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1,533 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
In this guide I will attempt to explain how I manage my music library, with particular emphasis on creating properly tagged MP3 files, including album artwork, for use with MyFord Touch (MFT). Obviously, the information here is not the only correct way, but I put it here for those that are new to MFT, meta-data tagging, or managing/organizing their music collection and don't know where to begin.

Everyone has their preferences, and there are a bewildering array of choices that all work fine, but these are the tools I use:

CD ripper: Exact Audio Copy
Meta-data tagging: MP3Tag
PC media player: Winamp
File conversion: Easy CD-DA Extractor

I will not buy digital music unless the files are FLAC encoded (which also means no DRM), so nearly all of my music files are sourced from CDs. Typical FLAC files are 16-bit, which is lossless CD quality (bit depth of 16, sample rate of 44.1 kHz). 24-bit FLAC is lossless recording studio quality (bit depth of 24, sample rate of 96 kHz). I have heard it said that the quality of 24-bit FLAC files exceeds the playback capability of any known current audio equipment, so this is overkill for most people. There are an increasing number of sites now providing downloads in FLAC format and you can review this list of FLAC download sites if interested.

Here is how I setup my music...

I first rip my CDs to FLAC format using the folder and file naming conventions shown below. At the root of the hard disk structure, I have a Music directory. Under the Music directory, for each artist, I have a sub-directory named the same as the artist. Under the artist directory, for each album, I have a sub-directory named the same as the album, prefixed with the album release year. Here is a short example of the directory and file names on disk...

--- Epica
--- --- {2007} Divine Conspiracy, The
--- --- --- 101 - Indigo (Prologue).flac
--- --- --- 102 - Obsessive Devotion, The.flac
--- --- --- 202 - Replica [Fear Factory Cover].flac
--- --- --- cover.jpg
--- --- --- folder.jpg
--- --- {2009} Design Your Universe
--- --- --- 01 - Samadhi (Prelude).flac
--- --- --- 02 - Resign To Surrender (A New Age Dawns, Part IV).flac
--- --- --- 14 - Incentive.flac
--- --- --- cover.jpg
--- --- --- folder.jpg
--- Kamelot
--- --- {2005} Black Halo
--- --- --- 01 - March Of Mephisto (ft Shagrath).flac
--- --- --- 02 - When The Lights Are Down.flac
--- --- --- 17 - Epilogue.flac
--- --- --- cover.jpg
--- --- --- folder.jpg​
A few notes about directory and file names. Anytime an artist, album, or song starts with "The", use a comma and move it to the end. See the examples above. If there is a featured artist, then put that in parentheses after the song title. Never put it with the main artist, only the song. Any additional track information that is not related to the song title should be put in square brackets after the song title and any parentheses. For example, "Army Of Me (ft Skunk Anansie) [Sucker Punch Remix]". Track numbers are always two digits, so use "01" instead of "1". In the meta-data, I always leave the disc number blank for a single disc, but include the disc number if the album includes more than one disc.

In MP3Tag, I use the following format to convert properly formatted meta-data to track names:
$num(%discnumber%%track%,2) - $caps2(%title%)

To convert properly formatted track names to meta-data for a single disc, I use this format:
%artist%\{%year%} %album%\%track% - %title%

To convert properly formatted track names to meta-data for disc 1 of 2, I use this format:
%artist%\{%year%} %album%\1%track% - %title%

To convert properly formatted track names to meta-data for disc 2 of 2, I use this format:
%artist%\{%year%} %album%\2%track% - %title%

Here is a file naming tip I found useful. Since many successful bands that have been around a while have an album named "Greatest Hits", I always include the artist name in parentheses after those types of very common album names. For example, for Boston's 1997 Greatest Hits album, I tag the album in MP3Tag as "Greatest Hits (Boston)". You will appreciate this if you have any devices that allow you to browse music by album.

For the album art, I start with a high resolution scan, apply whatever filters look nice, then resize it to 750x750 and save that as "cover.jpg". I then resize it again to 230x230 and save that as "folder.jpg". On my PC with a large monitor, the cover.jpg will automatically be used by Winamp to display the artwork for the FLAC files. The smaller folder.jpg is used by Windows Explorer, and to save storage space when the MP3 artwork is displayed on the much smaller MFT screen. Many media players will first look for artwork embedded in the meta-data of the file, if not found then look for %album%.jpg (file name same as album name in meta-data for that file), if not found then look for cover.jpg, if not found then look for folder.jpg, if not found then look for front.jpg, if not found then look for albumart.jpg, if not found then check the Internet for a match using the artist and track names. Not all media players work this way, so check the priority order for your media player if you are not sure.

If you are really particular about your "master" music files, once you have the album directories, file names, and meta-data perfect, then create a PAR2 file so you can check for corruption. This allow you to repair minor file corruptions without the need to re-rip or re-tag anything.

For files I am going to copy to the ST, I create two named MFT and one named MFTnew. For a given album, I pick out the FLAC songs I want and convert them to the MFTnew directory in the MP3 format with all meta-data and the folder.jpg embedded in each MP3 file. When converting to MP3, I use high-quality VBR with a minimum rate of 192 kbps and a maximum rate of 320 kbps. This produces an MP3 file that is of very high quality, and much smaller than the FLAC file, even with the artwork embeded in each MP3 file. I also change the naming structure of the file during the conversion process to be "Artist - Title.mp3". For example, "F:\Music\Porcupine Tree\{2002} In Absentia\06 - Wedding Nails.flac" during conversion becomes "C:\MFTnew\Porcupine Tree - Wedding Nails.mp3". I leave the MP3 files in the MFTnew directory until I'm ready to refresh the USB stick I keep in my ST. After I copy/paste all of the MP3 files in the MFTnew directory to the USB stick, I then cut/paste all of those same files from the MFTnew directory to the MFT directory. This ensures that the MFT directory on my PC is an exact match for what is on the USB stick in my ST. It also makes it super simple to know which files need to be moved to the USB stick. I put all of the MP3 files on the USB stick in the root directory, no sub-directories. MFT will index the files based on the embedded meta-data, not the directory structure. I also think MFT shuffles better when all of the files are in the same directory.

It has been pointed out to me that since MFT supports lossless WMA files, that could be used instead of MP3. Although this is true, I chose MP3 (high-quality VBR 192-320 kbps) because the files are much smaller in size, which means I can get more music on the USB stick. Depending on your hearing, the mods you have done to your ST, especially a turbo-back exhaust, tire noise, and other factors, you may not be able to hear the difference in the ST. If the cabin of your ST is quiet and you have upgraded the audio system, you may want to consider lossless WMA. All of the information in this guide is still applicable, and the only change is the format you convert to.

One last point, in MFT, after you select to display the Entertainment quadrant, if you click on "More Info", it will show a larger version of the album artwork, along with all of the meta-data. I usually leave MFT on the "More Info" screen, though you do have to select it every time you start the car.

I hope you found this information helpful, and that now your music always plays flawlessly and consistently displays the proper album artwork and meta-data in MFT.

505 Posts
That was great Unreal! I love reading about how other folks get obsessive about file naming conventions. I know I am not the only one crazy about this stuff! lol My friends think I am nuts about how I keep all my files so neatly organized. I keep mine a lot more simple. My music is all kept on my media server computer - I've got 12TB to work with on there! I've got a folder mapped to a drive I call "M" for music. Then folders drill down by artist, album and then track name. I've elected to not put the album year or track numbers in the file names as that is available in meta-data - you know the flaws in my decisions about this. However, I am not about to change everything now, even though there are tools to help automate that for me. It works for me because of my i-devices and how it works; file names are pretty much irrelevant with them.

I've kept myself tied to iTunes as I have an iPhone, iPad and iPod, yet oddly I don't use Mac at all. I keep my iPod in my car virtually 24-7. It's a 160GB Classic and works pretty well with the Sync system - I've had zero issues actually. It's fast and indexes quickly for the size of the archive I have. I've used iTunes since 2001 and I am now so used to its flaws, I see no reason to switch. I know it is hated by many though. With over 5000 songs and hundreds of albums, the iPod is the way to go.

I've converted most of my FLAC files to Apple Lossless so I can have non-lossy compression and keep my iPod. The only FLAC files I continue to play on my computer are the 24bit ones from HDTracks or "other" sources which I play on Foobar. I've got a pretty damn good sound card on my computer with excellent speakers and headphones too. I don't know if they sound better than 16-bit or not but they do sound very good nonetheless. Nothing wrong with 320khz MP3s in our cars though with the stock stereo. You didn't mention what program you use for file conversion. I'm using dBpoweramp with good success.

EDIT - I see you use Easy CD-DA Extractor for conversion.

FYI - A good tool for bulk renaming files is Bulk Rename Utility. Simple and effective.

I stay away from streaming music from my iPhone via Bluetooth for the most part. It is too buggy and the sound is too compressed for my liking. I'll do it in the wife's Escape though since she doesn't keep an iPod in there.

I also keep my other media files meticulously named. I have a LOT of TV shows on my media player - over 50 series, 3000+ episodes of various stuff. They are simply named SHOW NAME SXXEXX (season and episode number) and EPISODE NAME in a mapped drive "V" for video and then drilled down to Show Name, Season number. I struggled on how to name picture files and I finally settled on folders named YEAR and EVENT in a mapped drive "P" for pictures - still not happy with that naming, but will come up with something else in the future.

1,533 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
My home media player/server is a Mede8er 450X2 with a custom "Epica" skin I created myself. I like the Mede8er jukebox which uses the same graphical interface style for both music and movies. The music file naming structure I detailed above can be used without any changes on the Mede8er, and it allows me to graphically browse the FLAC files using the Album artwork to decide what I want to play, and the albums are displayed in chronological order due to the year as part of the album filename. I can also browse by Artist, Genre, or Track Name. Even when the Mede8er screensaver kicks in, it still displays the album art with meta-data (it moves around every few seconds). I "only" have a 6 TB media server, though it also accesses my PC storage via DLNA for some media types, mostly music videos. On my PC I keep the "master" FLAC files (with PAR2 files at 15% recovery), and I also keep a copy of those FLAC files on the media server which acts as a backup. I also have the "master" MFT files on my PC and use the copy of them on the USB stick (which stays in the ST) as a backup. This way my media has 15% PAR2 recovery, plus a full backup if needed. If you use computers long enough, you know that eventually you will have disk corruptions and/or full failures. Without proper backups this could be a disaster.

Since you mentioned it, my movie and TV show filename standards are:

\Movies\TITLE (YEAR)

I have a separate sub-folder (SxxExx) for each series episode and create a movie style YAMJ/Aeon info card (plot, year, actors, director, etc.) for each one.

I would like to keep this thread on topic regarding organization, tagging, conversion, and maintenance for MFT music files. If you would like to discuss video files and media players further, please create a new off-topic thread and I am happy to contribute whatever I can.

This thread has been so quiet, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one obsessive about my media collection.

11 Posts
Thanks for the info. Do you know if there's anyway to setup playlists?
Currently I have a 200gb hard drive in mine, and it's just on shuffle all, which can get annoying when I'm in the mood for my good driving music.
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