MP3s Won't Play / ID3 Version 2.4 Issues in Cars and Other MP3 Players/CDs/DVDs Solution

ID3 2.4 can cause various MP3 players, especially on vehicles or even computers, not to play or at least not to display the ID3 tags.

In many cases though, since ID3 2.4 is much different than version 2.3, it will cause some players, especially in cars like Lexus not to play.  Even on the computer, you may notice if you check the properties of the MP3 that it won't open or show any details (eg. frequency, bitrate and ID3 tags).

One symptom of this in a vehicle (eg. Leuxs, VW) is you have a player that just skips through each song and doesn't play the MP3.  A firmware update can often fix this, but if you can't get the update or are afraid to update, or the dealer won't do it for some reason, then you should follow this guide.

I tried to older MP3s and found that the offending player did play them just fine.

I wondered why an old file played OK and checked using the "file tool":

file goodfile.mp3
goodfile.mp3: MPEG ADTS, layer III, v1, 192 kbps, 44.1 kHz, JntStereo

As you can see above, the tool clearly identified the file as being an MP3.

Then I took an example of some files that didn't play:

file somefile-fixed.mp3
somefile-fixed.mp3: Audio file with ID3 version 2.4.0

Hmm, this is different notice that it just says "Audio file" with ID3 2.4

Then I reverse engineered how some firmware may use similar tools or checks, "Audio file" is not the same as the output in the good file, which it was likely grepping on or looking for in some similar manner.

Let's remove the ID3 2.4 tag or convert to another version

sudo apt install libid3-tools

We can use the id3convert tool to strip which will solve the problem, but we probably would still prefer to keep the tags.

id3convert -s somefile-fixed.mp3
Converting somefile-fixed.mp3: attempting v1 and v2, stripped v2

But note that if we check the file, it appears to be a "normal" MP3 according to what I believe many firmwares would expect:

file somefile-fixed.mp3
somefile-fixed.mp3: MPEG ADTS, layer III, v1, 128 kbps, 44.1 kHz, JntStereo

We could use the convert -2 option which would preserve the tag if it had one:

id3convert -2 somefile.mp3
Converting somefile.mp3: attempting v2, converted no tag

The lesson here is just remove ID3 2.4 or convert them to an earlier version and they should now play.

Some things that didn't work:

I tried using lame to reencode but it still kept the id3 2.4 tags as well.

I tried using the mp3info -d switch tool to remove the tags, but it appears to not support ID3 2.4 so it didn't actually remove them.


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