Get tags, lyrics, and album covers for your music! (May 30th, 2010)
CoverScout lets you choose album art, while SongGenie fills out missing tidbits for your music collection. No more blank displays in iTunes, nor unknown artists or bands.
Product Manufacturer: equinux USA, Inc.
Price: $$29.95-$39.95 US
- CoverScout: Easy to search your music by presence/absence of cover art or by album name.
Finds artwork from many different sources.
German, French, and English versions.
SongGenie: Easy to use.
- CoverScout: Lost my music library multiple times.
Occasionally assigns incorrect cover art to albums.
SongGenie: No undo command.
Apply button accepts all changes; canít selectively apply found information.
My portable Mac contains a subset of my 100GB iTunes library, which I store on an external drive, but rarely connect to my laptop. My test music folder contains four small movies and podcasts, no TV shows, and 1410 items. The 9.5GB of music takes advantage of the iTunes preference "Keep iTunes Media folder organized," but the library itself contains a number of exclamation points and phantom duplicates because of tossed music. While I'm too busy to bother fixing the mess, I do like to have complete information and album artwork in my library. This is where I hope CoverScout and SongGenie from equinux can reduce my frustration and fill in the missing information.
CoverScout 3.3 designed for Mac OSX 10.5 and up, locates album art for your music. SongGenie on the other hand, fills in missing tag information, such as album name, lyrics, and artist. You can launch either product from within the other.
I used a test machine's music library instead of my regular iTunes Library because I didn't want to take any chances that something might happen to my music; problems that occur regularly when I apply iTunes updates. This is always a concern for me, as some of my ripped music dates back to SoundJam days, many years before the iTunes Store and I no longer have the CDs. As it turns out both pieces of equinux software use your actual music folder, not iTunes, or its associated files. The good news: Neither program endangers your iTunes Library.
You can use iTunes to search for album art. Under the Advanced menu in iTunes, you choose Get Album Artwork, but it searched for about six minutes and could not locate 156 covers in my 697-song library. In addition, you can't choose the artwork you want to use. I used to cruise Amazon for album art, but that became too time consuming, so I gave up. Much of my library comes from CDs, that iTunes Genius doesn't recognize, so it should be interesting to see if CoverScout can round up artwork. Before I tackle the artwork though, it makes sense to clean up the song titles, fill in musicians, and round out the track information with SongGenie2.
SongGenie and CoverScout have an interesting serial number scheme. You create an equinux ID on the site, then buy and download the software. After installation, activate it with that ID and password, so there are no numbers to track or type.
Upon launch, SongGenie 2.02 sought out my music files; found 697 songs and proceeded to rate them as to quality-not music quality, but how much song information exists. My initial result showed complete song information, about half of the music with cover art, and no lyrics. The assessment: Not bad. SongGenie rates each title with a 3-guitar rating to indicate whether information, cover art, or lyrics are missing.
I'm not so worried about lyrics, but complete artist information might be nice. You can also sort your library by whether the title includes lyrics, cover art size and resolution, metadata quality, and tag completion, in addition to the iTunes provided categories. Other data SongGenie adds includes album year, track number, original album, plus the newest tag support. It seems there are 79 ID3v1 genres of music, plus the ID3 standard for titles is up to version 2.4. The ID3 tags are metadata imbedded in songs and include information such as the song title, artists, album, and track number.
When SongGenie finds information for a particular song, it shows red arrows for the information it found, which makes the program rather idiot-proof. If it can't find the lyrics, you are presented with an option to search the Web, as show below.
If you don't like the red arrow highlights, you can change that to blue in the Preferences.
You simply click the Apply button to accept the information found. You do not have to open iTunes to use SongGenie. It can rummage through any folder to check your music, and when it's done you can choose to sync the new information with your iTunes library. There is not easy way to deselect incorrect information found though, so you can't selectively set the Apply button.
It took SongGenie significantly less time to analyze all the music than it takes iTunes to attempt to find one song over a network. I mistakenly thought it would take a long time, but in the time it took me to put on water to boil, it was done. You can set what tidbits you want searched in your music analysis using the checkboxes in the Preferences Analysis pane.
NavigationThe upper left includes a filter menu to choose displayed songs, and the upper right includes a search field. These controls allow you to choose the overall songs to search and then filter the group by Artist, Album, Grouping, Composer, Genre, and Lyrics. These make it easy to search for exactly the song(s) you want.
An Instant Playback button on the left lets you listen to each track, while forward and back arrows let you flip through the tracks. You can also use the column headers to sort your music list and click on individual songs. You can edit the music genre column in the preferences, if you don't like the default classifications.
When you consider all the information SongGenie wrangles together, the non-standard interface makes sense. I can't imagine how they could make the software any easier to use and the price is reasonable.
Once you have identified all the artists, albums, and any other information you want, it's time for CoverScout. In addition to artwork to look at while your song is playing on your iPod, it gives you templates so you can print out CD covers and inlays. You can even edit the artwork.
For some reason, after I had used CoverScout many times, it lost the location of my music; but that is remedied easily with an open dialog-type box. You just navigate to your music folder.
After identifying my music folder, the Preferences popped up. You can synchronize your CoverScout found album covers with your iTunes Library and choose whether you want those saved as PNG or JPEG files. You can also tell CoverScout what web sites you want it to search for missing cover art in the Search pane, if you decide to scour the Web.
CoverScout 3.3 takes a bit longer to search through your music folder than SongGenie. It only shows albums, not individual songs, so it makes sense to run SongGenie first to identify the albums associated with your songs.
CoverScout works on individual albums, shows all available covers, and lets you choose which one to use, whereas iTunes just inserts the art it finds without your intervention. You spend more time using CoverScout because you have to manually choose each album cover you want to decorate your songs.
After the cover art displays across the top of the screen, you click the cover you want. Press the Apply button and the artwork slides into place. The manual intervention takes longer, but it's the best way to make sure you get the correct cover, or one you like best. You can choose lower quality images, if drive space is a concern.
Edit or Create CoversIf you don't like a cover or want to spiff it up, you can edit the album artwork inside CoverScout. Choose your cover and double-click or click the pencil icon and all the editing commands you need appear. You can even use your iSight camera to shoot a scene or cover that doesn't exist on the Web.
Recommended to Round Out Your Music LibraryCoverScout and SongGenie worked faster than I expected. For some inexplicable reason CoverScout lost the location of my music library multiple times. The simple Rescan Library command in the File menu solved the problem, but it was annoying. SongGenie on the other hand worked fine and I even added lyrics to some of my tunes.
While some of my music wasn't found, it did find a wide variety of music with missing pieces. I can't expect it to recognize my yet-to-be-discovered jazz musician son's music. You can purchase the bundled programs for $64.95 for 1 user or $89.95 for a 5-user license. Separately, SongGenie is $29.95 and CoverScout costs $39.95 for an individual license or a five-user license for $59.95. CoverScout 3.3 can open SongGenie 2 directly, so they work well together.
MacNN RatingSongGenie: 4.5 stars.
CoverScout: 4 stars.