3.1.X Metadata absence/loss

Metadata absence/loss

Audacity 3.1.0 and subsequent, including latest-of-this-post Audacity 3.1.2
Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 21H2 build 22000.318

The issue is metadata. My observation is that at least non-standard metadata is being discarded, is absent, is lost by Audacity, when opening and working with files with which this metadata is preexisting.

For instance, commonly “ReplayGain” metadata exists within files. This is presently being scrapped by Audacity 3.1.x. Within my personal music library I manage, I’ve got custom fields of metadata I apply to my files. These metadata fields are being lost in 3.1.x.

At least temporarily, I have reverted my installation of Audacity to 3.0.5, which is the last I had downloaded prior to 3.1.0 being released.

I trust the issue can be addressed.

Thank you and take care.

I’ve not put any effort toward my own investigation of this issue. I felt the software was so recent that surely there’d be other folks experiencing the issue, or that folks would be aware of it. In searching the forums and filtering recent Audacity channel comments at YouTube for “metadata,” I feel there is a possibility no individual has publicly stated this issue.

There is a bug for the Total Tracks metadata: https://github.com/audacity/audacity/issues/1944

Is that one of the things you found got lost as well? Also, which other tags get discarded? I’m not familiar with metadata beyond a vague idea that id3 exists, so I think it’d be really helpful if you could explain the extend of how much is actually broken right now.

LWinterberg, I saw you updated that thread at github. I do feel their issue is the identical issue to what I describe here.

Metadata synopsis:

Metadata is commonly key and value pairings tied into a file format container that can then be indexed and searched by host software like an application or operating system. An image has its resolution, its bits-per-pixel colordepth, its color space profile. Commonly a file system will keep metadata like timestamps for when a file had been accessed or modified last, or privileges as to which computer users may execute or edit a file. Thus, I feel metadata is and continues to be integral to many existing computer systems and applications today.

Which metadata tags are being discarded by Audacity? My current understanding is all but the most standard non-custom metadata tags, perhaps the ones of ID3, are being lost and discarded without the end user’s explicit knowing or approval. It’s your title, your artist, your genre, your year. These are not impacted.

Many audio software make use of metadata, and may rely upon the implementation of custom metadata fields to achieve their goals. For instance, they may create a metadata field within an audio file that tells about a track’s beats-per-minute metric. It may store information about the dynamic range of the audio file within a custom metadata tag. As noted before, “ReplayGain” is commonly stored within an audio file’s metadata, and many appreciators of music with established libraries may depend upon these custom metadata tags.

At this time, a user may employ Audacity to open an audio file with preexisting custom metadata fields, use Audacity to perform any desired operations for that audio file, and then unknowingly forfeit some of that file’s custom metadata when exporting their file.

This is a problem needing addressed most especially because the metadata within files is being modified (in this case removed entirely) without an average Audacity user’s notice or granting of permission to Audacity to do so. That’s the nature of it being a bug, I think, is that there’s no disclosure of it. It isn’t in the patch notes for 3.1.x releases, is it — that Audacity has decided to commit to preserving only a specific standard of metadata?

Thanks for promoting the issue, LWinterberg. Take care.

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Say, if you load one of the files with the missing metadata again in Audacity and then open Edit > Metadata…, do you see the missing information again?

When opening an audio file where this custom metadata exists, accessing menu option “Edit > Metadata…” reveals that Audacity is already failing to acknowledge the existence of this metadata.

This is not strictly an export issue. Audacity seems to be failing to recognize this data at all, at any point.

Fortunately, Audacity will not modify a file without permission. Simply opening the file will not alter it. But were a user to attempt exporting their file, those custom fields I mentioned, any at all, would be lost by Audacity 3.1.x and later.

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This is the case with all earlier Audacity versions - and is a serious issue that really should be addressed.

A use case from a very different app - Lightroom
I am currently working the underwater photos I took on y recent dive trip - before I process then I tag them heavily with much information: Dive site, atoll, species, sub-species - all this in addition to the metadata that the camera already provides. When I import these into Lightroom, edit them and export the processed photo, Lightroom exports the processed file with all the metadata intact (and that is as it should be).

Audacity should not be discarding users’ carefully added metadata.


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Ahahaha, waxycylinder, yeah, absolutely. :slight_smile:

Personal use case/storytelling for metadata follows

My usage of custom metadata fields within my personal music library is fanatical. I’ve got a “flags” field where I apply a variety of flags I care about. I then have playlists automatically created and regenerated, making use of different flags found within the custom “flags” metadata field I created. Things like if any given piece of music is a “loop track” for me, or a "hum track, if it’s a track I am nostalgic about, if it’s a demo, a remix or edit, if it’s live-recorded audio, or if it’s a cover track of an existing song. :smiley:

I also have my own elaborate music rating system that is made possible by the implementation of custom metadata. I feel the common five-star rating implementations, or worse in the case of Spotify a single heart implementation, is inadequate for me. I’ve got an eleven star system because I am so nutty, and I implement that with metadata. How wonderful is it for me to then column sort my rating seeing an accurate representation of how I personally feel about each of the pieces of music in my library in descending order? Which are among the best? :slight_smile: It’s just a bit more resolution than a five star rating system, and it helps me feel happy.

This is what computers are able to do. It’s among their founding philosophy many will cite. Computers are able to be programmed to serve the user how the user wants to be served. Information can be displayed in a way that favors the user’s understanding and skill set. Right? Things like this.

Unfortunately, programming and software development, even at a high level, can be beyond the scope of a typical computer user. So I can at least make use of a particular audio playback program and an existing concept like metadata to produce the results I want and expect from my computer, for my own particular psychology and use case. Fantastic!

:slight_smile: Have a great day, everyone.

This is NOT trivial and I guess it’s not priority for the Audacity developers. :frowning:

Different file formats use different metadata standards. MP3s use ID3 tags, FLAC uses Vorbis Comments, etc. As far as I know there’s no real standard for WAV files but Windows Media Player can read metadata from WAV files made with Audacity. Some formats have fields that others don’t, some have different names and some have different maximum lengths, etc. This can obviously cause issues when you convert from one format to another and there’s no perfect solution.

I’ve heard of cases where people write ID3 tags to a FLAC and they get an invalid FLAC that maybe works with some software and fails with other software. I assume custom tags could potentially cause the same issue.

When you export with Audacity you’re creating an entirely new file. So it’s not exactly “loosing” or “discarding” the data, it’s just not getting copied over. I wouldn’t expect it to write custom non-standard tags. It also can’t edit the existing tags without re-writing the whole file. That’s a problem with lossy files which will go-through an additional generation of lossy compression.

That’s a good point.
What the official FLAC documentation says about this:

the FLAC specification does not require compliant implementations to support ID3 in any form and their use is strongly discouraged.

What software do you use?
I use Yate (Yate | 2ManyRobots)
a little complex, but it allows you to create and edit many tags

I am French, speaking English well,
but I use Google Translate to ensure my translation :wink: