I have the non-Nav myGig radio in my 09 Ram and love the HDD feature especially because it's big enough to hold my entire collection of MP3's. What I *don't* like is the way songs are played back in alphabetic order instead of track order. Also annoying is how standard .m3u playlist files are ignored in favor of the "folder equals playlist" concept.
I'm actually OK with the "folder equals playlist" concept but don't quite understand why the software engineers decided to force songs to play in alphabetic order rather than track order.
(Note that I'm not necessarily anti-Apple but do not own an iPod and have never used iTunes, but that doesn't matter for this discussion. I built my music library the old-fashioned way.)
My approach to formatting my MP3 library on my main home PC is pretty standard: Parent folder name is artist; child folder for each album by that artist; MP3's inside those child folders for each song; MP3 filenames contain both track number and song title.
Like this ("\" is a folder separator):
Dave Matthews Band\Crash\01 So Much to Say.mp3
Dave Matthews Band\Crash\02 Two Step.mp3
Dave Matthews Band\Crash\03 Crash Into Me.mp3
...etc for a total of 8 tracks...
Dave Matthews Band\Stand Up\01 Dream Girl.mp3
Dave Matthews Band\Stand Up\02 Old Dirt Hill (Bring That Beat Back).mp3
Dave Matthews Band\Stand Up\03 Stand Up (For It).mp3
...etc for a total of 14 tracks...
It's an easy way to keep my music library organized. And the reason for including the track number in the filename is to maintain the album's track order within the folder. The standard behavior for folders is to list files alphabetically (and in most cases, this is what you want with files). I prefer to view the song titles in track order, and I prefer to play them in track order too. Using windows explorer it is very easy to find specific artists, albums and songs and very easy to view or play albums in the exact track order because of the way I've named the physical MP3 files.
In addition to the physical filenames, all of my MP3 files use ID3 tags to hold information describing the file, including artist, album, track number, track name, etc. This ID3 information is written into the physical MP3 file and is a standard these days. The ID3 information can be used by music software to display information about the currently playing song, for example. The ID3 data is capable of storing more data describing the MP3 file, including comments, year, genre, and others, but that's not important for this discussion. Here's how the ID3 data looks:
Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Title: So Much to Say
Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Title: Two Step
Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Title: Crash Into Me
...etc for each MP3 file...
To sum up, for any MP3 file in my music library I can determine artist, album, track #, and track title in either of two ways: via the filename of the physical MP3 file, or via the ID3 information embedded in the MP3 file.
The mygig unit in my truck is capable of using both methods: it can read the physical filenames, and it can also read the ID3 information. How do I know this? According to the owner's manual, when adding music to the HDD, a physical folder will equal a playlist (this presents a problem for me, I'll explain below), and this works. Each folder name will show up as a playlist - so the unit must be capable of reading physical file information. Once the files are loaded onto the HDD the individual MP3's are listed and displayed using the ID3 title information - so the unit must be capable of interpreting the ID3 data contained in the MP3 file. How can I be sure the unit is actually reading the ID3 information for the song title? Because the physical filename of my MP3 files includes the track number, e.g. "01 So Much to Say.mp3" and the displayed song title doesn't include the track number, e.g. "So Much to Say." To further test the theory, I changed the ID3 track title in my library to "asdf" while leaving the filename intact - and after reloading the files to the HDD it displayed "asdf" for that track. If the unit can read the track title, it can certainly read the track number. And since the unit is capable of reading both physical filenames and ID3 data, the decision by the software designers to force alphabetic playback must have been deliberate. (?)
Now I'll get to the point of my issue. I want to be able to view and play music in track order, but the unit will only play tracks in alphabetic order. Additionally, when uploading files, the "folder name equals playlist" doesn't interpret the parent-child folder relationship that I use for my library; it simply ignores any parent folder and uses the child folder as a playlist name.
Am I asking too much? Am I too "old-school" or "old-fashioned" for the latest tech? Maybe so, but I did manage to solve the problem pretty easily. I wrote a little utility which modifies the MP3 files on my USB drive prior to uploading to the HDD. The utility does two things:
1) Creates a single level of physical folders by combining parent/child folder names so that each playlist item displays a unique album.
* Old playlist display:
* New playlist display:
Dave Matthews Band - Crash
Dave Matthews Band - Stand Up
2) Modifies the ID3 title data to include the track number so that songs are displayed and played in track order.
* Old song display:
American Baby Intro
Everybody Wake Up (Our Finest Hour Arrives)
Hunger for the Great Light
* New song display (in correct track order):
01 Dream Girl
02 Old Dirt Hill (Bring That Beat Back)
03 Stand Up (For It)
04 American Baby Intro
05 American Baby
06 Smooth Rider
Now when I select an album from the list and click "play all songs" it will play the songs in track order (really nice, for example, when listening to continuous-track albums such as Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime" or Dream Theater's "Under a Glass Moon"). It technically still plays the track in alphabetical order, but since I changed the title to include the track number the alphabetic order equals the track order. Note that this also slightly alters the effective behavior of the unit's "random - play all songs" feature (which simply plays all of the tracks on the HDD in alphabetic order).
Here are the steps I take now to copy songs from my PC to the mygig unit:
1) Copy and paste the folders / files from my PC to my USB drive. The folder and filename format on the USB drive exactly matches the folder and filename format on my PC.
2) Run my utility, choose the correct USB drive, and click "OK."
3) Upload from the USB to the HDD as usual.
And that's it. I built the utility for me, so it's not really "polished" so to speak.. if there's any interest I'll be happy to polish it and post it...