Hacking Windows 7 Media Center

Simple FFDShow Audio Settings

by @ 6:45 am on February 6th, 2009 in codecs, ffdshow, programs with 6 Comments

Following up on this article on getting Media Center to use FFDShow Audio instead of the default Windows 7 codecs let’s take a look at some of the settings available in FFDShow Audio Decoder.

Let’s start with how to check if FFDShow is in fact being used or not.  The simplest way to check is to enable the system tray icon which will appear any time the FFDShow Audio Decoder is being used and also allows easy access to configuration options. To enable this feature enter the properties for FFDShow Audio Decoder from the start menu and select “Tray, dialog and paths”. Here you should see an option to set no icon or a choice of two different styles of icon to be displayed while FFDShow is running.

FFDShow TrayIcon

FFDShow has a large number of settings editable from this properties window. Most of them will be a matter of taste per user but there are a few common tweaks that most people are interested in. The first is expanding stereo audio in surround audio for files that don’t natively support surround such as MP3. To do this select the Mixer settings on the left and in the Output speakers configuration dropdown box select your speaker setup.  If you have a subwoofer you should also enable the LFE checkbox. At the bottom there are two checkboxes to “Expand stereo to center” and “Expand stereo to surround”. Checking these options will enable surround sound for any audio file encoded in stereo format.

FFDShow Mixer Settings

In this window it is also possible to do what is called “normalization” across the channels.  This will even out the output of each of the channels to an equal level so one channel is not drastically louder than the others at any point.

Another popular feature is the ability to normalize the overall volume output, similar to what some televisions are capable of.  This can reduce louder portions of a movie or a change in volume between commercial and show. To enable this select “Volume” from the left, make certain the volume box is checked and also check the “Normalize” checkbox. The Max. amplification box allows the setting of the maximum difference in volume, anything outside this range will be altered.

FFDShow Volume Settings

Also included is a built in equalizer similar to what can be found in many audio applications or home theater systems allowing the level of certain frequencies to be raised or lowered.  This can take some experimentation and always dependant on the preference of the user.

FFDShow Equalizer Settings

The last feature to be covered here is another simple one, allowing the swapping of channels between speakers. This setting allows for the permanent reassignment of a channel to a certain speaker. This is similar to the options set in the mixer, however these settings don’t detect the original audio channels and always assign the change.  The mixer will only up mix from stereo audio sources.

FFDShow Audio Channel Swap

FFDShow is a powerful tool that can provide anyone with the best listening experience but this is a subjective decision so it requires everyone to tweak the settings a little differently. With a little time and playing anyone can find the right sound for them. With these tips and this guide on using FFDShow Audio Decoder in Media Center you’ll be on your way to a better sounding Media Center in no time.


Josh Pollard
Comment #59 from Josh Pollard [Reply]

this might be a dumb question, but do these audio changes also affect extender session? 95% of my Media Center use is on an xbox 360.

Comment left February 12, 2009 at 6:24 pm Permanent Link

Comment #60 from MHealy [Reply]

I don’t have an extender in house at the moment to do testing but I’m hoping to soon. The way I understand it though it will only effect the extender under limited circumstances. If an extender is in capable of playing the media and the PC is doing the decoding it will but otherwise I don’t believe it will. It will also take effect if using the new Play To function in Windows 7 I believe. I’m not 100% certain on any of it though as I don’t have an extender to test on atm.

Comment left February 12, 2009 at 9:04 pm Permanent Link
Comment #1419 from Enda [Reply]

Some of my mp3 files and only some won’t play after following these instructions. Any idea why? Everything else include DTS in movies works like a charm.

Comment left June 3, 2009 at 8:20 pm Permanent Link
@Reply #1427 from Michael Healy [Reply]

Try changing the decoder used by FFDShow for mp3 files in the Codecs setting window.

Alternatively, you could try disabling mp3 processing by FFDShow altogether though movies encoded with mp3 audio would no longer be played through FFDShow audio.

Comment left June 4, 2009 at 9:19 am Permanent Link

Rishad Mohammed
Comment #46985 from Rishad Mohammed [Reply]

I’m having a problem playing certain content with media center on my xbox 360…all mkv videos with AAC audio streams do not play..does anyone have a fix for this? all other mkv files play perfect.

Comment left August 27, 2011 at 1:09 am Permanent Link

Comment #48975 from Ashok [Reply]

tweaks make speakers really sound good

Comment left October 16, 2011 at 1:34 am Permanent Link

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