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VLC vs. MPC


A frequent question mostly asked by the folks, which media player is the best ? So it gave me an inspiration to check it out. After some reading via net I found some lengthy solution, what need to and what no need  to choose.

Folks like VLC because it has built-in support for most video streams. That means you don’t have to spend time getting the DirectShow filters setup correctly on your system. Most people don’t even know what DirectShow filters are, or that they have replaced VFW codecs as the primary means for decoding video streams in Windows XP and Vista. There is no problem with using VLC, but at some point you may want some other software to read the same video files and you will be surprised when it doesn’t read them.

Media Player Classic (MPC) is my favorite of the two. It has almost nothing built in. This makes it very small and light on resources. However, to get your video to playback correctly, you need to have your DirectShow Filters in order. I actually find it reassuring when a video plays in MPC because that proves that my filters are working for that format. I also know that I can load that video into another program that uses DirectShow.

What I recomment is keep both VLC & MPC but never use codec packs because it conflict with other players and destroy your best movie experience.

DOWNLOAD VLC
DOWNLOAD MPC
DOWNLOAD MPC

 

 

 

 

 

WHATS INSIDE

It’s not codecs that are bad, but codec packs. These are downloads that you can find that promise to give you the ability to playback any videos that you might encounter. They are called packs because the contain a number of different filters, codecs, splitters, and who knows what else that all gets installed in your system. The people who put these packs together don’t make the tools, they just put them together in a pack. They also change settings on your system when they install to make their codec pack the default tool. There are a number of problems with this system:

* It’s a one-size-fits-all solution. The tools in the pack and the setting changes are always the same. It might work on their system, even most systems, but there’s no guarantee that it will work on your system. The codec pack maker doesn’t know what other software you have or what settings are right for your system, so they pick what they like not what you need.
* It’s a scatter-gun approach. You may only need one or two filters/codecs/etc, but the codec pack will come with 10 or more parts. Some of these might conflict with software or drivers you already have. Or worse, they might conflict with something you get later leading you to blame the new software instead of the codec pack installed months ago. What other software carries 9 pieces of foistware with it?
* Codec packs contain down-level or pirated software. The codec makers are trying to jam a bunch of unrelated tools together. To make it complete, they will include older software that is license-free or they will redistribute software that they don’t have a license to redistribute. Sometime that is commercial (paid) software, other times it’s freeware that is not licensed for distribution. Install one of these and you become a party to the piracy.
* The setting changes are atrocious. DirectShow filters use a merit system. The higher the merit, the more likely the filter is to be used. In order to become the default, codec packs use merit numbers that are ridiculously high and sometimes numbers that are not valid. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
* Codec removal is a common fix. I have helped so many people whose troubles all went away when they uninstalled a codec pack. You can find many of them on this site (HTG). I have heard plenty of stories of similar fixing, and seen the posts on other websites.

The term “codec” comes from encoder/decoder and even that is a bit of a misnomer. There are plenty of codecs that decode only and don’t encode. For Microsoft Windows, the original video and audio decoder protocol was called Video For Windows (VFW). Back in Windows 3.x and Windows 9x, all of the codecs were VFW codecs and that’s one of the reasons the name “codec” has hung around. Those who have been using Windows for a long time, may recognize the acronyms VFW or VCM as the codec standard from way back.

Around about the time of Windows XP, the VFW protocol was phased out and the new standard, DirectShow was phased in. DirectShow, originally called ActiveMovie, became part of DirectX along with DirectDraw, DirectSound, and so on — everything had to start with “Direct”. In the DirectShow (DS) interface, VFW codecs were replaced by DirectShow Filters. A “filter” refers to any component that accepts a stream of data for input, modifies the data in some way and outputs the new data stream. In theory, a DS Filter can perform any operation: encode, decode, transform, special effects, and so on. In practice, most DS Filters encode and/or decode which is why they are quite often confused with codecs. Filters are a superset of codecs. Unfortunately, VFW codecs have not vanished completely, so there are still codecs hanging around and adding to the confusion.

For the casual user, it’s enough to know that DS Filters are the best way to decode video and audio streams for playback. When looking to play a particular video stream, a DS Filter is preferred over a VFW codec. The beauty of this scheme is that a program does not need to know how to handle every video stream, it only needs to know how to use the DS interface. If you need to play a new video type, just add the filter(s) required for it and *all* DS-aware applications on your system can play it, load it, edit it, or whatever they do. If a new type of video stream was released tomorrow and a DS Filter with it, all media applications that use DirectShow could immediately use the new video type with no modification. This gets back to the difference between the VLC and MPC media players. VLC includes built-in decoders that can handle most known video streams. MPC relies on DirectShow Filters to do all of the decoding work for it. VLC is convenient for those who don’t wish to manage filters. MPC requires the filters to be in place. A user might have a video file that plays back in VLC, but not in any other application because VLC has a built-in decoder and there is no DS Filter on their system. This can become a crutch because this user will not learn about filters and it makes VLC seem like a wonder-app since it’s the only one that can play the video. When you have DS Filters properly configured, you can playback video streams in MPC, edit them in Movie Maker, and load them in any other video player, editor, or what have you. Even VLC supports DirectShow!

DS Filters use a merit system. When more than one decoder is available for a given video or audio stream, the one with the higher merit value will be used. This allows a newer, better filter to supersede an older one. Or, enthusiasts can play around with changing merit numbers to test out different filters.

As with any system, there are some problems with DirectShow:
* The filter system has not been used to it’s fullest potential. Most filters are basically glorified codecs.
* Many filter developers are lazy and sloppy with the codecs they put out, so that conflicts, crashes and instability can result.
* Microsoft has not done a good job of providing tools and information on DirectShow to users. Only developers are given their tools to view and modify filters and merit values.
* The merit system is poorly designed and even more poorly implemented by those lazy developers.
* As a result of this, the DirectShow ecosystem is somewhat delicate and easy to break.

All of this contributes to the understanding of why codec packs are bad news. They add too many filters (and VFW codecs, too) all at once from different sources — some lazy developers and other responsible — and then use kludgy merit numbers. The results is a disaster waiting to happen, or happening already.

Part 3 in the series will be about setting up DirectShow Filters on your windows system. I hope. 🙂

Users of MPC-HC have frequently been reporting this problem (for years already), but it turns out they had two instances open at the same time. For god knows what reason, one would have correct colors and the other would have them washed out.
Are you certain you took those screenshots with only one media player open at a time ? Otherwise, try making those screenshots this way :
– Open MPC, go to frame X, take a screenshot, close MPC.
– Open VLC, go to frame X, take a screenshot, close VLC.
– Compare screenshots.

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3 thoughts on “VLC vs. MPC

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