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Guidelines: Embedded Metadata in Broadcast WAVE Files
Audio-Visual Working Group

Embedded metadata can travel with a digital object during its life cycle and often exists in synergy with metadata in an organization's databases or other information technology systems. Embedded metadata enables people in and outside an organization to work more efficiently, provides valuable data to the systems that preserve digital content, and can assist in disaster recovery. In addition to these guidelines for WAVE files, FADGI offers two embedding guidelines for still images: for minimal descriptive metadata and for the TIFF header. Meanwhile, regarding WAVE file embedding, the Working Group has developed the BWF MetaEdit tool to support users.

Guidelines: Current Version

These guidelines pertain to metadata to be embedded in Broadcast WAVE files. They emphasize the importance of identifying the responsible organization and providing one or more item identifiers, as well a providing other guidance. The guidelines recommend an implementation of the bext chunk standardized by the European Broadcast Union (EBU) in EBU-TECH 3285: Specification of the Broadcast Wave Format Version 2 (2011), the INFO-list chunk, Cue chunk and Associated Data List chunk (adtl) defined in the Microsoft-IBM RIFF specification (1991).

Guidelines for Embedding Metadata in Broadcast WAVE Files, Version 3 (PDF, 481 KB)

Approved by Working Group on April 26, 2021.

Blog post on The Signal about updated version: That’s Our Cue! Updates for the FADGI Embedded Metadata Guidelines and BWF MetaEdit for the Cue Chunk in Broadcast Wave Files, September 9, 2021

Demo of cue chunk functionality in BWF MetaEdit from Jerome Martinez of MediaArea: Video (mp4, 8:36 minutes)

Changes from 2012 version:

  • Simplified title from “Embedding Metadata in Digital Audio Files: Guideline for Federal Agency Use of Broadcast WAVE Files” to “Guidelines for Embedding Metadata in Broadcast WAVE Files”.
  • For OriginationDate and ICRD, FADGI adds the option for a date range using double hyphens [--] as the interval designator, such as 2002--2003, in place of a solidus (a.k.a. forward slash "/") although a solidus is also permitted.
  • Changes in CodingHistory:
    • Adding values for sampling frequency, bit depth and mode beyond what is listed in EBU R98 to reflect current needs and tool capabilities
      • Added values for sampling frequency: 96000, 176400, 192000, 384000, 768000 Hz
      • Added value for word length/bit depth: 32 bits
      • Added values for mode: multitrack, multichannel and other
    • Mode definition: To clarify the use of this field in CodingHistory, FADGI states that ‘mode’ is a synonym for ‘sound field’ and includes definitions for allowable mode values
    • Definitions for all values in mode: mono, stereo, dual mono, joint stereo, multitrack, multichannel and other
    • Updated examples for coding history to reflect other changes
  • Addition of guidance for use of Associated Data List Chunk (adtl), Label Chunk (labl), Note Chunk (note) and Labeled Text Chunk (ltxt) to accompany use of Cue Chunk (cue) and Cue Points
  • Correction from “LIST info chunk” to “INFO List Chunk” to comply with published specification
  • Updated Specification and Reference list in Part V 

Guidelines: Earlier Versions

Broadcast WAVE Metadata Embedding Guidelines, Version 2 (PDF, 343 KB)

Approved by Working Group on April 23, 2012, and superseded by version 3 on April 1, 2021.

Broadcast WAVE Metadata Embedding Guidelines, Version 1 (PDF, 274 KB)

Approved by Working Group on September 15, 2009, and superseded by version 2 on April 23, 2012.

Guidelines: Background

Three background documents provide an explanatory context for the guidelines and describe the constraints imposed by existing WAVE metadata structures. The documents discuss a variety of metadata chunks in WAVE files: the bext and INFO-list chunks covered by the guidelines, as well as the format chunk with its technical metadata, and the aXML and iXML chunks. The introductory document describes the loudness metadata introduced in version 2 of the EBU Broadcast WAVE standard and the Working Group's provisional implementation of an ad hoc MD5 chunk for checksum (hash value) data. The third document provides information about the types of identifiers used in some federal agencies.

BWF MetaEdit: About the tool

BWF MetaEdit is a free open source tool that supports embedding, validating, and exporting of metadata in Broadcast WAVE Format (BWF) files. It supports the FADGI Guidelines for Embedding Metadata in Broadcast WAVE Files, including 2021 updates for use of the Associated Data List Chunk (adtl), Label Chunk (labl), Note Chunk (note) and Labeled Text Chunk (ltxt) to accompany use of Cue Chunk (cue) and Cue Points.

BWF MetaEdit is supported, in part, by funding from the Library of Congress and FADGI; designed and led by AVPreserve (now known as AVP); developed by MediaArea.

Features include the ability to:

  • Import, edit, embed, and export specified metadata elements in WAVE audio files
  • Export technical metadata from Format Chunks and minimal metadata from bext and INFO chunks as comma-separated values and/or XML, across a set of files or from individual files
  • Evaluate, verify and embed MD5 checksums, as applied to the WAVE file's data chunk (audio bitstream only) into a non-standardized, ad hoc "MD5 chunk."
  • Enforce the guideline (above) developed by FADGI as well as specifications from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Microsoft, and IBM
  • Report certain errors in the construction of WAVE files
  • Choose from Command line and GUI, for Windows/PC, Macintosh OS, Linux and more; see list of options

BWF MetaEdit: Downloads


Provide Comments on the Specification or Tool

Use the online form to submit your comments.

Working Groups

Still Image Working Group
This group is involved in a cooperative effort to develop common digitization guidelines for still image materials.

Audio-Visual Working Group
The goal for this working group is to identify, establish, and disseminate information about standards and practices for the digital reformatting of audio-visual materials by federal agencies.

Last Updated: 11/16/2021