Favorite “gapless” album tracks?

iTunes finally added the feature I’ve been waiting years for: gapless album tracks.

Maybe other players have had this for years. I don’t know. All I know is that ever since I started listening to MP3s I have bemoaned the small gaps that appear between track numbers which, when played from CD, play straight through. Some CD software on the computer would even introduce the gaps when the discs were played back on my PC.

With the latest iTunes update, however, it scanned my whole library looking for “gapless” album tracks, and now if I’m listening to those tracks back-to-back, they play the way the artists and engineers originally intended.

My favorites:

#1: Vangelis Oceanic — the whole album. This is my nap-time music and bed-time music, and I’ve played the CD at least two thousand times, back-to-back.
#2: The Alan Parsons Project Eye in the Sky – Sirius/Eye In The Sky
#3: Chicago 18: If She Would Have Been Faithful/25 or 6 to 4

In order to fill out my top 10, I’d have to dip deeply into my Alan Parsons and Vangelis collections. There would be lots of ties. And don’t even get me started on my classical and symphonic CDs.

So… what are YOUR favorite gapless album tracks? And if there are other MP3 players out there that will play truly gaplessly, what are they?

(One more note: my ancient 1st-generation iPod doesn’t seem to recognize gapless playback. I’m not sure whether the firmware will ever be updated to support it. Can anybody tell me whether newer iPods will do this?)

47 thoughts on “Favorite “gapless” album tracks?”

  1. BTW, the reason “Hard to Say I’m Sorry/Get Away” isn’t on the list is that those two tracks are actually ONE track on the Chicago 16 CD. The radio-edit of “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” fades before the band kicks it back up a notch.

    1. Ugh. That ALWAYS bugs me. It’s like getting a couple bites of dinner, then having a waiter grab the rest of the plate and whisk it away…

  2. Most of Joe Jackson’s Blaze of Glory, and certain sections of Let It Be and Sgt. Pepper for me. Of course, I listen on shuffle often enough that this feature isn’t a big win for me personally, but it does sound fantastic.

  3. As far as I know, iPods still don’t support gapless playback, though if it’s in iTunes, that’s a step in the right direction.

    I’ve been using alternative firmware (http://www.rockbox.org/) for my 4th-Gen Greyscale. It occassionally has some bugs here and there, but it’s had gapless playback for a while now, along with a million other options not present in standard iPods. Admittedly, most of those options are technicalities Joe Average would care about, but still.

    DISCLAIMER: John Troutman doesn’t recommend replacing the firmware of your iPod. He is not responsible if you attempt to do so and permanently damage something.

    1. Just a note

      Being a semi-developer of this software (I’m more associated with the support side, though I’ve got a line of code here and there) I can safely say that it’s nearly impossible to permanently damage an iPod with our software (in fact it’s so nearly impossible, nobody’s figured out how yet.)

      Apple was *really* nice about making the iPod really really hard to damage with third party software. Two of the other players we’re on are very slightly at risk during one step of the upgrade (though they are with official upgrades too).

      We’ve supported gapless for a couple years now, and on iPods (Nano and 4th Generation initially if I remember our history right) since January 29th of this year.

      The original iPod is *technically* capable of Gapless Playback as far as I’m aware. Whether Apple will ever support this I can’t say. Us being an open-source / volunteer effort, whether we’ll ever support it depends on 1st-generation owners deciding they’d like to use our software and doing it.

      Because of a flaw in the processor used in the 1st through 3rd generation iPods, we’re currently jumping through the hoops to get the software running well on the 3rd Generation, but all of that work would benefit a 1st Generation effort should one happen.

      1. Re: Just a note

        You’re involved with Rockbox? Awesome! I really do love it – except for the bug on 4G Greyscales that makes the player crash unless I go to the Debug menu and set the CPU Frequency back first.

        Then again, I loathe iTunes, so the drag-and-drop glory of Rockbox had me at hello.

        1. Re: Just a note

          Normally I’m against unsupported builds (as they make support a true nightmare) but if you’re using a 4G, try this one: http://forums.rockbox.org/index.php?topic=6357.0

          It has scaling disabled (basically, permanently leaves the CPU frequency up, so you don’t have to set it every reboot) and will help you greatly until we figure this bug out.

          And on an unrelated note, I’ve been a fan of your comics for a while.

          1. Re: Just a note

            Thanks for the build and double-thanks for the praise! Which reminds me that I REALLY need to draw another page tomorrow…

    2. New iPods support gapless playback…at least, my video and nanos support it. I haven’t tried on the others yet.

      tekape (owner of 60gb Video iPod, 4gb Nano, 8gb Nano, 20 gb gen4, 20 gb Gen3, 10 gb Gen1, 1st gen shuffle).

    3. Yep, I’m another rockbox user, although my player is an iRiver H340 (you *can* ruin those with a firmware update if you don’t do it with a fully charged battery).

      I listen to alot of techno, so gapless playback is important for me. “Morning Sci-Fi” by Hybrid (and to a lesser extent, their first album, Wide Angle) both use alot of gapless. So does every single extended DJ mix album on the planet. And also Kraftwerk’s “Minimum-Maximum” live album sounds much better with Gapless.

      I also listen to classic rock, the obvious ones (Pink Floyd) have been mentioned, but ELO and Rush also make use of gapless. My favourite kind of rock music is prog rock and they’re notorious for using lots of gapless.

      1. Plug mode: Activated

        Oh yeah and my friend has an album called Shoe Eatin’ Time which is available for free legal download and makes great use of gapless. It does so, both in terms of songs fading into each other and in terms of a new song starting while the rhythm continues undisturbed. The latter impressed the hell out of me and commercial artists should do it more often because it’s incredibly cool.

        So if you like exhuberant and nerdy music like They Might Be Giants, then you’ll love it as much as I do. And it’s free, just like Howard Tayler’s awesome comic.

  4. A lot of Pink Floyd was set up to be gapless. Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon, most of The Wall, and a fair amount of earlier stuff too. Since I am a Pink Floyd fanboy, I was quite pleased with the gapless playback.

    Also, yes, newer iPods now support gapless playback pretty much just like iTunes does. I think only the two generations of iPod video, Nano, and Shuffle, though. Might do on the Photo, but I’m not sure.

    If you want a new iPod, let me reccomend the Apple refurbished products. I got a first gen 30gig video from there for about 60% of what they originally retailed for. They have a pretty good selection last I checked, too.

  5. Pink Floyd: A Momentary Lapse of Reason (or really any Pink Floyd; they’re pretty much all gapless)

    Ayreon: The Human Equation
    A little known extraordinarily good modern progressive rock opera.

    Abydos: A Little Boy’s Heavy Mental Shadow Opera About The Inhabitants Of His Diary
    Another little known heavy metal opera.

    Three of my favorites.

    1. Ooh, and Liquid Tension Experiment’s “Three Minute Warning”.

      And Dream Theater’s pan-album Metropolis Part II: Scenes From A Memory/Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence/Train of Thought/Octavarium suite. Of course, that’s a little over three hours, but let me tell you: worth it.

      1. A greast second on the DT (listening to the Score version of Octavarium at the moment)- and the Octavarium album is frighteningly complex as a thematic recap of the previous 7 albums then capped off with the title track which is a circular thematic recap of the album, and then itself… it’s like a thematic accelerando toward a event horizon.

        And to add in – A.C.T’s Last Epic suite of The Cause/The Effect is also nice to hear with out the little break.

      1. Final Experiment/Into the Electric Castle/Universal Migrator/Human Equation

        Four (Five if you count both halves of UM) in total. Plus Arjen’s side projects of Star One, Stream of Passion, and Strange Hobby. Oh, and his original bands, Vengeance and Bodine.

      1. An astounding portion of Coulton’s stuff falls into the “brilliant” category, including his business plan. He took a page from webcomics; all of his songs are free to listen. Some of my favorites are “RE Your Brains,” “Mandelbrot Set,” “Code Monkey,” and the topper, “Skullcrusher Mountain.” Enjoy him! He’s not just a talented and funny musician, he’s a great guy. We were on a panel together at Confluence a couple of months ago.

  6. I’ve always been a big fan of Enigma and Robert Miles — both fall more as New Age than anything else, but all of their albums are gapless and have to be played as such if you want to be able to fully enjoy them.

  7. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned the Beatles. Sgt. Pepper’s is obvious, but I think my favorite of their gapless tracks is the Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End cycle from Abbey Road.”

    The transition from Simon and Garfunkel’s Save the Life of My Child to America is another great example. (One of the few things that bugged me in Almost Famous – a fantastic movie, btw – was when the daughter put a Bookends LP on and America started cleanly. No no no!)

  8. The Moody Blues most likely have gapless sections in their first seven albums, and maybe the later ones as well…I can’t check it out because most of the CDs are in my 23 year old son’s room and if I try to go in there I’ll break my neck 🙂

  9. Both Apoptygma Berzerk’s Welcome to Earth and Information Society’s Don’t Be Afraid are pretty much gapless on the CD, and both are excellent.

    I use DigitalDJ as my jukebox application, and madplay as the player. Seamless playback isn’t a problem at all.

  10. I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem listening to musical soundtracks on my old-time iPod (I forget if it’s 1st or 2nd Gen, but it’s the first 20-Gig iPod they created, with a touch wheel). That’s the only circumstance I can think of that I would’ve encountered gapless issues.

  11. No Queen fans in the house?

    A few early Queen albums have pleny of quality gapless, as do Beethoven’s symphonies, Pictures at an Exhibition, the last few tracks from Abbey Road, and most of the best prog metal. I’m sure there are some I’ve missed, but iTunes has a habit of scrambling up the playback order when I move songs onto my iPod, so I haven’t had the chance to hear most of them again recently.

  12. Prog shouldn’t be gapless!

    I suppose “Sirius/Eye in the Sky” is my fave.

    But, c’mon folks…gapless? If the tracks need to be gapless they should be one track! That is the prog way (see “Close to the Edge”)! What of “Thick as a Brick” by Jethro Tull? One track, baby. I’m sure people like Kayak had some wacky gapless tracks as well.

    Of course, special mention must be made of Green Carnation’s “Light of Day, Day of Darkness”. One album, one song, 60 minutes long! I always wondered if it’s 99 cents on iTunes (I’m on Linux, so iTunes is just a figment).

  13. Gapless Albums

    Off the top of my head, I can only think of 2 gapless albums I own:
    * Mandy Patinkin, Experiment
    * The Secret Garden, Original Broadway Cast (also featuring Mandy Patinkin, yes I’m a fan)

    I saw the scan when I upgraded iTunes, but I didn’t know what it was for. Now I’ll have to go listen to those albums.

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