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Maximum Number of Songs on iPod Classic?

Discussion in 'Other iPods' started by Mark Zimmer, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer New Member

    Although the literature for the iPod Classic 160 GB (last generation) talks about 40,000 songs being added, it's not clear to me that's actually possible. I have a large classical collection set up under Stan Brown's Taming Itunes for Classical Music method, and with all the large cheap classical boxes coming out, my collection has gotten pretty enormous. My iPod Classic 160GB isn't anywhere near full---probably 2/3 full since I have everything at 128kbps, but when I get close to 30,000 "songs" (actually movements in my case but the distinction shouldn't matter), it starts crapping out. It locks up more and more, and recently I had to reformat the drive to get it to work at all. The same thing happens with my secondary iPod Classic, so it's probably not a mechanical or HDD problem.

    Using Google, I found this forum, which suggests that there's a hard limit of 2^15 songs (a bit over 30,000)--or at least there was, since it's from a few years ago :


    They're talking about modded rather than stock iPods, but it also sounds like a limitation of the iPod software itself. Can anyone verify this? Is anyone successfully using more than 30,000 songs on a 160GB Classic? I know Kirk also has a massive classical collection too, so I'd like to know what limits he's pushing, but anyone else's input is certainly welcome.

    Along the same lines, is there an upper limit to playlists and smart playlists? I saw something that suggested the cap was somewhere near 20,000 but I can't remember where I saw that. One of my not-recently-played playlists is in that neighborhood, so that could also be causing my problems. I am going to do some experimentation as I rebuild this iPod, and maybe will add 15,000 or so song limits to my smart playlists just to be safe, but if someone has already run into this issue and found a workaround, I'd appreciate knowing so I don't have to reinvent this wheel.
    Alduchaney likes this.
  2. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Apple calculated that 40,000 number based on 128 kbps 4-minute songs. Depending on the size of the artwork you've added to files, that number could be greatly reduced. 2 to the 15th power is 32,768; I don't think there's any such hard limit, and some of the people in that forum thread say that they have gone beyond that limit. It's worth noting that there is a limit with Sonos, of around 40,000 tracks, but if your music has a lot of metadata, the limit is lower. It's not a track number limit, but a database limit for metadata.

    This said, there could be a playlist limit, and one that is hit because of smart playlists with lots of tracks. I know that smart playlists can slow down iTunes; they might also have an effect on iPods. But I've never come across any hard and fast numbers.
    Alduchaney likes this.
  3. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer New Member

    Hm, interesting. Any idea what the database limit for metadata is?

    How many "songs" do you carry on your iPod?
  4. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Songs says that the limit is 65,000 tracks, but, for me, it kicked in at around 40,000, because much of my music is classical, and has more metadata in tags (i.e., it's not short song names, but longer movement/work names).

    I have about 4000 tracks on my iPhone; that's my daily device. My iPod classic has around 12,000, but I don't use it often.
  5. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer New Member

    I suppose comments count against that; I've been adding a fair amount of comments (cast of operas, etc) so that's probably gorging my database as well.
  6. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Are you talking about an iPod or Sonos? I know Sonos has this issue, but the iPod certainly does not. BTW, I recharged my iPod classic, and it's got 13,000 tracks, with 21 GB free.
  7. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer New Member

    Talking about the iPod; I have no idea what Sonos is. I limited my largest smart playlists to 15,000 tracks, selected by album, and it seems to be more stable so far, with 25,000 total tracks. I think I will break my massive smart playlist I generally use for rebuilding (I didn't use it on this rebuilding) into several 15,000-track pieces and see if that lets me push the 30,000 cap without getting all weird.

    If you had told the me of 30 years ago I would carry this library of classical music around in my pocket, he would have said you were nuts. These are wonderful things.
  8. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Right? That's how I felt when i got the first iPod: I was able to carry tons of classical music, plus all my Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan recordings, in my pocket, to listen to at any time. Crazy.
  9. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer New Member

    Even with all playlists limited to no more than 15,000 items, there seems to be some kind of cap of the total tracks on the ipod. If I have 26,734 tracks, it works fine on both of my iPod Classics. If the track count goes up over 29,000, they will play for a while, but touching any 'key' other than play/pause makes it starts rebooting over and over. Hard disk check confirms both are fine. Weird. I guess I just need to keep the total number of track at around 26-27,000 total. I can't explain the folks who seem to be able to beyond 30,000 but maybe it's the combination of about a dozen smart playlists, each with thousands of tracks, and the high quantity of total tracks that's making mine choke.
  10. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    I'd really be surprised if the limit was the number of tracks. I have an old iPod classic that I dropped once while the HD was spinning. The HD got damaged, and I can put about 15 GB on it out of 40 GB. It works fine if I don't put more than that on the device. Checking the disk doesn't show any errors, weirdly.

    I suspect it's the playlists that are borking things. Can you try syncing the music but not the playlists and see what happens?
  11. Laurent Lehmann

    Laurent Lehmann New Member

    I've got 22,000 classical music tracks on my 160 GB iPod classic. 95% of those tracks are written by JS Bach, which are sorted by various playlists on my iTunes, some dynamic, by performer or date, and some static, according to the BWV catalogue. My iPod crashed repeatedly after I tried syncing all my static BWV playlists, but it works just fine if I limit myself to a very small subset - and when it crashed I had to reset it and sync everything again and again, so I haven't actually tried to find out how many lists it can actually manage.
    So, yeah, I think the limit is more in the way the iPod classic manages playlists than in the number of tracks it can store.
  12. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Interesting. Both that 95% of the tracks are Bach, and that playlists crashed it. :)
  13. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer New Member

    I did some more futzing and I realized one of my smart playlists (Beethoven and the Romantics) had crept up over 17,000 items. I changed it to eliminate opera and moved that to its own playlist, bringing Beethoven and the Romantics down to around 12,000 items. That seems to have fixed things....I've been gently nudging the total number of 'songs' up to about 31,150 without any problem for the last few weeks.
  14. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer New Member

    I've gotten the Classic to accept up to 34,000 tracks now without choking. One playlist that I use for restocking the Classic makes it crash completely. I have Restocking A, which is classical up to 15,000 tracks by album (which for me is a work). I have Restocking B, which is 15,000 more classical tracks by album that are not on Restocking A. The one that kills it is Restocking C, which is all the rest of the classical tracks (around 5000) that are not on Restocking A or B. I think that it may be trying to source A and B; that would result in a playlist of all 35k, which is clearly too much. Would turning off Live Updating for these three playlists prevent that behavior, do you think? Or should I just leave C out of the picture? I would try it but it takes four days to rebuild every time I Bork it. I really don't need live updating for these lists, I don't think, though I can't say I am sure exactly what that feature does other than update played count.
  15. kirk

    kirk Administrator Staff Member

    Live Updating certainly will slow things down, and could cause crashes on iOS devices and iPods. They are quite processor intensive.

    Try creating a manual playlist from your playlist C and syncing that. Once you've done that - if it works - try then syncing the smart playlist C, which should work since all the tracks will be on the iPod.
  16. Alduchaney

    Alduchaney New Member

    I have what I believe may be a similar issue in that my Classic crashes and I have to restore when I add "too many" playlists.

    Is that a possibility that there are too many playlists and/or too much nesting (folders)?

    I am using a modified ipod with 480 GB SSD.

    The battery dies when it crashes and takes FOREVER (days) to charge up enough and be usable again. (The heat generated is frightful.)
    This is despite the iPod indicating that the battery is fully charged prior to any crash.

    Additionally I CAN successfully transfer all songs and podcasts, audio books, etc. before syncing in playlists a little at a time.
    When that process is finished I press play on a track and get all indications it is playing, but the time counter does not advance, there is no sound, and eventually the iPod advances to the next track to do the same thing. (nothing)

    I have tried charging and re-syncing, but removing playlists seems to be the only thing that allows me to avoid restoring and starting again.

  17. rockydennis

    rockydennis New Member

    I know that this topic is more than a year old, but the limit of songs for the iPod isn't hard set. There is data about the tracks stored on the RAM on the motherboard - that's set in stone, even if you've modified the iPod for more storage. For the iPod Classic 160GB, the limit is ~50,000 songs. But that number varies depending what's stored in the tags - if you have a lot of large images in the tags, the number you can store may be much less. You can read more about it here:
  18. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer New Member

    Interesting. I do have a lot of large images in album covers, so that may be why I can get nowhere near the 50k limit. I'm back down to just keeping about 15,000-17,000 songs on the iPod Classic since it's just too unreliable once I get much past 20k -- crashes, malfunctions, sync issues etc. It's still a ginormous amount of music, but not what I was hoping to get it to do. It's a shame that Apple abandoned the iPod; with more modern tech it could really be something else.

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