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Thread: Tag processing to make sure Windows "sees" the album art and doesn't lose it

  1. #1
    GeorgeButel's Avatar
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    Tag processing to make sure Windows "sees" the album art and doesn't lose it

    WMP and/or iTunes seem to love to mess up ID tags, and write tags relevant to the wrong versions of a particular song, on top of which the tags may or may not be visible to Windows or might disappear.

    MP3Tag seems to fix the issue, but now I'm having to use dB & MP3Tag. dB allows you to add and label different album art at the same time, i.e., you can have art for the band as well as an album cover, a wonderful invention, and makes it easy to add oddball tags. dB also allows you to go directly to internet album art addition, which works sometimes, but on other occasions gives just a blank screen no matter how long you wait. I hate to say it, but it's usually faster to go to Amazon or cduniverse or Google images instead of doing the internet search via the dB id tag gui. MP3Tag is better when the file has been marked read-only: it tells you so, and offers to unlock the files, whereas dB allows you to think you have changed the tag, only to find out later that it was locked.

    So I think you need to add an unlock when read-only is detected, AND, after doing that, dB and MP3Tag both need a "do you want to make the file read-only again" option. I've been making all of them read-only to try and keep Windows from screwing up the tags, not always successfully.

    In addition, MP3Tag adds backwards id tag compatibility which dB doesn't, but ought to, and seems to increase the likelihood that the tags won't disappear.

    I am still unsure with dB whether when ripping or when modifying a tag if the album art is being embedded IN the file (which I prefer, since storage is no issue these days) or merely as a folder.jpg or albumart.jpg of some sort. My concern is that I keep probably half of my music files in gigantic folders of multiple artists instead of one folder per artist. In other words, it makes sense to keep all of, say, U2 or the Yardbirds in their own folders, but I don't want one-hit wonder files, such as 96 Tears or California Sun, to be in individual folders, since that makes choosing files a nightmare of folder navigation. I note that MP3Tag is much, much faster in opening and processing multiple files.

    What I would like to be able to know when I look at a file is whether the album art is already embedded in it or not so that it won't disappear when I move the file somewhere; that would be a useful utility to add to dB.

    A totally separate question, not a suggestion, is this: I thought I had mis-set the dB configuration in one of my incarnations or restoring from old image incarnations of Win7, because I noticed that some files that I had done with VBR extreme were marked as "medium audio quality" instead of "very high," although I thought I had used the same settings. So I just re-ripped and got the same result. With all settings being identical, ripping Jackson Browne gives me "Very High (Lossy)" displayed in the audio properties tab of the resulting file's properties, if I use VBR extreme with slow encoding. However, if I rip the Yardbirds As, Bs and Cs, the audio properties tab tells me that I only have "Medium (Lossy)" audio quality. This is for converting to mp3 with Lame, using the latest version of dB. I notice that "Jamaica, Say You Will," comes out at 226 kbps, but "Hot House of Omagarashid" comes out at 149 kbps. Is the difference not real, but only an artifact because of the differing amount of silence in each track, which I assume would allow greater compression but not change the "real"--i.e., observed--quality, but would only affect the approximation used to come up with the "high" or "medium" or whatever?
    Last edited by GeorgeButel; 01-27-2012 at 08:50 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Tag processing to make sure Windows "sees" the album art and doesn't lose it

    dBpoweramp writes both folder.jpg and embeds by default.

    >but would only affect the approximation used to come up with the "high" or "medium" or whatever?

    exactly it is an estimation on bitrate which is not always the full story (such as a track with long silences)

  3. #3
    GeorgeButel's Avatar
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    Re: Tag processing to make sure Windows "sees" the album art and doesn't lose it

    My understanding is this: the little and big albumart files are put there by programs like WMP either when you play a song in the folder or if you tell WMP to create a library and/or tell it to get missing art (?). The folder.jpgs are apparently put there sometimes when you rip a cd, so there must either be a file on the cd or something in the individual soundtrack metadata that tells it to put a folder.jpg in the folder and/or Windows does it sporadically, depending on whether Windows has had its coffee that day. Sometimes ripping does not create a folder.jpg even though the album art is there, but folder.jpg sometimes appears later, apparently as something Windows does to make previews faster, which would presumably depend on individual settings. Sometimes album art is there when you look at the file via file properties or via MP3Tag or the context editor of dB, and it also appears as a folder preview, but it then disappears later.
    I had never paid much attention to the tags until I started using FolderMatch to synchronize my backups and discovered that files that I had not touched were, suddenly and mysteriously, different, although they looked and played the same. Not being interested in the tags, I had never checked the tags to see if they were different, and the thought never occurred to me that that might be the issue. I spent many hours trying to figure out if there was perhaps some kind of hard drive error or if there might not even be some kind of virus to account for the file changes.
    Now I am still not positive: is album art "supposed" to be (or is it theoretically) always part of the tag, i.e., part of the individual music file, and the fact that I cannot see it either in Windows or the individual programs is because of some kind of Windows problem, tag compatibility--i.e., the art is really there, I just can't see it--or has it really been wiped out, or what? I don't understand how I can have several different artists in one folder, and have the correct album art on them, but then, after adding some new tracks to the folder, have all the album art appear to be from that same, new album. Were it not for the fact that this is typical of Windows, I can see how it might cause one to question one's sanity. By making the files read-only immediately after ripping (and after using MP3 tag to add the backwards tag compatibility), I think that the problem has not recurred. I am beginning to think of WMP and iTunes as malware when it comes to album art. I know, there are numerous forums that deal with the issue of disappearing album art, so I am not the only one with the problem.

  4. #4
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    Re: Tag processing to make sure Windows "sees" the album art and doesn't lose it

    >and it also appears as a folder preview, but it then disappears later.

    Windows Media Player is changing the tags and art, you should set the option within WMP to never fetch information from the internet, otherwise it will overwrite (potentially with worse tags, and worse album art resolution).

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    Re: Tag processing to make sure Windows "sees" the album art and doesn't lose it

    Quote Originally Posted by Spoon View Post
    dBpoweramp writes both folder.jpg and embeds by default.
    Would love to have one setting for maximum embedded albumart resolution and one other setting for maximum folder.jpg
    For example it would make good sense to have only a 300x300px embedded in each mp3-file while the folder.jpg for the whole disc could have higher quality say 600x600 because it is not repeated 22 times on a 22-track album.

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    Re: Tag processing to make sure Windows "sees" the album art and doesn't lose it

    I think win7 is not very well

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