Sunday, 19 October 2014

Fixing mp3 Track Duration Errors

I recently converted my music collection to the mp3 format; however, whilst the playback quality is excellent, many of the tracks had erroneous track duration data. This wasn't a particular problem until I copied some of the tracks to my phone which started crashing while playing music and I began to suspect the duration error as the culprit.

Changing duration is not as straightforward as fixing tags (easily achieved using EasyTAG) but there is a great app in the Software Center for doing just that, MP3 Diags.

Track duration errors are caused by missing, incomplete, or corrupt variable bitrate (VBR) headers:

"There are 3 kinds of VBR headers: Xing, LAME, and VBRI. MP3 Diags identifies files having an incorrect or missing VBR header, and allows you to create Xing headers, should you need to." Source: MP3 Diags, MP3 Introduction

Warning, following this advice may corrupt your music files - backup first!

Despite the rather dire warning above, I've experienced no data loss or corruption (at least, none that I've found) and this great app has repaired all of my track duration errors and one or two other issues as well!

If you're using Ubuntu or one of it's derivatives, the best installation option is the Software Center. Open the Software Center and search for mp3diags - don't put a gap between mp3 & diags or you'll only be offered the MP3 Diags documentation. Simply install as usual.

When you open the app you must scan your files for errors. Just click the gear icon (1st on the left of the toolbar) and the browser will open. You can also scan remote files if you have mounted them using SSH: in Mint the route is a little convoluted, try:


...and then look for your music directory. Select your directory and then hit the Scan option. This can take several minutes on a single remote directory (album), so patience will be needed if you have a large music library with lots of errors. My repairs took over a week on a modest (3,500 track) library.

If the scan reveals any Xing errors, repair them by clicking the single transformation icon (a hammer with a green arrow) and selecting the Repair VBR data option.

Sources & References:

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