Tutorial on how to use Audio Comparer™

Innovations have helped humans to improve their living conditions greatly, starting with the invention of primitive tools and going on to modern air conditioners, powerful computers, and GPS devices. Technological progress goes forward by leaps and bounds. As a result, it's now hard to imagine a house which has not been somehow affected by high tech - almost every schoolboy's got a full-featured mp3 player or iPod having the storage capacity which allows storing gigabytes of music files and movies.

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Much has also changed with the unconditional and irrevocable advent of the Internet to our life. I would call it the Eighth Wonder of the modern World - and it really deserves such a high sounding name, being the biggest and the most powerful provider of a variety of resources and services. The Internet is a worldwide database of any information you need. However, information is not the only thing you can obtain due to the Internet. Due to the spreading of affordable high-speed Internet connection, something we could just dream about several years ago, has provided users in a flash with the huge amount of all sorts of digital content. Movies, music, videoclips, all sorts of images - for several years of active Internet use all this has jammed the hard drives, storage capacity of which is capable now of holding huge amounts of multimedia content.

Nevertheless, every invention, Internet being no exception, has both sides. So, one of the aspects is that at a certain stage of active Internet use, when a user is starting to "wallow" in the music content stored and it is getting really hard to manage such volumes, there arises a real need to arrange, to put in order this content in some way and, not least, get rid of duplicates. And if a user is a big audiophile, and his musical collection includes all possible genres, areas, performers, then a clever arrangement of such a collection can become quite an undertaking... At first many users fearlessly try to do this manually and, in doing so, create even larger problems, eventually forming a heap of temporary folders and hundreds of audio duplicates. Expert users involve modern software, which helps to organize really vast music collections effortlessly.

Audio Comparer is one such programs. The program's main goal is to find duplicate audio files and sort them any way suitable for you. The program is capable of properly organizing even the most extensive music collection. As the name suggests, the program's mechanism is based on comparison process of audio files - it means, Audio Comparer can easily find both exact duplicates, and similar files, "similarity threshold" being specified. The major difference between the program and other audio duplicate finders is in the comparison mechanism: Audio Comparer carefully "listens" to your audio files and compares them by their actual audio content, just like human ears do. The search is performed exactly on the basis of sounding - the actual content of the file, not its external properties like tags or size. That is why the program finds not only duplicates, but similar files as well. Unlike other utility programs of that kind, Audio Comparer works equally well with files of different formats, one by one comparing MP3, MP2, MP1, WMA, AIF, WAV, OGG, WavPack, FLAC, APE, AAC files.

Working with the Program

Now let's consider in detail the process of installing and working with it. Start the program. By default, every time the program is started, Comparison Wizard appears. It will tell about the program and in a matter of seconds will help you find audio duplicates and similar audio files.

Audio Comparer - Comparison Wizard screenshot

Later on, when you get the feel of the program, the tick "Always start with Comparison Wizard" can be removed, and Comparison Wizard will no more distract your attention.

Then press "Next". The program enables you to compare "Within one audio group" or "Between two audio groups". Each "group" is a set of audio files, which can be located in different places. When you deal with the search within one group, the program will search for similar audio files among all the files of the audio group. If the search is performed between two groups, the program compares every audio file with every audio file of the second group:

Audio Comparer tutorial

After choosing the comparison option, click 'Next'. Suppose you need to find duplicates within one group. At first, the program offers you to set the name of the Audiogroup to be formed, and add folders with audio files into it:

Audio Comparer guide

It is especially convenient that a group may include all audio files, even located on different logical drives. For example:

Audio Comparer How to use

After musical files are added to the group, you need to specify which files you're trying to find: "Exact duplicates" or "Similar audio files". Depending on the results needed, select one of the options and press "Next":

Audio Comparer Guide on How to use

At the next stage, you need to specify the location path where to save the results, and press "Process".

Audio Comparer Guide on How to use

Apart from Comparison Wizard, in the program there's an opportunity provided to form an Audiogroup independently. To do that, select the item "New" in the menu Audiogroup. Then specify the folder with audio files, you want to add to the group, and enter the name of the Audiogroup.

After that the program starts "listening" to audiofiles, and the following window is displayed:

Audio Comparer Main Window

Audio Comparer to the musical collection and catalogs the sound characteristics of each musical composition within an "Audiogroup". "Listening" does not take much time: the program is capable of analyzing audio files at a rate of one file per second -- a HUGE time saver in helping you to maintain your audio file collection!

The listening process having been finished and the audiogroup formed, comparing process begins. Comparing can be performed within one group or between the groups. Comparing requires much less time than listening, that's why the result of comparison appears on the screen within several seconds. Audio Comparer displays the results in the form of a tree chart. Each nested branch includes the similar files found with similarity degree for the parent branch file. The program provides the opportunity to mark the files and after that you may move, copy or delete them. It is very convenient that each action may be performed using a certain functional key [F5], [F6], [F7], [F8]:

Audio Comparer Main Window

The program has n simple embedded player (there are volume control and Play/Pause buttons), and, apart from the title and location, for each audio file there is specified such data as duration, bit rate, artist, album, genre, year and even comments to the file. So, the information about each file is displayed very clearly and conveniently; besides, any moment you may listen to any composition, if its title conveys nothing to you (it's rather convenient for extensive collections).

Now that we've got the results displayed in the form of a tree, the only thing left is to click on unnecessary files and take different actions with them. Well, if you need to delete audio files marked in the results, press F8 or "delete" button. There appears a confirmation window:

Audio Comparer Confirmation Window

It provides the list of files to be deleted. Again you've got a chance to play the melody once more, if you're not sure of this or that file. There is also given information about the total number of files to be deleted and how much disk space is going to be released. You may take some files out of the list and confirm the list of files to be deleted.

Coming back to the tree chart. You can see the "Actions" button, which implies the following options:

Audio Comparer popup menu
  • Expand all - automatically "expands" all the branches of the tree chart;
  • Collapse all - the program simultaneously "hides" all the nested branches of the tree and displays only parent branches;
  • Set marks automatically... - automatic marking of files on the basis of criteria specified (see below);
  • Remove all marks - the program removes all the user's marks with one click.

When you select the option "Set marks automatically", the "Automarking" window is displayed, and the program offers to choose between the following options:

Audio Comparer Automarking

Taking into account the criteria set, the program invites you to automatically mark either files with the best/worst quality in the group, or each file in the group, except one of the best/worst quality. At that, user's marks are automatically deleted.

Now let's have a quick look on the menu and its peculiarities.

Having formed an audiogroup once, using the menu you will be able to add new files and folders to it, and delete unnecessary or excessive audio files. To do this, there are shortcut buttons on the panel: "Add files" (white-coloured "plus" on the background of the green circle), "Add folder" ('folder' sign with a green "plus"), "Remove files" (white "minus" on the background of the red circle), as well as buttons for quick creation of an audiogroup and opening of the existing audiogroup.

So, you've enlarged your collection and now you'd like to include new audiofiles into the audiogroup. Select "Add", choose the folder with new audiofiles - the program starts listening to the files. Once its listening process has been completed and new files have been added to the audiogroup, we proceed to the comparison process. In the "Compare" menu choose either "Within the group" or "With another group" and start comparing. In the right part of the screen you'll see the results - similar files in the form of a tree but taking into account newly added audio files, as well as similarity degree in percentage. Now you are welcome to perform different actions with these files.

Using "Audiogroup" menu, you can also compress your collection and sort it by title, date or file size:

Audio Comparer Automarking

On the quick-start panel you can also find 'quick' buttons for comparing within the opened group and comparing with another group, the button for opening the results saved, "magic wand" sign to run Comparison Wizard, gear sign to activate 'preferences' dialogue box and the standard help button.

In Compare menu, apart from the options already described, you may also take different actions with comparison results - refresh, save to the specified location and open the saved results.

Let's come over to "Preferences" in the Tools menu. In the tab "General" you may set the order of using the comparison wizard, enable or disable multicore CPU optimization and set a very convenient option of highlighting nonexistent files. Well, if you have already made any actions with an audiogroup and deleted or moved to another folder some files, they will be marked red. If choose "Refresh" option in the menu Audiogroup, then all nonexistent files marked red will be removed from the group. So, all the actions done to the audiogroup will be clearly seen.

Audio Comparer Preferences

Here you can also set the necessary "similarity threshold". So, if you need to find exact duplicates in your collection, move the slider to the extreme right position and by doing so set "similarity threshold" at the level of 100%. If you want to find similar files, then you need to move the slider and set the similarity degree needed. By default, the similarity threshold is set on the level of 70%. This is the criterion the program will be guided by in searching similar audio files.

In the "Languages" tab, you can choose from numerous available interface languages, including Italian, Macedonian, Romanian, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese and others.

Conclusion

As your extensive music collection continues to grow, Audio Comparer will serve as an increasingly valuable tool. The program is easy-to-use, has got a nice and user-friendly interface. At the same time it processes the enormous amount of musical files spending minimum time for this and releasing much spare room on your hard drive. The program's 'intellect' allows it to listen to a composition just once and remember it forever, which is very convenient for large musical collections. The utility will be especially useful for those, whose musical collection includes hundreds and even thousands of compositions, as well as having MP3, WMA or OGG files with tags unfilled. Audio Comparer will help to find duplicates and, based on their quality, recommend which files to save and which - to delete. The program runs on any PC having the OS from Windows 98 to Vista. RAM capacity is not crucial, but the program "prefers" fast processors - say, Core2Duo. Audio Comparer fully supports multicore CPUs and is optimized for them. It's a shareware application, for which a 30-day trial period is provided. This period of time is usually enough to assess the functionality of the program and satisfy your interest.