Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Amarok's Only Problem

Amarok is such a great application I have convinced Windows users to switch to Linux simply because they want to use Amarok. Unfortunately for me and a lot of non-english natives, Amarok is having a little problem with the MP3 id3v1 tags since the 1.4.0 release.

In short the problem (bug?) is that Amarok won't handle id3v1 tags with encodings other than ISO-8859-1 because they claim to be following the spec. Other character encodings are supported only with id3v2 tags. You can read the details in this bug report.

First assuming you agree to take on the colossal task of re-tagging all your MP3 collection, that I haven't found an automatic way to do yet, you will find that even changing all the tags to id3v2 does not solve the problem. Read comments #15 and #19 on the bug report.

I personally have found that the only way Amarok would read the tags and display them correctly is if I use the Amarok's own tag editor itself and doing so will render those tags unreadable on any other software/utility. At this point I really don't know who is following the spec, Amarok or the other hundred apps/utils I have used.

My solution was a little drastic: I converted all my MP3 collection to ogg/vorbis using mp32ogg. I found that the ogg/vorbis tags are UTF-8 by default and all applications I have used so far can read and display my tags correctly.

This solution may not work to everyone since some require other encodings for compatibility with some hardware players but for me is good enough. And yes, I took on the colossal task of converting my collection and re-tag them all. Fortunately mp32ogg works on whole directories and not only on individual files.

For all others that reported this problem let's hope Amarok's developers hear your voice and add the encoding option back to the next great Amarok release. For my part I will keep my max of votes on this bug report.

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