For me, the MP3 format is dead. Sure, I still use high bitrate MP3 files on my MP3 player, but only because its storage simply can’t fit as much lossless music as I like to carry with me. Obviously, I also keep a few FLAC/APE albums on it, but every time I buy a new record, there’s only one thing to do: put the disc inside my computer and rip it to FLAC!
On the other hand, I know there are still a lot of people buying songs from iTunes (why would you pay that much for a lossy format, no idea – better donate the money to charity!) or simply grabbing their audio CDs to MP3 for some tiny MP3 player they use while working out or jogging, so mp3Tag Pro, today’s subject, is still far from being obsolete.
If I’m not mistaken, mp3Tag Pro 7.0 was released yesterday, so we’re talking about a really fresh piece of code. Currently priced at 24.95 EUR (roughly 34 USD using current exchange rate, but the official documentation says only $29.95…), mp3Tag Pro 7 can be downloaded and used for free for evaluation purposes – obviously, with some limitations. Its unregistered version can be used for as long as 30 days and it only allows you to grab 50% of the lyrics from the Internet, not to mention the splash window that appears every time you start the program…
… but let’s look at the bright side of this story: this program works with virtually all Windows versions still used by a relevant amount of people, including Windows Vista and 7, its setup package has about 5 MB in size, you only need 7 MB of free space and nothing more and, finally, I should also add that installing this program is really easy – no spyware, no toolbars, just a few screens too many (I don’t know who really cares about what’s in the Information screen that appears after that useless License Agreement…). Well, at least we’re talking about an installer that’s available in multiple languages and allows you to launch the program directly after pressing the Finish button…
… so let’s take a closer look at what you see after launching mp3Tag Pro 7! To be honest, I’ve seen a lot better looking programs, but since we’re talking about stuffing a lot of controls into it, I think things could have been worse. Sure, there’s nothing to be amazed of, the icons aren’t anything to be proud of, the Help hails back from the mid-90s… but you should also consider the good parts, like multilanguage support and (relative) ease of use. All in all, mp3Tag Pro 7 looks and feels pretty good, but now the time has come for the truth: what can be done with it and is it really worth the price? Let’s see!
Despite its name, mp3Tag Pro can also work with my favorite file formats, including FLAC, APE, WAV/WV or, if it’s about lossy, my favorite alternatives to MP3, namely AAC and OGG. Speaking about features, it’s all about messing with the tags, so I guess that you know what you need from such a program if you’re reading this, right? Well, let’s quickly go through the stuff that manage to draw my attention during the time I spent with mp3Tag Pro so far, shall we?
While its capabilities as an audio player are abysmal, mp3Tag Pro has a really nice feature that allows you to search and download lyrics (if available, of course) of any audio track. More than just retrieving lyrics, this program can also help you find covers and, obviously, download them. All is done with just a click, two toolbar buttons allowing you to download lyrics or covers. Sweet!
When talking about generating/fixing tags, I think it’s great to see that mp3Tag Pro offers much more than just support for the ubiquitous freedb service. More than just that, this program can get tags from Amazon, Discogs, MusicBrainz, or simply import them from a text file.
The next natural step is to rename files and create playlists. No problem with any of those, mp3Tag Pro’s renaming capabilities are rock solid – don’t take my word for granted, it’s enough to look at the rename files window and you’ll get the idea!
Going back to what I said above regarding the audio playing capabilities of mp3Tag Pro, I must add that, despite that, you’ll get at least support for external players, but only seeing Winamp and “default program” as available options doesn’t make it all much better…
… so I guess that this is all – but there are still plenty of things left to discover, like support for export to MS Excel, CSV, TSV, drag & drop support, as well as many others. Unfortunately, it’s clearly not enough to make this program one worth buying to me, so the time has come to see those final chapters!
Tips & Tricks
1. Don’t even bother with the internal player – the Windows Media Player version coming with Windows 95 was much better than this one!
2. Sometimes, you may not find the data needed to create tags online. That doesn’t mean you have to enter it manually for each track – just select all the tracks from an album and enter artist/album info once. Next, you’ll have to add individual track names one by one… but that can’t be avoided.
3. I know this may not sound like a really smart advice, but don’t buy this before considering similar solutions freely available – for example, foobar2000 and most good audio CD rippers I’ve seen so far can handle most tasks that mp3Tag Pro was built for…
mp3Tag Pro 7.0 is easy enough to use, looks decent, has a lot of interesting features and supports Windows 7. The limitations of the trial version allow you to easily get a taste of the real thing and, in case you don’t feel happy using programs in English, you may get lucky – this program also offers support for about 25 languages!
mp3Tag Pro looks and feels rusty. Its interface even has some glitches here and there (the Bookmarks menu is spooky – I’ll leave the rest for you to discover), the documentation looks really old… and I won’t even remind you about that internal player – all in all, there’s nothing that would make me buy it.
I had high hopes today. Unfortunately, I only got support for lossless files. That’s great, so playing with mp3Tag Pro wasn’t bad at all. Being able to grab lyrics and covers also proved to be two interesting features, but from having a few interesting features to being a program worthy of its price it’s a pretty long road and, to be honest, mp3Tag Pro didn’t even reach the middle section of that road yet…