K-Lite Codec Pack is a free package of media player codecs that can improve both audio and video playback in Windows Media Player or the included free Media Player Classic. It includes many components but has a single installer and setup tool.
K-Lite Codec Pack's installer offers three options: Simple mode, which hides most options and uses recommended defaults; Advanced mode (the default setting), which shows almost all options; and Expert mode, which unlocks additional options. Well, we couldn't resist Expert mode, especially since our biggest concern was having existing codecs displaced or replaced by new but possibly less suitable codecs. Both Advanced and Expert modes let us set up a default profile, called Profile 1, by selecting various checkboxes to associate the package's codecs with our media players and programs, including the option to make Media Player Classic our default player. The Select Components process offered numerous options, including whether to use LAV or ffdshow on a wide range of video formats such as Flash, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, and VP7. Before the installer copied files, a window labeled Additional Tasks and Options let us configure shortcuts, ffdshow settings, Haali Media Splitter, video renderer settings and many more options. We also examined the installer's Simple mode, which skips right to the DXVA hardware acceleration information and options. This option lets users whose graphics cards support DXVA enable internal or external decoding. A Speaker configuration sheet let us choose nine different formats ranging from stereo to 7.1 surround or use the same as the input signal. Finally, the installer let us create file associations for either Media Player Classic or Windows Media Player. We selected both.
Once installed, we could make changes via the Codec Tweak Tool and the Configuration Menu in the program's Start Menu folder. Did it make dramatic improvements? Perhaps not, but the point of tweaking is extracting more performance, and big changes are rare; time (and use) will tell. K-Lite Codec Pack is obviously more than just a collection of files for tweaking your media player. It can help you customize your media settings in ways that no single program can.