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Author Topic: Is there a painless way to correctly tag a massive library of messy MP3s?  (Read 5078 times)
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TerraEsperZ
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« on: September 09, 2010, 06:42:57 PM »

Let's just say that after a year of thinking about buying an MP3 player, I finally broke down and bought an iPod Classic 160 Go. I'm not an Apple fan by any mean, but I figured that it was relatively cheap for the storage space, and I could get double the warranty time by buying where I did with my mother's credit card.

My biggest fear was actually having to deal with iTunes, as being a long time Windows user, I'm used to micromanaging my files instead of letting programs handle everything themselves. How would an idiot-proof program mesh with a very hands-on user? Not very well at all it turns out. I simply have way too many music files that aren't tagged properly so when I tried adding everything I had in iTunes, the resulting mess was completely unusable.

I'm now faced with having to tag close to 10 000 files (in addition to converting all the files that my iPod will not read like OGG, WV and WMA, thank you very much Apple) and from reading around the net, the whole process feels anything but straightforward. I'd love it if I could just start a program that would scan all my files and automatically and accurately tag everything following some universal standards but the few programs I tried were pretty bad when left alone to tag even a simple album.

Now granted, I own a lot of illegal music though in my defense, I've bought in MP3 or CD form everything that could be at a reasonable price; but since a large part of my collection is made of video game soundtracks that are for the most part expensive imports, yeah I've downloaded a lot of stuff.

Anyway, this leads me to my main point, which is that I need help for a few things:

1) First, does anyone know of a program that makes tagging MP3 easy if not automatically? And by tag I obviously mean ID3 tag.

2) Is there some sort of standard for tagging and naming the files? Most programs, if told to manage the files themselves will name the files with the track number and name, and place them in a directory with the album name which is itself in a directory with the artist name. But what do I do with soundtracks where there are more than one artist, or where there is only one but being less important than the album I *don't* want it to be placed in a folder with the artist's name? And how do I best use the Genre tag if I want to keep track of sub-genres like a "Soundtrack" which is "Techno" style?

I'm literally completely lost as I usually am when faced with complex and intricate information processes (like whenever I have to fill a government form or insurance claim which usually makes me want to scream in frustration because everything is needlessly ambiguous). As it is, my iPod is useless because there's very little music I can put on it without having to do lots of editing.

VGMaps posters, I need you Cry
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 07:30:19 PM by TerraEsperZ » Logged

Current project that I really should try to finish:
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)
-Lilly Looking Through (PC)

Pending project:
-A ton of stuff that will never be finished
JonLeung
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2010, 07:26:12 PM »

I didn't really read your long post, to be honest, but a program I use is "ID3-TagIT 3".  I don't know if there are better versions; probably at this point, surely, since I got that a while ago.

It can mass delete or mass write all that metadata stuff within multiple MP3s fairly easy.  If you have a bunch of MP3s in a folder all named a certain way (like, for instance "(Artist) - (Song)" with a "(space)(hyphen)(space)" in each one, or any consistent string of characters, really) you can use ID3-TagIT to generate the metadata from the filename.  So if I don't care about what album a bunch of songs are from, or what track numbers they have, or what genre they are, I can wipe all that info, then take the name of the artist/group and song and it puts that in (minus the hyphen).  Then I hit save if I'm sure I like what I just did and it saves only the info that has changed.

Going back and reading part of your post I do understand the frustration of things that fall into multiple genres, or when songs feature more than one artist.  I don't even deal with the genre tag, really.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 07:27:31 PM by JonLeung » Logged
Maxim
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2010, 12:37:06 AM »

Get MusicBrainz:

http://musicbrainz.org/

It analyses your MP3s acoustically (so your own MP3 rips will be recognised), matches it to their (huge) DB, and tags the files for you. Also, their app is called "Picard"...

As for arranging stuff: the usual way is to use a program with a database (Winamp, iTunes, WMP?) and use the DB to find the music instead of browsing the disk. For soundtracks and compilations, you can slice by genre to find them and you can also assign "album artist" tags to files so that you avoid using the actual artist as a filter when looking for albums.
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LDK
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2010, 09:43:43 AM »

Try to google if your iPod Clasic can run custom firmware called RockBox and all your problems are solved. Rockbox can play almost every audio codec (Flac, OGG, WMA included) and can read files and folders directly from memory. I had this firmware at iPod Mini (RIP) and now it's in my Sansa MP3 player.

As dor taging MP3 files I used WMP's "Search album info" function ion each album with combination of forcing some type of information (genre for example).

As for naming folders it's up to you, how you name it. Synchronization software will rename and sort files by itself when transfer to your iPod.But for example I have two main folders - Albums and Soundtrack. In Albums folder every album is named: <interpret> - <year> - <album>. For example:
Prodigy (The) - 1992 - Experience
Prodigy (The) - 1994 - Music For The Jilted Generation

In soundtrack folder it's little different:
<movie/game name> - <year> - <interpret>
Assassins Creed - 2007 - Jesper Kyd
Assassins Creed 2 - 2009 - Jesper Kyd
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TerraEsperZ
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2010, 11:39:49 AM »

Maxim: I already tried MusicBrainz but the acoustic analysis apparently takes a long time so I didn't try that, and being such a newbie in MP3 management I felt quickly overwhelmed by the program and didn't spend too much time with it. But I'll give it another try this weekend.

LDK: The inability of installing custom firmware and especially RockBox on the iPod Classic starting with the 6th generation (the latest and the one I bought) because of proprietary encryption is precisely why it took me such a long time before buying one. I figured I'd bite the bullet and convert all my other files but it seems it will be some time before I even reach that point.

Thanks for the renaming suggestion as well as keeping albums and soundtracks separate. This still looks like it will be a lot of work (422 folders so about that many albums) but at least I know a little better where I'm going thank to your help guys.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 11:41:09 AM by TerraEsperZ » Logged

Current project that I really should try to finish:
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)
-Lilly Looking Through (PC)

Pending project:
-A ton of stuff that will never be finished
TerraEsperZ
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2010, 06:47:28 PM »

I tried three different programs today and it would appear that no amount of automation will do the trick, at least as far as renaming is concerned; something always ends up being messed up. What I'd need is a program that would ultimately offer me to do a final edit in how I want the final folder structure and filenames to be, but so far it's always something you need to set up separately in the options and going back to change it with every album is just a chore...

*sigh* This is giving me a real headache...

*EDIT*

Well, I've managed to tag about three dozen albums correctly so far without too much hassle using MusicBrainz. Can't wait to get to the videogame soundtracks and the *real* fun...
« Last Edit: September 12, 2010, 11:55:49 PM by TerraEsperZ » Logged

Current project that I really should try to finish:
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)
-Lilly Looking Through (PC)

Pending project:
-A ton of stuff that will never be finished
TerraEsperZ
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« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2012, 12:13:23 AM »

Well, it's been two years since I've posted here and man, was I ever a whiny little snot about this whole tagging thing...

Why reply to such an old thread yo might ask? Well, it turns out that Rockbox has been unofficially supporting the iPod Classic for almost a year! I spent a good part of the day just installing it manually (since it's not supported by the Rockbox installer yet) and copying music back to it since the hard drive had to be formatted first.

And WOW is it ever so much *simpler* to use! Now, I'll admit that tagging my files got faster and easier with time using MusicBrainz Picard and MP3tag but it was still a hassle whenever a friend would share music with me and I'd need to go through the whole Tag -> iTunes process before being able to listen to it. Now? I just drag the files to my iPod and I can listen to anything I want easily by simply browsing the file structure. I know pretty much every non-Apple player already works like that, but it just feels so good to be free of Apple's restrictions!

Plus, Rockbox also supports NSF(e), GBS, SPC and VGM/VGZ files directly instead of having to convert them all into MP3s and losing that much disk space.

In short, Rockbox rules and Apple sucks. But we all knew that already (unless you're a dirty Apple fanatic, in which case your opinion doesn't matter Wink).
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Current project that I really should try to finish:
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)
-Lilly Looking Through (PC)

Pending project:
-A ton of stuff that will never be finished
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