capsule review

Media Rage 1.9.3

Anyone with a large digital music collection has likely struggled to keep it organized and to correct inaccurate track data. My own 30GB collection was rife with files with erroneous tag data, improper filenames, and items that were simply haphazardly archived. Fortunately, Media Rage 1.9.3 from Chaotic Software provides a suite of powerful organizing and editing tools that are capable of tidying up even the most chaotic of music collections.

Expanding on its predecessor, MP3 Rage (   , April 2003 ), Media Rage handles most major audio formats: MP3, AAC (including iTMS files), FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis, editing and organizing each with equal aplomb. Furthermore, most of the tools in Media Rage have been enhanced. (Unlike MP3 Rage, however, Media Rage will not run on Mac OS 9.)

The application’s suite of 17 tools (plus its media player) greatly expands on iTunes’Get Info window for tag editing and Show Duplicate Songs feature, as well as those of similar applications, such as Hyperbolic Software’s $25 Music Maid and 321apps’ $18 MP3 ID3X.

The two most useful editing tools in Media Rage are Media Scrubber and Quick Edit Multiple Files. The Media Scrubber tool is the closest thing Media Rage has to a main window. Add a folder of audio files to the Media Scrubber by dragging and dropping, and you can individually edit tag data and make batch edits, copy and delete files, reveal them in the Finder, and make a host of other changes.

The Quick Edit Multiple Files tool will rapidly make both individual and universal changes to a folder of media files via the use of “pins”—markers that will selectively change some tag data in all the files in the folder you are editing. For example, recordings of live performances often have incorrect track names, which might need to be individually renamed, while other changes—such as the genre, recording date, or artist—can be universally applied to all tracks from the same recording. By setting a pin for certain fields, such as genre, you can make universal changes to those fields, while changing others manually. I found this tool invaluable for editing the data for entire albums.

The Catalog Creator tool has much more flexibility than iTunes’ Export feature, giving users more options of what data to include or omit, as well as more exporting options (such as tab- or comma-separated fields). This is an excellent tool if you want to keep track of your files in a separate database. The Artwork Search tools will search the Internet for album art, or extract it from a file on your hard drive, and add it to the entire album—it can even add album art to Finder folder icons. The simple, yet powerful Organizer will automatically refile your media on your hard drive with user-defined settings such as Artist and Album. Other tools include a track-numbering tool, lyrics browser, FreeDB Tagger, File Renamer, and a Duplicate Finder to help you rid your system of its evil musical twins.

Media Rage does have one glaring flaw—a convoluted interface. Although you can use one of two launcher apps, the Dashboard—not to be confused with OS X 10.4 (Tiger)’s Dashboard—or the Toolbar, both accessible from Media Rage’s Tools menu, there is no main window; each tool launches separately and essentially acts as a stand-alone application. Each also has its own look and feel, and it takes time to get the hang of how each tool works. The lyrics browser could also be greatly improved were it tied to one or more of the many online lyrics databases rather than forcing users to look up lyrics for themselves.

Finally, not all of Media Rage’s tools will edit or organize media stored on your iPod—in fact most won’t, due to Apple’s piracy protections. However, both Media Scrubber and Catalog Creator will work on iPod-dwelling music files, and so Media Rage remains a useful enhancement for users who store all their music on an iPod.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

Users with small- to medium-sized music collections may see little benefit to using Media Rage. However, if you have thousands of files from a variety of sources in various formats, it is an excellent resource for wrangling all of that media into one convenient corral.

[ Mathew Honan is a San Francisco-based technology writer and music enthusiast whose digital music collection spans eight years, seven computers, five MP3 players, two hard drives and entirely too many CD-Rs. He recently reviewed MP3 players for Playlist magazine.]

The Catalog Creator has many more options than iTunes for creating a database of your music files.The Quick Edit for Multiple Files tool will let you set pins to change some items in a file’s metadata universally, and others individually.Make edits to several files at once, or one at a time, using the Media Scrubber tool.The Lyrics Browser tool will add user-submitted lyrics to a file’s metadata.
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