Accessing VCD audio layers with Win Media Player

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I know that often with Chinese material on VCD there is more than one audio/sound layer that is recorded due to dubbing (ie cantonese and mandarin). Sometimes the format is where both languages are played simultaneously and its just a matter of adjusting the output balance on your stereo to either left or right. But there's also cases where only one audio layer is played and the other is buried. I know that with a DVD player for your TV, you can switch to access from one language to the other. Just wondering if anybody knows whether or not Win Media Player or any other software for the PC is able to do the same thing? And if so, how?

Thanks

-- gator (gatorage@hotmail.com), May 13, 2003

Answers

Your supposition is wrong. VCD does not have multiple audio layers. It has one layer only, which is why you hear Cantonese in one speaker and Mandarin in the other on some VCDs. DVD sound does have multiple audio channels, which is why you can switch between them. SVCD, which is not the same as VCD, does support multiple audio channels like DVD and it is possible to switch between them using a DVD software player.

-- Root (root@yahoo.moc), May 13, 2003.

VCD carries only one-track audio, with left and right channels. The 2 audio channels form your stereo sound effects.

Most VCD Chinese movies carry Cantonese on the left channel and Mandarin on the right channel and hence no stereo music, only mono.

Most VCD machine players, some DVD machine players and Chinese designed PC software players, permit selecting mono left or mono right channel for your sound effects. Hence, you can listen to only Cantonese or listen to only Mandarin in mono.

This effect is also used in Karaoke VCD, i.e. left channel has music but no vocalist, and right channel has singerís vocal as well.

-- the saint (good luck@lucky.com), May 13, 2003.


It can be as simple as opening advanced volume control properties in Windows and turning the balance control all the way to L or R to hear only one language. Of course you have to contend with hearing sound only from one channel. On some other media players (like the DVD s/w player programs that come bundled with DVD-EOM drives, like PowerDVD) you can choose which of the two channels in some menu on some tab (find it out) and hear only that, but over the two outputs. S/w players such as this only behave thus if the original VCD was authored as 2-ch, and NOT stereo. If it detects the audio on the VCD as having a "stereo" flag then it will be played as is and no choice can be made between L or R, or more correctly in this case, ch-1 or ch-2, and u get distressed hearing Cantonese and Mandarin simultaneously. If a "2-ch" flag was duly put during authoring then choosing between ch-1, ch-2, and ch-1+2 will be allowed on playback. Choosing what type of audio flag (for this parameter) is only available to top-notch thousand$$$ VCD authoring situations, in case u want to know whether Nero or Roxio has it. TMPGenc creates VCD MPEGs with the "2-ch" flag by default, which u can't change, which is one reason Nero thought it was out-of-spec during early VCD-capable versions of Nero. All this is water under the bridge now, though. SVCD allows us to have 2 2-ch tracks. DVD allows 8 tracks, each of which can be any from 1 to 6-ch, from 128 all the way to 576kb/s, encoded in any of 4 different flavors: linear PCM, Dolby Digital, MPEG Layer 2 (same as VCD), and DTS. The "2-ch" flag is still available on DVD as a parameter, which TMPGenc DVD-Author makes use of; apparently, you can cram 4hrs+ of 3Mb/s average bitrate MPEG-2 with 128kb/s 2-ch audio on just 4.7GB.

-- Mehmet Tekdemir (turk690@yahoo.com), May 17, 2003.

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