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[Apologies for the long question. It's not as complicated as it looks.]

Preable

I have a 160GB iPod Classic which I manage with the latest iTunes via Windows XP. I have ~10000 music tracks and many podcasts on the iPod. I previously created a smart playlist which included all tracks with a play-count of 0. I would then set the iPod to shuffle Songs and select this playlist. If I returned to it later, songs which I had listened too would not be on the playlist as it would update on the iPod, even without syncing back to iTunes. This worked well and I have now listened to all ~10000 tracks.

Album Shuffle

I would now like to listen to my music differently: rather than listening to all music tracks in a completely random order, I would now like to listen to complete albums, with the tracks in order. I know that I use shuffle "Album" for this.

The Potential Problem

However, it is likely that I will not always be able to listen to a complete album before I have to stop listening, or would rather listen to a podcast after a while, for example. This would mean that over time I would always end up listening to the first tracks of an album more than the later tracks, as each time I used shuffle "Album" I'd get a new album and would start listening from the beginning of that album again.

The Proposed Solution

To work around this, I've tried the following: I created another smart playlist which contains tracks which have a play-count of less than 2. This, at present, obviously contains only tracks with a play-count of 1, which is most of my music. I set shuffle to "Album" and then select this playlist. As I listen to tracks, their play-count increases to 2, so they fall off the list in future. When I return to the playlist the next day, for example, and the iPod selects a track/album, I presume it will then play only from the first track of that album in the playlist?

Example

For example, if I have listened to the first 5 tracks of an album and then stop, these 5 tracks will be removed from the smart playlist as their play-count will be 2. When I return to the playlist with shuffle "Album", should the iPod select one of the remaining tracks (or the album itself; I don't know how it "selects"), will it start playing track 6 of that album onwards?

  • I wonder whether you could answer your own question by setting up a test with two or three songs per album. – user479 Sep 12 '12 at 20:11
  • I've tried some testing, but it is difficult because I have to find the tracks in question amongst the thousands on the iPod. I think I would have to do as you suggest and manually edit details for a few tracks and then make a much shorter test playlist. – SabreWolfy Sep 12 '12 at 20:30
  • After running with my proposed arrangement for a while, I think that it is working as I expect. When I click and hold on a track, the menu which appears does not include "Browse Album" if the whole album is not in the playlist it seems. It shows "Browse Compilation" instead. – SabreWolfy Oct 6 '12 at 17:28
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It will work as you expect. However, a work around for first-track-will-be-played-most when using album shuffle is to have one or more intermediate playlists that take random samples from the library, e.g.,

Library 10 000 tracks

Playlist A selects 1 000 tracks from Library by random

Now if you play from A shuffled by album the first-track-effect will disappear. Add intermediate playlist at will (e.g., if you want all tracks played less than 5 times or so)

  • Awesome idea to have sub-playlists. I'm definitely going to test that. – SabreWolfy Oct 6 '12 at 17:31
  • I'm not sure that this works exactly as we expect. If I limit the number of entries in the playlist to 50, for example, I notice that it is 50 tracks from only a few out of the 100s of albums. If it was 50 truly random tracks, they would come from many more albums. However, I think I have a working solution as described in my question. Your idea is worth looking at further though. – SabreWolfy Oct 7 '12 at 9:49

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