If you've been collecting MP3s for years now, there's a good chance that your music library is a hopeless mismash of different bitrates, with ID3 tags more filled with holes than the plot of a Michael Bay film. If this sounds like your digital music library, TuneUp is a great way to get your tunes into fighting fit condition.
While the quality of your music is arguably the most important factor, today's MP3 players can do a lot more with a collection if it has a full set of ID3 tags and artwork. ID3 tags feature the basic album and artist info, but also the genre and original year of release. It's these last two points that are often left out of files from less than tip-top sources, and they come in very handy when making playlists.
What we were interested in TuneUp for the most though was not this behind-the-scenes additional information, but in filling-in album art gaps, and fixing naming abnormalities. And in our 16,000 track test collection, there were plenty.
TuneUp works like an iTunes plugin. It hangs onto the side of your normal iTunes Window, letting you simply drag and drop any files over to put them through the TuneUp wringer. iTunes may be the antithesis of the drag 'n' drop approach to file management, but this software certainly isn't.
Once it has found possible matches for your content, it displays them in this side box, just below any tracks that are still awaiting processing. A click will then transfer the additional information into your iTunes library. It's remarkably seamless given what the software is doing is essentially digital surgery.
In our large test library, complete with some fairly obscure files, TuneUp only failed to identify tracks that were not commercially available. It won't identify podcasts, random bootlegs or unofficial community audiobooks - but then we never really expected it to.
The one hole we can poke in TuneUp's general performance is that, in real-life use, it's not quite as quick as advertised. Without delving into the search algorithms the software uses to trawl through its doubtless gigantic database of information, we're not sure what sort of library its "500 tracks in 5 minutes" is based on, but it took significantly longer in our tests.
Its processing is smart enough to check whether consecutive tracks are from the same album, but actually tracking down that first track can take a minute or so. The time taken varied considerably, so with a large library you'd probably be best off leaving this software running overnight rather than spending any time peering into the screen - there's not a progress bar here to fixate on, but you get the idea.
TuneUp is made by TuneUp Media, which supplied us with a review code for the software.