Today we are going to show you the best codecs for Windows 11 that you can download to your computer. However, first, it is important to clarify the meaning of codecs. The term codec is an acronym of two words: encoder and decoder. Basically, it is a software that is responsible for encoding or decoding a signal or a digital data stream. Although this function can also be performed by hardware as well. Therefore, codecs are not only for media playback. That is only part of their function, that of decoding. They also work in the reverse direction, i.e., transforming and encoding the signal. On the other hand, it is significant not to confuse them with the file format. Indeed, the same type of file can be encoded using different methodologies, i.e., with different codecs. Read on to learn more about the best codecs for Windows 11.
What types of codecs are there?
There are different types of codecs. They are classified according to the type of media they encode or decode. For example, there are video, audio, or image codecs. Similarly, there is a quality loss criterion. Consequently, there are two types of codecs on the market:
- Lossless codecs. They have reversible schemes. Therefore, the original data is reconstructed without too many complications. The premise of this type of codecs is to maintain the original quality of the multimedia content.
- Lossy codecs. Lossy coding obeys a very different principle. The transformation of the data stream is completely irreversible, so once the files are encoded, it is not possible to restore them to their original form. They are ideal for compressing files and minimizing the impact on storage systems.
Which is better to install? A codec, a codec pack, or a player?
We want to give you the best options to install on your computer. Therefore, we will tell you briefly which option is the best option in each case.
- Install a single codec: This is ideal in cases where you need to open a very specific file and do not want to have a long list of codecs installed on your computer.
- Download a codec pack. Perfect if you are looking for the best compatibility without the need to install many programs and with any media player.
- Use a player. This is a highly effective solution, since all you will need to do is open the file with the player program.
The best codecs for Windows 11: complete packages and recommended player
We have already established what a codec is and how it works. Next, we will see the packages of complete codecs that we can install in Windows 11. In the same way, we will recommend an excellent multimedia player to open almost any type of multimedia file.
X Codec Pack
This is one of the most interesting codec packages out there. Let’s take a look at the encoders and decoders included:
- AC3Filter 2.6b
- CDXA Reader 1.7.9
- LAV Filters 0.66
- madVR 0.89.3
- Matroska Splitter 1.7.9
- Media Player Classic HC 1.7.9
- MediaTab 1.4
- RealMedia Splitter 1.7.9
- The Codec Detective 2.0
- xy-VSFilter 3.0
- xySubFilter 3.1
It is a completely free package that you can install on your computer in a basic way.
The list of codecs included in this free package is also very long. With it, you won’t need anything else to play your free media files:
- DivX 4/5/6
- H.263 (+)
- MPEG in AVI
- Other MPEG2
Media Player Codec Pack
We are talking about a completely free codec pack. It also includes support for the following compression formats: x264, x265, h.265, HEVC, 10bit x265, 10bit x264, AVCHD, AVC, DivX, XviD, MP4, MPEG4. It can also handle the following file types: .bdmv, .evo, .hevc, .mkv, .avi, .flv, .webm, .mp4, .m4v, .m4a, .ts, .ogm, .ac3, .dts, .alac, .flac, .ape, .aac, .ogg, .ofr, .mpc and .3gp. In addition, Media Player Codec Pack includes the following components:
- Media Player Classic Home Cinema 1.9.8 x86
- Disc Handler. Plays Blu Rays from the file explorer.
- Codec Settings GUI. Graphical interface to modify codec behavior.
K-Lite Codec Pack
K-Lite Codec Pack is ideal for those users who want to play the following files for free on their computer: AVI, MKV, MP4, FLV, MPEG, MOV, TS, M2TS, WMV, RM, RMVB, OGM, WebM, MP3, FLAC, M4A, AAC, OGG, 3GP, AMR, APE, MKA, Opus, Wavpack and Musepack. Additionally, it has support for enjoying DVD and Blu-ray movies. All these formats are supported in the basic version. However, there are other advanced packages available:
- K-lite Codec Pack Standard. The standard pack is the best choice for most users. It contains everything similar to the basic package, but with additional codecs for playing video formats.
- K-Lite Codec Pack Full. Installing the full pack provides everything the standard pack offers, with additional support for specialized filters and tools.
- K-Lite Codec Pack Mega. It’s the best choice if you want it all. It includes tools to create your own encoded audio and video files, along with everything in the full pack.
I must confess that this has been my personal choice since my Windows XP days. It also includes a player who stands out for its simplicity and ease of use.
We finish this list with the well-known VLC. Additionally, we are talking about a player and not a codec package. However, the most interesting thing is that you will not need to install anything additional. Everything you need to enjoy your multimedia is integrated in VLC. It certainly includes numerous formats:
Video formats: MPEG-1/2, DivX (1/2/3/4/5/6), MPEG-4 ASP, XviD, 3ivX D4, H.261, H.263 / H.263i, H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC, Cinepak, Theora, Dirac / VC-2, MJPEG (A/B), WMV 1/2, WMV 3 / WMV-9 / VC-1, Sorenson 1/3, DV, On2 VP3/VP5/VP6, Indeo Video v3 (IV32), Real Video (1/2/3/4).
Audio formats: MPEG Layer 1/2, MP3 – MPEG Layer 3, AAC – MPEG-4 part3, Vorbis, AC3 – A/52, E-AC-3, MLP / TrueHD>3, DTS, WMA 1/2, WMA 3, FLAC, ALAC, Speex, Musepack / MPC, ATRAC 3, Wavpack, Mod, TrueAudio, APE, Real Audio, Alaw/µlaw, AMR (3GPP), MIDI, LPCM, ADPCM, QCELP, DV Audio, QDM2/QDMC y MACE.
VLC is a completely free and open-source program. Moreover, it is in constant development. Okay, so we have seen the best codecs for Windows 11. So, there are no excuses to play any multimedia content on your Windows 11 computer. So long!