MusicBrainz Picard Tagger review

Picard MusicBrainz proves that programmers shouldn’t be allowed to name applications they create. It’s an application designed for anyone whose iTunes library needs a thorough spring clean. And not just finding duplicates or removing orphaned files, but cleaning up the descriptive tags embedded in your music files too. These tell your music player, whether it’s iTunes, your iPod or another device, vital information about a track – artist name, album title, track number, that sort of thing. Sometimes, when you rip a CD or, um, ‘acquire’ music from other sources, that data is missing or messed up.

MusicBrainz is an open source alternative to the Gracenote Music Database. It’s a user-edited database containing the information you need to identify musical tracks on your system – including track length and Acoustic Fingerprints (PUIDs). You can access and browse the database on the web, or use the desktop client Picard Tagger to scan MusicBrainz and rewrite the tags attached to your existing music collection.

This all sounds super. A free application that automatically trawls through your MP3s and fixes the metadata? Bring it on! Alas, the client itself is cumbersome and the process of reviewing files very slow. It’s best to do the job bit by bit as the tool will take an age to chew through your entire music collection – and may appear to have frozen during the job. The interface is difficult to understand out of the box. We just really need a button that says “fix my music”, not a load of blather about clusters (albums, in turns out) and AddDiskIDs.

OUR VERDICT

In short – a great idea in theory. In practice, Picard Tagger requires significant investment of time to get the best from its admittedly powerful toolset.

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