Exploring playback options
Exploring playback options
In this movie, I want to show you a selection of preferences and options that affect how songs and videos are played back in iTunes. Let's start by going to iTunes > Preferences, on Windows you will go to Edit > Preferences, and here I am going to go to the Playback tab. And we are going to take a look at these first three settings up at the top. Turning on any of these options affects every song you play in iTunes. First of all we have the Crossfade Songs option. Basically this has to do with determining how soon the next song will start when the currently playing song is about to end. And by checking Crossfade you are setting iTunes so that the beginning and end of songs overlap with each other, much like they do on radio stations.
The slider determines how many seconds of overlap will occur. The more you drag the slider to the right, the more the two songs will overlap. So with it all the way dragged to the right, you will hear the end of the first songs starts fading out as the beginning of the next song starts fading in. So let me give you an example here. I'll click OK. Let me play the end of one of these songs. (Music Playing) So you can still hear the end of that first song playing as the beginning of this next song started coming in.
I don't know if you could hear that the first song started fading out a little bit too. Now the original track was not like that. It sort of came to a cold stop, but because I had Crossfade Songs checked it faded out that song for me. So if you like that effect, if you don't like having gaps between your music turn on the Crossfade effect. I wouldn't recommend going so far as to add 12 seconds of Crossfade. It's probably a little too much and most songs will probably clash instead of transition nicely without that Crossfade. I am actually going to turn it off for now. The next option under Playback Preferences is the Sound Enhancer.
And what this allows you to do is to drag the slider to the right or left to emphasize the high or low ends of the playing song. Now it's a kind of hard to demo in this movie. It's really something you kind of have to hear for yourself, but let's get a song playing. I am just going to click OK and let's play the song that we're already playing. We will go back to Preferences and I will drag to the right and left and you can see if you can hear the difference. (Music playing) So it's a little duller there with a little bit more the low end coming through.
(Music playing) And that makes it a little brighter. (Music playing) Pause that again. Again, you will probably hear the difference a lot better on your own computer and just be aware that it does affect every song you're playing. Personally I am not a huge fan of Sound Enhancer but it can be useful in enhancing the dynamic range of your computer's sound system. If your speakers tend to produce a little more on the low frequency end of things, you might want to drag the slider to the right to bring out more of the highs.
If your speakers are a little boxy or tinny, try dragging the Sound Enhancer to the left to emphasize low frequencies more, and if you think your sound system sounds fine as is, you can of course ignore this feature completely. Next we have Sound Check and you can see that it includes an explanation, which says it Automatically adjusts song playback volume to the same level. Inevitably some of the songs in your library are going to be louder than others. It's just has to do with the way they were originally recorded and released and to some extent how they were encoded. For example, songs recorded these days are a lot louder than songs recorded back in the 60s, so if you're shuffling songs in your collection, you might be playing an older song that requires you to turn up the volume so you can hear it at a decent level, only to have your ears blown off by the next song that was recorded in the past year or so.
So the Sound Check automatically controls the playback level of all songs so that they all playback at relatively the same volume. So quiet songs become a little bit louder and louder songs become a little bit quieter and they sort of meet in the middle. Now the first time you check this option and click OK, iTunes will start scanning through your entire library, analyzing each song for their volume levels and adding some adjustment information if necessary. Now iTunes has already done this to my library so you are not seeing any kind of progress bar right now. But the first time you turn on Sound Check, it will scan through your entire library.
Now you don't need to worry that this is permanently changing the sound of your tracks. All iTunes is doing is adding some data to the file so that it and iPods for that matter know to dynamically adjust the volume when the song comes up. If you turn off Sound Check, that information will stay with the songs but it has no discernible effect on them until you turn Sound Check back on. Now this is another option I don't personally really use unless I'm maybe playing a playlist that includes a wide range of songs spanning several decades and I want to make sure everything plays back at a consistent volume level.
You can decide for yourself whether or not to use this feature but if you have a large library, you might want to at least turn it on once so it can scan your library and all the necessary data now instead of when you really want to use Sound Check. I am just going to leave all of these options off for now. And those are the global playback settings I wanted to show you, which again, affect all the songs you playback in iTunes. Now individual songs have their own playback options as well. Let me click OK. Now I am just going to right click a song and choose Get Info and if you recall this is where we previously entered the information for songs like artist, album, and so on.
Let's go over to Options. So here we have several options for adjusting the settings on individual tracks and I should probably mention that these settings apply to not only audio tracks but to videos as well. The first item is the Volume Adjustment slider and it's for setting the volume level of just the song I currently have selected, not for all of our songs like Sound Check is. So if you do have a handful of songs that are a little too quiet or loud relative to the rest of the songs in your library, you can use each song's volume slider to increase or decrease its volume. You can also make the adjustment while the song is playing to help you get an accurate idea of how much you are adjusting the volume.
So, if I click OK and start the song playing -- go back to Get Info. I can use the Volume Adjustment slider. (Music playing) Just to give myself an idea of what the volume level sounds like. Let's go back in there. Next, we have our Equalizer Preset menu, so we can assign a preset EQ setting to this particular song. I am going to be getting into EQ settings in just a couple of movies from now, so I am not going to discuss this at the moment but just be aware that you can set individual EQ settings to each song in your library.
Next we have VoiceOver Language, which is used in conjunction with certain iPods like the iPod Shuffle for example, which can verbally provide the song and artist name of the track you currently listening to. You can choose Alternate Languages if you want to hear the name of your selected track spoken in another language on your iPod. Now this VoiceOver Language menu will only appear if you've enabled VoiceOver after connecting your iPod. It's found under the Summary section of your iPod settings in iTunes and you can check out the first movie in the chapter on managing your iPod to see where that option appears. Then we have Rating, so this is another place you can rate songs.
Just click or drag in here until the number of stars you want has appeared. But again, we saw that you can rate songs in the main iTunes window and it's definitely more time consuming to open the Get Info window just to rate a song. So you probably won't do much rating from here. Next we have Start Time and Stop Time. Occasionally, you might have a song in which you want it to start playing at the very beginning or near the end. For example, some live performance songs might include an artist telling you a story about the song or noodling around on his or her instrument. Unless you've heard this a few times, you might want to just get to the music each time you listen to the song from that point on.
So maybe the song itself actually starts 30 seconds into the track, in which case I can check Start Time and change this to 30 and once I click OK, that song will always start at 30 seconds in. Now I am not damaging or altering the file at all; I am just telling it that I want to start playing around 30 seconds in. If I decide I don't want it to do that anymore, I just uncheck Start Time. And the same thing goes for Stop Time. If I wanted to stop before the end of the song, I would just type in the time code there as well. And these settings also carry over to any iPods or iPhones you copy this song onto as well.
The next option is Remember playback position. This probably applies more to audio books than music. By checking this option ensures that you can pause a track in the middle of playback and then come back later and pick up exactly where you left off even if you have played other tracks in between that time. This playback position is also remembered between iTunes and iPods. So if you are listening to a track on your computer and then copy the track to your iPod before you head out the door, you will pick up exactly where you left off when you start listening to the track on your iPod. Now all Audio Books you purchase from the iTunes store have the built-in ability to remember the playback position.
So you don't have to manually apply the setting to them. But if you import audio books from another source or if you want to apply this feature to songs or even to videos, you just need to open the Get Info window and check this option. Next, we have the Skip when shuffling option and this simply marks this particular track as a track that you don't want to have come up if you're playing random shuffled songs. Maybe it's a spoken word piece or maybe a standard comedy album and you don't want these items to appear among a bunch of songs. Just check this option and it will never appear when you are shuffling or listening to songs on random. I will talk about shuffling songs in just a little bit.
And this last option here is Part of a gapless album, and this is for manually setting a song that's part of an album or at least a series of songs from that album that shouldn't have any gaps of silence between the tracks. iTunes can usually determine that information for you but this check box is here for those times when iTunes doesn't correctly identify a song as gapless. So if you're hearing a gap of silence between songs where there shouldn't be any, you can check part of a gapless album to get rid of that gap. Ok, so those are some of the preferences and options that are available for all the songs or for individual tracks when you play them back.
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