The Truth About Gapless Playback

What Is Gapless Playback?Definitions vary from vendor to vendor, but in the audio player community, gapless playback is generally understood as some form of uninterrupted reproduction during audio content (e.g., song) transitions.  Here are three characterizations:

A) Microsoft® executes automatic gapless playback in one media player using a crossfade technique and explains crossfading as an effect that occurs when "the volume at the end of one song fades out and gradually goes down while the volume of the next song fades in and gradually goes up."  Microsoft uses a form of digital signal processing (DSP) to create its crossfade.

Since DSP utilizes memory buffers, a manual advance (i.e., skip) command will generally cause an immediate end to reproduction of song A as the player changes to song B.

B) According to Apple®, “Gapless playback means that there is no pause in playback between the end of one audio file and the beginning of the next audio file.”  Apple executes automatic gapless playback in one media player using a digital signal processing technique.

Since DSP utilizes memory buffers, a manual advance (i.e., skip) command will generally cause an immediate end to reproduction of song A as the player changes to song B.

C) By contrast, Codentity®, with its patent-pending True Blend™ Media Player System, defines gapless playback as the "naturally-timed transition between a song pair, where the content and audio levels are presented without arbitrary alteration and heard to either overlap or adjoin as appropriate".  Codentity executes automatic gapless playback with logic that controls two independent media players, and does not utilize a digital signal processing technique.

Since Codentity does not use DSP memory buffers, a manual advance (i.e., skip) command will never cause an immediate end to a playing song; instead, True Blend™ will always execute a smooth, overlapped transition from song A to song B.

Loose standards produce mixed resultsA type of so-called "gapless playback" listening experience is proclaimed by almost every media player implementation on the market.  But, depending on the vendor, the term gapless playback can have a very broad definition when it comes to AUTOMATIC digital audio transitions.  In the real world, this "loose" standard very often produces undesirable results.

For example: Gapless playback problems are heard in the form of premature fade-outs, unnatural fade-ins, and song-content portion deletions.  When listeners encounter these artifacts, they instinctively understand that their music recordings are not being presented the way the artist intended, or in the way they expect to hear them played.  The vast majority of automatically-executed gapless playback transitions are UNNATURAL.  (See the Real-World Transitions table below.)

However, gapless playback in the True Blend™ Media Player System from Codentity® is always natural because True Blend™ never produces annoying "dip and clip" or song content portion deletion events.  Instead, True Blend™ consistently executes smooth, overlapping (or when suitable, adjoined) transitions.

Two players are better than oneAlmost every OTHER software product on the market creates its automatic gapless playback transitions as a "DJ-style" CROSSFADE.  And their crossfade process typically utilizes digital signal processing (DSP) to perform the crossfade transition in ONE media player.  While these clever DSP transitions can sometimes work, they are not uniformly reliable with every song-pairing.  And the processing algorithms from different vendors also demonstrate varying degrees of accuracy.

Unlike other automix implementations, which create problematic song transitions in ONE media player, the True Blend™ Media Player System executes natural transitions between songs from TWO independent media players.   At runtime, True Blend™ logic measures discrete track (i.e., song) duration; then—and without a need for file preparation—it calculates the optimum play time for each track in order to start either an overlapped or adjoined transition, which is customized for each song pairing.  (Go to the Codentity Web Store.)

Imagine an unending series of song to song transitions with no form of gapless playback—What does sequential song presentation sound like when there is no attempt at some degree of gapless playback?  It sounds like the CD changer experience from the late 1980s: uncomfortable "silence gaps" between the end of song A, and the start of song B.  That's how most of the "streamers" (i.e., the streaming Internet radio services) do things today in 2014!  (Click here to see one example.)

Unfortunately for streamers, when the name of the game should be KEEPING listeners engaged as long as possible in order to satisfy advertisers, their current state-of-the-art in "silence gap" transitions represents a risk management nightmare.  With extended fade music to silence events, followed by a 3 to 5 second delay while the next song in the queue "buffers up", EVERY TRANSITION presents an opportunity for the listener to wonder why the DJ fell asleep, or if a technical problem is affecting the music stream, or to simply be annoyed.  This will inevitably cause these people to "tune-away" in search of a more consistent and pleasing presentation.

Incorporating True Blend™ transition technology in the streaming Internet music services could dramatically enhance their "listen-ability" factor, and thereby improve their risk management controls.  Click here to see a video demonstration comparing True Blend™ transitions with an otherwise beautifully-executed streaming music service.

Real-World Transitions    (Compare Gapless Playback Performance in Automatic Mixing Mode)


Other Products

True Blend™

    Premature ("forced") Fade-OUTS Yes No
    Undesirable Fade-INS Yes No
    Song Content Portion Deletions Yes No
    Extended Fade Outs Before Start Next Song Yes No
    Drastic or Abrupt Changes in Audio Level During Transition Yes No
    Adjustments to Transition Duration Parameter Degrades Quality of Event Yes No
    Requires Advance File Preparation (such as fade points or encoding) Yes (for most) No
    Natural Transitions Without User Intervention No Yes
    Provides Track Optimized Volume Level Adjustment During Playback No Yes
    Recognizes Track End-Style as Fade or Cold and Adjusts Timing to Compensate No Yes
    Provides Reliably Consistent Song Timing No Yes
    Allows DJ to Suspend Automatic Timing for Manual Control No Yes
    Provides Natural Transitions for Both Automatic and Manual Events No Yes
    During  "Streaming" Transitions, Provides CONCURRENT Audio from the Song-Pair, and Does Not Present Songs "In the Clear" Which Could Permit Users to Make "Clean" Recordings of Discrete Material No Yes

The patent-pending technology in the True Blend™ MPS recognizes the specific sound design of each loaded track, and it can instantly distinguish between audio recordings that resolve with a fade ending or a cold (i.e., abrupt) ending.  This capability, among other things, allows the system to automatically compute optimum timing values (play intervals) for each discrete track, and then execute natural overlapping or adjoined transitions.

BONUS: The music lover at home, or using True Blend™ software on his or her laptop, can enjoy a superior listening experience; especially when compared with almost every streaming Internet radio station.  That's because the "streamers" (i.e., Internet music services) present their transitions with long SILENCE GAPS between songs.  This never happens with True Blend™.  Observe the silence gaps in streamer-star Slacker® below.

Transition Face-Off: True Blend™ vs. Slacker®  HD     6:37 widescreen 720p

Ready to TRY FREE or BUY NOW?  Go to the Codentity® Web Store.   See more videos here.

Compare gapless playback performance technologies in automatic mixing mode—here.

ALL the audio automation mixing magic of the True Blend™ Media Player System, all the power of an unmatched suite of search and filtering mechanisms, all the efficiency of a superior unified playlist manager option, and all the enhanced productivity achieved with our clear, easy-to-read FlowCue® interface, can come-to-life on YOUR Windows® 7 or Windows® XP-powered computer!

In summary, patent-pending True Blend™ technology offers manual and automatic transition control for mobile DJs, audio operators, and music lovers at home.  And the True Blend™ Media Player System is packaged with a hit-music database reference library that includes listings for more than 4,000 titles ranging from the 1950s to today.  Learn more.   Read FAQ page.  See demonstration videos.  Go to Codentity Web Store.

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