iPod "random" actually random?

Discussion in 'iPod' started by cmezak, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. cmezak macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2006
    Hey everybody,

    So I work at a small bookstore, and for various reasons we decided to have our store music playing from an iPod. The idea was that we could just fill it with a couple weeks worth of music and set it on random, resulting in a nearly endless supply of music that would rarely if ever repeat.

    But, with 1700 songs on the thing, we are hearing some songs over and over again, many times in the same day. This is driving some of us nearly insane.

    So my question is simple: Is the iPod's random setting actually random? Is it somehow tied to song ratings or something else? The firmware on this iPod is 2.2, whereas the latest version is 2.3.

    Any ideas?

  2. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    Computers are incapable of actually being random, they can only simulate it to a large degree, as they are logical, if you are setting it on shuffle then as long as you only have one copy of each song it shouldn't play it twice (this *should* be so on repeat too...)

    Be aware that is you have 25 people in a room the odds on any two sharing a birthday are over 50%, so you are highly likely to get artists repeating themselves.
  3. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Look in the Playback tab of your iTunes Preferences. There is a setting called "Smart Shuffle" (with a scale from "more likely" to "random" to "less likely") that controls how often you are likely to hear multiple songs from one artist or album in a row.

    This was added because, with the original completely-random iTunes implementation, people often complained if they heard the same artist twice in a row, even though mathematically, that should happen sometimes when songs are in random order.

    If an entire Playlist were put in a random order and played straight through, then "re-shuffled" and played through in another random order, you might still hear the same song twice in a row if it was last in the first set and first in the second set. If songs were picked, one at a time and completely randomly, from a Playlist, you'd eventually hear the same song 10 times in a row if you waited long enough! :eek:

    By setting Smart Shuffle to "less likely", as many people do, you are in fact making iTunes less random but making it feel more random!
  4. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    The smart shuffle doesn't carry across to the iPod, does it? :)
  5. cmezak thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2006
    hey thanks guys,

    I actually do understand the technicallities involving true randomness and what a computer can simulate, but I'm talking about hearing the very same track three times in the span of 7 hours out of 1700 tracks.

    I knew about the smart shuffle feature, but I didnt know that one could use it on an iPod. Is the setting in iTunes simply sent to the iPod? I don't remember seeing smart shuffle in the ipod options panel. When I can, I'll sort that out.

    In the meantime, Ill just cram some more music on the thing and delete a few of the more offending tracks.

    Thanks again for the thoughts!
  6. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    As madjew said, the smart shuffle doesn't carry over. Since it is completely random, there's always the chance that you'll get two in a row from the same artist. I think the best way would be to add more songs.
  7. zephead macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2006
    in your pants
    You could just create a smart playlist that has all the songs, but have the specs: "Last played > is not in the last > x days/weeks/months". That way, songs that haven't been played, let's say, in the past week, wouldn't be on there, and they wouldn't be playing several times in a day. :D
  8. Nutter macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2005
    London, England
    Even better, create a large playlist, then limit it to 2 hours or so, sorted by "least recently played". That way, you always have a full playlist of the things that weren't played most recently.
  9. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    Do Smart Playlists update on the iPod without syncing to a computer first? Mine's always plugged into my Mac so it's always up-to-date and I've never noticed whether it updates automatically. :)
  10. apunkrockmonk macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    The playlists only update when syncing sadly. One good way to get around this, just make a playlist of all your songs, set the ipod to shuffle songs, then play the playlist, the songs won't repeat unless you sync the ipod or it shuts off after 2 days of no use or however long it is.
  11. lexus macrumors 68000


    Mar 26, 2006
    Depends Greatly On The Weather
    I read a story on it saying that it is not random at all.
  12. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    Nope... They used to but the iPod Update that introduced the Podcast directory broke the Smart Playlist update capability :(

    And I don't think the preference in iTunes is much better. Mine's set to not play the same artist but there are still times where it will play a song that only played 10 tracks beforehand or give me 3 within 5 from the same artist.

    I'd suggest making a smart playlist on your computer - and ordering that by some random like 'date added' or 'last played' or 'time of track' or 'name of song' whatever and then take your iPod off shuffle - it will then play everything in the playlist in order but (hopefully) without repeats.

Share This Page