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Troubleshooting Audio Playback Issues in Windows Media Player

Troubleshooting Audio Playback Issues in Windows Media Player

Published: May 20, 2005

Get rid of chipmunk noises and other audio-distortion problems, solve crossfading issues, and learn about CDA and MIDI playback in Windows Media Player.

Answers refer to Windows Media Player 10, unless otherwise noted.

Why does my music sound like chipmunks are singing?

Don't worry, small rodents haven't set up housekeeping in Windows Media Player. Instead, your sound card's clock most likely has a timing problem. To fix the problem, try reducing the hardware-acceleration level for your audio card by doing the following:

1. In Control Panel, open Sounds and Audio Devices.

2. On the Volume tab, in the Speaker settings area, click the Advanced button.

3. In the Advanced Audio Properties dialog box, click the Performance tab, and then adjust the Hardware acceleration slider control to adjust the clock timing for your sound card.

Keep in mind that, if your sound card supports multichannel (5.1) audio playback, turning off hardware acceleration (by moving the slider to None) will cause the sound card to play all multichannel audio in stereo (two speaker) sound.

If you can't fix the problem by adjusting hardware acceleration, check for updates for your sound card by doing the following:
• Check for sound-card driver updates. You should scan for updates on the Windows Update Web site and also check for updates on the Web site of your sound card maker.
• Check for Microsoft DirectX updates by scanning for updates on the Windows Update Web site.

Why is my music distorted?

Audio distortion can occur for many different reasons. Following the instructions described in the previous question will resolve the issue in many cases.

Also, make sure that you have the correct audio device selected for playback. This should be set up correctly by default, but in rare cases, you may need to change this setting by doing the following:

1. In Windows Media Player, click the Tools menu, and then click Options.

2. On the Devices tab, click Speakers, and then click the Properties button.

3. In the Speaker Properties dialog box, click the Advanced button.

4. In the Sounds and Audio Devices Properties dialog box, verify that all settings on all tabs are correct for your computer.

If your music sounds magnified or overblown during playback, try turning off or adjusting the equalizer settings in the Player by doing the following:

1. Click the View menu, click Enhancements, and then click Graphic Equalizer.

2. In the Enhancements pane (near the bottom of the Player), click the Turn off link to turn off equalization. If the link text says Turn on, equalization is already turned off.

- or -

• Select an equalizer preset (such as Default, Rock, or Jazz). Click the preset link above the equalizer slider controls, and then select one of the presets in the list that is displayed.

• Move the equalizer slider controls to the levels that you want to use.

• Click the Reset link to revert the equalizer to the Default preset.

Why can't I crossfade my music?

If the crossfading feature in Windows Media Player doesn't seem to be working, do the following:
• Verify that your operating system is Windows XP, and that you are using either Windows Media Player 9 Series or Windows Media Player 10.

• Be sure that you are playing WMA or MP3 files that are stored either on your computer or on a data or HighMAT CD. Crossfading won't work when you play songs directly from an audio CD (most commercially manufactured CDs are audio CDs).

• To test crossfading, choose songs that were ripped in the same session (with a single click of Rip Music). Crossfading might not work if the files have different sampling rates or bit depths, different numbers of audio channels, or if any of the files contain other kinds of streams in addition to audio (such as video, script, or HTML). Also, for crossfading, files must be either all ripped with copy protection or all ripped without copy protection.

• Test songs that have reasonably high volume at the beginning and at the end, because crossfading reduces the volume during those sections.

• Move the Crossfading slider control in the Enhancements pane to the far right for the maximum amount of overlap (10 seconds), which gives you the best chance of hearing the overlap on a wide variety of songs. After you verify that crossfading is working, you can reduce the overlap time.

To turn on crossfading in the Player, see the question "How do I crossfade between songs?" in the Media Advice archive.

Why can't I play CDA files?

The .cda (CD Audio Track) file isn't registered to be opened by Windows Media Player. You can register the Player to play CDA files by doing the following:

1. In Control Panel, open Folder Options.

2. In the Folder Options dialog box, click the File Types tab.

3. In the Registered file types list, scroll down to the CDA extension to see which program is registered to open the file type. The associated program, shown in the following Details for 'CDA' extension area, should open whenever you place a CD in your CD drive or when you double-click a CDA file. If no program is displayed, register the Player by completing this procedure.

4. In the Details for 'CDA' extension area, click the Change button.

5. In the Open With dialog box, select Windows Media Player as the program that you want to use to open CDA files.

6. Make sure that the Always use the selected program to open this kind of file check box is selected.

Note that the actual music tracks on a CD are usually WAV files that you can't see; the CDA files on a CD act as a table of contents for software that "point" to these hidden music tracks. If the Player is registered to open CDA files, but you still can't play the CD, the CD may not have been created using CD-burning software (that is, the CDA files, but not the music files, were copied to the CD).

Why can't I play MIDI files?

Windows Media Player is only used to show the playback progress of a .mid or .midi (MIDI Sequence) file while it is playing. Playback support for MIDI Sequence in Windows is actually provided by Microsoft DirectX and your sound card, not the Player.

You should first consult your sound card documentation to see if it offers any troubleshooting techniques. If no documentation is available, try the following steps:
• Try to play a different MIDI Sequence file, in case there is just a problem with that file.

• Start playing the file, to see if you can hear any sound. Some files have data at the beginning of the file intended for specific hardware, such as a keyboard; you may have to wait for the Player to get past that data.

• Double-click the speaker icon in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar, and in the Master Volume dialog box, make sure that your volume slider control for MIDI (and/or SW Synth) is not muted and is turned up.

• If you received the message "This page cannot be displayed." when you tried to play the file on a Web site, but you can play the file after you download it to your computer, reset the MIDI file type association in the Player by doing the following:

1. In Windows Media Player, click the Tools menu, and then click Options.

2. On the File Types tab, in the File types area, clear the MIDI file check box.

3. Click the Apply button.

4. Select the MIDI file check box, and then click the Apply button again.

• If all other attempts fail, then try one more thing:

1. In Control Panel, open Sounds and Audio Devices.

2. In the Sounds and Audio Devices Properties dialog box, click the Audio tab.

3. In the MIDI music playback area, make sure that the default device is not set to MPU-401 or External MIDI, unless you are trying to play an external synthesizer.