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Beginners Guide To Tagging

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The ripping tools in BeginnersGuideToRipping will, given half a chance, automatically download information about your CD from an internet database (freedb, cddb) and populate the Tags (such as Artist, Album, Title and potentially many more) in your files.

But beware: occasionally you will find a CD that isn't already listed in the database (in which case you can do the decent thing - create the tags and then submit them for others to use). More often you will find subtle or not-so-subtle errors, which you should try to correct. Its especially irritating if you find you have several slightly different spellings of an Artist name for various albums.

If you listen to a lot of Classical music you will need to take special care - see BeginnersGuideToClassical.

To fix tagging errors after the event you will want a good tagging tool. Again, there are many, here are a few of the good ones:

  • EasyTAG - Windows/Mac/Linux/BSD (GTK based) - Free, Open Source
  • ExcelTagger - Windows - Free - Microsoft Excel addin that allows you to load, edit and save music tags from Excel
  • Ex Falso - Linux (also available from the Ubuntu and Debian repositories) - Free, Open Source - handles MP3, OGG, FLAC and more.
  • Foobar2000 - Windows - Free - Media player with a powerful yet simple tagging interface
  • Godfather - Windows - Free
  • ID3-TagIT - Windows - Free
  • JRiver Media Center - Windows - 30-day free trial, $40 thereafter.
  • JRiver Media Jukebox - Windows - Free (audio only)
  • Tag - Mac, free (GPL)
  • Media Rage - Mac, commercial
  • MusicBrainz - Windows/Mac/Linux - Free, Open Source - This is a moderated CD database and possibly the most accurate source of tags
  • MusicIP Mixer - Windows/Mac/Linux - Free for the basic version - not strictly a tagging tool, but has an easy interface allowing multi-select tag changes
  • Mp3tag - Windows (also works in Wine) - Free - Highly recommended - See SqueezeCenter-specific guide here.
  • mp3Tag Pro - Windows - 30-day free trial
  • Puddletag - Linux - lookalike for mp3tag but native on Linux
  • MP3 Tag Editor - Windows - 30-day free trial
  • Tag&Rename - Windows - 30-day free trial
  • kid3 - Linux - Free - Powerful id3 tagger designed for KDE on Linux (eg Kubuntu). Imports from gnudb.org, TrackType.org, MusicBrainz, Discogs & Amazon

See also these forum threads on library management and cataloguing tools.


Tag types

MP3 files store tag information ("metadata", or data about data) in "ID3" tags. See Wikipedia for a discussion on the differences between ID3v1 (old!) and ID3v2 (newer!). Note both types can be present in a file simultaneously.

With SqueezeCenter, it would be best to eliminate ID3v1 tags entirely, skip ID3v2.2 and use ID3v2.3 or ID3v2.4 alone. ID3v1 tags are limited to 30 characters. Your tagging program of choice may correctly display truncated titles, but it may instead display ID3v2 tag titles or even data from its own cache, and it may not let you know what it's displaying. SqueezeCenter attempts to use ID3v2 if both tag types are present, but with so many different tag types, you can get confused as to which ones your files have. If you have incorrect tag data that seems to persist after you correct it and rescan, look for ID3v1 tags and eliminate them.

Note that some portable devices do not support ID3v2.4 tags yet.

APEv2 tags can also be present in an MP3 along with the ID3 tag types, this further confuses matters. Only MP3Gain should write APEv2 tags - do not put text-based data in APEv2 tags.

FLAC and OGG files store tags in VORBIS comments. (Be careful, as FLAC files can contain VORBIS comments and ID3 tags at the same time. If at all possible delete all ID3 tags from the flac file. FLAC standard only guarantees that VORBIS comments will be read by any flac compliant program, while ID3 may be read by some but not by others.This has confused some people, who were modifying the ID3 tags instead of the VORBIS ones, and not seeing the proper result.)

APE tags are similar to VORBIS comments, in that they are free-form. They are the native tag format for Musepack & Monkey's Audio formats. Additionally, APE tags are often used to store ReplayGain information in the footer of MP3 files.

WMA (Microsoft) and AAC (Apple) use proprietary file formats.

WAV files can't hold tag information at all.

SqueezeCenter supported Tags

For a list of tags that SqueezeCenter detects during a music scan and how these tags are used by the software, look at SlimServerSupportedTags.

Tagging for Multiple Disc Sets

See this note on MultiDisc tagging.

Multiple Tags for genre / artist

There are 2 ways to add multiple genre tags to a file (for instance Rock and Hard Rock).

The first is to use a tool like foobar2000 or Mp3tag to add multiple tags. By specifying genre = "Rock\Hard Rock" (foobar) or "Rock\\Hard Rock" (mp3tag), these programs will add multiple genre tags to the file (you must use backslashes, no spaces between labels). The current version of foobar2000 (v0.9.1) only seems to support multiple tags when editing two or more files at a time. This approach works for any tag (Genre, Artist, etc) but is probably only recommended for Genre and Artist.

The second is to set both genres on the same tag (genre=rock;hard rock). Then configure SqueezeCenter under Settings - Music Library - Separator for Multiple Items in Tags (SS6: server-settings / Behavior / Multiple Items in Tags) with a semicolon.

SqueezeCenter is happy with either approach: which you choose may depend on what other tools/programs you want to be able to make sense of the same music files.

Other Sources

Contributors: Ceejay, Nestor, Nicktf, danco...