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Creating MP3 files for almost gapless playback

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So, it looks like ATRAC heavyweights here are not happy with modern SONY players because of the lack of proper gapless playback. Pink Floyd fans are the unhappiest of them all.

Let's see what can be done to amend the situation while SONY sleeps. Let's look back at ATRAC and what makes it gapless. The main factors are as follows:

1. Constant bitrate, which facilitates synchronization between tracks.

2. Continuous encoding - successive tracks are parts of a single gapless stream.

3. [Possibly] Use of internal timing tags.

All this is easily achievable with MP3 using a command-line version of LAME. While SONY players do not use any timing tags for MP3, continuous encoding at a constant bitrate will certainly facilitate playback, and, while not fully eliminating gaps, will make them as short as possible. Depending on material, most of them will be unnoticeable, while others may sound like spliced tape, without affecting the rhythm. At least that's how they sound on my new SONY NWZ-B143F.

So, the "magic" command for LAME is as follows:

LAME -b 256 --cbr -q 0 -m s --nogap "Track 01.wav" "Track 02.wav" "Track 03.wav" "Track 04.wav" "Track 05.wav" "Track 06.wav" ... "Track nn.wav"[/CODE]

What do all these switches do? Let's see:

[b]-b 256[/b] instructs the encoder to use a constant bitrate of 256 kbit/s. You may specify any numeric value supported by your player.

[b]--cbr[/b] enforces strictly constant bitrate.

[b]-q 0[/b] sets the highest possible encoding quality.

[b]-m s[/b] instructs the encoder to use true (not joint) stereo.

[b]--nogap[/b] instructs the encoder to create a single stream split by files.

After the switches, you need to specify all files to be encoded one after another, separated by spaces (using quotes for names containing spaces). Obviously, encoding files separately will not help us achieve our goal.

The end result may depend on the player model. Some models may still introduce larger gaps. But at least it's worth a try.

At least this makes it possible to [i]enjoy[/i] Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and "The Final Cut" on an NWZ-B143F.

Edited by Avrin
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well zune is not available in my country nor anywhere else outsdei the US. I do not want an ipod, sandisks players look cheapo, samsung players usually have firmware issues that then need upgrading, ditto for creative, case in point their new player, the X-F1 2, then there is cowon, sure it is nice, but I do not like the design of it nor the UI on it.

for me this only leaves sony, they make great players with great build quality, and great sound. plus most walkamns have a better design than other players on the market.

If I just wanted a player with gapless, I'd get something else by now, but I want a sony, what is wrong with that?

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At least, you may be interested in the fact that such files also provide "spliced tape" playback on the RH1 and the unhacked RH10.

I have actually done that ....... "Tape splicing " man did you just bring back some memories ......... ZZ tops Tres Hombres album , the Song Transition between "Bus- /Jesus just left Chicago " was a Tape slicing accident , the engineer was trimming the Tapes for the master tape to be Made from ( Oops , you dont make mistakes there ) and trimmed off a bit too much in the space between the songs , and after splicing the song Transition was just .... DirECT from Bus -> Jesus and perfectly timed , but no space between . So they left it that way .

That is what actually happened , so the Band started playing it that way from then on .

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Surely it won't work 100%, but it allows you to get as close to gapless as possible with the existing hardware/firmware.

I have a Sony S639F and am frustrated by the non-gapless playback (except using wav, but then I would only fit 20 or so cds on it). Most of the cds I have are classical or live performances which need gapless.

Is it possible to make an "enhanced" or "podcast" MP4 file, with all the tracks joined into one, but with Chapters. This would be equivalent to some podcasts I download as one mp4 file, but has pictures and chapters that I can jump to. I have not yet tried these mp4 files on the sony, but on the ipod and in Windows Media Player, these play gapless, since its one audio stream with chapter markers.

If it is possible, is there software that I can use that will take a collection of wav files and create one mp4 file with chapters?


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I have no idea about chapters in MP4 files, and have no hardware to check this, since my player only supports MP3 and WMA (though it can be "persuaded" to play WAV).

The Sony site specs for the player I have (NWZ-S639F) says it can play MP4. However since MP4 is just a container for audio/video/other streams and data, it matters what the encoding of the audio stream is inside the mp4 file. I have tried all my mp4 podcasts and none work on the Sony player. So obviously the encoding used in them are not supported.

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AFAIK, SONY (and most other) players support very few video stream types, and have very strict requirements to their encoding parameters.

As for chapters, this feature looks like an additional extension to the standard with some support by software players, but probably no support by hardware ones. There is even an extension of ID3V2 to enable chapters in MP3 files, but it is also hardly supported by anything.

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