No DVD audio playback with Windows Media Player

Another problem I’ve had with DVDs is that I couldn’t hear the audio when I played them on the computer. I had checked all of the obvious things like having the speakers turned on and having the volume up. I don’t often have the need to play DVDs on my computer so hadn’t bothered to get to the cause of this until now.

I was able to rule out a hardware fault as I could hear the audio on some discs but not others. I thought that it may have been a fault in the audio cable that runs from the CD/DVD drive to the audio CD Line In on the motherboard. It turns out that this cable isn’t even required. It was a software issue relating to Windows Media Player.

Windows Media Player does not have a built in AC3 or DTS decoder. Therefore audio will not work for these types of DVDs. AC3 or DTS are licensable technologies that developers of DVD playing software have to pay for. Therefore the cost is transferred to you. I guess that Microsoft was too cheap to include this for their media player. Or if they did the cost of Windows XP would be more.

But there is an easy fix. After some googling I found this forum. There is a reverse engineered open source audio decoder for DVDs called AC3 Filter. Apparently this will fix the problem in most cases fairly reliably. I downloaded and installed it and played the DVD and the audio now worked. I didn’t need to change the default configuration but if you need to, there are plenty of options to tweak.

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