How to catalog audio files (MP3, OGG, etc.)
This is one of the many ways to keep order amongst audio files and to catalog them. The purpose of cataloging is to have an instrument to always know where a MP3 or OGG file is, if it has been backed up on cd or dvd, how many audio files or hours of music there are on disk, nonetheless to generate playlists by genre or author or by other criteria.
- I name the audio files using this schema:
Author - Title.mp3. When they are many, a big help come from tools to rename multiple files at once, such as Total Commander Multiple rename function (Ctrl + M) (Total Commander is shareware)
- sometimes a MP3 editor to cut and paste pieces of MP3s can be useful, for instance when you bought a remix cd and you want to keep on the disk the single songs, or you want to cut a boring piece at the begin or end of a song (some techno remixes are long and boring at the begin, but great after the first 1 or 2 minutes). A fast and very small editor is mp3DirectCut.
- correct the ID3 tags of title and author to make them identical to those in the file name: this way all MP3s will be displayed in the same way in MP3 players such as Winamp (for Windows) or XMMS (for Linux) and in the car audio system display (if some MP3s miss the ID3 tags or have them all uppercase or all lowercase). To do that, a useful program is ID3-TagIT: select the files, then select the menu item ID3-Functions, Filename -> Tag ver. 2 and type
<A> - <T>(artist, hyphen, title) or whatever you like, then ID3-Functions, Filename -> Tag ver. 1 and still
<A> - <T>; finally File, Save to apply the changes
- I lower the bitrate to 128 kbps when it's too high, for instance 320 kps. Why? It would occupy too much space while having no hearable advantages (for my ears). The program I use is CDex: Convert, Re-encode Compressed Audio Files; the encoding options can be customized in Options, Settings (the encoder, the bitrate, etc.).
To see the bitrate of many mp3s at the same time, Windows XP Explorer is very useful: View, Choose Details, Bitrate; the files can be ordered by bitrate, selected and moved in another folder, so that when you have to reencode them with CDex you can select all the files in the "wrong bitrate" folder instead of selecting the "wrong bitrate" files one by one.
- when some mp3s have a volume that's too high or too low compared with the average, with MP3 Gain the volume can be normalized to the dB specified (I use 96.0 dB): Track Analysis to see the current dB, then Track Gain.
- if I'm going to add a bunch of mp3s to my collection and I want them to have the same date and time (to know they came together), I touch * them in the temporary folder they stay before moving them to my collection folder: touch.exe is a command coming from unix which sets the current (or the specified) timestamp to the specified files.
- organize the audio files in folders as you wish, for instance by genre or author.
- first I generate a list of mp3s with MP3 Lister, a tool which can be configured to export all the ID3 tags you want in the order you want, and it can create a txt, csv or html list
- then I import the text file in a spreadsheet (I wrote a macro to make the import automatic).
- I wrote other macros to automatically order the MP3 files, check for duplicates and generate playlists by genre.
m3u files (Winamp playlists) are simply text files containing a mp3 path and file name on every row.