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Gapless Playback

Let's take this term under the loupe: "gapless playback" means: without any gaps, right? For me this term is quite essential in music production. Especially when it comes to ambient music and electronic music in general. What does it mean: it means tracks are presented in a nonstop flow, from part 1 you'll be taken into part 2 and from there into part 3 and so on... something I first noticed when I bought synthesizer music LP's back in the 80's...

The effect of a gapless music composition: it's like a nonstop movie, it's a 100% seamless adventure without any (pause) interruption while the artist can focus on performing track by track. At the end everything will be played/mixed back to back to create the 100% nonstop flow ... perfect if you really think about it! House music mixes are the same. Quality Ambient mixes are the same. My good old Spacemusic mixes are the same. Electronic music in my opinion is served best while in a nonstop mode. How pleasant if you listen to an album for over 40 or even 60 minutes ... without the well known (old fashioned?) silences between tracks ... because it's a story being told!

Now, lately I've been into mastering my new album "Atlantic Treasure" as we know. One of the necessary specifications: gapless. Most of the tracks will (intentional) flow into the next track (some of them not) as this creates the story I want to tell. The strange thing is, even my iTunes application on the Mac sometimes likes to throw in a 'pause' between the tracks when it feels like it ... you simply have to play the entire track from beginning till "end" and then it will flow into the next track. But don't even think about scrolling through a track and stop 10 seconds before the absolute end and continue playing ... PLOP! ... there's the gap for you! ... just before the next track.

DEFINITION: " Gapless playback is the uninterrupted playback of consecutive audio tracks, such that relative time distances in the original audio source are preserved over track boundaries on playback" - source: Wikipedia

My production software (Ableton Live 9) is suffering from "gaps" between tracks when mixing multiple tracks in one arrangement (Ableton Live Set) and export between locators as WAV files to result in the final album. Quite complicated to describe here... but it comes down to this: disabling 'warp' mode in Ableton Live for an audio clip does the trick to get rid of the 'plop' or 'crackle' or 'unwanted spike' between tracks in the final result. But this is fully NON-logical really! Definately a pain in the well-known-bottom. Took me a couple of hours to find the cause and solve the issue. Atlantic Treasure has now become a gapless mix where it needed to be gapless - but don't ask me how I did it! Really: hours of puzzling.

Even apps like Spotify on my iPad, streaming to my Google Chromecast, music with a gapless intention is often not gapless! Jean-Michel Jarre's latest Oxyène Trilogy is now playing from Spotify to Chromecast but sadly ... Oh no... I do hear gaps between the tracks! It's not the album this time, lucky JMJ. It's the combination of the Spotify App with the Google Chromecast. It's 2016 technology: still not gapless proof? What am I missing here? Everything latest version but ... pauses between tracks on the speakers. Gapless playback still is a pain.

Go figure: It's haunting me since I can remember producing music. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night ... screaming: GAPLESS PLEASE!

Perhaps one day, gapless is standard.
But I think it will take a few years more...



" Let's go back to the LP and forget about digital "

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