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What's an "album" in Poweramp? FAQ candidate


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I think ""albums" would be a candidate for a FAQ article, as "albums" comes up every now and then in the forums and a non-technical user will not understand that there is no such thing as an album as there is nothing in the tag world that would form an album. "album" is used all across the GUI, and these are seen as an album by the average user.

- What forms an "album": Tracks that have the same "Album artist"(TPE2) & "Album title"(TALB).

- Is there a "album" table in the Poweramp DB or is the album views dynamically created when needed?

- What Year (TYER) and what Artwork is displayed for an "album"? Use case, compilation album with different years in the tags. Is it taken from the first/last/"random" track added in the album? Will it change if tracks are later added that are part of the same "album"?

- If the Year and Artwork comes from first/last file added to an album, will that affect the album?

- Date added? Is this the date of when the "album" where created the first time? Or is it the date when the first/last/"random" files are added to the album? Will it change if tracks are later added that are part of the same "album"?

- Will files of different formats be considered the same "album"? Maybe a candidate for a feature request "Option to separate albums by file type"

- Album length, will the album length be change if tracks are added/removed from the album?

- What happens to an "album" on a full re-scan? Will it be re-created from scratch? (assuming that there is a DB table for "albums")

- Other?

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This is kinda covered in my Tagging FAQ, but I've been wondering for a while whether a more tutorial style of article about how to edit tags might be useful too.

I honestly don't know if there is any actual logic to the way Year and First Added fields are applied to albums. My gut feeling is that it might just be based on order of the underlying file system directory - so the implied value used for 'album' is based on the order that the song files were encountered during the directory crawl, either first or last found, similarly to how album artwork is interpreted from varying song file artwork.


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Quite a lot of question marks, but I guess Max would be able to sort out the question marks pretty quickly. I can draft a FAQ on this once the question marks are straightened. Then we would know what's considered an album and how updates affect the entity.

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We already know exactly what constitutes an 'album'. It is merely a notional grouping of any songs within the Library that have the exact same Album name and Album Artist name - but which may still have different Artist names as those are not used for album grouping. However should Album Artist tags be missing, PA will fall back to trying to group based on the Artist tag instead, but often with mixed levels of success as artists can vary track-by-track (for featured artists, compilations, etc).

PA also tries to infer some other properties for 'albums' - such as Year and Genre - but these are solely based on looking at the constituent songs and picking from them. If tags are not consistent throughout all of the contained tracks (e.g. if each track in a compilation album has a different Year value) then the overall value chosen may not be predictable.  


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@6b6561 I agree that there is often confusion with the notion of what constitutes an album in the modern digital world. Unlike with physical media, when it was obvious what tracks were grouped together on a release, digital media is often collected in pieces and possibly the concept of a complete album may not ever occur for some users.

The challenge for many is the personalized method and sources each may have for collecting their library. And further, what if any, resources are used for maintaining a consistent approach to tagging. Some like me have OCD about the accuracy of the folder/file organization and are religious about using a specific tagging software to maintain this before adding new tracks to our library. Others have a jumble of randomly sourced tracks that may never be touched other than for listening, and hope to have their media player browser make some sense of the tracks for searching (or ultimately only ever listen in a completely random environment)🤪

In my opinion Poweramp already offers an interface that allows for many different options to support most of these scenarios. But at what point do you have to expect some additional support to help? Your suggestion of an FAQ specifically to cover this topic is very valid. IMO I think it is possibly one of the more common issues that comes up not only with PA but most music players in general. At least with this covered, there will be a single point of reference for the future to point at for support, and save @andrewilley and others from repeating the same thing regularly.

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Sounds like I will reverse engineer album behaviour... I will update my old faithful test mp3 creator script when I find some time with a scenario to create a:

  • three song album
  • different TYER in all tracks
  • different covers in all tracks
  • different TLEN in all tracks
  • Anything else that I should add?

And then run a couple of "add" and "removals" and see how the album updates in Poweramp.

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None of those will affect which album PA recognises several different songs as being a part of. Each track in an album can have a different year, track artist, genre, cover, length, etc.

To check how "recently added" behaves, give the tracks new filenames as PA may have remembered the old ones.

To check which song values are used for the combined album (e.g. which Year is picked) copy the files one by one into a newly created subfolder. I suspect the first one you copy (i.e. the first one in the underlying storage file table) will get used. Or the last.


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It's clear what tags forms an album, no question there.

Questions are more along the line of:

  • What cover will be shown for the album, is it the one embedded in the first or last file? Will it change if the particular file is removed.
  • What year will be shown, and will it change as tracks are added or removed.
  • Will album length be updated if an album is replaced.
  • Will date added change if tracks are added later.

"Recipe" for test album:

  • Four song album
    • TPE1 & TPE2 = "Test Artist"
    • TALB="Test Album"
    • Or should I make it a "Various Artist" comp album?
  • different TIT2 in all tracks:           One, Two, Three, Four
  • different TYER in all tracks:          2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • different album art in all tracks:   1, 2, 3, 4 "in friendly letters"
  • different TLEN in all tracks:          1, 2, 3, 4 minutes
  • Anything else that I should add while I'm at it?
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Not really, I'd set Album Artist TPE2 anyway, just to be sure - but Artist TPE1 can vary.

If you change some minor tag content of an existing filename, do a Full Rescan as the changes may not be picked up otherwise.

PA may not be sorted content before it works out group details, so the file that gets chosen may be based on the underlying Android FAT storage order rather than any post-sorted sequence. (The same order you would see with a command-line "ls -f")


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An album is tied together with two tags - Album and AlbumArtist. All other tags will help define that album, like disc and track numbers, title, year, genre, etc. Albums are grouped under the AlbumArtist, and further combining can be achieved using the Composer tag as well. More tag details included in your library tracks ensure you can browse in the most different ways.

As far as Poweramp goes, the Album Art always shows the last image added, most other players show the first. Not sure why this happens but I have confirmed this before in testing. All other tag info shows correctly for each track.

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A lot of this is conjecture, but I suspect PA doesn't bother with very much logic or pre-sorting at all when choosing elements from a group (such as working out a 'Year' for an album based on the contained songs). I'm guessing it either:

Uses the entry in the first suitable file it finds, and then stops searching. So that would mean content is most likely based on first file found in any given database/directory crawl.
It reads each file, overwriting any saved values from previous files, until everything has been read - which would result in content being used from the last matching file in the database.

I believe that selecting cover artwork from an audio file that contains multiple images (e.g. Front Cover, Back Cover, and Booklet) works using the second method. So PA goes through all the tags in the file from start to finish, saving the content as it goes. For cover images it only wants one piece of artwork, so that would end up being the last one found in the file.


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