Vanishing ID3 tags

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Post by rf » October 1st, 2009, 7:30 am


I did some trouble shooting of the ID3 tag problem, you informed me of. You didn't see the ID3 tags, and yet I remember putting ID3 tags in the MP3 file. I can confirm that both of us are right!

***** Long-winded explanation follows, get cup of coffee now ;-):

FYI, on my PC at home, I'm running Slackware 13 (64 bit) Linux and using Audacity 1.3.7.

When I export the audio book from Audacity ".aup" file to mp3, I put the desired data in the ID3 tags with Audacity's editor. I've inspected the ID3 tags in the ".mp3" file with four applications, including Audacity (opening the ".mp3" file separately), soxi (an application that displays metadata), Juk (a jukebox media player) and a hex-editor (an application that allows binary editing of a file). In all four applications the ID3 tags appear in the file and correct.

On the other hand, when I open the ".mp3" file in XMMS (a media player, with an ID3 tag editor) there is no data in the ID3 tags, as shown in the editor.

I assume the application that you open the ".mp3" file in, is like my XMMS, and you see no ID3 tags.

I think I've found the problem. Unfortunately, I don't have an easy solution. I may have a clumsy solution.

Further examination with the hex-editor indicates that the ID3 information is placed by Audacity is at the beginning of the ".mp3" file (only). However, some applications appear put duplicate ID3 tag information at the end of the ".mp3" file, also.

The applications, Audacity, soxi and JuK, apparently use the ID3 information at the beginning of the file. XMMS (and presumably your application) uses the ID3 information at the end of the ".mp3" file. I don't know which is "formally" correct. I suspect "formal correctness" is irrelevant.

Therefore, I place and see ID3 tags, and you don't. Ergo, I've put them in and you don't see them; we both are right.

Furthermore, I don't know if this occurs on Windows/Audacity or with audio editors other than Audacity. I have neither a Windows PC nor another audio editor to work with.

Next, I can use the editor in XMMS to add the duplicate information at the end of the ".mp3" file as a separate extra step.

Thus, I have several questions for you:

- Would you be willing to inspect a file so edited (by XMMS with duplicate ID3 tags at the end)?

- Is there any Librivox issue with uploading a test file for this purpose (it can be deleted as soon as you determine whether or not you can see the ID3 tags)? Disk space considerations and all that.

- Please let me know.

Should you see the ID3 tags in the test file, then we know the source of the problem. I see the ID3 tags in the file with XMMS, after editing with the XMMS tag editor. Also, I see the tags at both the beginning and end of the XMMS editted file, in the hex-editor.

In addition, I've seen this problem in several books that I've contributed to. I was wondering if there was so many forgetful people, or something else was occurring. I suspect that "this" is the something else is occuring (over and above to much less frequent forgetfullness).

As a solution (if you see the ID3 tags in the XMMS editted ".mp3" file), I can use XMMS to post process the ".mp3" file. Other Linux users could post process the ID3 tags XMMS also. This is clumsy but not difficult. If this tag issue occurs on Windows/Audacity, I assume that there is some ID3 tag editor that they could use for post processing. If you don't see the ID3 tags in a file post-processed with XMMS, I'll need to find another solution. Perhaps, I can find a ID3 tag editor for Linux, I've not looked for one lately.

As an aside, I assume that someone at LibriVox has been post processing the ".mp3" files that I've contributed, and I was unaware of it. I check several previous contributions. There are ID3 tags using Audacity, but no ID3 tags in XMMS. Perhaps this ID3 tag issue is even a known problem that I was unaware of.

If this is not a known problem (other than some people regularly upload files that don't appear to have ID3 tags), perhaps there is somewhere in the LibriVox forums that this discussion can be placed, in order to alert people to the quirkiness of some applications and the need to possibly post process the ".mp3" files to include "all" the ID3 tags. Perhaps a better worded/explained discussion (than this one) can be posted.

Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

Ric F.

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Post by RuthieG » October 1st, 2009, 2:20 pm

Well, I'll bite the bullet and admit that I drifted off about halfway through your post, and understood even less. :lol:

I downloaded your two Arabian Nights files, and the three Short Sci-Fi ones.

All I can tell you, as a Windows user, is that for all your files, both those already catalogued and those that are in works still in progress:

1. All the ID tags appear correctly as metadata in Audacity.
2. None of the ID tags appears in the file properties in Windows.
3. The title tag does not appear when played in Creative Mediasource.
4. The title tag does appear when played in VLC media player.
3. All the ID tags do appear correctly on my MP3 player.

The MC of Short Sci-Fi 26 and 27 (luciburg) may remember if she had to do anything with the ID tags in the validator during the cataloguing process. I doubt if there was any post-processing of the file itself.

I hope this helps, but it probably doesn't. ;)

EDIT: If you want to do a test file for this, upload as you would a normal recording, choosing the tests-tests folder on the uploader. See and paste the link in this thread.

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Post by annise » October 1st, 2009, 8:03 pm

I can't add to the whys but you are not alone - I have had problems prooflistening - I remind people that their files need ID tags to be told by them and everyone else that they are there. I thought it was due to my somewhat senior computer or with the different versions of tags around but have never looked into it


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Post by rf » October 2nd, 2009, 8:02 am


I've uploaded a copy of my submission for SciFi028, Instinct by George O. Smith, with the mp3 file being post processed to have ID3 tags at both the beginning and end of the file. The URL is:

Please let me know if you see ID3 tags in Windows File Properties and Creative Mediasource.

I double checked the ID3 tag locations in both the new upload and the previous upload. The status is:

previous (downloaded from the SciFi028 magic window): instinct_smith_rf.mp3 has ID3 tags at the front only.

new: instinct_smith_rf-id3_test-front_back.mp3 has ID3 tags in both the front and the back of the file.

If you see ID3 tags in Windows file properties and Mediasource in the new file, then we have a handle on the technical details of the problem. We could ask the Audacity guys to look at what the XMMS guys do with ID3 tags and add an identical feature, in addition to their current ID3 handling. Hopefully the Audacity guys would be receptive. Persuading Microsoft and Creative is likely a bit more of a problem.

If you don't see the tags, then the problem is different and I need to start trouble shooting all over again.

Your information is helpful in that it helps localize and identify the scope of the problem.

In the short term, warn people that this is a known problem and being worked on. We could come up with a list of applications and how they read ID3 tags. We could let people know that in some applications the ID3 tags won't be seen, even though the tags are there. This list is not easy, in that it is difficult to associate a given audio editor, tag location and which applications see/don't see the tags across different individuals. None the less, a list will serve to inform people that the issue is being worked.

A first cut a such a list might be something like:
From.....................: rf
Audio Editor...........: Audacity (Ver 1.3.7)
Operating System..: Linux, Slackware 13.0 (64-bit)
ID3 tags seen.........: Audacity (Ver. 1.3.7), Amarok (Ver 2.1.1), Juk (Ver. 3.2.3), Okteta
ID3 tags not seen...: XMMS (Ver. 1.2.11)

Note: Okteta is a hex editor not a music player. Okteta allows someone to look at the digital guts of a file, sort of a file X-ray so to speak.
From......................: RuthieG
Audio Editor............: ?
Operating System..: Windows (XP, Vista, 7 ?)
ID3 tags seen.........: Audacity, VLC, MP3 Player
ID3 tags not seen...: Windows File Properties, Creative Media Source

add others as the information is volunteered. Eventually someone would need to turn the collected information into a webpage/document.

Please let me know about the tags. What do you think of bringing the Audacity guys into this and about a list.

Ric F.

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Post by RuthieG » October 2nd, 2009, 8:53 am

You are definitely on the right track. Here are my findings with the new file with ID3 tags at both the beginning and end of the file:

From......................: RuthieG
Audio Editor............: Audacity 1.3.4
Operating System...: Windows (XP Pro 32 bit)
ID3 tags seen.........: Audacity 1.3.4, VLC, generic MP3 Player, Windows File Properties*, Creative Media Source 3, Creative Media Source 5

*Album tag truncated to 30 characters in Windows File Properties. The other tags are short anyway, so I don't know if it happens with all the tags. When I imported the MP3 into Audacity, then re-exported as MP3 with the same tags, it still did the same. However, when I deleted the album tag and re-typed it in identically, it then showed correctly in Windows File Properties after exporting as MP3.
What do you think of bringing the Audacity guys into this and about a list.
I think it is an excellent idea. I should like to see other people's findings with different software, e.g. Windows Media Player, Quicktime, iTunes, Winamp, RealPlayer, foobar.

I share your doubts about Microsoft and Creative. Creative cannot/will not even produce working sound card drivers for 64 bit Windows. :?

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Post by rf » October 5th, 2009, 7:45 am


- I looked at an ID3 tag editor called Easytag. It is available for Linux and Windows, at:

- My older version of Easytag (V1.99 for Linux, 32 bit) puts tags at both the beginning and end of MP3 files. The tag at the beginning of the MP3 file is complete. However, like XMMS, the album tag at the end is truncated to 30 characters.

- I wonder if the longer tags are a Windows extension to the ID3/MP3 protocols.

- I plan to try Pytag from Sourceforge later today. If Pytag would work, it is useable on both Linux and Windows, though should a Windows user want to use Pytag, then they would need to install python in addition. Python is not a normal Windows component; but Python for Windows is available for free.

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Post by rf » October 6th, 2009, 7:42 am


The short story:

It is very unlikely that any file with the tag generated on Linux will have complete tags as seen on Windows File Properties and some applications.

The long story:
ID3 tags come in two main flavors Version 1 (aka ID3V1) and Version 2 (aka ID3V2).

The issue appears to be that version 1 of the ID3 tags have a limit on the number of characters in some fields.
- This is part of the ID3V1 standard.
- See below for further information on ID3 tags.
- The Linux applications (Audacity/id3lib) adhere to the standard.

If Librivox has a serious need for complete ID3 tags at the end of mp3 files (ID3V1, where Windows looks), then either:
- Someone on Windows will need to edit the ID3V1 tags for each mp3 file, adding the longer data for entries over 30 characters, or
- The projects will need to keep Title, Artist and Album tags to 30 characters or less.
- Maybe the Audacity/id3lib guys would help. We could ask them to implement the extended tags (60 characters).

Of course we could just live with it.

Thanks. Ric F.

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Post by RuthieG » October 6th, 2009, 8:36 am

We always use ID3v2 tags. :?

I don't know enough about ID tags (nor, to be honest, do I want to) to dig any further. All I know is that we have to convert any ID3 v1 tags to ID3 v2, when we validate projects. We frequently have to correct tags in the Validator for a number of reasons. I really wouldn't worry too much about it. :)

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