Guide: Tags (embedded metadata) and CUE Sheets

Tags / Metadata

Metadata is extra information about a song, stored as hidden computer-readable data within an audio file. This is independent of the filename or folder location - the data is stored inside the file as individual embedded 'tags'. Some tags are technical specs such as encoding methods and duration, while others contain things like the Title of each song or are used organise your music into various categories for easier viewing and access - such as Albums, Artists, Years, etc.

Some commonly used tags are:

  • Song Title [TIT2 / TITLE]
  • Artist [TPE1 / ARTIST]
  • Album Title [TALB / ALBUM]
  • Album Artist [TPE2 / ALBUMARTIST]
  • Genre [TCON / GENRE]
  • Track Number [TRCK / TRACKNUMBER]
  • Disc Number for multi-disc sets [TPOS / DISCNUMBER]
  • Year [TYER / DATE]
  • Composer [TCOM / COMPOSER]
  • Lyrics (not synced) [USLT / LYRICS]
  • Comment (not used by Poweramp, but can be displayed) [COMM / COMMENT]
  • Length (ms) [TLEN]
  • Replay Gain [TXXX:REPLAYGAIN_**** / REPLAYGAIN_****]
  • Album Cover (image) [APIC / METADATA_BLOCK_PICTURE]

The contents of the Album Artist tag are sometimes the same as the track Artist, but can also be more general such as "Various Artists" for a compilation album. An Album Artist tag is necessary to ensure that all of the songs within one album get grouped together correctly, even if the individual track artists may be different - such as in a collection or compilation album. It's a good idea to always include an Album Artist tag anyway, even when the contents happen to be the same as the track Artist.

From build 899 onward, Poweramp can separate and sort songs using multiple Artist names - e.g. "Under Pressure" could be listed as being by "David Bowie ; Queen" and it would be shown in the Artist listings for David Bowie and also for Queen. This feature can be used for Artists / Album Artists, Composers, and Genres (e.g. a genre could be listed as "New Wave ; Electronic ; New Romantic"). You can even define your own symbols or words to be used as separators via PA Settings > Library > Scanner, but semicolon ";" , slash "/" or double-slash "//" are common ones. You can also specify certain terms that you never want to be split - e.g. "AC/DC". If you don't wish to use this feature, simply leave the relevant options blank.

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You can view any tags contained within a song file by long-pressing on the song title in a library list, or long-pressing on the cover artwork in the player screen, and selecting 'Info/Tags'. You can also edit some tags by tapping 'Edit Tags'. For more in-depth editing, or changing groups of file contents at the same time, it would be better to utilise a full-featured batch tagging program such as TagScanner or MP3Tag on a PC, or AutoTagger on Android.

Technical note: MP3 files usually use the ID3 tagging format (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ID3) while FLAC files use the Vorbis system (see https://www.xiph.org/vorbis/doc/v-comment.html). Both methods contain broadly the same information but indexed slightly differently, as annotated above. APE is another, slightly less common, tagging method. Poweramp can read any of these tagging systems. Completely untagged files will be displayed using their filenames, and you can organise them by folder locations.

 

CUE sheets (and do I need them?)

CUE sheets are plain text files (with the filename extension ".CUE") which contain extra information about songs - mostly just simple details like the filename, Title, Artist, Album, etc. They are detected and read automatically by Poweramp's music scanner. For more information on the CUE format, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cue_sheet_(computing) . They broadly work in two ways:

  1. CUE files often point to one very large disc image file - such as an entire ripped CD - and they serve to provide index points to determine which sections of the file need to be separated into individual songs. When Poweramp reads this sort of CUE file it creates a 'pseudo folder' which contains all of the individual songs, and it also places these songs inside their relevant Album, Artist, etc categories.

    This kind of CUE file is important and should always be copied along with the large audio file, otherwise you will only see one very big song rather than any individual tracks. If for some reason you would like to see those large overarching files though, you can enable Settings > Library > Lists > Show CUE Disc Image Files. Note: it is possible, although not common, for CUE data to be embedded inside FLAC audio files directly, rather than requiring a separate sidecar file.
  2. Sometimes CD ripping software generates multiple audio files, one for each song, but it still creates a reference CUE file which points to each of those audio files in turn. This type of CUE file is redundant, as the individual songs will already be scanned and added to Poweramp's Library anyway, based on their embedded tag data. It's probably better to delete this type of CUE file manually.

If you never wish to use CUE sheets at all, but you don't want the hassle of deleting unnecessary files, you can prevent the scanner from checking them by disabling Settings > Library > Scanner > Parse CUE Files.