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About tags

General remarks

As a modern layer, compiling a collection of innovating techniques from a qualitative and serviceable point of vue, foobar 2000 is using tags at their highest possibilities. A tag, for people who don't know the term a text data linked to the audio file giving information about it, located at the beginning or the end of the file. The tag allows the user to link the audio file to a lot of information, as the performer, the year of recording, the track number, but also the price and date of sale, name of the audio engineer, lyrics or even the album art. A real audioplayer must be able to read and display all this information written by the user, but also consider them as a way to organize files, which is fully done by foobar. Foobar one of the few players to be able to fully exploit the tags fields, as it can display all of them, even the rarest ones, but also create them without any boundary to your imagination. Foobar 2000 also uses tags for some uncommon functionalities, as replaygain full support or a really gapless reading for formats usually having this default (mp3,AAC). To be able to do it, foobar manages all the tag standards given by different formats and modern audio containers (ogg, mp4, mpc, ape, wma), even associating audio format to tag format into unusual but efficient combinations, allowing all supported formats to benefit from tags (information, organization, replaygain, gapless reading). Consequently, foobar2000 associates audio formats without tag format with APEv2 (MonkeyAudio, OptimFROG, AAC, Speex, WavePack, WAV...), and maintains the native format of well-thinked formats (mpc, mp4, vorbis, flac, wma)

Concerning mp3

But there is an exception, significant and very thorny knowing the popularity of the format: mp3. mp3 is one of the oldest audio format, without any standardization concerning tags. The use, during years, has mandated the standard ID3 as a standard for the use of tags linked to mp3. With enormous possibilities, widespread, the ID3 standard has been rejected nearly systematically from developers. Consequently, new lossy and lossless formats launched since are using parallel standards. Why? several reasons are advanced:
  • an internal design which makes difficult the use of this standard for other formats than mp3
  • it is located at the start of the file, which need a complete rewriting of the file if any modification is made, which could corrupt your files and make you waste time
  • too much revisals of this standard ( 1, 1.1, 2.0 to 2.4 versions), rarely fully supported by softwares and hardware, causing several problems of compatibility
  • the lack of universal character encoding, making difficult the display and management of foreigner characters and specific.
Some of these lacuas of the ID3 standard have even created rejection from influent users of mp3 (see the behavior rules taken some time ago). If foobar 2000 now manages the ID3 standard thanks to the ID3 v2 component written by kode 54. Foobar uses the APEv2 standard for mp3 so as to enable you to have original functions as creating novel infomation fields, managing useful fields, allowing you to mend some problems of the format, giving it the integral support of replaygain and a perfect management of gapless reading. Despite this interesting combination, most mp3 users still prefer ID3 standard because of their portable devices supporting only ID3v2. Moreover, foobar allows you to put mp3 into an mp4 envelop, so to give them after several years of chaos an official tag standard. The user will be able to develop several way to write infomation in tags and combine several standards.

With the Kode 54 plug-in installed, you will be able to choose which kind of tag you can use:
  • APEv2 tags only: good option for people using only foobar2000 or Media center to read mp3 on their PC
  • APEv2 et ID3v1: good option for people using foobar 2000 and some portable devices or DVD platforms
  • ID3v1 tags only: good option for people who do not use much tags or having portable devices supporting only this standard
  • ID3v2: for the users using other audioplayers or readers or portable devices supporting only ID3v2
  • ID3v1 et ID3v2: same as before
If the use of ID2v2 tags only allows you to maintain some interesting functionalities in foobar2000 (gapless reading, replaygain info) and even create your own tag fields, the information contained in those fields may be unreadable with other softwares or readers. The user who doesn't want anymore to use ID3v2 has an option allowing foobar to erase all tags written in ID3v2 standard : Remove ID3v2 tags while updating which is applied to all files in the playlist. The use may be forbidden by foo_id3v2 if installed, if so, close foobar, suppress or remove this component and then you will be able to do so. For the people lost between the variety of the choice and who don't want to do any mistake with their tags are able, thanks to the masstagger and it's ID3v2 component will be able to convert easily their tags from a format to another (APEv2 to ID3v2 and conversly).
  • To convert your apev2 tags to id3v2, load all the files into the playlist, select them, and then choose "rewrite file tags from database" (after having gone to standard input and selected id3v2). depending on the amount of file this will take LONG and make fb2k seem as if it is "frozen" - but it isn't (written by Lyx)
Moreover, for thos who want proper tags, they are able to use the mp4 standard for tags. To be able to do so, you must put your mp3 into a mp4 container, which could be done via the contextual menu :

But the use of this feature is limited as many portable devices or Hi-Fi hardware do not support this format, even if some software with a decoding module based on faad2 as Cool Edit or Adobe Audition fully support mp4. On top of that foobar accepts matroska files, open source multimedia container offering an alternative to the mp4 format in order to give standardized tags. (for more information about matroska, this is some links: foo_matroska, related topic official website )

Information related to mp4/AAC

The AAC/mp4 format is more and more used with the expansion of the use of i-pod, but there are still some dissension noxious for its comprehensiveness (?? good word for that?). mp4 is not an audio format, mp4 is a container, or stuctured multimedia envelope able to manage several audio or video streams. The audio format usually contained in mp4 is AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), rival to mp3 and more evolved format which should replace mp3. AAC, like mp3, is a crude (??) audio format, with no preconceived tag format. And if mp3 has a quasi standard with ID3 (edicted by custom and general behavior), AAC can't and won't be able to have tags into themselves. As a consequence, tagging an AAC file is violating the format and nothing makes it understandable by other players. The solution is given by mp4, advanced container with a documented, modern and complete tag standard. As a consequence, AAC users should put their AAC files into an mp4 envelope, this operation is fast, fully reversible and without any loss of information, the only inconvenient is the lost of compatibility with only AAC readers (as nokia cellphones). Foobar offers two solutions to AAC users:
  • management of AAC format with APEv2 tags, complete and which should normally not create incompatibility problems as they are located at the end of the file and may not be considered as a corruption of the format (as ID3)
  • management of the mp4 format, with its own tag standard, compatible with repkaygain and other advantages given by foobar.
  • Some components which can convert AAC to mp4 or other way, allowing any user not to be submitted to specific standards.