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How well does Poweramp work with external storage?


mwalimu

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I'm looking for a music playing setup to use in my car, particularly during long road trips. The size of my music library far exceeds the total storage of my phone (much less the available storage), so the music library would need to be on an external device such a 1TB flash drive. How well does Poweramp work with such a setup? I might have more specific questions but wanted to get a general idea if it's feasible.

Some specifics if it matters:

  • The phone is an LG V30 LG-H931 running Android with 64GB internal storage.
  • It has only one USB-C port, primarily used for charging, and no SD card slots. I'd presumably need a USB hub or similar if I want to connect both the charging cable and the external storage device at the same time.
  • The external storage containing the music library will generally not be attached when I'm not using the music player.
  • My library is virtually all .mp3 files. My primary mode of listening will be "whole album shuffle". Gapless and ReplayGain are a must.
  • Virtually all music library management (adding/removing files, tag editing, etc.) will be done at home on my Windows desktop computer. The phone app should be able to do everything it needs to by accessing the library in "read only" mode. Actually I don't mind if it needs to create files containing database info and such, but altering the .mp3 files themselves is a big no-no.
  • I don't mind if it takes a long time to scan the music library the first time as long as it "remembers" what it scanned and doesn't need to rescan every time I remove and reattach the external storage. I would hope that rescanning the library to pick up added/changed/deleted files would be much faster when the number of updates is small compared to the overall database size.
  • I won't need and don't expect to use any options that require Internet/cloud access. In fact, if there's an option to disable all such access, I'll probably use it to minimize the risk of the app eating up a sizable chunk of my phone's monthly data allowance.
  • A "nice to have" feature that might help with some of the above is if the player has "buffer ahead" capability, where it copies anywhere from a few minutes to several hours worth of music to internal storage.

If you don't think using Poweramp with external storage as described here is feasible, or if you think there are alternative setups worth considering, I'd be interested in hearing any suggestions you may have. Thank you.

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Poweramp can work with external storage (SD Card or USB-C connected storage) and yes you can scan in the whole Library in one lengthy session and then turn off the Auto-Scan features. Indeed, if the storage is likely to be unmounted any time that the device is active then I would definitely recommend doing so. You'd need to do a manual rescan after making any changes to the external storage content though, and that would rely on the storage being re-mounted using exactly the same root path name in the Android filesystem.

You can also turn off auto-downloading of album art (presumably all of your artwork is embedded in the MP3 files anyway?) to save data.

PA won't write anything to the music files on external storage (tags, deletes, etc) unless you manually tell it to. Playlist files in storage will be modified if you make even the slightest change to them. Otherwise, music library functions are database-driven.

Shuffling whole albums is easy. Gapless and using ReplayGain (either in Track or Album mode) are both supported, assuming the files are encoded properly.

There is no buffer-header copying to internal storage, but you can increase the buffer size of the output process in case reading from storage is erratic (which will increase audio-path latency).

There is a fully-functional trial period for the app, so give it a go and if it doesn't suit your needs you've lost nothing.

Andre

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Thank you. I haven't actually purchased a USB hub or the external storage (probably a 1TB flash drive) yet and wanted to have some idea whether it would be workable before taking the plunge.

I wouldn't be using the album art downloading feature. The files will be organized as one album per folder, and most .mp3 files don't have embedded album art but many folders have a folder.jpg file with the cover (if that's a usable option). Most folders are an actual album but some may have extra tracks, or be multi-disc albums to be played as a unit, or in a few cases will be groups of non-album B-sides by an artist that I've collected into an "album". If I read some of the other help files on this site correctly, a folder is a valid Category for a "shuffle unit", so as long as the albums are properly organized into folders, a "folder shuffle" is effectively an "album shuffle". There is still the matter of having it play the tracks within each folder in the correct order (especially in some of the odd cases mentioned above) but that I assume is easily done once I know how to tag the tracks properly on the desktop computer before migrating to the phone and PA.

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48 minutes ago, mwalimu said:

If I read some of the other help files on this site correctly, a folder is a valid Category for a "shuffle unit", so as long as the albums are properly organized into folders, a "folder shuffle" is effectively an "album shuffle".

An album unit, as you say, is best fortified with identical "album" names in metadata and identical "album artist" metadata.

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You can navigate and play entirely by folder content if you wish, and also shuffle by folder (which could include nested subfolders if you wish, with various shuffle variants). There are many sorting options for organising folder content, but I tend to use path/filename organisation for exactly the reason you describe in that not all of my folders are 100% based on one album's songs. Filename (usually just named as "Track# - Title - Artist") sorting allows me to edit extra numeric prefixes if I want to get even more precise control.

For Albums library grouping (if you want to tweak the tags) make sure the Album name tag and the Album Artist tag are matched for every file that you wish to include as part of one 'album'. The Track Artist tag can then vary within one album if you wish (for compilations, collections, etc).

Oh, and folder.jpg images (if present) are recognised for displaying thumbnails/cover art for folder/file playback where there are no embedded or downloaded images.

Have a read through some of the Guides and FAQs to get a better idea of how it works:

Andre

 

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