DVD Playback Fails

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Verify audio is working in Media Center

If DVD playback fails or you have no sound, first verify that you can play any audio in Media Center. Play an audio track and if you can hear it, continue to the next section. If you can't hear any audio, check out this audio troubleshooting page.

Audio/video settings for DVD playback

  • Go to Tools / Options / Video from the Media Center main menu and check the following options:
    • Audio for Video, DVD, & Television
      • Playback device: If you have verified that regular audio playback is working in Media Center, you should be able to leave this set to Same as device used in audio playback. If you want to try a different setting...
        • If you're using analog audio output, you can try Default Windows playback device.
        • If you're using digital audio output, you can try the Digital Audio setting.
      • Connection type: This is probably the most important setting to verify. You must correctly inform Media Center of whether your audio connection is analog or digital or you will get no sound out of the speakers.
        • Digital: Can carry any number of channels (mono, stereo, 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, etc.). The cable is usually a single coax or fiber optic cable with a single connector at each end. Usually hooked up to a digital input on an A/V amplifier/receiver or a high end computer speaker system.
        • Analog: Generally used for carrying a mono or stereo signal. The cable will usually have a stereo 1/8" "mini" phone jack on one end which plugs into the computer's sound card. The other end will either terminate in another 1/8" phone jack to plug into a set of computer speakers or it will terminate in two "phono" type jacks usually colored red & white for the left and right stereo signals which are plugged into analog input jacks on an A/V amplifier/receiver.
    • Decoders, Renderers, & More
      • Select DVD Video (ifo,vob) from the drop list.
      • Playback Method should be set to Automatic.
      • Audio Decoders should normally be set to automatic, but you can try explicitly selecting a decoder from the list if you're having problems with the automatic setting. Note that the Microsoft audio decoder only outputs digital so you must have a digital audio connection in order for it to work.
      • Video Decoders should normally be set to automatic, but you can try explicitly selecting a decoder from the list if you're having problems with the automatic setting.
      • Video Renderer should be set to automatic. In rare cases selecting Video Mixing Renderer 9 or one of the others may help.

Windows XP (not Media Center Edition)

The most common DVD playback problem on Windows XP is missing or incompatible DVD decoders. DVD video is in mpeg-2 format and DVD audio is generally either mpeg-2 or AC-3 format. Media Center always uses DirectShow decoding "filters" to do the decoding of these formats. While Vista, Win7, and XP Media Center Edition include these in the operating system, standard Windows XP does not so you must provide your own. Sometimes your computer manufacturer installed these on your system and sometimes you may have purchased a DVD drive or a video card which included a DVD player program and decoding filters.

Things to try if playback isn't working

  • If you already have DVD playback software, try re-installing it and testing it out "standalone" to see if it works. If so, the decoders that are installed with it will probably work in Media Center although you may have to manually select them within the Media Center "Video" options page.
  • If you have multiple DVD players installed on your system, try uninstalling all of them and then re-installing the one you want to use.
  • Install FFDSHOW for audio & video decoding.
  • Install a Dolby AC3 filter for audio decoding.
  • Purchase and install DVD XPack from InterVideo.
  • Find other ideas here

Miscellaneous tips and links

  • If you're having audio problems using Same as device used in audio playback, check your DSP studio settings, especially the Output Format page. To get to the DSP settings, click the little equalizer icon near the playback controls or go to Tools / Options / Audio and under Settings click DSP & output format.
  • If sound stutters, try changing the Prebuffering size in Tools / Options / Audio, or try using Default windows playback device in Options / Video / Playback Device. There may be some trial and error to get rid of the stuttering.
  • More DVD playback help here