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iTunes Match re-match: Have things gotten any better?

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It’s been a year since Apple introduced iTunes Match, its solution for storing your music library in the cloud. When it first launched, I found the process of getting my music library into the cloud to be a bit of a hassle. Apple scans your local music library and tries to match the songs in your music library with songs that already exist in the master iTunes music library, so you have access to a higher quality versions of those songs. But the upload process was slow and the evaluation of each song seemed to take longer than necessary.  There were also quite a few songs in my music library that could not be matched.  Now that a year has gone by, I decided to check back in and see if the process of uploading content to my music library in the cloud has improved.

Delete from Library

To do this, I first deleted from my iTunes Match library the same 10 albums that I first uploaded last year.  I used the exact same music files to upload again to iTunes Match.  At that time I took the first 10 albums in Grateful Dead’s infamous Dick’s Picks series and added them to my Mac’s iTunes library to see if I could have them matched.  It is important to note that all 10 albums are still for sale in the iTunes Music store.

Once again, iTunes Match performed well and started to match my tracks as soon as they were added to my local iTunes music library.  However, just as before, the exact same tracks would not match.  Six of the 10 albums I matched has one or more tracks not matched, 11 out of 189 songs were uploaded to my iTunes Match library rather than being matched to songs already in available via iTunes.

First ten volumes

Keep in mind that the original collection of 189 songs that i uploaded last year have been ripped using versions of various ripping tools from the same music CD source over the last decade. While I did try to create a new collection of songs by re-ripping the music from the original source last year, it did not change the result: the same songs would not match to the songs in iTunes library.

iTunes Import Settings

This year I wanted to see if creating a yet another new collection of songs, by re-ripping the from the same CD source, only this time using the latest version of iTunes, would make a difference.  This time, using iTunes 10.7 to rip each of the original music CD sources to 192bit MP3 files, I was finally able to match 100 percent of the same 189 songs.  I continued this re-ripping process using the latest version of iTunes and re-ripped the full 36-volume series, 112 CDs, and was able to match 928 of the 936 songs.  Only eight of the 936 songs were uploaded rather than matched.  This is a much better result than I was able to get last year.

All thirty-six volumes

While this was a tedious task, clearly the results show that by re-ripping your music library, you will have better success at matching more of your music library.  It’s not clear what has changed. It seems as if the way iTunes rips CDs has has been reconciled with the way that iTunes matches songs in it own master library.  While I have no insight into the the actual cause, I can certainly measure the resulting effect.

I’m happy that things have improved, but I am not too thrilled about having to re-rip my music library in order to get better matching results, and ultimately, my music library into the cloud. I still feel that the overall experience of storing my music collection in Apple’s iTunes Match service to be rewarding.  That is once everything is uploaded and ready to go.

15 Responses to “iTunes Match re-match: Have things gotten any better?”

  1. Josh Lytle

    It would be nice if iTunes would just read the CD and match the songs instead of ripping it then matching.

    I’ve been using iTunes Match since Beta, and for the most part, I like it. Definitely still some quirks, but its getting better.

  2. Peter Van Galen

    I don’t mind it has to upload songs. I started using iTunes Match this week and there are a few problems. Like everything with Apple, there is not enough control. For example one of my Transplants albums was matched to a sensored version..! Since their lyrics involve a lot of swearing it is impossible to listen to the sensored version (where the voices are muted every 5 seconds). So can I choose to upload instead of match this album? Can I match it to an unsensored version?
    Another problem is with album art (I took great care over the years to have high quality cover art) and some of them have changed or disappeared, moreover, why can’t I choose one playlist to be on iTunes Match and not my entire library..?
    Still I’ll probably keep on using it, just hope they give users more control. First, the option to choose playlists to be on iTunes match and second the possibility to override a match.

  3. The major bug is that the artwork doesn’t always show up. Also I think you need an A5 processor because on my iPod touch which has an A4, it often will have the wrong song title and wrong cover art. Apple doesn’t tell you this. This problem isn’t present on my iPad mini.

    I also hate how it almost instantly uploads your music to the cloud. I wish you could set it so you could doth is manually. It doesn’t give you enough time to make sure you have the correct artwork.

    I also wish you could choose between downloading and streaming. My iPad mini has only 16 gigs so I am constantly having to delete my music

  4. MIxMonkey

    Why should I give a **** about iTunes Match? The only fail I’ve experienced is the loss of artwork from my ripped CD collection (all my iTunes Store purchases are fine natch ;-)

    Oh, and I can’t seem to get rid of ‘Genres’ in my playlists now. Does anyone listen to their music via ‘Genre’ Thought not….

  5. The reason that certain MP3 or AAC files that don’t match a certain quality criteria won’t be uploaded or matched to iCloud is to stop people from ‘ripping’ songs from low quality streams and then getting iTunes to give them the higher quality 256kbps copies

  6. Dr Winston

    Read the terms & conditions;
    ‘Songs encoded as MP3 or AAC that do not meet certain quality criteria will not be matched or uploaded to iCloud.’ They just don’t stipulate what the criteria are! Seriously though Apple have dropped a a serious ball with iTunes Match and the new iTunes update which is very buggy and very poor (my search function has almost disappeared – no podcast support). It’s enough to drive you to Android…

  7. I am interested in using iMatch for one reason only, to get higher quality copies, to the extent available on iTunes, of the 120 so gigs of music that I have in my iTunes library. I do not care about accessing my music through iCloud.

    I have reorganised into different albums a substantial amount of my music, mostly in the case of classical music, where I have placed each composition in an album of its own, rather than in the album in which it was originally available, often with other compositions, but also in the case of jazz music, where I have split up some large sets ‘complete recordings’ on particular labels, to create the original albums that were released.

    If you know, please tell me whether I should be concerned that use of the iMatch service might tamper with my current organisation of music in my iTunes library.

  8. Nate Watson

    You’re complaining about 11 songs that had to upload? Seriously? big deal. I have about 100 gigs of music and almost half are mixtapes which aren’t in iTunes, therefore they must be uploaded. So you add them and leave your computer on for the night and it’s done in the morning. As you said, no software is perfect. I just think that’s a petty complaint.

    • It was 11 songs out of 189 or about 6%. My music library is much larger than just these 189 songs. I tried ripping and re-ripping to various formats as well as tried using different CD/DVD players to see if that had any affect as well. I also only tested albums that are for sale in the iTunes Music store. I have plenty of albums that I have purchased that are not for sale on iTunes Music store that are entirely uploaded. And of course any of the concerts that fans have recorded of my favorite Dead shows also are 100% uploaded. Once you start uploading music, iTunes Match just becomes an online storage solution, and not a music matching service. But as I pointed out, the ratio has changed. All of the original 189 songs are matched. Now I upload only 8 songs out of 936 or less than 1%. That is a huge improvement.

  9. Thank you estephan. You illustrate my point perfectly. Way to much work to listen to an album the way it was recorded, not the way iTunes wants you to hear it. Thus my switch from the rocket science of iTunes to the simplicity of music streaming services.

  10. It’s definitely not perfect and when I update iMatch, with my now corrected library it doesn’t update it in the cloud. I probably need to delete and reupload all the tracks again but reluctantly I don’t want to do that, as I have 6000+ songs. Let’s hope they are hard at work in the background trying to streamline this and make it more robust – or maybe we will be lucky and get 1 year free for all it’s warts in the first year.

    Ultimately, it works but it wont be perfect as everyone’s library is greatly different with music from all manner of different sources.

  11. You know what? I tunes just sucks period with or with this blasted matching tool. Time and again I will load up an album and if it features different artists it flings the tunes from the album hither and thither in separate bins which is not the way the album was constructed. this is particularly bad when it comes to audio books and instead of playing the book in sequence it jumps around (yes I had turned the shuffle off which seems to have a mind of its own and will shuffle tracks at times even when not asked to….most recently the album GRRRR by the Rolling Stones purchased from iTunes.). Also when playing back tracks on iTunes on your ipod or iphone etc the sound from one song to the next or one album to the next are all at different volume levels. So you turn it up when the song is low volume then the next song comes on and ruins your ears for life unless you have the volume governor on. iTunes stinks. That is why I use RDIO music streaming. No muss, no fuss. Just music, in the order I want it at the volume I want it.

    • estephan500

      About the problem of an album containing multiple artists getting broken up into entries for those various artists — Go to the album in itunes, select all of the songs in it, choose Get Info (command-i) … and then experiment and get to know two features in there: namely, (1) for all of the songs in that group of songs, specifying a name in the field called “ALBUM ARTIST” … and (2) clicking the check box called “This is part of a compilation.” Don’t do both at the same time at first. See what each of those does. I’ve managed to solve the problem that you described, mainly with item 1 above. worth a try.

    • I’m not being sarcastic here I am just honestly surprised. I’ve never had that happen with audio books. My albums are all set in the play list by Album and the songs all say in the list for each album. Singles are listed in-between, for whatever reason I list them by artist. When I use my iPod I generally play different songs, not a whole album at once. I’ll try one album and see if it skips around I’ll have to see if I have a problem with the audio that you describe.
      I’ve honestly been very happy with the iTunes match on all of my devices. Now I’ll probably find something wrong such as you describe and be ticked off. lol But my audio books do play as they should.