If you’re looking for a singe installer that will make sure that you’ll be able to play almost all known codecs to mankind 🙂 (I’m serious though!) plus at the same time that doesn’t cost you anything at all, then K-Lite Codec pack is the one to call for.
K-Lite is a partially open source codec pack as most of its codecs taken from the open source multimedia codec library known as “ffmpeg“. K-Lite also has a multimedia player of its own too, though it looks a lot like the old MS Media player classic (in fact it uses the same name too) but it’s a totally new player that’s written from the scratch.
Iit supports a massive number of codecs (such as: MP3, AAC, OGG Vorbis, FLAC, AVI, MKV, MPEG4, H264, H263, MPEG2 …) but I’m not gonna talk about that today instead I thought of sharing some of the tricks that I use to enhance the audio/video playback when using K-Lite.
1. From K-Lite codec pack menu in the start menu go to: “Configuration” -> “ffdshow video decoder” and this should open a new window similar to the below one.
Now as you can see, to your left you can see the available video effects that you can use to enhance the quality a bit.
2. Now from your left click on the option “Postprocessing” and enable it. Then it should reveal new settings to your right side of that window. From that window you can set-up the “post-processing” amount.
What is Video “postprocessing”?
In simple terms, post-processing is a video rendering effect that uses few methods to enhance the quality of the playing video. As you know there are some videos look cluttered while playing.
Then by using this type of video filter we can enhance quality by “filling” those cluttered sections with a digital “cloud” (sorry I don’t know how else to explain it). For instance, have a look at the below image and can you see it has a bit of a “Blur” effect on it? that’s caused by after using a certain type of video post processing.
3. Now under “Processing Strength” (default value = 100%) you can use the slider to increase or decrease the video enhancing value. The more higher the value the more CPU (and GPU) it needs to process that.
This also heavily depends on the video resolution, the higher the resolution the more system resources are needed. So in most occasions for low res movies you can play with high values but for videos such as HD, use it carefully.
Now you have a modern and powerful PC then you can try a bit aggressive values but a value between 70% to 100% should be a pretty decent one for older hardware 20-25% would be good. If you want an even better post-processing and willing to sacrifice some CPU/GPU power then you can try enabling “accurate deblocking” under the “mplayer” subheading option as shown below (including few other options).
But for those who have old hardware you can disable that “accurate deblocking” and try enabling “fast SPP deblocking” (as shown below).
4. Now again from your left side click on that which says “Noise”. This is again another unique video filter that adds a digital “noise” that helps to enhance the quality.
Now under the new window you get (below screenshot) you can see few other “noise” related filters and the only values I usually change are “Luma noise strength” & “Chroma noise strength”.
*. By default under “Noise” it uses “mplayer noise” but the second option “New noise algorithm (avih)” is also a high quality noise filter that you can try.
The default value of Luma is too aggressive (30) and I usually use a value of “11” and don’t usually touch the “Chroma” value or any frequency related settings. Again you can let a video play and apply these values in real time and measure the performance and quality and find your balance.
Now as you remember these filters are only used in file types that K-Lite uses “ffmpeg” multimedia library to decode (play). But by default older formats such as MPEG1 and MPEG2 etc aren’t decoded by “ffmpeg” and as a result these filters won’t be applied to them.
In that case you can try forcing K-Lite to use “ffmpeg” for playing those codecs as well. But remember sometimes you could run into problems by doing so (compatibility issues) so use it at your own risk.
5. For that, from your left click on “codecs” and from there to your right side, click on any codec and if under “Decoder” sub heading it doesn’t say “libavcodec” then that file is not played using “ffmpeg”.
So to change that, just click on that appropriate “decoder” setting under the codec and from the drop down menu choose “libavcodec” and apply.
Audio enhancing …
Let’s do a quick and simple audio tweak …
1. Again go to your start menu and K-Lite submenu and from there: “Configuration” -> “ffdshow audio decoder”. This should open a window similar to below one.
2. Now from your left click on “volume” and enable it. Then it should open few settings to your right side. Now under “master volume” (100% default value) you can use the slider to increase or decrease the audio volume level.
I usually don’t go beyond 135-140% as the more higher you go it can create a distortion. As you can see this window lets you tweak some other settings such as adjusting individual audio channel audio levels, normalize settings etc. So again do a bit of a testing. But for beginners it’s best to stick with the “master volume” setting at first.
3. Now from your left click on “Equalizer” which should reveal you an equalizer and make your changes.
As with above video issue, not all the audio codec are decoded using the “ffmpeg” audio codecs thus you’ll again have to manually assign “libavcodec” using the “codecs” settings (as mentioned above).
When done make sure to click on the ‘Apply’ button.
You can safely play with all of those if you want (especially setting such as Noise reduction, Crystality etc which are also quite useful) because if you run into problems you can always use the “Reset” button to set everything to default values.
Although this could be a bad example but here’s a screenshot of a video file before (first pic) and after these filters added (second pic). I honestly don’t know if there’s like a big difference but it was certainly visible while playing the actual video rather than the images .
Click and enlarge to notice the difference easily…