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"smart" random playback

Just about the only way I listen to music on my computer is in random-play mode.  I have 7,000+ songs all in a big playlist and I just like them to rumble away in the background as I work.

What I'd like is a random-play mode that is not so random.  Because I am basically using playback as a personal radio broadcast of all my CD's, I'd like the ability to set parameters in the randomness of the playback scheme to avoid playing not only the same track but tracks by the same artist within a specified period.

I'd like to be able to choose from, say:
1. true random mode [any one of the 7,000+ tracks is as likely as any other to come up for play next]
2. shuffle mode [playback is still random among all unplayed songs, but once a song has been played, it is removed from the cue until all songs have been played once]

(One or both of the above are implemented on most players....but I've yet to find the following....)

3. smart shuffle [allowing the following parameters, or something close to them, to be set]
  a. do not repeat songs from a particular album
  b. do not repeat songs from a particular artist
  c.  do not repeat songs from a particular genre, etc.
  ....with options such as a., b., and c. being fine-tunable with terms along the lines of "within the next ### tracks" or "within the next ## hours of playback" or "within the next ## calendar days or hours".

This is taking longer to explain that I had anticipated, but I hope you can see what I'm getting at.  I don't really want randomness, but rather variety when listening in "random" mode, so I'd like to be able to set a player to not repeat songs from a particular artist until, for instance, at least 100 songs had been played, or 4 calendar days had passed according to the computer's clock.  Something along those lines.

So now the punch line....does anyone know if such a solution exists or is in the pipeline?  I haven't been able to find anything, but have always thought such a shuffle mode would be great.  I currently use Foobar2000 and XMPlay for playback.


"smart" random playback

Reply #1
I like the idea, but I don't think it is implemented yet. Implementing it into a foobar2000 component should be possible though (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not familiar with the SDK).

"To understand me, you'll have to swallow a world." Or maybe your words.

"smart" random playback

Reply #2
I can see why smart shuffle hasn't really been implemented, although it should be possible.

For every song played, it needs to be tracked/logged and each new song must be filtered through the log, which must constantly be updated. That said, it should be entirely possible to construct half of what you asked with very little overhead.

"smart" random playback

Reply #3
Yes, Itazura, it's a great idea, I like it very much. Recently I've been thinking for a random play + rating system.
Let's say we rate all our MP3's from 1 to 10 with 1 being worst and 10 being favorite.  0 may mean no play at all. So, the higher the rating is, the song will be played more frequent. Somebody can create an algorhytm for selecting random songs with rating preferences. And if the idea is approved, I would reccomend to add RATING field to ID3v2.
Suppose you have supermarket or airport or something similar, and you make one big list with songs and maybe some announcements. You give the announcements the desired rating (~desired airplay) and you're OK. Ofcourse, there are specialised softwares, I know, but...

"smart" random playback

Reply #4
doesn't that The Brain or whatever plugin for winamp do something similar? I'd be happy simply having a real shuffle, random without repeats. But the problem of the random picking songs that are too close to each other still would remain. There are times right now with foobar when I hear 3-4 songs in a row from the same album, out of over 2000 songs. That's just sad. Using some fancy pants twisting dancing moonwalking prime number algorithm and it doesn't work worth a crap.

"smart" random playback

Reply #5
dBpowerAMP Audio Player has a rating system on playback and a log to stop repeats happening (100 tracks).

"smart" random playback

Reply #6
Not meaning to be a jerk (  ), but, technically, the fancy-dancing-random-algorithm would still be functioning within its parameters if it played the same song 10 times in a row.  Of course, statistically, depending on the size of your collection, that should probably only happen once every few years of listening, but anyway....

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Charles Pence

"If there is a God, he is a malign fool." - Mark Twain

"smart" random playback

Reply #7
Media Center should be able to do all three with a set of smartlists.


I currently use Foobar2000 and XMPlay for playback.

To each their own. I use foobar and MC. It works for me.

"smart" random playback

Reply #8
Thanks for the replies. 

Sounds like I should check out Media Center (hadn't heard of it before).  I have tried dBPowerAmp and agree that it goes beyond most software players in trying to provide the listener with flexibility in playback formats.  I have too many files to ever hope to rate them each in terms of "quality," though, and part of what I like about random or shuffle modes is the ability to be surprised by something hidden deep in my collection....something I had forgotten about or had previously written off as not so great.  So even if it were a manageable job, I wouldn't care to 'weight' certain tracks in my collection for more or less frequent playback -- I'd just like to avoid repetition....not just of tracks, but of artists/albums.  And IF it were possible to write a routine to filter the random play to avoid recently played artists/albums, it seems that it wouldn't be too big a leap to also filter to avoid things like too many songs in a recently played genre....too many songs over a certain length played in succession, etc. etc.

Not being a programmer, I have no idea how technically complex it would be to implement these sorts of things.  I'm just a generally very happy end-user imagining my ideal software environment.  I guess I was hoping such a thing was already out there.  Off to check out Media Center for now...


P.S.  I like XMPlay and foobar2000 because both are very small, neither seems to eat up memory, and they both have excellent ways of dealing unobtrusively and elegantly with volume normalization.  There may well be other players that can boast the same qualities...but many I tried couldn't.

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