Saturday, 7 March 2093

Tell the world of a valuable freeware here

Post a link to an unknown freeware you find valuable along with a brief description in the comment. If the editors find the app to be really useful, it shall be reviewed in the blog.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Preventing MP3 Album Split, Track Numbering and Title Display Issues on Android Devices

You upload a favorite MP3 album or compilation of tracks to an Android phone. The album looked neatly in a PC media player, but when you launch the Play Music app on the mobile device, the album is either scattered into several partial albums, has wrong track order, or shows titles with strange characters.

Sounds familiar?

Example (an album looks perfectly tagged on PC, but when uploaded to Android, it splits in two and shows a garbled title!):

Looks good, huh?

Not that good now!

If you are persistent enough, you google the situation and discover something called tags, the metadata embedded in MP3 files that inform media playing software about the properties of a track. You then try to put your music metadata in order using various tagging software, but sometimes that still does not help.

Ok, enough now with the introduction. Here is a one-stop guide to all the most common tag issues that lead to integrity, track numbering and/or title encoding problems on Android/Google Play Music. The reason, basically, is that the mobile platform adheres to metadata standards a little too much. If you don't want to read the details, just skip to the summary section down below.

The explanation

The id3 tag standard used for mp3s and some other music formats is 1) unofficial (de-facto), and 2) rather difficult to implement.

For those reasons, tag generating software often implements the specification either partially, without going into minute details, or with errors. For the same reasons, more sophisticated taggers and media players implement workarounds for deficiencies common in mp3 tags. This is the case with the iOS music player, but less with Android and some other products that try to strictly follow the unofficial id3 standard. And that is the root cause of albums/tracks showing not the way you want them in Android/Play Music! Read on to learn how to get devices display your mp3 albums right.


As strange as it may sound, the way you upload music to your phone can impact how it is displayed on the device. Specifically, it is better NOT to transfer your MP3 collection through a wireless LAN using apps such as ES File Manager, because somehow the track numbers end up lost in the process. Maybe this will be fixed sometime, but better just use a USB cable instead - it would be faster, and no metadata would be lost. To be able to do that, follow a guide. Plenty of them are available, just google something like "enable USB file transfers between Android and PC." Now, to the tag issues and ways to address them.

Tag issues, causes, and solutions

Album splitting. This is one of the worst and most often encountered.
The reasons may include: 1) 'Album Artist' frame inconsistencies; 2) text frame encoding differences either within a single track or across an album.

When the former is the cause, that can be fixed relatively easy by using popular free mp3 tagging software. Either make the 'Album Artist' field uniform across the album or simply blank it. This can also be done automatically using a tagger with scripting support or automated tag fixing software.

If the above solution does not help, then reason 2 is most probably the cause, and unfortunately this one is more difficult to resolve: you should remove all tags from an album and re-create them from scratch. This also can be done automatically by either a script or special tagger.

Wrong track order. Less nasty, but can be frustrating as well.
Reasons are usually inconsistencies in the track number format, mismatching disk numbers used across an album, or both.

To address the issue, load the album into a tag editor and review the track and disk numbers. They should all adhere to the nn/tt format (with nn being the track/disk number, tt the total amount of tracks/disks in the album). If some of the numbers are blank or do not follow the standard, they would show out of order on your device. This issue also can be fixed automatically with scripts/special taggers.

Artist / Album / Track Titles are unreadable or contain strange characters. The encoding issues usually happen when you upload albums to you device with titles having Unicode characters beyond the A-Z range. This includes accented characters and titles in native alphabets.
The reason is the same as for album splitting: text frames having encoding differences and/or failing to follow the id3 de-facto standard. For a fix, see Album splitting above, solution for cause 2).

No cover image. This one is the easiest. Just use a tagger, manual or automated, to download the images. On Android, it is enough to have an image embedded in just one track of an album to make a device show the pic.

Table 1. Summary of most common tag issues, causes, and solutions


Possible reasons
Wrong track order in an album
TrackNo., DiskNo. formatting inconsistencies;
DiskNo inconsistencies
Use manual or automated mp3 taggers to ensure that all tracks have TrackNo uniformly formatted (nn/tt) and either have blank or uniform DiskNo field
No track numbers in an album
The album was put on the device over a WLAN connection using ES File Manager or similar app
Delete the album, re-upload to the device using a USB cable
The original album has no track numbers in tags
Add correct track numbers using manual or automated / script-supporting tag editors, delete and re-upload the album over a USB cable
An album is split in two or more
Inconsistent Album Artist tag frame across the album
Using a manual tagger, make sure all tracks have either the same or blank Album Artist. Or, use a script / automated tag fixing software to do that.
Substandard text frame format used in tags
Load the album in a tagger, save the metadata information, delete al tags, then re-create them from scratch, or use an auto-tagger / scripting solution to fix the issue automatically.
An album has no cover image
No cover picture is embedded in track tags of the album
Use a manual or automated tag editors to get and embed the cover. Almost all mp3 tagging software offer such features.

Freeware tagger that can be used to fix metadata issues causing corrupt mp3 album display on Android

taghycardia: A FREE special-purpose tagger that detects and fixes tag faults in an automated fashion.

Conclusion and summary (+ a bonus tip!)

So, to recap: in order to fix most of the issues, you should:

1. Check the album you're going to put on an Android device for metadata inconsistencies, and fix them using a manual tag editor or, preferably, automated MP3 tagger.
2. Upload the album over a USB cable.

Final tip: To upload a compilation in one piece, follow these steps: for all of the tracks, change album name in the tags to something identical (e.g., 'My Favorite Songs'), change the track numbers using the nn/tt format, in the order you'd like to hear them; as well as be sure to remove disk numbers, if any, and blank the Album Artist field. After the uploading, your compilation would be accessible under the album name you used (My Favorite Songs). Alternatively, create an .m3u8 playlist for the compilation and use an app supporting the playlist format, such as Rocket Player, to listen to it. Taghycardia  can do both automatically - prepare compilations for uploading to a portable device and create playlists supported by Rocket Player.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

How to Easily Change Resolution of Cover Art Embedded in MP3 Tags

Let's say, you have a car stereo that only supports displaying album art up to 300x300 pixels large. If, however, you have plenty of MP3 albums in your collection, embedded cover art resolution can vary over a wide range. How to bring your MP3 archive to your in-car system in a way to ensure you'll always see cover images while playing the music?

One of the easiest solutions is to use the free app named taghycardia.

Step 1:

Download the program, run the setup, make sure to choose "You'd like to review the settings yourself" in the initial configuration dialog.

Step 2:

Configure the program to embed cover art into MP3 files with the required resolution: Check Embed when missing and Limit image size to. Set the desired resolution, e.g., 300x300. Be sure to check Save as. Also, check Get cover art from Discogs if you need to automatically download album images for your music whenever they are missing.
In the Choose default action for drag-and-dropped folders, select Quick remove cover art. Click Save.


Step 3:

Now you can quickly change the resolution of embedded cover art in a large number of albums at once by first removing and saving existing art, then re-embedding it again in lesser size. This would require as little effort as a drag-and-drop operation and two clicks:

1. Select folders with albums you are going to put onto your car stereo, drag and drop them into taghycardia. This will both remove existing cover art and save it locally.

2. Click Go, then click Apply Changes. Now your cover art is embedded back with the 300x300 resolution.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Solving the pre-embedded song lyrics issue in iOS 10.x

When Apple had updated its mobile OS to version 10, some users began complaining that their music app no longer shows lyrics that they painstakingly added to their tracks before placing into iTunes media library and later uploading to iPhones or other iOS devices.

Whether the reason is a bug in the new iOS or a desire to force iPhone owners to use only Apple's own paid music services, there are several solutions that users might try to make phones display the 'lost' lyrics again.

First of all, Apple made the process of lyrics displaying in the app a bit more difficult. Previously, to view the lyrics for the currently played song, it was enough to tap the album's cover. Now the user must first tap the three-dots icon in the lower right corner of the screen, and then choose View Lyrics from the menu.

However, as it was said above, some lyrics that previously had been showing, 'mysteriously' disappeared in iOS 10 and above. Currently, there are two solutions to this issue that worked at least for some users.

How to recover lyrics that disappeared in iOS 10

Solution 1. Delete the entire music library from your device and re-upload all your tracks

For this, you must have the full copy of your music collection on your computer properly tagged, and with lyrics pre-embedded. To save you the trouble of manually re-checking song information correctness in iTunes after recreating your music library there, you can use one of the available automated music taggers. I personally prefer taghycardia. The program scans your entire music collection indicating any issues such as album/artist spelling inconsistencies or missing cover art, and fixing the problems in a highly automated fashion. 

In addition, taghycardia can find lyrics online for the tracks that miss it and embed them for you into your albums. You can download taghycardia here.

After you've made sure your music collection is properly tagged with lyrics and cover art, add the library to iTunes and re-sync with your iPhone. 

Most of the 'lost' lyrics should re-appear.

Solution 2. Slightly update the embedded lyrics

If some of the lyrics still appear to be missing on your iPhone, there is another workaround that can help restore them: the texts should be modified just a little bit and re-uploaded to iPhone.

If an album still lacks lyrics after the re-syncing described in the Solution 1, change the lyrics of the tracks slightly, for example by adding an empty line before each song text. 

The easiest way to do this is again by using taghycardia. Point the program to the original folder on you HDD containing an album that needs fixing, press Go, double click the line beginning with the word 'Lyrics', and add an empty line before each song text one by one. Now press Update in tags, and re-upload the album onto iPhone. This can be done without re-syncing by enabling Manual music management in iTunes. Having activated the manual option, you can just remove the album from the library, add it from your local HDD folder again, right-click the tracks and choose 'Add to my iPhone'.

Monday, 6 February 2017

How to remove all album art from multiple MP3 files in a couple of clicks

Having embedded cover images in music files is good if you like to look at the album art when playing your music on a mobile device. However, JPEGs or pics of other formats embedded in MP3 files can take up lots of useful space on your HDD, SDD or portable player, especially when the same image is inserted into every file of an album, which is most often the case.

The easiest way to quickly remove ALL images from a bunch of MP3 albums is to use a free program called taghycardia

Download the utility here, run the installation file, choose "I'd like to use the program to strip cover art from music files to save space" in the initial setup dialog.

Now choose a root folder of your MP3 collection (such as C:\MP3) by clicking the three-dots button at the top left  

... and press Remove Art.

Now, the only thing left to do is to click the Go On button (If you wish to save the found embedded covers as image files, check the corresponding checkbox). 

With this, the program will quickly scan ALL of your MP3 albums and files under the selected root, removing any embedded images.

So, just several clicks, and you're good.