MP3 Diags is a free program that can scan your audio library for problems (including issues with invalid streams, low quality issues, incomplete tags, audio normalization, and others) and provides the ability to fix these.
It includes an audio tag editor that can pull track data from MusicBrainz and Discogs, and can use MP3Gain from within the MP3Diags interface to perform audio normalization.
Note, however, that this program is not geared for users looking for a 1-click fix, but rather for users with some technical background. MP3 Diags is multiplatform (Windows/Linux)
Your audio library likely comes from a hodge-podge of sources; tracks that you ripped from CDs using different programs and settings over the years, tracks that you downloaded from sites and file sharing services, and tracks that you bought from services such as iTunes, etc.
This means that unless you have put in a lot of time and energy fixing tags, normalizing volume, and generally doing maintenance on your audio files your audio library probably has a lot of issues that need to be remedied (including many problems that you were never aware of). This is where MP3 Diags steps is to discover, diagnose, and fix any problems or other issues that your audio library may have.
Problems? What Problems?
The most visible problem are of course tagging and missing normalization data, but there are other, more technical issues that you may not be aware of. MP3 Diags, to quote its website, “is a one stop solution that identifies more than 50 different issues in MP3 files and provides the means to fix many of them”. These (again from the website) include broken tags/headers/audio, duplicate tags/headers, incorrect placement of tags/headers, low quality audio, missing VBR header, missing (or broken) track info/cover art, missing normalization data, and character encoding issues (for languages other than English).
What I like about this program
Is that it doesn’t just diagnose, it includes the tools to fix. However, here’s a specific list of things I like about this MP3 Diags
- Full fledged Tag editor: which is really very cool. I like that you can copy from one “cell” in its Excel-like grid, then paste into multiple places.
- MusicBrainz (and Discogs) integration: it includes a full fledged tag editor that can pull data from Musicbrainz and Discogs. (Musicbrainz is a community based digital thumbprinting database that can identify and tag audio files with no tag or filename information).
- Volume normalization: uses external app Mp3Gain to process and normalize albums, in order to ensure that played tracks from different albums or different source don’t exhibit volumes that are too loud or too low on transition. To enable Mp3Gain download the zipped version of that program nd extract in the MP3 Diags directory.
- Tooltips: while most of the issues that MP3Diags are technical and in many cases not easily understandable, the program will let you hover over the different columns and get an instant explanation. This makes the program so much more accessible and easier to use for novices and experts alike.
- Maintains backups of changed files
Wish list (or how this program can be even better):
- A “fix everything” button: as it is there are a number of “action” buttons, and each will perform a certain group of fixes (which are editable in the settings). However, I found myself clicking on these on after the other in order to get all the issues taken care of.
- Search box: although there are many kinds of filters available for sorting through files, it is not possible to filter by typing in a string of text, which I found very strange.
- Column sort: issues found are laid out in a grid, and it was strange to discover that I couldn’t click on column heads in order to sort by these.
- Context menu integration for the tag editor: i.e. the ability to right click on a folder or selected audio files and open these in the tag editor. This is one thing that Mp3Tag does which I love, and I wish this program would do it as well.
The verdict: I’ve seen a handful of programs that scan your audio library to identify quality issues, but MP3Diag is without a doubt in a league of its own. If you’ve every wished there was a single program that can help you identify problems in your audio library and allow you to fix then you’ve found it.
Some caveats though: this program is still in beta so be mindful of that if you encounter any bugs (I didn’t). Also note that what constitutes low quality is user defined in the settings, so change that according to your preference.
My experience with this program is that it works great; however, I often found myself a little … incredulous (may be the word) … that problems were found with audio files that I didn’t think had anything wrong with them (such as containing invalid streams for example). In cases like these, you could either use the auto backup and apply the fix or simply decide to move on. In my case I did the former without adverse effects, and I actually have a high degree of trust that the program “knows what its doing”. Highly recommended.
Version Tested: 0.99.06.042
Compatibility: Windows, Linux.