Tag Archives: CoverScout

Tagalicious

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Having recently acquired a copy Tagalicious, it seemed time to look at the MP3 tag file programs again. I’m astonished at how many hits these postings have gotten.

If you’re coming to the blog for the first time, here are links to the previous posts:

CoverScout, Pollux, TuneUp

Genre Tagging: Pollux vs. TuneUp

Pollux vs. TuneUp — Update

As mentioned in previous posts, CoverScout is out of the running. It only does cover art, it creates a large database, and it’s too expensive for the limited functionality. Through the course of the past year, Pollux also dropped out of the running. In the year that I had it, I believe there was one update. I’m not going to pay an annual fee ($10/year) for a product that appears to have ceased development a year ago. It might be different if the program were outstandingly effective and bug free. No such luck.

So, TuneUp has remained my go-to program for MP3 tagging. They update it regularly and seem to have an actual interest in their customers. Things have changed a bit, in the last year; they have broadened the offering a bit since I first purchased TuneUp. They have now added DeDuper, which claims to eliminate duplicate songs, based on the acoustic fingerprint of the songs. A lifetime license to the entire bundle is now $49.95. As a loyal TuneUp Gold customer, I am allowed to purchase DeDuper as an add-on for $19.95 (annual) or $29.95 (lifetime). My reward is to pay more for the bundle than a new customer will pay. I just don’t see that happening. So, I have 25 DeDupes and then I’m done. I’ll probably get to it eventually but duplicate songs aren’t that big a deal to me (certainly not a big enough deal to spend $30).

Now comes Tagalicious from The Little App Factory. I have iRip and RipIt from The Little App Factory and have found both programs to be very useful and very stable, so it made sense to give Tagalicious try. At $19.95 for a license that is not an annuity (for the developer), it is priced well. Also, it is available for Mac AND PC (as is TuneUp).

What do you get with Tagalicious?

– MP3 tagging
– Cover art
– Lyrics

Like Pollux, Tagalicious sweetens the deal by providing access to lyrics.

Preferences

You couldn’t get much simpler than the preference settings in Tagalicious. It’s nice that there is a setting to leave purchased songs alone; I don’t recall that being an option in the other apps. The other setting lets you determine whether it’s the new or old tag that is selected for updating by default. By that, I mean that you’re deciding which values will be used for the update.

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How Does it Work?

When you run Pollux, it inserts itself in the menu bar. You select songs in iTunes and then use the menu bar to initiate the search. TuneUp launches with iTunes. You select the songs you want to tag and drag them to the TuneUp window. Tagalicious launches as an app. It looks at your iTunes database and presents your playlists. It also presents a number of its own Smart Playlists, based on your library:

– Music — every song in iTunes
– Updated Music — anything that Tagalicious has modified
– Tagged Music — songs that already have tags
– Untagged Music — nekkid songs

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Select any of the lists and you’re ready to get started. It took me a few minutes to realize that Tagalicious activates when you select a song (or collection of songs). This is different than the way TuneUp and Pollux work but I liked it.

When you pick a list or library view, there are two viewing options: a cover art view and a list view. Cover art view shows the album cover and the song, which is attractive, but not terribly useful.

For list view, here are the view option settings that allow you to pick the sort order, sort by tag, and viewable tags. Another nice feature is that you can toggle back and forth between the original settings and the Tagalicious settings while in list view. This is the most transparent interface I’ve seen, allowing you to easily see how Tagalicious is performing against your current tags/tagging solution.

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If you select a single song, you get a view of the current tag information presented next to the values that Tagalicious has found:

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This is a feature that I really like about Tagalicious. It shows you the existing tag info, as well as the suggested tag info (as determined by Tagalicious). Compared to Pollux or TuneUp, this is a superior method. With Pollux and TuneUp, you must turn off the tags that you do not want updated. With Tagalicious, you click on the tag information you want to update (it’s probably more clear if you note the highlighted fields in the screenshot above). When you click “Send to iTunes” it updates the highlighted fields. This allows you to mix and match between existing tags and the new tags. This is a much more flexible option, since you don’t have to turn off a particular tag for all songs. How sweet is that?

As you can see in the above pic, you can select which values you prefer for each song in your library. This isn’t your only option. Under the Tracks menu, you can also toggle between the original and new values by tag:

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Another useful piece of information provided in list view is an icon that shows the status of each song:

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The green check means that the song has been updated. The red exclamation indicates that nothing was found for that song. The blue lock shows that the song is a DRM song and cannot be updated. The orange icon means that tag information has been found for that song. No icon shows that the song hasn’t been touched yet. It’s quite handy that the list view can be sorted by this value, allowing you to deal with all songs with the same status at once if you want.

TuneUp vs. Tagalicious

As mentioned above, I did not renew my Pollux license. This means that the comparison you’ll see is between TuneUp and Tagalicious. To compare the apps, I created a playlist comprised of 101 songs. I tried to provide a wide variety of genres, as well as throwing in songs that I know are problematic. There were two runs. The first run, used the songs with their existing tags (mostly provided by Pollux or TuneUp). For the second run, I selected the songs in the playlist and cleared all the fields (except song name).

First Round

In the testing, it was clear that Tagalicious was much faster than TuneUp. However, I suspect that this is because TuneUp is checking so many more sites for cover art (based on the number of alerts I got from Little Snitch, TuneUp must check 2 or 3 times what Tagalicious checks…at least). In the first round, Tagalicious processed the songs in 50 seconds, as compared to 3 minutes, 40 seconds for TuneUp. After the first pass, Tagalicious had tagged 50 of 101 songs. After two additional passes through the songs, it had tagged 77. Although I’m not clear why, Tagalicious seemed to improve over time.

After 3:42, TuneUp had tagged 98 songs. What’s interesting is that two of those songs (two songs that I have NEVER had identified properly), were properly tagged by Tagalicious. For the record, those songs were “Rice Rice Baby” by Weird Al and “Choppin’ Broccoli” by Dana Carvey.

In terms of tagging completions, TuneUp took round 1 (although it was slower in one pass than three passes through Tagalicious).

Second Round

For round 2, I cleared all MP3 info from the 101 songs except the song name.

Tagalicious processed the 101 songs in 27 seconds. It tagged 79 songs.

TuneUp took 3.5 minutes and tagged 75 songs. This suggests (to me) that TuneUp uses more than just the audio fingerprint to tag songs. It seems that it did better in round 1 because it had more information to start with.

Both apps had issues with songs recorded through Snowtape. I suppose this makes sense, since it isn’t always easy to get a clean cut on the songs (sometimes you just can’t manage to avoid overlap between the new song and the previous song or commercial). However, Tagalicious seemed to fare a bit better with Snowtape recordings.

Bottom Line

Tagalicious is much faster than TuneUp. I’m sure this is affected by TuneUp’s additional functionality (finding YouTube videos, concerts nearby, and a dogged determination to find cover art) but Tagalicious is also getting song lyrics in that time (functionality not provided by TuneUp). I like the way the program presents itself and the way the fact that it is standalone. It doesn’t seem to fill up the hard drive like CoverScout and, so far, seems more stable than Pollux or TuneUp. It also, in my opinion, provides a better, more informative, more flexible UI than the other apps.

TuneUp is better at finding cover art. As mentioned before, it seems to have a wide array of sites it checks for covers. Also, if you want deep genre tagging, there is no question that TuneUp is the winner. I have TuneUp set at level 2, which is 250 genres. Tagalicious is much less granular. Below, is a sampling of the results from both apps, with TuneUp first (I tried to get them side by side but my theme just doesn’t have room for it).

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If you aren’t too concerned about genre tagging, Tagalicious is faster and provides lyrics at a much better price point.

If you want very detailed genre tagging, I have not found anything that can touch TuneUp. In the 101 song sample, Tagalicious produced 21 different genre tags while TuneUp provided 49. In terms of cover art, I would also have to give the edge to TuneUp. It’s clear they are checking a huge number of sites to find appropriate cover art and they were able to provide cover art that Tagalicous couldn’t find.

Tagalicious is currently at rev 1.1.3 and is already a good app, especially in terms of speed and interface. If The LIttle App Factory continues to work on cover art and genre tagging, they will have a very strong contender on their hands.

Both products provide a trial with a limited number of tags. You owe it to yourself to try both to see which app fits your needs.


Song Scrubber Showdown Updated

I have added a few more screen shots and additional comments to the original showdown posting. You can find it here:

https://mgrego2.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/song-scrubber-showdown/


Pollux vs. TuneUp Update

So, you’ve been sitting there on pins and needles, checking the site on breaks, gnashing your teeth when you weren’t on break…

I know this because my web page views have spiked at eight and how many breaks can the two of you possibly have?

The refrain that pounded in your brain was, “I wonder where mgrego2 is with his comparison of the song scrubbers? Oh, yeah, and what about global warming/non-warming/rain/not-rain/snow/not-snow?”

Did your brain see the end of that last sentence as snot-now?

Anyway, the work continues and I’ll share some thoughts.

I have continued to work with CoverScout, Pollux, and TuneUp. SongGenie? Nope. SongGenie can kiss me in places no mortal has ever seen. It is dead to me.

I bit the bullet and picked up TuneUp while I could get the discount. Then, I started comparing TuneUp and Pollux some more. No tables or charts this time.

My process was to switch iTunes to the mode where you view albums in a grid. I would select an album and then have Pollux identify it. If I didn’t like the results, I would undo them and then drag the album to TuneUp. If I thought they were OK, I would still drag the album to TuneUp and compare. The result is that none of these programs are flawless. It is clear that TuneUp remains more accurate than Pollux and, based on my limited experience with SongGenie, more accurate than SongGenie. My confidence in TuneUp has gotten to the point that I use it as my baseline for the other programs; It continues to pull up results that are more accurate than Pollux. And, it gives multiple cover art options, as opposed to the one cover you get with Pollux. However, to the credit of Pollux, TuneUp doesn’t provide an “Oh Shit” button and Pollux does. Of course, there is the possibility to save the results one at a time, rather than all at once, so maybe you should have been more careful before hitting the “Save All” button in TuneUp. The bottom line is that TuneUp isn’t perfect either. Software is written by peeps and peeps ain’t perfect.

My experience was that Pollux is generally correct. However, it was wrong often enough to make me a little uncomfortable. TuneUp pulled up better art work, provided better genre tagging, and was much faster. CoverScout? It actually has turned out to be useful as a means of finding BETTER cover art. When you select an album in CoverScout, it tells you the current size in pixels and shows what it looks like. It then finds other art work. I found that I could, based on the star rating that CoverScout provides, grab better art work than any covers that are at 150×200, 200×240, or whatever. So, it has actually served its purpose. Would I spend the asking price for that functionality? Hell no. And, it should be noted that I cleaned out the CoverScout directory after generating the chart. It’s now back up to 663 MB. There IS something that grows faster than my gut.

So far, TuneUp is maintaining its edge. I could live with Pollux but the genre tagging sucks and I would never feel fully confident in the results I’m getting. If it were my money, and it was, I would go for TuneUp. Since I own them all, I’ll probably continue to pull up CoverScout whenever I’m not happy with the cover art (but then, only when I’m confident that the cover art I currently have is correct but suboptimal). I will use TuneUp for the heavy lifting and then switch to Pollux to snag my lyrics. I mean, really, for years I was singing things for “Blinded by the Light” that were just plain WRONG!!!!!!!!

I’d be very interested in seeing the opinions of others.


Genre Tagging — Pollux vs. TuneUp

Maybe I’m more anal than I thought. Since putting the song scrubber comparison together, the genre tagging has begun to eat at me more. I mean, if you ever want to take advantage of Smart Playlists, it would be helpful to have decent genre tagging, right? Trying to evoke a certain mood is going to fail miserably if the bulk of your tags are the same general value! With that in mind, I decided to put together a table that compares the tagging produced by Pollux and TuneUp. What you’ll see is that Pollux is, for the most part, very generic. TuneUp, on the other hand might be too granular.

Below is the table. I tried to cross a variety of genres to give a representative sampling of the tagging that takes place. My process was:

  1. If the song already has a genre, clear it.
  2. Use Pollux to update the tags.
  3. Record the value from Pollux.
  4. Undo the tag update in Pollux.
  5. Drag the song into TuneUp.
  6. Record the value from TuneUp.

You can be the judge for yourself. For me, erring on the side of too granular seems more useful.

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Update

Apparently, the EYES of TuneUp is everywhere! Tiffany from TuneUp Media posted a comment that linked to a method for controlling the level of genre tagging in TuneUp. I have looked for similar functionality in Pollux but don’t find it. For the record, it is under preferences.

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If you right-click on the TuneUp window, you get a pop-up that allows you to set preferences. Under the “Clean” tag you’ll see that there are three levels of genre assignment. Although it isn’t clear how the levels are determined, you can certainly loosen up (or tighten down) the number of genres available from Level 2 (the level at which the above table was generated). Thanks, Tiffany!


Song Scrubber Showdown

Being a big fan of music of all types, my iTunes library hovers just under 8,000 songs. It’s mixed bag of stuff from college, copies from casettes, iTunes/Amazon purchases, and rips of my cd collection. To be honest, the whole concept of “cleaning up” iTunes songs seemed totally irrelevant to me. There was no question that my library had its share of hosed up tags and more than its share of missing cover art but my original iPod couldn’t display the cover art and I had figured out how to deal with the ones that were mis-tagged.

Then, MacHeist offered their nanobundle that included CoverScout. With a house full of iPod Touches and an Airport Express streaming to the stereo, cover art had begun to creep up the ladder of importance a bit. I had once spent a day working Amazon to clean up my cover art only to have an ill-timed HD meltdown trash all my work. This would not happen to me again! Originally, CoverScout was my primary reason for seriously considering the MacHeist bundle; I wanted all that pretty artwork. As I began to monitor the forum, the complaints about installing it and the phone home features almost turned me away. Then, I decided I could use MacJournal and opted to buy the bundle anyway. While monitoring the Macheist forums, two other products were mentioned: Pollux and TuneUp. What follows is my experience while trying to compare the three…

After some thought, I spent the $10 for 365 days of Pollux. Because TuneUp has a generous trial (100 song clean-ups and 50 cover arts), I opted to test with the trial.

Interface

CoverScout

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Without question, CoverScout has the most attractive interface. It is a stand-alone application (relying on your iTunes library) and it has all the look and feel of a Mac product. It provides a cover flow pane to show the albums in your collection, as well as a side panel that shows which albums have cover art and which do not. It provides an easily viewable collection of retrieved art work and lets you select the one that is applied to the desired album. Particularly nice is the fact that it lets you filter for: All albums, albums with no cover, albums with incomplete covers (not sure what that means), and albums with covers. As far as I can tell, it is the only app that gives you this very useful way of filtering your content. The pane on the right, which shows the albums meeting your criteria, also shows a micro copy of the cover art if it exists. You can quickly see which albums are missing cover art.

Pollux

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Interface??? What interface??? Pollux installs as a Menu Bar option. See the little dark circle with the musical note? That’s it. Pollux integrates with iTunes. You select a song or collection of songs in iTunes and then activate the Pollux menu from the Menu Bar.

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Here are your choices. The obvious choice is “Tag Selected iTunes Tracks” but I can tell you that the Undo also comes in handy. The nice thing about Pollux is that the “Preferences” option allows you to turn functionality on and off. As we’ll see later, this is very useful.

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As you ask Pollux to do things, it will display a Growl window that shows its progress:

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It shows how many songs have been examined, as well as how many have been tagged. Don’t like the tagging? Select the undo…

TuneUp

TuneUp displays as a sidebar to iTunes.

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The main settings are reached by right-clicking on the screen and selecting Preferences. Your options for control are shown below:

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To activate TuneUp, you select the song(s) that you want to clean or locate cover art for and drag them to the sidebar from iTunes. This initiates the search. The results are then displayed in the sidebar and you are given the option to SAVE the results to iTunes, by album. If there are multiple cover art options, a small downward pointing triangle will appear over the sample that is displayed. Here you can see results with the album cover expanded and the tracks expanded. Cover art that is selected will be the one that is updated in iTunes. If you hover your cursor over the album covers, you will get the resolution. Click on a cover to see it in the right pane and to select it for updating. Uncheck a song to prevent updating.

In my experience, TuneUp provides three results. If it lists it as a “Match,” it is fully confident in the results. You can select one album at a time to update by hitting the little disk icon in the bar with the band name. Hitting “Save All” will save all the results listed under Matches.

There is another category for when it is less confident. It will recommend that you look through the results before updating. Same update options are available.

Finally, if it doesn’t find anything, it provides a list of those songs it couldn’t find.

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If you activate the “Cover Art” tab, rather than using the “Clean” tab, TuneUp will start checking your library for songs that are missing cover art. If it finds any, it will go in search for the missing ones.

Performance

This one is a bit of a quandary. Each product brings its own slant on things and one of the products had a demo so hamstrung that it was impossible to carry out the test. For testing, I selected two albums: one which was “easy” and one which was problematic. I tried a number of different options. Since I’m old as Moses, I tried music from the 80’s. I also tried some songs from my oldest son (Hasten the Day, Chiodos). However, I did not time or record the results from his music. Suffice to say that his music proved to separate the men from the boys… Here are the results for the old-timers: (for Jesus & Mary Chain, a 12 song “album” was selected, for Joy Division, a 9 song album was selected).

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He had an album that was tagged as “Haste the Day,” which, as far as I could tell, is a christian metal band. Pollux found nothing. TuneUp quickly informed me that the collection was actually an assortment of non-christian metal bands, including GWAR. Upon listening to the Haste the Day song that TuneUp decided was GWAR, it was immediately clear that TuneUp had nailed it.

As a further test, I took 25 songs that were labeled “Track ##.” Of those, TuneUp identified 23 songs. Pollux identified 20. The interesting thing is that there were two songs that messed with TuneUp: TuneUp seemed to think they both came from Buckcherry’s album “15.” Pollux correctly identified the songs as belonging to “Stadium Arcadium” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The songs that Pollux could not identify were either christian bands or metal bands.

Pollux

In each case, Pollux comes up the slowest. However, as compared to CoverScout, it seems to be doing its due diligence. In the case of Joy Division, it returned the correct results. In the case of Jesus & Mary Chain, it produced no results and the extreme time seemed to be based on track six of the twelve tracks selected. Pollux had no issue with Joy Division but definitely had an issue with J&MC. To be fair, an internet search made me wonder where this “album” came from. I can only assume it came from one of my cassettes but I don’t know what it was. My biggest issue with Pollux comes up here…in terms of tagging a genre to a song, Pollux is very quick to label everything as “Rock.” This macro view really pisses me off, so I finally began turning off the option to provide the genre (as can be seen in the screenshot above).

TuneUp

TuneUp was quite fast and returned what seemed to be legitimate results… In the case of J&MC, I’m not sure what to make of the results. TuneUp was the only app to return the songs AND the cover art. However, the cover art was for an album that I cannot find. Perhaps it’s a bootleg. But hey, I got the correct songs and some cover art, so what the hell?After several batches of 500 or so songs, I have had TuneUp lock up on me. I don’t know if this is a memory leak or if it loses touch with their server but it will sit on a song, looking like it is updating, and never return.

CoverScout

This is where CoverScout begins to hit the crapper. As a stand-alone application, it relies on the tagging that already exists on the song. If the album title is missing, it will suggest that you have SongGenie fix the song(s).

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Here is where my rant begins. CoverScout costs $39.95. It finds cover art and lets you print/edit the cover art. It relies on the existing tagging to do its work. If your tagging is bad or missing, you need SongGenie. Guess what??? SongGenie is another $29.95. We’re now at $69.95 but buy them together and you can save $5! A quick download of the demo and not so quick install later, I go back to CoverScout and hit “Identify with SongGenie.” SongGenie is launched and it begins to go through all the songs in my iTunes library. 25 minutes later, the album I was looking to identify finally shows up in the SongGenie window so I can ask it to do a search. As with CoverScout, the interface is very nice. It is clean and well layed out. I select the 12 J&MC songs and ask it to find them. A message informs me that with the demo, I can only search one song at a time. Annoyed, I push onward and begin to search for each of the songs individually. Four minutes later, I’ve hit my 10th song with no results yet. When I hit the 11th song, I get this lovely window:

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Seriously? I can try 10 songs and only one at a time? I didn’t get results for ANY of them. With TuneUp, you only reduce your permitted sample size when you SAVE the results. When you get some BENEFIT from the software!. Not with these fellas. You get 10 lame attempts and then you better whip out the credit card.

Out of curiosity, I decided to check the library for each program and discovered this:

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So, in terms of byte consumption, CoverScout is the hands down winner; but that’s a dubious honor at best. Hope you didn’t spend all your cash on CoverScout and SongGenie because you’ll want to throw on a spare hard drive onto your system. I understand that they are probably cacheing images to save time later but 514MB is a lot of space. This graph looks almost like a male enhancement ad. OK, maybe this isn’t totally fair but all apps were run for a similar period of time and if your hard drive space is running at a premium, this should also be a consideration.

Extras

This is where you see the biggest divergence amongst the apps. This is a good thing because all seem to address a separate segment of the market, assuming that those markets actually exist. First, we’ll look at the tagging:

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SongGenie provides the most tagging but the additional fields don’t mean that much to me. Perhaps they do to you.

Pollux

Pollux is the most barebones of the three apps. It allows you to tag songs as they are added to iTunes. It lets you select which fields are updated and which ones are not. A new feature, added while I was putting this together, allows you to update only blank fields. This is a handy feature. Since I really couldn’t stand the genre tagging generated by Pollux, the ability to turn the genre field off was great. Pollux also finds lyrics for your music, which is one of the reasons I decided to pay for it. The Growl notification shows the cover art it has found, the fields it is updating, and you can also have it show the lyrics. It will also find artist art if the particular cover art cannot be found. If you don’t want to pay to get lyrics, you can also try GimmeSomeTune. I found it a bit buggy but it is getting rewritten.

TuneUp

TuneUp aims to be a more complete music solution by providing social networking links, band information and videos, concert information, and links to buy concert tickets. Some of this functionality is provided by the free iConcertCal plug-in for iTunes but TuneUp blends it in nicely with its other features. Here are the extra panels provided:

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CoverScout/SongGenie

CoverScout has a nice interface and it provides 5-6 options for your cover art. It rates the images based on their size and resolution. The additional features that allow you to edit the cover art or to print out the cover art for your jewel boxes is lost on me; I just can’t see myself using these features. SongGenie also has a great interface. It lets you play songs from within the SongGenie window, and it attempts to evaluate the completeness of your library by rating the songs based on how many of the tags are filled out for a song, whether or not it has cover art, and whether or not it has lyrics. These are nice features. Like Pollux, SongGenie also finds lyrics and attaches them to the song.

Final Thoughts

Finally, here are my closing thoughts on the three apps, presented as a table. For each category, there is a first, second, and third place. Lowest final score is the winner…

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TuneUp is absolutely the fastest and most accurate in my testing. Where Pollux and SongGenie had problems with Jesus & Mary Chain, TuneUp seemed to have none. Also, it had no problem with bands like GWAR and Chiodos, which seemed to trip up Pollux. Unfortunately, the highly restrictive nature of the SongGenie demo really left me little opportunity to see how it fared on some of these other bands. Like CoverScout (and unlike Pollux), TuneUp generally provides multiple options for cover art.

TuneUp suggests you clean up to 500 songs at a time but I did not try this. It never seemed to drag my system down and neither did Pollux. I did try selecting all 7900 songs in my library and then setting Pollux loose. It chugged through 2000 or so before locking up. The lockup was severe and required a reboot. It was impossible to really get a feel for CoverScout/SongGenie but they definitely dragged on the system more and were very slow to process my iTunes library. And the hard drive impact of CoverScout/SongGenie is by far the worst.

If you’re just looking to clean up a large database of old stuff, a one year purchase of Pollux is the way to go. It does a very good job. It may miss a few songs but it will do a very competent job. That is, unless you want more accurate and more granular tagging of the band genre. For a long-term purchase and for someone with eclectic tastes, TuneUp is the best option. It does a stellar job of identifying songs and the genre tagging is much better than Pollux. If you like a pretty app and money is no object, CoverScout/SongGenie is probably worth further investigation. I just can’t tell, based on the small sampling I was able to do.

Note: My demo of TuneUp is currently offering a 20% discount for TuneUp Gold. This takes the price down to USD $23.96. I don’t know if this is inherently part of the demo or it’s a special deal.


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