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Click to play Kraft Music Hall, 'Christmas Program', from December 21, 1944

Plugin and CoDec Definitions


A small software program that helps a Web browser interpret certain types of media files.


An abbreviation for coder/decoder. Specifically, it converts a voice grade analog signal to u-law or A-law encoded samples at an 8KHz sampling rate. (English verson: Compresses voice-grade audio into a tighter, more compact, sampled version or DE-Compresses the down-sampled version back to 8Khz or to as much as 44Khz digital sound)

Bear with me here for a few paragraphs of background. Its well worth a few moments of your time.

Most of us have never had to worry about codecs or plugins. The standards, hardware platforms, and software of the previous years allowed us to play most common audio or video media right from the web with minimum fuss, in whichever Internet browser or media player was provided with our computers. Such is no longer the case.

The largest influences in the computer world are now competing for a 'winner-takes-all' standard for content delivery of audio and video over the Internet--and soon over always-on digital phones. This particularly affects Golden Age Radio enthusiasts who have tended to standardize on the relative ease and quality of MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3) compressed audio for playing and archiving their recordings.

From the very design stage of MPEG-1 compression schemes you have but to look at the 126 genre descriptions hardwired into the guts of those standards to see that Golden Age Radio recordings--or an audience for them--weren't even on the designers' radar. Click on the button to see the ID3 Version 1 Standard's tag coding choices for genre that are all we had to choose from up until a only recently:

Now I'm sure with a bit of imagination, one might be able to fit perhaps 20 - 30 of the 2850 known shows or series in circulation into one of these genre tag categories. Here are a few possible suggestions:

Blues 'Pete Kelly's Blues' perhaps?
Country All of the Westerns? Bit of a Stretch
Jazz 'Jeff Regan' or 'Rocky Fortune'?
Duet 'Les Paul and Mary Ford'? "Burns and Allen"?
Jungle 'Tarzan' or 'Jungle Jim' maybe?
Ethnic 'Life with Luigi' or the 'Mel Blanc Show'?
Death Metal 'The Mysterious Traveler'? (ouch)

I could get sillier, but I think you take my point by now. What inevitably happens--if anyone takes the trouble to begin with--is that they usually end up throwing most of them under 'Oldies', 'Other', 'Comedy', or 'Retro' tags, none of which even remotely suits the vast majority of Golden Age Radio genre appropriately. I think you get the idea now.

Golden Age Radio recordings--transferred, cleaned up, and compressed to the highest MP3 quality available--still go wanting for lack of a usable genre with which to tag them under these standards. History clearly shows that the audio compression industry never, even remotely, considered archival Radio recordings or transfers of Golden Age Radio to be worth the slightest consideration in their larger view of the recording industry.

And so it evolved that, no longer content with promoting their particular flavor of audio and video delivery solutions while still maintaining backwards compatibility, Microsoft, QuickTime, and RealNetworks are in a heated battle to become the surviving standard for content delivery. Content delivery using their standards, naturally. Behind this, lie the three or four major codec design and engineering firms with their own agenda and emerging technologies--again based primarily on further establishing and defending their patent rights, as well as on better math and far more powerful, readily affordable computers.

The latest scheme is to make their respective delivery mechanism inseparably tied to the operating system or architecture of the underlying platform. This ensures that a consumer is forced to take an all-or-nothing approach to his or her choice of audio and video media once he or she settles on their platform of choice. This, irrespective of the size of the preexisting media collection on-hand. This flies in the face of the previously stated intent of most Internet media providers to make the Internet the one 'platform-neutral' venue for exchange, interchange, and sharing of data.

Post-Napster, the feeding frenzy over media rights and protection issues has changed everything for the forseeable future--perhaps forever. And with no one inclined to step forward and present a more altruistic means of divying up this vast new market, its the consumers that end up damaged the most in the meantime--or waiting for all the trickle-down benefits that seemed to get congealed at about the manufacturing level.

That having been said, there are still a few ways to maintain compatibility with one's media collection while continuing to upgrade to the fastest and most powerful media delivery technologies and platforms. And there are just as many fine tools available for enhancing the playability and listening enjoyment of your existing recordings even more.

Many Tools Are Available to Help You Regain Control Over Your Media Choices

After all is said and done, codecs and plugins are all simply algorithm-based data compression schemes. Yeah. Just plain old math.

Thankfully, enough of the algorithms are freely available and in wide enough circulation that an open-standards system for creating and disseminating media codecs will also be with us for years to come. The unfortunate aspect of this is that the consumer will now have to become more well-read on how to either enhance--or recover from--their media playing tastes which well may be at odds with their hardware platform or operating systems of choice.

In any case, most of the audio in our Golden Age Radio collections is pretty much fixed in digital time. Once source material is compressed, the digital material that was removed can't be put back in. Such is the nature of compression algorithms. And yes, with a super-computer and a few hundred thousand dollars you might very well be able to sufficiently extrapolate the missing material back into a previously compressed recording. But not at a reasonable cost to the vast majority of consumer-collectors. And what would you be left with? Not simply part of an original recording, but a complete new invention of it. Not nearly as authentic, no matter how it ends up sounding.

Here then, are a few avenues of relief with which to preserve your ability to play your collection as conveniently as before, even WHILE surfing the Net to look for even more little recorded gems. . . .

CoDec/Plugin Help for

Windows Media Player Codecs and plugins packs for Media Players 6.4 thru 9.0.

WinAmp Stuff

Relic AIFx Decoder. Input plugin (a codec, actually) that supports AIFF/AIFC uncompressed and AIFR compressed

Vortex Simulator. V_Soft Vortex AY/YM Chip Emulator v2.3 V_Soft Vortex Plug-In for WinAmp is a player for VTX-songs created on ZX Spectrum, Atari, MSX and other AY/YM sound chip based systems.

AU/SND , Play .au files with Winamp This plug-in allows you to play NeXT/Sun audio files (*.au;*.snd) with Winamp. Supported formats are 16-bit PCM, 8-bit PCM and 8-bit 5-Law. All can be mono or stereo.

CD Reader. Play CDs through the EQ, AVS, SHOUTcast, etc. Very nice.

MP3ProDecoder, Decodes mp3PRO files. Have to be heard to be believed. This is one of the codecs that will be setting new standards.

WSP Module Player , Plays mod, xm, and s3m files in Winamp

SidAmp Latest Version of Sidamp just published by Borg No. May be the best SID-plugin available at the moment.

Line-In Plugin, Use any input device (like a radio or stereo) with WinAMP! This plugin enables you to use any input device with WinAMP, just as if it was a normal file (although you can't seek of course).

COM-port Winamp Control v141 ,Very complete external button controller This plugin allows for you to control Winamp by using up to 4 external buttons or switches connected to a serial port. Very customizable... you can pretty much assign any Winamp function to the external buttons. Nice interface allows for smooth configuring.

MP3i Playback Plugin 1. Decode Multimedia MP3i Files The MP3i Playback Plugin decodes and displays multimedia MP3s (a.k.a. MP3i files). To find out more visit:

MPEGplus plugin . MPEGplus new version... Now allows for ID3 tagging, fast scrolling, and EQ, as well as clipping prevention. MPEGplus files are audio files that sound a bit fuller than mp3's. If you go to you can get audio clip comparisons and hear for yourself. For the most part, the mp+ files sounded a little fuller than the mp3's...I couldn't detect an amazing sound difference, but, after listening closely the mp+ files did sound better.

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