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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone -

I have been wrestling with what may seem like a small problem. It's not a show-stopper, but it sure is annoying! It makes one feature of the entertainment system useless to me. I have a 2013 Pro4x with the non-navigation head unit.

When I plug a USB stick in, the head unit sorts the files in what seems like a random order. The truck owner's manual says they are sorted in date sequence, but that is demonstrably not true. I wrote a bash script that sets the file dates to a known sequence, but the head unit STILL shows them in some other order.

For pop songs I guess this is not such a big deal. I like classical music, though. The movements of a symphony or piano sonata or opera MUST be played in the right sequence, else the music makes no sense at all. It's even worse if movement from several compositions get mixed up!

What's the deal here? Has anyone investigated this in detail? Does the head unit really sort by date, or is that just a typo in the manual?

What I would like is to have the files sorted by filename. The scheme I use for ripping files sets the track number as the first two characters of the filename, so sorting by filename automagically puts tracks in the right order.

I am also annoyed that the head unit only knows about mp3 and wav formats. Maybe I should just continue doing what I have been for the last four years ... plug my digital music player into the aux port. That works well but has an annoying number of wires to hook up. It also does not use the steering wheel controls.

Replacing the head unit is not an option for me. Too much money, too much work, and zero guarantee that it would do things any different.

Bill Gee
 

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I sort my music by Album, and have the songs played in LP order. Playing them back on my PC was fine.
When I had my Pioneer headunit in- I quickly learned that playback order was all over the place when playing back by Album. It was my first intro to USB stick music. You may need to create Playlists and sort within those too.

It may not be needed with ALL headunits, but there is a program you should use when you write music to your USB Stick- whether by Album Folder or Playlist. After searching for my problem- playback jumbled order, I found reference to a program called Drivesort. There was also a quick set of instruction as to what options to tick and how to use it. In its File Manager inteface- you will see some weird symbols(~, etc) as well as compressed names, but once I added music, I fired up Drivesort(once I had correct options set), it took a bit to read all my directories. I clicked Sort and Save, and it took roughly 10 minutes to resort through all directories. My USB Stick seems to work in a number of vehicles- that way I wanted it to.

Drivesort is just a .exe executable file that you need to launch from within Windows Explorer. Once you have set options for your own sorting needs, Drivesort will save those option upon closing. The next time using it- point it to USB Stick Drive, sort and save.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Chris -

Hmmm..... I run Linux, so a Windows program does not help me any. I wrote a bash program which will assign timestamps to the files such that sorting by either file name or file date/time gives the same result.

Playlists... Does the factory head unit support playlists? If so, it is not documented in the owner's manual. Do you know the filename format and the format of data within the file?

Thanks - Bill Gee
 

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Update -

Chris's reply got me to thinking. Dang! I hate when that happens! :)

The owner's manual does not actually say that music files are sorted by date. It says the playback order is the order they were written by the writing software (page 4-39). I assumed that "writing software" meant the software that created the MP3 file. That is not correct. "Writing software" is the software the copied the file to the device.

Chris mentioned an application called DriveSort. Even though it is a Windows program and I run Linux, I took a look at what it does. DriveSort works by rewriting the directory entries on a file system so that they are in alphabetical order. This is normally invisible since most directory listing programs (dir, ls, Nautilus, Windows Exporer etc.) sort the filenames before presenting them to the user. The Nissan head unit does not do that. It reads filenames strictly in the sequence they appear in the directory on the file system.

A bit of searching found a Linux program called "fatsort" which will do the same work as DriveSort. I ran it across my USB stick, then tried it in the truck. Voila! The head unit plays the files in the correct sequence now.

I won't go into rant mode here about how lame the head unit software is. This solution is easy to run, fast and it gets the result I want. Hopefully this thread will help someone else.

Bill Gee
 
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Glad you got it sorted out!
When I put my Pioneer in my Frontier and began using USB Stick- my first set of music directories was all out of order- play wise. I had never used a Stick to playback music previously, as my vehicles never had the hardware. I have no idea how the newer factory systems work. Even now on my Colorado- I still need to use Drivesort to play music files in proper order of LP.

Chris
 

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hello,

i only seen your thread today (nov 7) and i have the same pb with my pro-4x 2014 .
and when i read the manual , i did not believe it.
and it means, that each time you want to add music on the usb drive , you need to rewrite everything again in order !!!

sometime you would like to take the engineer who wrote the software and the one who accepted it at Nissan and bash their heads together !!!!

i had $25 Chinese mp3 player doing it right ..
 

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no way to show folder structure?

After reading this thread, I used DriveSort to sort the music on my thumb drive. But the result isn’t anywhere near a usable interface.

My file structure is genre>artist>album>song, and I would like to be able to make use of that structure in the truck. But all I get when I plug in the thumb drive is a list of albums. After running DriveSort, they are at least ordered in a predictable way: alphabetically by artist in genre 1, then alphabetically by artist in genre 2, etc. But it does not show the genres or the artist names – only the album names.

Is there no way to make it recognize and show folders as they exist on the drive? I understand the ordering issue – that it orders based on creation date. That’s what DriveSort corrects. But that does nothing to make the folder hierarchy visible as far as I can tell. Is there any way to make this happen? If not, it renders the USB virtually useless for music, unless you have very few albums on the drive or if you have no desire to locate a specific album.

One workaround I was able to make work is renaming every individual album using the artist name first in the name of the album. But that will take quite a while to go through every album to do this. So it's not very practical.

By the way, I have the non-navigation head unit, which from what I can tell makes a difference. I think the USB interface on the navigation head unit does allow folder browsing.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi jschmitt -

There are two more problems with how the head unit handles USB sticks. You may have either - or both! - of them.

1) There is a limit of 500 files on the device. According to the manual, if there are more than 500 files then anything after the 500th is ignored.

2) There is a limit of 3 directory levels. Your description uses four.

I have not tested either of these limits. If they really exist, then the head unit software is lamer than lame. There is no excuse for these limts to exist. As someone else pointed out, a $25 digital music player does not have these limits.

I have the non-navigation head unit.

Rather than deal with these problems, I have gone back to using my digital music player plugged in to the AUX port. It is a bit clunky to have wires running all over the place, but it gives me unlimited storage and the ability to play files encoded in something better than MP3 - which is dang near anything!

Bill Gee
 

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After reading this thread, I used DriveSort to sort the music on my thumb drive. But the result isn’t anywhere near a usable interface.

My file structure is genre>artist>album>song, and I would like to be able to make use of that structure in the truck. But all I get when I plug in the thumb drive is a list of albums. After running DriveSort, they are at least ordered in a predictable way: alphabetically by artist in genre 1, then alphabetically by artist in genre 2, etc. But it does not show the genres or the artist names – only the album names.

Is there no way to make it recognize and show folders as they exist on the drive? I understand the ordering issue – that it orders based on creation date. That’s what DriveSort corrects. But that does nothing to make the folder hierarchy visible as far as I can tell. Is there any way to make this happen? If not, it renders the USB virtually useless for music, unless you have very few albums on the drive or if you have no desire to locate a specific album.

One workaround I was able to make work is renaming every individual album using the artist name first in the name of the album. But that will take quite a while to go through every album to do this. So it's not very practical.

By the way, I have the non-navigation head unit, which from what I can tell makes a difference. I think the USB interface on the navigation head unit does allow folder browsing.
I'm a software engineer, but I don't work on cars, and I don't use USB storage for music. That said, if the head unit isn't programmed to recognize the full directory structure, there's almost certainly nothing you can do to make it. That's the kind of think that is written into the head unit's code because the developer was time constrained and/or lazy and didn't have the time or inclination to write additional code for handling complex directory structures.
 

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Hi jschmitt -
1) There is a limit of 500 files on the device. According to the manual, if there are more than 500 files then anything after the 500th is ignored.
Well there is a limit, but it's more than 500. Mine recognized the first 114 albums, which is at least 1,000 songs. That would be enough to make a thumb drive convenient, even if I needed several of them to contain all my music.

2) There is a limit of 3 directory levels. Your description uses four.
Yeah, that occurred to me, so I tried fewer levels. Still no joy.

I have not tested either of these limits. If they really exist, then the head unit software is lamer than lame. There is no excuse for these limts to exist.
No kidding about being lame. I just bought the truck in July, and I love pretty much everything else about it. But the USB music player is beyond awful.

As someone else pointed out, a $25 digital music player does not have these limits...
Rather than deal with these problems, I have gone back to using my digital music player plugged in to the AUX port. It is a bit clunky to have wires running all over the place, but it gives me unlimited storage and the ability to play files encoded in something better than MP3 - which is dang near anything!
I don't have one to try, but I'd be willing to buy one if it will do what I want. I have two questions. First, does it all you to control song selection via the head unit (complete with song titles), or does that have to be done on the music player itself? And second, you mentioned wires - can the USB port in the console be used to power the player, since the aux port is separate from it? If so, that wouldn't be too bad, with everything hidden in the console.

Thanks for your help!
 

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Turns out that renaming my albums to artist-album doesn't take as long as I thought it would. I decided to just do it while watching football or something, when I wouldn't be getting much else done anyway. Then I'm putting different genres on their own 32GB thumb drive. After that I use DriveSort (which is very simple to use) to make sure the head unit reads them in alphabetical order. This is a little time-consuming up front, but adding more albums later will be fairly quick and simple.

So while I do think it's silly that the head unit cannot display the filing structure, it's not really as bad as I made it out to be at first.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Interesting! I am going to have to load up my stick with more files just to check out those limits. I was looking at page 4-40 in the owner's manual to see those limits.

I think the steering wheel controls can be used on some iPod devices. Not tested by me since I don't (and won't) own one. Maybe someone else can comment on this. Page 4-64 in the owner's manual.

My digital music player is a Sansa Clip+. It is very small, hardly larger than a thick matchbook. I have had it for many years. It has a very well-regarded DAC, and it can run Rockbox as alternate software. With Rockbox it can play dang near any music file format there is.

I found a cheap mount for it in the Walmart clearance aisle. The mount clamps to the dash vent. It took a bit of invention to get the Sansa to attach. Since the Sansa is very light, it does not have much effect on how the dash vents are aimed. I can position the Sansa so that it display and controls are easy to see and reach while driving.

There is one short cable connecting the Sansa headphone jack to the AUX in on the front panel of the head unit and a USB cable for power running over to a charge adapter in the 12 volt power port next to the glove box.

phatB has observed a file count limit near 5000. I would not be surprised if the limit is actually 4096 since that is a power of 2. His experience certainly contradicts the owner's manual! If the manual is wrong on that item, what else might it be wrong on??

My truck does not have an AUX input in the center console. If I plug the Sansa into the USB jack in the console, the head unit will recognize it as a USB stick drive. Nothing plays since I don't normally use either MP3 or WAV file format, but it is recognized. The steering wheel controls do nothing with it.

The owner's manual (page 4-70) says that some Bluetooth streaming audio devices can be recognized. I did pair the head unit with my cell phone (a Samsung flip phone) and it works including steering wheel controls. The hands-free audio quality for phone calls is dreadful. I have not tried pairing the head unit with a device that can feed MP3 files. Someday I will take my laptop and see if it will pair up, just as an experiment.

Bill Gee
 
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