How to Get Apple to Remove/Disable Gapless Playback from iTunes


It’s been quite awhile now, and Apple still has not answered the huge problem that Gapless Playback has been causing. For some reason, Apple seems to think that Gapless Playback is a wanted (or needed) feature, though I can count hundreds of emails and comments that I’ve received complaining about Gapless Playback. Ever since the release of iTunes version 7 (and beyond) Gapless Playback has been causing huge problems for those people who have large music libraries and those of us who have all of our music stored and shared across networked drives.

Gapless Playback got so bad for me that everytime I opened up iTunes, it would literally lock me out of my system. It’d take at least 10-15 minutes before iTunes would respond to me clicking the small X in the menu to stop “Determining Gapless Playback”, and I know others have had the same problem, and some have had it worse. I’ll admit, it could be a cool feature, but is it necessary, absolutely not. It’d be great if Apple would just make a system-wide setting in iTunes that would allow Gapless Playback to be turned on/off (enabled/disabled). That way, each and every song in the music library wouldn’t have to be tagged as being part of a Gapless Playback album. That would make peoples lives a lot easier!

As I mentioned above, Gapless Playback has gotten so bad for me that I’ve stopped using iTunes to manage my music. I’ve found two strong alternatives that are really growing on me:

  • MediaMonkey
    The thing I like about MediaMonkey is they’ve found a way to allow you to manage the songs on your iPhone from within the MediaMonkey interface, however, each time a new version of iTunes comes out, there is some small lag time as the MediaMonkey program is updated. MediaMonkey does natively support updating iPods. Music playback and music management is great from within MediaMonkey and that’s what makes it my favorite alternative to iTunes, but if you’re solely a Mac user, you’re unfortunately out of luck on this one.
  • Songbird
    Songbird is great because its built on the Mozilla platform and allows all sorts of user developed add-ons, plugins and themes to be installed. The good thing about Songbird is that it comes for Windows/Mac/Linux.

7 thoughts on “How to Get Apple to Remove/Disable Gapless Playback from iTunes”

  1. As far as the usefulness of gapless playback is concerned, do speak for yourself. This feature IS INDISPENSABLE for those of us (and we are legion) who enjoy classical music and rip long symphonies, operas and certain other kinds of music. Gapless playback IS a wanted and needed feature, perhaps simply not for you. I have absolutely no problem with encouraging Apple to provide for switching off this feature, but regardless of how many emails you may have received from listeners biased by their own musical interests, the arguments you make (“I’ll admit, it could be a cool feature, but is it necessary, absolutely not”. . .) are simply the result of ignorance, selfishness, or both. Perhaps you could inform yourself in the future, before exposing yourself to such justified accusations.

  2. In order to understand how painful gapless playback is, you must have a large MP3 collection.

    I have over 30,000 songs and keep in on a USB drive attached to one of the computers on my network. I consolidate my families music there.

    We all have ipods so it is nice and secure to consolidate the music library.

    The person who started this thread is correct, determining gapless playback locks up your computer for an indeterminate amount of time.

    HOW FREAKING HARD WOULD IT BE FOR APPLE TO PUT A FREAKING FLAG IN TO SIMPLY TURN IT OFF!!!

    For those freaks out there that want it and get bennefit from it good for you.

    How in the world can apple ignore the issue.

    God bless the people at MediaMonkey that give us all an alternative to Itunes.

    If it were up to me, I would have a generic MP3 player. Unfortunately, Apple has a lock on the market for now. All of our cars have integrated docs/cables for iPod.

    On another bitch note, why in the world did Apple change the pin layout for charging the damn players!???????????????

    Older ipod interfaces WILL NOT charge a NEW ipod.

    I HATE APPLE!

  3. It’s even worse now. I have a main library at home (about 40k files), and a subset of files at work (about 15k). I have a kind of elaborate system for marking which files are only at home and which ones are at work or home. I also have a dedicated library and several custom AppleScripts that I use specifically to synchronize the id3 tag fields for the songs that appear both at home and work. When I do this synchronizing, I log onto to my work admin through a VPN (through cable modem) – I have all the local and remote files in one library, so I can make changes to both files or to entire albums at once, compare the two sets of files, etc. That USED to work mostly OK, but Apple broke it.

    Before 9.0.2, Gapless analysis just sucked. Each file on the remote server took 40-120 seconds to analyze Gapless data. Let me say that again: 40 to 120 seconds PER SONG. Loading and playing a song on the remote serve took a small fraction of that time; no other operation, even uploading artwork, remotely came close to that. I have no idea what kind of shoddy programming makes this operation so inefficient. While analyzing, I am locked out of iTunes. The only way to cancel the analysis is to click the X box on the right side of the display until iTunes figures out that I want it to stop. But of course, Gapless analysis kicked up every single time I launched iTunes, added, or imported a track, with no way to disable it long term. Even worse, iTunes triggered BOTH Gapless analysis AND Artwork analysis at the EXACT SAME TIME after adding tracks.

    Those were the good old days, when the process sucked, but was at least manageable. It used to be that if the remote server was offline, iTunes would show that the track was dead with the (!) mark, which went away the next time you launched with the remote volume available.

    As of 9.0.2, iTunes changed its behavior again: if you have two copies of a file in a library, one on a local server and one on remote, and for whatever reason that remote copy is unavailable when iTunes tries to reference it, iTunes automatically changes that library entry to point to the local track. There’s so much fail with this bug:
    – There is no way to disable it (of course).
    – There is no clear indication to the user the track in the library no longer points to the same file it used to.
    – There are now two different entries in the library that point at the same track file, and some ugly bugs associated with that problem (option-deleting on of those tracks from within a user playlist will delete all entries referring to that file, which makes cleaning up this mess a total nightmare.)
    – The record never reverts back to the remote file, even when it’s available.

    Here’s the kicker: the Gapless analysis causes this to happen. If iTunes tries to do a Gapless analysis on a track while the remote server hasn’t been mounted (or if it drops offline while doing the analysis), iTunes will immediately start redirecting those remote tracks to local files. Even worse: it does this MUCH more quickly per track than the analysis itself. So while I might be waiting a couple minutes for iTunes to receive the cancel-analysis clicks, iTunes might reassign a couple hundred remote tracks. I’m given no indication if this happens, no way to undo it, no easy way to clean it up, no idea which tracks were changed, etc. In order to recover from this, I have to re-add the entire remote directory, let iTunes chew through every file, and add the ones it reassigned, then Previously when I got fed up with waiting to cancel Gapless, I eventually just let it run overnight with the remote connection. (It took five nights – about 90 hours total – to analyze the whole library.) (All of that was lost when I went on vacation and got assigned a new IP address at work.) I can no longer do that: if I leave iTunes unattended and the cable modem goes down, or work shuts down the VPN, my entire library gets hosed again, and I have to re-add all the remote files and start from scratch (after I eventually realize that it’s happened again).

  4. You all sound as pathetically narrowminded (bar Jon) as the overpaid idiots at Apple! Gapless Playback IS essential to my listening and unlike Jon I don’t listen to more than a handful of classical songs, but my music range is diverse. Ahhhhh I’m so furious I can barely keep it together to write this. It’s fine, as Jon REASONABLY said that the option to turn it off would help some people, but for anyone with even a slightly musical ear it’s CRUCIAL. There is NOTHING worse than listening to a continuous song (take anyone from Radiohead, Flying Lotus, to even pop music) and having the flow of one song broken to the next by the discontinuity of inferior software – possibly MID BEAT!!! it is sooooooo disruptive.

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