Winnowing Some Less-Known MP3 Testers: EncSpot, AudioTester, MP3 Checker, and MP3Utility

I was trying to determine whether any of my MP3s were bad. My collection included MP3s in a variety of bit and sample rates, containing music, speech, and other sorts of sounds. I ran into some problems when comparing several MP3 diagnostic programs. It seemed that it might help to see what some other programs said. So I went back to the list of MP3 tools in a companion post and identified several others that looked like they might be helpful. This post provides a brief look at those other programs.

The programs I decided to look at, in this post, were AudioTester, EncSpotMP3 Checker, and MP3Utility. For purposes of quickly reviewing these four programs, the need discussed in the companion post was pretty straightforward: I wanted a program that would quickly identify problematic MP3s across an entire hard drive partition. Hence, I installed these four programs and ran them.

I dragged the icon for the partition to AudioTester, a portable program (i.e., needing no installation). It rapidly identified 444 MP3s and concluded that 407 files had passed and 37 had failed. It offered cursory explanations of the failures. Most, it said, were “TRUNCATED.” A few others were in “UNRECOGNISED FORMAT” or had “BAD STARTING SYNC.” There were no further explanations, and no other details or options. This black-box solution was not my ideal. The program did allow me to copy its output and paste it into another file.

EncSpot did not offer any documentation. It did not appear designed to identify MP3 errors. One report indicated that it was “supposedly abandoned and somewhat inaccurate.” I decided that I, too, would abandon it.

Installation of MP3 Checker was blocked by my antivirus program, and its installer was quarantined.

MP3Utility, a portable, did appear oriented toward testing of MP3s. While its webpage was defunct and it offered no Help button, it did include a Readme file with considerable information. I chose its Test Directory option (alternatives: Test File, Catalog Directory), clicked Load to indicate the drive that I wanted it to test, clicked Options, told it to “Recursively test/catalog subdirectories,” and otherwise left its default settings unchanged. Then I clicked Start. It agreed, with AudioTester, that we were talking about 444 MP3s on that particular drive. When it was done, it said that it had found errors or warnings in 22 of those files. Its report offered brief statements of what it considered imperfect in those files — cryptically indicating, for example, that, for a certain file, “First sync error at approx. 0:00 (0% through audio).” The program allowed me to save its report as a text file.

The lists of problem files provided by AudioTester and by MP3Utility were not consistent. Each of the programs identifed problematic files that the other did not consider problematic, and as noted above AudioTester saw problems in nearly twice as many files as did MP3Utility.

This brief review suggested that AudioTester and MP3Utility could identify MP3s that they considered problematic, but that they would disagree on which MP3s were problematic, and would not explain their conclusions in any detail. As such, these programs might have some use to question or corroborate the output of a more detailed program like MP3 Diags (see companion post), but did not seem suited for use as one’s primary MP3 tester.

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3 Responses to Winnowing Some Less-Known MP3 Testers: EncSpot, AudioTester, MP3 Checker, and MP3Utility

  1. L Benson says:

    You based your decision not to try EncSpot on “supposedly” and “somewhat?” That’s hilarious.

    I think the only purpose of EncSpot is to spot the encoder used to encode the mp3. You may find many of your mp3s were encoded with Xing which was a terrible encoder.

    • Ray Woodcock says:

      Thanks for the seccond paragraph of your comment. Regarding the unfortunate first paragraph: as the text says, I based the decision not to try EncSpot on a correction to my initial impression: evidently it was not designed, after all, to test MP3s. Testing MP3s was the purpose here.

      If (as your email address suggests) you are indeed a key employee at a software firm, I urge you, on behalf of your employees, to try to read more carefully and, in any case, to shed that abusive tone.

  2. Felix Dombek says:

    EncSpot is my main tool to check my MP3 collection (e.g. which of two versions I need to keep); however, it only works in one folder at a time. The info it can generate is very detailed, but the “Sync errors” column is the most important. Every non-broken MP3 file must have 0 sync errors. The encoder and the bitrate determine the quality of the file, and EncSpot is actually quite accurate still. It’s just somewhat dated, and I found this post while browsing for alternatives. It would be very interesting to compare EncSpot’s info with that of the other two programs.

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