I always begin my guides with a long boring rant about how you need to optimize your system in order to get the best out of it and resolve any problems which may come up. Well this time I'll replace it with this short boring rant, so here goes: Read my System Optimization Guide for more information on exactly how to do just that. In particular if you run Windows XP (Home or Pro), read my WinXP Tweak Guide to bring everything up to full speed.
Optimizing and stabilizing your system will ensure that even in something like audio extraction, you get the fastest encoding/decoding speeds, but much more importantly that you minimize the likelihood of errors, crashes, conflicts and corrupted audio files.
Also, if possible create a System Restore point before proceeding any further with the guide. That way if anything goes wrong you can simply restore your settings very quickly. None of the programs below are "dangerous", and I've made sure they're not too system intrusive or change settings by stealth, but better safe than sorry.
Uninstalling Audio Programs
If you run into any problems or conflicts with any of the audio programs I use in this guide, it's most likely that you haven't completely optimized and cleaned your system. Shame on you. However if all else fails and you just want to be rid of any of these programs, follow these steps:
1. Go to Control Panel>Add/Remove and try to find the program in the list. If it's there, select it and choose remove (if not go straight to step 2). Now reboot your PC to make sure any components are the program are not still in use by the system.
2. Go to the directory where you installed/extracted the program. This is usually somewhere under C:\Program Files\ by default. Manually delete the program directory and all its subfolders and contents. Some may be in use by the system and unable to be deleted, so reboot if necessary and try deleting them again.
3. Go to my WinXP Guide to get the download link and instructions for use of a utility called Regcleaner. Run Regcleaner as instructed to remove all the registry entries left by the program. This step is absolutely vital to a "clean" uninstall of any program.
These steps ensure that if any program is giving you trouble it will be completely and cleanly removed from your system without a trace. If you choose to reinstall the program note that all your previous settings for it will be lost and any registration period or registration keys will also be reset.
Audio Codec Settings
If you want to see which audio Codecs (see Audio Format section below for a definition) have been installed on your system, and have the option to change their settings, or disable or remove them, do the following:
1. Go to Control Panel>Sounds and Audio Devices>Hardware and double-click on the Audio Codecs device. This will bring up the Audio Codecs Properties box.
2. Click on the Properties tab and highlight a Codec you want to examine, then click on the Properties button. The Codec Properties box should open.
3. In the Properties for the particular codec you are looking at, you can choose to tell the system not to use the codec. This is useful if you believe it is the source of conflicts or problems. You may also have the option to change its settings, and by clicking the About button, you can learn more about what the codec does.
4. If you have several codecs for a particular format, e.g. several ADPCM Codecs, you can change the priority of the codec so that it is preferred over others similar to it. Click OK when you're done.
I don't recommend completely removing a codec as several programs may be dependent on it. Instead see if disabling it or altering its settings or priority as described above helps.
Next up, we look a basic explanation of audio formats and codecs.