Archive for June, 2015

Rockbox and playlist loading times

This is more for my own reference.  Rockbox, if you aren’t familiar, is a WONDERFUL open-source firmware replacement available for several MP3/media players.  I have a SanDisk Sansa Clip+ that, with Rockbox, supports at least 64gb MicroSD cards and likely beyond, which is way more than the stock firmware will support.  It also supports FLAC, Vorbis, and a cadre of other codecs.  I’ve been using this tiny player with near 70gb of storage as my main portable player since the day I installed Rockbox a couple years ago.  Recently, something happened after I dropped the player a couple times – it got stuck in a strange loop.  I thought I was hearing a song I heard before, but with about 9000 songs on the player, which I listen to in one big shuffled playlist, I have several remixes of some songs, so it took me a while to notice the same three songs in a row over a number of days.

In the course of looking into the problem, I recreated my playlist several times.  I did this mostly using Rockbox’s Database functionality.  I would find a top-level node in the Database (Artists, for instance) and long-press the select button to bring up the context menu, then choose Play Next.  This does insert them into the playlist.  The problem, though, was that it took like 2-3 minutes every single time I turned it on to resume playing.  This was new, it was instantaneous before.  I also tried saving the dynamic playlist to a file and loading it via the Playlist Catalog, but same delay.  Worse, when I plugged it in to a computer, it would take 2-3 minutes upon unplugging it, AND 2-3 minutes to resume playing.  The issue felt vaguely familiar, so I scoured the internet and found articles about database loading issues with the original Sansa firmware… lots of them.  I tried twiddling settings.  I created playlists in different ways.  I used crazy tricks regarding how the player is turned off and disconnected.  None of this made any difference.

Then, after really just a couple days of minor annoyance, I created the playlist in a very subtly different way.  In the Database, instead of using the context menu on a top-level node, I browsed into Artists and just selected the first item – incidentally, “<Untagged>” – which I assumed would open another “folder.”  Instead, it asked if I wanted to clear the playlist (I selected yes) and watched it load everything.  At that moment, I remembered having figured this all out before.  Instantaneous resumes once more.  I really don’t see why this is different from the other method, and the playlist it creates seems identical.  However, I’m glad to have a very snappy player once more.

Seldom annoying playlist issues aside, I do heartily recommend using Rockbox if you have one of the many supported players.  And the Sansa Clip+ is a very nice little media player that, with Rockbox and a large memory card, makes a good main portable.


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I would like to thank Mike Hellrich for hosting a couple redirects for me while I sort out my web server problems.