The highest quality settings for VLC

Updated June 06, 2018

VLC media player is a massively versatile and dependable piece of open-source software, but the complex settings can be baffling to new users. Getting the best playback quality on VLC can be challenging, but by applying a deinterlacing video filter, ensuring the audio is normalised and adjusting settings like sharpness and contrast to your tastes you can get high-quality video and audio. A common problem is skipping on higher quality videos or streamed content, but this has a relatively straightforward solution that helps to obtain smooth playback.

Audio normalisation

Video files often have unusual spikes in volume, with muttering, quiet dialogue interspersed with extremely loud gunfire, audio effects and music. This issue can be rectified in VLC, however, by clicking “Preferences” from the “Tools” drop-down menu. Click the “Audio” tab on the window which appears, and check “Normalise volume to” under “Effects.” Set “1.6” as the value. Click “All” in the bottom left hand corner of the window, and choose “Filters” under “Audio” (to the left of the screen). Check the box beside “Volume normaliser.” Click the arrow beside the “Filters” menu option and highlight “Volume normaliser.” Set the “Number of audio buffers” to 10 and the “Maximal volume level” to 1.6. Click “Save” and reset the player to activate the effect.

Deinterlacing video filter

You can switch on the deinterlacing video filter to rectify an issue created by the old method of displaying images on a TV screen. The images would be displayed so all the odd-numbered image lines and then the even-numbered lines would be shown alternately; effectively half a picture at a time. Click “Preferences” from the “Tools” menu, and choose the “Video” tab. Under “Video,” click the drop-down menu to turn “Deinterlacing” on or alternatively set it to “Automatic” to allow VLC to automatically apply it when needed. This isn’t a foolproof method, but you might encounter trouble if trying to deinterlace source material which doesn’t require it.

Fix skipping

If you’re having trouble with skipping or lagging when streaming or playing high-quality video files, you may be able to fix the problem by changing the caching value. Click “Open Network Stream” or “Open Disc” from the “Media” menu (it doesn’t really matter which - the same window appears), and then ensure that the relevant tab is selected on the window. If you’re streaming, select the “Network” tab. Check the “Show more options” box and increase the “Caching” value to between 500 and 1000 ms (0.5 to 1 second). Lower values are better, but you might need to set a higher value to completely remove skipping.

General settings

The final thing to try is the more basic video settings, such as “Contrast,” “Hue,” “Brightness” and “Sharpen.” Choose “Effects and filters” from the “Tools” menu and switch to the “Video effects” tab. Check “Image adjust” to gain access to the “Contrast,” “Hue” and “Brightness” settings, and check “Sharpen” to adjust the sharpness of the picture using the “Sigma” slider. Adjust these to your desired levels and click “Close” when you’re done.

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About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.