Re-ripped album; help fixing stray track


I had an album (“Strange Angels” by Laurie Anderson) for which I had spent a lot of time entering per-track metadata. I discovered that there was an error in the disc import (static in one of the tracks), so I shut down Roon Core, deleted the files, and re-ripped it.

Upon starting up the Core again, almost everything is fine, except that apparently Track #1 now has a different filename than it did before. I had actually noticed that Track 1 was strangely named before I deleted it…

Roon is therefore recognizing this one track as a separate version of the album, which is flagged as “New”, and it is not showing any of the metadata that I entered for that track.

I know that I can “Merge Albums”, but I’m reluctant to do that if it might discard the painstakingly entered data on the other tracks in the album. Is there some way to tell Roon to merge this one outlier track into the otherwise good album? Ideally re-associating it with the data I previously entered?

Could anybody, perhaps @support, please help?

Assuming you entered per track metadata outside of Roon: Check the tags you entered using a tag editor, name the files consistently, move the album out of your watched folder and force a rescan, followed by a database cleanup, then move the album back into watched folders.

Hi Evan,

Thanks, sorry I wasn’t clear about this. I entered the per-track data into Roon using the Edit feature on each track.

Rename the file anyhow and then force a rescan

Unfortunately, I don’t remember what the name was before. It just had like a vestigial track number stuck on its name somewhere, I think, but I don’t recall exactly.

Unfortunately, I think you’re going to get a new identification as soon as you merge the two albums.

You could try to Export the album – this will print your edits to the file tags, and then you can replace the original files with the exported ones.

Hope that helps, but let me know if I’ve misunderstood the issue here @Michael_Kobb. Thanks!

That is disappointing. Honestly, I spent so much time grooming the per-track metadata on this album that I’m inclined to leave it as a split album until such time as this operation can be conducted reliably without loss of my information.

I suppose I could try the export/merge and then restore from backup if the results are unsatisfactory.

I’m really surprised that Roon is not able to handle a case like this – replacing the underlying media file while preserving database information – more gracefully.

Thanks for your assistance.

Taking another tack, is there any way to figure out what Roon thinks the filename for Track 1 should be? It doesn’t show the track as part of the album anymore. I was thinking that if I were to rename the file as Evan suggested that perhaps it would reappear and be reassociated.

I feel like I’m missing something here @Michael_Kobb – do these files not have embedded tags? What are the edits you’re trying to preserve? Feel free to post screenshots if you think it would help here.

Is there a reason you can’t import the album and use the Identify feature to retrieve the correct information for the album? I see that Strange Angels is in our database.

Hi @mike !

In the Roon user interface, I went through and used the Edit function on each individual track to add performer information. This information was not in the original iTunes-ripped files, and although the Roon database had performer information at an album level, it didn’t have it at the track level.

So, that’s the work I’m trying to ensure that I preserve.

My understanding was that these edits only live in the Roon database, and aren’t written back to the files themselves. Unless, I guess, I do an Export?

I’m at work, but I’ll snap a screenshot when I get home.

This is what I’m trying to make sure I don’t lose, and is the type of information I’d ideally like to somehow recover for the first track (for which I had manually added 12 credits…):

Your best bet, I think, is taking @mike’s advice:

I don’t want to be mean, but this is a perfect example of the kind of detailed tagging not to do in Roon. It’s so much easier to deal with this kind of stuff using a capable third-party tag editor.

Hello @orgel, thank you very much for taking the time to reply.

Can you suggest a good tag editor for the Mac?

Following Mike’s suggestion, I exported one of the tracks that I had manually tagged, and I’m not able to find evidence that Roon wrote those tags to the exported file. I looked at the file in a third-party tag editor, and in iTunes, and in a binary editor, and I don’t see the artist names, apart from those that were in the iTunes-written tags in the first place. I’d love to check this with whatever editor you recommend.

Now, regarding your comment, I would be forced to ask myself: why does Roon offer extensive metadata grooming features at all if one shouldn’t use them, and should instead use a third-party program? I appreciate that this may be the pragmatic advice for how things are currently, but it’s certainly not acceptable in the long term.

One of the big attractions of Roon for me is exactly the depth of the metadata, and the ability to customize it. This is why I’m paying the annual fee.

When I was tagging these Laurie Anderson tracks, there were several occasions on which I entered an artist’s name, and found more than one hit in the database. Ray Phiri was one such example. He’s in the database as “Ray Phiri” and “Chikapa ‘Ray’ Phiri”. It’s the second one that has the best artist information and linkage. By looking at the information in Roon as I was tagging, I was able to establish which entry was correct, which then ensures that the information Roon displays to me is as rich and complete as possible. I’m not sure how I could do that with a third-party editor that would not be able to display those database linkages during the process of tagging.

This is an area where, I think, Roon has about 90% of a 1.0 solution already written and in good order. If there were a way to re-associate the information when a track is re-imported as mine was, then we’d be at 95%, and having a way to export and import that information for backup purposes would get us to 100%. The 2.0 solution, which would actually obviate many of these issues, would be to keep this user-entered customization in the cloud, so that I could share it between different Roon installations, and indeed, share it with friends or with the community at large. I believe this sort of user-contributed data is in Roon’s longer-term plans. Oh, and the tagging interface requires too many clicks to add a performer…

There are several, but I really like Yate. IMO, it’s worth spending some time perusing the docmentation, since it’s the way to find out about some features that may not be immediately obvious, including a Roon-specific panel and some very powerful user-defined actions you can set up. (I’m not hugely optimistic that Yate will reveal your added metadata, especially since you looked with a binary editor, but you could download the trial and give it a shot.)

I have to say I mostly agree with your cogent comments, but let me just make a few points:

By design, Roon doesn’t alter your files, so any editing you do in Roon doesn’t affect the embedded metadata. My impression is that the Roon team believes pretty strongly in the principle (though I can’t quite square this with the ability to delete files from within Roon), but you’ve already seen one major downside of editing changes in Roon not being embedded.

Now, at some point the Roon folks might make the noli me tangere approach optional, or even better, Roon’s automagical ID’ing and metadata supplying will become close to immaculate, but meanwhile, as a practical matter, I use Roon’s editing capabilities mostly as a way to compensate for Roon’s current shortcomings in these areas, so I’ll use them to merge multiple artists who are the same, re-identify an album to get a better match, add/delete genre tags to my liking, etc. For info I want to keep with the track files, and certainly anything that involves significant data input, I’ll move to Yate. This would include fleshing out credits, as you did.

I agree that this is a cool feature, so in a case like this, either you could use this kind of discovery as a basis for changing the embedded metadata or you could merge “Ray Phiri” (if that were embedded) with “Chikapa ‘Ray’ Phiri” after the fact in Roon.

Another thing it took me a while to comprehend is that (IMO) Roon’s editing UI is always going to be more awkward than that of a tag editor designed to run in a keyboard-and-mouse environment, because Roon needs to work with a touch UI. (This opinion perhaps depends on the fact that keyboard-and-mouse is simply the paradigm with which I feel most comfortable, but it’s hard to beat a keyboard for data input.)

@orgel, thanks! I just downloaded Yate and as you predicted, there is no additional artist information visible in the file that Roon exported.

@mike, any comment on why Export didn’t bring with it any of the credit information?

@orgel, I appreciate your thoughts very much indeed. It’s a challenging problem because, in fact, neither Yate nor a Roon Export would really properly solve the issue I had. In fact, in the case of my specific problem, it’s better that Roon doesn’t store information in the files themselves, because these particular files had some data glitches in the audio that were audible.

What I needed to do was to replace the underlying music data without touching the album and track metadata. And this is what apparently broke for some reason in the case of this one track, probably due to the filename. All I want to do is re-associate the data that I previously entered (which I hope still lurks in Roon) with this new file.

As for the philosophical point of whether or not Roon should write data to the files, well, I think the current approach is really fine, although I think it could be augmented by allowing the user to explicitly save any of their changes into the file when they choose to do so, without going through the extra hoops of an Export. This would be a natural extension to the metadata editing process – just give me a Save to File… button.

In Yate, you can copy metadata from one track file (or group of files) to another. (I probably should have mentioned that above. :roll_eyes:) So in your case, you could have copied the metadata (had it been embedded) from the files with audio glitches to a matching set of glitch-free files.

Ahhh, I see. Well, by the same token, Roon could provide a way to take the album it thinks it has in your library, and associate that album with a different set of files on disk.

I guess this is how I think of it, and perhaps it’s not how Roon and the developers think of it. Let’s say that I have duplicate albums in my library. Roon already chooses one of those, and shows me “Duplicate” notations if I happen to look at one of the other versions. So, it clearly has notions of what an “album” and a “track” are that are independent of any specific file or group of files.

When I edit metadata, those changes should be applied to this file-independent construct – this set of database entries in Roon. Then if the underlying file is replaced, it really doesn’t matter. I should be able to replace my ALAC files with AIFF or WAV or FLAC or DSD, and still have all of the same metadata edits that I’ve made previously, since those were never stored in the files in the first place.

Hi @Michael_Kobb – thanks for the questions, and sorry that I don’t have better answers here at the moment.

A couple points:

When I suggested using export, I was thinking this was about “basic” metadata – things like track titles, album titles, composers, etc. We are currently in the design phase of an overhaul that will write even more metadata out to file tags, but for the moment that information is not written to tags. More bad news for this case, I know.

As for your other questions, I should be clear that the goal of Roon isn’t to be a full fledged grooming tool. As a product, Roon is focused on automatically retrieving as much metadata as possible, and as others have mentioned, we’re not looking to replace the many great tag editors that are out there.

That said, Roon is a product that appeals to serious music fans, who are passionate about exploring and organizing their collections around Roon’s rich metadata. While we hope our automatic identification processes are accurate the vast majority of the time, if there’s one thing you can be sure about in the world of metadata it’s that issues are going to creep up and people are going to have opinions, particularly about more subjective metadata like Genres.

So, my point is not to say that we’re not serious about our editing features – we absolutely are, and we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure our functionality is comprehensive and stable, and to ensure that when albums are edited in Roon those edits are not lost.

We expect people to generate their own metadata in Roon, and we expect people to use our editing tools to correct mistakes. This is just a very unique case where the edits are attached to an album, but the composition of that album is wrong. Changing the composition of the album is going to trigger the automatic identification processes I mentioned above, which is unfortunately going to pull a fresh set of credits.

I’m going to discuss this a bit further with our team to see if we could potentially do better here at some point down the road - you’ve definitely identified a pretty nasty case. If we were going to make a change, I should note that there are a lot of cases to consider when you wouldn’t want credits to persist (such as if you were correcting a bad identification when you change the track list of the album), but I do understand your case, and I would like to try and do better.

Mixing a rich automatic metadata system like Roon’s with file tag information is always tricky, but the good news is that we are always improving the system, and feedback like this is a huge factor. We really do appreciate it @Michael_Kobb.

I appreciate the candid and thorough reply @mike!

If nothing else, having a way to export and import your user-entered information would help in a situation like this. If I could export my user-entered information for Strange Angels, then correct/merge the album, then import my data back again, it would be cumbersome, but I would not lose the half hour or so of work it took to enter all of this data.

Let me close by inviting you to reconsider something that you wrote above. You wrote that you don’t aim to replace the tag editing programs that are out there. I think you should consider doing exactly that, for the reasons I alluded to earlier with my Ray Phiri example. Roon’s metadata is the source of much of its power and richness, and that depends heavily on not just having textual metadata, but on having true links between songs & albums, and the artists who created them. What I lose by using an external tag editor is the final step of verifying that the artist name I’m entering is linked up properly with the artist record in Roon’s database.

I’m 100% certain that a large percentage of current and potential Roon customers have no interest in grooming their metadata, but I’m equally certain that a meaningful percentage are not only passionate about doing so, but would be more than happy to contribute their work to the community at large.

I have about 1000 albums in my library. I’m really passionate about maybe about 100 of them. 200 at the outside. But for those albums, I would gladly spend time doing the sort of very complete metadata grooming that I did for Strange Angels. Get enough people together who do that for the albums that they care about, and you’ll have the best music metadata in the world.

Yup, this should work, and as I mentioned it’s in the design phase right now – lots of different types of metadata to consider, compatibility with other systems, file formats, tagging conventions, etc. It’s a surprisingly big project, but we’re committed to getting it right.

I really do appreciate the other feedback here, and I just want to reiterate that we are always thinking about how to improve our metadata (both automatic and manually entered). Long term, we’re also thinking about how our passionate user base can help improve the accuracy and depth of our data over time, so that eventually everything is automatic, and perfect – it’s ambitious, sure, but we’re working on it :wink:

If you haven’t read it yet, some further reading on these interactions are here – thanks again @Michael_Kobb!

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