Codecs known to work include, at least: iTunes AAC, iTunes ALAC, LAME MP3.

I tried iTunes7's MP3 encoder, 128kbps VBR highest quality, and it's gapless. However, the encoded MP3s are not gapless with foobar.


Lame's the only encoder that can produce true gapless MP3 files for foobar. That iPods can play non-Lame MP3s gaplessly is pretty cool in and of itself.

That being said, iTunes' native MP3 encoder is still crap (esp. in VBR mode):
http://www.rjamorim.com/test/mp3-128/results.html

So just because it can play back gaplessly on iPod doesn't mean one should do so wink.gif

This post has been edited by michael.conner: Sep 26 2006, 04:41
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pika2000
post Sep 26 2006, 05:01
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QUOTE (michael.conner @ Sep 25 2006, 20:36) *
That being said, iTunes' native MP3 encoder is still crap (esp. in VBR mode):
http://www.rjamorim.com/test/mp3-128/results.html

So just because it can play back gaplessly on iPod doesn't mean one should do so wink.gif

That was done in 2004. We're in 2006. That test used iTunes4.2, we're at version 7 now. Any ABX comparison between both versions? How do you know iTunes7's MP3 encoder is "still crap"? Is quoting old listening tests the acceptable TOS now in HA?


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michael.conner
post Sep 26 2006, 05:25
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QUOTE (pika2000 @ Sep 25 2006, 23:01) *
QUOTE (michael.conner @ Sep 25 2006, 20:36) *

That being said, iTunes' native MP3 encoder is still crap (esp. in VBR mode):
http://www.rjamorim.com/test/mp3-128/results.html

So just because it can play back gaplessly on iPod doesn't mean one should do so wink.gif

That was done in 2004. We're in 2006. That test used iTunes4.2, we're at version 7 now. Any ABX comparison between both versions? How do you know iTunes7's MP3 encoder is "still crap"? Is quoting old listening tests the acceptable TOS now in HA?


Do you know of any more recent tests? If iTunes has improved its MP3 encoder since then, then I stand corrected.
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greynol
post Sep 26 2006, 07:22
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It should be pointed out which bitrate was used for that test:
QUOTE
Apple iTunes 4.2 MP3 112kbps VBR, Highest quality, joint stereo, smart encoding

Sebastian Mares is planning on giving the codec a more fair shake this time around.


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michael.conner
post Sep 26 2006, 13:03
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QUOTE (greynol @ Sep 26 2006, 01:22) *
It should be pointed out which bitrate was used for that test:
QUOTE
Apple iTunes 4.2 MP3 112kbps VBR, Highest quality, joint stereo, smart encoding

Sebastian Mares is planning on giving the codec a more fair shake this time around.


Ok, my bad -- I took conventional wisdom as fact.
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tycho
post Sep 26 2006, 17:15
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Just a note for people thinking about getting one of the new iPods. Although they play perfectly gapless with Lame VBR encoded material, at least in the Nano, there is a firmware bug (v1.0.1) which makes it impossble to search within long tracks (more than 5-6 minutes). E.g to get to the end of the the first track in 'Wish You Were Here' (13:30 mins), can only be done by playing through it. Hopefully Apple will fix it in the next firmware update, but I guess mp3 VBR isn't their number one priority. Read more about it here.
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Rochey
post Sep 27 2006, 18:43
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I've just split an mp3/cue with pcutmp3 and found that it plays gapless in foobar2k but not on itunes 7 or the ipod 5G 80gb.

My understanding is that both itunes 7 (ipod) and foobar2k use the lame tag for the gapless info, so why is it gapless in foobar2k and not on the Ipod (itunes 7)?
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