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SUMMARY

This step-by-step article describes how to troubleshoot playback problems with Microsoft Windows Media Player 9.

Troubleshooting audio and video playback

Most of the time, playback issues in Windows Media Player 9 are caused by one of the following problems:
  • Corrupted media. Corrupted media can cause irregular playback such as missing audio or video, abrupt ending, or skipping.
  • Damaged codecs. Codecs are software programs that compress and uncompress audio or video data. Damaged codecs can cause problems such as missing audio or video, unusually fast or slow playback, or distortion in the video (such as lines).
Because both of these problems can cause similar symptoms, you must know how to isolate one cause from the other.

Because each file format can be compressed by using a variety of codecs, try to play multiple files of the same format; some that use the same codec as the problem file and some that use a different codec. Try playing a completely different format media file.

For example, a .wmv video file may use two different codecs: MPEG Layer-3 (mp3) for audio and MPEG4 for video. If audio playback problems occur with this .wmv video file but other mp3 files play correctly, this file may be corrupted. If other mp3 files also do not play correctly, the codec may be damaged.

Test playback of the file by using the Mplayer2.exe program. The Mplayer2.exe program is located in the C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player folder. Because both players share common components such as DirectShow, and because MPlayer2 is less complex in design than Media Player 9, this is a good test for basic functionality. All formats that are available in Media Player 9 can be tested in MPlayer2 except CD audio and DVD.

Scenarios

To troubleshoot local playback in most scenarios, try to identify the difference between the files that play correctly and the files that do not. If you can play some file types, but you cannot other file types, a codec may be damaged. To test playback, use a file that you know is good. For additional information about supported Windows Media Player multimedia file formats, and to download known good sample files to use for troubleshooting, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
316992 Windows Media Player multimedia file formats
If the known good file plays correctly, your file may be corrupted or the codec may not be supported.

Some media files may require a third-party codec, such as DivX, to be installed before they will play correctly. Some third-party codecs may install themselves at a higher priority than the codecs that are already installed on the computer. This may cause previously working media files to no longer play correctly. If this is the case, you may see video files that play audio but no video, video that appears upside-down, or otherwise corrupted video. Try to remove the third-party codec.

Try to play a known good video file in the same format that is causing the problems, and then try to play a known good video file in a different format. To download known good sample video files to use for troubleshooting, click the article number that is listed earlier in this article.

After you test multiple video formats, if you find that only one type of file is having a problem, a codec issue may be causing the problem. If you experience codec problems, try to reinstall Windows Media Player.

If you cannot successfully play any video files, there may be a DirectX or a display driver problem. To test for DirectX or display driver problems, click Start, click Run, type DXDiag in the Open box, and then click OK. Click the Display tab, and then click Test DirectDraw.

If DirectX tests successfully, you may have to update your display drivers. If DirectX does not test successfully, you may have to download and install the latest version of DirectX. For additional information about troubleshooting DirectDraw issues, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
190900 DirectX: Description of the DirectX Diagnostic Tool


Troubleshooting remote media is similar to troubleshooting local media. All the troubleshooting steps for local media playback apply. When you troubleshoot remote or streaming media make sure that your Internet connection is working correctly and that you can visit the Web site where the media exists. If you use third-party firewall software, make sure that it is disabled.

You use the MPlayer2 player to test streaming media. To do so, start MPlayer2 (located in the C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player folder). On the File menu, click Open, and then type the URL for the streaming media in the Open box.

Note To view streaming media in Windows Media Player, click Tools, click Options, and then click the Network tab. Verify that the Multicast, UDP, TCP, and HTTP check boxes are selected.

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Remember the following points when you troubleshoot audio and video playback:
  • Try to play multiple files in multiple formats.
  • Some files may require a third-party codec to function correctly.
  • Some third-party codecs may inadvertently break existing codecs.
  • Verify that your display and audio drivers are up to date.

Troubleshooting CD audio playback

By default, CD audio playback is performed digitally. This may cause problems on older computers. Typical problems may include poor playback performance, stuttering audio, and unexpected computer lockups. These types of problems are typically caused by hardware resource conflicts. These conflicts typically occur because of the number of hardware devices that are accessed at the same time during digital playback.

Before troubleshooting CD audio playback, make sure that you can play other local media such as the .wav or .mid audio files that are located in the C:\WINDOWS\Media folder. If Media Player cannot successfully play other local media, troubleshoot that issue before you continue CD audio playback troubleshooting.

Scenarios

If you experience problems with CD audio playback, try several different audio CDs. If the problem CD is a CD-R or a CD-RW that was burned (to burn a CD means to create it by using a CD recorder), try to play a retail audio CD. The burned CD may not be fully compatible with your CD-ROM drive or may have an error.

If you still experience problems with digital playback, turn on error correction. To do this, on the Windows Media Player Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Devices tab. Click your CD-ROM drive, and then click Properties. Click to select the User error correction check box in the Playback area.

Poor-quality playback can be caused by dramatic changes to the default settings for SRS WOW Effects or for Equalizer. If you experience poor-quality playback, turn off both of these features. To turn off the audio effects, follow these steps:
  1. Click Now Playing.
  2. On the View menu, point to Enhancements, and then click Graphic Equalizer.
  3. In the Enhancements pane, click Turn off.
  4. On the View menu, point to Enhancements, and then click SRS Wow Effects.
  5. In the Enhancements pane, click Turn off.
If the sound quality improves, turn these features back on but reset the features to the default settings before you make any additional changes to your settings.

Hardware resource conflicts can also cause problems with digital audio playback. Make sure that your hardware devices do not share interrupt request lines (IRQs). To view the IRQ settings, follow these steps:

Note Because there are several versions of Microsoft Windows, the following steps may be different on your computer. If they are, see your product documentation to complete these steps.
  1. Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
  3. On the View menu, click Resources by type.
  4. Expand Interrupt request (IRQ).
For example, if the integrated device electronics (IDE) controller that controls your CD-ROM drive (this is typically the Secondary IDE Channel, but it may also be the Primary IDE Channel) shares an IRQ with your audio driver, data cannot be moved as effectively between the two devices as it is if they each have a separate IRQ. This situation may result in poor playback performance.

If you do not want to use visualizations or other Media Player enhancements, work around digital audio playback problems by using analog playback. This places fewer demands on the computer hardware. To turn off the digital audio playback feature of the CD-ROM drive, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, click Performance and Maintenance, and then click System.
  2. Click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
  3. Expand DVD/CD-ROM drives, right-click your CD-ROM drive, and then click Properties.
  4. Click to clear the Enable digital CD audio for this CD-ROM device check box, and then click OK.
  5. On the File menu, click Exit to close the Device Manager window.
Note Some CD-ROM devices do not support this feature.

Note For analog playback to work correctly, a cable inside the computer must connect the CD-ROM directly to the sound card. If no such cable is present, the CD appears to play but you cannot hear the audio.

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Remember the following points when you troubleshoot CD audio playback:
  • Make sure that local playback works before you troubleshoot CD audio.
  • Turn on error correction in Windows Media Player for your CD-ROM drive.
  • Hardware resource conflicts can cause poor or no CD audio playback. Use Device Manager to identify hardware resource conflicts.
  • Use analog playback if you do not want visualizations or enhancements.

Troubleshooting DVD playback

By default, Media Player 9 does not include any DVD decoding capabilities. To play a DVD in Media Player 9, you must install a third-party decoder. If the third-party DVD decoder cannot play DVDs, Media Player 9 also cannot play DVDs. Most DVD related issues can be resolved by uninstalling and then reinstalling the third-party DVD software or by updating your display or audio drivers.

To verify if a third-party DVD decoder is installed in your computer, click Start, click Run, type dvdupgrd /detect in the Open box, and then click OK. A dialog box appears listing the detected DVD decoders.

Note If you have more than one DVD decoder (also named an MPEG-2 decoder) installed on your computer, you may experience problems when you play DVDs. To resolve the problem, remove all but one DVD decoder by using Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel.

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Remember the following points when you troubleshoot DVD playback:
  • DVD playback requires that you have a third-party DVD decoder installed on your computer.
  • If the third-party program that came with the decoder cannot play the DVD, Media Player cannot play the DVD either.
  • To determine if a third-party DVD decoder is installed, click Start, click Run, type dvdupgrd/detect in the Open box, and then click OK.

REFERENCES

For additional information about supported codecs for Windows Media Player for Windows XP, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
291948 Windows Media Player for Windows XP supported codecs


For more detailed information about Windows Media Player, see Windows Media Player Help.

For additional support resources, visit the following Windows Media Player Support Center Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/default.mspx
The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.

Related Information:

Troubleshooter: No audio in Windows

Music and sound help with Windows 7

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Article ID: 811982 - Last Review: September 23, 2011 - Revision: 3.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows Media Player 9 Series
Keywords: 
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