Recently in Audio Category

Rolling Thunder

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I always have my Zoom H2 handy in case of an electric storm. Sadly, this time they didn't pass quite as closely to me as I'd have liked. So this is a little distant and is edited down from a 45 minute recording made in the small hours of this morning.

A Seaside Town Soundscape

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I recorded this a couple of weeks ago over Easter in a seaside town. It's all a bit experimental really, and there's more wind noise than I'd have liked in places.

And it's one of my occasional binaural recordings, again made with Roland CS-10EM binaural microphones/headphones paired with a Zoom H2 recorder. So you must play it back with headphones.

In order you hear:

- The sea shore by the promenade.
- A traditional amusement arcade with 2p machines
- A small local supermarket
- Street sounds
- A market

What you don't really hear, which you should do but I failed to record, are seagulls, or market traders' voices.

Rolling Thunder

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I just can't help myself when there's a storm. I need to get out there and experience it. Sadly, this one passed away just that bit too far in the north, and I missed the initial hail. Still, here's a binaural recording of some of the rolling thunder. Listen via headphones to experience the full effect.

Recorded with Roland CS-10EM microphone headphones with a Zoom H2.

The Podcasting Challenge - Some More Thoughts

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My piece on podcasting from yesterday (but the product of a long period of gestation) seems to have generated some interest, so I thought it was worth exploring a few of the issues people have mentioned to me in various environments following on from the post.


Terminology

We do need to be consistent across the industry in what we call podcasts. And that's a global decision rather than a UK specific one in my view.

That horse has bolted now. However irksome it might be to call them podcasts, that's what most of the world is calling them. So I wouldn't propose renaming them at this stage.

Pretty much all mp3 players with the facility, whether Apple or non-Apple, and all compatible mobile phones, again whether Apple or non-Apple, call these downloads podcasts.

I understand that within the BBC, there have been discussions and research conducted regarding the terminology. But in my view we can't reinvent the wheel. Podcasts it must stay.

Explaining what podcasts actually are, the benefits to listeners of them, and making it as easy as possible for listeners to download them is certainly to be encouraged. They may have been around for years, but I'd wager that the majority of the available population probably don't really understand them.

If you work in radio, here's an experiment. Wander around your workplace, and see just how many (or how few) of your colleagues - people who one hopes do love radio - actually listen to podcasts. And then ask them whether they download them to a portable device or listen online or via streaming. Likely suspects aside, you may be surprised, and not necessarily in a good way.


Development

There is the potential for RadioPlayer to help here. Although I must admit I'm not quite sure how. Given that we now have a common interface across the industry, could there be further standards applied to deal with podcasts. We must remember that podcasting is global however. (Although I understand that the official French word is "la diffusion pour baladeur". If I tell you that baladeur is an mp3 player, it does make sense. But what's the betting that "podcast" is the word they actually use?)

On a larger scale, taking us beyond the basic mp3 is a bigger question. Developing an audio format that can embed pictures, dynamic links, and other metadata that might utilise larger screens that most devices have these days is an interesting idea.

Until now, it feels as though it has been left to hardware manufacturers to add additional functionality that they feel would be useful. So Apple unilaterally did things like create "enhanced podcasts" that would work on their devices alone, at least initially.

I think this does take work with software providers, including Apple, and hardware device manufacturers to get it to work. Unfortunately, those providers might be working to different ends. That's why it's so hard for other hardware manufactures to keep their devices working happily with, say, iTunes. In the longer term, there may even be competition issues that need examining.

Is there a global organisation that could take this role on, representing the needs and requirements of podcasters and audio producers to develop the technology? I don't know.


Charging Mechanisms

This is really an Apple issue. On the one hand, you'd imagine that Apple could turn a switch on tomorrow and allow podcast suppliers to charge for their wares. In the App store, free and paid-for co-exist with ease.

So that leaves a handful of reasons why Apple might not be interested in turning that ability on. Some are more serious and bigger hurdles than others:


1. Music Rights

Apple may be concerned that you've appropriated music or other copyright material in your podcast that doesn't belong to you. Perhaps you've included A Day In The Life by The Beatles as your podcast's intro music!

I'd argue that this could be solved very simply by making sure that prospective podcasters agree to terms and conditions that indemnify Apple. Should the other Apple (Records) come calling, Apple (Computers) just pulls your podcast and points the record company in your direction.

Simple, but a whole additional level of bureaucracy perhaps.

Another option would be for Apple to use its music matching iCloud technology to determine whether your podcast contains copyright material. This is what YouTube does when you upload video.

We all know that there are lots of podcasts do contain copyright material that may or may not have been legitimately acquired. Perhaps this is just a hornet's nest Apple doesn't want to get into. As things stand, that podcast RSS feed in iTunes is simply a weblink. Just as Firefox isn't responsible for copyright material on a website, nor is Apple's iTunes responsible for copyright material in a podcast.


2. Multiplicity of Suppliers

In the music, movies and TV worlds, Apple only has to deal with a relatively small number of suppliers. But they do take time and resources to work with. Problems and other issues have to be solved, and that almost certainly means manpower.

While it's certainly true that Apple now has to deal with many thousands of app developers, that's a pill they've been perhaps happier to swallow since apps have helped build their mobile phone business. But as most developers know, there's a bottleneck between an app being built, and it being made available in the iTunes store as Apple checks it out for any violations of their terms and conditions. Again that's a manpower issue as much as anything.

Apple may be concerned that they'd have to staff up for no significant financial gain.


3. Technical Failures

If I buy the latest Lady Gaga album from iTunes, it's Apple that's doing the hosting, not her record label. Apple has a digital copy of the album on its servers, so that any technical issues that arise from my not being able to download the album are Apple's concern.

Podcasts work differently. They reside on a host website somewhere, belonging to the podcaster. So if a podcast fails to download, it's not Apple's fault. If I pay Apple for a podcast and can't download it, due to the podcaster's server not working, an inherent problem arises.

The workaround is, of course, for Apple to host paid-for podcasts. But that might cause some problems for certain broadcasters - for example those that dynamically add current advertising campaigns to what might be old podcasts. The solution would be either to not have that ability and let Apple host, or to not be able to charge for such podcasts.


4. Advertising Issues

Many podcasts contain forms of advertising built into their podcasts. They might be from major advertisers, or they might be just monetisation mechanisms included in editorial (e.g. donate to us via PayPal, or buy one of our CafePress T-shirts). Apple may be unhappy at both charging listeners for podcasts, and them then being served ads.

To be clear, I don't think this is a real issue, as market forces will dictate what podcasters can and can't do. I pay for premium Sky Sports TV, and they still serve me ads when I watch the channel. If I'm unhappy with that arrangement, I can simply cancel my subscription and stop watching. Likewise I might stop buying an over-commercialised podcast.


5. Billing Disputes

This might well be what really puts Apple off adding the ability to charge for podcasts, and is linked to technical issues above.

What if my server crashes, or perhaps my podcast only lasts for 60 seconds rather than the usual 30 minutes, and the downloader isn't satisfied that they're getting value for money? How do those complaints get resolved?

And what if your podcast adopts a subscription model, as many TV series allow? You pay, say £10, for fifteen episodes. But your podcast dries up after six episodes. What does Apple do? Do they have to refund a proportionate amount? That's hassle for them.

Then there's just the sheer number of transactions they'll have to process with a multiplicity of podcast providers.

Of course these are all exactly the same issues that Apple has had to face with the App store, so they are possible to overcome.


6. Charges

I hinted at this previously. But you might like to charge a relatively modest amount for your podcast - say 29p. The difficulty here is that Apple might have to pay 20p of that to your card company to process that amount (I'm making an educated guess here, based on recent announced UK legislation regarding card payment surcharges). That doesn't leave Apple with very much financial room for them to work with.

Ordinarily, even if you buy an entire album, Apple will not actually charge you immediately, delaying payment for an indeterminate period - probably a complicated algorithm based on your previous purchasing patterns - before processing your charge to allow them to consolidate further purchases and reduce their processing fees. It's cheaper for them to process a larger sum in one go, particularly if your account is tied to a debit card.

It's the same old micro-payments problem the internet has always been faced with, and it's why Apple has set realtively high minimum prices for both music and Apps.


7. Disinterest

If you put a fresh install of iTunes on a computer, you get a number of default menu options on the left hand side of the screen. Podcasts isn't one of them. You either have to go into preferences and switch it on, or actually start downloading podcasts from the iTunes store for it to show up. Nobody makes you switch on music or movies. These make money for Apple, and so they're switched on by default.


Whatever Apple's real reasons for not switching that payment switch, it's probably going to need podcasters to make the case to Apple that there's untapped revenue here to be had if only they'd let us!

Disclaimer: As ever, these are my own views and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

The Podcasting Challenge

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Podcasts

Last month, the BBC announced that it had delivered its billionth podcast since it first started delivering downloads in 2007.

Closer to home, Absolute Radio continues to deliver exceptional numbers of podcast, with programmes like Dave Gorman doing especially well.

Somewhere around 8.5m people in the UK download podcasts (MIDAS 8, RAJAR), with around 4m listening every week.

Big numbers then. There's clearly a thriving ecology of audio producers both within "traditional" media outlets and beyond.

And over Christmas, goodness knows how many millions of devices were unwrapped that are all capable of playing podcasts.

Yet all of this is true in spite of the fact that downloading podcasts is just so incredibly complicated and difficult for consumers.

It really is.

Podcasting must have one of the most complicated set of hurdles a user has to get over before they can actually enjoy listening to the audio they want on the device that they want to hear it on.

Essentially, if they don't have an Apple device, and use iTunes, then they're facing an uphill struggle from the outset. Despite the podcasting protocols essentially being open, only Apple's iTunes software has really made a true impact on podcasting, with most people telling you that the vast majority of their downloads come from that platform. It was only when Apple added podcasts to iTunes in 2005, that podcasting really had a chance to go mainstream. Yet even with Apple buy-in, it can be a fiendishly complicated piece of software (and one I have no love for, as I've mentioned on previous occasions).

To subscribe to a podcast, you essentially need to place an RSS feed into a piece of "podcatching" software. You can try to make that as easy as possible - and hitting the Subscribe button in iTunes isn't hard - but it's still fiddly.

That's particularly the case outside the Appple environment, if your podcatching software doesn't come with a properly comprehensive directory of its own, meaning that you need to somehow tie the website where a podcast is hosted to the software you're using to listen to the audio and/or sync the audio with your chosen device.

But let's step back a second.

The first problem with podcasts is their name. That makes it sound to the outsider that if you don't have an iPod, then this isn't a technology for you. Yet given that the majority of mobile phones sold today are perfectly capable of playing podcasts, and at the same time, aren't made by Apple, the word "podcast" is something of a misnomer. Then there are the vast array of non-Apple mp3 players from companies like Sony, Creative and iRiver that also support podcasts. Apple may still have the dominant market share of this market, but do users of those devices know that they're capable of podcasting, and do they use them accordingly.

Of course, the longer a word is used in society, the more it's accepted and adopted. And it's certainly too late to change the name. Amongst others, Leo Laporte of This Week in Tech fame, attempted to use the word "netcast" in place of podcast early on, but it didn't stick. In the meantime the word "podcast" remains off-putting to many non-Apple consumers, whether they know it or not.

The second problem is the difficulty of actually getting someone to subscribe to a podcast. Within the Apple eco-system, you'll need to ensure that your podcast is listed in the iTunes store and then hope that it's discovered. However you're likely to find that you end up driving most of the traffic to iTunes from your own site or by employing links from social media, because the chances that Apple will choose to feature your work are - let's face it - slim. And if you're not featured or appear near the top of one of their podcast charts, your discoverability will be solely reliant on people searching for your podcast (By the way, you'd better have a website, if only to deliver search traffic to the right page of iTunes. This sounds obvious, but so many podcasts seem to fall foul of this thinking iTunes alone will do the work for them).

But what about if your prospective listeners are using another piece of software to manage the music/audio on your portable device? That software may well not have a directory included - and if it does, it's probably not one as comprehensive as Apple's. So that means users have to copy the RSS feed details - an XML file - and paste it into their software of choice. I can't think of anything less consumer friendly and more needlessly technical if I try.

Just look at the array of buttons the BBC - quite rightly - puts alongside all its podcasts to enable you to subscribe. It's ridiculous that we need a separate button for different pieces of software.

If I was redesigning podcasting from the start here are some of the things I'd implement:

- A new name that wasn't perceived as device specific.
- A file format that means browsers would automatically launch the default application associated with "podcasting" which may or may not be iTunes.
- The ability to charge for podcasts - more of which below.
- True downloading of new podcasts in the background without necessarily needing to run the software.
- The ability to "sync" your podcasts to your chosen device from more than one host computer (and indeed, depending on device specifics, remove the need for a host computer altogether).
- The word "subscribe" in relation to podcasts comes with a certain amount of baggage. Even though currently practically every podcast is free to end users, "subscribe" could sound like there's a cost. Especially if iTunes already has your credit card details.
- The format would allow "enhanced" podcasts to be available on all devices not just Apple's (I know that there are workarounds for this, but they're not pretty).
- And it should take account that there will be video podcasts too.

Other critical things would be the ability for devices to report back - should the user choose to opt in - whether or not a podcast had been listened to, and the extent to which it had been listened. While that might sound a little Big Brother-ish, that kind of information is what podcast producers need to know to assess the overall popularity of a podcast. Listener feedback only goes so far. And if you intend to commercialise your podcast, then advertisers really need to know that their campaigns are being delivered.

Somewhere in the 16,000 word terms and conditions of iTunes, I suspect that users have authorised the usage of this data - perhaps in an anonymised form (Yes, those terms and conditions really are that long). But if it's in there, Apple's not passing that data back to podcast producers.

As I've argued, iTunes has an enormous stranglehold over podcasts. In many ways it's a terrific shop front which is personalisable, and potentially delivers enormous exposure to your podcasts. Yet it's noticeable that the vast majority of the most successful podcasts come from existing media organisations (at time of writing 35 out of the top 50, including a 27 from the BBC alone). And that does mean that if you're not part of a big organisation, giving your podcast prominence is mighty tough.

And then there's the fact that Apple chooses not to allow you to charge for podcasts.

Perhaps the most successful paid-for podcast has been Ricky Gervais's. But that appears in places like iTunes as an audiobook and not a podcast. Ricky has a big enough global following that I'm sure this isn't a problem. His loyal fans dutifully find the right place to pay for his latest episodes. But for the rest of us...

Currently, the only way to monetise your podcast - if it's to sit in the podcasts section of iTunes - is via advertising or sponsorship within the actual audio files. That's fine as far as it goes, but it places an artificial limit on what is possible and funding mechanisms that you might wish to employ. You only have to look to the success of many App developers to realise that all those fifty-nine pences can add up to something very substantial even if you have to give Apple a slice of the action.

Quite why Apple doesn't allow podcasts to be sold like everything else in iTunes is unclear. The pricing could be kept low, and could adopt period subscriptions as happens in the TV section of the store where I can buy x episodes for £y. I do understand that there are card costs incurred by Apple for low value transactions (That's why they only tend to charge you for a single download a few days later. They hope you'll buy something else in the meantime to maxismise returns from a single transaction). And I can understand that if someone paid £10 for twenty of my podcasts, only for me to stop producing them after half a dozen, both listeners and Apple might start to get upset. Yet I still think providing the ability to monetise podcasts this way is essential.

While I'd in no way expect that many people would choose to charge, some might. Helen and Olly from Answer Me This, for example, sell some of their older "classic" epsiodes. Yet they have to manage this themselves using third party methods, despite, most of their traffic surely coming through iTunes.

I also think the case of Louis CK's experiment in selling non-DRM video downloads of his recent live set at just $5 and turning over more than a million dollars in only a few days, are fascinating studies.

In the fullness of time, I'm sure that payment mechanisms - perhaps in the form of Near Field Communications - will be built into the hardware specs of our digital devices. Perhaps as an adjunct of real-world payments that are currently being implemented in new generations of mobile phones. And that should mean that payment mechanisms could become simpler which should remove the micropayment barrier you tend to face if your site isn't utilising a popular wallet technology like PayPal, Google Wallet, Apple or Amazon accounts.

And in a world where we all have, ubiquitous high-speed internet access on all our devices, some podcast issues will go away.

In the meantime, we're beholden to a technology that desperately needs updating to become fully sustainable. It should be easier for the average user to get involved - to discover and download podcasts on the device of their choice. It should provide more information about podcast usage (beyond audience feedback) to the producers. And there should be the ability to monetise podcasts, if producers choose, using an array of models including the basic purchase one.

Those things in turn should deliver a broader and stronger podcasting environment, helping producers both small and large.


[UPDATE] I've added a few more thoughts on this subject based on responses others have made both here and on social media.

Disclaimer: As ever, these are my own views and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

London Soundscapes

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White Sound

Currently in London there are two audio exhibits - of sorts - taking place in London. And they're only about a five minute walk apart.

At the Wellcome Collection on the Euston Road, passers-by are currently being exposed to White Sounds: An urban seascape.

Bill Fontana is bringing the sounds of Chesil Beach in Dorset to the Euston Road. Essentially a live audio feed from the beach is being fed to a series of massive speakers installed outside the front of the Wellcome Collection building. I've passed by it a couple of times now, and while it's almost certainly inaudible to anyone driving by, pedestrians walking by are regularly stopping to listen. Different speakers seem to be broadcasting different audio elements from the beach.

Obviously you're listening to this against the backdrop of heavy traffic on the Euston Road, but that's the point of it. There's also film footage (recorded) available to view inside the building. I'd suggest it's worth a detour to experience. It's on until 16 October. And it's worth noting that the café inside the Wellcome Collection is a lovely tranquil place away from the noise of Euston. It even has free WiFi.

St Pancras-1

A little further down the Euston Road is St Pancras Station - gateway to Paris, Brussels, and St Albans. It's currently home to a piece called Audio Obscura by Lavinia Greenlaw. This piece, which has already appeared at Manchester Piccadilly Station as part of the Manchester International Festival, is a 30 minute long audio soundscape/drama.

You collect a small mp3 player attached to a pair of noise cancelling headphones, and you're left to wander the majesty of St Pancras while listening to fragments of conversations which could be coming from people as they pass by.

The effect works incredibly well in a busy station like St Pancras. I found myself standing in an unused part of the station, staring at passers by imagining that they might be saying the words I was hearing.

Again it's well worth catching before it finishes on the 23 October.

Phone-Hacking Media Talk

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Last night I spent a fascinating hour at a "live" recording of The Guardian's Media Talk podcast, presented by Matt Wells, in a packed room with somewhere around 100 Guardian readers in attendance. It was devoted completely to the hacking scandal, and featured some of the key players in the case including Nick Davies, the journalist who's been working doggedly at this for at least the last two years, and his Editor-in-Chief, Alan Rusbridger.

Also there were Jane Martinson, formerly editor of Media Guardian, and who'd spent the previous day in the committee room alongside Davies watching the Murdochs give testimony (at least until that idiot's utter stupidity meant that the media lost focus, and members of the public - including all the journalists - were thrown out of the meeting room), and Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, who pointed out that the editor of his series of thrillers under his alternative identity, author Sam Bourne, would have rejected all the twists and turns that this affair has seen in just the last two weeks.

Anyway, the podcast of this is already up, and it's really worth a listen, even if you're beginning to feel that you might have OD'd on the whole subject.

A Summer Storm

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Summer Storm Montage (mp3)

A little recording I made going to the shops yesterday while a storm passed over. This is obviously an edit of a twenty minute walk removing as much wind noise as possible.

Recorded with Roland CS-EM10 binaural microphone/earphones on a Zoom H2.

Be sure to listen with your headphones to capture the full binaural experience. In any case, your laptop's speakers are rubbish.

iCloud Cuckoo Land*

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iTunes

As regular readers will know, I'm a frustrated iTunes user. So what should I make of Apple's announcements yesterday - in particular those associated with iCloud?

I tend to still buy quite a lot of music on CD, if for no other reason than you get nice album covers and booklets to look at. It's certainly true that as soon as the plastic has come off the CD case (slowly because the tabs never work, even though cigarette manufacturers always seem to manage this quite well having long ago worked out that it was bad for business if their customers couldn't reach their cravings quickly and effectively), the disc goes straight into a PC and is unlikely ever to be played in a CD player again**.

So putting aside the fact that like Google Music Beta, iCloud is not going to be available to UK users in a hurry, what is one to make of Apple's $25 a year service, iTunes Match?

Let me just return to that CD-ripping fun I have.

The CD goes in, and more often than not, Apple/GraceNote manages to identify the track titles and into the library go the files. There then comes the small matter of the album artwork. I can't tell you how many times Apple's iTunes fails at this point - even with quite big-selling material. Now it might be that some of my musical tastes are a little off-the-wall, but the bigger problem tends to be that some finer point of the track titles/album artist/artist/genre doesn't quite match up with what Apple thinks that collection should be. So even though the same album is available to download in the iTunes store where it comes with album art, iTunes fails to match it up.

The is fixable by using a Google Image search, or perhaps visiting Amazon, and getting a nice decent-ish resolution version of the album art. I note that forward thinking magazines like Word and Songlines even supply those images for their cover CDs on their websites (sadly BBC Music magazine doesn't for copyright reasons which is a shame).

Anyway, I can manually add the artwork, even though I'm reasonably sure that it's less economical this way, with the artwork seemingly copied into each track rather than a single image being associated with the whole album as iTunes does when it does manage to find one.

All this is a long way around of saying that since iTunes fails quite dismally at matching album art with CDs it knows about already, I'm really not sure how well iTunes Match is going to work when it comes to matching up tracks that you've imported into your library (from whatever source) with iTunes' own database.

This is the big sell of iCloud: if you've got a fairly ropey 128k version of a song in your library, iTunes Match will replace it - in the cloud - with a nice shiny 256k version of the same. In other words, Apple is offering to clean and upgrade your library - assuming it can identify the tracks in the first place.

Unlike Google, Apple is able to make its cloud service much more economical to run by not having to store hundreds of thousands of duplicate tracks of something popular. Instead it can effectively offer hundreds of thousands of account holders access to a single copy of a given track if it has detected it in your library. We all use the same copy of Poker Face rather than Apple having to maintain thousands or even millions of copies on its servers.

I guess that we'll have to wait and see to find out how successful Apple really is in matching these things up when it launches, although since I'm not in a rush to buy more Apple products, and streaming my collection doesn't seem to be on the cards, I'm not clear that this offers much to me.

But I wonder how arcane remixes or live versions are going to match-up. It's not for nothing that a whole sub-industry of add-on products exists to help tidy up iTunes libraries.

Google Music looks more useful, although I'm still faced with an enormous initial upload to get my collection into the cloud in the first place. My iPod tells me I currently have 13,462 "songs"*** on it. That's within the 20,000 Google will let you upload free in the first instance. Quite how they'll charge beyond the beta period is unclear at the moment however.

Finally, of the big players, there's Amazon Cloud Drive. Again, it's not available in the UK. It's effectively just a hard-disk in the sky, although it does allow streaming. But the cost could be considerable. I'd fall into the $200 a year bracket with my music library. Not insignificant. For a couple of years' fees I could buy a NAS and some hard-drives, connect the thing to the internet and build my own streaming option. Indeed, if I spent some time playing with code, I think I'm already in a position to do this.

At the moment, it's all academic, as none of these services are available in the UK****. But none of them initially appear perfect.

*Sorry - I just liked that title, even if it is a little unfair.

**Unless such time comes that I need to re-rip my collection.

***Some of those "songs" are complete symphonies, but there you go.

****No doubt there's some small service that is availble to UK users that I've not mentioned here. But the problem is that if I'm going to the trouble of uploading my entire music library, I need to be sure that it's a company that's going to be around a while.

iTunes Woes - When Consolidate Breaks

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This is a bit of a plea. Any solutions welcome...

I have a big iTunes library. It's something like 250GB because I keep certain old podcasts, have lots of music (ripped at high bit-rates), quite a few audiobooks (also in high quality) and now have a few films (mainly from "triple play" DVD/BluRay/digital sets). Anyway - it's big.

I wanted to move it off the external hard drive it resides on, and over to a RAID NAS. All a bit safer.

The process is to repoint your libary to the new location and then "Consolidate" it. Because I let iTunes organise it's library and keep everything in one place, this should be easy. But on at least three occassions the process fell over. No problem. I just restarted. Eventually after many hours, the library had been moved.

Everything worked fine. But I was a little suspicious... My library was now in excess of 500GB!

Looking in more detail I saw that in some folders there were duplicate files - either one or two extra copies:

e.g.
Track1.mp3
Track1_1.mp3
Track1_2.mp3

or

Track1.mp3
Track_1.mp3

The library was now pointing to the last made copy in each instance (Track1_2.mp3 or Track1_1.mp3 in the above examples).

At first I thought that I'd clean by hand. But that's a loonnnggggg process. I quickly gave up. I sought various de-duplication programs and found some that could identify the duplicates. But none had the "intelligence" to identify the correct file to keep and delete the other two. Doublekiller was the best program. I even splurged for the Pro version. Yet even using wildcards, I can't get the correct version identified.

Note that the duplicated files have the same dates and file sizes associated. And there are thousands of files to be de-duplicated - hence my desire for an automated process.

And some folders have no duplicates at all!

The other option was to consolidate the library again to a different location (e.g. another folder on the same drive) and hope it did it without breaking down mid-copying. Sadly, I got an error some time during the middle of the night, again after many hours of copying. If I run "Consolidate" again, I think I'll just get some more duplicates and will be back to square one.

Why the Consolidate option is breaking down, I don't know.

So has anyone got any ideas? I'm at my wit's end. At this point, a smart de-duplication program would be great.

Have I mentioned how much I dislike iTunes?

Note: I pretty much followed these instructions for moving my iTunes media library. It breaks down during the consolidation process.

And I could move to something different like MediaMonkey or Miro 4, but I currently use things like AirPlay which I'm not sure these other programs support. That and the fact it's Apple's wont to use upgrades to make syncing stop working with third party software (although that might be another reason to ditch Apple altogether).

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