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MusicWrench Review: An MP3 Tool For Organizing and Fixing Your Music Library

A full review of MusicWrench 1.2.6.0

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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MusicWrench Song Tagger Screen

MusicWrench Song Tagger Screen

Image © Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

As you build up your collection of music by using online music services and other sources, you will find (if you haven't already) that your library increasingly gets disorganized with incorrectly named files, missing ID3 tags, duplicates, etc. Using a music library manager such as MusicWrench is therefore an invaluable tool for keeping your collection in order. Find out by reading this MusicWrench review how you can use this multi-faceted MP3 tool to organize your music collection.

Introduction

MusicWrench is a Music Library Manager that has a selection of useful tools for whipping your music collection back into shape. As well as having the ability to automatically tag MP3 files, it can also find duplicate files that might be taking up valuable space on your hard disk or external storage device. MusicWrench also sports the ability to use advanced algorithms to find mis-typed or duplicated band and artist names that could lead to duplicate songs. And last but not least, the program also has a file organizer. This helps you to rename MP3 files in a format you choose and to sweep MP3 files that are scattered all over your hard disk into one common folder.

Pros:

  • Can cope with a very large music library
  • Fast file processing
  • Advanced pattern matching for removal of duplicate song and artist information
  • Good set of features that are optimized for keeping your MP3 library organized
  • Works independently of software media players such as iTunes, Winamp, etc.

Cons:

  • Only MP3 format is supported
  • Uses a local copy of the Discogs database which can't be automatically updated
  • Installation quite heavy on hard drive space due to program using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express R2

Before You Buy

System Requirements

  • Operating system: Windows 7 / Vista (SP2) / XP (SP3)
  • CPU: 1.0GHz or higher
  • Hard drive space: 1GB minimum (1.6GB if Microsoft .NET Framework 4 needs to be installed)
  • Memory: 1GB RAM minimum
  • Monitor: 1024 x 768 or higher

Supported Audio Formats

Interface
MusicWrench's interface is clean and well laid out. There are seven menu buttons near the top of the screen which are logically set out from left to right. You can either elect to dive right in, or use the Next button at the top-left of the screen to use MusicWrench in a step-wise fashion. The seven buttons at the top of the screen are:

  1. Music Library (configuration and statistics screen)
  2. Song Tagger (ID3 tagger using Discogs database)
  3. Duplicate Artists (finds artist names that are similar, duplicated, or even collaborations)
  4. Duplicate Songs (finds similar named songs that could be duplicates)
  5. File Organizer (used for file name formatting and directory sorting)
  6. Music Query (can use this feature to query SQL database)
  7. Finished (shows file processing statistics)
Overall the interface is user-friendly and doesn't require a steep learning curve.

Configuration
Setting up MusicWrench is very easy. The first step is to configure the locations that are to be searched. There are preset locations that you can add such as local drives, the My Music folder (found in My Documents), and the default iTunes library folder. The file renaming format is also another option that you'll probably want to configure before you start scanning your library. This can be tweaked in various ways depending on what information you want displayed in the song's file name.

Tagging MP3s

Song Tagger
You can use Song Tagger to automatically edit ID3 tag information. There are two tools to help speed up this process. The first one is the Auto Complete Tags option which will try to automatically fill in metadata such as artist, album, song title, etc. The second tool is the Search Known Songs option which gives you a list of possibilities to choose from. The program uses a local copy of the Discogs database for both the above tools and therefore doesn't need to access the Internet. While this is a good thing for speed, there isn't an update feature to keep this database up-to-date. Another downside is that this tool only supports the tagging of MP3 files.

Removing Duplicates

Duplicate Artists
The advantage of using MusicWrench over other MP3 managers is that it uses advanced pattern matching algorithms for finding artist names that are similar. This is especially useful if the name of the artist has been mis-typed causing a duplicate of the same song. If can also be useful if an artist has collaborated with another band (or artist) and you want to specify the primary ID3 artist tag to identify the song.

Duplicate Songs
Rather than examining just file names, sizes, etc., as some duplicate file finders do, it uses a set of techniques to find similar songs that could be duplicates -- for example, if the name of a song has been mis-typed but is by the same artist. What impressed us about MusicWrench is that if it does find duplicate songs, then it will automatically choose the best one to keep by comparing bitrates.

File Organizing

If you want to clean up the way in which your MP3 collection is stored on your hard disk, then the File Organizer option in MusicWrench comes in very handy. Rather than just having the name of the song, you can use the built-in file formatting options to rename your files. For example, by default MusicWrench renames each file to include artist, album, track number, and song title -- but you can change this to your own liking. MusicWrench also creates separate artist folders to help locate files easier. If you have MP3 files scattered all over your hard disk, then you can also use this program to move them all into one common folder.

Conclusion

MusicWrench offers a useful set of tools for organizing your digital music collection. With features such as advanced pattern matching to root out artist and song duplicates, and its ability to rename files in the format of your choice, you can quickly process even very large libraries. However MusicWrench only supports the MP3 format at present and so if you store your music library in another format, then you'll have to look elsewhere. Another downside to MusicWrench is that it uses a local copy of the Discogs database for automatically processing ID3 information -- this could over time become out-of-date as there isn't an update facility in the program. That said, these two minor gripes don't overshadow an otherwise stellar music manager. If your music library is in need of a sort out then MusicWrench is a feature-rich application that will quickly whip your MP3s back into shape.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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