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2/03/2003: MPEG Audio Collection (MAC) [>> Go]

    This is the last MP3-related review for a while, I promise. If you're big into MP3s, like I am, and you don't have unlimited hard drive space (or you're paranoid about your computer crashing and taking all your music with it), you probably have a dozen or more CD-Rs lying around that you've backed up all your music onto. If you've used a service like Emusic, you might even have close to 100 CD-Rs stuffed with music that won't fit on your computer directly. That's the situation I was in, and with that much music, it's practically impossible to remember:
  A. What music you have, and
  B. Where it is.
That's when I went looking for, and found, MPEG Audio Collection, or MAC, to help me organize my large MP3 collection.

    MAC's primary purpose is to catalog your digital music (the current version, 2.90, can catalog MP3, WMA, WAV, and OGG files) so that you know what you have and where you store it. Once your music is cataloged, you can search through it (by folder name, file name, or ID3 tag information), build playlists (sort of), or build a report of your music. MAC stores music by "volume" - if your music is mostly stored on CD-R (or other removable media), then each volume represents one disc and all the music on it. If your music is all on your hard drive, you can build volumes for specific folders (which requires picking each folder manually), or build one big volume for your entire drive. Once you've got your volumes loaded, you can search through your collection to look for duplicate songs, or find songs by the same artist located on different volumes (or search by album name, bitrate, etc.). The reporting feature is handy if you need a hardcopy or a text file listing all your music (or just from selected folders or volumes), and has a dozen different columns that can be included (bitrate, size, song length, ID3 tag information, etc).

    MAC is easy to use. Download and install the program, then run it. Click on the "Add Volume" toolbar button (the CD with the green + on it) and select your CD drive, hard drive, Zip drive, etc., and MAC will scan the device and create a new volume with the music (and folders) that it found. Replace your media and repeat until your entire collection is cataloged. Then MAC will look something like the picture I've got here, listing all the volumes I have in an Explorer-like interface that I can browse through to find folders and files that I'm interested in. Using the search button locates music matching your search expression in files or folders across all volumes, which is especially helpful when you haven't got your music organized by artist. You can double-click on something in the search results to go directly to it in the main MAC screen, but this closes the search screen and you have to re-do your search to see the other items it found. It would be nice if you could turn a search result into a playlist directly, or "mark" the results so that you can more easily find them all in the main MAC screen. MAC does give you a way to "mark" files, folders, and volumes in the main interface, but you also can't turn this into a playlist - you're limited to creating playlists from a single folder or volume, which is less helpful than being able to select multiple files and turn them all into a playlist.

    MAC also includes utilities to print a CD jewel-case cover (listing all the folders on a CD in your drive or a folder on your hard drive), batch-rename a set of files based on their ID3 information (useful if you've got MP3 files that only have the song name and you'd like to add the artist and album), and edit ID3 tags on digital audio files, which are all occasionally useful. These utilities can only be performed on your physical files or drives, however, not on the volumes or files you've got cataloged in MAC (which makes sense for the last 2, but the CD cover could easily be generated from the stored volume information instead of requiring you to pop the CD in the drive).

    MAC does a great job of cataloging your digital music and making it searchable. While it's got several other utilities built-in, that primary function is what it does best and is really the only reason to download it. It is now being hosted at SourceForge.

©2017 Tyler Chambers