Embed checksums using BWF MetaEdit

*This article is adapted from pre-existing resources located on the Digitization Knowledge Base



Metadata is a central component of digitization and archiving but is also a useful tool for those working on a FirstVoices project.

Metadata is the information you record and use to document items themselves. Having sufficient metadata for each entry in your collection or language site will make it easier to locate and organization items and recordings in a user-friendly way. BWF MetaEdit allows you to embed or add this information into a file itself (e.g. WAV file).


BWF MetaEdit

While FirstVoices is a great learning platform, it is not a long-term repository.

BWF MetaEdit is a free software tool that you can use to embed WAV files with these checksums. WAV files that you will likely work with during a FirstVoices project include your copy master (or master file) and access master. These lossless, uncompressed files will be your staples from which to work off of to later make accessible, shareable audio for online sites, learning tools, or other community engagement needs.

In the software BWF MetaEdit, you will be able to embed metadata into your WAV audio files to read later. This type of metadata is called checksums. Checksums tell you if there have been changes in data through transfer or storage by minor changes in the embedded bits (metadata).

As part of your general FirstVoices workflow, it will be wise to schedule some time quarterly or biannually to assess and make sure that there is no significant file corruption or degradation on these master files. If for whatever reason you need to replace an audio file on FirstVoices, you will be working from a preservation master or access master file (both WAV). If these base files are corrupted or inaccessible, then past work will likely need to be re-recorded.

They cannot tell you why data changes have occurred, but checksums keep you aware of the possibility and presence of data corruption and loss in stored files. As a FirstVoices project member, it is part of your responsibility to make sure that prior steps are taken to ensure future technicians and recorders can get accurate assessments of the files you work on today. Metadata is one of these steps.

For more information on metadata and BWF Metaedit beyond the scope of this article, please refer to these DiGI training module series located on our sister Knowledge Base site. These lessons may be of interest to you:

Module 6: Installing Audacity and MetaEdit

Module 7: What is Metadata?


Downloading BWF MetaEdit

The following is a summary of how to download and set up BWF MetaEdit software. First, 

Then, click on the download BWF MetaEdit button. (If you are not running Windows, you can click on the arrow and select your operating system.)

Setting Up the Software

The next steps will be choosing the location for the download and then clicking 'Install' and follow the prompts to the end.

Then, click 'Options' and then 'Preferences'.

In the first tab of the new window (see image below), you will need to fill out what technical metadata you will want to embed.

Technical Metadata

Check the boxes that are highlighted above for a detailed BWF MetaEdit set-up.

Next, do the same with the for the core metadata (see image below).

Core Metadata

The core metadata are fields that you can enter data into. The ones highlighted in yellow are the ones typically used in a project; however, if you find you want other fields, you can go back to this menu and include them.

Next, you will check the boxes for the rules metadata:


After the rules metadata, you will address the important file management information:

File management

The file management tab default will likely have the bottom two options selected. You do not need to make any changes here.

Now, move on to the MD5 information:


These MD5 options create, verify, and embed your checksum, which make these settings some of the most important to clarify and set.

Now, let's finish setting up the software. Move on to the default view settings:

Default view

There are also the extra settings; however, these are not necessary to change. Once you have completed and made these changes (if necessary), be sure to save! 

Here is a short summary of these steps:

  1. Download BWF MetaEdit here at https://mediaarea.net/BWFMetaEdit

  2. Click on the download BWF MetaEdit button

  3. Choose a location to save the software

  4. Follow the prompts and click 'Install'

  5. Inside BWF MetaEdit, navigate to 'Options' and select 'Preferences'

  6. Set up the Technical Metadata tab (see image for selected features)

  7. Set up the Core Metadata tab (see image for selected features)

  8. Set up the Rules tab (see image for selected features)

  9. Set up the File management tab (see image for selected features)

  10. Set up the MD5 tab (see image for selected features)

  11. Set up the Default view tab (see image for selected features)

  12. Save your settings

  13. Then, you are good to go!


Fundamental Uses

In the learning module housed on this page, you will be introduced to each section of BWF MetaEdit that is relevant for embedding checksums, following the instalment instructions and steps (also outlined in Module 5: Installing Audacity and MetaEdit).

Then, there is a step-by-step visualization to guide you through the process of embedding the checksums as well as how to troubleshoot if you encounter issues on the fly.

BWF MetaEdit has various sections once opened, arranged in different tabs in the software. You will be asked to provide different information related to each of these sections for the files you embed.

File is the section where you will input the least amount of information. It will show the information that is stored.

Tech is where technical information about your file is auto-filled and is another section that will require you to input little to no information.

In Core, it is important to remember that the information you are adding here in these sections is about referencing when the recording was digitized, not the original date of the tape!

Your end result of using BWF MetaEdit will be an identifiable checksum in the MD5Stored column.

MD5Stored relates to the checksum that is now attached to the file you have uploaded to BWF MetaEdit. When opening your file again to be read, the MD5Generated will have the same string of numbers and letters if there have been no changes to the data of the file.

If they do not match, it means that something has happened to the file, likely corruption. If they do not match, the MD5Stored will appear in red.

For additional support and if you encounter error messages, it is advised to navigate to the internal BWF MetaEdit Help Tab and enter into the software's support centre. Here, you can find a list of potential error messages and what they might mean. The image above shows you the pathway to get to this support centre. If you have further questions or need technical assistance with using BWF MetaEdit, you can also reach out to the Language Technology Program team: Ben (ben@fpcc.ca) and James (james@fpcc.ca).


Link to Interactive Module (Originally designed for Digitization projects)

Please follow this link to take you to the interactive module:

BWF MetaEdit: Fundamental Uses


When progressing through the metadata embedding process, you might feel a sense of incompletion. When it comes to metadata, the hope is that what is recorded and done to the files will be useful for the future, not necessarily the present. It may feel like you are just uploading and adding some unseen labels to your audio, but it is an important task in the long run. 

Please find the images within the module and the one above that demonstrates how to navigate to the internal Help Tab in BWF MetaEdit. They are presented in a PDF package for people to keep with them and have on their desktops as a quick reference: