The Highest Quality Settings for VLC

By Scott Shpak

"High-quality" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. Video and audio quality are determined not only by the the files you're playing, but also your hardware setup and your viewing preferences. VLC provides extensive control over both video and audio settings so that you can attain high-quality media playback, no matter what that means to you.

Audio Setup Tweaks

Take advantage of a high-performance surround-sound card in your system by selecting it as the default audio output for VLC. Click "Audio" on the menu bar and hover over "Audio Device." Click on the surround-sound card from the list of audio devices that displays. When you're watching a video and the sound from action on the right emits from your left speaker, you can quickly reverse the stereo image using the "Reverse Stereo" selection from "Stereo Mode" option from the Audio menu.

Audio Enhancement Tricks

Pressing "Ctrl-E" simultaneously brings up the Adjustments and Effects window. From the Audio Effects tab, three signal-processing enhancers permit adjustment of sound. The graphic equalizer has a collection of presets to use alone or as starting points for fine-tuning. The compressor can narrow the dynamic range of sound so that quiet passages are audible without loud sounds overwhelming the room. The spatializer synthesizes three-dimensional sound processing, enhancing a sense of space from stereo sound. You can also use the Synchronization tab to bring audio and subtitles into line with video, since some video coding methods may introduce timing errors.

Video Correction Tips

Video played on televisions use a technique called interlacing, in which every second row of pixels is projected from the top of the screen to the bottom in alternating passes. Playing a DVD may show horizontal artifacts from interlacing. Accessing Video from the menu bar in VLC permits de-interlacing in a number of modes, removing these artifacts and smoothing playback. When streaming video from the Internet, selecting "Post-Processing" from the Video menu may improve the quality of some streams that are broadcast with low bit rates. This menu item appears grayed-out unless the video stream uses a codec for which VLC supports post-processing.

Video Filter Tools

The Adjustments and Effects window has a Video Effects tab that contains a number of tools for enhancing the quality of your video experience. For example, Sharpen on the Essential tab and Anti-Flickering on the Advanced tab can add clarity to some video, while Image Adjust on the Essential tab permits fine-tuning of color, brightness and contrast. Monitor size and viewing distance play a large role in perceived quality, so Zoom and Aspect Ratio from the Video menu can change apparent sharpness suited to your viewing conditions.