Continuing on with my re-installation of my software I deciding to reinstall my MP3 Tagging software so I could tag some music I downloaded before moving it over to the Media PC. I downloading a program I have used for a while now and I even paid for it since it was the only thing that worked reliably at the time of purchase. The software is Magic MP3 Tagger which has worked great for me in the past.
I reinstalled it, went to the site to register my download so it would unlock the full version and I started tagging some music that was already tagged fairly well. What I noticed was that it was tagging albums that were nearly tagged perfectly just not to my preference and totally screwing them up. I attempted to tweak the settings for around an hour but after screwing up the tags on about 10 albums I called it quits and began searching for something else.
I didnt care at this point if it was free or pay software and started my search on Google, Download.com, Softpedia and then looking at specific reviews based on the software I found. My normal routine is to weed down the selection of software I am searching for to 3-5 options which is much easier to manage and it’s much more tolerable to read reviews when you already know the software is good but what isn’t good about it.
The things I was looking for in a MP3 tagging utility was a program that would take a folder that had either a complete album or various songs and fix the tags without much user intervention, When the process is complete I want to verify the results then have the program rename the actual file names while moving them into a folder structure that is Artist/Album/Songs. I also like the ability to change how the file name looks and my personal preference is Artist-Album-Track#-Title. Things that would be a huge plus are the ability to automatically grab artwork, lyrics and insert the correct genre’s.
I found several selections and one of the original things that turned me on to Magic MP3 Tagger in the first place was the MusicBrainz plugin.
If you don’t already know Musicbrainz is a plugin that will search the internet based on current tags, file title, and even fingerprint to find the correct information about your MP3’s.
I searched Download.com based on most popular, total downloads, user ratings and CNET rating. I found a couple that seemed to remain at the top and those were MP3 Tag Tools, MP3nity and Jaikoz. I decided to download and try all 3. I also decided to visit the MusicBrainz website and found they had their own Tagger called Picard and Jaikoz was appearantly using the MusicBrainz plugin as well.
I found the MP3 Tag Tools to be very lackluster and just wasn’t really what I was looking for in a MP3 tagging utility. I wanted something simple that just works and doesn’t require a ton of tweaking. It is nice to have advanced options and control when you need it but I would rather it be there and not actually need to use it.
I tried Jaikoz next but since it wasn’t free I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it. I didn’t care much for the layout of the program and the method for achieving my end result seemed tediuos but maybe that was just me. Overall the program was as good as it should be for a pay program and up until this point it was the best I tried, but before I got to comfortable with it I decided to give the other free offerings a try.
I installed Picard next and exactly as I thought it would be was how it was. What I mean is that I was expecting a program that only showcases what MusicBrainz is capable of and not much else. The program worked great for gathering information and retagging. one thing I really love about it is that you can load up a folder with several albums and it will actually show the album in the right pane for each track you have in the left pane and as the songs are processes it will check off the tracks which you have in the right pane so you can see if any are missing from the album. Awesome but not very feature rich, if your looking for a strict MP3 Tagger only piece of software then I highly recommend Picard by MusicBrainz.
What really threw me for a loop here was that Picard seemed to be working fine while Magic MP3 Tagger (built on the same engine) was not working correctly at all. I downloaded the latest version of both and made sure to exclude them in my firewall so they could retreive information. one thing I did notice was that Picard took much longer to fingerprint the songs compaired to Magic MP3 Tagger which likely means that Magic was having some issues connecting to the database but I didn’t care enough to figure it out.
Last on my list was MP3nity which I had high hopes for. After installation I imediatly noticed this is slightly buggy on Windows 7 64bit. I had the program seem to stop responding several times although I could still maximize and minimize the program. I also noticed it does not like MP4 audio files which I think was part of the problem. At first I thought the program was the greatest thing since the iPhone for MP3’s but was annoyed by the amount of clicks and menus I had to go through to find the artist on the web, get the tags, get the album artwork, get the lyrics, rename the files then finally save to a new directory with specified name format.
After completing 4 albums in this manner I noticed a macro button on the menu and started playing around with creating my own. I was able to create a macro that would do everything aforementioned with one single click. It was great but there is still one minor flaw I must mention. If the album can not be found on Amazon or FreeDB (the 2 databases the program uses) the program throws an error and will continue the macro while doing its best to process the remaining commands. What this leaves you with is an unpredictable output if the album can’t be found. Because of this I found it best to first click the Web button to make sure it can find the Artist / Album and then proceed with my macro. Sometimes it’s just a simple typo that throws the program off and can be corrected easily. Other times I need to fire up Picard for a more thurough search on the album and as a last resort I will manually edit the tags in bulk on the album and then allow MP3nity to output the filename / folder based on my tags.
So my final verdict is MP3nity will replace Magic MP3 tagger on my machine but I will also keep Picard around since it’s a rather light install and seems to be a great companion to MP3nity. What would be peanut butter to jelly is if MP3nity built the MusicBrainz engine into it’s program and allowed you to specify which search you would like to run on the MP3’s. The options would be Amazon, FreeDB, MusicBrainz or any combination of the three. Well until then can dream can’t we.