13 Replies Latest reply: Jan 12, 2012 8:17 AM by KeithJenner
mracole Level 4 (1,085 points)

Is there any way to complete the library by eliminating low bit rate tracks and uploads that should have been matches?


Having resolved ineligible tracks (https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3623151) and inconsistent results (https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3629795) there are two categories of tracks that would be great to resolve, notably:


(1)  Low bit rates tracks:  These are listed in a smart play list showing all songs with a bit rate less than 256.  Many of the tracks listed can easily be found in the iTunes Store, hence they should 'match' allowing a download at 256 - how can this be achieved?



Low Bit Rate Songs.png


(2)  Uploaded tracks: These are listed in a smart play list showing songs with an iCloud Status of uploaded.  The majority of these tracks are also readily found in the iTunes Store, several being exact matches for entire albums but for some reason iTunes Match did not identify the match - how can this be resolved?



Uploaded Songs.png


With these as the last two areas to resolve, iTunes Match will have successfully converted my full library.  Any suggestions very much appreciated?

iTunes 10, Windows Vista, iMatch giving inconsistent results
  • JiminMissouri Level 2 (465 points)

    Low-bitrate tracks can be made eligible by creating an AAC version within iTunes.  It's not the ideal solution, but it does work.  Whether they will match and you'll get the higher quality versions, or upload is anybody's guess.


    As for tracks that uploaded - well there are plenty of people who believe that what they have is in the iTunes store and should be matched.  Sometimes, but not always, they are right (long story short, they think what they see in the store is exactly what they have, but it might not be the case).  Still, while you can always delete a track from your library and the cloud, then add it back in and see if Match will do a better job, the success rate for this seems pretty low.


    Edit: Sorry I misread your original question.  You started with the assertion that what you have is in the store and should match.  I understand you feel that way, but no, if it didn't match, it didn't match.  All you can do is what I outlined - delete tracks you want to try and get matched, add them back in, and try again.

  • mracole Level 4 (1,085 points)

    Thank you for these thoughts, looking carefully at common issues over the past few weeks it appears that seeking a full match is clearly not possible with this generation of iTunes Match.  Taking your points in turn:


    (1) Resolving low bit rate tracks via conversion to AAC.  I've tried this with very limited success.  All the tracks will convert, however, several will not resolve and it it these that the Smart List has picked up.


    (2) Resolving track matches by deletion and adding back in.  Similar outcome here, I've tried this and the Smart list is showing those that remain.  What makes it puzzling is that the original source for many of the tracks concerned was the iTunes Store.


    These challenges appears to be a direct reflection of the current state of the matching algorithms in iTunes Match.  From your notes and trials to date it appears that Apple should perhaps warn that the current generation of the product is only likely to be partially successful.


    Any further suggestions on how to resolve would be very much appreciated.

  • JiminMissouri Level 2 (465 points)

    What makes it puzzling is that the original source for many of the tracks concerned was the iTunes Store.

    That is puzzling, because if they were purchased from iTunes, they should show up as "purchased." I can think of only one reason why they wouldn't match. Is it possible a different Apple ID was used to purchase them than what you are using for the iTunes store today?  If you have the same iD, then the iTunes store has a record of those tracks being sold to you.  While I've not purchased anything via iTunes, it's my understanding that you wouldn't even need copies of the files in order to get previously purchased stuff.  Strike that - I have "purchased" free tracks from the free music Tuesday promotions and they all showed up as purchased when i enabled Match.

  • mracole Level 4 (1,085 points)

    It is likely that an earlier Apple Id was used, for example, Equinoxe by Jarre would have been one of our earliest purchases from iTunes and the Apple Id would have reflected the e-mail address we were using at that time.


    Several of the songs on the album have successfully matched but not all.


    Looking at today's Apple iTunes Store it is very straightforward to find the songs, both those that have matched and the remainder of the same album that have not.


    Is there any known mechanism to resolve?

  • KeithJenner Level 4 (1,020 points)

    Actually, it isn't the case that all iTunes purchases will show up as purchased, or even match.


    I have a couple of hundred iTunes purchases which are not showing up as purchased, and in many cases not matching. The reason for all of these (other than 3 tracks which are a mystery) is that they are no longer in the store in the same format which I purchased them.


    For example, one of the biggest issues that has been identified is the "Complete Depeche Mode" which was available a few years ago. The vast majority of the tracks are still available to purchase, but this particular set is no longer available. As a result the tracks don't show up as purchased, and many don't match (I assume because they are not the same mastering as the albums on iTunes.


    Rather oddly, the "Complete U2" still shows as purchased, even though it is also not available.


    The other issue I have found are singles which you can no longer buy from iTunes and which don't show as purchased or, in most cases, matched.


    I assume that mracole's problem is that the issue of that album is no longer available and iTunes doesn't realise that the new version is the same album so doesn't recognise it as purchased. As it is not the same issue, not all tracks match.

  • mracole Level 4 (1,085 points)

    This failure to match issue seems far too common to simply be a question of original albums being somehow re-released with some slight variation.  The illustration in the examples shown of Jarre's Equinoxe is a good one, since the current iTunes Store version appears a direct equivalent with no later releases showing.


    To complete the loop for this example, here are the tracks matched on that album:

    Album - Partial Match.png


    It looks like the matching algorithm is simply limited in its current form.  This is not necessarily an issue if such limitations are made clear when the service is bought by the consumer.  However, the current Apple advertising gives no indication of such limitations hence the many questions raised.


    When the examples are as clear as those in my library, and I suspect many others, it would be very helpful if there was an Apple referral service via e-mail that might assist.  The best examples seen to date are Apple offering individual customers a free track purchase such that the original music can be obtained again from the iTunes Store - this may work for very small libraries where only very few track are affected but for larger libraries seems impractical.


    Please do identify any further ways to resolve where known, would like to complete the library if possible or confirm that it is indeed simply not possible with the current generation of product - many thanks in anticipation.

  • KeithJenner Level 4 (1,020 points)

    mracole wrote:


    This failure to match issue seems far too common to simply be a question of original albums being somehow re-released with some slight variation.

    I couldn't disagree more.


    The fact that the match issue is quite common is one of the things I take as proof that this is a major cause of the issue. There is barely a popular album which hasn't been remastered at least once, often many times. I suspect that you maybe don't appreciate how common this practice is.


    The reasons that I believe this to be the issue is:


    I am getting far better match results on more recently purchased CD's. I am a bit of a sucker for "deluxe edition" releases, and these are usually matching 100%, as they are usually the most recent releases, and the ones which are in the iTunes store.


    For older CD's, the ones I get the best results for (again, often 100%) are the less popular albums, which have never earned a remastering.


    The worst results are consistantly older CD's which I know there have been remasters of. In many cases I am getting almost no matches at all.


    Take the Beatles for an example. I have the 2009 reissues and they have matched 100%, as has been the experience for most people. Reports on this site of people trying to match the 1980's CD's have been very much less successful.


    I am absolutely convinced that remasterings are a major factor (probably the most important factor) in failure to match. If this is the case then it has two implications for you.


    Firstly, you are not going to be able to force a match for these tracks, as they are not the same as is in the store.


    Secondly, there is a major question as to whether Apple will do anything about it. In fact, the argument (which I would agree with) is that the matching is in fact too loose so that it is inadvertantly mismatching many tracks to the wrong mastering. This causes problems such as that found by people with the Beatles Mono set, and also means that peoples iCloud library ends up with a mixture of remastered and old tracks, which can be jarring to the ear at the transition between tracks.

  • mracole Level 4 (1,085 points)

    So it seems we have a great deal of experience indicating that later revised versions of tracks, including re-mastering of the original, appears to be a major factor in apparent 'match fails'.  The conclusion being that although the match appears to have failed it is simply that a later version of the track was the one that was used by the match service resulting in 'no match'.


    Still it seems strange for an album such as Jarre's Equinoxe where such re-issues do not appear to be a factor, and where several tracks in the album have successfully matched, that many of the tracks end up being 'uploaded'.


    Is there a neat way in which we can flag such apparent discrepancies to Apple for review?  The implication appears to be that matching is destined to be inexact, hence all users should anticipate many tracks not matching despite being easily able to identify the tracks concerned in the iTunes Store - if true, this is important to highlight before asking for service payment.

  • KeithJenner Level 4 (1,020 points)

    I don't know anything about Equinoxe, and what remasters there have been, but there is certainly evidence to suggest that the remasters issue isn't the only factor causing non matches, just a big factor.


    For example, whilst my results are far better with newer CD's they aren't perfect, and I still get the occasional unmatched track. This suggests that there are other factors at work.


    With older CD's you tend to get the sort of mixed results you are reporting, I assume due to the fact that some tracks are changed more than others, meaning that some still manage to match. My gut feeling is that is what is happening with your album.


    As for reporting to Apple, the best I can suggest is leaving feedback giving examples of albums which had particularly bad or unusual results. More important to me is reporting back on mismatched tracks, as I'm keen for Apple to introduce a force upload option to resolve those issues.


    As for your conclusion, yes, I believe that match will always be inexact (in fact it will always have a margin of error, it is just trying to make that error as small as possible). There is a strong argument that says that Apple was not clear on it's advertising and lead people to conclude that their tracks would match as long as they were in the iTunes store. The number of queries on this board confirms that many people were indeed expecting better results than I believe the technology will be capable of for a long time.

  • mracole Level 4 (1,085 points)

    Given the nature of the current match performance shown here and on other current threads (for example, https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3493234?tstart=0) we appear to have a result, as follows:


    1.  iTunes Match service is currently unlikely to match as advertised due to the inexact nature of the matching algorithm.


    2.  Converting low bit rate tracks to AAC versions within iTunes and re-trying the match is worthwhile.


    3.  Removing tracks from iTunes library and iCloud, importing from back-up/source, and re-trying the match is worthwhile.


    4.  Smartlists tracking bit rate and iCloud 'uploaded' status can be effectively used for tracking the residue.


    For libraries of any significant size it is likely that there will be tracks that appear not to match despite the apparent listing in the current iTunes Store of the track in question.  It would enhance the service if the user was able to highlight to Apple apparent descrepancies, such that at Apple's discretion a 'forced match' can be completed.  Given these factors the present description of the service is misleading.


    At present Apple provide two suggested contact points: (1) <http://www.apple.com/uk/contact/>; (2) <http://store.apple.com/uk/help>.  Or via e-mail at: contactus.uk@euro.apple.com.

  • JiminMissouri Level 2 (465 points)

    If you start from your premise, which seems to be that Apple has promised you that all tracks that you have decided are still for sale in the iTunes store in the exact same format as your copy (which without having both copies and performing some waveform analysis yourself I have to question) will match, then sure, the service isn't working as advertised.  So I guess you've answered your own question then.

  • mracole Level 4 (1,085 points)

    Worth looking again at the current description of service, it reads:


    "Here’s how it works: iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to iCloud for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 20 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are your music is already in iCloud. And for the few songs that aren’t, iTunes has to upload only what it can’t match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. Once your music is in iCloud, you can stream and store it to any of your devices. Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality."


    Given this many of the requests for support are naturally focused on how to complete a reasonable matching exercise.  Currently approximately 8% of my library is not successfully matched, hence the number of files 'uploaded'.


    If the service simply said 'whilst matching can never be wholly accurate we anticipate that the majority of your library should be matched provided that the songs are held in the iTunes Store' many folk would simply accept the partial matching as a feature of the service.


    For as long as this is not made clear it is a source of frustration for many that apparently clear matches are not succeeding.  A further example from my only library is provided below:



    Partial Match - Songs.png

    Here in the first album by Phil Collins we can see all tracks are successfully matched.  In the second album many are successfully matched but 4 of 15 are uploaded.  Looking at the iTunes Store Phil Collins Serious Hits... Live! is shown as a current album.


    iTunes Store entry:

    Album in iTunes Store.png

    The suggestion, flagged by Keith, that Apple might offer a 'force upload option' - or mine that Apple might offer a 'discretionary match option' would prove very helpful in resolving these apparent anomalies.


    Having made these points it has to be said that iTunes Match overall does represent a superb service, it is simply let down by the current description which over promises.

  • KeithJenner Level 4 (1,020 points)

    I'd tend to agree. Overall Match is an excellent service, which is great value for money (as long as you aren't affected by some of the bugs reported elsewhere here). However I do think that the quote above would lead people to believe that if their songs are in the store in any form then they will get matched.


    I think that the matching is not all that far off as good as it will get, and it is easily good enough for my purposes. In this case it isn't the service that is wrong, but the wording does "over promise" on the matching success rate.