Audio File Formats

WMP supports the following audio formats

 

More about WAV can be found here.

Tagging support in WMP11 for WAV is minimal.

 

See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/316992 for more details about supported formats.

 

The following file formats are not supported but you can use them by installing a plugin.

FLAC  (Free lossless Audio Codec)

There are plugin's enabling playing FLAC and tagging FLAC in WMP.
It is not possible to use WMP to rip to FLAC.

To play FLAC you need a Directshow Filter :

 

http://www.dsp-worx.de/?n=15 (stutters when using 24 bit FLAC)

http://www.xiph.org/dshow/
http://www.pristineclassical.com/More/WMP-FLAC.html (MadFlac, works with 24/96 kHz)
http://www.free-codecs.com/download/CoreFLAC_Decoder_Encoder.htm

 

To tag FLAC files using WMP you need:

WMP Tag Support Extender.

See: http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=WMPTSE_-_How_to_change_the_plug-in_properties

 

WMP Tag Plus

WMP Tag Plus is a free Windows Media Player plug-in that adds support for reading and writing tags (metadata) of MPEG4, FLAC, Vorbis and WavPack files.

AAC/ALAC

WMP12 has native support for AAC

WMP will not play MPEG4 files itself.

However it is (relatively) easy to add the ability to WMP for it to play MPEG4 files.

This applies to both WMP10 and WMP11

.

There are three main types that are likely to apply

  • m4a - unprotected AAC tracks
  • m4a - unprotected Apple Lossless tracks (aka. ALAC)
  • m4p - protected AAC tracks purchased from the iTunes Store

Note: iTunes Plus tracks purchased from the iTunes Store are not protected and therefore should be plain ordinary .m4a AAC tracks.

Protected AAC tracks cannot even when using the following instructions be played by WMP.

 

To get WMP to play unprotected AAC and Apple Lossless tracks we need two pieces of software. The first is a directshow filter. There are several directshow filters available (some free) which will allow WMP to play unprotected AAC tracks. These include Orban, 3ivX, CoreAAC, and ffmpeg.

There is however only one directshow filter which can play Apple Lossless (as it happens this particular one can play AAC as well). If you only want to do AAC and have no intention to ever move to Apple Lossless (equivalent to FLAC or WAV, or AIFF, or WMA Lossless) then the simplest (free) one to use is http://www.orban.com/plugin/

 

If you do want the flexibility to be able to play both AAC and Apple Lossless, then the only choice is the one listed under the January 8th 2007 entry on this webpage, it is also free http://www.dsp-worx.de/

 

Note: Unprotected AAC and unprotected Apple Lossless both use the same file extension, the same file format and the same meta tag format (they are merely different CODECs, one being lossy and one lossless). This is just like WMA and WMA Lossless.

 

The second piece of software you want to install, is a plugin to let WMP read the embedded meta-tags stored in MPEG4 audio files (i.e. .m4a files). WMP can read MP3 meta-tags as standard but not MPEG4 ones. There are two (free) plugins available, you only need one of them. Both do work. http://softpointer.com/WMPTagSupport.htm or http://wmptagext.sourceforge.net/

 

As your music is already in iTunes, you want to make sure that in iTunes you have already filled in the "Album Artist" tag for all the tracks.

It is possible to select all the tracks of an album and fill this tag in for all of them in one go. WMP absolutely relies on this tag so doing this first will make your life much easier.

iTunes does not automatically fill this in so you need to do it yourself.

 

Once you have installed the above software, and ensured the Album Artist is filled in. The next step is to add the music to WMP.

My recommendations are to set WMP to

  1. NOT to copy the tracks, merely to add them to its list/library
  2. NOT to move or manage (rename) the tracks
  3. To ONLY add missing information

It is possible to set WMP to 'watch' the iTunes folder as a monitored folder and it will then automatically add tracks as you add them to iTunes.

Personally I prefer manually adding albums to WMP (by using the Add Folder command) since this prevents WMP trying to add PodCasts which it cannot support (WMP cannot play 'advanced' AAC PodCasts, it can only play 'dumb' MP3 PodCasts).

 

Ironically, the fact that WMP will only be able to read (and not write) the MPEG4 meta-tags turns out to be a bonus since this prevents WMP from screwing them up.

 

Note: Neither of the above plugins allow WMP to read the embedded artwork stored in .m4a files. I use folder.jpg files for WMP and still use embedded artwork for iTunes/iPod use.

 

PS. I recently discovered for myself that Windows Media Connect 2 (as used with WMP10) will not stream MEPG4 files even if WMP10 is happily playing them.

Instead one can use TVersity a free UPnP server which will happily stream MPEG4 files (both AAC and Apple Lossless).

Of course if you have turned away from the Dark Side, then you can stream from iTunes to compatible systems. I have TVersity, iTunes, FireFly, and SlimServer all running as servers (because I can ;-) ).

Actually there is some method to that madness.

 

1. TVersity to feed XBMC

2. iTunes to feed Roku SoundBridges

3. FireFly in case Apple screwup iTunes to SoundBridge support (again)

4. SlimServer to allow on-the-fly transcoding to a lower bit-rate and thus alow me to _remotely_ over the Internet stream my music (I use SoftSqueeze a Java client)

 

All of the above support Apple Lossless as well as AAC.

 

Source: John Lockwood