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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.