Artwork question with different formats

I am in the process of digitising a vinyl collection. It's going to take me an age, and I have worked out a number of things that will help to keep track of things (heavy use of Keyboard Maestro for certain actions).

All of the artwork is handled inside MP3Tag, but I add this artwork in fairly early in the workflow while file type is still WAV or AIFF. Ultimately, I will do a batch process (in Audacity) that loads all the files then exports as AAC.

I just did a small test on a file that has already gone through all the refinement and it includes the artwork. Having exported to AAC, I loaded that AAC file in MP3Tag and the artwork is present. However, when I drag the file into the Music app, the artwork is not present. But AAC is a format that does/should support artwork (saved with .m4a extension).

How can I ensure that artwork added while still in WAV/AIFF stage is retained in a way that will be visible in Music app? Presumably this is a problem introduced by exporting in Audacity?

Thanks in advance.

I’m certain that Audacity does not use album art in wav files, so when converting or exporting from there the new files will also be missing the artwork. You may need to consider adding the artwork after the conversion stage if you plan to keep them in wav. Or you could rip to FLAC instead of wav to start.

Yeah, it looks like I will have to rethink the workflow, do all the tagging right at the end. I think I've wasted a bit of time/effort on this over the week ... but still finding out early, really!

Hmmmm, a bigger rethink may be necessary. It's not just the artwork that is the issue. All of the ID3 tags that I am saving seem fine in the WAV files when I do a Quick Look in Finder (SPACE to play).

but when I drag the WAV into Music app, it does not show/use the ID3 tag data - it shows the filename:

Clearly I have a bigger issue to resolve than just artwork.

What am I missing here? I presume it's something silly that I am doing.

The original wav format doesn’t really support any tags. So in the Music app you will only get the basic details. If the main player is going to be the Apple Music player, consider ALAC as your main lossless format that has full metadata tag support.

My plan was either to drag all the WAVs into Music and then do conversions in there to AAC (then delete the WAVs, but I will have a backup of those WAVs elsewhere) OR do a bulk export with Audacity to AAC. I'm not actually going to use lossless in the library, due to file size.

However, the thing I don't get is why it does show the ID3 data just fine when using Quick Look (first image), but ignores it all in the Music app. Very odd.

OK, so let's say that in my workflow I should not worry about tagging files until the audio is at the mp3 or AAC stage ... and then do the necessary in MP3TAG. That would be most reliable, right? I can still format filenames in a way that makes it easy to parse the data early on.

But what could/should I do about the 300 or so files (WAV) that I have already spent time tagging in the app this week, and adding artwork? I don't want to lose that data/time spent. Realistically, what are my options for getting this data on to the final files once they are AAC format?

Likely a difference between what the OS does for Quick Look versus the Music app.

You could load both the new set of files with the old. Sort them by directory, then disc/track to make sure the order matches. Then select all of the wav files and copy the tags, then select all of the new aac files and paste those correct tags. Since mp3tag can grab the complete contents of the wav data, all should be the same as the wav files.

For the rest of the world probably FLAC is the format of choice. Full tag support, also pretty lossless.

Correct, but not for users that are primarily using iTunes or the more recent Mac version of that under Apple’s Music app. Since FLAC is still not supported by Apple, the closest equivalent is ALAC. Note that this format provides similar benefits and lossless compression, however one key advantage FLAC does have is the ability to check file integrity over time.

I would need to check what support that file format has in one other important app - Traktor Pro (DJ Software). Whatever format must work in that DJ software, but that's for me to look into. I am happy with AAC as a format, though, as I cannot perceive any lossiness and the file sizes are good. I will retain the WAV backup regardless and, given that these are rips from vinyl, with all the noise/crackles that provides, I cannot be too precious about this anyway; EVERY file with have some flaws of some kind anyway.

OK, so let's assume that the files are exactly the same from old to new in terms of filename (they are) except for file extension. If I have them in two finder windows sorted by filename, they will 100% marry up.

But ... how exactly do I copy/paste tags from files like this? I see options for renaming files from tags, importing from text files etc, but no 'copy from files' options.

Is there an intermediary step? For example:

  1. Load up the 300 WAV files that are tagged
  2. Export all Tag data. ... somehow/somewhere
  3. Load up the 300 AAC versions
  4. Import tags from source

I thought this might be the approach, but having checked the export options, CSV seems to be the format, but that won't include the artwork because it is not text.

So I'm still not clear on the mechanism for copy/paste, based on the options I see in the app. If you could let me know the steps I need to take, I'll give that a try. Thanks :slight_smile:

No export is required. Highlight all of the original songs in the order you expect, right click and select “Copy Tags” in that menu. Then highlight the new songs that are in the same order, right click, and select Paste Tags.

Ah, see if I had seen a 'Copy Tags' option that would have been easy/obvious, but ...

It just says Copy, so my assumption was that this was copying files. Same with the Paste option, it does not say 'Paste Tags'

However, I note that having done that, the dialog that VERY briefly appears indicates it is pasting tags.

So now I understand this is the process, but the UI was not clear that this is what it would do.

Also ... it doesn't copy/paste artwork :frowning:

Maybe a difference between pc/Mac version?

It should copy all embedded tags. Is the artwork from the wav file just associated to the file, or actually embedded? I think I have already mentioned a couple of times that the wav format has very little tag support.

That I don't know. I am not sure how I would tell. What I can say is how I added the artwork which is either

a) the result of a lookup on dicogs in the app and applying it there or
b) me taking a photo on my phone which then syncs to the Photos app on macOS via iCloud) when I then drag/drop

I assumed this would embed to the file, but was not aware this might not be the case.

Sure, you have, and I get that. But I don't understand the finer details of it and was only going by what I could see in the app, namely that I was able to add images to WAV files. However, if they are only there by association, that leads me to my next question: where/how are they stored/associated? Is it added to a DB that MP3Tag uses which only makes sense when viewed in the app?

It looks increasingly like I should not make any attempt at all to add images until the files are converted to AAC/ALAC, and just concentrate on the other metadata, filename consistency for now.

I would still like to understand how/if I can copy the artwork on those existing 300 files across somehow. Or accept I'll need to re-do that?


It may ultimately go back to this part of your workflow, at least moving forward. If you are only going to keep the wav files somewhere else as an archive for backup, I would reconsider this and use FLAC that audacity can manage natively. That way the files sizes are still smaller than wav, they are truly lossless, you can maintain the full metadata structure including your artwork, and you have the benefit of the Checksum feature so you can be certain the files were not corrupted at some stage. I can’t see how keeping a wav file would be of benefit here.

As a last resort, you could at least try to use the wav file tags, copy the artwork from the tag panel display, then paste that into the panel for the new files.

Otherwise, as far as the current situation goes, we may be getting to the point that the time spent looking for a solution may be exceeded by what it may take to go through these and do it the old-fashioned manual way. At least you will be able to verify that each album is getting the correct artwork. If these are full albums, even 300 files is probably only around 30-40 tops?

1 Like

It's one of the difference with the Mac version. It also copies a textual representation, file names, and the actual tags which can be subsequently used depending on the paste context.

It does here with all formats that have the artwork embedded in the file.

Right ... but as I am learning here, WAV is not one of those formats that embeds the files so I'll have to re-do.

I guess I have always thought that WAV (or AIFF) were the true lossless formats that I have known/used for years. I was not aware that FLAC was also 100% lossless, and smaller files and also offered better tagging support. With that in mind, I think I should change the initial workflow step and set the recordings to be done as FLAC (I use Audio Hijack to capture the audio with a few inline effects to de-crackle, de-hum etc, saving as AIFF)