iPod Classic: General Questions (Album Art, Capacity, Bitrate, etc.)

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Max Dread

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Hi all

I've tried searching but most of the threads relating to this seem quite old.

1. Please could someone tell me what the ideal size for album artwork on an Ipod Classic 160gb is? Not for iTunes or anything like that... Just and only for the Ipod.

2. If possible I would prefer not to embed album art, so that I can save space. I've read in a couple of places that foo_dop (foobar component) is capable of transferring the folder.jpg to an ipod without embedding it to the mp3. Can anyone confirm whether this is the case? And if so, how does it work?

Many thanks

Max
 
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kornchild2002

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1. The iPod classic's screen has a resolution of 320X240. Anything higher than that will be downscaled. So, if you are wanting to optimize solely for the iPod classic, 320X240 is the resolution you want to use for album art.

2. I can't comment on that, I don't use foobar2000 or even Windows.
 

Max Dread

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Thanks for the mega quick response.

Would I be right in saying that anything in the region of 320x240 will be ok? Sorry if this is a stupid question, but is the album art shown as a square (i.e. 240x240), or does it take up the whole screen with 320x240?
 

kornchild2002

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320X240 will be fine on the iPod classic's display. It will look like absolute crap on a computer, tablet, or smartphone but it's fine for the iPod classic. Album art should be square so you'll want to find something that is 320X320. It won't fill up the display of an iPod classic, no album art will. That's not how an iPod classic displays album art. This is what the iPod classic looks like when it is displaying album art for music that is playing:


That's as big as the album art will get.


As I said earlier, I'm not sure how foobar2000 works with non-embedded album art. I can tell you how it works in general though. Non-embedded album art is added to the iPod's database file, it is then associated with certain files. This will save you space if you sync a lot of albums to your iPod. For example, you have one image that is 1MB in size. You sync 9 songs from an album, that uses that image, to your iPod. That means that the iPod's database will increase by 1MB as the album art is attached. It saves space compared to embedding the art as the iPod's space decreases by only 1MB instead of 9MB (i.e. 1MB per file, 9MB total for 9 songs).

However, if you only ever sync single songs, it won't save you any space. You can sync 9 songs from 9 different albums each with 1MB album art image sizes. Those 9 images will all be added to the iPod's database, no different than embedding them.

Quite honestly, since you'll be working with such low resolution album art, it really won't matter if you embed the album art or not. You'll putting album art that is around 50KB in size. You can add 5242 different individual album covers and that would barely get you up to 250MB in album art. You'll maybe see 400MB in album art if you manage to squeeze over 17,000 songs on a 160GB iPod classic. That's not a whole lot and would really only save you 50-100MB if you didn't embed them (enough for half an album assuming you're compressing your music at 256kbps).
 

Max Dread

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That's a great and very helpful reply. Thank you so much. I did not realise the "savings" would be so small from not embedding, so perhaps I'll just embed that art and be done with it.

Mind you, I did not quite follow the maths......

17,000 songs x 50kb = 850mb (I think???) So if I can squeeze a few more songs on than that, we might be approaching a gb of embedded album art? Or have I miscalculated?

If we talk albums instead and not embedded. Let's say 2000 albums. 2000 x 50kb = 100mb.

Have I gone wrong somewhere with the maths?

Thanks again for the help.
 

kornchild2002

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That would be 0.81GB, my math was off. That's still assuming you squeeze every single MB of the iPod classic's 160GB hard drive (which has an actual capacity of ~145GB). There's no way you would be able to fit 2000 albums on an iPod classic, not unless you compress your music to 64-128kbps. That would be roughly 30000 songs (assuming an average album length of 15 songs) and, if you assume an average of 4 minutes per song, that would be 120000 minutes of audio. A bitrate of 128kbps CBR would make everything about 117GB in size. However, even if you relied on iTunes AAC for encoding at 128kbps, you would fit less songs on your iPod as it does not enforce strict constant bitrate (CBR) encoding. It uses a quasi-ABR (average bitrate) mode and then a variable bitrate (VBR) constrained mode when VBR is selected.

So you would likely be over the limit of the iPod classic by the time that happens. Hence why, unless you're syncing a bunch of full albums instead of singles/single songs, the space savings won't be nearly as much embedding vs. not embedding. There will be more savings if you can fit 1000+ albums (not songs but full albums) on your iPod classic but that all depends on what bitrate you use for iPod syncing. That's pretty much the max capacity of the iPod classic when using 256kbps, you'd have to cut the amount of albums back if you use 320kbps or lossless.

It all depends on what you want to do but, unless you're trying to get every MB out of the iPod classic and are syncing over 1000 albums, you might as well just embed the album art. Then again, it might be easier to not embed the album art using foobar2000. It's really easy to not embed the album art in iTunes as it will automatically look up the album art for you. Since it's pretty much automatic, there's really nothing to do. However, you'll have to manually download album art or take what you currently have and scale it down to 320X320. When doing so, it might be better to just conduct that process once by downloading/scaling a photo and placing it in the album folder instead of doing that and taking the additional step of embedding it.
 

Max Dread

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Thanks for that. Unfortunately I am pushed for time now so will respond more fully later.

which has an actual capacity of ~145GB
But in the meantime, I would be interested to hear more about this. Where does the other 15GB go?


Cheers
 

cjmnews

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Lots of places.

The number 1 cause of the discrepancy is math. This 160 GB hard drive is not actually 160 GB because of this. They sell the drive based on 1GB=1000MB, 1MB=1000KB 1KB=1000B, but hard drives are formatted based on 1GB=1024MB, 1MB=1024KB, 1KB=1024B.

What this means is for every GB you lose about 74MB due to math. So your 160GB drive is actually 160GB - 11.6GB = 148.4 GB due to the math difference.

Then there is space needed to "format" the drive which just means a space is used to map where your data is on the drive. Fortunately that amount of space is fairly small. Only a few GB for your whole drive. You might be able to calculate that out exactly, but why bother. Just accept that it happens and move on.
 

Max Dread

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[145gb].... Just accept that it happens and move on.
Damn! Was not aware of that at all.... Gonna have to review my plans and do some more sums I think. One of the most exciting things for me is going to be having all of my albums on one portable device. I love the idea of random/shuffle playback through everything I own. Never mind. It is what it is. I'll "move on", or at least try to!

Anyhow, that's all OT. But I'm glad we veered there as I would have been in for a shock otherwise.

As I said earlier, I'm not sure how foobar2000 works with non-embedded album art.
I'll do my best to find out and will update the post when I do (for the benefit of future readers)

....if you only ever sync single songs, it won't save you any space.
Won't be doing that at all. It's all albums all the way here.

There's no way you would be able to fit 2000 albums on an iPod classic, not unless you compress your music to 64-128kbps.
I ripped a test album at 190 (-V 2 Standard) VBR. The album is 55 mins long, which I think will be baove average. But let's stick with that. The album size with one folder.jpg is 77MB. 77 x 2000 (albums) = 154000MB (which should be around 148GB?). Is that all looking about right or have I gone wrong somewhere? If it is right, then I'm hoping I might just make it. I think the average will be less than 55mins. And albums I'm less fussed about I'll do at a higher compression.

Hence why, unless you're syncing a bunch of full albums instead of singles/single songs, the space savings won't be nearly as much embedding vs. not embedding. There will be more savings if you can fit 1000+ albums (not songs but full albums) on your iPod classic but that all depends on what bitrate you use for iPod syncing.
So in my case (albums) it might be worth it. I'd say my albums would average out at 10 tracks per album or so. So folder.jpg will take a tenth of the space that embedded will. If embedded is around the 1gb mark, that would be a saving of around 900MB. So maybe 12-15 albums. Not too exciting! But every little helps I suppose. Especially when struggling for space to begin with.


_____________________________________________________________

If I do decide to stick with the folder.jpg option and then at a later date I decide to embed, is that quite easily done?

Huge thanks chaps

Max
 

kornchild2002

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154000MB is 150.931GB so you would be over the actual capacity of the 160GB iPod classic. Using a lower bitrate setting on the album you care less about would give you more freedom. That being said, instead of implementing a mixed bitrate setup, I suggest you sit down and conduct a blind ABX test using foobar2000 (it has one of the best ABX testers). Pick 10-12 songs out of your library that are a good representation of the various genres you listen to and encode them at -V 5. Conduct a blind ABX test using the headphones that you will rely on for normal listening. You can also use the speakers that you'll normally have the iPod hooked up to but, unless your room is acoustically tuned, speakers aren't the best option as you will be very hard pressed to distinguish even 64kbps HE-AAC from the lossless source. Car speakers are even worse as cars are not acoustically tuned (no matter what the dealer or car company say), sound is bouncing all over the place, you have outside noise from the engine, road, wind, other cars, etc.

Anyway, start at -V 5 and test all your tracks by ABXing them with their lossless source. Pass and move up to -V 4. Repeat the process by increasing every -V level (you could even do half levels so go from -V 5 to -V 5.5 and then to -V 4) until you fail your ABX test. You would be surprised as to what you will be able to properly ABX and what you can't. The vast majority of people, even with the best audio equipment, can't distinguish between a 128kbps Lame mp3 and the source lossless material. That doesn't mean that they are deaf or don't appreciate music, it just means that the lossy encoder is doing it's job. The setting you find to be transparent will likely be below -V 2, somewhere around -V 5 to -V 4, you could even use -V 3 if you wanted to give yourself a little leeway. Encoding all of your albums at a single, lower setting will save you more space than encoding just a few at a lower setting. Encoding at a lower setting won't hurt anything either so long as it's transparent to you.

As for the album art, since you're focused on syncing albums instead of singles or singular songs off of albums, it would be beneficial to go with the non-embedded route. Embedding album art should be pretty easy later down the line anyway as you can either manually embed your lower resolution album art or there are plenty of free programs that will embed higher resolution art.


Lastly, there is one more option if you really want to stick with a high bitrate setting (-V 2 is a high bitrate setting in this day and age especially when perceptual transparency for a modern encoder often occurs at ~96kbps VBR). It will cost you more money but you can always buy an upgraded iPod classic off of eBay. People sell 240GB iPod classics for about $400 online. They normally come from used/refurbished iPods where people take the logic board and display out. They will then put the internal components into a new casing while installing a new battery and a 240GB hard drive. The new batteries are often higher in capacity than the factory installed ones too. They run Apple's stock firmware and will work just like an iPod classic that you purchased in the stores. Again, they're a little expensive (~$400) but you have to ask if that extra $150 is worth being able to carry all of your current music along with music you'll add to your collection over the next few years. As it stands, the current iPod classic might be able to fit your entire library but you won't be able to add new music to it.

Just something to think about even if it means you'll have to wait and save up more money.
 

Max Dread

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Fantastic post. ABX'ing has definitely been on my list and something I intended to do. I suppose I settled on -V2 simply based on what I have read. It seemed a good compromise (again, based on what I've read). But hey, I've read a fair few people who claim to hear differences between the compressions settings of FLAC. Is a big world out there.....

I thought I'd be able to get all albums on there with room to spare based on my -V2 and lower for lesser albums approach. But the info given in this thread has shown that won't be the case.

So I'll definitely be doing ABX'ing, and whilst I had already thought about it, it had dropped down my priorities. Thanks for pumping it back up.

Just for the record, the majority of listening will indeed be in the car. I drive a banger which is quite noisy. I'll also be listening on cheapish docking stations. And occasionally on headphones. So I think you are right in saying that these environments are less susceptible to the audiophidelity of the file choice.

I do have an acoustically treated listening room (studio) with reference monitors, but that's what the FLAC files will be used for....

Thanks again for all your time and help

Max
 

Max Dread

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Hi again

First up, is it possible to change the title of this thread to:

"Ipod Classic 160GB - Album Art, Why not 160gb?, Choosing mp3 Bitrate, ABXing"

Hope it is not too long. I do like to come back to threads when necessary and there's a lot of helpful stuff here which I will probably forget is in here on account of the title. Likewise, it might help others find helpful info too.

As a quick update, I've done just a couple of ABX tests and I am indeed finding that I cannot tell the difference often between 128 (and sometimes lower!) and lossless. I was surprised, especially as I was listening in an acoustically treated home studio. I also did a test using AKG K701s. I was starting to worry about my hearing!!! I had indeed forgotten about this thread until now and am feeling a little re-assured after reading over it again.

It's strange..... There are SO MANY people saying they would never even encode at 192. Some even say they hear differences between the levels of FLAC compression! And here I am struggling to hear 128 differences in critical listening environments.

The only time I could tell it apart was with a test file I downloaded (I think on HA, it was called eig_essence) which was specifically designed to expose the differences heard with lossy encoders. However, I could not hear a difference between 320 and lossless. In fact, I only did a short test and got 0/7!!!

____________________________________________________________

Foobar - I said I would update the thread.... It does indeed work with folder.jpg / not embedded. In fact, it is very flexible and can be customised in terms of what it looks for for album art.



Album art on Ipod - When you are in menus and the album artwork is on the right side of the screen, it is always oversized and as such the sides are cut off. I'm presuming that's because it is a square pic in a rectangular space.... I find it a bit annoying but am guessing it is not changeable??? Does it bug anyone else? Aside from that, I'm really loving my iPod (only got it yesterday).

Thanks to all (and most especially kornchild2002) for all the help.
 

kornchild2002

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That title was a little too long so I changed it to something else that can be displayed a little easier when browsing the forums, no big deal.

Like I said, don't worry about not being able to distinguish between a 128kbps file and the source lossless version. Lossy encoders have been acoustically tuned over many, many years to provide perceptual transparency. The Lame mp3 encoder has been developed on for the last 16 years (more like 14 years since the last stable release came out in February 2012 and the developers have stated many times that they have reached the extent of what mp3 technology can do). The Apple AAC encoder used in iTunes, QuickTime, and their various programs has been developed on for at least the last 13 years. That's a lot of time for developers to put in and make something sound transparent.

You also shouldn't worry about what other people say. As you came across, there are some real "idiots" out there who think they can hear a difference between FLAC and PCM WAV/AIFF when that just isn't the case. It's all the placebo affect. Many people insist on using 256kbps+ simply because they will open a 128kbps file in iTunes, play it, open a 256kbps version, and think they hear a difference. They are conducting a sighted "listening test" and are being influenced by the bitrate number they are visually seeing, they aren't actually following their ears. I even came across one person who was taking 128kbps iTunes Store songs (this was back in the day when the iTunes Store sold 128kbps files with DRM, not 256kbps DRM-free files like they do now), burning them to an audio CD, and ripping them to 320kbps AAC because the increase in bitrate increased their quality. I explained to them that was mathematically and scientifically impossible but they didn't care.

I also wouldn't put much weight into audio samples on HA as most don't represent real music conditions, like what you would normally listen to. Not many people listen to a single cello for hours on end or a singular harpsichord. Those samples exist to help people hear compression artifacts from lossy encoders but they shouldn't be used when determining which lossy encoder and setting to use (unless you're the only person in the world who listens to singular, classical instruments :)). That's why ABXing is always recommended as it uses your music, your listening conditions, your audio equipment, etc.

As for the album art, that's a feature of the firmware that can't be turned off. It's an "artistic" decision implemented by Apple. The album art moves and scrolls across (or vertically) that right area that isn't being used by the firmware menus. Trust me, it's an actual improvement. Before, iPods with hard drives would have their GUI consume the whole screen. That meant that you were always greeted with a big, empty, white display when browsing through your music collection. Either way, it can't be changed.

You're welcome for the help, it's nice being able to help someone get up and going. Too bad you've come into buying an iPod now when the whole device line is at the end of its time.
 

Max Dread

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Hi

Interesting about the scrolling feature of the artwork. I did not notice it doing that but then I've only had a very quick look. I shall take a much closer look in the next few hours (when I get home from work).

RE: ABX etc. Absolutely! The same can be said for interconnects, this, that and the other types of snake oil. It's all the same kind of thing at the end of the day... That's what's so great about ABXing.

With regard the HA audio sample I mentioned... I wouldn't usually use such things and can see the wisdom in conducting the tests with the music you listen to, on the equipment you use. I was just curious, and I used the sample to almost prove a point; along the lines of: "If I cannot hear differences using a sample that is designed to expose the differences, then I can DEFNINITELY use a lower setting, most likely quite a fair bit lower". Just another angle of the same quest....

Thanks again

Max
 

Max Dread

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Interesting about the scrolling feature of the artwork. I did not notice it doing that but then I've only had a very quick look. I shall take a much closer look in the next few hours (when I get home from work).
Had a look and there's no movement/scrolling of artwork on mine. When should it be doing that? I'm not overly bothered but am very curious!

Cheers
 

Max Dread

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Had a look and there's no movement/scrolling of artwork on mine. When should it be doing that? I'm not overly bothered but am very curious!

Cheers
Sorry, please ignore me. I only had one album loaded. Once I loaded more, the scrolling started to happen. Oops....


I do have a couple more artwork questions though.

1. We said earlier that 320x320 is the display size on the iPod. Do you think there would be much difference visually between, say, a file of 250x250 and one of 320x320? At what size will a difference start to be noticed?

2. I'm using dbPoweramp for all my ripping. There's a DSP add-on that allows you to specify album Pixel Size and File Size. So I ran a quick test. In the first I did not restrict file size and it came to 105kb. In the second I restricted to 50kb. Dbpoweramp compresses the jpg to achieve the smaller file. Couldn't see much difference between the two. So I may restrict file size to 50kb. To be honest it is not going to make much difference. I calculated I might get an extra 3 or 4 albums on the iPod by doing that. Every little help I suppose. But also, it's just nice learning about such stuff.

Cheers
 
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