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Gapless ATRAC-v-MP3 am I missing something

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by KiNeL, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. KiNeL

    KiNeL
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    Ignoring for the moment any arguments about the qualatative aspects of ATRAC v either MP3 any other format I see many people saying they use ATRAC for gapless playback intimating that other formats don't provide it but in my experience MP3 does.

    I have come to the HD5 from an Archos which was pure MP3 drag and drop with Explorer and I have simply used SS to transfer 20gb worth of these onto the HD5 and it all plays gaplessly, or as near as makes no difference.

    As an experiment I took a particular CD and ripped it to ATRAC with SS and then ripped it again to MP3 with Audiograbber, my programme of choice for MP3.

    I then transferred both sets to the HD5 and compared playback and could discern no difference whatsoever in the gapless playback performance of either so what exactly is the issue here?

    Might I conclude that it's to do with the way folks are ripping their MP3's. Audiograbber has a setting to eliminate the gap between CD tracks and I use this but other rippers may not have this facility so is this where the misunderstanding originates.

    I didn't try ripping to MP3 with SS either so maybe this retains the gap.

    If ATRAC ripping actually resulted in a proper fade out/fade in crossover THEN I might be interested in it but otherwise I'll stick with MP3. No DRM crap to worry about either.

    Incidentally, whilst there was no discenable difference in gapless playback between the 2 formats the MP3 was significantly louder !
     
  2. sirlukas

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    Did You try to do the same with actually gapless CDs, like Cds from Concerts? Cause, I don't think that the issue is whether someone can get rid of gap using mp3 ripper?


    Regards....
     
  3. IanPM

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    Any MP3 will at the very least have a very tiny gap. Rip any Ministry of Sound mixed CD and you will see that MP3s are hard to make gapless. Even Winamp can't quite manage it.

    ATRAC3+ on the other hand really does do gapless. Aparently so does OGG, but no one uses that format so who cares.
     
  4. KiNeL

    KiNeL
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    Ripping a gapless concert CD in MP3 would results in a single track - ergo no gaps - and this is how I would normally expect listen to such music, in one track.

    What does ATRAC do with it then, try and chop a concert into it's constituent tracks then play it back gaplessly ?

    All seems a bit futile.

    I don't like big gaps in my music, or more correctly, I don't like abrupt or unnatural endings to songs, but I simply cannot get myself worked up about the tiny virtually unnoticeable gap remaining between MP3 tracks and certainly don't see it as a "killer feature" to mandate the use of ATRAC.

    As I've said before though, each to his or her own.
     
  5. IanPM

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    Yes, I see what you mean. You could rip a mixed CD as one long track. And of course it would be gapless. However, one long 74-80 min track is a bit tedious if you want to skip a few tracks.

    If you rip all the tracks individually there would be gaps with MP3.

    ATRAC will allow you to rip the tracks individually to have the same continuous playback, but with CD style track skipping.

    Its not really a killer feature, but for those of us that like mix CD's, or, more common, classical music (which really does need track breaks) its nice to have the option.
     
  6. shadowritten

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    My dear KiNeL, I fear you may be completely missing the point about ATRAC and gapless. Allow me to elaborate ...

    All DAPs (other than the now defunct Rio Karma) artificially insert a bigger or smaller 'moment', or 'gap', of silence between ripped tracks, regardless of the format (ATRAC and, presumably, Ogg Vorbis being the exceptions here).

    This gap is virtually undetectable where two tracks DO NOT merge into each other. However, a live album or a dance mix CD, where each track merges with the next, will suffer from this annoying, artificial gap between tracks.

    Now, it is possible using certain ripping/encoding programs to either lessen the gap between ripped tracks, or eliminate it altogether when ripping SEVERAL TRACKS AS ONE FILE. But that is NOT what ATRAC does.

    ATRAC allows you to retain the same number of tracks, exactly as you would have on the original CD, and to rip these in such a way that, when played back using Sony Walkmans, NO ARTIFICIAL GAP is inserted between tracks - including (and this is the important part) tracks which merge one into the other. This, apparently, is to do with the double buffer which Sony employs to ensure continuity between tracks as they play back.

    No other manufacturer (besides Rio, as previously mentioned) has yet achieved this same track continuity. It's for this reason that ATRAC is seen, by some including myself, as a make-or-break feature when choosing a DAP. There was a time when I had to spend ages ripping MP3s into sometimes VERY long single files encompassing tens of tracks, simply to avoid the irritating gaps! This meant I also couldn't include all the individual info for each track! Thanks to ATRAC, those days are over.

    So to summarise, it's not a question of how you rip or what program you use: ATRAC is the one format (so far as I know; Ogg Vorbis may, too) that guarantees you truly gapless playback. But only on Sony players, obviously - and therein lies its downside ...
     
  7. Steven

    Steven
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    At high-ish bitrates, I personnally think most comprssion formats sound the same

    Incidentally, if YOU can't hear a difference between Atrac and MP3, or a gap with MP3, might as well stick with MP3, and drop Atrac. Future compatiability and that, with non-Sony players

    Unless you're patient and willing to re-rip or have songs in 2 formats
     
  8. shadowritten

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    Oh yes ... I think there was a Sony Vaio Pocket that did true gapless for MP3. Ask johann about it ...
     
  9. KiNeL

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    Thank you Shadowritten so it seems, as I suggested, that ATRAC does effectively crossfade tracks which is great but I still think I'll stick with MP3.

    CD length tracks don't bother me, in fact I quite like them. Part of the enjoyment of some albums comes from a familiar song sequence. Imagine Dark side of the Moon out of sequence....!!!!!!!!

    Nor am I particularly fussed about seeing artist's or track names during playback. I know my music pretty well and have all the track info if I did need to refer to it.

    Apart from anything else a huge amount of my music has either been downloaded or ripped from vinyl and life is simply too short to contemplate re-ripping and converting MP3 to ATRAC would cause significant quality deterioration which I couldn't tolerate!

    Thanks to all for the input.
     
  10. djpowell

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    I think that there are two potential places where gaps can get added:

    One is that that player might not seamlessly move from one track to the next, so might add a gap at playback. Does the HD3 definitely do this with MP3s?

    The other is an inherent problem with MP3s, that they store the audio in blocks, and pad the last block out with silence if it doesn't match where the block wants to end. They don't store the exact length of the file, so the player doesn't know whether the gap is supposed to be there or not. (I think)

    If you use LAME to make your MP3s you can get around this second problem by using:

    lame.exe --nogap track01.wav track02.wav track03.wav ...

    (You must put all the tracks together on the same command-line)

    This tells lame, that it is OK to fudge the track boundaries slightly so that each MP3 ends exactly on a block and doesn't have to be padded with silence.

    I haven't tried it myself though - anyone tried how well it works on the HD5?

    --
    Dave
     
  11. shadowritten

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    KiNeL, I'm sorry, but you again misunderstand: ATRAC does NOT crossfade tracks at all. Please try to grasp this: it reproduces an album EXACTLY AS THE ARTIST INTENDED without losing individual tracks on your player i.e. no need for multiple tracks in a single file.

    May I urge you to experiment and test this fact for yourself?
     
  12. sirlukas

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    Yes, it only "tells" Player not to make any gap between the tracks, so they can be played properly :>


    If You Can't (as LFC_SL stated) buy proper headphones ;)
     
  13. ak47wong

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    Good summary by shadowritten.

    This page has some information and sample files to demonstrate gapless playback as well.

    But KiNel, if you really don't mind having an entire CD in a single track I guess it doesn't make any difference...

    Andrew
     
  14. shadowritten

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    Thanks for the vote of support, mate! Thought I was losing the plot there for a second ...
     
  15. Beethovenian

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    I completely side with Shadowritten here. But I understand that some people may not care to have large single files or tiny gaps. By the way, Sony players won't add any gap that's not already encoded in the file (as part of the MP3's or other codec's limitations). Unlike the iPod and some others, that will necessarily pause before starting a new track, the Walkmans will be able to theoretically play MP3 gaplessly if they are encoded in such a way to avoid blank spaces in the first and last frames.

    As for why it's so important for some, I'd say each person has his own sensibilities. Some people can notice a difference between 192kbps and 256kbps files and be bothered by the lower quality ones. It doesn't matter at all to me. But a tiny disruption in the flow of music bothers me, and since 90% of what I listen to is classical, those disruptions are almost always perfectly noticeable. It also bothers me the fact that you can't choose here, unlike in the sound quality issue (you can always use more space to have higher bitrates). Apple, Creative, Samsung and others simply decided to ignore a simple musical requirement, imposing this ridiculous throwback to the cassette days of forcing you to have joined tracks. True, you can argue the album was made to be listened to in its entirety and therefore having them as one single file shouldn't matter, but you don't have the option in case it does matter to you having the ability to jump tracks and have the information for every track. It's just poor engineering, and as such it seems inexcusable.
     
  16. drmoze

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    New(?) Atrac gapless question: If you rip a CD directly into Atac format and then convert/transfer it to an HDD at a lower Atrac rate (e.g. 256 to 192 or 64), will the converted file on the DAP still be gapless?
     
  17. KiNeL

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    shadowritten, you wrote...............

    "This, apparently, is to do with the double buffer which Sony employs to ensure continuity between tracks as they play back."

    I understand exactly what you're saying and perhaps the term "crossfading" is a misnomer but it's essentially what it's doing, albeit the fade is instantaneous and unnoticeable.

    Tounge in cheek is there not a fundamental flaw in Beethovenians argument though.......?

    "True, you can argue the album was made to be listened to in its entirety and therefore having them as one single file shouldn't matter, but you don't have the option in case it does matter to you having the ability to jump tracks and have the information for every track."

    Errr....if you're going to skip and jump tracks what does it matter about any gaps ?

    All comments are intended in the spirit of healthy discussion and learning !
     
  18. shadowritten

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    Yes
     
  19. sirlukas

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    Ok, since ATRAC is a gapless and very good codec, why there is no plug-in for Winamp to make it playable without using SS :censored: ?

    Do You know any alternatives, maybe You can write such plug-in :rolleyes:
     
  20. shadowritten

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    KiNeL, I posted a very lengthy new post here earlier today (well, thought I had - the server change-over or whatever seems to have lost it!), explaining in some detail that ATRAC is not about crossfading but about efficient buffering. I'm sure you can search the web for more on this, as I don't fancy retyping what I said before.

    And yes, I do appreciate that you thread is intended for the purposes of healthy debate, so please accept my apologies for getting heated yesterday.
     
  21. KiNeL

    KiNeL
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    I did read your post (Resp. #6)

    Did it get heated, I didn't notice !

    I simply added my comment to ensure things stayed lighthearted in case somebody did get over excited, I wasn't implying anybody had.
     
  22. Beethovenian

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    Let me elaborate here, then. Many music compositions are made of separate pieces that sometimes, because of the desire of the composer, flow seamlessly one to another without pauses. It happens, for instance, with Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. The third and last movement of Beethoven's Fifth, as the last three in the Sixth, are separate movements, but there are no pauses between them. It happens as well in operas. Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung are four gigantic blocks of music divided into very few acts each. Yet that doesn't mean a listener will necessarily want to listen to the whole blocks at one seating. You may want to listen only to the famous Thanksgiving hymn in the finale of Beethoven's Sixth, or you may want to listen only to Wagner's Ride of the Walkyries, or to a specific aria in another opera. Or you may want to listen to only one song from Abbey Road, or from Dark Side of the Moon. You should have the right to eventually listen to only part of the album. What shouldn't happen is that, when you want to listen to the whole thing, you are forced to listen to pauses where there aren't any. True, if joining works for you, it works for you. But joining or not should be your prerrogative, not Apple's, Creative's, Samsumg's or whatever. Plus, with music downloads there are lots of people who won't have the original CD and as such won't know, as you, their music, who will want information about the tracks they buy. Downloads from iTunes, Yahoo etc. are not gapless (at least when transferred to a portable player). And are not sold in bunchs of joined tracks.

    Oh, and about converting Atrac files to lower bitrates, in my experience you lose gapless when doing that.
     
  23. drmoze

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    In other words, the encoded album should have the same playback format and same functionality as the original CD!

    As for gapless playback if an Atrac file is converted to one of a lower bitrate: I got one answer yes, one answer no. Which is it? (I may try it tonight and post an answer if no one has confirmed yet!)
     
  24. Pecker

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    Two thoughts here.

    Firstly, someone said earlier in the thread that gaps were inherent in mp3. That's simply not true. Play back a live album on your PC in mp3 and you get no gaps. Yes, mp3 can be gapless, and as you're reading this, you're probably only a few seconds away from proving that for yourself.

    Secondly, I listen to lots of music, but only a few albums I have are live or without gaps (Spiritualized, Pink Floyd, etc). I find the tiny gaps don't bother me unless I let them bother me.

    On the train, shopping in Sainsbury's, at the gym, I'm regularly pausing etc in the middle of tracks anyway. I'm sure there are people who use their DAP to listen to music intensly, in situations other than these, but to be honest it isn't a messaive deal, and certainly wouldn't encourage me to switch to ATRAC, with all of its compatibility problems.

    Having said that, I'd return to my original point, and say that there really is no need to not have gapless playback, and even if it's only a very minor annoyance, we'd be better off with no annoyance at all.

    I'm sure there are those for whom this is a big problem, and I wouldn't argue with that, I'd just point out that, whilst the concept sounds disastarous, it may not be a big problem for many (most?) people.

    Steve W
     
  25. IanPM

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    Here is a question then, do Sony Connect sell any albums that need to be gapless, i.e. Ministry of Sound.

    Hardly a killer app to be honest, but Gapless is lovely when you hear it in action. And makes a huge difference to listening.
     
  26. pharris007

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    I listen to early dance CDs that are mixed professionaly, and when its done you dont know when the track has changed.

    :D :D :D so glad i bought the sony :D :D :D

    What do the guys at IPod know!
     
  27. shadowritten

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    Agree with everything you've said ... except the last sentence about transcoding down. I seem to have achieved this without losing gapless. Perhaps I got lucky - only tried it once ...
     
  28. shadowritten

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    Sorry mate - no, it was a later response that never made it to the board (been having horrendous problems posting on here since the server changes began). It was quite long, acknowledging your crossfade-as-misnomer comment and explaining the difference between this and what ATRAC actually does. In short, ATRAC doesn't crossfade (wish it did sometimes, but hey ...) - it's all about bloody good buffering! :clap:
     
  29. shadowritten

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    Sorry, Pecker, but I do. Whatever program I use to playback MP3s which SHOULDN'T have gaps between them, the artificial gaps are nonetheless present.

    WMA, however, often avoids gaps, but only when played back through WMP. Though it's still a bit hit-and-miss sometimes.

    So far, only ATRAC has given me what I really want: proper gapless playback, just like on the original CD.
     
  30. shadowritten

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    Yes they do.

    Here's a case in point. They sell X&Y by Coldplay. Tracks 3 and 4 should be gapless. Download them, and they aren't. This is in ATRAC3 at 132kbps. So I assumed only ATRAC3Plus did gapless - though others tell me all ATRAC should be gapless.

    It's a mystery ...
     

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