3 Replies Latest reply: Apr 2, 2010 2:30 PM by Chris CA
J M Gross Level 1 (5 points)
I suspect that there are quite a number of iTunes users seeing incorrect track (song) timings for mp3 files in their music libraries who don't know the cause of this or how to fix it. There are three main consequences of this issue:

1) Users cannot tell the correct timing of the affected tracks.
2) Users cannot reliably use the time slider to play from arbitrary points in these tracks.
3) Users often cannot use iTunes to burn CDs including these tracks. When iTunes checks if the burning playlist tracks will fit on the CD it adds the times together. Since the incorrect times are usually much longer than the actual times iTunes will produce an error and ask the user to record on multiple CDs when the tracks will actually fit on one CD.

I have found that the mp3 files affected by this issue in my library were ripped with software other than iTunes using variable bit rate (VBR) encoding. Apparently there is certain mp3 header information that iTunes expects in VBR files which some software either omits or provides in a form iTunes cannot understand. When this happens iTunes produces times that are typically much longer than the actual track times.

There is a free open source software product available that can be used to correct these files called MP3 Diags. This program can be used to detect and repair quite a few mp3 file problems. This software is somewhat technical and users should read the accompanying documentation carefully before using it.

After scanning an album of mp3 files I received about 7 different diagnostic messages indicating possible issues. However, I found after reading the documentation that only two of these issues were likely to be connected with my timing problems. One problem was the presence of a "null stream" in the files and the other was a missing Xing header. As recommended by the documentation I first made a backup copy of the mp3 files. I did this by copying the album files from my iTunes library to my Windows Desktop and using MP3 Diags to repair the copies. I first selected and ran the edit to remove null streams. Then, I ran the edit called "Repair VBR data".

The edits were successful. iTunes showed the correct track times for the edited files. I then replaced the old unedited files in my music library with the new ones.

I hope this is helpful. If any of you have found other ways to fix wrong track times in iTunes please post your solution here.

Message was edited by: J M Gross

Mac mini 4GB, Mac OS X (10.6.3)