Jump to content
IGNORED

Frustration with iTunes User Interface


Recommended Posts

My son and several friends have been trying to persuade me for years to leave the Windows world and enter the Mac. “It’s so much more intuitive and problem free and viruses aren’t a problem, and etc”. So, when I decided I needed a new computer to use as a music server, (and other things), I decided to try Mac. I bought a Mac Mini last week and proceeded to load my CDs. So far, I am not very impressed. Oh, the sounds fine, (although part of my intention is, or at least was, to add Pure Music at some point.) What’s frustrating me is the user interface. Here are three examples. (I should say that I’m a classical music and jazz fan, which may be part of the reason these problems bother me).

 

1. If you have an album where the tracks feature different artists, and you have album art showing, it presents several images of the album, one for each unique artist configuration. I have one album that shows 12 different images of the same album which clutters up the screen and creates confusion instead of clarification. The only way to tolerate this is to close album art. Even Windows Media Player doesn’t have this problem. Neither does Media Monkey, with which I have some limited experience.

2. iTunes has a very limited set of fields to choose from and there’s, apparently, no way to create your own. Where’s “conductor” as a separate field, for instance, or Record label, record number, file size, encoding method. There’s a date field, but what’s the date mean. In some albums it shows the date the album was released, in some it’s the date the recording was made, in others, the date the piece was composed. Doesn’t say which and there’s no ability to define it yourself. Again, it seems to me, both Media Player and certainly, Media Monkey, does much better.

3. Why does Apple restrict you to one site from which to get album info. One third of the 50 or so albums I’ve entered so far are not in their date base.

4. I have a few CDs, which are not commercial recordings, made by friends. When I received them there was no album or track info on them, just “unknown”. Before I got the Mac, I entered album and track info myself into these albums using Media Monkey. When I play the burned CD on my CD player, it shows the album and track info I entered in its display window. When I load it into the MAC, iTunes either can’t or won’t read the info. It just shows track number, everything else is blank. Why can’t iTunes do what a generic $150 CD player can do?

 

Maybe, (I hope), I’m having these problems because I’m just not familiar enough with iTunes and I just don’t know what I’m doing. Or maybe there’s an add-on program or a third party program for the Mac that addresses some of these problems. Again, I hope.

 

If any of you out there has information or recommendations about the above, I sure would appreciate your input. Right now, I'm wondering if I blundered when I bought the Mac Mini. Thanks in advance.

 

Paugust

 

 

paugust[br]Minneapolis, MN[br]Mac-Mini > Benchmark DAC1pre > Linkwitz Pluto 2.1

Link to comment

Dear Paugust

I share your frustration. It was exactly the type of lack of flexibility that drove me back to W7 and (on occasion Linux).

Particularly with Classical iTunes does a miserable job of sorting your music.

I for one would love iTunes to just give us all a "Folder View" so I could organise my music via folder structure and view and access it that way.

Having said that the SQ is excellent especially with Amarra or Pure Music. W7 + J River lags behind it imho.J River also has its frustrations btw....

No easy answer to this one.

Sometimes I hanker for a CD player.

 

Best Wishes

Andrew

Link to comment

Paugust, if I understand your first problem, there is a solution in iTunes, though it's slow. For each song in your album, you select it and hit command+I, then hit the 'Info' tab and tick 'Part of a Compilation'. When you've worked through each of the songs you will have the effect you want.

 

John

 

John

Link to comment

You can set this, and pretty much any field other than the Title, for multiple tracks at once by selecting multiple tracks in iTunes, pressing command-I, then then setting the desired value. The Compilation Checkbox is under the Options tab.

 

HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

Link to comment

I'm still evolving my system, but my current approach is:

Composer field = composer.

Title field = Work title, hyphen, movement number.

Artist field = Soloist, semicolon, conductor, semicolon, orchestra, year of performance.

Album field = Composer, colon, Work title, colon, Artists & year.

 

My rationale for making the Album field redundant with some of the other fields is that the Album field should uniquely specify a work you want to play as a unit. I do NOT use the Album field to collect together works that happen to be derived from the same disc. That meaning of album seems obsolete in computer audio. The only exception is a collection of pieces that you typically would want to hear consecutively, as in a concert.

 

The absence of distinct fields for soloist, conductor, ensemble, etc, seems tolerable because you can use the search box in the upper right of the iTunes window to find a desired person or ensemble without specifying its role. For example, it's not really a problem if a search for Barenboim does not differentiate between his recordings as pianist and conductor. You can further narrow the search results by selecting a Composer or Album in the column browser.

 

I include in the column browser the composer, artist and album fields. I display the column browser on top to afford more width for track data fields below.

 

I hope other classical listeners will share their organizational tips!

 

HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

Link to comment

paugust,

 

Just thought I would pass on three links to articles on the Web that do a very good job of explaining the cataloguing logic that iTunes uses (I previously posted these links over on the Linn Forums website which will explain the dating of the addendums).

 

Gaining an understanding of how the iTunes cataloguing logic works from these three articles have saved me a lot of time and grief in cleaning up all the errors in the Gracenotes database that iTunes draws from for all its album/track notes when ripping from your own CDs. Once cleaned up it makes it so much easier to locate stuff in my iTunes collection on my computer-based system.

 

The links are:

 

http://discussions.apple.com/message.jsp...95#9910895

 

http://www.macworld.com/article/144726/2...tions.html

 

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa...?

 

Regards,

 

Mister Wednesday

 

Addendum: December 31/09 - turingtest2 over on the Apple Support forum has been updating his guide to understanding iTunes cataloguing logic. You can follow his progress on this initiative at this additional fourth link:

 

http://www.samsoft.org.uk/iTunes/grouping.asp

 

Addendum: April 7/10 - A new iTunes version 9.1 sorting by Artist modification as reported on the Apple Support forum (read through the entire thread to understand how this works):

 

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa...&tstart=15

 

Regards,

 

Mister Wednesday

 

Link to comment

Thank you Mister Wednesday for the links. I will read them and see if they help. Understanding the logic certainly can't hurt. I'll report back my experience.

 

paugust[br]Minneapolis, MN[br]Mac-Mini > Benchmark DAC1pre > Linkwitz Pluto 2.1

Link to comment

paugust,

 

I've just noticed this morning that one of my links is truncated in my posting above (the third link in the first group of three). The correct, full link is:

 

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=10652572

 

A few other things to note as you work your way through the articles I've referenced above:

 

Once you've gained an understanding of the underlying cataloguing logic for each of the iTunes Information data fields it's really quite easy to come up with your own set of naming conventions to use in each of the data fields. Once you've standardized on a set of naming conventions that works for you, and always remember to then stick to those naming conventions as you import new CDs into your system, then it's quite easy to make iTunes work the way you want in terms of the cataloguing. It's the same old song as it ever was for making computer systems work for you - garbage in, garbage out.

 

You may want to think about using the Album Artist data field as well as the Artist data field as part of your naming convention. Album Artist overrides Artist within the iTunes cataloguing logic so you can use the Artist field for listing guest artists on a track while using the Album Artist data field for the name of the artist under which iTunes will catalogue the entire album.

 

I've found that the Gracenotes database that iTunes accesses for album/track data contains many errors. To be fair to iTunes, because Gracenotes is a user-supplied information database, these errors are caused by the users uploading incorrect information into the data fields generally as a result of a misunderstanding of the iTunes cataloguing logic However, it is quite easy to make corrections to the information as you will see from reading the articles.

 

The most common error in the Gracenotes database that I find causes problems is the incorrect application of the Compilation flag. To give you a personal example, when I was initially importing my CD collection into my computer system (a Mac-based system) I found that around 250 or so of my albums were listed as Compilations. However, after going into the album/track Information fields for these albums I determined that most of these were not in fact true compilations. The result was that after cleaning up those albums I eventually ended up with only about 50 or so true compilation albums.

 

When you're importing CD's into your system you'll soon gain an instinct for album/track notes that might cause you problems (as you'll be able to see those notes as iTunes goes through its importing process). If you think the imported notes are going to be causing problems (based on your own naming conventions) then I would recommend going right into the Recently Added section of iTunes (over on the far left side of the iTunes pane in the light grey area) after the importing is completed and open that function up. That will give you access to all the tracks for that album listed in sequential order. From there you can then go into the process of highlighting whatever specific tracks need editing or even highlighting all the tracks in a batch mode to allow you to make complete album note edits that will be applied to all the tracks in one go. Using this Recently Added function is much simpler than trying to search your entire iTunes library for tracks which might be now scattered throughout the system because of the incorrect Gracenotes data.

 

Hope this information is useful to you.

 

Regards,

 

Mister Wednesday

 

Link to comment

Mister Wednesday, only link 2 and 4 in your post work. The others result in "link not found". I found the links that do work to be helpful and would like to see the others. Can you resend them?

 

paugust[br]Minneapolis, MN[br]Mac-Mini > Benchmark DAC1pre > Linkwitz Pluto 2.1

Link to comment

My iTunes content is almost exclusively classical, and I've managed to have it organized the way I like. As others have said, you need to understand the cataloging behavior of the program--the entries in each field are absolutely critical to how the tracks and album art display. Once you know how it all works, it should be fairly straightforward to tag your files to have them organized and displayed to your liking. I've done this mostly by trial and error, and I could share some tips and tricks I've learned, but that would likely involve a long manual. ;-) One thing is for certain: you'll need to alter the metadata that it grabs for every ripped CD. There is absolutely no consistency there (this data can vary even among discs in a multi-disc set), and consistency is key. (Tip: 'copy and paste' is your friend!) I also go to a number of sites to get album art--I don't do it through iTunes.

 

Russell

 

MacBook Pro 2020 16” (16MB RAM, macOS Big Sur) > Audirvana Plus  > Pangea Audio USB-AG > Sony TA-ZH1ES > Nordost Heimdall 2 > Audeze LCD-3

Link to comment

One of the great aspects of iTunes on the Mac (not under Windows) is the ability to programme Apple Script to make changes, etc.

 

A great resource for Apple Scripts is Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes website. Some useful scripts I've found allow you to swap fields, apply global additions to the metadata in a tag and to embed the art into the music files.

 

Another thing to consider is where you have an album which is predominantly a single artist but with guest stars on some tracks. One option is to leave the "Artist" field as the precise artists (e.g. most tracks as "Queen" with particular tracks as "Queen with David Bowie" or "Freddie Mercury"; then use the "Compilation" flag to ensure they are kept together. Alternatively (the option i prefer) you can keep all tracks as "Queen" and append "[with David Bowie]" or "[Freddie Mercury Solo]" for the track title of the relevant tracks.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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.

Link to comment

Another thing to consider is where you have an album which is predominantly a single artist but with guest stars on some tracks. One option is to leave the "Artist" field as the precise artists (e.g. most tracks as "Queen" with particular tracks as "Queen with David Bowie" or "Freddie Mercury"; then use the "Compilation" flag to ensure they are kept together. Alternatively (the option i prefer) you can keep all tracks as "Queen" and append "[with David Bowie]" or "[Freddie Mercury Solo]" for the track title of the relevant tracks.

 

why not make use of the "album artist" tag?. I name each artist per track, but the album artist keeps them together (e.g. artist: Miles Davis featuring Thelonious Monk, or Miles Davis and The New Jazz Giants.. Album Artist: Miles Davis) works great :)

 

cheers,

Ruud :)

 

~

 

 

Link to comment

The album artist tag doesn't work with the (5th gen anyway) iPod nor iPhone.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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.

Link to comment
  • 4 weeks later...

paugust,

 

Just in case you're still looking for more reference articles that will help you to understand the underlying cataloguing logic used by iTunes you might want to check out this article on the iLounge website (thanks to TonyL on the Pink Fish Media website for pointing out this article):

 

http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/the-complete-guide-to-album-tagging-art-and-playlists-in-itunes/

 

Regards,

 

Mister Wednesday

 

Link to comment

I've come to the conclusion that, as weak as the iTunes interface is, I can live with it. Thanks in great measure to the post entered here, including your own. It is helpful to understand its philosophy, (logic, if you will). Thank you for the reference. I will read it and report back.

 

paugust[br]Minneapolis, MN[br]Mac-Mini > Benchmark DAC1pre > Linkwitz Pluto 2.1

Link to comment

Okay - why is it that iTunes under Mac OS X can sort correctly but Windows can't.

 

Having to use Windows for a while for main computer, and under iTunes (for pod syncing) instead of things being listed correctly

1 .. 2 .. 3 .. 4 .. 5 .. etc

you get

1 .. 10 .. 100 .. 101 .. .. 11 .. 110 .. etc

 

Yes I know it's sorting in ASCII order on characters, but they manage to do it logically in Mac OS X so why not in Windows!!!!

 

Eloise

PS not looking for an answer - just venting!

 

Eloise

---

...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.

Link to comment

Generally the main advantage of iTunes under the Mac rather than Windows is that Core Audio is better at being bit-transparent compared with Windows. Windows you have 2 places you have to set sample rate (Quicktime and Windows Audio control panel) rather than one (Audio MIDI control panel).

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...