Music Syncing and the Cloud in Windows 8

Quite, quite some time ago, I posted here (http://richardjgreen.net/2009/11/26/music-library-masterpiece-part-1/) about all of the work I had put into my music library like naming the files, folders updating ID3v2 tags and applying Folder.jpg and embedded album art to all the tracks.

The updated version of the Windows 8 Music app includes a feature now where if you allow it to scan your music library and match songs to those in the Xbox Music Store then you can get streaming access to those files on any other Windows 8 or Windows RT device linked to your Microsoft ID.

This is a brilliant feature, truly great as it means I can, for example, have my full library at home and my core listening taste available physically in the office for tune-out project work listening, then if I want to listen to something out of the ordinary, Xbox Music will allow me to stream it as it knows I already own it from either physical CD ripped or from another download service like Amazon MP3.

The problem is, I used Amazon as my data source when I updated all my music previously, and it appears that some of the album and track titles, mainly around versions and editions varies between the two which means that not all of my music has been detected and as such isn’t all available in the cloud.

Bummer. Music Masterpiece Mk. II I sense in the works.

As for the feature as a whole, I think it’s missing one thing to complete the picture. The ability to stream music which was matched on your Windows 8 PC to your Windows Phone 8 device and your Xbox. That would complete the holy three screens and the cloud trinity for me.

Music Library Masterpiece: Part 2

As my music library undertaking continues to get the better of me, I thought I’d post about a few things that have happened since I last wrote anything:

1: FLAC Vs. MP3 and CBR Vs. VBR

I have spent a lot of time reading about FLAC Vs. MP3 and come to the conclusion (with the help of GoldWave and some Bandstop filters) that I can’t tell the difference between an MP3 and a FLAC file, but let’s be clear here. When I say MP3, I don’t mean some tatty old 64 Kbps file that was thrown together the day MP3 was invented. I’m talking about an MP3 which was ripped from a FLAC file at VBR –V0 using LAME encoder.

Using the Bandstop in GoldWave and some research online, I found that the MP3 has audio data all the way up to about 20,000 Hz, which is the point at which all I start to hear is echoes  and silence which means that the extra 20MB of disk space occupied by the FLAC just isn’t worth it.

I used to rip all my old stuff in CBR 320 Kbps until I read an article online discussing the finer points of CBR Vs. VBR which lead me to realise that VBR –V0 gives the same if not better quality audio for smaller file sizes due to the variable element of it. What I think mislead me with VBR in the past is that a VBR –V0 file reports in Windows as the average bit rate of the track and not the maximum. A Texas song I have here for example shows itself as 266 Kbps but the waveform within the file proves it has the same info as the CBR 320 Kbps file.

2: Stereo Vs. Joint Stereo

It’s too complicated to go into here, but basically LAME encoder uses the better of two algorithms which means Joint Stereo  is as good as the forced stereo.

3: I think I hate Windows Media Player – Still undecided though

From my last post you will know I’m taking a lot of time to get the 500×500 px high resolution artwork for all my albums so that they will look delicious on my Zune and possibly Windows Media Center or Xbox in the future. To my disgust today, I noticed that a lot of my artworks are now 200×200 px and that a lot of the AlbumArtSmall_??????????????.jpg files have returned. My only assumption is that this is the doing of Windows Media Center when I re-added all my music to it for the purpose of streaming to the PS3.

Not impressed to say the least. Although the MP3’s have the 500×500 px versions embedded still, the folder.jpg version is still important. The next step is to re-apply the high resolution versions and then mark them as Read-Only to see if this stops Windows Media Player changing them.

Music Library Masterpiece: Part 1

Do you ever get the feeling you’ve bitten off far more than you should chew?

When I first start running I read that listening to music over 130 BPM is ideal because the music helps to keep you going, whilst listening to low BPM music will slow you down. I discovered a great program called BPM Analyzer which scans your MP3 and WMA files and adds the BPM to the ID3 tag on the file.

My plan was to do this, and then create playlist based on music over 130 BPM, however I hit a problem. Some of my MP3’s wouldn’t scan. From a previous lesson with iTunes and MP3 corruption, I grabbed a copy of MP3val to validate the MP3’s for errors. Sure enough lots of MP3’s had errors, some of which couldn’t be fixed.

The big thing here though was what I noticed during the repair session – The filenames on my MP3’s where all disorganised not to mention the folder structure and tagging. My mission therefore was to organise and sort my music library.

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