The KMPlayer: one media player to rule them all

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The KM Player is a free media player that supports a comprehensive range of media format, including broad DVD support using all internal filters and codecs.

It is extremely feature-rich, offering a range of features such as applying filters during playback (sharpening, denoise, color effects, etc), excellent subtitles support, playing (and capturing) streaming media over the internet, playing incomplete files, bookmarking parts of videos, and others.

The KMPlayer (not to be confused with simply “KMPlayer”, which is another product) is the kind of free software that is so good it makes you wonder how anyone can still manage to charge money for a program in the same category.

The reason I give it such a high endorsement is that software manages to juggle four things at once, each of which is remarkable in its own right:

  1. Supports a very wide range of formats: (including obscure ones).It includes all essential decoders internally (including RealMedia, Flash video, and Quicktime) that are not registered to the system, but also interacts with system filters through a “fully controlled environment”. This means that The KM Player will (a) eliminate any possible errors due to codec conflict, (b) none of its internal filters will be running in the background at all times, taking up resources, and (c) If you have a media file that you cannot get to work this program will most certainly play it.
  2. Has a very light footprint: takes up only 16 megs in memory and a (negligible) 50 megs on your hard drive.
  3. Delivers an unusually rich selection of features: from those features that make you think “finally someone thought to include this” to “I can’t believe they thought of this”.
  4. Delivers a simple and straightforward interface: despite all the supported features, everything is context-menu based, and the program can be used in a simple way without overwhelming the user with the diversity of options. On-screen tooltips are displayed on hovering over an element that tell you what it is.

This does not mean that this program is perfect but, in my view, is very close to it. There are a number of drawbacks which I will get into in my “wish list” section below. For now here is an overview of some of the features on offer:

  • Formats supported: a listing would take a lot of space and would be superfluous. Suffice it to say: every conceivable video format (including DVD), audio format, playlist format, image format, and even disk image formats.
  • Image processing: allows you to apply a wide range of effects to your video as it is being played, including color controls, (e.g. greyscale, auto-level control), sharpening, blurring, denoise, resize, flip/rotation, etc. Resize, flip, etc. Variable playback speed also supported.
  • Capture: frame (image) capture, video capture, audio capture. Also playback by frame (e.g.single frame forward, backward, etc.)
  • Plays incomplete/partially downloaded files: will not make the missing parts appear magically but will play what is there, even files that are “locked” by another app such as a torrent client and corrupted files.
  • Plays streaming video/audio: delivered via HTTP (ASF, OGG, MP3, AAC, MPEG PS, MPEG TS, including non-streaming media). Internet radio supports both Shoutcast and Icecast. Can capture these to the hard drive (see below).
  • Custom codec use: allows the user to select which codec to be used on per-video basis and to specify the external/commercial filters, if any, that they might wish to use if they want (e.g.commercial h.264 decoders).
  • Support for compressed archives: will play media files that are compressed into archives (.ZIP, .RAR).
  • Favorites: not favorite files, but rather selecting parts of a media as favorites. How cool is that?
  • WinAmp plugins: can use general plugins of Winamp2/5.
  • Dynamic skins; i.e. change a skin dynamically depending on a media type playing. (Which I find interesting, but not my cup of tea ;) ).

Wish list (or things that can be addressed make this software even better)

  • Comparatively low playback quality has been reported while playing some files. I haven’t seen this personally, but it was mentioned in forums as happening in some cases.
  • Does not add itself to the Autoplay menu as the default DVD player. This can be easily remedied with a program like TweakUI or Autoplay Repair though.
  • Help file: is underwhelming, especially for such a feature-rich app.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict: that I like this program is pretty much summed up in the 4 points listed at the beginning of the review. Although designed as a player for both video and audio, I am inclined to use it only for videos/DVDs and use a music manager type software for audio. However, if you need to install only one program to play video files this is the one you need.

Comparison of 3 media playersThe KMPlayer holds its own alongside such freeware heavyweight media player (VLC Player, GOM Player), and probably has the edge. See the image on the right for a feature by feature comparison (adapted from Wikipedia’s “Comparison of media players” article).

Note on the sale of The KMPlayer: before concluding this review I will mention that as of Dec 2007 this program has been sold by the orignal developer to a Korean YouTube-style streaming video site named Pandora TV. This prompted some concern in various forums about the new owner bundling spyware and/or adware into it or changing its freeware status; however from what I’ve read the new owners have since stated their intention to keep The KMPlayer free and in any case so far after more than 6 months this is still the case.

Version Tested: 2.9.3.1428 final release

Compatibility: Windows 2000, 2003, XP, Vista.

Go to the official KM Player forums to get more info and the download link for the latest version (approx 14.2 megs). Download link here and also here.


 
 
 
  • WOW… i was (until now) a fan of GOM player and VLC… but until i saw that comparison chart http://www.freewaregenius.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/comparison-of-3-media-players.jpg
    im gonna try this program.

  • >.> now I’m a little bit worried..
    http://i25.tinypic.com/dev0w6.jpg

    I run my business with this laptop… I’ll try in my desktop (only porn in there)

  • Valpy

    This is definitely the best all-purpose player in my opinion.

    One feature I find invaluable is the audio synch adjustment. Great for adjusting sound when out of synch with pictures. Also great for working out how much to adjust sound synch when authoring DVD’s.

    The only problem I have come across is that it has problems playing some flv files which will play OK in VLC.

  • Big Al

    As someone who has used both VLC and GOM Player, once I stumbled upon The KMPlayer a few months ago, it immediately became my video player of choice.

    The KMPlayer has played everything I’ve thrown at it, and is a much more polished program than VLC or GOM. Highly recommended.

  • looks good, will give this a try.

  • Fred Thompson

    I’ve been using The KMPLayer for a few months now. Samer must not do a lot of video editing because he didn’t comment on the icons. They’re beautiful and file format-specific!!! I set it to use external codecs first and I use ffdshow. There are 2 caveats with the latest stable build (which is a few months old now):
    1. Sometimes the demuxer has problems and The KMPlayer will freeze or crash. This seems most prevalent with .ty .flv and 4:2:2 MPEG2. It looks as if The KMPlayer needs a little time after a file has started before it will properly accept starting another file. When it crashes, it doesn’t close so CTL-ATL-DEL.
    2. The icons are not as “sticky” as you’d expect. Run a registry cleaner like Crap Cleaner and watch them disappear. I’ve made a .reg file to restore them. It’s at http://rapidshare.com/files/126251408/Configure_KMPlayer.zip but be warned, if you use it, anything that happens is YOUR responsibility. If you don’t feel comfortable looking at a .reg file to see what it does, please ask someone for help or don’t use this. Personally, I have it at the end of a batch file that runs a series of cleaners then calls .reg files to ensure some things are configured the way I prefer.

  • ffm

    Simply the best

  • Zia

    Couple of questions:

    1. Sure it has loads of features but is it memory-efficient? Is it a resource hog?

    2. Is there a portable version? I tend to use a flash drive a lot.

  • cicom3nd3z

    Best player IMHO. Nice review. The last time I tried GOM Player, it installed codecs… and i never liked the way VLC displays subtitles.

  • cicom3nd3z

    Yes, KMPlayer is portable. In the preferences window, under General check “Store Settings to KMPcfg.ini” I use version 2.9.3.1214 and I think is ok on resources.

  • Manoj

    My favourite media player. I love those shortcuts. Its easy to use and a lot more customizable than other media players. KM Player is the best.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been using that retarded power dvd program just for the pan and scan, it wouldn’t even stay on top unless i told it to every single time. This is a godsend. Thanks

  • CC

    Actually, KM player does add itself to the autoplay menu it just doesn’t do it automatically. Open the preferences dialog and click on associations and then open the associations tab. You will see near the bottom CD/DVD autoplay and you just click on the selection boxes and KM Player will be added to the autoplay menu.

  • blogward

    This is sweet! Loads to tweak, and nice polite install. Five stars so far.

  • Finibus Bonorum

    I’ve been having stability problems with VLC lately. It would crash if a DVD playback was paused or stopped for more than 5 minutes. Furthermore, it had problems retaining user settings such as preferred skin and equalizer pre-sets.

    So, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the KMPlayer. “Right out of the box”, the only adjustment that was absolutely required was to sharpen the picture for my LCD screen. The plethora of configuration options is welcome but will take some time to explore, of course. All changes I have made so far have been retained from session to session. The hide-away control panel at the bottom of the screen during full-screen playback is great — much preferable to the mouse-gesture invoked control panel of VLC.

    Looks like a keeper for me.

  • version

    The second download link you have supplied actually links to KMplayer on fileforum instead of THE KMplayer.

    Is that a mistake?

  • version

    ok now im confused. You said The kmplayer and kmplayer are different yet the links you provided are for kmplayer.

  • Carbonize

    KMPlayer is a media player for Linux. The KMPlayer is a different program that is for Windows only but does not say The KMPlayer anywhere on the website.

  • OAlexander

    Just by chance I stumbled on The KMPlayer a couple of days ago. I am driven by habit, using TrayPlayer for compatible audio (wmv, mpg, ogg, mid and wav) and Zoom Player WMV Pro for Movie clips, videos, DVDs etc. TrayPlayer I will stick with due to its irresitible small elegant appearance.

    Zoom Player will probably not survive, and VLC, which I have never really liked but retained as a last resort type of solution, not either.

    I tested numerous file types with TKMPlayer, audio, video and because I can, even still images (it does not like .dib, .tif. and .ico). All audio and video formats I threw at it it displayed most gracefully, inclusive .jpg, .gif, .bmp, .png (with still images it even creates a kind of slide show with amusing slide in effects).

    To boot, it even works as an analogue and digital TV tuner and can be used to watch TV and listen to radio if an appropriate card is installed, even though the output here remained slightly underwhelming. I may try to talk TKMPlayer into using ffdshow for this if it is possible. Nevertheless, it was easier to setup than the program that came with the card.

    And yes, it can be operated from CD or stick without installation by copying an installation. Thus, a pitty, that the program comes with an installer and not as an archive. Tons of people who work in offices where they have no installation rights on their computers and thus totally depend on Windows Media Player are thus left a bit out and cannot play eg. .flv’s from Youtube, RealMedia and Quicktime formats. Pitty that ;(

    Else, in each and every way thus far a AAA first class programm. For me as the person of habit it was also extremely appreciable, that I could change all keyboard shortcuts to my usual ways!

  • Samer

    @version,
    The second link does indeed link to Fileforum, and they do list the program as “KM Player” instead of “The KMPlayer”. However, it is the player being discussed in this posting. (The other KMPlayer is part of the Linux KDE and is not available for Windows as of this writing).

  • MgX

    You can also download it from Filehippo:
    http://www.filehippo.com/download_kmplayer/

  • Anonymous

    hell yes.
    i’ve been a fan of the kmplayer for a looong time. vlc is excellent too, and has many features that kmplayer does not (such as playing video over an network, hence the name Video-Lan) but overall kmplayer is better. i’m a media junkie, so i use both, but i use kmplayer much more than vlc.

  • version

    @Samer

    Thanks mate. All sorted now. 🙂

  • I’m going to try

  • i will try this on my desktop… the software looks good looking good

  • NiznaZ

    Amazing !!!
    Simly the best
    A USB version is available, as well
    Remove the rest, and …
    Enjoy

    🙂

  • blogward

    Well, I’ve gone back to GOM player – the new KMPlayer was giving (very) corrupted and unstable playback, crashing Dopus 9, etc. and no help anywhere; I tried all the settings I could understand:) Presumably an AVI codec conflict but once KMP was uninstalled, no more trouble.

  • OAlexander

    I have now had time for some substantial testing. A major pro is that youcan arrange your keyboard shortcuts faily well – compare that to other applications where any intuitive key is occupied by something useless or counterintuitive. A mediaplayer needs fast access to full-screen mode, volume, brightness and forward, backward. Most, including VLC are pure garbage here. KMPlayer is quite adjustable.

    KMPlayer also plays basically every file you throw at it. With some the playback is indeed substandard, eg., it enters into some slow motion, etc. VLC, with the ultra crappy, hardly configurable user interface, and the more configurable Zoom Player (commercial) do often a better job, but both play less formats.

    It is a good first choice for a media player, but in case the reproduction in not sartisfactory, a second one, such as VLC or Zoom Player, should be kept in reserve.

    It is to be hoped the development of the product continues, because from ist preconditions it seems to be the best of the breed.

    Tha, like VLC, it is standalone of any other system parts is a good thing, but nevertheless, like VLC it should make use of FFDShow if available and when possibly the better renderer.
    The wheel does not have to be permanently re-invented.

  • Seb

    The hidden gem of all media player !

  • Wondering

    I want to download this KM program, but went first, to their forum to see what was being said about the player. After reading different posts there, I now am wondering about registry change issues I saw being discussed there. Seems some of the posts indicated it to be possible for KM to cause some kinds registry change issues or problems; and being a novice at registry editing, I would like to know if any one who has used the program acquired any kind registry ill-effects as a result of downloading the KM software. Thank you.

  • Hendri

    Mas saya mau nanya, kenapa pada saat saya menggunakan kmplayer untuk memutar dvd, subtitle nya ga keluar, tapi pada saat saya memainkan dvd tersbut di dvd player bisa muncul subtitle nya. Mohon bantuannya.

  • Erik

    WATCH OUT!!!!!! SPYWARE!!!

    This software installs a spyware toolbar on your computer.

    • Samer

      @Erik:
      I don’t know what you were download/installing, but it may not have been the KMPlayer. Or you have some sort of antispyware that is giving a false positive.

      I have been using this one for more than a year. It is not spyware; it does not install a toolbar.
      I just re-downloaded and re-installed to check to confirm.

      This is one of the best media players you can have, and its free; I would hate to have people be scared away from it because of one person’s error.

      Here’s the VirusTotal.com analysis of the KMplayer installer. Out of 40 antimalware engines, only 2 third-tier report some sort of problem, while all the reputable “big hitters” give a clean bill of health. 2/40 on this service is a very good result, and you could safely conclude that the problem is a false positive.

      http://www.virustotal.com/analisis/f633f8f9464ec6d5c93f945e2f595abe50c80119ad3059a8bfba40d2a449c3d2-1264979757

  • Neil from Ohio

    I have tried several media players. My personal favorite is Media Player Classic. When installed as part of the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack it contains everything you need to play just about any kind of audio or video file available.

    It has a simple, intuitive user interface. Get it free from http://www.codecguide.com.

  • karno

    subtilte(.srt) doesn’t show.
    Drag and drop, load etc don’t work.
    Pls help me.

  • Vagablonde

    have been using vlc and kmplayer for a long time..
    I have tossed them both for potplayer,this is made by the same person who wrote kmplayer
    People choose a player on what they do and for my needs it is great su[pports most formats
    has some nice features has 32 and 64 bit version and opens files fast…id be curious for you to review this player and see how it compares to vlc and kmplayer.
    afterall I do think its kmplayer just updated and a very sleek interface.

  • Vagablonde

    have been using vlc and kmplayer for a long time..
    I have tossed them both for potplayer,this is made by the same person who wrote kmplayer
    People choose a player on what they do and for my needs it is great su[pports most formats
    has some nice features has 32 and 64 bit version and opens files fast…id be curious for you to review this player and see how it compares to vlc and kmplayer.
    afterall I do think its kmplayer just updated and a very sleek interface.

  • Jenny

    The reason your seeing low quality, is KMPlayer installs with 1GHZ as recommended & default for video settings.

    Most people fly through setup, but it you select 3 GHZ instead, it will switch to high quality. It makes a big difference on videos.

    If you have low quality, just re-install it & change to 3 GHZ (Quality) instead.

    You will be amazed at the difference!