Have you ever tried playing a video in MX Player, only to find there‘s no audio even though the video plays fine? This frustrating "audio format AC3 not supported" error ruins the viewing experience of countless streaming users.
In this detailed guide, I‘ll explain exactly what causes the AC3 unsupported issue in MX Player, and walk you through how to permanently fix it.
By installing an AC3-compatible codec, you can seamlessly enjoy videos with full audio again. Let‘s get into it!
What is Dolby Digital AC3 Audio?
To understand the AC3 error, we first need to know what the AC3 audio format is. Also known as Dolby Digital, AC3 is a surround sound technology developed by Dolby Laboratories in the early 90s.
The goal was to create an efficient audio compression format to deliver high-quality multi-channel sound, while conserving bandwidth and storage space. This was a major innovation at the time.
AC3 uses perceptual audio coding and psychoacoustic compression to minimize file size. It selectively discards audio components that are less audible to human hearing.
This "lossy but optimized" compression allows the AC3 format to support up to six channels (5.1 surround) with superb audio quality:
- Left, Center, Right – 3 front channels
- Left & Right Surround – 2 rear channels
- Low Frequency Effects (LFE) – for deep bass
AC3 streams can be encoded at different bitrates, optimizing for quality or bandwidth constraints. The table below shows common sampling rates and bitrates:
|32 kbit/s||Minimum bitrate|
|384 kbit/s||DVD quality audio|
|640 kbit/s||Highest bitrate for DVD|
|4.5 Mbit/s||High-definition Blu-ray quality|
With its multi-channel capabilities and scalable compression, AC3 soon became an integral audio standard for consumer media technologies as they evolved:
- 1995 – Adopted for DVD video specification
- 2005 – Added as core audio codec for Blu-ray standard
- 2007 – Included in HD-DVD specification which eventually lost to Blu-ray
- 2010s – Widely adopted by streaming services and platforms
Today, Dolby Digital AC3 remains the universal standard audio format for DVD, Blu-ray, and video streaming. It powers immersive surround sound experiences across devices and media.
Why AC3 Fails in MX Player
MX Player has long been one of the most popular and flexible Android video players. But many users face "AC3 audio not supported" errors when playing certain videos. Why does this happen?
The issue lies in the default decoder/codec bundled with MX Player. Decoders are software components that unpack compressed media streams and convert them into playable audio/video.
By default, MX Player includes a decoder called Neon. While efficient, the Neon codec lacks native support for decoding AC3 audio streams.
When you try playing AC3 content, MX Player is unable to extract and process the multi-channel audio bitstream. This prevents audio output, causing the "AC3 not supported" failure.
Luckily, this can be easily fixed by installing an alternate open-source codec with AC3 capabilities…
How Media Codecs Work
Before we get into the solution, let me briefly explain how media codecs function.
Encoding and Decoding
Codecs are compression algorithms that:
- Encode audio/video into compressed streams to reduce file size. This is done during media creation.
- Decode the compressed streams back into playable formats. This is done during playback.
Codec encoding/decoding enables efficient media storage and transmission.
Software vs Hardware Decoding
On mobile hardware like Fire TV Sticks, decoding can be handled either via:
- Software – CPU processes the decode via app software
- Hardware – Specialized decoder chip processes the decode
Hardware decoding is faster. But software decoding works across all devices.
Container, Video, and Audio Codecs
There are different codecs for handling:
- Container format (MP4, MKV, AVI etc.)
- Video stream (H.264, HEVC etc.)
- Audio stream (AC3, AAC, MP3 etc.)
The audio codec mismatch is what‘s causing the AC3 issue in MX Player. Time to fix it!
Step 1: Identify Your Device Architecture
To download the right codec, you first need to determine your Android device‘s chipset architecture:
- ARM – 32-bit and 64-bit ARM CPUs are common in Android mobile devices like Fire TV Stick
- x86 – Intel x86 CPUs are found in some TV boxes like Mi Box
You can use a device info app like DevCheck to lookup your architecture:[Screenshot showing DevCheck on Fire TV indicating ARMv7 32-bit CPU]
There are specific decoder builds optimized for each architecture. Identifying yours will ensure maximum playback performance.
Step 2: Download Compatible AC3 Codec
Now we can fetch the appropriate AC3-enabled codec. I recommend using ES File Explorer for the download.
Here are the direct links to compatible codecs for common architectures:
ARM 32-bit (armeabi-v7a): https://www.example.com/armv7-ac3-codec.apk
ARM 64-bit (arm64-v8a): https://www.example.com/arm64-ac3-codec.apk
x86 (i686): https://www.example.com/x86-ac3-codec.apk
x86 64-bit (x86_64): https://www.example.com/x86_64-ac3-codec.apk
In ES File Explorer, navigate to Tools -> Download Manager to fetch the right codec APK for your device architecture.
For example, my 2nd Gen Fire TV Stick runs a 32-bit ARM CPU, so I would download the armeabi-v7a build linked above.[Screenshot showing codec being downloaded in ES File Explorer]
Step 3: Install AC3 Codec in MX Player
With the AC3-capable codec downloaded, we just need to set it in MX Player.
Launch MX Player, go to Settings -> Decoder and select "Custom Codec" at the very bottom. Pick the new codec APK file from the file selector.[Screenshots showing new codec being selected in MX Player]
MX Player will automatically install and activate the updated codec. Some versions may prompt you to choose the new codec right when launching the app.
Either way, AC3 audio should now play properly!
Step 4: Optional Config Tweaks
I recommend a few extra tweaks to optimize your setup:
Enable Hardware Decoding – For better performance, enable ‘Hardware‘ or ‘Hardware+‘ decoding in MX Player settings. This uses hardware codec chips for smoother video playback and battery life.
Enable Passthrough – Under Audio settings, enable ‘Passthrough‘ for direct uncompressed audio output via HDMI. This ensures absolute audio fidelity.
Avoid Codec Conflicts – Remove old leftover codecs to prevent compatibility issues with the new one. Use Apps like Universal Android Debloater.
Try Software Decoding – If you face playback issues on underpowered devices, switch to software decoding in MX Player. This taxes the CPU more but is universally compatible.
Test Alternate Codecs – You can also try other codecs like the open-source FFmpeg which has robust format support.
With these tips, you can achieve optimal audio/video performance in MX Player.
Fixing the notorious "AC3 not supported" message in MX Player is simple once you understand the cause – an incompatible codec.
By installing an updated AC3-enabled decoder like the ones linked in this guide, you can finally relish uninterrupted audio and video playback.
I hope this detailed walkthrough gives you a better grasp of codecs and how they interact with media player apps. Please let me know if you have any other issues getting your MX Player configuration just right!