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Thread: Trying to understand playlists

  1. #1

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    Trying to understand playlists

    To provide some context, I am retired for a number of years and until just over a month ago my exposure to digital music was playing CDs, and listening to a DAB radio. I decided it would be beneficial to store my CDs on a hard drive as I am finding it more difficult to keep moving around to select them and insert in CD player. So in the last few weeks I have got to grips with setting up a Synology NAS, understanding CD Ripper to transfer the CDs to the NAS, and setting up Asset UPnP on the NAS. I have also purchased a CXNv2 streamer and am using StreamMagic on an iPad to control it.

    Having spent hours scouring the forums etc trying to find answers to my many questions, I am stuck on one particular subject, which is playlists. While I have made some progress I find that a lot of the information is aimed at folks with more technical knowledge and understanding of the digital music environment.

    Having never used a playlist before, I am assuming that by using them I would be able to select tracks from various albums and have them automatically play in the order that they appear in the playlist. If that is the case, then I am failing to achieve this.

    I noted that the playlist file type should be .m3u and I saved a playlist file in this format using Windows Media Player. However the contents of this were gobbledegook compared to the plain text file I was expecting, and it didn't work in StreamMagic.

    I then found a DSP option in CD Ripper called Playlist Writer so I tried that. It created a .m3u file in the expected format i.e. plain text, although it used a disk drive designator for the file path. More research identified that I needed to change this for each track e.g.

    from M:\Beach Boys, The\The Sound of Summer\....
    to /volume1/music/Beach Boys, The/The Sound of Summer/....

    Does this suggest there is something setup incorrectly in my CD Ripper/Asset configuration? I don't really understand the purpose of this DSP - why create a playlist of just the album being ripped?

    Anyway, this playlist was recognised by StreamMagic and I could see the tracks in it. The problem is that I can't see any way to play it as a playlist. Again, I am assuming that it should just play all the way through automatically, otherwise I don't see the advantage. All I can do in StreamMagic though is select each track and add it to the queue, which defeats the purpose if my assumption is correct.

    I have asked Cambridge Audio about this and their response was "Is the .m3u file in the same folder as the tracks to which it relates?". I couldn't reconcile this question with how I thought a playlist would work so I am really hoping that someone can point me in the right direction here, or at the very least confirm (or not) my assumptions about how this should work.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Re: Trying to understand playlists

    I'm not sure I understand the question. I sometimes make playlists, but they have nothing to do with dbpoweramp. I make them in my music servers/players (for me either LMS or foobar2000). I don't use ASSET so can't speak to it as a player/server. In my own music server/players, I browse to a listing of my playlsits (.m3u files), select one, and it plays on my music player.

    edit: my playlists do contain text files with references to the exact location of the file at the time the playlist was created. So if I want to move this to, say, my office computer, I need to edit the playlist text file. It turns out this is easy to do. Let's say the original playlist is like this:

    c:\music\FLAC\The Beatles\Abbey Road\01 - Come Together.flac

    But at the office, instead of all my files being in c:\music\FLAC they are in d:\homemusic\FLAC

    I just need to do a simple find and replace across all my playlist files to replace "c:\music\FLAC" with "d:\homemusic\FLAC"

    I do this with "notepad++" which allows me to change all the entries in a group of text files with this one find/replace command.

    https://notepad-plus-plus.org/downloads/
    Last edited by garym; 03-28-2021 at 02:51 PM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Trying to understand playlists

    Quote Originally Posted by garym View Post
    I'm not sure I understand the question.......
    Thanks, that probably explains the lack of response. I really wanted to check my understanding of what a playlist is before getting deeper into it. I guess it's obvious to some, but I was doubting my understanding when the one I created (using CD Ripper) wouldn't play using the CA StreamMagic app on my iPad. Asset doesn't appear to have an option to create playlists, they just have to be stored in a Playlist location in Asset. StreamMagic recognises the playlist that is served by Asset and displays it as such, it just doesn't give an option to process it, apart from simply listing the tracks that it contains, which then can only be selected individually. I was hoping that someone else on the forum might have experience of playlists in StreamMagic, because if they don't work I would expect this to be widely known. Having said that, I have just downloaded Cambridge Audio's older app called Connect, and the same playlist works properly on that app, in that it allows me to play the playlist, which then runs through all the tracks automatically as if it were an album.

    In terms of understanding CD Ripper, I'm not clear on the purpose of the "Playlist Writer" DSP. I used it to create my test .m3u playlist as I wasn't sure of the format. Having created it I could see that the format was very straightforward, albeit that I had to change the path references to a format that StreamMagic would understand. The DSP just seems to create a playlist for the CD being ripped and I don't understand the point of that.

    Leading on from the playlist creation, it's not something I had done before and I don't have a mechanism for doing it, so I guess I need yet more software. I have seen foobar2000 mentioned a lot but I don't really want to spend two more weeks learning another package. I'm not keen on downloading just any old program from the Internet, for the same reason that I bought the dBpoweramp apps, so I am looking for a "safe" recommendation. Failing that I suppose I could do some copying/pasting in Notepad to create the .m3u files.

  4. #4
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    Re: Trying to understand playlists

    dozens (hundreds?) of programs can create .m3u playlist files. I just used foobar2000 as an example of what I use. I also use my LMS server to create playlists. Regarding "what is a playlist"......

    Think of it as a text file with a list of song titles and a pointer to where that song title is sitting on your harddrive. Then a music server/player that can handle m3u files (playlist files) uses that location information to play those files in the order you listed them when creating the playlist.

    p.s. foobar2000 is very safe and popular, but does have a learning curve and you may not need it. notepad++ is also safe and easy to use software. Edit, the reason I use notepad++ instead of windows notepad, is that with notepad++ I can point to a directory containing 100s of playlist files, and each may have 100s or songs. But I can do a search and replace of, e.g., "c:\\music|" with "d:\\music" with a single command for EVERY ONE OF THE PLAYLISTS in that directory. Using Notepad, I'd have to open EACH m3u file and do a search and replace to change the file locations.
    Last edited by garym; 03-28-2021 at 04:30 PM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Trying to understand playlists

    A playlist is nothing more than a list of items to be "played". The Trinidadian steelband I help(ed before COVID...) at their gigs prepared a list of songs to be played in order at a gig. Typed on a sheet of paper in a reasonably large font. Sometimes taped to the floor next to the drummer who would read the next title on the list and call it out between songs. (or just as often ignore the playlist and call out what he felt should be played next...) Some performers call that a setlist.

    In a radio station, the program director might give the DJ a playlist, a list of what records the DJ was to play in what order. With the coming of automation to radio stations, the playlist has become a file which is list of files the automation system is to play in order. This list is human readable, but also includes a field which the automation system can read to tell it where to find each track.

    m3u is a very simple and very common format for storing playlists that many file based players can read to play the files in the order that the preparer wants. You can save the m3u files if you want to play a number of tracks in the same order on multiple occasions. You call up the playlist in your player instead of having to select the individual tracks.

    The playlist creating DSP in the DBPA ripper or converter creates an m3u file for each ripped or "converted" album, including all the tracks in the album, and typically saves it with the tracks. This could be useful if you want to play all the tracks in an album in order, but with most players today is unnecessary since they allow you to select albums and play them in their entirety. Early on, I created m3u's for each album I ripped, but I realized they served no purpose and no longer create them.

    When you search for albums or tracks in your player and select a list of tracks to play, you are creating a playlist, not an m3u file playlist (although there may be a way to save the list as an m3u file) but a onee-off playlist for the player to follow and then (typically) discard.

  6. #6
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    Re: Trying to understand playlists

    I'd forgotten that dbpa can create a playlist file for the album. Like you, I see zero use for this as a "playlist". If I want to play the entire album, I simply browse to (or search for) the album and play it. For me, the only use is a mixture of tracks from *different* albums.

    edit: to the OP, if this is what you're talking about (creating album playlists within dbpa), and then copying and pasting individual tracks from these "album playlists" into a separate playlist file, then I'd say this is possible, but so is digging a 500 foot deep ditch with a teaspoon. There are MUCH easier ways to accomplish creating a playlist with a mixture of tracks from different albums.
    Last edited by garym; 03-28-2021 at 05:31 PM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Trying to understand playlists

    Quote Originally Posted by schmidj View Post
    A playlist is nothing more than a list of items to be "played"......
    Thanks, you have confirmed how I thought it should work. I had come to the same conclusion about the playlist that DBPA can create, but just wanted to make sure I hadn't missed something. I now just need to find out from Cambridge Audio why their StreamMagic player won't play an m3u playlist (while their older Connect player can).

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