Should I use ";" or "\\" or "-" as a separator?

To date I have been using a ";" as a separator for the Artist, Composer and Genre fields.
I would then do an action of merge duplicate fields for these fields after ripping a CD (or after a bunch of CD's).
This displays well with the music players that I use currently but whether if or I may want to use another player in the future I am wondering if there is a better solution that is more universal?.
Been thinking about whether it would of been best to use the "\" as a separator or even a simple "-" between names of multiple artists, composers and genres in those fields?
Would you have to do a merge duplicate field when using a "\" ?
I assume a simple "-" as a separator would simply be just an extension to the actual statment in the field and would just look like a longer single word.?
Also I probably should ask whether the multi value separator should be different between codecs
ie should ALAC be different to FLAC or LAME etc.
What works best for most players or is it a case of creating something if the player you decide to use does not like a particular separator character?
Given I have > 60000 tracks I want to get it right as I have my master copy as FLAC and then convert a copy as ALAC, LAME and AAC using dbPoweramp once I am happy with the FLAC version.
The conversion to each format takes about 24hrs+ so I do not want to do it too often :).
Thanks

Please note that the real separator between multi-value fields is a binary 0. MP3tag uses the \\to show (only show) that there are several fields of the same type, in the tag they are still separated by the binary 0.
Other characters as separators are down to the respective player and are treated by MP3tag like any other character.
E.g. the "; " is used by WMP but not by iTunes, so in WMP "Peter Gabriel; Kate Bush" would lead to separate entries in the artists list whereas iTunes would still show "Peter Gabriel; Kate Bush".
The same applies to other fields.
Some players can cope with real multi-value fields, others can't and show only the first entry they come across.

So, no, there is no

OK. Thankyou for your response..
So I guess the only question I have is would it be best just make the separators for multiple Artist or Composers or Genres a "\" and let the players deal with if it can.
Not sure what everyone else mainly does
I can also, I guess, just stick to what is working for me ie "; ' as the separator and keep doing the merge action.

Are you sure that you have multi-value fields, separated by the ", "? Check this in the extended tags dialogue (Alt-T) where you will only see multiple fields for each value if it is actually a multi-value field. Otherwise it is a plain single field that only the player interprets as having several values. For such a single field it is not necessary to merge as it already is.

With my current player if I do not perform a merge it only displays the first mentioned artist or composer.
ie jimmy Page; Robert Plant would just present as Jimmy Page without merging.
So have just been doing this for the last year or two.
Also if I use JRiver it does not seem to be bothered if I merge these fields or not. I use Jriver sometimes if I am streaming from my NAS to my stereo system via a DAC and PC ( USB connected.)

I was referring to the extended tags dialogue in MP3tag. Again: it all depends on the player how it interprets the data.
So, for "merging" fields there is an action that leads to a single field with a definable separator. If you choose as separator that what MP3tag interprets as field splitter (\\) then you get a split multi-value field more or less straightaway again.
So, check in the MP3tag extended tags dialogue, if you really have several fields of the type e.g. ARTIST, one with Jimmy Page, the other with Robert Plant as value.

If you have a single field, then it is not necessary to use the "Merge" action as there is nothing that can be merged.
In a single field you can easily replace the separator character with something different. But this is no real "merge".

Ok. Thankyou. Appreciate your response.
I will look at the Alt -T as you suggested and see what the field really is.

I would use multiple values in the FLAC master library, which means using \\ in Mp3tag and ; in dBpoweramp.

Then I would adjust it in the converted libraries if needed, which means that if the player in question doesn't support multiple values, I would merge the fields into one field using , as the separator. I would definitely avoid \\ and ; as separators in this case since they are used to indicate multiples.

This means different tagging for different players, but my personal opinion is that it's worth it because a lossless master library should have correct tagging.

Also note that if you use multiples e.g. Peter Gabriel\\Kate Bush they get listed under P and K if the player supports it, but if you merge to Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush it only gets listed under P, which would be a pity when you play from the master library.

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I wouldn't.
They are far too often used in real artist's names:
Earth, Wind & Fire,
Bell, Book & Candle
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Blood, Sweat & Tears
I will, I Swear
Portugal, The Man
Stock, Aitken & Waterman

and not to mention all those where the "The" is used as a suffix:
Beatles, The
Rolling Stones, The
Band, The
Etc.

Actually, I would suggest the "; ":
Players that use them: fine, I get several entries for the same track with access via each artist.
Players that don't use them: also fine, I see immediately that this is a track performed by several artists.
And for those players that do know how to cope with either: copies of the same track but with different data for artist are probably unavoidable. Best not to use such a player.

Good point but I do use , for my portable player and live with the "special cases" which in my case are very few.

I don't use "the" except where it's impossible not to, e.g. "The Band" and "The Who", and in those cases "the" is part of the band name as an entity (sorted under T). To avoid using sort tags, I most often omit the article - Beatles is just Beatles.

I realize it's probably different for the OP so , might not be the way to go. But I wouldn't recommend ; either since I can't entirely foresee the consequences when using various servers/players/taggers, and especially since the OP says he's using dBpoweramp for converting.

For example, if you would use ; in Mp3tag and then edit the file in a dBpoweramp program you could possibly end up with multiples again.

For multiples in portable or car players, what are the options? Is ; the most common separator? Is ; more common than "true" support for multiples?

Thanks.
Your comment about dbPoweramp when converting is interesting.
I convert from FLAC to ALAC or LAME.
Does this mean that dbP may be not leaving all the separators as a ";" when converting from FLAC to the others?
I've always used the ";" as a separator but I cannot remember why...think it may be that discogs and freedb mainly used it when looking at the metadata match libraries.
So far using ";" as the separator seems to give me what I want when using HiFiCast +DLNA as the music player. Foobar Mobile not so just for the composer multiples, but this may be because Twonky is used on the NAS so I am thinking of moving to Synology. in the hope this may be a better music server or allow me to at least load others.
So I suppose I am still a little uncertain as what to separator to use for my master copies of FLAC, ALAC, LAME and AAC...To date I have been using ";" and any '\' or '/" or others that seem to creep from time to time in I change to ';"

In the CD Ripper from dBpoweramp you indicate multiples with ; which means that the program writes multiple fields but the ; itself is not written into the metadata, it's just an indicator in CD Ripper.

In Mp3tag ; is not an indicator so it will be written into the metadata in a single field.

I'm not sure what happens in the Audio Converter from dBpoweramp when you load your already tagged FLAC files, but since ; is used as an indicator by dBpoweramp I just raise a warning that it might be interpreted as an indicator and thus split the field.

Since you have dBpoweramp you could test this with some sample files, to be 100% sure what actually happens.

If you test, be aware of the difference between "; " with a space and ";" without a space. You should test both variants in dBpoweramp but also in your player.

I too am beginning to wonder if I am using the best separator. I have been using " / " , but I cannot remember why. I know I researched it pretty heavily, and there was a reason, but I cannot remember why. That is why I am now annotating, as much as possible, the reasoning for my decisions. I must be getting old.

Anyhow, I am trying to put the issue to bed.

One reason why I am considering changing the separator is due to space. I believe the max characters is 255 and that extra space or two between " / " and " /" or "/" could make the difference in fitting a long tag, an extra value or string of values.

I don't think it would be wise to use "", because, as aforementioned, it is used by Mp3Tag to split the field. So using this will result in several fields for the same tag. Since I use iTunes primarily, and it does not support this, I assume this would not be a good idea.

I was considering using ";" as I don't believe I need the space in "; ", because it has the advantage of being recognized as multiple fields in programs like Foobar2000, but after reading about dBPoweramp splitting fields with this separator, I don't think this will be wise for the same reasons as using "". I do first tag in FLAC and then convert to ALAC with dBpoweramp. I believe I could work around this unwanted consequence by just copying the tags from the .flacs to the .alacs. I think this would remove any split fields creating during the conversion to alac and still give me the benefit of getting split fields if I move to a player that uses ";" as a separator. Quick question: it is ";" not " ;" or "; ", correct?

I could just use "/" with no spaces before or after to save space. I though there was a program that uses "/" as a separator but I can't find which. Anybody know? Anyhow, using this would eliminate the problems enumerated above but I would not have the benefit of having this read as split fields by a program with that functionality.

So, in short, which is the best separator to use in my case?

Yes. WMP does.
So you see AC/DC as groups AC and DC, Colourbox M/A/R/R/S - don't even ask about it, De/Vision, AC/OT and Simon/off get split ... unless you use a slash that looks like one but isn't, e.g. .
If you do that then you can keep the slash as separator. Still, it is possible to confuse the ordinary slash with the special one so that it might be an idea to find a character that is not part of the ordinary artist name, e.g. the bar |.

Since I raised this I put in a lot of time and effort and changed all my separators to "; " especially for composer info (and artist especially when a compilation album was involved) as well as genre.
Started off slowly and developed a routine to achieve what I wanted (as suggested ohrenkino..many thanks :slight_smile: )
Now I have more than 90000 tracks that I have "tuned" over the last few years to correct naming errors and other mistakes to make my collection as accurate as I can... unfortunately you cannot assume that everthing that is presented from your ripper sources is accurate (from my experience anyway )and I am currently very happy how they play and are presented when using an app called HiFiCast (or Jriver, BluOs etc) in conjunction with a Synology NAS using Minimserver 2 ( or Asset ).
Displays all the important info that I am after especially composer info that I have laboriously inputted and corrected over the last few years.
Biggest challenge is to have a lot of accurate backups to avoid the disaster of losing it all as I do not think I could rip all my music again...too much work.
Good luck with setting your collection up to suit your needs its worth the effort IMO :slight_smile:

Ohrenkino, you raise a good point with the "/". I do use the " / " and, as I recall, I believe the reason why I added the spaces is for bands like AC/DC. I think I went with the "/" because some programs used it as a separator, and WMP may have been the one that convinced me, even if I do not use it as of yet.

In the CD Ripper from dBpoweramp you indicate multiples with ; which means that the program writes multiple fields but the ; itself is not written into the metadata, it's just an indicator in CD Ripper.
In Mp3tag ; is not an indicator so it will be written into the metadata in a single field.
I'm not sure what happens in the Audio Converter from dBpoweramp when you load your already tagged FLAC files, but since ; is used as an indicator by dBpoweramp I just raise a warning that it might be interpreted as an indicator and thus split the field.
Since you have dBpoweramp you could test this with some sample files, to be 100% sure what actually happens.
If you test, be aware of the difference between "; " with a space and ";" without a space. You should test both variants in dBpoweramp but also in your player.

As vilsen suggested, I did test using a ";" and a "; " with the space and then I converted the files with dbPoweramp. It did not seem to do anything to the tags. They were exactly the same in Mp3Tag. I did import the converted files to Foobar. Interestingly, it did not split the fields.

So I experimented with all the different variations using / \ and ; either with no spaces, a space before and after, and space before, and a space after. None of them split fields converting with dBpoweramp. They all read as just one field when I reimported them into Mp3tag. With no difference in the tag at all. When I imported them into foobar, the same thing happened. Nothing got split into fields they all stayed in the same GENRE field.

I experimented further using "//". When using these separators, Mp3tag immediately created duplicate fields splitting the fields in the extended tag panel. Interestingly, in the columns, all the values were displayed as one in the GENRE field, with the "\" separating them, but in the extended tag panel they were split. I guess that makes sense.

When I converted these files using dBpoweramp into ALAC and WAV to experiment with different formats, I came across another interesting result. When viewing them in Mp3Tag, the ALAC file was treated the same as the FLAC, with split fields for each GENRE and displaying as one under GENRE in the columns, but the WAV files now had a ";" where the "\" existed, and the fields were NOT split. They were all in the GENRE field in both the extended tags and in the columns. Mp3Tag seems to realize that in the windows environment the ";" functions like the "\" does in Mp3tag and, consequently, supplants them. Pretty neat.

When I imported these three files into foobar another interesting result followed. In the GENRE column in the playlist view the "\" and ";" now were displayed as separated by a "," in the ALAC/FLAC & WAV files, but in the properties panel they still all displayed semicolons (";") in lieu of the ",". I guess Foobar uses "," as separators?

I would have thought it would have split the fields for foobar either with the "//" or the ";". I thought it used the ";" as a separator, but apparently not, or maybe the "," I saw in the playlist panel signals the presence of multiple values in the GENRE field. But, again, in the properties, the files displayed the semicolon (";").

When I imported the files to iTunes, the ALAC files using the "\" separator were truncated and only displayed the first value in GENRE, prior to the first instance of "\". This was not surprising as iTunes does not handle split fields or multiple values (among many other things, damn you Apple!). The WAV files had no tags attached to it when imported to iTunes for some unknown reason. I really did not care, because I do not use .wav, but that was unexpected. I double checked and the tags were still present in Mp3Tag, just not in iTunes.

So Mp3Tag must be signaling something special with the \. Obviously it does something within Mp3Tag itself. It seems to know that the "\" should be replaced by a ";" for WAV files. It seems to know to convert the ALAC to the same format as the FLAC files, splitting the fields when viewing them within Mp3Tag but keeping the conjoined when viewing in other programs. I would have thought it would have split the fields for foobar. I thought it used the ";" as a separator, but apparently not. The presence of the "\" did trigger then change to the "," in Foobar but, again, no split field.

So which separator to use? I think I will stay away from "\" because it truncates the values in iTunes, which, unfortunately, my player of choice because it is so universal and has so many apps, airplay and control with the iPhone and apple watch. I have tried to break away a few times, but they keep draggin me back.

I could stick with the "/", but adding the two blank spaces " / " to avoid the AC/DC problem can prove limiting when trying to fit all the artists in an orchestra in one field that I believe is limited to 255 characters.

I may just switch to the ";" with no spaces. It would be especially if foobar, the player I want to eventually move to would actually treat the ";" as a separator, but the only thing that may signal something to foobar is the "\" but since it can have deleterious effect in iTunes, I will refrain from using it.

So, ";" it is, unless someone can point out some drawbacks. I plan to use no spaces and just the ";". If anyone can see how that may present a problem I would appreciate you mentioning it.

@esumsea
Mp3Tag uses "\\" and not "//" or"/".

Since last year I have tested conversion from flac to mp3 and pretty much confirmed this too (the semicolon stayed intact but there were some other slight changes unrelated to multiples).

For the sake of clarity, does WMP use both?

Indeed. it uses both.

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For Genre Plex uses "/" or ";". for the record.
someday someone will make a table with the separators for each software.

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