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How I Find And Embed Quality Cover Artwork For My Library

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While playing back my music I display the artwork from the album on my iPad via remote apps or directly on my 51" Plasma HDTV. Having quality artwork is important to me and it can look amazing when displayed on a large screen. Here are the things I have done to find and embed artwork into my files.




My number one source for finding quality artwork to use is http://www.albumartexchange. I want high quality images of a minimum 600 x 600 but in the past 18 months or so I have been selecting 1000 x 1000 when possible. I'm always comparing images for proper color balance and details. A lot of images are overly saturated with color kind of like the HDTVs you see in the stores with the contrast cranked up. I save all images initially to my desktop. My secondary sources are Google Images which can be hit and miss on quality. I also have about six other sites that specialize in cover art.


If you use iTunes you can certainly use the File>Library>Get Album Artwork function but the one downfall of that method is that it does not embed the artwork with the file. However over the past couple of years I have found that the artwork coming from iTunes has improved dramatically and most times 600 x 600 images can be obtained. I have found that on several occasions when I was not able to find more obscure blues or jazz albums covers of good quality that iTunes had them. Because they are not embedded I will copy the artwork to my desktop. After using Get Album Artwork I will select a song from the album and choose Get Info. From there I go to the Artwork tab and then drag a copy of the artwork to the desktop for embedding.




If you are using iTunes as your tool to rip CDS and you use the Get Album Artwork function as I previously mentioned this does not embed the artwork with the file. This can be important because when synching to idevices or in moving your library the link that currently exists between your files and the artwork may be broken and images will go missing.


Probably the the easiest thing to do to embed your artwork (rather than use the manual method I prefer) if you have been using the Get Album Artwork method is to run a script like Doug's AppleScript (I'm sure there may be others) which will automatically go through the titles you highlight and embed the artwork for you.


My preferred method as I said is manually embedding.


If you are using iTunes and use the Get Album Artwork tool to embed artwork manually you can select one song in the album and Get Info go to the artwork tab and drag a copy of the artwork to the desktop as previously described. Now select all titles of that album and Get Info. Go to the Artwork box. Place a check next to the box, highlight the box and hit Delete. Answer Yes/OK to the questions. This will delete any other artwork associated with the file. Once again highlighting all songs in that album Get Info and this time drag the artwork from the desktop to the artwork box and answer Yes/OK. This will embed the artwork in the file.


You our can verify the artwork is embedded in the file by going to Finder (I use a Mac) and follow the path to your music and the particular artist and album and finally select one song. In the Finder preview window if you see a thumbnail of the album artwork it is embedded. If you see a gray box with a music note icon the artwork is not embedded.


If you are not using Get Album Artwork with iTunes and you have sourced your artwork elsewhere with a copy on your desktop simply highlight all the songs of the album and Get Info then drag the artwork to the artwork box and select OK/Yes.


I use XLD for ripping. XLD can pull artwork from the internet. Most of the times it is lower quality than what I can find. When the XLD window opens with the artwork present I hover over the image and I will get a pop up showing the size and typically 300x 300 but sometimes better. Most of the time I am replacing that artwork. Clicking on the window I select Clear Artwork. Then I drag from my desktop the artwork I have chosen into the artwork window and hit OK unless there is some other metadata I want to edit in that window.


This is has worked well for me and been very consistent. It is probably a more tedious and time consuming method than some might care for.

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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Try Perfect Tunes from dbpoweramp as a good starting point.



...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I also use XLD to rip, but once I found kid3 I stopped editing metadata in XLD. I do my rip, ignoring art and any of the listing information, then run the files through kid3. There is a semi automated art lookup in kid3, so I will either add or replace art using that. I say semi automated because the art is grouped and you need to select and save the image you want, and then you drag it into the kid3 window. I have it set so that it opens the image file in Photoshop when it gets saved, so I can do a quick cleanup if none of the images were optimum. Then I drag it into the kid3 window. Since I usually rip a few CDs at once, one feature I like about kid3 is that it will open up an entire directory, so I can edit several CDs at once (say like a multi cd set).

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I use JRiver and click on the Cover Art drop down. This lets you "add from the internet" or "add from a file" among other things. If you choose the internet, it shows your existing cover art (if any) and let's you mouse over to compare quality (as well as showing you size info) of the found options. There are usually three to five options (sometimes more, sometimes none).


If you prefer to scan your own (or download a specific one from the internet in advance…something I like to do with my DSD rips of SHM-SACDs for example), then you just save those somewhere like your downloads folder and access that to embed in your files. You can get much higher resolution copies this way (and on a big screen, that would make a huge difference).


When you are done, you can opt to "send to internet" which helps build the database of options for others (or so I presume).



Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.


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I'm pretty picky about my album art. I use the free program "Album Art Downloader", available here:


SourceForge.net: album-art


It searches multiple sources for covers, allowing you to see a full size preview before making your choice. I then use Photoshop to adjust the image, resize and sharpen, then save the file as Folder.jpg. I then use MP3tag, another free program, to edit metadata/tags and embed the album cover (Folder.jpg) in each audio file.


Possibly overkill but works great for me.

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