ITUNES 12 unable to handle audiobooks in MP3.

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Mariusz

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Hi everyone,
A few seconds before the end of any MP3 audiobook file (lasting less than 20 mins), the playback time in iTunes stops, even though the file still plays.
In iPod (5th Gen), MP3's last few seconds are cut off before they actually end...
The problem started with an iTunes upgrade from v. 10 to 12.
Now every MP3 audiobook file (most audiobooks in my library are MP3) behaves like that... All the other media kinds (music, podcasts, etc.) are fine.
Now considering returning to version 10...
Any suggestions from this mine of wisdom, guys?
 

cjmnews

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First off you can't go back to iTunes 10 unless you have a backup of the iTunes Library from iTunes 10 since iTunes 10 cannot open an iTunes 12 library. If you are going to try and go back, then restore the backup of your library file (typically named: iTunes Library.itl) that is from iTunes 10, then open iTunes 10. Any changes that were made since the upgrade from 10 to 12 needs to be re-done like making playlists, importing songs and books, etc.

Second, my iTunes 12 seems to handle these just fine.

The time problem sounds like one of two problems.
First is an issue where the iTunes Library and the MP3 file have different lengths of the file.
This occasionally happens with Variable Bit Rate (VBR) MP3 tracks where iTunes does not see the end time properly.

I had written a script a while back to reset the start and end times in iTunes. Here is an altered version for you.

Code:
var iTunesApp = WScript.CreateObject("iTunes.Application");
var selectedTracks = iTunesApp.SelectedTracks;
var numTracks = selectedTracks.Count;
var countOfFinishUpdatedTracks = 0;

for (i = 1; i <= numTracks; i++)
{
    var    currTrack = selectedTracks.Item(i);
    if (currTrack.Finish != currTrack.Duration) {
        var finish = currTrack.Finish;
        //WScript.Echo("Found " + currTrack.Name + " with finish time " + finish + " end time " + currTrack.Duration);
        //currTrack.Finish = finish;
        countOfFinishUpdatedTracks++;
    }

}

if ( countOfFinishUpdatedTracks == 0 ) {
    WScript.Echo("No tracks found with altered stop times");
}
else {
    WScript.Echo("Found " + countOfFinishUpdatedTracks + " finish altered tracks.");
}
Copy the above code and save it as a text file named updateFinishTimes.js somewhere you can find it (Desktop or Documents)
Open a Command Prompt
Navigate to where you saved the file in the Command Prompt (CD C:\users\<login>\Documents)
Open iTunes
Select the Audiobook tracks you want to update in iTunes (click first track, hold Shift, click last track)
Type in the command prompt
wscript /nologo updateFinishTimes.js

I made the script to be non-changing initially.
This will show you a count of how many selected tracks have a different duration than their finish time.

If the count is zero the script will not help.

If the count is bigger than zero, then the script can help.
Edit the file updateFinishTimes.js using Notepad or other text editor.
Remove the "//" from the currTrack.Finish = finish; line
Save the file
Run the script again:
Type in the command prompt
wscript /nologo updateFinishTimes.js

Now the end time of the track will match the duration of the track.

The second possibility is the ID3 Tags in the MP3 file are old or incorrect, and iTunes is not understanding them.
It is possible that both issues are affecting the files, so I would do this fix as well as the first script fix.

Select the audiobook tracks (You can do all books if you want) in iTunes
Click on File->Convert->Convert ID3 Tags
In the popup window put a check mark in the box, select v2.4 from the drop down
Click OK.

Retest and see if the problem is resolved.
 

Mariusz

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Thanks for your time and reply. Very much appreciated.
As far as I can see, the iTunes interface seems to show the correct length of the files (the same as with other players).
In iTunes the files play to the very end. Only the time progress stops a few seconds before the actual end.
In this example (screenshot attached) the length is "18:14" which is correct (other players show the same). But "18:13" (above, in the iTunes window) lasts for about 7 seconds (illogical...)
All the MP3 audiobook files played perfectly in iPod until the iTunes upgrade (Nov 2020).
Now only the files that had been added before the upgrade play OK, both in iTunes and in iPod.
In iPod though, those added after the upgrade are cut before their ends.
 

cjmnews

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The cutoff in the iPod indicates the ID3 tag issue as the possible cause. Updating them may resolve it.
 

cjmnews

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Sorry the check and updates didn't help. Something else must be happening.

Are you using Crossfade? That could cause a file to end early as the next track is starting.
Edit->Preferences, Playback tab. Uncheck Crossfade.

I would think iTunes should be smart enough not to crossfade an audiobook (but Apple has forgotten about audiobooks before), but an iPod could just follow the setting blindly.
 

Mariusz

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No, I am not using Crossfade and I have never done (this option is not checked).
Apparently, the Apple developers are so "innovative" that even experts like you don't know how to deal with these "innovations".
By the way, is your script meant to work with a "live updating" mode (if it works...), or just with current (already imported) files? And I would have to do all the process over and over again with every new file?
 

cjmnews

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The script would need to be run after you add another audiobook, selecting the new audiobook (multiple tracks). Assuming it actually helps.

No Crossfade is good.

Can you see what version of ID3 tags the files are using?
If I open my MP3 files in Mp3tag it shows that mine are ID3v2.3 and they seem to be fine in iTunes 12. But they are CBR files. Checked a few books that I have listened to in the past.

It is possible that VBR is the issue. I found an old thread on the issue.
The synopsis is that it looks like an Apple problem that they never fixed. There was a work around in 2006 that fixes the issue, but the code is gone now (Visual Basic, so questionable) I did find another source, not sure I trust it. There was a guy that rewrote it without using VBS, and it looks like some others tried it. Not sure if it will work either.

My source of Audiobooks always creates CBR MP3 or AAC files. They always work. Can your source be set to CBR? Converting from VBR to CBR will reduce quality, but is another option. Audiobooks are not high quality anyway. You could try using iTunes to do the conversion but I wouldn't trust it with the VBR issue still there. When I create MP3 files I use Audacity and it also creates CBR files.

I would try to get CBR only if possible.
 

Mariusz

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As this issue is now making me sick (after so many hours trying to find a solution...) I will stick with the method I described in my earlier post (making a CBR version in iTunes) as it is simpler and it works, at least this far. It's just selecting multiple tracks and hitting "Create MP version".
The conclusion of it all is that nowadays using iTunes is more about dealing with technical issues with every new version than taking pleasure from using multimedia...
Unfortunately, I cannot see what version of ID3 tags the files are using... Even after converting them (and checking "v. 2.4"), the next time I open the window with the tag drop down menu, no version is displayed (the version window is blank..., so not even sure if I managed to change it...).
I get audiobooks from many different sources, and the vast majority of them are VBR. And I don't really care too much about the quality as it is only a spoken word. It's only a problem when the files are cut before they end.
 

cjmnews

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Converting the files is the easy option.

iTunes doesn't tell you the version. That is why I had to use another tool (Mp3tag).
 
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