File Tag Best Practice

File Tag Best Practice

Achieving Great Results From File Tagging

Roon and file tags

Roon has always read a significant amount of information from your file tags. Along with track timings, Roon uses tag information, such as your album and track titles, artist names, unique product codes (UPCs), year of an album release, etc. to match up your music content to Roon's own metadata database.

With version 1.3, we pull even more information from your file tags, allowing you to finely tune various aspects of how Roon presents your metadata. You can use file tagging to help improve album and track identification, but also to fill in the gaps when Roon falls short, or simply to bend Roon to your own needs! 

Tag logic

The logic that Roon uses to turn an album's metadata into text on the screen is pretty complicated. Our goal is to put the important information in the right places, without being repetitive, and without being overly verbose. This logic needs to work across a wide variety of genres, conventions, data sources, data-quality-levels, and release types, so there are a lot of tradeoffs in keeping the balance, not all of which are obvious when looking at a few cases. Also, this display logic is a moving target, as we work on it on an ongoing basis, so we are hesitant to attempt to explain it in too much detail, since that will just confuse things in the future.

Instead of trying to work back from the display by asking how to populate data in a given place, we suggest coming at it from the other direction. Try to tag the files as accurately, specifically, and completely as possible, and work out how far you need to go to get results that communicate the needed information. This may require a different mindset than other software, which treats tags more literally.

If you find a case where you can't get information that seems really important to show up, show us the tags and the resulting display and we'll try to help. That might mean improving things on our end, or giving some advice about how the tags can be adjusted. Probably only a handful of people have seriously gone down this path with Roon, especially using some of the new stuff we added in 1.3, so it's likely that your feedback will help us make the process of tagging unidentified content more manageable for everyone.

When does Roon read your file tags?

Roon reads your file tags in five situations:
  1. When it first imports your music
  2. When it detects automatically that files have changed on disc (e.g. if you have just edited some tags)
  3. When you bulk rescan your library (or parts of it) via Settings -> Storage
  4. When you choose Re-Scan Album from the Album Editor
  5. When the Roon Server needs to re-read all your file tags as part of an upgrade.
Note that some older NAS devices do not let Roon know that files have changed, so you have to force a re-scan manually.

Library import settings for file tagging

You have some control over what file tags are used by Roon in your Library Import Settings. If you wish to make use of Roon's powerful file tagging features, please take some time to read this document.

Fully Loaded Tagged Album Example

The following annotated screenshots show what's possible with Roon 1.3, purely with a tagging approach – a lot! The album is unidentified, yet it's still possible to pack in a whole load of metadata.

Album Detail Screen – Headline Metadata

The following tag values were used to achieve these results:
    ALBUM               : Mozart: The Flute Quartets
    ALBUMARTIST         : Gaede Trio
    ALBUMARTIST         : Wolfgang Schulz
    YEAR                : 2002
    IMPORTDATE          : 2009-07-21
    VERSION             : DVD Audio
    GENRE               : Classical
    GENRE               : Chamber Music
    ENSEMBLE            : Gaede Trio
    CONDUCTOR           : Some Guy In A Tag
    COMPOSER            : Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
And Roon will, of course, also import embedded artwork in your files.

One thing worth noting is that Roon will attempt to match up names that you have put into your file tags with Roon database versions of the same individuals who are associated with identified content in your library. You'll get much better results if you stick with the likes of the following:
  1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  2. Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky
  3. Paul McCartney
  4. Richard Rodgers; Oscar Hammerstein II
Than if you use:
  1. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
  3. Rodgers and Hammerstein

Tagging Multi-Part Works

We've also added the ability to control the presentation of multi-part works (typically, though not exclusively, for classical music). Two new tags – the inspirationally named 'WORK' and 'PART' – can be used to control the layout of the tracks. The following tag values coerce tracks 1 and 2 into a two-part work. You can see the results below.
    TRACKNUM : 1
    WORK     : Quartet in C Major, KV Anh. 171 (285b)
    PART     : I. Allegro

    TRACKNUM : 2
    WORK     : Quartet in C Major, KV Anh. 171 (285b)
    PART     : II. Andantino

Where you add multi-part file tags to an identified album, then you should "Prefer File" metadata in the Album Editor / Metadata Preference / Multi-Part Composition Grouping setting.

As of Roon 1.7, the SECTION tag is also supported for multi-level works:
    TRACKNUM : 1
    WORK     : Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), opera, K. 492
    SECTION  : Act 1
    PART     :  Atto Primo: N. 1 Duettino: Cinque... dieci... venti... trenta

    TRACKNUM : 2
    WORK     :  Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), opera, K. 492
    SECTION  : Act 1
    PART     : Atto Primo: Recitativo: Cosa stai misurando

But I've got more than one performance of the same multi-part work!

Indeed! Occasionally, two or more performances of the same work appear on a single disc. To prevent all the tracks with the same `WORK` tag being bundled together under that work, you can use the new `'WORKID'` tag to differentiate these performances.

The contents of the the `WORKID` tag can be pretty much anything: you could just use a simple number sequence "1, 2, 3", or you could use something more descriptive – e.g. Düsseldorf Oct 1963, London Jan 1964, Chicago Apr 1966 – as long as the same value is in the tag for all tracks of the same performance.

You can now add credits using file tags!

This is achieved with a number of dedicated tags in addition to some already described above. The following add specific credits directly:
    LABEL         : TACET
    COUNTRY       : Germany
    UPC           : 4009850010739
    CATALOGNUMBER : 0107-3 DVD-Audio
However, Roon supports an awful lot of credit roles which are far too numerous to have their own tags; these can be added with the new 'PERSONNEL' tag. A long list of them is maintained here.

The general format of the PERSONNEL tag is "name - credit_role" and the credit role in the tag must match one of the recognized Roon credit roles. Along with the dedicated credit tags, these PERSONNEL tags achieve powerful results in the next screenshot:
    Wolfgang Schulz - Flute
    Daniel Gaede - Violin
    Thomas Selditz - Viola
    Andreas Greger - Cello
    Jeremy Poole - Liner Note Translation
    Christophe Huss - Liner Note Translation
    Toms Spogis - Booklet Design
    Julia Zancker - Cover Photo
    Julia Zancker - Cover Design
    Andreas Spreer - Recording
    Andreas Spreer - Mix
    Roland Kistner - Editing
    Andreas Spreer - Producer
    Andreas Spreer - Liner Notes
    Thomas Seedorf - Liner Notes
    Regina Köhler - Liner Notes

Note that `ORCHESTRA` is not supported. You can add an "Orchestra" credit using the `PERSONNEL` tag.

For Classical music. we strongly recommend using the ENSEMBLE and SOLOIST, or PERSONNEL, tags instead of the ARTIST tag if at all possible. The reason for this is that ENSEMBLE and SOLOIST map to different under-the-hood performer types, whereas, with `ARTIST`, we have to guess. `ARTIST` really isn't suitable for Classical – it's far too general.

Volume Normalization

Finally, there are five distinct 'REPLAYGAIN' tags that Roon will read. They, and the configuration options to read them and prefer them, are described at the end of this KB article. If you choose to override Roon's R128 measurements, your replay gain values will be used for volume normalization and are displayed in a track's View File Information window, accessed via the track's menu.

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