When I used to ride the train to work, at first I was all excited about being able to listen to music on the train and got myself a Walkman — yep, a cassette Walkman. And that worked great. In fact, I could record my albums onto cassette or even make my own “mix tapes” — actual tapes!
Anyway, cassettes were fine, but I finally decided it was time to graduate to a CD Walkman. Of course, the problem with portable CDs is that if the player gets bumped, they skip back to the beginning or something.
But none of that is my main point here. I want to talk about gaps! Now I love MP3 players. They’re small and reliable and can’t eat your tape or skip your CD.
But here’s the deal: every music medium before MP3 players (vinyl, tape, CD) were all just inherently “gapless”. That is, songs could run together with no silence in between. Even with vinyl — those lines between the songs on records could have sound in them. And CDs proved that the same thing could easily be done with digital music. Music can play right through the track change if they want it to.
So why, in an age of concept albums, were MP3 players created without the ability to do that? Imagine listening to Abbey Road, where several of the individual “tracks” are really pretty much one song, and hearing a little quarter-second gap when the track changes! I know a quarter-second or so doesn’t sound like a lot, but at least for me, it kind of ruins the listening experience.
I know that Apple came out with a special “gapless” iPod, but I still wonder why that had to be a special thing! ALL music players of any kind should be able to play straight through with no gaps if that’s what the artist intended. That’s why, whenever I rip a CD to MP3, I use iTunes because that allows you to rip it as one blob instead of individual tracks.
I like to hear my music straight through! If I didn’t care about that, I’d go back to 8-tracks.