April 12, 2013

Programs that Help with Using iTunes

Programs that Help with Using iTunes
I've been using iTunes to manage my music library for a while now. While I'm not a big fan of the program for getting files in and organized, I'm usually using my iPad to listen to my music, so the bulk of the experience...the listening part, works reasonably well.

I don't let iTune automatically organize everything for me, so I have a lot of initial legwork to do.  Normally I'd let iTunes rip the disc, manually move the files over to my data disc, delete the CD from iTunes, and then find the new file location and import the music back into iTunes.  My last task is usually to find the appropriate album artwork and affiliate it with the music.

It sounds like a lot more work than it really is, unless the original rip is bad.  Lately I'm finding that iTunes is horrible when it comes to ripping my music.  I would think that a digital file would either work or it wouldn't, but all too often my songs sound like they came from a badly distorted LP.  It is also taking far too long.

Nothing like a CD taking 30 minutes to rip and then half (or more) of the songs come out like crap.

The only thing that is worse is when ripping an audiobook and your files come out all gobbledegook.  A single audiobook might come on a dozen CDs, each containing 30 files.  Sometimes the file names make sense, others might be some odd alpha-numeric combination.  Now I prefer to have all the files for a single audiobook in a single directory...in order.  Just because a CD is limited to 70ish minutes, it doesn't mean I want my digital files forced into that same structure.

Thankfully I've recently discovered a couple of programs that make my life a lot easier.

The first is called FreeRIP and it quickly rips tracks at a fraction of the speed that iTunes was doing it.  I'm sure some of the speed is due to slightly easier rip settings, but that only accounts for so much.

The second program is Mp3tag and it isn't as straight-forward and easy as I'd like, but with a little figuring-it-out-as-you-go-along it works great.  One issue when dealing with an audiobook spread out across multiple discs is getting the play order right.  Most players know to move down the track list in numerical order, but will get confused if there are multiple tracks with the same number (which would happen if you simply dump the files from multiple CDs into one folder).  With Mp3tag I can open up multiple directories in one window (preserving the original play orders), re-tag all the tracks so they are sequential, do any other tag conversions, and then have the program consolidate all the files.

Basically this post is a little shout-out to a couple of useful programs and hopefully point them out for someone else who might be needing similar assistance.

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