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A free playback solution for obscure audio and video formats

douglasfakler

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Media playback solutions are a dime-a-dozen these days. Most modern operating systems come with a serviceable video player pre-installed. Back when VLC Media Player was first introduced in 2001, there was a much stronger demand for ways to natively play audio and video files on-demand for free.

Despite the abundant nature of basic media playback software, VLC boasts several additional features that are worth taking a glance at. Whether your default app fails to play a file, or you are looking for editing functionality, VLC Media Player likely provides a specific feature that will help. After over 20 years of updates, this open-source app can recognize and play an impressive list of uncommon audio and video formats. With that in mind, let us take a closer look to determine if VLC Media Player is worth the download.

A free playback solution for obscure audio and video formats

A free playback solution for obscure audio and video formats

Media playback solutions are a dime-a-dozen these days. Most modern operating systems come with a serviceable video player pre-installed. Back when VLC Media Player was first introduced in 2001, there was a much stronger demand for ways to natively play audio and video files on-demand for free.

Despite the abundant nature of basic media playback software, VLC boasts several additional features that are worth taking a glance at. Whether your default app fails to play a file, or you are looking for editing functionality, VLC Media Player likely provides a specific feature that will help. After over 20 years of updates, this open-source app can recognize and play an impressive list of uncommon audio and video formats. With that in mind, let us take a closer look to determine if VLC Media Player is worth the download.

A straightforward ‘play-everything’ media player

Launched by French developers in 1996, VLC has always touted a simple and clean interface. That no-nonsense, play anything reputation is well deserved. VLC gives easy access to all your device’s files without any additional bloat such as advertisements or premium subscription offers. The secret behind this ease of use is the vast array of video and audio codecs supported by VLC. This permits playback of nearly any file format under the sun without the use of conversion software. Once a file is running, the app offers unprecedented control over playback. You can change subtitle languages, synchronize audio, and apply a variety of filters to the content.

Options at your disposal, hover your mouse over the tools tab at the top of the screen.

Users also have access to simple video editing features such as cropping scenes and rotating images. You can learn more about these features here. When it comes to streaming, a wide range of content networks are available. You can even start video playback before the file is finished downloading. The instant playback feature works on P2P connections provided you set your torrent software up for sequential downloading.

Can you convert videos into different file formats using VLC Media Player?

VLC Media Player not only recognizes an enormous collection of video codecs, but you can even convert your files with obscure formats into a more universal extension. For instance, you can convert the rare H.264 video format into an MP4 file container. This feature is perfect for when you need to make your files more portable. Your MP4 video can then be comfortably played on most devices. Even if your goal is not to change the format outright, the conversion process can be used to reduce file size. Content creators who keep a library of past work will appreciate the ability to condense each file with ease.

This is the interface for converting your files into another format.

Is VLC media player safe?

With the number of frauds and malware going around the internet these days, it is wise to investigate foreign applications before installing them. Fortunately, the files for VLC Media Player are completely clear of any threats. Just be sure you download VLC Media Player from a trusted portal or directly from the publisher’s site. However, VLC does not scan the video and audio files you run through it for potential viruses. As with the program itself, be sure to acquire your audio and video files from a reputable source.

There are no viruses to see here, just your library of content.

Is VLC better than Windows Media Player?

If you have a Windows operating system, then you may be wondering if VLC is a substantial upgrade over Microsoft’s built-in playback application. Windows Media Player is a convenient choice for quickly watching short clips in popular file formats. The ability to rip data directly from discs is also an appreciated feature. For some basic users, the convenience of Windows Media Player will outshine VLC.

With that in mind, VLC’s advanced features are a huge step-up from what Microsoft provides out of the box. You are bound to run into a few file formats that Windows Media Player does not recognize. With VLC, it is extremely rare when a file will not play as intended. Once you have VLC installed, you never have to worry about compatibility again.

A simple overview of the GUI and layout that comes standard on Windows.

Is VLC media player customizable?

While customization options are not as robust as Windows Media Player, VideoLAN has provided numerous options for changing both visual appearance and runtime performance. On the cosmetic side, you have numerous skins to choose from that alter the visual theme. If none of the presets suit your fancy, you can create your own theme using the VLC skin editor.

When it comes to performance, VLC offers the ability to download extensions. Much like your web browser, VLC extensions are capable of adding any functionality an independent developer envisions. In the case of media playback, audio and visual filters are especially popular in the community.

One example of a custom VLC Media Player experience.

Does VLC media player support subtitles?

When watching anime or other foreign content, you need a reliable way to add subtitles to each viewing. The good news is VLC makes it simple to add subtitles in the language of your choice. If you already have a subtitle file, it should activate immediately. In some rare cases, you may need to right-click the video and manually select your subtitle file from the drop-down menu.

For shows that did not come with a subtitle file, you can use the handy extension, VLSub. This extension is available for free directly from the VLC add-ons store. Just type the name of your movie and desired language. VLSub will search the internet for the most relevant subtitle files and let you download them quickly. Once installed, VLSub allows you to complete the language setup without leaving the VLC Media Player app itself.

This extension makes adding subtitles a breeze.

The final verdict on VLC media player

Overall, VLC provides a smooth and reliable media playback service that can play virtually any media file. The ease of use, wide range of acceptable formats, subtitle support, and the suite of video editing coupled with conversion features make VLC media player a worthy addition to any of your devices. It was originally designed as a video player, so it’s not as well suited for music playback. However, there is an impressive degree of value for a free application with no other monetization schemes beyond the main website’s donate button. The fact that users have supported VLC for over 20 years is a clear indication of the media player’s efficacy. To find out how simple this app really is, download VLC for free today.

VLC Media Player runs on everything, including relatively closed ecosystems like macOS

PROS

  • Massive assortment of media codecs
  • Allows for playback while a video is still downloading
  • A suite of video editing features built in

CONS

  • Files must be selected in their directory folders to initiate playback
  • Interface is better suited for video rather than audio
  • Compared to other players, it lacks customization options

Developer: VideoLAN

Type: Media Player

Supported Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, Chrome OS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS

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