A poster over at Kirk’s iTunes Forum wanted to split his iTunes library, because it had become too large. I explained two ways of doing this, and, after he used one of these methods, he found that he had 16,000 tracks with no tags. This is because he is using WAV files. I had no way of assuming that this would be the case, so he is going to have to restore from his backup and start over.
This is a cautionary tale. You should not use WAV files with iTunes; in fact, you should probably not use them at all. WAV files don’t have a standard for tags: with most apps, only the file name is portable. (You can tag WAV files, but for some reason, there’s no consistency as to whether different apps or hardware devices can read or write them correctly.)
iTunes is able to manage tags for these files, but only because they’re stored in your iTunes library file; whenever you transfer or copy these files, the tags are lost. I’m not sure how other music management apps handle this, especially on Windows, but I’m sure they all do something similar. Or, this could explain why many Windows users are so obsessive about the folder structure that stores their music: perhaps Windows apps get a lot of their “tags” from folders…
I don’t understand why people use WAV files. The usual explanation is for the quality: WAV files are uncompressed files, the equivalent of CDs. However, they are so poorly supported that there are constantly problems with them.
If you want the best quality in iTunes, use Apple Lossless format. These files, which are compressed using lossless compression, expand or play exactly as WAV (or AIFF) files do. There is no quality loss. Don’t believe the audiophiles who claim they can hear a difference between WAV files and Apple Lossless (or FLAC) files. Apple Lossless files play back as bit-perfect equivalents of WAV files.
It’s true that many years ago, slower processors may have been taxed by the processing required to decompress these files. But this is no longer the case. Heck, even portable music players have processors (or chips) that can handle this task.
So, don’t use WAV files. You’ll just have problems in the long run.