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Is there a good plugin or codec that allows Media Player/Media Center on Windows 7 to play Apple Lossless (ALAC) encoded files? As the files are shared between multiple iTunes installations and one Media Center I don't want to transcode them. Bonus points for proper meta data parsing. :)

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isn't wmp in 7 supporting m4a out of the box? –  OrangeRind Sep 19 '09 at 4:51
    
@OrangeRind Apparently .m4as are okay, Windows Explorer is even reading the meta data on its own. ALAC isn't supported though. –  deceze Sep 23 '09 at 3:31
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8 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted
+75

Install K-Lite Codec pack.

Supported formats include:

  • AVI (.avi .divx)
  • MPEG-PS (.mpeg .mpg .m1v .m2v .mp2v .mpv2 .evo .m2p)
  • MPEG-TS (.ts .m2ts .m2t .mts)
  • Matroska (.mkv .mka)
  • MP4 (.mp4 .m4v .mp4v .mpv4 .k3g .mqv)
  • Ogg (.ogm .ogv .ogg .oga)
  • DVD/VCD/XVCD (.ifo .vob .dat)
  • Flash Video (.flv)
  • QuickTime (.mov .hdmov)
  • RealMedia (.rm .rmvb .ra .ram)
  • 3GP (.3gp .3gpp .3g2 .3gp2)
  • MP3 (.mp3)
  • MPEG-4 Audio (.m4a .aac)
  • FLAC (.flac)
  • Musepack (.mpc .mpp)
  • WavPack (.wv)
  • OptimFrog (.ofr .ofs)
  • Monkey's Audio (.ape .apl)
  • True Audio (.tta)
  • Apple Lossless Audio Codec (.alac)
  • AC3/DTS (.ac3 .dts)
  • AMR (.amr)
  • AMV (.amv)
  • (.xm .s3m .it .umx)
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I'll give it a shot later. It seems they're using DC-Bass Source for ALAC playback, which I already tried as a standalone install and it failed. I hope they sprinkled some magic dust on it to make it work. –  deceze Sep 30 '09 at 8:32
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As a general rule I don't install "codec packs" on my computers and wouldn't recommend anyone else do this either. They are treasure troves for (ad|spy)ware. –  jtimberman Sep 30 '09 at 15:54
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@jtimberman I agree, I dislike codec packs as well, but K-Lite seems rather legitimate and if it fixes my problem, I'd be happy. I'll try it on a test system first before messing with my media center, haven't found the time yet though. –  deceze Oct 1 '09 at 1:49
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Tried it on a pretty clean install of 7, didn't work. Apparently there's no extra magic dust in there that isn't in the standard DC-Bass Source. Has anyone actually got this to work? –  deceze Oct 2 '09 at 1:01
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Any update on this ? –  Sathya Oct 5 '09 at 20:12
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The advice on the answers.microsoft.com page:

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-sound/apple-lossless-m4a-in-wmp12/d68a4dc0-224a-43b6-adfb-52402106b53b

Basically they say install the DC-Bass Source Filter and you should be able to play the files.

Unfortunately, if the files have an "m4a" extension they appear in the Other Media section rather than in Music.

The suggested 'solution' is to rename your files to "mp4" but when I do that the files no longer play.

"alac" extension files don't appear at all.

Not really a solution, but hopefully information that might help the community get one step closer.

Oh, and Microsoft, if you're reading this, Apple Lossless is now open source, so I'm sure there's some way you can bundle it into windows media player.

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Thanks for an answer not requiring a pack, it works perfectly in MPC-HC to play Apple Lossless m4a files (with the goal of applying ffdshow audio mixer on it)! –  mtone May 20 '12 at 18:53
    
The DC-Bass solutions just worked, and didn't send me via any dubious ad-linked sites. And it offer a version which you can install/remove yourself using regsrv. –  Chris F Carroll Feb 11 at 22:02
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Codecs packs can be evil, but i prefer to install simply the ones i need

I use free-codecs.com

http://www.free-codecs.com/download/3ivx.htm - This will allow .m4a playback
http://www.free-codecs.com/download/DirectShow_FilterPack.htm - This will allow .ALAC playback

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@deceze : This will play Apple Lossless in WMP12 (or 7MC), but it involves a few changes

  1. Uninstall any codec packs (K-Lite, Shark) etc that you don't really need.

  2. Make sure Quicktime is installed. While iTunes will not be used to play these files, we need to install a directshow filter that will use the quicktime codec to play back Apple Lossless files. (Don't worry, this will not be a major resource hog)

  3. Install the quicktime directshow filter from http://www.riverpast.com/en/prod/quicktime/.

  4. Rename the .m4a file to .mp4 and play in WMP12. This will be added to the library. You can use a batch renamer to rename all the files.

This solution will still work when you are syncing iPod/iPhone using iTunes.

Do tell us if this works for you.

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The QuickTime directshow filter from Riverpast should work.

It does not work with ALAC (apple lossless music)

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As far as I am aware all the solutions for playing Apple Lossless in WMP12 still require a DirectShow filter. The most common choice being the DC Bass Source one written by Milenko Mitrovic and that being the result of my prior research and suggestion to Milenko. This worked fine for Windows XP and Vista but for Windows 7 and later there are a couple of extra issues to accommodate.

Firstly with WMP12 Microsoft introduced Media Foundation as a replacement for Directshow. Media Foundation codecs take precedence over DirectShow filters and you therefore need to disable any potentially conflicting Media Foundation codec. As WMP12 includes support for AAC files with the .m4a file extension which is the same file extension as for Apple Lossless you therefore need to disable the built-in AAC support. I found the easiest way was to install the Shark007 Windows7 Codec pack which not only includes support for playing Apple Lossless files but also has a tick box for disabling the built-in Media Foundation codec.

Secondly, Microsoft willfully chose to put Apple Lossless files in the 'other' section of WMP rather than the music section, even though they have the same file extension, same file format, and same tag format as AAC files. You can consider this to be like WMA vs. WMA Lossless.

Note: WMP12 has besides normally having built-in support for playing AAC files, also has built-in support for reading MPEG4 'atoms' i.e. tags. It even supports reading embedded Album Artwork from .m4a files - both AAC and Apple Lossless.

This problem with Apple Lossless files being (incorrectly) placed in the other section can be fixed by installing the WMPTagPlus plugin. Thanks go to Tim De Beats for solving this problem. In this case the WMPTagPlus plugin merely tricks WMP12 in to thinking Apple Lossless files are AAC files, it does not need to do the tag reading as WMP12 can already read these tags.

So the full solution is to install the Shark007 codec pack, and the WMPTagPlus plugin. These can be downloaded from the following links.

http://shark007.net/

http://bmproductions.fixnum.org/wmptagplus/

Note: The above solution lets WMP12 recognise Apple Lossless and AAC files as music files, and lets it read the meta-tags in those files including album artwork. As a result Microsoft Media Center can also play those files. Unfortunately as this solution is based on a Directshow filter, the files cannot be streamed from WMP12 as this only works with a Media Foundation codec.

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Winamp natively supports .m4a ALAC playback as of v5.64.

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Go for http://www.foobar2000.org/ !

With the right plugins and individualization it'll be far better than the clunky, stupid Media Center/Player.

Examples how it can look: http://customize.org/foobar

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While I agree with you, the question seemed pretty targeted for WMP. –  Diablomarcus Sep 19 '09 at 12:51
    
Maybe so, maybe he'll ditch the WMP..*shrug*. Can't hurt to suggest something. –  Don Salva Sep 19 '09 at 12:53
    
I know you Foobarers love your Foobar, but I'm asking about Windows Media Center. I wouldn't touch WMP with a ten-foot pole if I'd have the choice, but unfortunately it's a necessary evil for Media Center. :) –  deceze Sep 19 '09 at 22:43
    
You can make your Foobar to a Center, you know ;). A Foobar Center :P. Just a question of plugins. Or if you want, try Songbird ( getsongbird.com ) –  Don Salva Sep 25 '09 at 7:49
    
Is there a plugin for recording TV...? >:-P –  deceze Sep 28 '09 at 7:07
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