Coping with iTunes confusion
iTunes 7 introduces a lot of changes to the venerable media manager/player. With those changes comes some confusion about how the program now operates. I’d like to spend the next few paragraphs shedding light on some of these issues.
New libraries and spanned volumes
iTunes 7 allows you to create multiple libraries. To do so, hold down the Option (Mac) or Shift (Windows) key when you launch the program. You’ll be offered the option to Quit, Create Library, or Choose Library much as you can with iPhoto.
You can also create a library that spans volumes. To do this, open the Advanced iTunes preference, select the General tab, click the Change button, and designate a new iTunes Music folder location. With the Copy Files to iTunes Music Folder When Adding to Library option off, iTunes will look to this new folder while also maintaining contact with the old one—you still can play the files from your old iTunes Music folder as well as the new one. When you add new music, it will be added to the new location.
Missing music videos
Music videos don’t appear in the Movies or TV Shows libraries in iTunes 7’s Source list. Instead they’re placed in the Music library. If ever there was an argument for creating a smart playlist, this is it. Create just such a smart playlist that reads: Video Kind is Music Video. All items tagged as music videos will appear in this smart playlist, which can be browsed in all three of iTunes’ views.
iTunes 7 appears to make all tracks play gaplessly. Why doesn’t every track run into the next track then? Because tracks that were originally recorded to flow directly into the next track—the last several tracks on the Beatles’ Abbey Road , for example—have no silence at the beginning or end of the track. “Regular” tracks have dead air at the beginning and end. Played gaplessly, they sound the same because this dead air is part of the track and therefore plays.
The gapless album tag
Select a number of tracks, open the Multiple Item Information Window, and you’ll see that the window contains a Gapless Album option. What good is it if all tracks are played gaplessly anyway? This Apple KnowledgeBase article tells us.
If you switch on the Crossfade Playback feature (found in the Playback tab of iTunes’ Preferences), only those files that you’ve assigned the Gapless Album tag to will play without gaps. The rest will crossfade.
Note that crossfades don’t play on iPods. Those iPods that support gapless playback will play without gaps regardless of whether the Gapless Album tag is switched on or not.
The gapless iPod
iPods that support gapless play are all fifth-generation iPods (with the latest iPod software update) and 2G iPod nanos. No other iPods play gaplessly.
The Album Artist tag
iTunes 7 includes a new field called Album Artist. This is used to assign a primary artist to an album that may have a load of guest artists (think “Duet” albums or orchestral albums with various soloists). For Album and CoverFlow views to reflect an album as a single entity rather than a series of tracks, the Album Artist field must be consistent—either having the same name or left blank. If there are different entries, you’ll get separate views.
iTunes Help suggests that you can make the Equalizer window appear by pressing Command-2. Doesn’t work. You can, however, assign a keyboard shortcut to the View menu’s Show Equalizer command within OS X’s Keyboard & Mouse system preference. In my tests I got no good results when using modifier keys other than Command—Option and Control key shortcuts didn’t work. But Command-2 works perfectly well.