Windows Media Player for Windows Setup Guide

Benchmark's guide for configuring Windows-based media players General strategies for setting up your computer for high quality audio playback


Windows Media Player (WMP) has extremely inconsistent behavior. Several issues have arisen among users, several of which remain unresolved. There is very little information available from Microsoft about the operation of this software. The information in this article is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of this printing. When further information is confirmed, this article will be updated appropriately.


If Windows Media Player does not stream audio to the appropriate output device, try restarting Windows Media Player. If this does not resolve the problem, open the following menu:

Tools -> Options -> Devices -> Speakers -> Properties -> Sound Playback

Choose the appropriate output device in this menu.

New info on Windows Media Player 12

Windows Media Player 12 (WMP12), which is only available on Windows 7 at the time of this writing, has the interesting quality of playing 24-bit audio files

New info on Windows Media Player 11

Recent tests with Windows Media Player 11 (WMP11) have brought to light some interesting qualities:

  • WMP11's volume control outputs (un-dithered) 16-bits with 'Library' playback
  • WMP11's volume control outputs 24-bits with HDCD playback
  • WMP11's volume control outputs 24-bits with playback of 24-bit audio files

This means that the volume control will cause distortion with 16-bit playback. It is recommended to keep the volume control at 100% for 16-bit audio playback.

Recommended Player Settings


This volume control can be used in moderation without seriously affecting the quality of the audio. We recommend using an analog volume control (post D-to-A conversion) instead, as it will result in the best signal-to-noise ratio.

Read more about digital volume control, and how it affects the quality of your audio.


Plug-in's should be bypassed by default, but to make sure, go to the plug-in menu uncheck any active plug-in's. Also, in this menu, choose 'Other' and make sure no Plug-In's are checked. The menu can be found by going to:

Windows Media Player -> View -> Plug-ins -> Options -> Plug-ins -> Audio DSP

Audio enhancements should be bypassed. Open the "Enhancements" window and scroll through to make sure each one is turned off. The menu can be found by going to:

View -> Enhancements -> Show Enhancements  

Read more about how DSP and plug-ins affect your audio

Known Problems

Will not play 24-bit audio

As mentioned above, older versions of Windows Media Player was not able to play 24-bit audio files without a third-party plug-in/codec.

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