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  #1  
Old 12-26-2011, 08:04 AM
flatten_the_skyline flatten_the_skyline is offline
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Help Playlist issue: Dealbreaker for Ex-ipod-users?

Hi!

My situation is this:

I had an ipod 60GB since 2005, and got more and more dissatisfied with that company for reasons such as proprietary BS, cultism, the image their products have... I always hoped that my ipod would survive until any company other than apple had a flash-based 64GB DAP out, so I can have a good part of my library on me without the hassle of sorting everything. I also have been heavily using playlists on my ipod.

Well, on the day Steve Jobs died, he seemed to have taken my ipod with him. Right now I'm left with a Sony Ericsson with a stupid headphone jack that loses contact when you breathe too deep, so I need a new one.

All Signs point to the J3, but the playlist thing left me hesitating... From all I read here, playlists are a major issue on the J3. Also, I have many AAC files (none of them have DRM), and I read somewhere (I think it was in the review, thanks for that) that Cover Art from AAC is not supported.

How are your experiences with these issues? Would you say that they spoil the fun out of an otherwise great player? Have you found ways to avoid/deal with these issues? Is the playlist thing only an issue when you have playlists spanning both internal and external files?

Cheers!

Oh, and merry christmas, if you're into that kind of thing.
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  #2  
Old 12-26-2011, 12:08 PM
DSperber DSperber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flatten_the_skyline View Post
How are your experiences with these issues? Would you say that they spoil the fun out of an otherwise great player? Have you found ways to avoid/deal with these issues?
Just to be up-front...

I am "anything but iPod", so I never owned one. In fact I don't own one single product from Apple. Don't have any experience whatsoever with any of that equipment in any product genre.

Don't use iTunes to purchase music (or anything) that way, preferring to make my own MP3/FLAC files from true CDs that I still purchase (because I like to hold and collect them in racks, alphabetically arranged by artist)!

I have zero AAC files. And I do not imbed album art into the tags of my MP3/FLAC files, as I prefer to simply have one single "cover.jpg" external album art file in the single album folder in which all tracks I've made for that album/CD live. My PC (and matching J3) music collection is organized by \Music\Artist\Album, so the single external "cover.jpg" approach works perfectly (including on the PC where Winamp is my player and its Album Art window opens with "cover.jpg" just as album art ("cover.jpg" or imbedded in MP3/FLAC tags) displays on the J3's screen.

In fact, the J3's user manual shows that AAC itself is not an officially supported music file format (but I cannot confirm that):



So... that said, I can NOT provide you with any firsthand experience coming from iPod to J3. I'll leave that to others for specifics and considerations.


Quote:
Is the playlist thing only an issue when you have playlists spanning both internal and external files?
Ok... here I CAN provide some pretty accurate and descriptive information.

The J3 supports two types of official "external" playlist files: (1) M3U, supported when the J3 is configured in its default MSC USB-connection mode, and (2) PLA, when the J3 is configured in its alternative MTP USB-connection mode.

MSC is the preferred and far more useful and usable USB-connection mode since it causes Windows to assign drive letters to the J3's internal and external storage, and 100% of all Windows and 3rd-party players and programs will be able to directly access the J3 completely.

However M3U playlists (required when in MSC mode) as supported by the J3's firmware do NOT support referencing music files that are located on BOTH internal and external storage in the same M3U file. It supports one location or the other for referenced music files, depending on whether the M3U file itself was stored (i.e. on internal or external storage). Wherever the M3U file lives, that's where the reference music files must also live.

In contrast, PLA playlists (required when in MTP mode) DOES support referencing music files on both internal and external storage within the same single PLA playlist. However because there are no Windows drive letters assigned to internal/external J3 storage in MTP mode, virtually no Windows 3rd-party player and organizer programs will work when the J3 is in MTP mode. You are essentially restricted to only Windows Explorer to do all maintenance on the J3, rather than using your favorite Windows and 3rd-party programs.

Furthermore, Windows Explorer is the ONLY program known to actually understand PLA playlist files completely (that is, along with the J3's firmware) and is truly capable of creating and modifying PLA playlists to reference music files on both internal and external storage of the J3.

Furthermore, if you are in MTP mode and you've built lots of PLA playlists, and you now revert the J3 back to MSC mode, you've just clobbered all of your PLA files and they have been destroyed. They cannot be repaired or reused even if you revert the J3 back to MTP mode. You'll have to delete and rebuild them, if you want to get them back.

Furthermore, both M3U and PLA playlists have a built-in maximum of 400 referenced music files.

All that said, if using M3U playlists segregated by only-internal or only-external referenced music files in a single M3U file works for you, and if the 400 referenced music file maximum is acceptable, then for sure stay in MSC mode and M3U playlists will work perfectly on the J3 subject to these described limitations.


Alternatively, there is a workaround approach based on the use of tag field data items (genre being the most common, but year will also work) where if you don't ever need to see the true tag field value for true browsing by that value (e.g. you want to play music by genre = "jazz", or you want to play music by year = "1985") you can use that data field as your own "playlist name".

In other words, say you wanted all of your FLAC files to be in one large playlist (as I do, so that I can set my J3 to "random/shuffle" mode and just play all of my FLAC files randomly as my FLAC files are my "favorite favorites" and I could listen to them forever). You could say set the "genre" field for all of your FLAC files to a value of "FLAC" instead of its true genre.

Then, you could browse using the J3's tags-based browsing method, to produce a playlist of all files (on both internal and external storage) whose genre = "FLAC". This tags database generated playlist has NO limit in size (i.e. it can exceed the 400 maximum for M3U/PLA playlists) and can include music files from anywhere.

==> the "genre-playlist" trick works perfectly to accomplish the stated goals. No maximum file limit, and files can be on both internal and external storage. You can simply invent any number of "genre-playlist" values and modify the tags in each MP3/FLAC file accordingly to thus insert them into that "genre-playlist", and then you'll be able to play any of these "genre-playlists" by using the J3 to browse for that specific genre value, and you're actually specifying that "genre-playlist".

However, there is only one "genre" tag field, so a given single music file can obviously only have one "genre" value, and thus can only be in one "genre-playlist". If this is acceptable to you, then this workaround solves your problem.

If you want to support a single music file being in TWO separate tag-playlists, you could also use the "year" field in addition to the "genre" field to define a second "year-playlist", which would thus be independent of the "genre-playlist" for the same music file. If this is acceptable to you, then this workaround adds at least a bit more flexibility to this overall solution.


But deep down, the J3 does NOT support external M3U or PLA playlist files larger than 400 music file references.

M3U requires MSC mode, which restricts referenced music files to either internal-only or external-only but allows 100% of Windows and 3rd-party programs access to the J3. PLA requires MTP mode, which allows referenced music files on both internal or external storage but restricts Windows and 3rd-party programs accessing the J3 to specifically only Windows Explorer.

That's just the way it is.

Hope this helps.

(and the SOUND of the J3 is why I bought my 32GB+32GB=64GB J3, so that I could carry around my entire MP3/FLAC collection with me and play it through my car's audio system AUX input)
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  #3  
Old 12-27-2011, 03:30 AM
flatten_the_skyline flatten_the_skyline is offline
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Thanks Dsperber, I've read your thread, and it seems likee you're a pioneer on the playlist front.

The thing is:

For everything that is wrong with Apple (and I got really sick of them), their stuff is really comfortable. Itunes is an intuitive tool to organize your music library, and to create playlists which are synchronized with your ipod automatically (You can choose which ones you want on your ipod though).

So this is where I come from. You can also create several On-the-go playlist on your ipod and edit/rename them on the computer.

I am afraid Cowon failed at this point, and every workaround is a nasty piece of work. If my old ipod was still up and running I'd give this player a pass and wait for the next generation, but like this, I don't know what to do.

The AAC thing:
I think Martin mentioned that the player inofficially plays AAC, but doesn't read cover art, so I will have to find a tool that extracts cover art and saves it to the folders...

So how much of a hassle is it? It sounds like a nasty piece of work...

Last edited by flatten_the_skyline; 12-27-2011 at 03:50 AM.
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  #4  
Old 12-27-2011, 04:56 AM
DSperber DSperber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flatten_the_skyline View Post
So this is where I come from. You can also create several On-the-go playlist on your ipod and edit/rename them on the computer.

I am afraid Cowon failed at this point, and every workaround is a nasty piece of work.
Cowon's firmware supports adding files to its one "Favorites" on-the-go playlist. This set of music file references is limited to 250, cannot be saved/restored by name or any other method, and can certainly NOT be edited on the PC.

There are user-written UCI's (i.e. user-developed Flash replacements for the Cowon factory-provided user interface, using the same underlying Cowon firmware funcitonality but running with a different top-level software that drives the presentation you see on the screen) which have tried to overcome this deficiency. The trio of UCI's from Kizune (Lynx for main menu, Leaf for browser, and Sense for music) make for quite a pleasant and enhanced experience on the J3.

In particular, Leaf/Sense support an unlimited number of Favorites-implemented playlists, which you can save/restore by name. They get stored on J3 storage by name as .SOL files (which are binary files readable by Flash programs, and cannot be edited on the PC). They are swapped in and out of the one "Favorites" used by the firmware, by the Leaf UCI. They can also be edited, appended-to, renamed and deleted by the Leaf UCI.

So there are some limitations, but effectively Leaf/Sense from Kizune gives you an unlimited number of 250-max on-the-go playlist files which can reference music files on both internal and external storage.


Quote:
The AAC thing:
I think Martin mentioned that the player unofficially plays AAC, but doesn't read cover art, so I will have to find a tool that extracts cover art and saves it to the folders...
Yes, I'd seen reports on unofficial support for AAC. But as I'd mentioned previously, I myself have no direct experience with AAC and the J3.

However the very fine and highly recommended tag editor MP3Tag supports AAC and its tags. It also supports MP3/ID3 and FLAC/OGG tags as well as virtually all other commonly used music file formats and their tags.

Using MP3Tag it is a very simple function to extract/remove imbedded album art and save it somewhere... say in a particular folder, with a name of "cover.jpg" which would then give you your desired album art as well as playing AAC files (if that's true).
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  #5  
Old 12-27-2011, 06:22 AM
monterto monterto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

In particular, Leaf/Sense support an unlimited number of Favorites-implemented playlists, which you can save/restore by name. They get stored on J3 storage by name as .SOL files (which are binary files readable by Flash programs, and cannot be edited on the PC). They are swapped in and out of the one "Favorites" used by the firmware, by the Leaf UCI. They can also be edited, appended-to, renamed and deleted by the Leaf UCI.

So there are some limitations, but effectively Leaf/Sense from Kizune gives you an unlimited number of 250-max on-the-go playlist files which can reference music files on both internal and external storage.
This is a huge, I approve!
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  #6  
Old 01-16-2012, 12:46 AM
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Angelopsaro Angelopsaro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSperber View Post

Just to be up-front...
Hey Sdperber! great post. thx. I realized that things are not that bad after all for my needs. Yes, you can't make massive playlists to organized your files but if you want to make some simple playlists from laptop for a party or for sports.. it works.
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