Storing and tagging music (part 1)


22 Mar 2007, 22:51

When I typed this up it came out longer than expected so I've split it into two parts. First is just my listening setup and why I do what I do. Everybody listens to music how they want, so this won't be much more than perhaps a way to get a few additional ideas on how to setup your music. Second is the actual processing and tagging of the music to add all the right info in, then putting it in the right place in my music library.

There are a lot of things to do with music and even though all of us have different methods of listening there are some common things that all of us use or would find beneficial. Most people that have spent a lot of time listening to their quickly growing digital music collections find that keeping their database of music properly tagged and complete as possible is becomes an obsession and quite a daunting task. Like a gardener clearing weeds, there's always something to tidy or some way to make things better. This journal is just my process of how I keep my garden looking good.

First off is how I listen to my music and what I use.

90% of my home listening is done at the computer through Sennheiser HD-55's.

My main media player is WMP 11 on Windows XP, and it works great (I can already hear many audiosnobs groaning). It's not as great as Amarok, I find the interface and library better than Winamp, it works how I want from install unlike foobar, and iTunes has a litany of problems ("features" according to Apple) that should make any computer listener cringe. I'm not going to go into more detail than that since that is not what this journal is about (but I know a comment on this will probably be the first comment in the journal.)

My point is I use Windows (sorry Mac users, I don't know the Mac equivalents to the programs mentioned here), and WMP which stores "Album Artist" in the "BAND" tag field, and "Rating" rating in the "popularimeter" tag field.

My mobile methods of listening are a Rio Cali for the gym, and my HTC Wizard/Cingular 8125 which gets as much use as WMP does at home. The size constraints of these two are why I'm using MP3 instead of FLAC; that and the fact that I have 140GB of MP3's, if I was using FLAC my library would be 4 to 8 times larger.

The Wizard is a PDA phone with a 2GB storage card. Instead of the built in WMP I use Pocket Player, an awesome $20 application that has support for FLAC, embedded cover art, replay gain, equalizer, DSP effects, Bluetooth A2DP, and most importantly scrobbles to It's a PDA, MP3 player, phone, and email/internet browser in one. The only drawback is its poor little processor which chugs running pocket player to Bluetooth headphones; its younger faster brother has been out for a few months and is already on my shopping list.

Some people say 2GB is too small but I actually find it too big. The amount of music easily fits enough music to keep me satisfied for 2-4 weeks at which point it's updated to reflect my updating tastes in music. 2GB gets to be a bit much to sort through to find the song I want to hear when it's not on shuffle, and by time I've listened to 75% of the songs my tastes have changed enough I want to replace what's left with some new stuff anyway. At home I have a special playlist called "next sync" where I throw whatever music I want to add, after a few weeks that list replaces what's on the PDA and the rest of the space is filled with random favorite tracks.

My music is stored on a RAID 5 partition on my home computer for redundancy; all my household computers have access to read the music drive so I can stream to any other computer including the PDA/Phone through wireless. I also back up everything to an external drive every couple months or before I try out a new media player, tagging software, or anything that might accidentally screw up my well tagged collection of music. The external backup doubles as the music folder for my laptop so my laptop and hard drive becomes a portable music jukebox for parties, road-trips, and vacations containing ALL my music.

I listen to MP3's, ideally ripped from the source using LAME at V0, anything bigger is scaled down to keep the HD from growing too fast.

After that it's a matter of correcting the tags, rating , and cataloging the music.


  • Niovi_

    well WMP is not a bad player, although nothing beats iTunes for me [what problems are you talking about?? O.o] also i once tried winamp and i realised that i h-a-t-e-d the interface. haha.

    13 Jul 2007, 15:59
  • Aioth

    Sounds good. The OSX counterpart for nearly everything is, unfortunately, iTunes. There's also one called Play, which I use at the moment, but everybody's hanging out for KDE4 and then Amarok to come out for Mac. Play -

    14 Ago 2007, 1:17
  • Tecfan

    so how exactly do you backup your music? I want to do this as well. are you just copying all the files over to another hard disk?

    8 May 2008, 6:24
  • Leander987

    hmm, good work. Especially the first paragraph, the part about raid 5 partition and the idea to give all computers in the house access to that. The first paragraph is important to read though, because some of this would be overkill for many ppl. I find my demands for music quality depends the kind of music and the specific track. What’s really missing is something about the importance of having a good soundcard on the computers one use. I suppose u have some good hardware even in laptop, but many ppl don’t. Or maybe you have a special setup connecting the computer to external sound system? Anyway, listening to lossless with your headphones (don’t think i ever heard about hd-55 btw) or even better, would be quite a joke if done with poor soundcard.

    25 Jul 2008, 6:17
  • gummydork

    I agree with you about 2GB being too much. I mean the only tunes you're ever gonna want are your favs, so why bother shoving on a whole bunch of random stuff that you only listen to depending on your 'mood'. It only means more track skippings which would only make you crankier cos you're not enjoying any music as you should be :P

    1 Feb 2009, 9:27
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