Is WinAmp suitable for media transfer? And a LOT of other questions.

OK, forgive the long title, but I couldn’t find anything really that fit the descriptive bill without such length.
(edit: Well, I actually had a MUCH better title than that, but the board wouldn’t let me use it as it was TOO long ):

Recently got myself a Clip Zip after some deliberation and working out the best player for myself. Mother seemed pleased with her Clip+, and the Zip offered greater capacity and AAC & FLAC compatibility (things I really kinda wanted - not so bothered about the colour screen etc), so I jumped for it.

Well, initial setup wasn’t too bad, the transfer speed could do with some improvement but it’s not awful, but I have sadly run into some problems. Namely the old freezing-up bugbear (or more accurately the alternate freezing / resetting one - very odd how it swaps between the two!).

I’ve managed to identify 34 files out of the 1418 I’ve copied so far, which is just the start of me filling it - that’s only taken up 6.5gb of the internal memory and I haven’t even broken the 32gb microSD out of its packaging yet. These are the ones which reliably cause it to flake out, whilst none of the others seem to have any ill effect. Annoyingly, not only are they mostly my favourites, but that 2.4% of the total is enough to almost guarantee a lockup every 30 minutes to an hour when in shuffle mode (…and figuring out the culprits took a couple hours of clicking through the *entire* playlist, not something I relish the idea of should I use up a whole 40gb instead of the current 1/6th of that).

I managed to identify some of them yesterday and tried to figure out common features, it sort of seems to be that they have comments and are AAC, but I doubt either of those is the sole reason, nor the combination - I just have too many files with comments in their ID3 tags, and too many that have been reduced from hi-rate MP3 to medium rate VBR AAC for mobile use, for such a small percentage to exhibit even both characteristics.

(Annoyingly, my workplace PC doesn’t allow MTP connections, so I can’t analyse all the others I found on my lunchbreak until I get home in a few hours)

It’s not the only oddity though. I used WinAmp to transfer all the mp3s I had on my laptop (not yet connecting the external HDD, copying stuff from the phone or re-ripping any CDs…), with some automatic down-converting for the high-rate ones (175-320kbit, to AAC around 120 to 150kbit), and it seemed to work just fine at the point of copying. But, now I plug it back in, a LOT of files appear to be missing. Like, more than half of them, at least in WinAmp’s media library - it only shows 682 instead of 1418, cutting off partway through the "R"s in the Artist list… and also missing the already-identified “problem” files regardless of artist name (one notable casualty is Daft Punk’s “Discovery”, which won’t play … along with Random Access Memories which will… maybe a coincidence, who knows?). And when I manually copy the files back out of the folders accessible from Windows Explorer and analyse them, there seem to be some missing details … e.g. the file info view only shows the ID3 tags, file type and bitrate; file size, running time, etc are all missing.

Oh, and, artist/album/track titles are strangely messed with, and I don’t know if it’s a player or media library problem; anything which started with “the” or “a” loses that prefix. Like, entirely. “The Rasmus”, “A Fine Day” or “The Chain” become “Rasmus”, “Fine Day” and “Chain” respectively (as opposed to what you MIGHT expect, i.e. “Rasmus, The”, “Fine Day, A”…). Even though anything that starts with “an” is fine, e.g. “An Excellent Year” would pass unmolested.

So… the situation may clarify a little in a few hours time, but I think I may be left with some questions, so here’s what I want to ask at this point…

1/ Is the title munging a known Sansa thing, or is it more at the media library end?

2/ Should I continue to use WinAmp, or swap to something else? I’ve found it quite good down the years and would prefer to keep using it - and having a library-type program like that is certainly useful when things may be scattered over several folders and organising tham all into one logical place on disc represents a project in of itself - but it wouldn’t be the first time a trusted software suite has ended up betraying me thanks to a sudden, idiotic update (from reading other bits of the forums I think long term Sansa owners can sympathise…)
Especially something which can do auto conversion of oversized files, and can see the memory card via the player…

3/ To MTP or not to MTP? I was led to believe it’s the better choice for pure media player file transfer because it’s more robust and straightforward (being, for one thing, the closest thing to a journalling filesystem most Windows users will ever get to touch), and updates the database on the fly rather than you having to wait for ages at the next startup. But it also obviously has some shortcomings.

4/ Is there any software which can either

a) change the tags of the files on the player without having to copy them all off into a folder on the PC, work on them, and then copy them back (over MTP, that is), including downgrading the ID3v2 version/stripping the ID3v1/blanking the comments fields,

b) alter/edit/censor the tags as they’re transferred when you’re copying files over, to sanitise them for use on that particular player - e.g. ditching ID3v1 and comments? I don’t particularly want to have to either strip all the comments out of my existing files, some of which have very useful notes in and have done for 10+ years (…and play fine in a 10-year-old hard disc based player!), but nor do I want to waste potentially a whole 40GB making a second copy of all my tunes purely for the reason of having them without comments. Once I’ve copied them to the device, I don’t envisage copying them back off. It’s envisaged as a disposable item if needs be, and as part of a distributed emergency backup, rather than being backed up itself.

5/ Any AAC encoders out there which can do VBR with a hard per-frame bitrate cap, the same as many MP3 encoders offer? I have a feeling any odd incompatibility is due to the use of VBR with Winamp’s encoder, and it using “too high” a rate in some frames which breaks the player’s poor little brain (there were some mp3 players which couldn’t handle CBR at 320k, or VBR files with more than a very occasional 320k frame (otherwise it filled the bit bucket and caused a buffer overflow), and even some which had trouble with 256k; encoding the files to not use more than 224k fixed the issue). I could just convert them to a flat 128k (for 175-200k ish MP3s) or 160k (for everything higher) CBR, but I’d rather at least attempt to maximise the quality of the end result within the bitrate constraints I’m setting myself in order to make the most of the available space.

6/ Is the files-going-missing-from-the-media-library-but-visible-everywhere-else thing familiar to anyone else?

7/ Do I have a chance of salvaging this as-is, or should I just wipe the player memory and start over from scratch? It took many hours to copy everything the first time, especially as hi-rate MP3 to VBR AAC conversions don’t appear to be particularly fast.

8/ …if I stick with WinAmp and switch to MSC, will it then be able to “see” the Clip’s internal memory AND the memory card? Right now it only sees the internal. I’d hoped the player would have the internal ability to copy files one way and the other, but quickly resigned to a future of squirting things across in 8gb chunks then copying them across in Windows.

9/ Don’t suppose there’s any hope of a firmware update sometime in the next couple years that will
a) fix the freezing problem by just making the database *ignore* comment fields (as per almost every other player)
b) not choke when you insert a phone memory card in order to play music files from it (…from inamongst several thousand other unrelated ones like camera snaps and android apps), again by ignoring the irrelevant ones
c) present the internal and external memory as one unified system to Windows
d) actually turn off album art when you tell it to turn album art off?
e) allow radio tuning by preset only, IE clicking left and right changes preset only…

yeah I know, hahaha

10/ … drat, I’ve gone and forgotten.
Oh yeah. Seeing as it might fix some of the above problems, and regardless even of what Sandisk may say, doesn’t affect my EU Parliament-given right to a 2-year warranty against manufacturing defects, and is apparently wholly reversible, should I just try Rockboxing the thing and seeing what happens? I don’t really like the look of Rockbox’s spartan interface, it’s like that of my old monochrome HDD player but even more ugly (and on a colour screen!), but I’ll do it if I have to.

Thanks for any input :slight_smile:

Oh, and, er… yeah… “hi” :smiley:

OK, at least some input:

–  USB MSC mode just works.  MTP mode, in contrast, can act quirky (to say the least).  I just stick with the tried and true.

–  Relatedly, copying and pasting files/folders also just works.  I have never bothered using a music management software with my Clips–copying and pasting just is simpler.

–  MP3Tag:  a nice freeware tag editor.  Again, it just works, and whole collections can be adjusted with a click.

–  The Clips can play buggily with aac files, unfortunately, including depending on the particular encoder that was used.  Fortunately, no such issue with my MP3 files.  Also, longer text in the tag Comments field can cause issues.

–  You know that Rockbox has numerous interface options, right, as developed and posted by users?   A world of choice and creativity there.  Check out:

–  Do I recall that a Clip firmware update led to the elimination of “A” and “The” from the beginning of titles, in the database?  (I believe that was the case.). Although they still appear under the folder view.

–  And, unlikely that there will be a further firmware update, as the product is “mature” and not getting much attention from SanDisk, unfortunately.  :frowning:

Hope this is the start of some help!