Mac Music Management – Jaikoz 2.4.1 build 1046

JaikozIn my search for the ultimate music management tools for the Mac, I have spent a while playing with the latest version of Jaikoz. For Windows switchers it falls into the category of a sophisticated MP3 tagging tool rather like the excellent Tag&Rename. Pitching right in – Jaikoz exposes pretty much every ID3 tag available to you so that you can edit them singly or in batch through a very easy to understand and nice looking interface. At the top you get the iTunes like navigation pane where you can sort and choose genres, artists and albums which are then displayed as tables in the centre section. The bottom selection can then show you a detailed view of whichever track you’ve selected.It’s all very easy to get on with and customizable for those who like to tweak.

Moving on from this, there is a mind-boggling variety of ways in which you can auto-correct tags, guess tags from filenames, rename files from tags, move files, swap tags and even jump to MusicBrainz, Amazon, Discogs etc. to view more information about the chosen artist, album or track. So whether you’re planning to edit the data by hand, or by retrieving it automatically via other means, you can label up your music with a huge amount of detail. The manual tag editing is done either in the table itself by double-clicking on a tag field or in the detailed view at the bottom and it’s simply a case of typing in what you want. Easy for small numbers of files but a pain when you’re dealing with larger collections, which brings us on to the automated retrieval of data, and MusicBrainz. Now as someone who’s quite fussy about the accuracy of tag data, (well if you’re going to do it you might as well do it properly), I am not that convinced about the quality, consistency or accuracy of the way MusicBrainz works with Jaikoz, and I found that it was all too easy to completely mess things up. To be fair though, that’s a criticism of MusicBrainz more than it is of Jaikoz, and  it’s a shame that Jaikoz Audio tagger doesn’t let you use other sources like Amazon or Allmusic for auto-tagging your music.

To give you a quick example, let’s take a well known album like “Original Soundtrack” by 10cc. Now in my collection the album has all tracks present and is already tagged correctly, but I let Jaikoz and MusicBrainz have their way with it for the purposes of this experiment. So for each track the Artist and Album Artist are both “10cc”, the Year is “1975” and the Album is “Original Soundtrack”. After MusicBrainz had done it’s thing, the Year of tracks #1 & #3 changed to 1975-04, while the rest remained as “1975”. The Album Artist for track #2 got changed to “Various Artists” and the Album to “Super 70’s disk 2” whatever that is! I repeated this with other well known artists and albums and all too often it was the same story with odd anomalies creeping in and in a few cases, entire albums be re-tagged incorrectly. Basically it was difficult to get consistent data without vetting each track carefully, taking away much of the benefit of automated tagging in the first place. You can tweak MusicBrainz settings from within the Jaikoz preferences to improve accuracy but I still found this feature required very careful scrutiny in use. Compare this to the way Tag&Rename imports tag data from Amazon which is far more slick and controllable, plus you get a preview of what it’s going to do before it does it. MusicBrainz and MusicIP are great concepts but I feel they have a way to go yet so be cautious and don’t let them run wild through your precious collection.

So is Jaikoz a good replacement for switchers used to a program like Tag&Rename? Well if it’s manual Tag&Renametagging you want then it’s a resounding ‘Yes!’ because Jaikoz has all the bases covered in that department. In fact if you’re happy to expend effort in checking the consistency of MusicBrainz data for your automated tagging needs, then I’d also recommend it. However, if you’re used to better control and consistency when pulling tag data from the web to bring order to your collection, then my vote would still go to Tag&Rename running under VMWare Fusion, and because Tag&Rename has many of the other tagging functions of Jaikoz covered as well, I’d find it hard to splash out on another tagging program just to get some native Mac functionality.

I know there are licensing issues with programs that want to pull data from but if Jaikoz could read information from Amazon in the same way that Tag&Rename does, then it would seal the deal for me, but until then…