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Old 09-27-2008, 04:06 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 5
Default "????" instead of text (encoding?)

Hey everyone

I'm having a problem with viewing the tag fields of some non-English mp3 files in windows. The issue is as follows:

When viewing my mp3 files in windows explorer in 'Tiles' view, instead of the artist name, title, album; all I see is "????????". The same issue is present when opening and viewing the songs in windows media player.

Also to note, when viewing the same files in tagging programs such as MusicBrainz Picard Tagger or mp3tag (on the same computer), I can see the Russian text just fine:
> Artist: Кино
> Title: Война

I'm assuming it's some encoding issue, but I have no idea how to fix it.

My System:
- windows XP sp3

I've been against the wall with this issue and can't seem to fix it, any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

Issue RESOLVED, here is a report:

I found out that the mp3 files with the problematic tags were encoded in ID3v2.3 UTF-8, while the songs which were displaying correctly in WMP1/windows were in ID3v2.4 UTF-16 (or were ID3v1 ISO-8859-1)

After some searching online it appears that Windows Media Player 11 does not support the UTF-8 Unicode encoding in ID3v2 tags, but does support UTF-16. Also I think it doesn't support ID3v2.4 at all (which is always UTF-8 I believe). The same lack of support is also present in Windows XP explorer and Windows Vista.

I solved this problem by opening all the problematic files in MP3tag and saving them as ID3v2.3@UTF-16 (this is the default for the tagger so simply opening and saving everything works). Using MP3tag you are able to see which ID3 version each of the files is, as well as see the ID3v2 character encoding (ISO-8859-1 vs UTF-16 vs. UTF-8)

Some links/resources I found useful:

*A note on the MusicBrainz Picard tagger: Looking through the MusicBrainz tags options, I noticed that it defaults to ID3v2.4 by default, and defaults to UTF-8 for all ID3v2.x tags. I'm not sure why they set this as the default, considering that 2.4 is rather still rather poorly supported by many players. Changing the default to UTF-16 and ID3v2.3 ensures that files edited with MusicBrainz will work in WMP11, windows explorer, and other players.
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