Foobar 2000 for Dummies (Part 1) – General Setup

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Last updated Apr. 7th 2017

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As the title of this thread this little guide/tutorial will try to address only how to install and configure Foobar media player’s most important audio related features such as output modes and most common audio codec plugins. It does not deal with any other aspects adding extra functionality such as streaming, file tagging, etc. or cover the complete list of available input format plugins.

1.) Downloads.

Before installing anything, first download the player and desired plugins into the same easy to locate folder, it makes installation and setup easier and quicker if everything is located in a single place.

*** WARNING ***: The plugins come in with either .zip or .fb2k (also a zip) file extension, unless specified, DO NOT extract the content to the component folder, that method is not only not recommended but can actually cause problems with the player. When installing plugins Foobar extracts the contents automatically and places them in the correct folder/s if you follow the instructions bellow (Chapter #2).

1.1) Foobar

The player and most (but not all) plugins can be downloaded from here: Link: Foobar 2000 download page

At this moment the most recent version available of the player is 1.3.15 stable

1.2) PLUGINS

1.2.1) OUTPUT PLUGINS

By default Foobar uses DirectSound for outputting sound to the soundcard/DAC. DirectSound is designed as a single bit depth and sample rate method, this means verything that differs from the configured system resolution will get automatically resampled to match it. DirectSound by default is usually configured for 16bit 48KHz in most systems which negates any hypothetical benefit of higher bit depths or sampling rates. It can be set to higher values but Microsoft’s up/down sampling algorithm’s are not as good as others available like SOX though some may argue that the differences aren’t relevant as they are not hearable.

If you want to get bit perfect (as in no resampling or additional processing) the best way is using any of the systems that avoid going through the Windows Mixer namely:

* ASIO(Current version: 2.1.2):

Not supported by all soundcards. It is a robust low latency way
to get all the bits as close to the original as possible. Most Pro soundcards and DACs provide ASIO compatibility. I’d recommend them over WASAPI as, at least in my system, they achive lower DPC latency.

Link: ASIO plugin homepage

How to give ASIO process high priority automatically:
Asio high priority

* WASAPI (Latest version: 3.2.3):

Microsoft’s version of ASIO, most card will play using one of the WASAPI modes. Similar performance to ASIO and broader compatibility.

Link: WASAPI plugin homepage

How to give WASAPI process high priority automatically:

WASAPI High Priority

Important NOTE:
In case of drop-outs, clicks and pops or stutter, WASAPI buffer size can be adjusted in Preferences->Advanced->Playback->WASAPI. Notice separate values for Event and push mode are available (see image below) so adjust the one you are using.

WASAPI modes

If your soundcard/DAC accepts Event mode it would be the prefered mode, more info here:

Link: Additional info about WASAPI

Also since version 3.0 it is possible to configure independently buffers for either mode and run the WASAPI process with real time priority. To access these settings follow this path:
File->Options->Preferences->Advanced->Playback->WASAPI

* Kernel Streaming (Latest version: 1.2.2):
This was the predecessor of WASAPI introudced in Windows XP. Not recommended for Windows Vista SP1 or later, use WASAPI instead.

Link: Kernel Streaming plugin homepage

1.2.2 SOURCE/INPUT PLUGINS:

Foobar plays the most common files like MP3, MP4, AAC, CD Audio, WMA, Vorbis, FLAC, WavPack, WAV, AIFF, Musepack, Speex, AU, SND… as standard but this list can be enlarged to cover almost any thinkable codec by using additional plugins. Next is a recommended selection for playing most common high resolution material:

* DVD-A(Current version: 0.4.11):

-“DVD-Audio Decoder input plugin and Watermark Detector/Neutralizer DSP plugins for foobar2000. Decoder is capable of playing back DVD-Audio discs, ISO images, AOB, MLP and Dolby TrueHD files in full resolution. Dedicated plugin for DTS-HD playback.”-

Link: DVD Audio plugin homepage

* SACD(Current version: 1.0.7):

This plugin is capable to decode Super Audio CD ISO image content as well as DST, DSDIFF and DSD files.
This plugin contains CODE FROM SACD Ripper http://code.google.com/p/sacd-ripper/ project.
A change log is included in the zip file.

Check part 2 of this guide HERE for more information on how to set it up

**RECOMMENDATION** Do not install nor use the DSDIFF decoder plugin available at the Foobar’s component page. It is obsolete, performs worse and has less functionality than foo_sacd_plugin and can make the player crash when both DSD related plugins are installed at the same time.

Link: SACD plugin homepage

* HDCD decoding (Latest version 1.19):

Use this plugin if your DAC doesn’t have native support for it and you want to get the benefits of HDCD encoding.

-“This postprocessing service component will decode HDCD data in any 16-bit PCM stream passed through it by supporting inputs, such as CDDA, WAV, FLAC, and WavPack.

I recommend using the following setting to correctly play HDCD enconded files though some CDs had incorrectly set the PE flag:

hdcd_zpspaonvmeh

Link: HDCD plugin homepage

* Monkey (.APE files, Latest version 2.1.7):
-“Adds decoding support for Monkey’s Audio files (.APE) as well as APE Link files (.APL).”

Link: HDCD plugin homepage

Other not so common but still interesting codecs are AC3 (AKA Dolby Digital) and DTS. If you happen to have files encoded with either of these codecs the following plugins will need to be installed:

* AC3

Adds decoding support for ATSC A-52 bitstream files (.AC3). Also includes a packet decoder for Matroska files containing AC3 streams

Link: AC3 plugin homepage

* DTS

Adds decoding support for DTS Coherent Acoustics files (.DTS) and DTS WAV files (.DTSWAV). Also includes a packet decoder for Matroska files containing DTS streams, and a decode postprocessor which supports decoding DTS streams from 44100Hz or 48KHz 16-bit lossless PCM streams. (Implementing support for this in other inputs is beyond my control. Currently implemented formats include WAV, audio CD, FLAC, Wavpack, and TAK.)

Link: DTS plugin homepage

2.INSTALLATION

Once the player and all plugins have been downloaded first step will be installing the player.
The first option given in the installation process is installation type, standard or portable. If you plan to customize heavily Foobar and use it on more than one computer portable installation can be a good idea as it can be copied to a USB flash drive and shared across many PCs keeping the configuration (as long as hardware is compatible too). For use on a single computer choose standard. After that Foobar asks for the installation path and options (I recommend checking all).
Once the player is installed, to install the additional downloaded plugins follow the red arrows in order:

(Note: by default when preferences are opened Foobar goes to the “components” section, if for any reason this doesn’t happen click on it to access the window shown below)

All installed components are shown inside the green rectangle. To add another click on install (red arrow #3). Point the window that pops up to the folder where all plugins have been previously downloaded choose any one and repeat WITHOUT clicking “Apply” or closing the player until all have been installed. Don’t worry if just after installing a plugin it reads “Unknown” in the installed components list, they’ll show their name and version once Foobar is re started.

3. PLAYBACK CONFIGURATION

To acces all playback options click on the”+” sign by “Playback” on the left pane of preferences expanding it.

3.1 Disable replay gain

Some files have a tag specifying replay gain that will adjust loudness automatically for that track, when used on all files it reduces de need to reach for the amps volume potentiometer but it does so at the expense of “bit perfectness”. If you prefer to control volume with your amp’s knob this can be disabled as follows:

When “Playback” is selected in the left pane the right pane will show this:

In the second drop down list labeled “Processing” select “None”
For extra security 0dB can be selected in both the Preamp sliders.

3.2 DSP Options

Foobar has some built-in DSPs that are disabled by default, they can be enabled by accessing them in the DSP entry on the right pane and looks like this:

On the pic above you can see the default ones plus two I added, the DVD_A plugin and a SOX HQ upsampling plugin.
The only one I use from time to time is the “Convert 5.1 to Stereo” because my Musiland is not so good at downmixing.
DSPs are not installed here but as any other plugin, here they are just enabled/disabled and configured (when available).

3.3 Output

This section is key to get the best out of Foobar and your system.

Available options depend on installed output plugins. First click on output on the left pane and then on the left one click the drop down list under “Device” to get something like the next pic:

The image shows all available outputs to Foobar. In this example the laptop I’m using has two sound cards, the onboard Realtek (using Windows default “High Definition” drivers instead of the proper ones but that is a different story) and the Musiland 02. As each sound card has more than one out the list is quite long.

There is one entry for each way out under each type of output, for example, it is possible to route the music to the Musiland’s analogue outputs using:

– ASIO: Musiland Monitor Series (USB)
– DS: Speakers (Musiland Monitor 02 US)
– KS: Monitor 02 US [0001]
– WASAPI: Speakers (Musiland Monitor 02 US)

As the Musiland also has SPDIF out the above is repeated but with replacing “Speakers” with SPDIF.

For testing purposes ASIO4ALL is installed but only for the onboard sound chip.

3.3.1 ASIO Virtual Devices

Before accesing a device through ASIO a virtual device has to be created first. If our sound card has a native ASIO driver or we have installed ASIO4ALL we can add it to Foobar’s list by clicking the “ASIO Virtual Devices” entry beneath “Output” on the left pane and the next will be shown:

Follow the arrows in the same order to add a device. The ASIO Device Editor will show in the drop down list all ASIO drivers known to your O.S. (AKA Windows) be it only one or as many as ASIO compatible sound cards you have in your computer. Select one, click OK and configuration is over.

4. ADDITIONAL PLUGINS CONFIGURATION

Some Plugins create entries on the left pane where their options can be configured. Both DVD-A and SACD plugins do this, and in the SACD case, for example, you can choose its output format (PCM, DSD or Auto), PCM’s sampling rate (24/88.2 or 24/176.4) and, if wanted, extra gain (0 to +6dB). Go to part 2 for further instructions.

5. PLAYING FILES FROM RAM IN FOOBAR

For those interested in playing from RAM here is are the required steps  to setup Foobar to load the entire file to played in RAM and play it from there instead of the HDD, this way there will no disk access during play avoiding possible mechanical noise, reducing heat and power consumtion.

This only works for music files and not for large .ISOs, .CUEs or other “list” files. If a disc is ripped to a single file and loaded into Foobar to play it from RAM it will be impossible to navigate tracks and guessing will be required to find the begining and the end of each song. This can be avoided by simply ripping to an indivual file per track

When configuring the RAM buffer bear in mind total system memory, most modern PCs come at least with 3 or 4GB which should leave enough for a quite large buffer provided you are not running multiple apps when listening to music. Also, 32bit and 64bit have different requirements the later needing more RAM for system services and apps.

500,000KB (500MB) should be more than enough for an entire CD ripped to a single FLAC. If ripping to WAV the buffer may need to be increased to 800,000KB in order to make sure even the biggest file can be fully loaded. If all your music is in file per track format then 500,000KB should suffice for even 24/192 WAVs or DSD DSF or DIFF files. Note that the value entered is the maximum Foobar will use only if needed, if file being played is smaller it will just use the equivalent to the file size + overhead + Foobar’s own code.

On the next pic the path to where to change this setting is shown:

Foobar running in default config (value = 0KB) show aprox. 60MB are used


Foobar with a value of 800,000KB and a 454MB FLAC playing:

6. Customizing the current track information in the status bar 

Here is an example of how it is possible customize the displayed information in the status bar (lower left part of the screen) so it shows relevant technical infomation about the track being played.

Clear whatever the “Status bar” box contains (see screen capture below) and paste the following into it:

%codec% | %samplerate% Hz | $iflonger(%samplerate%,6,’1 bit’,$if(%__bitspersample%,%__bitspersample% bits,’N/A’)) | %channels% | %playback_time%[ / %length%] | %bitrate% kbps | $if($info(hdcd),'(HDCD:’,) $if(%__hdcd%,PE: %__hdcd_peak_extend% LLE: %__hdcd_gain% TF: %__hdcd_transient_filter%’)’)

configuration_zpsypptgjbp

When applied you will get: file format, sample rate, bit depth, current time/total track time, bit rate and, in case an HDCD encoded file is played, all HDCD information.

Examples of information shown when using the above mentioned code:

Regular Red Book (aka CD) sourced FLAC

regular20pcm_zpsjptqklgi

CD sourced HDCD encoded FLAC (the HDCD component decodes to 20bit and patches with ceros to 24bit hence the “24 bits” displayed)

hdcd_zpsdl32nagr

High Resolution 24/192 PCM FLAC file

24-192_zpsotqnzyb7

Standard SACD quality (DSD64) file

dsd_zpshalce5f4

Higher resolution DSD256 file

dsd256_zpsrqgv9yti

Standard SACD multi channel (5.1) DSD64 file

51dsd_zps2i0n1et9

High resolution multi channel (5.1) 24/96 PCM FLAC file

51pcm_zpsrw6kbcg2

 

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back to digital
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post separation

Comments
  1. Gert Kassel says:

    Finally a clear step by step configuration I could understand. Thank you so much!

  2. Laszlo says:

    Hello, thank you very much for creating this, it was very useful. My question is how I can know the the playing process is bitperfect?
    Regrds: Laszlo

  3. Reinhold says:

    VERY helpful, thanks a lot!

  4. slowhand says:

    This is exactly what I was hoping to find when I searched “foobar2000 settings”. Well done.

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