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Author Topic: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune  (Read 2155 times)
Trastan
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How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« on: January 13, 2007, 08:12:58 PM »

Many of us are pretty disappointed with how heavily compressed the album artwork becomes on your Zune. With such a fantastic screen and having the artwork take up more than half of it, we expect the image to be, well, pristine. Unfortunately, when the album art embedded on the MP3 is found to be either larger or smaller than 240x240 pixels, the software ends up rescaling it and 'optimizing' it to the point of heavy corruption. Most of this can be avoided simply by having album artwork embedded in the MP3 that is already 240x240 resolution.

Now, you can do this manually, or, if you're like me and have 3000+ songs, you can try the method below. This technique calls for two downloads:

MediaMonkey - http://www.mediamonkey.com/

and Album Art Tagger 3.2 - http://trixmoto.net/files/AlbumArtTagger32.exe

Once you have installed both, start up MediaMonkey, and add your music to its library by going to 'File > Add/Rescan Tracks to the Libary...'. Now that those are loaded, you can find the script tool by going to 'Tools > Scripts > Album Art Tagger.' This is where you go when I tell you to run a script.

WARNING! Always test with a single song beforehand, to make sure everything works well. I've run into a few problems when I try to assign different destinations for the extracted images, so problems can happen. Plan and test well, and you should be good.

WARNING RETURNS! Let the process finish in MediaMonkey. At the bottom of the screen MediaMonkey will tell you what it's currently doing ('43 items to be tagged,' is an example you'll run into a lot here.) I messed up the process myself by interrupting it. Always let it finish.

Also, for each script, I used the default <path>\<album> in the options line. This put the extracted images in with the song's album folder. If you have a different folder heirarchy, you may need to change this to suit.

1. Before you start up MediaMonkey, open erase your Zune device's library by right-clicking on its name in the left column of the Zune program, and selecting 'Erase Zune Device.' Once that's all done, close the program quickly, before it re-adds your files to the libarary!

2. Open MediaMonkey, add your music to its library by going to 'File > Add/Rescan tracks to the libary...' and pointing it to your music folder(s).

3. Once that's done, select all songs in MediaMonkey, and run the 'Extract artwork (copy from tag to mask)' script. Take the resulting images (I did a Windows search in my music folder for '*.JPG' to find them all quickly) and move them to a seperate, safe folder. This is for backup purposes so that you don't lose your original, higher-resolution artwork.

2. Select all songs again in MediaMonkey, and run the 'Extract artwork and resize external image' script. Set the quality to 90%, and the dimensions to 240x240.

3. With those properly extracted (remember to let it finish first!), run the 'Remove artwork not matching size' script, and set the dimensions to 240x240. This should remove all non-240x240 artwork in your library.

4. Now, to assign all of those shiny new 240x240 images to each corresponding .MP3, run the 'Embed artwork (copy from mask to tag).' Choose 'Embed in tag,' so that the image is properly encoded into each, instead of just being linked. Again, test on a single file first!

5. To remove ALL trace of those crappy old Zune-created album artworks. do another Windows search  for *.JPG and check the 'Search hidden files and folders' in 'More advanced options.' This should delete all non-embedded images from those folders.

6. You're done! Each song should now perfectly fit with your Zune's screen size, and should stay nice and clear. Re-add your music to your Zune library, sync up your Zune, and enjoy.

FINAL NOTE: Browse through your library in MediaMonkey to make sure that everything worked. You may need to do some by hand if the script messed up. Fortunately, you should have all of your backups.

I hope this was clear enough. I've found that the Zune software can still compress the files, thus adding some artifacting to the art. However, by and large the artwork should look MUCH better than before.

Thanks for reading, and happy Zuning! Cheesy
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Zunerama Ed.
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2007, 08:42:55 PM »

I've been looking for something like this. Thanks, Trastan! Can't wait to try this out.
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glowbee
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2007, 09:13:58 PM »

Way to go, Trastan. I think you're gonna make a lot of Zuners happy with this trick. Hopefully it won't be long before the Zune team gets decent art uploaded to the marketplace and we won't have to worry about it anymore.

Zunerama ed. - In my opinion, this is worthy of going up on the front page, and I hope you agree. This is a pretty hot topic with just about everyone and deserves some visibility.
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2007, 09:18:20 PM »

Quote from: glowbee on January 13, 2007, 09:13:58 PM
Way to go, Trastan. I think you're gonna make a lot of Zuners happy with this trick. Hopefully it won't be long before the Zune team gets decent art uploaded to the marketplace and we won't have to worry about it anymore.

Zunerama ed. - In my opinion, this is worthy of going up on the front page, and I hope you agree. This is a pretty hot topic with just about everyone and deserves some visibility.

Great minds! I'm working it into tonight's blog as we speak. Thanks glowbee!!!
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glowbee
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2007, 09:26:13 PM »

Thank you! Great minds? Er, well maybe in your case. As for me, the wife might have a different opinion, lol.
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2007, 10:05:40 PM »

Trastan, you are live on the Zunerama blog - http://www.zunerama.com

Thanks for a timely How-To.
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aaron00lee
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2007, 10:24:00 PM »

Awesome dude!
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Trastan
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2007, 10:54:01 PM »

 Shocked Wow, thanks everyone! I'm honored to be featured on the front page.

I sure hope it works well for everyone. If any of you have questions, feel free to ask, and I'll try my best to figure out the problem. It's pretty cumbersome, but hopefully the guide should work for everyone without too much greif. Wink
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Zunerama Ed.
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2007, 02:13:39 PM »

Trastan, your album art tip got front-page billing on ZuneInsider this morning too. I think you're helping a lot of people out with that kind of exposure.  Smiley
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glowbee
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2007, 02:16:13 PM »

Good for you Trastan!  Grin (applause)

Edit: After thinking about it, while it is cool that you got mentioned on a Zune dev's blog, it's a little sad that he's pointing people to this as a solution and did not even comment on what MS is doing/not doing to address this issue, so people don't have to resort to this in the first place. Don't mean to be a wet blanket, just thought that was worth pointing out.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2007, 02:22:04 PM by glowbee » Logged

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Trastan
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2007, 04:16:05 PM »

Well, dang. Featured on an official blog... wow. I hope it helps a lot of people! Grin

And glowbee, I completely agree. I meant this to be more of a temporary fix. To see it posted on Zune Insider is awesome, but I sure hope MS is working on their own, real solution.  Undecided
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shoney
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2007, 04:22:04 PM »

One question:  If all the hidden Folder.jpg files say 240 x 240, why would doing this make a difference?  Is it because the Zune software resizes larger files down to 240 x 240, but does a crappy job of it?  If so, the difference is that if you import files that are already 240 x 240, the Zune software doesn't do any compressing, thus giving you better quality images, even though they are the same size as the hidden Folder.jpg files?
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Trastan
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2007, 04:37:24 PM »

Exactly. The goal is to keep the Zune software from resizing or compressing the artwork. By deleting any trace of the older files, you force the Zune software to re-extract your new 240x240 artwork from each MP3, and since the software doesn't need to resize it to fit, you end up with a much clearer image.

Unfortunately, the Zune software still puts some compression on the images, but by giving it 240x240 images to work with initially, you go a long way toward a more tolerable experience.
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TheBigKahuna
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2007, 05:07:59 PM »

You can also search Google image for cover art, I've yet to not find one...and simply copy and paste one closest to the 240x240 size.
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mglish
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Re: How to get the best album art quality on your Zune
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2007, 06:42:53 PM »

One thing I don't see is what to do when you add a new album.  The instructions here say that you have to delete all your songs on the Zune, do the steps to nuke your old album art, create new art the right size, then re-synch.

So you have 500 albums and now you add 501.  Do you have to go through the same steps for 501 (except erase the Zune since it doesn't have 501 yet) then synch?  Sounds like a maintenance nightmare.

I'm more intrigued by the idea to find album art on Google.  You can also find album art on Amazon using Media Monkey.  I tried a quick copy/paste (no resizing) and it didn't look any better after.  I'll keep working on it.

Mike
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