Tip: Gapless Playback In Rhythmbox

Howdy folks. This is just a quick tip for any Rhythmbox users out there who like me get annoyed with gaps between tracks when playing their favourite albums. When you’re listening to an average album it doesn’t really matter but if you listen to a lot of hip hop, mix albums or live shows as I do it can be a nightmare. I’m pretty sure DJ Shadow never intended there to be 2 seconds silence between each of his beautifully joined tracks, other wise why did he bother mixing them so carefully in the first place?! Uggh πŸ™‚ There are loads of great media players for Linux these days, some people like Banshee, others prefer Amarok, and Songbird is growing at an ever increasing pace, to mention but a few. They all have something to offer but no matter what I try out I always end up coming back to Rhythmbox. It just fits my needs I suppose but it doesn’t play tracks back without gaps which infuriates me sometimes. So I had a look through the settings to see if I could fix the problem when I hit upon this solution, it may already be common knowledge for all I know but just in case it isn’t I thought I’d share it with the class.

Go to Edit > Preferences on the Rhythmbox menu

Opening the Preferences tool
Opening the Preferences tool

Then go to the Playback tab where you’ll see the following options

The Playback Options Window
The Playback Options Window

Just tick the box which says “Use crossfading backend” and also the one below which says “Crossfade between songs on the same album”. The purpose of theΒ  2 sliders is a bit less obvious. I set the first one to 0.0 seconds because this is the crossfade duration and I don’t actually want it to spend time doing a crossfade, this is not how most albums are designed, I just don’t want gaps between songs. When you buy a mix album they already did the crossfading for you, that’s what you paid for. You can set this to whatever value you want though, probably best to play around and tweak it to suit your needs. The second slider is labeled network buffer size and if I’m honest I’m not totally sure what this does, I think it’s just how much system memory to use for buffering the next track. I tend to set it to about half way and leave it, this works well for me. Again though it might be best to try some different settings out and see what works best for you.

If this is the first time you’ve enabled the crossfading backend you’ll need to close Rhythmbox and reopen it but after that it should all work fine. That’s all there is to it, try it out and see for yourself. I listen to a lot of hip hop albums this way as the tracks often lead directly into one another, it works a treat for me and makes listening so much better. Yeah boyzzzz!!!

Public Enemy
Public Enemy

Hope it works as well for you, let me know how you get on. As always comments and opinions are more than welcome,

Peace out (I’m still in hip hop mode)



  1. Thanks for this I never would have bothered to look for this setting and it really does make the transition between songs much better.

    • @gicoupar That’s good to hear, I just found it by accident myself really and didn’t know how many other people are aware of it πŸ™‚

  2. Wow, I didn’t even know rhythmbox could do this. cheers man! πŸ˜€

  3. still doesn’t work that great though, there’s no gap but there is still a clear switch between songs and it certainly isn’t 100% seamless.

  4. Rhythmbox 0.12.2 has now the gapless-feature we were all waiting for I guess. It’s pretty cool =)

  5. Great Thanks. That was easy.

  6. It still doesn’t work for me. Just like how Shane said earlier, there is a clear switch between the songs.

  7. Playback with Rhythmbox used to work perfectly for me until I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 whereupon a distinct audible gap between tracks emerged, especially irritating during a crossfade. I have recently stepped up to Ubuntu 10.10 hoping the problem would go but alas I still have the annoying gap.
    I have wondered whether the fault has something to do with my old system but hey, it all worked so well with Ubuntu 9.04. Does the latest Rhythmbox 0.13.1 require a higher spec machine to function properly? Could my problem be with the OS itself?
    I have fiddled with the playback prefs (which incidentally are different in RB 0.13.1 to the screen images shown in Dan’s article) but nothing has worked to remove the gap.

    • @Chazzer – This article is pretty old now so the instructions may be out of date. Sorry about that. I haven’t had any problems with Rhythmbox on Ubuntu 10.10 but I’ve only tested it a little bit. It seems everyone is moving towards Banshee as the main Linux desktop media player right now. Ubuntu will be using it as default with the next release. It has a much faster pace of development and Rhythmbox has been floundering without any development drive recently. It’s sad really as I’ve supported it a long time. Try Banshee if you get really stuck and see how you get on.

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