For the previous 12 months, I’ve been utilizing a high-res Sony music participant to hearken to my private music assortment. I detailed the whole story within the December 2019 episode of our Membership-exclusive MacStories Unplugged podcast, however briefly: I nonetheless use Apple Music to stream music daily and uncover new artists; nevertheless, for these instances after I need to extra deliberately hearken to music with out doing the rest, I like to sit down down, placed on my good Sony headphones, and attempt to take pleasure in all of the sonic particulars of my favourite songs that wouldn’t usually be revealed by AirPods or my iPad Professional’s audio system. However this put up isn’t about how I’ve been dipping my toes into the wild world of audiophiles and high-resolution music; moderately, I need to spotlight a wonderful Mac app I’ve been utilizing to prepare and edit the metadata of the FLAC music library I’ve been assembling over the previous 12 months.
As of late, after I consider an outdated album I need to repurchase in excessive decision (both 16-bit or 24-bit FLAC), or if I come throughout a brand new launch I immediately fall in love with, I am going forward and purchase it as a standalone FLAC digital obtain. I then arrange albums with an ordinary Artist ⇾ Album folder hierarchy within the Mac’s Finder, as pictured beneath:
Earlier than you ask: sure, I may do that file group with my iPad Professional alone as a result of the Sony music participant I take advantage of (this Walkman mannequin) will be related by way of USB to the iPad (with this adapter) and comes with an ordinary SD card for expandable storage. Nonetheless, I favor to buy and obtain FLAC music on my Mac mini as a result of my music assortment can also be backed up and mirrored to Plex, and the Mac mini – as you may think – is working a Plex media server occasion within the background always. The music library is saved on a 1 TB Samsung T5 exterior SSD that’s related by way of USB-C to the Mac mini; each time I buy new music, I manually copy it into the T5 in addition to the Sony Walkman’s SD card by way of the Finder.
More often than not, FLAC music I buy on-line comes with appropriate built-in metadata for fields equivalent to monitor quantity, 12 months, disc, and album art work. However generally it doesn’t, which ends up in the unlucky state of affairs of ending up with songs on my Walkman that lack album art work or characteristic further textual content of their titles equivalent to “Remastered” or “Express”. It’s notably annoying when art work is lacking as a result of it ruins the expertise of wanting on the now taking part in display whereas I’m targeted on having fun with music. Plex doesn’t have this situation: by advantage of being an internet service, Plex can search varied databases for proper metadata and robotically fill lacking fields in my library. One of many causes I take pleasure in listening to my private music library the old-school approach is that the Walkman is totally offline, however that comes with the drawback of being unable to repair incorrect metadata by way of the net.
That is the place Meta, a complicated music tag editor for Mac developed by French indie developer Benjamin Jaeger, is available in. I got here throughout Meta a couple of months in the past when, annoyed with the ugliness and bloated nature of different desktop metadata editors, I took it upon myself to discover a polished, trendy tag editor designed particularly with Mac customers in thoughts. Meta is precisely what I used to be on the lookout for: the app is a contemporary Mac utility that helps all fashionable audio codecs (from customary MP3 and MP4 to FLAC, DSF, and AIFF) and may write metadata codecs equivalent to ID3v1, ID3v2, MP4, and APE tags. Not like different cross-platform or open-source tag editors, Meta’s characteristic set is targeted on one space – enhancing metadata on your digital music assortment – and helps all of the widespread interface paradigms you’d anticipate from knowledgeable Mac app working on Catalina.
Meta can do plenty of various things, and that is in no way a complete evaluation of the app: in spite of everything, my wants are pretty fundamental – I drop an album into the app, repair the tags which are incorrect, and shut the app. The Meta web site has particulars and screenshots that cowl all the app’s options, and there’s additionally a full Three-day free trial you need to use with out limitations to take Meta for a spin. Having used the app for some time, I might describe it as follows: Meta relies on a robust tag engine (referred to as TagLib) and customizable, native Mac UI that helps a resizable sidebar, popovers, darkish mode, keyboard shortcuts, and a number of view choices; along with this versatile UI, Meta sports activities an unimaginable text-matching engine that permits you to carry out duties equivalent to batch renaming a number of information, creating new tags by mixing textual content and metadata tokens, discovering and changing textual content, and even changing file paths or metadata to new tags utilizing regex patterns.
As I famous above, that’s loads to soak up, so let me stroll by means of my typical use of Meta. As soon as I’ve recognized an album that wants a few of its metadata mounted, I drop the whole folder from the Finder into Meta. If I need to add art work to it, all I have to do is choose all songs in Meta’s important checklist, then drag the art work picture I beforehand downloaded from Google Photographs into the art work part of Meta’s sidebar. The art work tag shall be immediately written to all FLAC information directly, and that’s it.
However what should you don’t need to manually discover and obtain a high-quality album art work picture beforehand? Meta has you lined there as nicely: by buying the extra, one-time-only Cowl Finder characteristic, you’ll be capable to choose a number of tracks and hit ⌘⇧Ok to let Meta discover art work photographs for you. In my expertise, outcomes offered by Meta have been excellent (photographs fetched by Meta are high-definition covers with the proper colour saturation and no watermarks); at the least for me, they’re value the additional buy so I don’t need to manually seek for every album art work and litter my desktop with (usually low-res) photographs downloaded from random web sites discovered by way of Google.
In addition to album art work, I’ve additionally been utilizing Meta to repair text-based metadata by profiting from the app’s highly effective textual content engine. I usually come throughout remastered editions of albums the place every track has the phrase “Remastered” included within the title discipline of its metadata – e.g. as a substitute of “Wonderwall”, the track known as “Wonderwall Remastered”. Meta makes these sorts of batch edits extraordinarily straightforward: after deciding on all songs, I can choose Edit ⇾ Discover ⇾ Discover & Change from the menu bar (or hit ⌥⌘F) to activate the app’s discover and substitute UI. From there, I can kind the textual content I need to do away with within the ‘Discover’ discipline and choose the ‘All’ button subsequent to ‘Change’ (a typical UI aspect in Mac apps) to clear the undesirable textual content from all title fields directly. In a pleasant contact, Meta visually confirms textual content matches discovered within the chosen objects and even permits you to add particular tokens equivalent to tab characters or white area if you wish to additional refine your searches.
I may additionally edit every track’s metadata manually by clicking into the suitable discipline within the sidebar (additionally pictured above), however for these batch operations, Meta’s discover and substitute system is right. For those who don’t need to substitute an present tag’s worth however compose a brand new one altogether, Meta can try this as nicely: after deciding on an merchandise (or a number of ones), hit the pencil button within the toolbar to open the ‘Compose Tag’ popup, which helps you to use arbitrary plain textual content in addition to built-in tokens to overwrite any present tag worth. Within the screenshot beneath, you possibly can see how I edited the ‘Yr’ discipline for all songs contained in The Treatment’s Best Hits album by manually typing “2001” into the Compose Tag field.
Meta also can rename information within the Finder: hit ⌘⇧R and, as with tags, you possibly can combine and match present tags and plain textual content to rename information nevertheless you see match. Within the instance beneath, I used the monitor quantity tag, a hyphen, and the title tag to provide you with a file title sample I wish to see within the Finder. Meta even remembers your preferences for file renaming, so when you’ve discovered a method you want, you received’t need to recreate the naming sample each single time.
There are dozens of superior options in Meta I haven’t used myself, however which contribute to creating this app the premier utility for managing music collections. Within the app’s preferences, you possibly can set totally different choices for album art work together with format, compression, and max measurement; you possibly can let the app transfer and arrange information in subfolders for you utilizing the ‘Create Listing’ characteristic, which, once more, makes use of patterns to allow you to craft a customized file path; there’s assist for enhancing built-in lyrics, dates (with a visible date picker), and even monitor quantity sequences. The one factor Meta can’t do for me is add lyrics within the LRC format Sony makes use of for the Walkman, however I can’t blame the developer for not supporting this specific facet of Sony’s music ecosystem.
The best praise I will pay to Meta is that, regardless of its abundance of options, it by no means feels overwhelming, and each performance is all the time the place I anticipate it to be. Due to Meta, I’ve been capable of clear up and reorganize my FLAC music assortment so that each album now has appropriate metadata on my Walkman, and I’m happier due to it.
Meta is a outstanding instance of the type of considerate, highly effective skilled instruments indie builders can nonetheless create on macOS nowadays, and it’s considered one of my favourite Mac app discoveries in a lengthy time. For those who additionally wish to handle your music library the old school approach and may’t stand incorrect metadata, I can’t advocate Meta sufficient.