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Author Topic: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)  (Read 22123 times)

kstuart

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Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« on: February 21, 2013, 11:08:36 am »

I used to work for music retailers (and actually had a small part-time music retailing business for a while), so I have a lot of CDs and my listening is oriented towards albums.

I postponed ripping a lot of my CDs until I decided on Media Library software (and my final choice was MC18).   I read through some threads here on the Forum and then gave some thought about what would be the most effective organization.  I  thought I would post what I decided, in case it was helpful for someone else reading this later.

Since most people listen to individual songs, MC18 is setup by default for individual song playback, so those who want to listen primarily to albums must customize it.

Tags (Fields)

In order to use the powerful capabilities of MC18, you need to use the Fields.  In order to save time, I use an online database, instead of entering Field information manually.  As of today, I've found that the only reliable source for that information is discogs.com  (mp3tag free software program will pull tag information from discogs).  (My guess is that the discogs information is far more accurate, because discogs is used to sell to collectors.  Since the difference between the 1986 Italian CD and the 1989 UK CD is important to the fanatical collector who is missing one, then the tiny details must be correct in the discogs database.)

To keep my music files as "future proof" as possible, I want to keep maximum compatibility with online databases (and other music software).   So I want to use as many "Standard Tags" as possible.  Standard tags in FLAC and MP3 files are setup for individual song playback, and so additional tags must be added.  Actually, even the "Album" tag is present mostly to identify a song.

After considering various suggested possibilities, I am using these standard tags:

Artist - The performer (whether pop or classical) as stated on the cover

Since no other Artist related field is a "list" in MC18, I find that I also use this in preference to Album Artist.  When an album is a collaboration (eg "Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin"), then for sorting purposes, I need three entries - "Carlos Santana" "John McLaughlin" "Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin" - so that the album shows up when I select Carlos Santana in the Artist list, and so it shows up when I select "John McLaughlin".   If none of the Artist-related fields were a List, then it would only show up in "Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin", so it would be rarely played.

MC will use your first artist in the list in various places where it needs just one, so put the Artist from the cover as the first one.

Note that compilations (eg "Greatest Hits of the 1980s") will still use the Artist field as the artist for that one song, and "(Multiple Artists)" or "Varies" in places for the overall artist of the album.

In order to have the Player Display at the top of MC18 display the artist for individual songs in a compilation, and also the artist listed on the cover of collaborations, then customize the display with the following (instead of any other artist info that it may be showing by default):

listitem([Artist],0,;)

Album - The album as stated on the cover

This means compatibility with online databases, etc.  It then means another tag/field is needed for different versions of the album, and by process of elimination, that is:

Description - The specific version of the album (eg "30th Anniversary Remaster by Doug Sax 2003")

This is the sort of thing that some people put in brackets right into the Album tag/field, but that has several disadvantages:

- Clutters up the album lists (many different entries for "Dark Side of the Moon" or "Kind of Blue", that you have to scroll past to get to other albums)
- Requires a decision (of which version) when you just want to play "Dark Side of the Moon"
- Conceptually, different Versions are really a separate level below the Album, they are not equivalent things under the Artist level (some aspects of the Album apply to all versions of the Album, such as Musicians and Recording Date, while the Version information only applies to specific files)

(I did not use "Comment" because it is frequently used, and many online tag databases have something already in that tag field, such as "Tracks 1-3 feature Joe Blow on flute".)

Date -  The date when the album was released

The point here is to give power to the widely used "Year - Album" sorting method, so that Album lists become:

1957 - Blue Train
1958 - Soultrane
1960 - Coltrane's Sound
1961 - The Complete Village Vanguard

Which allows one to choose to listen to an album from a certain era (eg 50s - bop, early 60s - modal, late 60s - avant garde).  In contrast, the online databases have been filled with Date tags that use the version release date, for two reasons - 1) the inexperienced tag submitters don't actually know the original release date, while the version release date is easily found, right there on the back cover, or else 2) the experienced tag submitter knows the original release date by heart, so what is important to him is the version release date.

Genre - The broad category, not a dizzying array of sub-genres or styles

The purpose here is just to narrow the display by what you are going to want to listen to.   I find that I know I want to listen to "Classical" or "Folk" or "Jazz" or "Rock" (and a few others) and then I want to select an artist within that Genre (which makes the Panes View very helpful).  I don't need to narrow it to "Vocal Trance" or
"Progressive Metal" in advance - that usually happens automatically by the choice of Artist.

I also find that the assignment of small sub-genres or styles is very subjective, and so many albums cross the line, or have a foot in many camps.  So, removing that entirely removes a large amount of unnecessary work (especially since the online database tagging will often put it into a different sub-genre than you would).

The most important genre distinction is Classical vs. everything else, because this alone makes a difference in how you want MC18 Views to work, IF you have Classical music.  I will put my Classical mods in a separate post below, so you can skip it if you don't collect Classical music in any quantity.

===

Keywords

This is the most effective way to control what is included or excluded from any View in MC18.  You define specific keywords, and then tag files with them when they apply.   Then in Views, you define a Rule:

Keywords      is not any      keyword

and then any files or albums that have that keyword won't show up.  To make my system explained above work properly, I need:

Superseded - A lesser version of an album that I am keeping as part of my collection, but is not as good as another version.

(You can use any word you want, since this is not a Standard.)  The idea is to first listen to all your different versions ( I recommend you to listen, rather than just taking the advice of others that you find on the web ), choose one, and then check the "Superseded" box in Keywords for all the other ones (the checkbox will appear for all other files, after you enter a new keyword for the first time, making it easy).

When you have done this, "Dark Side of the Moon" shows up only one time, and clicking "Play" on it will play your preferred version.  But, if you do a search in the search box for "Doug Sax", it will turn up the "30th Anniversary Doug Sax Remaster 2003" - even though several other versions sound better.  So, you can always find everything that you have in your Library, but they don't clutter up your View when you are looking for music to play.

Avant-Garde - The sort of atonal, dissonant music that you might choose only when you are in the mood for something challenging, but is the wrong thing for Family time, or when you have guests.  By having a View,  plus a Rule "keywords is not any Avant-Garde", you know you won't ever have to quickly change the music playing.

"Avant-Garde" is just an example of how you can use keywords to filter what your View shows.  You can also do this in a positive, instead of negative, way, by using the rule "keywords is" and having a keyword such as "Kids Faves" that tags everything that you know your kids like.

Views

I find that the most practical View for albums is not Albums View, but rather Panes View.   Sure, if you think "I'd like to hear Close to the Edge", then just bring up Album View and type "Clo" to automatically scroll down to where you can see it and right-click "Play".

But any music organization lets you find a specific album.  The advantage of a Music Library, is to help you figure out what to play next.  Panes first filters by Genre, then when you select a Genre, by Artist, and then when you select a specific artist, you can just select an album in the right pane and click on Play.   To implement what I setup above, I need to setup the three panes as Genre, Artist (not Album Artist(auto) ), and Year-Album (when I setup the panes, I edit the Year-Album one and set the sorting to "Date (oldest)".  That way, if the artist has, say,  two or three albums in 1963, they will appear in order.

While it looks really cool to have album covers flying around every time you click in MediaCenter, I find that it is a big waste of screen space when you are perusing your Library to display any covers.  In fact, if you have so few albums that you can recognize every one by a small thumbnail, then you don't need Media Library software.  So, I always use List Style "Details" and remove the Thumbnail columns as well.   Of course, once a track is playing, then I want to see that one album cover - in Playing Now.)

Folders

Don't waste any time with any sort of detailed folder setup.   The only reason that the folder structure could ever be important is if the tags are accidentally cleared.  Otherwise, once every file is correctly tagged, all the files could go in one folder !  (If we assume they have unique filenames.) But, often you have other files that are not imported, but are associated with an album, such as more cover art files, or a booklet in some format.   So, it is best to at least have separate folders for each album with the basic " Artist - Album " folder name (this could help if there is some sort of database or computer problem).   Then filenames will only need to be " Track# - Title ".

MC18 can write such folder and filenames, but you will need to take care of collaboration albums mentioned above that have a List of Artists.   Take the artist name from the album cover (such as "Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin") and put that into the "Album Artist".  Then set MC18's Rename to use "Album Artist(auto)" and it will take Album Artist if it has anything and Artist if not.

Lastly, Enjoy the Music !

kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2013, 11:08:56 am »

Classical

The online databases are notoriously poor for classical music, although they do have some entries, so be prepared to do a lot of the tagging yourself.

Composer - This is the most important Field that is needed for Classical Music, and less so for other music.  Yes, it is possible (and perhaps helpful) to have "Bob Dylan" as the Composer for Jimi Hendrix's performance of "All Along the Watchtower" - but it is not crucial.

But it's crucial for Classical.  So, to start with, I add "Composer" Field as an early column in Playing Now.  In cases where a pop song is a cover, you will see information there, otherwise blank space, but MC18 does not have dynamic Playing Now columns.

So, to minimize the lost space (and to give more space for other classical fields), I use Last Name Only for Composer.  So, "Mozart" rather than "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart".   Whereas we can see dozens of people with the same last name in Jazz or other popular music,  we don't see that in Classical.  (In those cases where the Composer has a descendent, I just add the initials to the end, eg "Bach,JC".)

Date - For the date, I use the same pattern as for other music - I use the date that would be most helpful for sorting in "Year - Album" in the Date field, and I put the other date(s) in Description, along with the same Release information.

The Date that is most helpful for me in choosing Classical Music to play is the Date of Composition.  That way, it sorts with earlier Mozart first, followed by later Mozart.

Work - Here is the one exception to the "album based" focus of this article.  Classical albums often have several works in one album - or in multiple disk sets.  The flexible View-based software of MC18 allows the Classical fan to see which performances he owns of a particular work - such as Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
Amazingly, while MC18 supports "Conductor", "Orchestra" and "Soloists" fields (and use those if they are useful to you), there is no "Work" field, so you are going to have to create your own Custom Field.  For instruction on that, see:

http://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/File_Properties_%28tags%29#Custom_Fields

Artist - I just use the primary artist who is responsible for the performance, usually the Conductor for something like a Symphony, often the soloist for a Concerto, etc.   Since Artist is a list field, you can put both the soloist and the Conductor if you like.   You can then also use the Conductor and Orchestra and Soloists fields if you are going to sort by those.  (If you do, modify these instructions for both tagging and Views to suit.)

You can then make a Classical View as follows:

Take Panes, and make a Rule "Genre is any " and then select all your Classical Genres.  Then change the 3 panes to "Composer", "Work" and "Artist".   When you save, tell it to not overwrite the default Panes, and it will make a Panes Copy which you can rename "Classical".

Jong

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2013, 11:40:18 am »

A lot of what you say sounds good. The one thing I don't understand is why you intend to use the Artist tag instead of Album Artist. What do you do with the many albums which have different collaborators on different tracks or, the smaller number of albums, where an album with one named band on the cover may have some tracks by individual band members and/or earlier iterations of the band with different a different band name? Do you really just lose that information? Putting the real track collaborators/band name in the Artist field and the name on the cover into Album Artist just seems sensible as well as well-understood, standard practice.
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kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2013, 12:56:44 pm »

A lot of what you say sounds good. The one thing I don't understand is why you intend to use the Artist tag instead of Album Artist. What do you do with the many albums which have different collaborators on different tracks or, the smaller number of albums, where an album with one named band on the cover may have some tracks by individual band members and/or earlier iterations of the band with different a different band name? Do you really just lose that information? Putting the real track collaborators/band name in the Artist field and the name on the cover into Album Artist just seems sensible as well as well-understood, standard practice.

Let's take an example.

I see people put "The Beatles with Billy Preston" as the Artist for a couple of tracks only (in the online tag databases).

But then, when I click on "The Beatles", those two tracks don't show up.

Instead, it makes more sense to put "with Billy Preston" in the Comments tag.

Again, all this is necessary for those cases where who want the album - as a whole - to show up under two (or more) different Artists.

So, with the album:

Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin - Love Devotion Surrender

when I click on "Carlos Santana" in the Artist column, I want "Love Devotion Surrender" to show up amongst the albums, and when I click on "John McLaughlin" in the Artist column, I want "Love Devotion Surrender" to show up.   If the Artist is "Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin" (the cover artist), then it shows up in neither.  (And so when I am picking a McLaughlin album to listen to, I don't see it at all.)

That collaboration situation is only fixed by a List data type, and currently only Artist has a List data type - Album Artist and Album Artist (auto) do not.   If they eventually become List data types, then you can do it in a more "elegant" way, but this is what works for the moment.
 
NOTE:  For compilation albums, something like "The Best Blues of the 20th Century", you are still going to have a different artist name for each track, and it will show up as "Varies", and the MC18 Album Type will be "Multiple Artists", all of which is the same as it would be anyway.

MrC

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2013, 01:08:55 pm »

Because *any* field can be treated (i.e. cast) as a list type in a view, it really doesn't matter much.  What the user needs to do is enter data in a format compatible with presentation as a list.  For the OCD crowd who has trouble changing "with" into ";", this will require more expression work.  But for those more pragmatic souls, using a consistent item separator makes life much easier.

If I were to bet, Album Artist and certainly Album Artist (auto) will never become list types.
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kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2013, 01:15:15 pm »

Because *any* field can be treated (i.e. cast) as a list type in a view, it really doesn't matter much.  What the user needs to do is enter data in a format compatible with presentation as a list.  For the OCD crowd who has trouble changing "with" into ";", this will require more expression work.  But for those more pragmatic souls, using a consistent item separator makes life much easier.
The problem is that the software cannot determine what is a collaboration.

"Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin" are two musicians collaborating.

" Derek & the Dominos " is a fictional name (based on the fact that an announcer misheard "Eric" and announced the band as "Derek".)

MrC

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2013, 01:20:27 pm »

But you can.  You can use & for a separator consistently, and use "and" when you don't want separation (this is just one solution).  I know this will bother you.  And it shouldn't, because the bands themselves can't pick one over the other.  Go take a look at Derek and/& the Dominos over at the AllMusic.com site and examine their three listed album covers.  Case closed.
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kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2013, 01:30:35 pm »

But there are two other factors:

* If you collect "Cream" and "Derek & the Dominos" mainly for the Eric Clapton content, then you want the Artist to be:

Eric Clapton ; Cream

Eric Clapton ; Derek & the Dominos

and the Album Artist to be:

Cream

Derek & the Dominos

* glynor mentioned that he wants all the "Béla Fleck with the Flecktones" to appear under "Béla Fleck" as well as the solo "Béla Fleck".   Similarly, I want "The Miles Davis Quintet"  "The Miles Davis Quartet" and so forth to appear under "Miles Davis".

It's certainly true that if you started from scratch, and used all Custom Fields, you could get something that was more elegant and direct, but then you lose all compatibility with the Rest of the World.

MrC

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2013, 01:46:54 pm »

There are always going to be exceptions and other factors.  The key is find a system that works and use it, and let go of the idea you can make life fit into a simple set of perfect, exception-free rules.

For glynor's case, "Béla Fleck with the Flecktones" can be tagged as "Béla Fleck & The Flecktones" and use & as a separator (or even "Béla Fleck; The Flecktones", or even "Béla Fleck with the Flecktones;  Béla Fleck; The Flecktones").  Again, Béla and his band aren't consistent (few are, btw), so why should you or I assume one way is correct and another way is incorrect?  Be pragmatic - do what works.

In your case of Miles Davis and his various incarnations, I'd set the Album Artist to Miles Davis, and set Artist to whatever you want.
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InflatableMouse

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2013, 03:05:41 pm »

Thanks for taking the time and write this up. You have some good tips and ideas here.

Date -  The date when the album was released

The point here is to give power to the widely used "Year - Album" sorting method, so that Album lists become:

1957 - Blue Train
1958 - Soultrane
1960 - Coltrane's Sound
1961 - The Complete Village Vanguard

Which allows one to choose to listen to an album from a certain era (eg 50s - bop, early 60s - modal, late 60s - avant garde).  In contrast, the online databases have been filled with Date tags that use the version release date, for two reasons - 1) the inexperienced tag submitters don't actually know the original release date, while the version release date is easily found, right there on the back cover, or else 2) the experienced tag submitter knows the original release date by heart, so what is important to him is the version release date.

I'm not sure I understand this one, but I understand the problem.

I want my [Date] field to contain the original release date of an album. I'm considering adding an extra field for the re-release (ie, version release date). I've also added an extra field for the version, which you call Description but maybe I can combine the two, I don't know yet.

I was using Music Brainz Picard with the API key that allows scanning of songs and picking the right album. With my properly ripped CD's this works fine but it not always picks the proper album version and sometimes notoriously picks some various album type for 1 particular song. Editing some tags and rescanning mostly fixes that. Do you think mp3tag with Discogs works better?
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kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2013, 03:21:12 pm »

Thanks for taking the time and write this up. You have some good tips and ideas here.

I'm not sure I understand this one, but I understand the problem.

I want my [Date] field to contain the original release date of an album. I'm considering adding an extra field for the re-release (ie, version release date). I've also added an extra field for the version, which you call Description but maybe I can combine the two, I don't know yet.

I was using Music Brainz Picard with the API key that allows scanning of songs and picking the right album. With my properly ripped CD's this works fine but it not always picks the proper album version and sometimes notoriously picks some various album type for 1 particular song. Editing some tags and rescanning mostly fixes that. Do you think mp3tag with Discogs works better?
For the first point, I am putting the Version Date in the Description field - it has a lot of space for just about anything.   I like having the version information stored, but I don't sort by it, or refer to it ( I don't care if it is 2003 or 2006 ).

I haven't used Picard, I have only tried Music Brainz through mp3tag.   Mp3tag uses the Album name to lookup , and you can use any of several sources.   It often takes several tries of massaging the Album Name, if it is an odd one with ten words like "In Person Friday and Saturday Night at the Blackhawk, Complete".  The parsing software is not very bright, and you can try several different versions and one will work perfect and another won't - or you could get two different entries depending.

Once you get an entry in discogs, it is more accurate and more detailed.  You just don't get people uploading data to discogs who are not really sure what they are doing, where you clearly seem to get people uploading to other databases, who are not even aware that there is more than one release of an album.   discogs users are aware of the difference between the 1983 UK release and the 1983 Italy release.

But there could exist a better way to access the discogs data than mp3tag, I have not researched it.

Vincent Kars

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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2013, 04:29:54 pm »

Quote
Similarly, I want "The Miles Davis Quintet" "The Miles Davis Quartet" and so forth to appear under "Miles Davis".

The same problem with classical
The internet databases are not the most structured so you get
Gideon Kremer
Gideon Kremer/ Martha Argerich
Gideon Kremer/ Olaf Mustone
Harnoncourt / Gideon Kremer
Martha Argerich
Martha Argerich / Harnoncourt / Gideon Kremer
Etc. as Album Artist

This makes it almost impossible to use the navigation tree to select all the compositions performed by Kremer.
I went at great length including a custom multiple values tag to have the individual performers: http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/SW/Players/MC14/MC_Multiple.htm

Today I do care less.
If I type “Kremer” in the search box it simply returns all the tracks Kremer is involved in as long as his name is in any tag used by the search box.
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kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2013, 07:31:20 pm »

MrC - I wanted to mention that your idea of & as a delimiter, as opposed to "and" indicating just another word, is a great idea - because it mirrors the difference between a punctuation character and a word.

Okay, I went back and thought more about the issue.

It hinges on the issue of compatibility with tagging in the Rest of the World.   So, I went back and found the thread on the introduction of List data type for Artist in MC17.  A lot of these issues were discussed.

The thing that convinced me just now, is someone's comment that the file tags have supported for a long time, multiple individual artist tags in one file:

ARTIST = John McLaughlin
ARTIST = Carlos Santana
ARTIST =

and so on.

The other thing that made an impression was this comment by Matt:

Only the stock list fields will be saved using the new list tagging methods.  This is because the tagging plugins only know that the stock fields are a list.  This might change someday, but not until other tagging changes are finished.

So, by using the stock Artist field with all my multiple artist changes, they will all get saved into the files.  This has two advantages:

* If there is some problem with MC, I can regenerate my library from the file's internal tags without having to re-do all those multiple artist modifications.  While library backups should suffice, I can imagine some scenario where it would be helpful to start from scratch and re-import (just like a "clean build of Windows").
* If I use my music with other software, all that information is present in the tags.

Furthermore, when I have a compilation album ("Greatest Hits of the 1980s" or whatever), then I will still be using Artist for the artist name for each individual track.   Then those compilation albums will also appear when I choose a particular artist, as well as all the albums for which that artist is one of the multiple ones found in the ; delimited list.   So, if John McLaughlin has one track in Greatest Hits of the 1980s, then that album would appear when you choose John McLaughlin, as well as "Carlos Santana & John McLaughlin - Love Devotion Surrender".

The way the Artist list is implemented in MC17 allows all of this to work without any further intervention or customization.   From Matt's comments in the other thread, MC uses the first Artist name for both Album Artist(Auto) and for generating folder and file names.   So, it's even unnecessary to specify [Album Artist] - which then makes it coherent with the general use of Album Artist only when all the tracks have different Artists (a compilation).

Lastly, I want to clarify that I have no loyalty to any particular system, and will continue to consider any alternatives.

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2013, 06:43:13 am »

I plan to migrate to MC18 and need to determine and set basic rules for tagging/naming of my huge collection. The thing is I have many SACD ISO files and I want to play them directly (on DSD-DAC) instead of extracting individual dff/dsf files.
This means I cannot use file tags because ISO files don't support them.
Going further in my analysis I decided not to bother file tagging at all and in fact my files should be stored in read-only NAS share. I don't want my files to be accidentally tagged by MC.

Is there any downside of such approach?
My tags will be stored only in MC internal database.

I am one of the "collectors" who have many different versions of particular album (LP rip, CD, SACD, first Japanese pressing with Pre-Emphasis, etc.).
Adding "[SACD 2003]" as a part of album name doesn't look good. Your idea of "Description" field is good but the question is what determines an "album" in MC18? Can it be configured somehow? I guess the "Album" tag and file folder should do it. What about multi-disc SACD rips with the same ISO file name? Now I place them in separate folders. Will they be recognized as different albums because of separate folders?

Doing things right from the beginning will save me a lot of re-doing after discovering any approach faults in the future.
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MrC

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2013, 07:57:19 am »

Quick comments.

- You should be fine with disabling tag writing (be sure to do that, or you'll get errors when MC tries to tag on read-only media).

- An album is determined essentially as you say - the Album tag, one album / directory is safest (this requires more explanation, that isn't relevant here).  For multi-disc albums, set the Disc # tag, and stock views will show the tracks in the correct order.  (Leave Disc # clear for single disc albums).  Artist can vary; if you set Album Artist for various artist albums, be sure it is the same for all tracks.  You can leave Album Artist empty for single artist tracks or various artist albums that you want to appear under MC's (Multiple Artists) grouping.   See Album Artist (auto).

- You can use the stock Description field, but I wouldn't because it is a Type=Large field, that allows newlines, and those don't look good in formatted titles you might use in MC.  Create your own field, perhaps called Album Version, and place your unique identifiers there.  You'll use those to differentiate the album versions in a view.

- MC distinguishes files on the full file path, not just the file name.
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kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2013, 11:17:34 am »

Three points:

* Album in MC18 is only determined by [Album] field.  But, you can make a View that shows anything.  MediaCenter is based on the ideas of Views.   It is "Virtual", it can be customized however you like.

* I make a point of not putting newlines into [Description] and it works fine for me.  For each album and/or each file, I have a column for [Album] and a column for [Description].  I do have more than one SACD ISO for a couple of titles, and it works fine.  However, my reason for using [Description] is that it is both saved into the file tags and is searchable in MC18.   If you don't want to save it into the ISO's file tags, then there is no reason not to use a custom field. 

By the way, you say "This means I cannot use file tags because ISO files don't support them."  When I tell MC18 to write file tags to my SACD ISO, it reports doing so.   It also reads file tags that are on the SACD ISO from authoring.

* I make a point of making all multiple disk sets into one album.   For 90 years, multiple disks have always been used due to physical limitations, first 4 minutes, then 42 minutes, then 74 minutes, and now a different size for SACD.  Using hard drives has no such limitation.  So, I put the files in order in a view by sorting by file path and file name, selecting all, doing "Fill Track Numbers from List Order" and changing [Album] to one album name for the whole set.

MrG

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2013, 11:49:22 am »

Are you sure ISO files are taggable? I mean MC18 amends the ISO files (this would change the md5 checksum of the file) ?
I would prefer ISO files to be my backup of physical disk and therefore not amended by any software.

I feel the whole "album" concept is virtual in MC. Does it mean everything is track-based and all the meta-data is also track-based? No grouping structures in the database like header/details = album/tracks? This would mean there is no such thing as "album" and album is just a subset of tracks/rows in the database filtered by "album" tag in a specific view?

In this case I would need: Album, Album Version, Priority tags and present it as a concatenation of "Album + Album Version" filtered by "Priority" ?
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MrC

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2013, 11:58:28 am »

MC doesn't tag data ISOs - I don't know about SACDs (don't have any handy).

MC is file-based.  It has an album analyzer, that determines the status of an album.  See:

    http://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/Multiple_Artist_Albums#Complete_Albums

Your views can switch on Album, and then below that (or adjacent if Panes), the variations.  You don't need to concatenate unless you want to see the variations at the top level.
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kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2013, 12:23:27 pm »

First off, SACD ISO files have almost nothing in common with other ISO files - for example, they are not readable by archive software like 7z.   The use of ".iso" for SACDs was foolish, to put it mildly.  (.sacd or .dsd would have been better)  It's basically similar to a whole-disk FLAC or APE file.

MC18 reads tag data from SACD ISO files when it imports them.   If you change a field and the do "Update Tags from Library", it reports success.

By the way, in Options->General, there is an option "Update tags when file info changes".  If you uncheck this, nothing will ever be written to your audio files.

" I feel the whole "album" concept is virtual in MC. Does it mean everything is track-based and all the meta-data is also track-based? "

Exactly.   (In fact, I think I have seen glynor write about this in the middle of threads, but it never really appears in any "FAQ" or "Intro"...)

This has some advantages, as you can use your own customization and definitions, rather than being stuck with someone else's.   The disadvantage, is that you have to spend some time doing it.  The point of my original post in the thread is to give some indication how that might be done, so other people don't have to start from scratch.


Vincent Kars

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2013, 01:37:41 pm »

I feel the whole "album" concept is virtual in MC. Does it mean everything is track-based and all the meta-data is also track-based?

It is very simple, it is file based.
Not track based but in practice, one often rip to 1 file per track
If you rip to one single file per album + CUE sheet you have 1 file containing an entire album.

If the model is file per track then of course an Album don’t exist as a physical entity.
JRiver thinks tracks belong to the same album if the tags “Album” and “Album Artist” are the same.
This is a definition based on the tags and the tags only.
The files don’t have to reside in the same folder, not even on the same HD.

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MrG

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Re: Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2013, 05:37:40 pm »

So all my versions of Pink Floyd DSOTM (sacd, blu-ray, mfsl, etc.) are in fact one album? What about cover art? Is cover attached to track? Every version has own cover style.
SACD ISO is one file with many tracks (plus stereo and mch). MFSL is one flac image plus cue. Blu-ray rip is a set of flac files.
Is there a problem that all of them have tag "Album=DSOTM" or should I add e.g. "[MFSL]" to album name?
Will all versions be analysed as one album? I mean gain, DR, spectrum, etc.
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kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2013, 06:31:52 pm »

Files are analyzed, regardless of their organization.

==

As far as Albums, I prefer (as detailed in the first post):

[Album] = Dark Side of the Moon
[Description] = 30th Anniversary Edition remastered by Doug Sax

or

[Album] = Dark Side of the Moon
[Description] = Original UK Harvest CD release made by Toshiba Japan

because the name of the album is not "Dark Side of the Moon Original UK Harvest", it's "Dark Side of the Moon".

So, then Description is a column right next to Album.

Once I have made a choice from amongst all the versions, I set [Keyword]= Superseded    on all the other versions, and then I have rule requiring that Keyword is not Superseded.   I then have a "Collection" view that doesn't block the Superseded versions, so that I can then see all of the versions.

MrC

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Re: Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2013, 06:48:47 pm »

So all my versions of Pink Floyd DSOTM (sacd, blu-ray, mfsl, etc.) are in fact one album? What about cover art? Is cover attached to track? Every version has own cover style.

SACD ISO is one file with many tracks (plus stereo and mch). MFSL is one flac image plus cue. Blu-ray rip is a set of flac files.
Is there a problem that all of them have tag "Album=DSOTM" or should I add e.g. "[MFSL]" to album name?
Will all versions be analysed as one album? I mean gain, DR, spectrum, etc.


No.  There is loose talk here.  You need to distinguish what a view presents, and other special treatment MC accords to a collection of files with the same Album, Album Artist, and Folder.

MC uses the heuristics mentioned in the link above to derive some album-ish concepts such as the Album Type (complete, multiple artists or single artist).  But you can group and collect files using any arbitrary grouping.  If all your DSOTM albums have the same Album name, the default views will present them in one group.  Users like yourself will generally modify the stock views to break apart the albums, based on path component, bit*, year released, version, etc.

Artwork shown in a view generally comes from the first image found based on the rules set out in Cover Art. This is one reason why one folder / album is useful (there are other reasons).  Or there can be category art, sometimes stacks of the cover art file for each album.  You can attach cover art to each track (and this has various benefits), or you can place a single cover art file adjacent to the audio files (e.g. Folder.jpg).

Audio analysis typically is done at the time of ripping (in which case, one CD/one album), or at the time of import (and typically this is one album/folder).

Users have seen cases where placing all their audio in a single folder confounds the album analyzer.
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6233638

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2013, 06:54:20 pm »

This is a great topic, because switching to MC18 recently has had me considering a lot of things like that, which I had not been before.
In fact, I had actually been specifically removing/editing a lot of tags in the past when ripping discs for the sake of simplicity in library management rather than total accuracy.
With the amount of information MC18 can display and group/sort/filter your results by, accuracy seems to make sense again.

Using the [Description] tag seems a good fit to describe which version of the album it is, if it's not the standard release (too bad there is not a [Version] or [Release] tag) and so does using the "superseded" keyword to mark the versions that should (generally) be avoided if you still want to keep them for some reason. I will also be adding the "remix" keyword to songs where it applies, so I can selectively include/ignore them. (I often don't like remixed tracks)

I disagree with how you handle artist though. I prefer to include all contributing artists on a per-track basis (normally it's just the band, and then only a couple of tracks on an album at most have contributors) but I only have the band in [Album Artist] and group by that, rather than the [Artist] tag.


I have a couple of questions though. On some albums you will find that on the back of the case, the tracks are listed under separate headings.
For example, tracks 1-10 might come under one heading, and tracks 11-20 might come under another.

How do you propose handling that?


And what about bonus discs? Are they just disc 2 of the album? Are they "[Album] - Bonus Disc" ?
What if it has its own title rather than just "Bonus Disc"?
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MrC

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2013, 07:16:13 pm »

The answer to the latter questions are directly related to how you want to search for, group for presentation, play music, and perform additional internal and external operations (sync to HH, convert, import/use with other software, etc).

The key concept to take away - use the fields, and make your own for your use.  Concatenation of data and decision making (i.e. for views) is much simpler when data is broken into discrete, meaningful pieces.  Pulling pieces from combined names is typically much harder without a very consistent pattern to use for splitting.
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kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2013, 07:22:22 pm »

First, the Artist thing is just a personal preference, since nothing fits perfectly at the moment.

IF [Album Artist] and [Album Artist (auto)] were also "List" datatypes, then I would use Album Artist for the album, and Artist would then be free to specify individual track variations.

But after long consideration, I ended up feeling that the "List" datatype was critical for my use (see discussion in this thread), so I needed to use Artist (and I could put "featuring special guest Joe Blow" into the track title, if I felt it was important).

Since it is imperfect, then personal preference is certainly important (and the customization ability of MC18 allows each person to do whatever they like).

==

In regards to Bonus disks, that falls into the category of "deciding each case individually".

One could have "Complete Fillmore West" and "Complete Fillmore West Bonus Disk" as two different albums, OR one could just act as if the bonus disk was the last disk of a multiple disk set.   It depends on whether I would ever want to play the Bonus Disk separately "because it is a bonus disk".   If not, then I would do the latter - and just putting "Bonus Disk" into the Description would insure that information is shown in Playing Now.

==

Regarding "songs" or "pieces" which are broken up into multiple tracks without individual song titles, I don't see that often, and when it occurs, the online databases usually just will add (Part 1 of 10)... (Part 10 of 10) to the ends of the track titles.

==

Lastly, any discussion of tags makes clear that words don't work very well to describe music - as is clearly seen when trying to assign a "genre" to fringe and oddball music.   So, "total accuracy" is not an attainable goal.  For example, I recently failed to find a release date for a relatively well known album in the early 60's by a top artist (nothing in the original liner notes or on the cover or any other online info).   Yesterday, I noticed on the back of a CD, a statement reading "the original recording engineer is unknown" - for another major album from that time period.

So, better to use the database to help you find music to play, rather than trying to making a reference work...

kstuart

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2013, 12:52:29 am »

Interesting... when you change MC18's Field Properties for an SACD ISO, and then do "Update Tags from Library", it reports success, something like "7 tags written (0 failures)".

But the date on the ISO file does not change, and when you open it with foobar, the tags have not changed.

Is there a "sidecar" file being written with the tags somewhere ?

MrG

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2013, 05:13:07 am »

I still have a problem with "Album" tag and the "album" concept regarding multiple album versions/releases.
No problem with data presentation in views. I can organize things my way.
The problem is the virtual concept of "album" became real when various analysis take place. Dynamic Range is not yet implemented but it may be (MC19?) introduced soon. We have there Album DR and Track DR. The same for Album Gain. Similar thing for spectrum analysis.
I can imagine the analysis will be done after all my files got imported to the library (say, DR introduced in MC19). The analysis routine must know what an "album" is. I guess it will take into consideration an "Album" and "Album Artist (auto)" tags and maybe some other variables (bitdepth, channels, DSD/PCM, etc.) and this may work in most cases. The one case it won't is my MFSL vs. Jpn 1st CD release. Both CD and both similar. Will both be analysed as one album?
I guess there is no option to show MC18 what makes an album? Like "Album Grouping Level" where I can drag "Album", "Album Artist (auto)" and my own "Album Version" tags? All further data analysis based on this setting?
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6233638

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #28 on: March 23, 2013, 04:38:48 am »

From having just imported a 2CD set that I ripped as "Album (CD1)" and "Album (CD2)" by mistake (forgot to check the tags) so that each disc ended up in its own directory, and then fixing the tags inside MC18 (removing "CD1" and "CD2" so they were grouped as one album) it looks like Analyze Audio actually only writes track gain, and album gain is calculated based on what tracks are considered to be an "album".

If they are not inside the same directory - even if they have the same [Album] tags - MC18 does not consider them to be an album as far as ReplayGain is concerned. Discs 1 & 2 had different Album Gains until I ran "Rename, Move, & Copy Files..." to put them into a single directory - at which point the Album Gain updated across all the tracks.

So as long as you don't have multiple versions of an album inside the same folder, it should not be a problem. I've started using "delimit([Year], /], /[) - [Album]" rather than just "[Album]" for my folder structure recently, which should mean this never happens.


While calculating album gain like this seems a smart way to handle things, it could potentially cause problems in the future if you wanted to move away from MC18. It doesn't write this information into the files at all, so you would have to analyze your entire library again if you wanted album gain outside of MC18.
It doesn't remove album gain information that's already there - it simply ignores it - but I had stopped dBpoweramp from adding ReplayGain information when ripping CDs because MC18 will not automatically analyze the audio for any tracks you import that already have ReplayGain information, even if they are lacking BPM & Intensity information. (which Analyze Audio also calculates)

Though this is more of a theoretical problem right now - I don't see myself moving away from MC18 any time soon. It's just that I prefer things to be as "platform agnostic" as possible.
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jaxtherogue

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #29 on: August 27, 2015, 05:25:50 pm »

Classical

The online databases are notoriously poor for classical music, although they do have some entries, so be prepared to do a lot of the tagging yourself.

Composer - This is the most important Field that is needed for Classical Music, and less so for other music.  Yes, it is possible (and perhaps helpful) to have "Bob Dylan" as the Composer for Jimi Hendrix's performance of "All Along the Watchtower" - but it is not crucial.

But it's crucial for Classical.  So, to start with, I add "Composer" Field as an early column in Playing Now.  In cases where a pop song is a cover, you will see information there, otherwise blank space, but MC18 does not have dynamic Playing Now columns.

So, to minimize the lost space (and to give more space for other classical fields), I use Last Name Only for Composer.  So, "Mozart" rather than "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart".   Whereas we can see dozens of people with the same last name in Jazz or other popular music,  we don't see that in Classical.  (In those cases where the Composer has a descendent, I just add the initials to the end, eg "Bach,JC".)

Date - For the date, I use the same pattern as for other music - I use the date that would be most helpful for sorting in "Year - Album" in the Date field, and I put the other date(s) in Description, along with the same Release information.

The Date that is most helpful for me in choosing Classical Music to play is the Date of Composition.  That way, it sorts with earlier Mozart first, followed by later Mozart.

Work - Here is the one exception to the "album based" focus of this article.  Classical albums often have several works in one album - or in multiple disk sets.  The flexible View-based software of MC18 allows the Classical fan to see which performances he owns of a particular work - such as Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
Amazingly, while MC18 supports "Conductor", "Orchestra" and "Soloists" fields (and use those if they are useful to you), there is no "Work" field, so you are going to have to create your own Custom Field.  For instruction on that, see:

http://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/File_Properties_%28tags%29#Custom_Fields

Artist - I just use the primary artist who is responsible for the performance, usually the Conductor for something like a Symphony, often the soloist for a Concerto, etc.   Since Artist is a list field, you can put both the soloist and the Conductor if you like.   You can then also use the Conductor and Orchestra and Soloists fields if you are going to sort by those.  (If you do, modify these instructions for both tagging and Views to suit.)

You can then make a Classical View as follows:

Take Panes, and make a Rule "Genre is any " and then select all your Classical Genres.  Then change the 3 panes to "Composer", "Work" and "Artist".   When you save, tell it to not overwrite the default Panes, and it will make a Panes Copy which you can rename "Classical".


I'm motivated to put a Work field to use. As many works are spread across multiple tracks have you ever found a way to have a view that shows multi-track single works as a single entity, i.e. the 5 tracks for each of the 5 movements of Beethoven String Quartet #13 in B Flat, Op.130 displaying as a single work rather than 5 tracks?  Seem like that's not how MC works, but I have been surprised before so I thought it worth asking.
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JimH

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Re: Album friendly Media Library setup thoughts (long)
« Reply #30 on: August 27, 2015, 10:54:24 pm »

Search for Linked Tracks here and on our wiki. 
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