We take a look at the best way to create a gapless album using Bitwig Studio and other free tools. Using just Bitwig studio and free software, let us walkthrough the best methods to creating a continuous album with no extra plugins required. This works both for streaming services and burning to CD.
What does gapless album mean?
Lets start with a definition. Gapless means there is no gap. How simple is that! No really, it is one of the mix type albums that you see in which the tracks merge from one into another. Although they merge, it is not one long track. The tracks are separated by markers which allows a CD player to identify at which point it should be showing the details of the next track.
So think of your last Ministry of Sound album which was one long continuous mix. Although one long mix, the ability to skip to a specific track is still there and this is due to it being a gapless album.
Where would I use a gapless album?
The scenario where you might want to produce a gapless album could be many reasons. However the usual use in the EDM/dance music world would be on a mix album. Not necessarily a DJ set, but sometimes an experience album where one track merges into another is a good example of this. I recently created the album “Diversion” which is available on many streaming sites. This was produced as a gapless playback experience.
Although normally used as a technique to mix tracks, I made a point of just allowing the album to flow from one song to another.
How can I create a gapless album?
This technique uses a couple of bits of software. It only really takes a couple of steps too, it is just a case of knowing what to use. Obviously you can use any DAW you like but as with most things on my site, I am using Bitwig Studio. Then once I have used Bitwig to create a gapless album, I use another free DAW called Audacity to split the tracks. Let me show you how to do this.
- Collate tracks into one project
- Line up the tracks accordingly
- Export the file to WAV
- Import and mark splits
- Export at splits
These 5 steps will essentially provide you a list of tracks meaning you have been able to create a gapless album that can be burned to a CD or uploaded to a streaming service.
Tools that you will need are quite simply your preferred DAW (Bitwig Studio in my case) and a copy of Audacity.
Step 1. Collate tracks into one project
This is pretty self explanatory and it is a case of gathering all the mastered tracks in one location. Within Bitwig, I stack them as separate tracks on top of each other. This allow you to merge them in to one another at the points you need to change tracks.
Step 2. Line up the tracks accordingly
Ensure all your tracks are the same volume and are mastered to the same levels for output. Otherwise you will have tracks which are louder than others when they play from one to the next.
Step 3. Export the WAV file
Now the file is ready to be exported. Use your DAW to export the file as one WAV files. Depending which DAW you are using will determine how you do this.
Step 4. Import and Mark Splits
Using Audacity, you now need to import the file into the software. Then once imported, go to the beginning and choose Edit > Labels > Add Label at Selection.
Where the label track has been added, name the file name of the track at that point. Repeat this process throughout the whole track so at the correct points where you want a track to start, it has a label.
Step 5. Export at the Splits
Once all your track labels are in, then you need to export the whole process but splitting at the labels. This is achieved using the File > Export > Export Multiple option and then choosing “Split Files Based on Labels.”
Choose the appropriate naming convention as you see fit for your tracks. You will get a prompt to add the Meta information for each track on the export. This is the information that will be displayed when played so populate as much of this as possible.
Once exported, you will have a list of your tracks in separate files in the folder you specified. They will now be ready for burning or uploading.
Can you create a gapless album for on a streaming service?
I have managed to create a gapless album of my own album and successfully uploaded this to Distrokid, my streaming service distributor of choice. I have had no problems with tracks playing correctly (and smoothly) from a number of providers so I would certainly recommend using Distrokid if you are going to create a gapless album for streaming.