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How to join existing tracks in iTunes Apps
If you've ever listened to a live Phish album or a Pink Floyd album or The Beatles' Abbey Road album, or many classical albums or Jackson Browne's two classic songs 'The Load Out' and 'Stay,' you'll quickly realize that many many artists want their music tracks to flow into each other, and not play as separate discrete songs. In fact, it can be downright annoying when trying to listen to these songs if they aren't flowing together properly.

iTunes seems to give you the ability to solve this problem, but it really doesn't. The major problem with iTunes' Advanced: Join Tracks feature is that it only works if you've inserted a CD and you haven't imported the songs from that CD yet. The crazy thing is that it doesn't work if you've just purchased an album from the iTunes Music Store. Just purchased Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon from the iTunes Music Store? Sorry, you are out of luck!

Or what if you've already imported the songs into your music library, and you just discovered that you need to join some of the tracks? Apple says Sorry, sucker! You're out of luck again! This is one of the biggest long-standing flaws with iTunes. While Apple adds video and podcasts and new interfaces to iTunes, they simply won't give you the ability to join tracks once you've imported them into your library.

Unless, of course, you want to burn a CD and then re-import it again -- thus losing some audio quality along the way. Well, that's actually the only way to do it if you've purchased songs from the iTunes Music Store, because this hint doesn't work with protected songs. The few commercial AppleScripts that were available for this task of joining unprotected tracks no longer work -- they seem to have been broken back in iTunes 4.x or 5.x. But if you have Roxio Toast Titanium installed on your machine, you can join unprotected tracks yourself by simulating a disc burn. Simply take these steps:
  1. Go to the Audio tab in Toast.
  2. Drag your audio files from iTunes into Toast.
  3. Reshuffle them in the proper order within Toast.
  4. Go up to File: Save As Disc Image. Save your disc image somewhere on your Desktop.
  5. Choose Utilities: Mount Disc Image. The CD will mount on your desktop, and iTunes will think that you just inserted a CD.
  6. Within iTunes, select the tracks that you want to join and then use Advanced: Join CD Tracks.
  7. Go through the import process, and you've got a joined track! Simply rename the track to whatever you want to call it, and you're good to go.
And in the meantime, be sure to suggest to Apple that they improve this much-needed feature in iTunes.

[robg adds: In checking Douglas Adam's invaluable Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes, it seems there is a current track joining script: Join Together v3.0. It's description reads:
This script will enable you to join the files of selected iTunes tracks together with Quick Time Pro and export them as a single AAC file/track. Optionally, with Apple's Chapter Tool application installed, it will create a "chapterized" audio file of the exported AAC file.
As noted, you'll need QuickTime Pro, and probably want the Chapter Tool (download linked on this page). The result should be a single, gapless AAC file on your desktop, complete with chapter markers. Unfortunately, as you might expect, it will not work with protected songs from the store, but will handle any other format.]
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How to join existing tracks in iTunes | 24 comments | Create New Account
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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: Eukaryote on Dec 15, '05 06:59:16AM
This is a problem that I have often, because I listen to mostly continuous DJ mixes... Having it skip every time a new track comes on is incredibly annoying.

This text would help with the iPod, but often I'll like to leave the tracks separate for easy searching, instead of having my entire library be hour long tracks.

The way I fix this problem is to go to preferences, then playback, then select "cross-fade playback" and set the cross-fade time to 0 seconds. This way it makes every song start right after the other, with no skipping. And it keeps every song separate.

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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: reece146 on Dec 15, '05 07:30:41AM

FWIW, my experience has been that this does not work. At least, it doesn't work with "The Wall". There is a still a perceptible gap.



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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: mflider on Dec 15, '05 07:03:52AM
The solution is gapless playback.

Petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/13421509/petition.html
Feedback: http://www.apple.com/feedback/

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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: mikelauder on Dec 15, '05 07:24:36AM

I don't know what all the fuss is about: iTunes plays continuously for me and has done since version 5 was released. So long as crossfade playback is switched off it works just fine.

Mike



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Doesn't work for me.
Authored by: PopMcGee on Dec 15, '05 07:28:55AM

Doesn't works for me: It leaves a nasty half-second pause between 2 tracks that totaly throws me off the mood :-(



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Doesn't work for me.
Authored by: mikelauder on Dec 15, '05 07:35:26AM

Not sure what's wrong there then. Presumably you have the latest version of Quicktime.



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Doesn't work for me.
Authored by: rhyskeepence on Dec 15, '05 07:51:20AM

Try enabling crossfade playback, and set seconds to 0.
This is my setting with 6.0.1 and get a flawless transition with Abbey Road, Dark Side and The Wall. Disabling crossfade gets me the standard half second gap.

If that doesn't work, it is probably a problem with your particular rip.



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Doesn't work for me.
Authored by: Baggins on Dec 15, '05 08:06:37AM

Brilliant! Perfect!



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Doesn't work for me.
Authored by: steresi on Dec 15, '05 12:17:11PM

This doesn't seem to work for me. On my dual-G5 system (OS X 10.4.2, but otherwise up to date), enabling crossfade playback but setting it to zero still overlaps the two tracks by a second or two!

Scott



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Nothing says "futility" like petitiononline.com (n/t)
Authored by: Darukaru on Dec 15, '05 10:26:27AM

Also known as the world's greatest site for gamefaqs kiddies to bug game companies.



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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: b00le on Dec 15, '05 07:21:11AM

I don't think this is any different from simply making a CD - correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe when Toast saves to disk the image file created contains audio tracks already converted to AIFF and ready to be burned. So there is no difference between the files on a CD and those in a CD image file: there's still a loss of quality from the decommpression/compression. But you've saved the price of a CD blank...



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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: Spartacus on Dec 15, '05 07:40:14AM

I was under the impression that these gaps are a limitation of the MP3 format, or of any other format that stores audio in the frequency domain.



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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: Rev. Al on Dec 15, '05 09:10:24AM

If you're working with MP3s, you could always join them into a single file with the free sound editor Audacity. This won't work with AAC files, and requires a basic knowledge of sound editing, but it's a lot cheaper than buying Toast.



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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: fracai on Dec 16, '05 06:21:05AM

It is a limitation of the MP3 format. The summary is that MP3s store music in sections and if a song doesn't completely fill out the last section you'll have added silence. But that doesn't mean Apple couldn't overcome the issue with iTunes and the iPod by dropping silence from the end of tracks. I don't mean all silence, some songs have silence at the end as part of the recording. Dropping all silence in the last frame of the MP3 should suffice.

I believe one of the Rio MP3 players includes this feature.

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i am jack's amusing sig file



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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: salvo on Dec 15, '05 11:04:50AM

Dougs Join and Chapterize Script is great. It does have two limitations though;
The Resulting Track is classified as a Protected AudioBook. If you're pedantic about your music classification this script ma not cut it. It is good for Electronic and Experimental Music though, because as an Audiobook, you can speed up and slow down the play rate.

The other problem is that you loose track titles. While in some albums this may not be a big deal (Jean-Michal Jarré's Equinoxe) if the tracks have no meaningful titles, other's may diminish the listening experience (The Avalanches' Since I Left You).

These are not limitations with the Script Per Se, but limitations with how iTunes handles Multi-chapter audio files.



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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: neuralstatic on Dec 15, '05 01:11:41PM

i guess some people see itunes as the only mp3 tool needed,

but i'm looking for a util/app to join mp3 tracks file to file. i use something named "mp3 joiner" on my winbox for files of the same bitrate. i think it just strips header data and concats.

who knows the best mac counterpart? sometimes you just need to join stuff, and the toast solution leaves a lot to be desired. there was one with a horrible interface i used to use, i'm sure there are command line solutions.

promote your choice now!



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MP3Trimmer
Authored by: gidds on Dec 15, '05 01:58:30PM
MP3Trimmer. Joins, splits, trims, repairs, does fade-ins and fade-outs, etc. etc., all losslessly. Cheap shareware. Recommended.

Going back to the main topic, many people seem to think that gapless playback and merging tracks are the same issue, and they're not. Merging tracks means far more than just merging their audio; it means merging their lengths. Their titles. Their artists. Their comments. Their ratings. And so on.

Now, that might not matter in some cases, but in others that's a real disadvantage. Take those sequenced CDs of dance music, where each track is a by a different artist; often a different mix so that you want to keep track of the individual titles. If you merge all those together, all you get is one single CD-long track, with no room for any information on the individual songs.

So track merging, while a useful tool, isn't the answer in many cases.

Nor is a zero-time crossfade; that doesn't work well in iTunes (I still get short gaps, audible fade-ins and fade-outs, and/or noticeable overlap), and doesn't work at all on iPods or other players.

There's no substitude for real gapless playback. Come on, Apple, it can't be that hard!

---
Andy/

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MP3Trimmer
Authored by: Unsoluble on Dec 15, '05 02:46:28PM
Well put.

I've been hammering on Apple (through the feedback channels) since the first-gen iPod, trying to point out that there's a whole ton of music out there (some of which Apple is actually pointing to in their press materials) that simply isn't listenable on the iPod in its proper form. If you think about it, there is almost literally no point in listening to DJ mixes on your iPod. Which is just silly.

The real kicker is that there isn't even a workaround. The file-joining methods mentioned here are a step in the right direction, but are ultimately quite flawed. Many MP3 encoders leave a very short silent gap at the beginnings of tracks, which will still be present after you've joined them together.

And even if you do manage to get a seamlessly joined long mix, it still sucks: As mentioned, you lose all the individual track metadata, but what's worse is that the iPod can't handle playing really long tracks without running out of buffer memory and needing to spin up the hard disk, which, sadly, adds in more gaps -- on my second-gen, once about every 20 mins or so.

This clearly adds up to simply being dumb, and it should be fixed.

Note: I'll take a gap every 20 minutes over one between every song mix, any day, so I tend to make full-set single tracks out of my mix albums. But to preserve the tracks' metadata, I simply keep a second copy of the album, all broken up and labelled. With storage space as cheap as it is these days, this really doesn't make any difference, and certainly helps.

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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: derrickbass on Dec 15, '05 02:40:51PM
You can also try the shareware scripts iTunesJoin. Unlike Doug's scripts, they are not free. But they don't require QuickTime Pro, so they might end up cheaper if you don't have QT Pro.
(Disclaimer: I am part of the company that makes them.)

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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: chewitt on Dec 15, '05 02:54:55PM

None of that complexity is usually required. Visit iTune's preferences and the Playback tab. Enable "Crossfade Playback" and then set the fade to "0" seconds. iTunes will now fade seamlessly between the tracks with no visible gap on all but the most butchered of MP3 recordings.



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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: Unsoluble on Dec 15, '05 10:18:43PM
Have you actually tried doing this? It really doesn't work at all. Setting the slider to "0" seconds still results in a noticeable crossfade of a half-second or so. Try listening to a mix between two songs with a regular dance beat and you'll hear the trainwreck straight away.

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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: jiclark on Dec 17, '05 12:19:26PM

I don't have any dance mixes to try, but when I tried this with Dark Side of the Moon, it seemed to do the job perfectly! No discernible gap at all!



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How to join existing tracks in iTunes
Authored by: macx2 on Dec 15, '05 04:18:24PM

What is the problem with using the cat command in the terminal to append one file to the other? Maybe not elegant, but I use it often with no problems. One loses the tag information from the second track, but it works with no problem. Or is there something else one looses?



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Um- BAD IDEA
Authored by: Lectrick on Dec 17, '05 12:24:09PM

You do realize that an "m4a" file is not just raw data, but a structured binary file, with multiple "containers", right? And if you simply concatenate the two, the first "audio data container length bytes" are not going to include the size of the second file... nor would it want to, as simply tacking these things together doesn't work?? Read the QuickTime spec about "atoms" to see why this is a horrible idea.

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In /dev/null, no one can hear you scream



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