Wow usually I’m just blogging on things that I’ve read at other places, this is news I actually discovered on my own!!
It stems from the fact that I always go through a certain process to prep my new music to be added to my music library. I did a full write up on the process at last.fm a few years ago; one of these day’s I’ll copy and upload it here. Basically I tag using Musicbrainz to get the right album, track, and artist tags. Then move it into a holding folder where I listen to it, put an appropriate genre and sub-genre, and a rating.
The problem is that when you edit the ID3 information in WMP12 it rewrites the ID3 header and corrupts all the non-standard ID3 tags on the MP3.
The metadata for MP3s are held in an ID3 header that is slapped onto the front of the file. All the artist, track, and album names are contained in here, including album art files if you want them. In addition to the standard ID3 tags there is the ability for third party companies to append their own tags into the system. Many programs put their own data in these non-standard tags, sometimes to put their own unique identifier tags on the file or with some they can actually put data that can be read by a player to dynamically change the songs as its played (typical with programs that change the track gain).
However many programs abuse the ID3 header. The worst I encountered was an expensive piece of DJ software that calculated the Beats Per Minute and put this info into the header so their software could quickly synch tracks. The problems is that it bullied the other tags, removing them and replacing all data with its own as if it were the only music player you’d ever need.
Luckily after corrupting my whole music library I was able to reload from a backup then get my money refunded for their bogus software. That also lead to my current methods of tagging and storing music; when you have over 40k songs all individually tagged and rated over the last 13 years you don’t want all that info wiped out by a poorly designed piece of software.
All through WMP9 to 11 there was no problem with the way Windows deals with ID3 tags. If you made a change to a tag it would edit just that tag and leave everybody else’s tags alone. But something changed with the new WMP version that is included in Windows 7 x64 (probably x32 as well).
Because now simply adding a rating in Windows Media Player in Windows 7 will screw up all the non-standard tags for the file, in my case erasing the Musicbrainz unique identifier code so it’s a pain in the ass to update tags later down the line.
I used MP3Tag to view the ID3 tags. The happens for ANY ID3 change, it doesn’t matter if you change the rating or the track name which is a standard ID3 field.
After some back and forth with Microsoft support I was told that this is a known issue and that hopefully if will be fixed in the future (I’m not holding my breath). And as Microsoft is promoting it’s Zune player and Media Center more heavily I don’t think WMP will be much of a priority. Too bad too, because I really like Windows Media Player better than iTunes, WinAmp, and foobar.
And finally to rub salt into the wound Musicbrainz currently has a bug where it erases all ID3 tags when it writes its own regardless of it’s setting to disable “erase existing tags”. Musicbrainz caught and reported the bug a year ago but new revisions come about as often as Windows media Player is updated. So you can’t work around the problem by doing one before the other. If you tag in Musicbrainz the WMP rating is gone. If you put a rating in WMP then the Musicbrainz UID is gone.
Hopefully one or the other bugs will soon be fixed and the problem eliminated but if you make any tag changes in Windows Media Player be aware that and special third party applications that use customer tags may have their data lost.
Update: Link to Musicbrainz bug report added. Thanks for the reminder!
I used to be a big lala user when they were a CD trading service. I got a TON of CDs in my now pretty extensive collection by buying interesting looking bargain bin CDs, matching up with a lala user that wanted them, then trading for a CD I wanted.
Now all my trading is mostly on Swap-A-CD and MusicBoomerang but not nearly as much as I traded on lala.
What’s interesting is that lala fueled my collector nature and got me a to go out an purchase 1000+ physical CDs, the ones that music labels make all their money off. The ones that are steadily decreasing now because online track sales though iTunes and it’s brethren are outpacing them.
How ironic that lala that once touted itself as a method for keeping physical music moving and supporting artists in that way is potentially getting into bed with iTunes the force that many people attribute with destroying the age of the physical CD.
Just food for thought.
Now that I finally have my latest Cisco Certification passed I have more time to get back to recreation related posts so I can focus on some music a bit more. Although I was tipped to this from a tech blog [gizmodo] so I guess it’s a crossover.
4 Years of careful digital re-mastering of the Beatles master tapes is finally coming to fruition (no, not a remix like the Love album).
The albums have been remastered by a team of EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London, using original vintage analog equipment and the latest digital conversion systems. After a long time of initial testing, the digital transfer of the original analogue master tapes was done—one track at a time—using a Prism A-D converter and Pro Tools operating at 24-bit with 192kHz resolution. The tapes didn’t have any defects, but they were covered with dust, which had to be carefully removed from the playback equipment after each theme was digitized.
The teams—Paul Hicks, Sean Magee with Guy Massey and Steve Rooke for the mono albums, and Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Sam Okell with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee for the stereo ones—put extra care on keeping every single bit of detail from the original tapes intact, including electrical clicks, microphone pops, and even bad edits. The whole process was painfully long, four entire years from start to finish, with the teams obsessed with keeping the spirit and quality of the original recordings intact.
I won’t bother to get into the CD vs LP sound quality debate other than I prefer CDs. Oh hell with it-
It doesn’t matter that LPs are analog, the master tapes themselves are digital so at least one point of the recording process the sound is sampled from its original analog source.
LPs are Analog->Digital->Analog
CDs are Analog->Digital->Digital
Assuming that the CDs are created with the proper standards they can be more true to the original recording than LPs (less conversions of conversions). Which is a moot point because the speakers you play music through can’t react fast enough to reproduce a digital “sawtooth” signal; they naturally blur the digital sample wave back to a smooth analog wave anyway.
And never mind the fact that the LPs is such a delicate format that the very act of listening to an LP slowly destroys the sound quality; even the humidity in the air can affect needle and thus the sound coming from an LP.
On the other hand CD’s digitized info is identical every time it’s played, CDs have error correction algorithms that can remove (to a point) the effect of surface imperfections, environmental effects, and scratches. CDs are the best personal physical music storage medium available now (Let’s leave SACD, DVD, etc. out of this for simplicity).
Sorry. I’ve been through enough arguments with “Audiophiles” that I had to get that off my chest.
These new CD releases are going to be as accurate to the original recordings as possible. Imagine being able to own and listen to the Beatles entire history sounding exactly as they sounded when they were recorded at the studio. Plus the first 4 Beatles albums will be in CD Stereo for the first time! They say they had to do a bit of peak limiting on the stereo versions to keep the volume somewhat consistent but so long as they don’t blow the gain through the roof like most modern CDs I won’t mind a bit of consistency.
I’m also very curious how they will sound when compared to the 1981 MFSL releases that did essentially the same thing. Will the CD versions using 2009 technology compare or surpass LPs using 1980 technology?
Over the years I’ve owned and lost or traded most of the Beatles catalogue, and my parents still own their original LPs of Help! and Abbey Road. I think it’s time to get the complete set to keep for posterity’s sake so I’ll always have the complete works of the #1 most influential, and famous rock band of all time.
Amazon has the Stereo set up for pre-order, I’m sure the Mono version will follow soon.