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A Proposal for CD Writing Improvements in Amadeus Pro

 
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Sonic Purity



Joined: 10 Nov 2007
Posts: 82
Location: Pasadena, California, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:10 am    Post subject: A Proposal for CD Writing Improvements in Amadeus Pro Reply with quote

The actual proposal will be in the post following this one. It may take me between a few minutes and maybe an hour or longer to get the formatting working properly. It is a long, detailed post.

I have been formally working on this proposal on and off for over a year, and thinking about it for several years before that. Between my perfectionism and my poor time scheduling, it has been too long delayed. It is vastly, vastly far from perfect and from what i wanted it to be, but it can wait no longer.

I hope it is not too late to incorporate at least some of the basic user interface support for index points in Amadeus Pro version 1.x. Ideally, i’d like to see as much of my proposal as is agreed upon by the community and as is relatively easy for Martin to incorporate into AP 1.x be incorporated into AP 1.x, for several reasons:

    1) Last i checked (last summer), Apple has not updated the CD writing framework of OS X since Tiger. There could be bugs or incompatibilities with the newer OS Xes and/or hardware, which Apple may be ignoring with the waning of the CD format. It would be ashame to have Martin do stellar work in a newer AP running on 10.5 and later, and have Apple drop the ball with its framework and not be interested in fixing things. I know that the framework works in Tiger.

    2) The compact disc is a trailing-edge format, attractive to trailing-edge people, who (as a sweeping generalization) have trailing-edge computers with trailing-edge OSes.

    3) Some of us like to set up our older Macs as dedicated Digital Audio Workstations, so as not to tie down our current Mac(s). (I’m currently using a PowerMac 8600/300 with OS 9.1 and Amadeus II for this purpose.) The farther back AP support goes, the longer these older machines can remain productive and out of the landfill.


I realize that the new Lite and upcoming AP v. 2 will run on 10.5 and newer. I am grateful that they do run on 10.5 (and not 10.6 only), and especially that they will do so on PPC Macs. I’m just hoping i’m not too late with my proposal to get greater CD writing into AP v. 1, for the reasons cited. There’s probably no way that the major changes i propose will make it into AP 1, yet i hope as many proposed items as possible will, and that the rest (which are accepted by the community and Martin) will make it into AP 2.

The actual proposal post will follow, as soon as i get it posted and displaying properly.
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Sonic Purity



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Proposal for CD Writing Improvements in Amadeus Pro

Introduction
This very long post is a proposal for improving the way Amadeus Pro (hereinafter AP) creates audio CDs, both in terms of available features and the user interface.

I’ve given this thought over the last several years, and on and off over the last year or so have intensely studied:


  • How AP currently works.
  • How other software programs handle CD writing.
  • What options are available in the CD recording framework provided by Apple with OS X, which is what AP uses and thus what limits what AP can and cannot do.


Fundamental axioms:

  • A casual user will want to do as little work as possible to create a satisfactory audio CD.
  • A skilled user will want as much control as possible to create the best possible audio CD.


Goals:

  • Revise AP to offer as many useful features as the Apple CD burning framework allows that anyone might ever want to use, while at the same time keeping the defaults and user interface simple enough to make basic CD writing as easy as possible for everyone, especially casual and non-expert users.
  • Improve the user manual section covering CD writing.


While i have a good bit of expertise with the CD format, i am posting here rather than sending my proposal directly to Martin so that others here on this forum can contribute their ideas and suggestions. I especially look forward to responses from those of you who have worked with audio CD creation in a professional environment, who have dealt with ISRC and/or MCN numbers, and/or high-end CD writing software that i have not used (such as Peak and others. Highest-end i’ve used is Jam). As well, everyone of all skill levels may have very useful contributions to the discussion regarding basic functionality, the user interface, and documentation.

I hope that all of you who are interested will take some time to study this proposal, and comment when/as it makes sense to you.

Issues with CD writing in AP as it is Now
The existing CD writing interface is a very nice feature of AP, yet it can benefit from some improvement:

Confusing User Interface
I’ve used close to a dozen different programs to write CDs, going back to Asarte CD-DA (precursor to Adaptec/Roxio Jam) around 1990, and have dealt intimately with the CD audio format since not long after its 1983 (in the U.S.) introduction. I don’t even understand exactly how the existing UI is supposed to work!
Having both the basic and expert settings together in one sheet, and following that sheet with the OS-style Burn window and with choices that do not apply to an audio CD can confuse or even intimidate non-expert users. This proposal addresses these issues.

Not all available CD recording framework options that may be useful are readily available
For example, the Index points feature i championed a few years ago is only available as an expert setting via Terminal (my fault for not providing a UI proposal until now). ISRC codes are not available at all. Additional CD-TEXT fields that might be useful are not available.

Proposal: Overview

  1. Rework the AP Burn dialog (and underlying AP code to support the changes)

    1. Move the Start and End Color marker settings, which seldom need changing, to a CD Writing (or Burning) preference pane in AP
    2. Eliminate the Consider all markers checkbox
    3. Eliminate the Gaps box: gaps will be set by silences visible in the actual AP file
    4. Hide Advanced items under a disclosure arrow, per Apple Human Interface Guidelines (HIG)
    5. Single Burn dialog vs. the current sequential 2-window setup
    6. Add the new advanced features (e.g. Index points) to the UI

  2. Add a new simulated CD player controls/display window, or rework the existing Playback Controller window to add the display of CD track and index numbers
  3. Add the new option Add CD Silence… (probably under or near Effects > Generate Silence…) to take the place of the existing Gaps burn window option.
  4. Revise the CD writing section of the AP manual (I have made an attempt at this, posted as a TextEdit [RTF] file on my website), both to address the changes and for improved clarity.


Proposal: Details
Let’s start with the (assumed) workflow of a casual/non-expert user, and find out what they need to have AP make a CD with minimal hassle.

First, they have to be educated a bit: they have to understand that AP makes an audio CD from a single file with markers as track dividers, whereas popular “consumer” programs such as iTunes and Toast assemble an audio CD from individual files. This fundamental point has to be covered at the beginning of discussion of using AP to make audio CDs, to be sure the user understands the model AP is using (especially as it fundamentally differs from other programs they may have used). I’ve included this in my sample AP manual CD section rewrite.

At this point, the needs of even our basic user are already branching: many users will already have a single audio file, such as a digitized LP or cassette side, a live recording, or other continuous recording, whereas others will want to assemble a CD from individual song files. One option is to steer users who already have individual files and want to make an audio CD over to iTunes or Toast or other individual-file-based software. Another would be to make things as easy as possible for them to assemble the files into a single AP file.

For a skilled user, it is already easy to open and merge files into a single file. This may not be the case for an unskilled user. If it is decided to add extra support for these users, perhaps AP can gain a function to mimic software like Toast, in the sense that there could be a window where the user will drag individual audio files, choose a between-song gap setting, then click a button and have AP assemble its usual single file, with markers and silences automatically placed. (This would likely be a major change that may not be appropriate until the next major AP version change.) Otherwise, the documentation would need to let the user know that they need to manually merge the files, add silences for gaps, and place track markers.

The basic/casual single-file user will only need to place a marker at each track change point.

With markers placed in the single file, the casual user may now click the Burn icon or make the appropriate menu selection, insert the blank CD, and the disc will be written.


Markers and Gaps

CD Audio format Terminology
Some visual examples may help. Let’s temporarily set aside how Amadeus Pro and any other software represents gaps and tracks, and consider how audio CDs and players handle these concepts.



Here is the common case where one song ends, there is a silent gap of some number of seconds, then the next song starts. Depending upon choices made by the CD’s creator, what the user sees on their CD player display could be one of two options:

No pregap:


With pregap:


Notice in the first case (no pregap), the timer keeps counting up, past the end of Song 1, all the way until the start of Song 2, then resets to 0 and resumes counting up. In the second case, the counter counts up until the end of Song 1, counts down from a negative number towards zero during the gap, then counts upwards from zero for Song 2.
Note that in both cases, pressing the Next Track button on the player jumps directly to Track 2, Index 1, the actual start of Song 2.
While this may seem like a trivial distinction, there is a real-world implication beyond how the counter counts: in Shuffle Play mode, the version lacking the pregap will play all the way through the silence before jumping to the next song in the shuffle. The version with the pregap will jump immediately at the end of Song 1 to the next song in the shuffle—which (i am guessing) most users would consider proper behavior.

All of this works exactly the same for cases where there is audio in the area between the end of Song 1 and the start of Song 2:





In these sorts of cases, the CD’s creator needs to make the aesthetic choice of whether it is better to include the applause (no pregap) or exclude it.

Markers and Gaps in Amadeus Pro—Proposal
Summary
I propose changing how markers and gaps behave in Amadeus Pro as follows:


  • Require one defined color for track start and a different color for track end, with sensible defaults. Use of track end should remain optional.
  • Move the Start and End Color marker settings to a CD Writing (or Burning) preference pane in AP.
  • Eliminate the Gaps box: gaps will be set by silences visible in the actual AP file: WYSIWYG.
  • Eliminate the Consider all markers checkbox.
  • When End markers exist, there is a pregap (Index 0), where the gap time is the distance from one End marker to the subsequent Start marker.. When they don’t exist, there is no pregap (Index 0). There may or may not still be a silent gap, depending what appears in the AP file.



Details

There is really no need to present the marker color options to the user each time they choose to burn a CD: these should be in an AP preferences pane. Martin and we here should choose logical default colors. I suggest Green for Start and Red for End, or Black for Start (as that seems to be the AP default marker color, and thus what a user who never looks at preferences will get) and Red for End. Unless someone has a convincing argument otherwise, i believe that AP should not allow the same color to be selected for both Start and End markers, as it seems to me that this would make the processing a lot more difficult for Martin, since it multiplies the possible variations of users omitting markers at the beginning and end of files, as well as inconsistent use within the file (e.g. some songs having an end marker and others lacking it). Similarly, the “Consider all markers” checkbox adds a layer of confusion (at least for me). It is not clear to me under what conditions a user would benefit from considering all markers vs. just having AP use the default or user-defined Start and End colors, and if necessary using AP’s existing marker color conversion features to convert an existing file’s marker colors, if needed. I suggest eliminating this option.

Not all users will have a need for End markers, so their use should be optional (when the user is not using the Generate Markers… function). When the user asks AP to burn a CD with only Start markers, AP should do so, with no pregap (other than before Track 1). Many commercial audio CDs have been and are made this way.

I believe that the existing setting for inserting gaps is confusing, unintuitive, and really a holdover from individual file-based software. For AP users starting with a single audio file, or who have manually assembled one from individual audio files, if there are inter-track gaps, these should be visible as silent (or not silent, e.g. applause) areas in the actual AP file: WYSIWYG.

AP should successfully write an audio CD if the end marker for the last track is omitted, automatically setting the track end to the end of the file. If there exists audio content past the last End marker up to the end of the file and there are no more Start markers, AP should ignore the audio past the last End marker when writing the CD, or could alternatively present a warning dialog to the user.

If CD-TEXT is Off, i suggest that AP should also successfully write an audio CD if the start marker for the first track is omitted, setting the first track start to the beginning of the file. If CD-TEXT is On, it would be more appropriate to warn the user (upon clicking the Burn button) that there is no marker for the first track, and thus there will be no CD-TEXT Track Title for that track. Default would be to Cancel the burn so the user may go place that first marker. This could be the only choice, or there could be an option to proceed with the burn anyway… perhaps the user wants CD-TEXT for the album (whole CD) and performer, yet not for each track.



AP should properly handle files with a mix of Start-only markers and Start and End markers. This may occur when some tracks segue directly into others, while other tracks on the same CD have between-track silences.


Problems with Existing Generate Markers… At silent portions for CD Making

Spring 2010 testing of this function indicates that it places a single marker per silence span vaguely in the middle of a span of detected silence:



Even casual users are likely to find this behavior suboptimal: making a CD with markers so placed, unadjusted manually, the track start points on the CD will be somewhere in the silence preceding the new track.

If this function of AP is going to continue to place a single marker, i suggest that it will be much more useful for AP to place the marker at the end of the silence: the beginning of the next track, for CD purposes:


I submit that it is preferable for the silent portions function to place two markers, one at the beginning of the silence span and one at the end:


(Even better if the markers are the user-defined colors for CD track end and start.)

In addition to being superior for CD making, this arrangement provides cleaner, more usable results for Split According to Markers…, at least when the goal is splitting an LP or cassette (or similar) side into individual track files, with minimal fiddling to remove extraneous silence.

I admit that i am unable to think of other uses for Generate Markers… At silent portions where the existing behavior may be preferable. If such uses exist, then maybe somehow adding the option of the user choosing existing behavior or one of the proposed improved behaviors when generating markers on silence is the way to go.

When using this function, i found that a lot of fiddling is needed with the minimal length timing and threshold. There is probably no way around the fiddling, yet perhaps an option for RMS detection of silence could help?

Currently (Spring 2010), AP fails to drop a marker at the beginning of the sound, even though in my test sample file there is qualified silence there.

Perhaps as part of the silence detection and marker placement functions, automatic uniform gaps may be placed by AP at that point, with that function.

CD-TEXT
The documentation needs to explain that there are two different CD-TEXT formats, and AP can only use the one Apple supports via its burning framework (this is included in my sample user manual CD section rewrite).

The CD-TEXT options are as they currently exist, other than being under the Advanced section in a single burn window, rather than in plain sight in the first of two sequential burn windows.

It appears that additional CD-TEXT fields, such as Arranger, Songwriter, and Genre may not be supported by many players. This is mostly a guess on my part… does anyone know the level of support, or what happens if these fields are included in a disc’s CD-TEXT yet the player does not support the fields? Are there any fields well supported by players that currently do not exist in AP?

ISRC
Is ISRC something AP should support? If so, it looks like it would have to hang on the marker text, as it is a per-track parameter. Thoughts?

Index Points

There could be a checkbox to enable Index point support (literally: index points beyond 0 and 1, as those are required and thus always supported). Alternatively, the default Index Point marker color could be None. Selecting a marker color could then enable the Index Point function.

The marker color selector should block (gray out) colors already selected for Track Start and End marker colors. Similarly, the selectors for Start and End should not allow the selection of a marker color already chosen for Index Points.

Alternative to Marker Colors
I believe that implementation and legacy file support will be easier by having user-adjustable fixed color assignments for each marker type: Start, End, Index. An alternative would be to introduce different kinds of markers for each of these functions, probably with a different appearance and manner of placement. I suggest that this is unnecessarily complex and not needed. One possible advantage of introducing new marker types would be allowing for entering Title, Performer, and ISRC information into text boxes on a per-track basis. Again, i do not think this is necessary for AP. It would probably have to be added at the next major release, which i understand will need to drop support for some older Mac systems… exactly the sort of systems that tend to be used most by people most likely to still be writing audio CDs.


Revised Burn Window

The single, initial AP Burn window should probably look like the existing 2nd. (final) burn window currently does, other than perhaps having a disc fullness indicator (described next, below):


When the boxed arrow in the upper right is clicked to reveal advanced details, it should have:

  • CD writer selector (as it currently has)
  • Bar graph or other indicator of how full the proposed audio CD is, once the blank disc is inserted in the drive
  • Preferred speed selector and other burn options (as it currently has)
  • (Disc Format selector, if AP will support MP3 audio CD format [not recommended; see end of this message])
  • CD-TEXT
  • Index points
  • MCN number




The existing burn window has Verify option, which needs to be removed as it seems that it cannot, and does not, actually verify the disc. Does it even make sense to have Eject vs. Mount on Desktop options?

The CD Start and End marker color selection is moved to a preference:




Other Options

CD Player Pseudo Display

Having a simulated standard audio CD player display in Amadeus Pro would allow the AP user to preview how an eventual Amadeus-made CD will work in an actual standard CD player in terms of track breaks, silences, pregap time display, and index points. This should minimize disappointment due to unexpected results from incomplete or improper pre-burn setup (especially markers), and wasted time and blank CDs. Jam and its predecessor program have had this for about two decades now, and i’m guessing that similar functionality exists in pro-grade audio CD recording software.

Several options:

  1. Add CD Track and Index point counters to the existing Playback Controller window
  2. Add a separate simulated CD player display and controls window
  3. Have some sort of toggle or preference to switch the Playback Controller from its existing state to a CD player simulation optimized state


The existing AP time count in the Playback Controller amounts to what a CD player shows as Time Per CD. Added to this needs to be Time Per Track, and optionally Count Down Per Track (time countdown until the end of the current track, shown as a negative number counting towards zero). The existing controls need the addition of buttons for Index point forward/back, whose standard icons are thus (the half arrows):


If the option of a separate CD player display or a toggle to a CD mode in the Playback Controller is chosen, it would make sense to use the standard double arrow with horizontal bar CD player track forward/back icon for those buttons. Scan buttons are not necessary, since scanning is easily accomplished already via the existing AP user interface.

It would be very nice if the display could also simulate a typical player’s CD-TEXT display, and scroll the CD-TEXT content of the file as it would appear on an average CD-TEXT-capable player display.

Pre-Emphasis
The Apple CD recording framework offers this option, though it is seldom used. It is nominally a per-track option, yet the example code from Apple sets this on a per-disc basis. I personally would not ever use this option. Anyone think it should be supported? If so, per disc or per track, and if per track, how would this be set in AP?

Copy Prohibit
Does anyone want to bother with this bit? Per track, or per disc? Only consumer DAT machines pay attention to this bit, as far as i know. I’d let this bit be unset (copying OK).

Start/Stop Offsets: Not Needed
This is needed on per-track software (for example, Roxio Jam). In the case of per-disc software like AP, it is handled by bumping relevant markers one or more frames earlier/later as needed. This is covered in the Troubleshooting section of my proposed AP user manual CD section rewrite.

No Simulation Mode
It appears that the Apple framework lacks a simulation mode. No need to mention it, other than perhaps in passing in the documentation.

No Verify

It is not possible (as far as i know) to verify a standard audio CD as the format lacks 100% error correction. This option should not be offered. It currently exists in the 2nd. AP burn window, and needs to be removed, as it is not doing anything beyond misleading the AP user. (My example user manual CD section rewrite explains this change to users, in case they wonder why this [never did anything meaningful AFAIK] feature has disappeared.)

I have not seen any other software which even attempts to verify a CD-DA disc it recorded against the original audio file—i know for sure Toast, Jam, and their original predecessors never did this. If those with greater expertise know of software which actually does verify audio CD format discs, i’ll stand (or sit) corrected… once Martin or someone has checked with Apple to see whether the Apple Framework really does verify audio CDs (i expect it does not).

A good reason not to support the MP3 format:
Wikipedia: MP3 CD
Quote:
Because Mp3CDs are just plain data CDs with Mp3 files on them, and there is no official standard, the format expected by different players varies. This sometimes leads to incompatibilities and difficulty in playing disks for various reasons such as: filename length limits, sub-folder limits, number of files limits, and special character bugs.

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Lou Kash



Joined: 16 Jul 2008
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't read it all yet (it's also very technical for me to understand it all), but one note nonetheless, just for the record:
Quote:
Markers and Gaps […]

Just few weeks ago I had a discussion with a renowned mastering engineer - owner of http://mastering-media.blogspot.com/ - regading pregaps on a compilation he's remastered for me.
When checking his DDP image, I was surprised there was as much as 1.5 sec pregap in the beginning, i.e. track 01 audio was actually starting approx. at 00:01.5. He then replied:
Quote:
The Red Book standard specifies 1 second silence after the first ident - if it's a little longer that's no problem unless it bothers you, in which case you could move the marker. There will be a brief fade-in from digital silence, this probably accounts for the extra 0.5.

You'll also find there are similar shorter gaps before all the songs - these are to allow for CD players and DACs to come out of mute, given that most players start inaccurately when skipping tracks.

In the real world none of this makes a great deal of difference, but I like to do things properly.

[…]

any professionally mastered CD should not start playing until at least 1 second into the first track. After that anywhere between 1/3 to 2/3 second silence after each marker (PQ flag) is normal. SADiE adds these offsets automatically, most "pro-sumer" apps don't.

After checking a bunch of commercial CDs, I've indeed noticed that unlike more recent releases, old CD from the 1980s or early 1990s do respect these pregaps.
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pm@philxmilstein.com



Joined: 12 Nov 2006
Posts: 85

PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:01 pm    Post subject: A Proposal for CD Writing Improvements in Amadeus Pro Reply with quote

For the record, Toast mandates an inalterable pre-gap of 2.0 sec before
Track 1. It will not burn a CD with any setting other than 2 before Track 1.

--Phil M.


Lou Kash wrote:

Quote:
I didn't read it all yet (it's also very technical for me to understand it
all), but one note nonetheless, just for the record:

Quote:
Markers and Gaps […]

Just few weeks ago I had a discussion with a renowned mastering engineer -
owner of http://mastering-media.blogspot.com/ - regading pregaps on a
compilation he's remastered for me.
When checking his DDP image, I was surprised there was as much as 1.5 sec
pregap in the beginning, i.e. track 01 audio was actually starting approx. at
00:01.5. He then replied:

Quote:
The Red Book standard specifies 1 second silence after the first ident - if
it's a little longer that's no problem unless it bothers you, in which case
you could move the marker. There will be a brief fade-in from digital
silence, this probably accounts for the extra 0.5.

You'll also find there are similar shorter gaps before all the songs - these
are to allow for CD players and DACs to come out of mute, given that most
players start inaccurately when skipping tracks.

In the real world none of this makes a great deal of difference, but I like
to do things properly.

[…]

any professionally mastered CD should not start playing until at least 1
second into the first track. After that anywhere between 1/3 to 2/3 second
silence after each marker (PQ flag) is normal. SADiE adds these offsets
automatically, most "pro-sumer" apps don't.

After checking a bunch of commercial CDs, I've indeed noticed that unlike more
recent releases, old CD from the 1980s or early 1990s do respect these
pregaps.




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Sonic Purity



Joined: 10 Nov 2007
Posts: 82
Location: Pasadena, California, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:39 pm    Post subject: Re: A Proposal for CD Writing Improvements in Amadeus Pro Reply with quote

pm@philxmilstein.com wrote:
For the record, Toast mandates an inalterable pre-gap of 2.0 sec before
Track 1. It will not burn a CD with any setting other than 2 before Track 1.

--Phil M.


Lou Kash wrote:

Quote:
I didn't read it all yet (it's also very technical for me to understand it
all), but one note nonetheless, just for the record:

Quote:
Markers and Gaps […]

Just few weeks ago I had a discussion with a renowned mastering engineer -
owner of http://mastering-media.blogspot.com/ - regading pregaps on a
compilation he's remastered for me.
When checking his DDP image, I was surprised there was as much as 1.5 sec
pregap in the beginning, i.e. track 01 audio was actually starting approx. at
00:01.5. He then replied:

Quote:
The Red Book standard specifies 1 second silence after the first ident - if
it's a little longer that's no problem unless it bothers you, in which case
you could move the marker. There will be a brief fade-in from digital
silence, this probably accounts for the extra 0.5.

You'll also find there are similar shorter gaps before all the songs - these
are to allow for CD players and DACs to come out of mute, given that most
players start inaccurately when skipping tracks.

In the real world none of this makes a great deal of difference, but I like
to do things properly.

[…]

any professionally mastered CD should not start playing until at least 1
second into the first track. After that anywhere between 1/3 to 2/3 second
silence after each marker (PQ flag) is normal. SADiE adds these offsets
automatically, most "pro-sumer" apps don't.

After checking a bunch of commercial CDs, I've indeed noticed that unlike more
recent releases, old CD from the 1980s or early 1990s do respect these
pregaps.



Yes, the pregap before Track 1 is a special case, and not really of interest to end users (any that i know) since there won’t be any applause nor any other content there, as it precedes the beginning of Track 1 (as far as the players and users are concerned).

There was a lot of discussion about the pregap, especially preceding Track 1, on Apple’s Disc Recording discussion list, circa 2006. Here is one quote from what appears to be the main Apple engineer working on that framework at the time:

http://lists.apple.com/archives/discrecording//2005/Nov/msg00008.html
Quote:
Subject: Re: pregap on track 1
From: John Bertagnolli <email>
Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 07:24:15 -0700

Brian -

You are correct in that none of the Rainbow books have an upper limit on the pregaps. However, as you indicate, there are firmware developers out there that do their own thing. The Red Book is really really old. I'm sure they have the books, and have read them; probably more than once. It is probably the worst implementation of a spec I have seen. Trying to adapt it for data was er, well, worse than the Red Book, if that can be possible. Frankly, firmware developers are spending no time looking at CD-R and CD-RW. It's done. They are looking at DVDs: dual/double layer, BluRay, and HD. CD's are done; there's no future there.

DiscRecording has to work with as many drives as we possibly can. We made the decision to limit the pregap for the first track because when we tested the 100's of drives we have, it was the only thing we could do to make it work reliably. Hypothetically, let's say we didn't limit it to 2 seconds. Then every month or so, we would have a discussion with someone about why a 15 second pregap on the first track doesn't work on some HLDS or Sony drive. It is a trade-off, and ultimately, my decision. Compatibility, functionality, "It just works."

So, what are we doing about it? Well, the 2-3 seconds works reliably for TAO and SAO burns. It consistently works on all the drives we have. It is supported by Mt Fuji and MMC, again for TAO and SAO. What is DiscRecording missing here? RAW mode burns. With RAW mode, you can burn a pregap of what ever length you want. You can put data or hidden audio in the pregap. You can do this for any track you want, even the first. You can have custom postgaps. RAW mode will let you tweak the subchannel information and burn all sorts of good corruption on your "Red Book" CDs.

DiscRecording isn't complete. We still have a long list of things we are working on, and RAW mode is one of them.

Hope this helps,
John


Bottom line:
* The framework will enforce a 2 sec. pregap before Track 1. (Short of RAW mode, and i don’t know the status of that, nor see any relevance to any specific pregap timing for Track 1.)
* Toast does this as well (thanks, Phil)
* It should not matter to the user, other than those perfectionists expecting any material before their Track 1 marker to be handled in some audible way on the CD.

I should probably add something somewhere to my proposed user manual CD section rewrite, maybe in the appendix, that even if a user places stuff before the Track 1 start marker or after the last track end marker, it won’t show up on the final CD, on account of requirements of the CD standard + the Apple framework.

I can imagine someone for some reason having a file which has content before the Track 1 start marker and maybe after the last track end marker, that they do not intend to be on the CD, yet for their own reasons do not want to clip out of the file being used in AP to make the CD. I’d hope that AP would do the sensible thing and ignore material before the first Start marker and after the last End marker (if the user is using End markers) and let the Apple framework do the rest.

In terms of having silence between the track start marker and the actual track content, yes this has been standard practice. I’m not so sure how much of a real-world problem it is with any players made after about 1985. I was testing players on a nearly daily basis then. The Philips 5 and 5A test discs have a track (i’d have to look up which one) with a very sharp, defined, loud starting note, which they intentionally recorded hard against the track start. The point of that test was to see just how good/bad players were at landing at the correct starting point and unmuting. Even back in 1985, many did very well. Some did upcut the note a bit, and some did it more than others. This also gets into listener sensitivity to notes being upcut. Given what happens every hour of every day on TV in terms of truncated audio, a lot of people are used to it, and probably would not notice.

Unmuting still isn’t instant, so it is probably wise to include a few frames of silence at least. Still, i often have done hard placement of audio against track start, and very, very rarely have come to regret it (playing it in standard audio CD players, mostly from the late 1980s through early 1990s).

I certainly don’t think that AP needs to do anything special here. If anything, the information from this recording engineer (or a paraphrase) could be part of the AP manual, probably in an Advanced section.

Looking forward to further discussion,
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:11 pm    Post subject: A Proposal for CD Writing Improvements in Amadeus Pro Reply with quote

A couple of points which occur to me to consider:

* To include a marker color that would be ignored at the Burn CD stage, to
enable (marker-denoted) editing that would not interfere with track
indexing.

* To enable a Capture Sequence function for Shuffle mode, perhaps as a text
file. This would allow users to run in Shuffle mode for the purpose of
sequence testing, without having to write down each generated sequence, and
then keep track of which ones he or she does or doesn't like.

I'm not sure if these are even suitable to what you're trying to accomplish
at this time, but if so, there y'are.

--Phil M.




Sonic Purity wrote:

Quote:
A Proposal for CD Writing Improvements in Amadeus Pro

Introduction
This very long post is a proposal for improving the way Amadeus Pro
(hereinafter AP) creates audio CDs, both in terms of available features and
the user interface.

I‚ve given this thought over the last several years, and on and off over the
last year or so have intensely studied:


How AP currently works.

How other software programs handle CD writing.

What options are available in the CD recording framework provided by Apple
with OS X, which is what AP uses and thus what limits what AP can and cannot
do.



Fundamental axioms:

A casual user will want to do as little work as possible to create a
satisfactory audio CD.

A skilled user will want as much control as possible to create the best
possible audio CD.



Goals:

Revise AP to offer as many useful features as the Apple CD burning framework
allows that anyone might ever want to use, while at the same time keeping the
defaults and user interface simple enough to make basic CD writing as easy as
possible for everyone, especially casual and non-expert users.

Improve the user manual section covering CD writing.



While i have a good bit of expertise with the CD format, i am posting here
rather than sending my proposal directly to Martin so that others here on this
forum can contribute their ideas and suggestions. I especially look forward to
responses from those of you who have worked with audio CD creation in a
professional environment, who have dealt with ISRC and/or MCN numbers, and/or
high-end CD writing software that i have not used (such as Peak and others.
Highest-end i‚ve used is Jam). As well, everyone of all skill levels may have
very useful contributions to the discussion regarding basic functionality, the
user interface, and documentation.

I hope that all of you who are interested will take some time to study this
proposal, and comment when/as it makes sense to you.

Issues with CD writing in AP as it is Now
The existing CD writing interface is a very nice feature of AP, yet it can
benefit from some improvement:

Confusing User Interface
I‚ve used close to a dozen different programs to write CDs, going back to
Asarte CD-DA (precursor to Adaptec/Roxio Jam) around 1990, and have dealt
intimately with the CD audio format since not long after its 1983 (in the
U.S.) introduction. I don‚t even understand exactly how the existing UI is
supposed to work!
Having both the basic and expert settings together in one sheet, and following
that sheet with the OS-style Burn window and with choices that do not apply to
an audio CD can confuse or even intimidate non-expert users. This proposal
addresses these issues.

Not all available CD recording framework options that may be useful are
readily available
For example, the Index points feature i championed a few years ago is only
available as an expert setting via Terminal (my fault for not providing a UI
proposal until now). ISRC codes are not available at all. Additional CD-TEXT
fields that might be useful are not available.

Proposal: Overview

Rework the AP Burn dialog (and underlying AP code to support the changes)


Move the Start and End Color marker settings, which seldom need changing, to a
CD Writing (or Burning) preference pane in AP

Eliminate the Consider all markers checkbox

Eliminate the Gaps box: gaps will be set by silences visible in the actual AP
file

Hide Advanced items under a disclosure arrow, per Apple Human Interface
Guidelines (HIG)

Single Burn dialog vs. the current sequential 2-window setup

Add the new advanced features (e.g. Index points) to the UI


Add a new simulated CD player controls/display window, or rework the existing
Playback Controller window to add the display of CD track and index numbers

Add the new option
Add CD Silence∑ (probably under or near Effects &gt; Generate Silence∑) to
take the place of the existing Gaps burn window option.
Revise the CD writing section of the AP manual (I have made an attempt at
this, posted as a TextEdit
[RTF] file (http://siber-sonic.com/audio/A-D/Amadeus/APusermanRWbits.rtf) on
my website), both to address the changes and for improved clarity.


Proposal: Details
Let‚s start with the (assumed) workflow of a casual/non-expert user, and find
out what they need to have AP make a CD with minimal hassle.

First, they have to be educated a bit: they have to understand that AP makes
an audio CD from a single file with markers as track dividers, whereas popular
„consumer‰ programs such as iTunes and Toast assemble an audio CD from
individual files. This fundamental point has to be covered at the beginning of
discussion of using AP to make audio CDs, to be sure the user understands the
model AP is using (especially as it fundamentally differs from other programs
they may have used). I‚ve included this in my sample AP manual CD section
rewrite.

At this point, the needs of even our basic user are already branching: many
users will already have a single audio file, such as a digitized LP or
cassette side, a live recording, or other continuous recording, whereas others
will want to assemble a CD from individual song files. One option is to steer
users who already have individual files and want to make an audio CD over to
iTunes or Toast or other individual-file-based software. Another would be to
make things as easy as possible for them to assemble the files into a single
AP file.

For a skilled user, it is already easy to open and merge files into a single
file. This may not be the case for an unskilled user. If it is decided to add
extra support for these users, perhaps AP can gain a function to mimic
software like Toast, in the sense that there could be a window where the user
will drag individual audio files, choose a between-song gap setting, then
click a button and have AP assemble its usual single file, with markers and
silences automatically placed. (This would likely be a major change that may
not be appropriate until the next major AP version change.) Otherwise, the
documentation would need to let the user know that they need to manually merge
the files, add silences for gaps, and place track markers.

The basic/casual single-file user will only need to place a marker at each
track change point.

With markers placed in the single file, the casual user may now click the Burn
icon or make the appropriate menu selection, insert the blank CD, and the disc
will be written.


Markers and Gaps

CD Audio format Terminology
Some visual examples may help. Let‚s temporarily set aside how Amadeus Pro and
any other software represents gaps and tracks, and consider how audio CDs and
players handle these concepts.



Here is the common case where one song ends, there is a silent gap of some
number of seconds, then the next song starts. Depending upon choices made by
the CD‚s creator, what the user sees on their CD player display could be one
of two options:

No pregap:


With pregap:


Notice in the first case (no pregap), the timer keeps counting up, past the
end of Song 1, all the way until the start of Song 2, then resets to 0 and
resumes counting up. In the second case, the counter counts up until the end
of Song 1, counts down from a negative number towards zero during the gap,
then counts upwards from zero for Song 2.
Note that in both cases, pressing the Next Track button on the player jumps
directly to Track 2, Index 1, the actual start of Song 2.
While this may seem like a trivial distinction, there is a real-world
implication beyond how the counter counts: in Shuffle Play mode, the version
lacking the pregap will play all the way through the silence before jumping to
the next song in the shuffle. The version with the pregap will jump
immediately at the end of Song 1 to the next song in the shuffleËœwhich (i am
guessing) most users would consider proper behavior.

All of this works exactly the same for cases where there is audio in the area
between the end of Song 1 and the start of Song 2:





In these sorts of cases, the CD‚s creator needs to make the aesthetic choice
of whether it is better to include the applause (no pregap) or exclude it.

Markers and Gaps in Amadeus ProËœProposal
Summary
I propose changing how markers and gaps behave in Amadeus Pro as follows:


Require one defined color for track start and a different color for track end,
with sensible defaults. Use of track end should remain optional.

Move the Start and End Color marker settings to a CD Writing (or Burning)
preference pane in AP.

Eliminate the Gaps box: gaps will be set by silences visible in the actual AP
file: WYSIWYG.

Eliminate the Consider all markers checkbox.

When End markers exist, there is a pregap (Index 0), where the gap time is the
distance from one End marker to the subsequent Start marker.. When they don‚t
exist, there is no pregap (Index 0). There may or may not still be a silent
gap, depending what appears in the AP file.




Details

There is really no need to present the marker color options to the user each
time they choose to burn a CD: these should be in an AP preferences pane.
Martin and we here should choose logical default colors. I suggest Green for
Start and Red for End, or Black for Start (as that seems to be the AP default
marker color, and thus what a user who never looks at preferences will get)
and Red for End. Unless someone has a convincing argument otherwise, i believe
that AP should not allow the same color to be selected for both Start and End
markers, as it seems to me that this would make the processing a lot more
difficult for Martin, since it multiplies the possible variations of users
omitting markers at the beginning and end of files, as well as inconsistent
use within the file (e.g. some songs having an end marker and others lacking
it). Similarly, the „Consider all markers‰ checkbox adds a layer of confusion
(at least for me). It is not clear to me under what conditions a user w
ould benefit from considering all markers vs. just having AP use the default
or user-defined Start and End colors, and if necessary using AP‚s existing
marker color conversion features to convert an existing file‚s marker colors,
if needed. I suggest eliminating this option.

Not all users will have a need for End markers, so their use should be
optional (when the user is not using the Generate Markers∑ function). When the
user asks AP to burn a CD with only Start markers, AP should do so, with no
pregap (other than before Track 1). Many commercial audio CDs have been and
are made this way.

I believe that the existing setting for inserting gaps is confusing,
unintuitive, and really a holdover from individual file-based software. For AP
users starting with a single audio file, or who have manually assembled one
from individual audio files, if there are inter-track gaps, these should be
visible as silent (or not silent, e.g. applause) areas in the actual AP file:
WYSIWYG.

AP should successfully write an audio CD if the end marker for the last track
is omitted, automatically setting the track end to the end of the file. If
there exists audio content past the last End marker up to the end of the file
and there are no more Start markers, AP should ignore the audio past the last
End marker when writing the CD, or could alternatively present a warning
dialog to the user.

If CD-TEXT is Off, i suggest that AP should also successfully write an audio
CD if the start marker for the first track is omitted, setting the first track
start to the beginning of the file. If CD-TEXT is On, it would be more
appropriate to warn the user (upon clicking the Burn button) that there is no
marker for the first track, and thus there will be no CD-TEXT Track Title for
that track. Default would be to Cancel the burn so the user may go place that
first marker. This could be the only choice, or there could be an option to
proceed with the burn anyway∑ perhaps the user wants CD-TEXT for the album
(whole CD) and performer, yet not for each track.



AP should properly handle files with a mix of Start-only markers and Start and
End markers. This may occur when some tracks segue directly into others, while
other tracks on the same CD have between-track silences.


Problems with Existing Generate Markers∑ At silent portions for CD Making

Spring 2010 testing of this function indicates that it places a single marker
per silence span vaguely in the middle of a span of detected silence:



Even casual users are likely to find this behavior suboptimal: making a CD
with markers so placed, unadjusted manually, the track start points on the CD
will be somewhere in the silence preceding the new track.

If this function of AP is going to continue to place a single marker, i
suggest that it will be much more useful for AP to place the marker at the end
of the silence: the beginning of the next track, for CD purposes:


I submit that it is preferable for the silent portions function to place two
markers, one at the beginning of the silence span and one at the end:


(Even better if the markers are the user-defined colors for CD track end and
start.)

In addition to being superior for CD making, this arrangement provides
cleaner, more usable results for Split According to Markers∑, at least when
the goal is splitting an LP or cassette (or similar) side into individual
track files, with minimal fiddling to remove extraneous silence.

I admit that i am unable to think of other uses for Generate Markers∑ At
silent portions where the existing behavior may be preferable. If such uses
exist, then maybe somehow adding the option of the user choosing existing
behavior or one of the proposed improved behaviors when generating markers on
silence is the way to go.

When using this function, i found that a lot of fiddling is needed with the
minimal length timing and threshold. There is probably no way around the
fiddling, yet perhaps an option for RMS detection of silence could help?

Currently (Spring 2010), AP fails to drop a marker at the beginning of the
sound, even though in my test sample file there is qualified silence there.

Perhaps as part of the silence detection and marker placement functions,
automatic uniform gaps may be placed by AP at that point, with that function.

CD-TEXT
The documentation needs to explain that there are two different CD-TEXT
formats, and AP can only use the one Apple supports via its burning framework
(this is included in my sample user manual CD section rewrite).

The CD-TEXT options are as they currently exist, other than being under the
Advanced section in a single burn window, rather than in plain sight in the
first of two sequential burn windows.

It appears that additional CD-TEXT fields, such as Arranger, Songwriter, and
Genre may not be supported by many players. This is mostly a guess on my
part∑ does anyone know the level of support, or what happens if these fields
are included in a disc‚s CD-TEXT yet the player does not support the fields?
Are there any fields well supported by players that currently do not exist in
AP?

ISRC
Is ISRC something AP should support? If so, it looks like it would have to
hang on the marker text, as it is a per-track parameter. Thoughts?

Index Points

There could be a checkbox to enable Index point support (literally: index
points beyond 0 and 1, as those are required and thus always supported).
Alternatively, the default Index Point marker color could be None. Selecting a
marker color could then enable the Index Point function.

The marker color selector should block (gray out) colors already selected for
Track Start and End marker colors. Similarly, the selectors for Start and End
should not allow the selection of a marker color already chosen for Index
Points.

Alternative to Marker Colors
I believe that implementation and legacy file support will be easier by having
user-adjustable fixed color assignments for each marker type: Start, End,
Index. An alternative would be to introduce different kinds of markers for
each of these functions, probably with a different appearance and manner of
placement. I suggest that this is unnecessarily complex and not needed. One
possible advantage of introducing new marker types would be allowing for
entering Title, Performer, and ISRC information into text boxes on a per-track
basis. Again, i do not think this is necessary for AP. It would probably have
to be added at the next major release, which i understand will need to drop
support for some older Mac systems∑ exactly the sort of systems that tend to
be used most by people most likely to still be writing audio CDs.


Revised Burn Window

The single, initial AP Burn window should probably look like the existing 2nd.
(final) burn window currently does, other than perhaps having a disc fullness
indicator (described next, below):


When the boxed arrow in the upper right is clicked to reveal advanced details,
it should have:

CD writer selector (as it currently has)

Bar graph or other indicator of how full the proposed audio CD is, once the
blank disc is inserted in the drive

Preferred speed selector and other burn options (as it currently has)

(Disc Format selector, if AP will support MP3 audio CD format
[not recommended; see end of this message])
CD-TEXT

Index points

MCN number





The existing burn window has Verify option, which needs to be removed as it
seems that it cannot, and does not, actually verify the disc. Does it even
make sense to have Eject vs. Mount on Desktop options?

The CD Start and End marker color selection is moved to a preference:




Other Options

CD Player Pseudo Display

Having a simulated standard audio CD player display in Amadeus Pro would allow
the AP user to preview how an eventual Amadeus-made CD will work in an actual
standard CD player in terms of track breaks, silences, pregap time display,
and index points. This should minimize disappointment due to unexpected
results from incomplete or improper pre-burn setup (especially markers), and
wasted time and blank CDs. Jam and its predecessor program have had this for
about two decades now, and i‚m guessing that similar functionality exists in
pro-grade audio CD recording software.

Several options:

Add CD Track and Index point counters to the existing Playback Controller
window

Add a separate simulated CD player display and controls window

Have some sort of toggle or preference to switch the Playback Controller from
its existing state to a CD player simulation optimized state



The existing AP time count in the Playback Controller amounts to what a CD
player shows as Time Per CD. Added to this needs to be Time Per Track, and
optionally Count Down Per Track (time countdown until the end of the current
track, shown as a negative number counting towards zero). The existing
controls need the addition of buttons for Index point forward/back, whose
standard icons are thus (the half arrows):


If the option of a separate CD player display or a toggle to a CD mode in the
Playback Controller is chosen, it would make sense to use the standard double
arrow with horizontal bar CD player track forward/back icon for those buttons.
Scan buttons are not necessary, since scanning is easily accomplished already
via the existing AP user interface.

It would be very nice if the display could also simulate a typical player‚s
CD-TEXT display, and scroll the CD-TEXT content of the file as it would appear
on an average CD-TEXT-capable player display.

Pre-Emphasis
The Apple CD recording framework offers this option, though it is seldom used.
It is nominally a per-track option, yet the example code from Apple sets this
on a per-disc basis. I personally would not ever use this option. Anyone think
it should be supported? If so, per disc or per track, and if per track, how
would this be set in AP?

Copy Prohibit
Does anyone want to bother with this bit? Per track, or per disc? Only
consumer DAT machines pay attention to this bit, as far as i know. I‚d let
this bit be unset (copying OK).

Start/Stop Offsets: Not Needed
This is needed on per-track software (for example, Roxio Jam). In the case of
per-disc software like AP, it is handled by bumping relevant markers one or
more frames earlier/later as needed. This is covered in the Troubleshooting
section of my proposed AP user manual CD section rewrite.

No Simulation Mode
It appears that the Apple framework lacks a simulation mode. No need to
mention it, other than perhaps in passing in the documentation.

No Verify

It is not possible (as far as i know) to verify a standard audio CD as the
format lacks 100% error correction. This option should not be offered. It
currently exists in the 2nd. AP burn window, and needs to be removed, as it is
not doing anything beyond misleading the AP user. (My example user manual CD
section rewrite explains this change to users, in case they wonder why this
[never did anything meaningful AFAIK] feature has disappeared.)

I have not seen any other software which even attempts to verify a CD-DA disc
it recorded against the original audio fileËœi know for sure Toast, Jam, and
their original predecessors never did this. If those with greater expertise
know of software which actually does verify audio CD format discs, i‚ll stand
(or sit) corrected∑ once Martin or someone has checked with Apple to see
whether the Apple Framework really does verify audio CDs (i expect it does
not).

A good reason not to support the MP3 format:
Wikipedia: MP3 CD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3_CD)

Quote:
Because Mp3CDs are just plain data CDs with Mp3 files on them, and there is
no official standard, the format expected by different players varies. This
sometimes leads to incompatibilities and difficulty in playing disks for
various reasons such as: filename length limits, sub-folder limits, number of
files limits, and special character bugs.


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Sonic Purity



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Location: Pasadena, California, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:04 pm    Post subject: Re: A Proposal for CD Writing Improvements in Amadeus Pro Reply with quote

pm@philxmilstein.com wrote:
A couple of points which occur to me to consider:

* To include a marker color that would be ignored at the Burn CD stage, to
enable (marker-denoted) editing that would not interfere with track
indexing.

* To enable a Capture Sequence function for Shuffle mode, perhaps as a text
file. This would allow users to run in Shuffle mode for the purpose of
sequence testing, without having to write down each generated sequence, and
then keep track of which ones he or she does or doesn't like.

I'm not sure if these are even suitable to what you're trying to accomplish
at this time, but if so, there y'are.

--Phil M.


Sonic Purity wrote:

Quote:
I propose changing how markers and gaps behave in Amadeus Pro as follows:

Require one defined color for track start and a different color for track end,
with sensible defaults. Use of track end should remain optional.

Move the Start and End Color marker settings to a CD Writing (or Burning)
preference pane in AP.
...

Not all users will have a need for End markers, so their use should be
optional...

Index Points

There could be a checkbox to enable Index point support (literally: index
points beyond 0 and 1, as those are required and thus always supported).
Alternatively, the default Index Point marker color could be None. Selecting a marker color could then enable the Index Point function.


(I pared down the quoteback of my original material to the parts which seem pertinent.)

On the first point, yes, i did overlook the choice of None for Track Start as well as Track End marker colors, which i propose be moved to a preference pane so that they do not have to be set for each burn. I guess if AP is presented with a file with Track Start marker color set to None, it should assume that the user wants the file to be made into a CD which is “one big track”, possibly or possibly not marked with index points (which would be an odd way to do things). This would be the same result as if the user had placed a single Track Start marker at the beginning of the file. Presumably there would be no Track End marker (either no markers of that color or Track End marker color also set to None). If there was a Track End marker yet no Track Start marker, i suggest the correct behavior would be for AP to write a single-track CD which ends at the Track End marker, ignoring any further audio content in the file (maybe a user is dropping a marker instead of editing out audio not wanted on the CD, yet still wanted in the file).

Not sure whether i’m understanding the Shuffle mode Capture Sequence idea. I guess this would be for the pseudo CD player interface? I’m not sure what that would tell the user, since shuffling is a function of the playback machine, and will differ with different models.

Thanks for the ideas… keep ’em coming (as they come).
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:37 pm    Post subject: A Proposal for CD Writing Improvements in Amadeus Pro Reply with quote

I suggested:
Quote:
* To enable a Capture Sequence function for Shuffle mode, perhaps as a text
file. This would allow users to run in Shuffle mode for the purpose of
sequence testing, without having to write down each generated sequence, and
then keep track of which ones he or she does or doesn't like.

Sonic Purity wrote:
Quote:
Not sure whether i‚m understanding the Shuffle mode Capture Sequence idea. I
guess this would be for the pseudo CD player interface? I‚m not sure what that
would tell the user, since shuffling is a function of the playback machine,
and will differ with different models.

Yes, I am indeed referring to the "pseudo CD player interface" of your
proposal. Please allow me to clarify. The type of work for which this
feature might be useful is when trying to determine a sequence for
"mix-tape" type CDs (which I often do). Sometimes a good sequence, or at
least the beginnings of one, suggests itself to me, but when one doesn't I
often rely on the Random/Shuffle mode (of either iTunes or my CD player) to
suggest one for me.

However, those sequences are easily upset: for instance, if I happen to
insert an audio CD into my computer drive while listening to a Random
sequence in iTunes, the sequence will be destroyed midstream, in favor of a
listing of the new arrival; clicking back on the playlist you'd been working
with creates a new sequence.

Random sequences generated by my CD player are a bit more sturdy in that
respect, however when a sequence has finished playing out its order is
erased from the player's memory, and I have no way of recapturing it. The
only workaround for that is if I find myself liking a sequence I have to
pause the machine (at any point before it has played all the way through)
and manually copy out the track numbers.

Consequently (no pun intended), I have always wished for a way for the track
order of a Random/Shuffle sequence to in some way be preserved, so that I
can consult or store it as I see fit. (Toast, by the way, has no corollary
feature.)

Perhaps for some reason the solution I have in mind is technically
infeasible. If not, however, it would be a huge advantage (albeit solving
only an isolated problem) to have each Random or Shuffle sequence preserved
in some way -- perhaps, as I suggested, as a text file, but any way that the
user might be able to consult the track order of a complete
randomly-generated sequence, even after that sequence has finished playing,
out would be a most welcome addition.

Thanks very much,
--Phil M.


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