I have several DVDs with short documentaries on it. Since the notebook I'm using (a Dell Latitude E6400) has only one DVD drive, and I might play back those short movies very often, I thought of copying them to the HDD and playing them back from there. However, I've run into a problem, namely stuttering audio.

Problem description:

When I play back these movies directly from DVD (with Windows Media Player 11 under Windows Vista), everything works fine. Smooth video, no significant audio problems (only the occasional click).

But as soon as I copy any of these DVDs to the HDD and try to play them back from there (e.g. using the wmpdvd://drive/title/chapter?contentdir=path protocol, I get stuttering audio — audio playback sounds like a machine gun for a third of a second or so, approx. every 8 seconds.

I have tried converting the VOB files from the DVD to another format (ie. ripping), but that resulted in a noticeable downgrade of picture quality. Therefore I thought it best to keep the files in their original format, if possible. Still, I suspect that the stuttering audio is due to some (de-)muxing problem, and that changing the file format might help. (After all, video playback is fine; therefore I don't think that the hardware is too slow for playback.) Only thing is, I don't know how to convert the VOB files to another Windows Media Player-compatible format without quality loss.

I hope someone can help me, or give me further pointers on things I could try out to get HDD playback to work without the problem described.

Some things I've tried so far, without any success:

  • VOB2MPG, in order to convert the .vob file to a .mpg file. But that changes only the A/V container, not the content. No re-encoding takes place at all.

  • Re-encoding with MPlayer/MEncoder. Lots of quality loss there, and I frankly haven't got the time to test all possible settings combinations available.

  • Disabling all plug-ins, equalizers, etc. in Windows Media Player.

  • Disabling all hardware acceleration on the audio playback device.

Further info on the VOB files I'm trying to playback:

  • The video format is MPEG ES, PAL 720x576 pixels @ 24/25 frames per second.

  • The sound stream is uncompressed PCM, 16-bit stereo @ 48kHz. (Might it help if I somehow re-encoded the sound stream at a lower resolution, or as an MP3? If so, how would I do this without changing the video stream?)

P.S.: I am limited to using Windows Media Player (11). (I previously tried MPlayer btw., but the video playback quality was surprisingly bad.)

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  • if VOB2MPG doesn't re-encode, WMP11 may be expecting MPEG-1 data in the resulting .mpg file. DVD VOBs are a form of MPEG-2 data; WMP11 may have more success if you rename the file to .mpeg2 or another MPEG-2 file extension. – quack quixote May 31 '10 at 23:08
  • I gave this a try. At first I thought there was a slight improvement, audio stuttering seemed slightly reduced. But after a while it's come back. – stakx Jun 1 '10 at 9:30

Rip the DVD as an ISO (using DVD Decrypter and DVD Shrink and/or ImgBurn) and play the ISO file from a virtual DVD player (like VLC Media Player).

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  • As I said, I am restricted to using Windows Media Player, so VLC Media Player is not an option. :-/ – stakx Jun 1 '10 at 7:00

http://doom9.net/ has a lot of tutorials and tools for backing up dvd's.

I've had a lot of luck with DVDFAB HD Decrypter (the free version). http://www.dvdfab.com/free.htm

You can choose to copy it as a DVD5 which will shrink it so that it fits on a burnable disk or you can choose to copy it as DVD9 which will leave it as the full disk.

If you want to use linux you can check out dvd95 or k9copy.

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  • Unfortunately I can't get DVDFAB to work. It looks easy enough to use, but it hangs after the first pass during a two-pass encoding process. :-/ – stakx Jun 1 '10 at 9:30

I eventually figured out that the audio issues during playback were not due to bad drivers, or bad software, but were caused by a mis-configured BIOS. I disabled some processor speed-up settings in the BIOS, which solved 99% of all audio issues.

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