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  #1  
Old 01-15-2010, 08:49 PM
microUgly microUgly is offline
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Default Tag handling - P3, S9, Zen X-Fi

I'm tossing up between purchasing a P3, S9 or Zen X-Fi. The Zen is in there because it's much cheaper but still functional and I could see myself storing all my music on there and taking advantage of the memory slot for videos.

I'm familiar with their features, but there ability to manage the track data is important to me. So I have some questions that some owners might be able to answer.
  1. Does the player allow you to browse album artist seperately to track artist?
    When browsing through an artist list, I'm normally only interested in Album Artists, not every artist from every mixed CD.
  2. Does it understand that 2 albums with the same name are not the same album if their album artist differs?
    I have two albums named "Ultimate Collection" and hate that the tracks get lumped together.
  3. Does it support multiple genre tags?
    Tagging tracks with just one genre creates a very fragmented organisation of tracks which makes genre next to useless.
  4. When listen to music, can you add the currently playing track to new and already existing playlists?
    I like to listen to all my music on random and organise the tracks into themed playlists as I hear them.
  5. Are track rating stored in the tracks rating tag, or in it's own DB?
    I prefer rating to be stored in the track so they are not lost when I change devices and software.
  6. Does it support multiple artist tags on a track?
    I have a few CD's where two artists created a song, like Cypress Hill & Pearl Jam. When I listen to Pearl Jam on random, I would like this track included.
  7. Does it understand disc number tags?
    I hate having to label two discs from the same album differently, just so I have the choice to listen to one or the other.
  8. Does it allow you to correct tag information as you are listening?
    I often spot mistagged tracks and never remember to correct them when I get back to my PC. Normally it's inconsistent use of "the" in front of an artist name, or a track has the completely wrong genre.
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  #2  
Old 01-18-2010, 08:34 PM
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Hirudin Hirudin is offline
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I can only answer for the Zen X-Fi for the most part... sorry, I'm not sure about some of them.

1. The X-Fi only has one "Artist" menu item to sort the files. It does not understand Album Artist as far as I know.

2. When browsing by album the X-Fi sometimes will and sometimes will not lump all albums together if they have the same name. It doesn't seem to matter what Album Artist tag is. Worse than that, if it lumps all the albums together it'll also lump all the album art together. On my X-Fi right now my "Greatest Hits" "album" has five different artists but only one cover.

3. I highly doubt the X-Fi (or any other player for that matter) understands multiple genre tags. I guess I can check if it means a lot to you.

4. X-Fi: No. You can only edit the Now Playing list. You can then save the Now Playing list as a new playlist or overwrite an existing playlist. So, although editing playlists is technically possible, it's extremely f**king tedious.

5. The X-Fi is the only player out of the three that even supports song ratings. To put it another way the P3 and the S9 do not support song ratings as far as I know. In fact: for the most part if the player isn't made by Creative, SanDisk, or Apple you can pretty much forget about being able to use song ratings.

6. Just a guess, but I would bet this is the same as #3.

7. X-Fi: Nope. Other two: I doubt it but certainly am not sure.

8. See #7

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  #3  
Old 01-19-2010, 03:28 PM
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ZenChick ZenChick is offline
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Wow, that's a pretty tall order!

In a nutshell, no player exists that supports all of these features out of the box. Some may support most (but not all) of these features via third-party firmware such as Rockbox.
Quote:
1. Does the player allow you to browse album artist seperately to track artist?
I am not aware of any player that indexes track and album artists separately. Generally, the more indices a player has to build, the more memory it takes up, so manufacturers have traditionally shied away from supporting more than the bare minimum of tags.

That said, I do believe a Rockboxed player supports separate album- and track artists.

Quote:
2. Does it understand that 2 albums with the same name are not the same album if their album artist differs?
This is another thorn in the side for a lot of DAP owners, because it complicates indexing to have to index from two tags instead of one. You're getting into relational database territory here (vs. the traditional flat databases most players use), which ups the processor requirements.

I refer to this as the "Greatest Hits" bug within my Creative forums, because that's where the problem manifests itself the most. However, there is a very easy workaround for this: Where two albums by the same name exist, just embed the album artist's name into the album tag. For example, an album titled "Greatest Hits" by Journey would have "Journey's Greatest Hits" as the album tag.

Quote:
3. Does it support multiple genre tags?
To the best of my knowledge, this is not supported by ID3. ID3 only specifies one genre field. Additional custom fields could be created, but chances of finding a DAP that recognizes custom fields and knows how to use them are nil. Again, you are getting into relational database territory here.

Quote:
4. When listen to music, can you add the currently playing track to new and already existing playlists?
This is a pretty common feature, though implementation varies. For Creative players, for example, in order to add to an existing playlist, the playlist has to be loaded into the Now Playing list. New tracks can be dynamically added, and the list can then be re-saved. I don't personally know of any players that allow you to dynamically add tracks to a stored playlist without having to first load the playlist into memory, but I'm reasonably sure they exist.

Quote:
5. Are track rating stored in the tracks rating tag, or in it's own DB?
Track rating is not an official ID3 tag, so implementation varies widely. Most commonly, however, players manage track ratings as a database entry alongside the track information. However, this information is only stored locally and not embedded into the file itself, so if you copy the music file off the player, the rating information does not copy along with it. You will need a sync manager that can properly transfer song ratings - which will query the player for its ratings and then transfer them to its own local database.

Quote:
6. Does it support multiple artist tags on a track?
See the multiple genre explanation above.

Quote:
7. Does it understand disc number tags?
This is an ID3 tag that honestly doesn't get a lot of support, even on PC-based players and library managers. I am not aware of any DAPs that support this tag either, though Rockbox may support it. Most people simply renumber the tracks to combine multiple disc sets into one (thus removing the physical CD metaphor from the equation), or maintain the physical CD metaphor in their libraries by appending "Disc 1", "Disc 2", etc. to the album name. Yes, it means a little more tagging work, but it has the greatest compatibility.

Quote:
8. Does it allow you to correct tag information as you are listening?
I personally wish more players supported this. I'm not aware of any that do, however, as text input is certainly an issue for players that only have a few buttons. I'd expect to see this feature on Blackberries, smart phones, and touchscreen-based players, however.
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  #4  
Old 01-19-2010, 05:25 PM
microUgly microUgly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hirudin View Post
I can only answer for the Zen X-Fi for the most part... sorry
That's fine. I really appreciate you going to the trouble of answering my questions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenChick View Post
Wow, that's a pretty tall order!
Yeah, I know. I wasn't expecting a device that could do it all. But organisation is important to me and will effect my choice of player.

Quote:
Some may support most (but not all) of these features via third-party firmware such as Rockbox.
I use Rockbox on my current 4th Gen iPod. I think it has spoilt me.

Quote:
I am not aware of any player that indexes track and album artists separately.
I'm almost certain that current iPods support both. But don't quote me.

Quote:
That said, I do believe a Rockboxed player supports separate album- and track artists.
Yes, I can confirm that.

Quote:
You're getting into relational database territory here (vs. the traditional flat databases most players use), which ups the processor requirements.
True, but I don't feel that relational databases are beyond the hardware capabilities of even my 4th Gen iPod. I appreciate that most players don't, but I don't believe this is to save processing power. More likely it's done for ease.

Quote:
To the best of my knowledge, this is not supported by ID3. ID3 only specifies one genre field.
That is true. Although some software will recognise separators within the tag. Also, the P9 and S3 are OGG players and OGG does support duplicate tags. But again, if the player doesn't support it, it doesn't support it.

Quote:
I don't personally know of any players that allow you to dynamically add tracks to a stored playlist without having to first load the playlist into memory, but I'm reasonably sure they exist.
Another feature that Rockbox has spoilt me with

Quote:
Track rating is not an official ID3 tag, so implementation varies widely. Most commonly, however, players manage track ratings as a database entry alongside the track information.
ID3v2 has the Popularimeter tag for ratings. I'm pretty sure that Zune embeds ratings in the files, but they use a non-standard scale (love/hate). I was hoping more modern players might have caught on by now

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I thought by now, new players would be smarter and better at organising music. I may actually go back to looking at a iPod Touch to see if there are alternative software players for it after jail-breaking it.
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  #5  
Old 01-19-2010, 05:34 PM
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ultrauber ultrauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenChick View Post
This is an ID3 tag that honestly doesn't get a lot of support, even on PC-based players and library managers. I am not aware of any DAPs that support this tag either, though Rockbox may support it.
Really? Every one I own supports it except my s9 and my clip+, I think. Recently, I started working around this by just putting all the tracknum tags in order and forgetting about discs. Rockbox on my e200 definitely does, as you said. I think my Sansa Express did too. And yes, that is the worst player ever created.

I still find the discnum tag useless.

Back to the OP, I think that you should strongly consider folder browsing. While few players support those advanced organization features, Many can be worked around with filenames. Then all you have to do is find a player which has folder browsing. I know the s9 does, I think the x-fi does, not sure about the p3. just my input
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  #6  
Old 01-19-2010, 07:14 PM
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Hirudin Hirudin is offline
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Yup, folder browsing may be the best way to get the non-dynamic organization you want. Unfortunately the X-Fi (firmware version 1.04.08) does not have it.

If song ratings are as important to you as they are to me I would suggest the Sansa Fuze. The features it has that make it stand apart from the other players are...
  • MicroSDHC card slot - card memory integrates with internal memory (other than the Clip/+ and Cowon D2/+ (full size SDHC) I'm not aware of other small-size players that have this feature)
  • Replay Gain support (for this it's the Fuze, iPods (I think), or Rockbox)
  • Folder browsing (As ultrauber mentioned the S9 has this feature. I don't know of any more, but I'm no expert.)
  • Song rating support (SanDisk, Creative, and Apple seem to be the only companies regularly discussed on this site that support song ratings. As ZenChick mentioned, you pretty much need a music managment program to sync the ratings. I use J. River Media Center.)
  • MSC and MTP modes (though I'm pretty sure song ratings require MTP mode)
  • It's cheap too!

Last edited by Hirudin; 01-19-2010 at 07:21 PM.
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