Review: MP3Converter by Soundminer Mini-Review

Our sound effects library here at Airborne Sound features metadata. Every one of our over 18,000 sound clips is embedded with extensive bonus info.

We use the Soundminer application to wrap our WAV files with invisible metadata. Lately, we used Soundminer’s MP3Converter specifically to embed metadata in compressed MP3s.

MP3 Converter Splash Page

This article will be a brief review of the small yet indispensable application. I’ll cover why we use the application and how it works. I’ll conclude with some thoughts and pros and cons.

Introduction to metadata

What is metadata?

Metadata is bonus hidden text information wrapped around sound fx files. Special applications allow sound librarians to add the metadata, search the resulting catalog and then transfer the sounds to other programs.

Why is this important?

Sound professionals usually have large sound effects libraries. Finding the perfect sound within gigabytes of folders is a daunting task. With metadata-embedded sound effects, you can search sound libraries faster and smarter.

Without metadata you are limited to the information stored in the file name or a folder name. Metadata allows you detail and context.

Many of our customers request compressed versions to use in iTunes. So, we at Airborne Sound embed metadata in our MP3s to help them search more powerfully.

Read more about metadata and how we use it at Airborne Sound.

Why MP3Converter?

MP3Converter

There are a many applications that let you browse and embed metadata. At the moment, Soundminer is the most flexible and powerful.

However, there is one thing that the main Soundminer application lacks: it cannot export sound files as MP3.

iTunes can convert your full-resolution sound files to MP3, of course. The problem is that you will lose all your Soundminer metadata in the process.

MP3Converter keeps your metadata intact. It will transfer your diligently-populated metadata to MP3 ID3 tags, which can be used in iTunes or any other application which uses ID3 tags.

It also allows you to batch convert large swaths of your library to MP3 from AIF and WAV quickly.

MP3Converter is $199 at Soundminer’s store. It is available for Mac OS 10.4 or higher.

Purchasing and Installation

MP3Converter needs either a HASP or iLok key to run. During the purchasing process you’re asked for your iLok User ID or HASP Serial ID.

It’s important to note that this application runs independantly from Soundminer. There is no ‘handshaking.’ MP3Converter doesn’t check with the Soundminer license or application. As such, you have flexibility to install MP3 on a different key or separate key type entirely.

After completing the purchase with either credit card or PayPal.com you’re provided with a download link.

You’ll need a license on your iLok or HASP to launch the program. This is applied manually by the Soundminer staff, who note that licenses are transferred only during EST business hours. My own experience was much better: Soundminer staff transferred the license to our iLok account within hours, and after business hours.

How to use it

Using MP3Converter is simple.

  1. select the bit-rate you want for your MP3s. This ranges from 32 kpbs to 320 kpbs
    MP3Converter bit rate selection
  2. select the sample rate: 44100 or 48000 hz
    MP3Converter sample rate selection
  3. select ID encoding: unicode (for extended language and character set support) or ‘more compatable’
  4. click the ‘Start Converting’ button
  5. a pop-up menu asks for the folder of your source files. This can be the top-level folder containing many sub-folders and files, or it can be a single folder with files within
  6. a second pop-up asks where you would like the converted MP3s to appear

An option to Toggle Filename Override is available from the Advanced menu.

MP3Converter will churn away, displaying the amount of files remaining to be converted.

It’s that easy.

Results

MP3Converter matches the same nested folder structure within a ‘Converted MP3’ folder.

It’s also quite fast. On a quad-core 2.8 mHz iMac i7 18.3 gigabyts of WAVs were converted from 48 kHz 24-bit to 44.1 kHz 16-bit 320 kbps MP3s in about 19 minutes.

The help file doesn’t indicate what source Soundminer field is transferred to which MP3 tag. Here is the mapping we found:

  • TrackTitle -> Name
  • Library -> Artist
  • CDTitle -> Album
  • Publisher -> Grouping
  • Composer -> Composer
  • Description -> Comments
  • Category -> Genre
  • Year is populated from Date Created
  • Album art is also transferred to Artwork

MP3Converter Pros and Cons

Highlights

  • major benefit is being able to transfer metadata from Soundminer fields to MP3 files
  • fast
  • stable
  • mirrors nested folders
  • great customer support

Caveats

  • would be nice to have some kind of notification when the transfer is complete, perhaps a beep when done
  • start converting button is a bit misleading – would make a bit more sense to specify source and destination and have them visible in the main window
  • help file is out of date
  • would be helpful to remember previous folders you’ve used

Minor points, certainly. Overall, MP3Converter is a great utility focused to a specific task: batch converting many Soundminer-embedded files to MP3 while maintaining metadata in ID3 tags.

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