1. Usage

1.1. Needed extra files

On Windows support for some codecs (Ogg Vorbis, MPEG audio, etc.) is done with external libraries, so you will need to put certain DLL files together.

In the case of components like foobar2000 they are all bundled for convenience, while other components include them but must be installed manually. You can also get them here: https://github.com/vgmstream/vgmstream/tree/master/ext_libs or compile them manually, even (see tech docs).

Put the following files somewhere Windows can find them:

  • libvorbis.dll

  • libmpg123-0.dll

  • libg719_decode.dll

  • avcodec-vgmstream-58.dll

  • avformat-vgmstream-58.dll

  • avutil-vgmstream-56.dll

  • swresample-vgmstream-3.dll

  • libatrac9.dll

  • libcelt-0061.dll

  • libcelt-0110.dll

  • libspeex.dll

For command line (test.exe) and XMPlay this means in the directory with the main .exe, or possibly a directory in the PATH variable.

For Winamp, the above .dll also go near main winamp.exe, but note that in_vgmstream.dll plugin itself goes in Plugins.

On other OSs like Linux/Mac, libs need to be installed before compiling, then should be used automatically, though not all may enabled at the moment due to build scripts issues.

1.2. Components

1.2.1. test.exe/vgmstream-cli (command line decoder)

Windows: unzip test.exe and follow the above instructions for installing needed extra files. test.exe is used for historical reasons, but you can call it vgmstream-cli.exe, anyway.

Others: build instructions can be found in the BUILD.md document (can be compiled with CMake/Make/autotools).

Converts playable files to .wav. Typical usage would be:

  • test.exe -o happy.wav happy.adx to decode happy.adx to happy.wav.

If command-line isn’t your thing you can simply drag and drop one or multiple files to the executable to decode them as (filename.ext).wav.

There are multiple options that alter how the file is converted, for example:

  • test.exe -m file.adx: print info but don’t decode

  • test.exe -i -o file_noloop.wav file.hca: convert without looping

  • test.exe -s 2 -F file.fsb: write 2nd subsong + ending after 2.0 loops

  • test.exe -l 3.0 -f 5.0 -d 3.0 file.wem: 3 loops, 3s delay, 5s fade

  • test.exe -o bgm_?f.wav file1.adx file2.adx: convert multiple files to bgm_(name).wav

Available commands are printed when run with no flags. Note that you can also achieve similar results for other plugins using TXTP, described later.

Output filename in -o may use wildcards:

  • ?s: sets current subsong (or 0 if format doesn’t have subsongs)

  • ?0Ns: same, but left pads subsong with up to N zeroes

  • ?n: internal stream name, or input filename if format doesn’t have name

  • ?f: input filename

For example test.exe -s 2 -o ?04s_?n.wav file.fsb could generate 0002_song1.wav. Default output filename is ?f.wav, or ?f#?s.wav if you set subsongs (-s/-S).

1.2.2. in_vgmstream (Winamp plugin)

Windows: drop the in_vgmstream.dll in your Winamp Plugins directory, and follow the above instructions for installing needed extra files.

Others: may be possible to use through Wine.

Once installed, supported files should be playable. There is a simple config menu to tweak some options too. If the Preferences… > Plug-ins > Input shows vgmstream as “NOT LOADED” that means extra DLL files aren’t in the correct place. Plugin priority

An (uncommon) issue is clashing extensions. When opening a file, Winamp first asks all plugins if they support the file. Here vgmstream accepts files it can play and rejects anything it can’t, but if no plugin “claims” the file (and most don’t), Winamp will just pass it to the first .dll in the plugin folder that reports the extension. Since vgmstream supports tons of extensions sometimes it may receive files it can’t play (even after rejecting them before). This oddness can be solved by renaming the plugins’ .dll so vgmstream goes last.

For example, vgmstream ignores sequenced .vgm but supports streamed .vgm (another format). If your in_vgm plugin version doesn’t “claim” sequenced .vgm Winamp may send it to vgmstream by mistake (so won’t be playable), depending on how it’s named. Here vgmstream has higher priority and fail:


And here has lower and will be playable:


Note the above is also affected by vgmstream’s options Enable common exts (vgmstream will accept and play common files like .wav or .ogg), and Enable unknown exts (will try to play files outside the known extension list, which is often possible through TXTH).

1.2.3. foo_input_vgmstream (foobar2000 plugin)

Windows: every file should be installed automatically when opening the .fb2k-component bundle.

Others: may be possible to use through Wine.

Note that vgmstream currently requires at least foobar v1.5 to run. Plugin priority

If multiple plugins supports the same format, which plugin is used depends on config. You can change plugin’s priority in options > Playback > Decoding. Due to the huge amount of supported formats, you may want to set it low enough.

Note the above is also affected by vgmstream’s options Enable common exts (vgmstream will accept and play common files like .wav or .ogg), and Enable unknown exts (will try to play files outside the known extension list, which is often possible through TXTH). Default title

By default vgmstream auto-generates a title tag depending on subsongs, stream name and other details. You can change this by setting “override title” in the options, that uses foobar’s default (filename without extension) and tweating the display format in Preferences > Display > Default User Interface (may need to add some conditionals to handle files with/out subsongs). vgmstream automatically exports these tags:

  • STREAM_INDEX: current subsong, if file has subsongs, starts from 1

  • STREAM_COUNT: total subsongs, if file has subsongs

  • STREAM_NAME: internal name, that also exists in some formats without subsongs For example: [%artist% - ]%title% [%stream_index%][/ %stream_name%]

You can also set an unique Destination pattern when converting to .wav (even without) setting override title). For example [$num(%stream_index%,2)] %filename%[-%stream_name%] may create a name like 02 BGM-EVENT_SAD. Playlist issues

A known quirk is that when loop options or tags change, playlist time/info won’t update automatically. You need to manually refresh it by selecting songs and doing shift + right click > Tagging > Reload info from file(s).

1.2.4. xmp-vgmstream (XMPlay plugin)

Windows: drop the xmp-vgmstream.dll in your XMPlay plugins directory, and follow the above instructions for installing the other files needed.

Others: may be possible to use through Wine.

Note that this has less features compared to in_vgmstream and has no config. Since XMPlay supports Winamp plugins you may also use in_vgmstream.dll instead. Plugin priority

Because the XMPlay MP3 decoder incorrectly tries to play some vgmstream extensions, you need to manually fix it by going to options > plugins > input > vgmstream and in the “priority filetypes” put: ahx,asf,awc,ckd,fsb,genh,lwav,msf,p3d,rak,scd,txth,xvag (or any other similar case). Missing subsongs

XMPlay cannot support vgmstream’s type of mixed subsongs due to player limitations (with neither xmp-vgmstream nor in_vgmstream plugins). You can make one TXTP per subsong to play them instead (explained below).

1.2.5. Audacious plugin

Windows: not possible at the moment.

Others: needs to be manually built. Instructions can be found in BUILD.md document in vgmstream’s source code (can be done with CMake or autotools). Plugin priority

vgmstream sets its priority on compile time, low enough for most other plugins to go first (but not all). Can be changed with AUDACIOUS_VGMSTREAM_PRIORITY.

1.2.6. vgmstream123 (command line player)

Windows/Linux: needs to be manually built. Instructions can be found in the BUILD.md document. On Windows it needs libao.dll and appropriate includes.

Usage: vgmstream123 [options] INFILE ...

The program is meant to be a simple stand-alone player, supporting playback of vgmstream files through libao. Most options should be similar to CLI’s (-m, -i, -s N and so on, though not fully equivalent), use -h for full info. Extra features

On Linux, files compressed with gzip/bzip2/xz also work, as identified by a .gz/.bz2/.xz extension. The file will be decompressed to a temp dir using the respective utility program (which must be installed and accessible) and then loaded.

It also supports playlists, and will recognize a special extended-M3U tag specific to vgmstream of the following form:


(Any subset of these four parameters may appear in the line, in any order)

When this “magic comment” appears in the playlist before a vgmstream-compatible file, the given parameters will be applied to the playback of said file. This makes it feasible to play vgmstream files directly instead of needing to make “arranged” WAV/MP3 conversions ahead of time.

The tag syntax follows the conventions established in Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming standard, whose docs discuss extending M3U with arbitrary tags.

1.3. Special cases

vgmstream aims to support most audio formats as-is, but some files require extra handling.

1.3.1. Subsongs

Certain container formats have multiple audio files, usually called “subsongs”, often not meant to be extracted (no simple separation from container).

By default vgmstream plays first subsong and reports total subsongs, if the format is able to contain them. Easiest to use would be the foobar/winamp/Audacious plugins, that are able to “unpack” those subsongs automatically into the playlist.

With CLI tools, you can select a subsong using the -s flag followed by a number, for example: text.exe -s 5 file.bank or vgmstream123 -s 5 file.bank.

Using vgmstream-cli you can convert multiple subsongs at once using the -S flag. WARNING, MAY TAKE A LOT OF SPACE! Some files have been observed to contain +20000 subsongs, so don’t use this lightly. Remember to set an output name (-o) with subsong wildcards (or leave it alone for the defaults).

  • test.exe -s 1 -S 100 file.bank: writes from subsong 1 to subsong 100

  • test.exe -s 101 -S 0 file.bank: writes from subsong 101 to max subsong (automatically changes 0 to max)

  • test.exe -S 0 file.bank: writes from subsong 1 to max subsong

  • test.exe -s 1 -S 5 -o bgm.wav file.bank: writes 5 subsongs, but all overwrite the same file = wrong.

  • test.exe -s 1 -S 5 -o bgm_?02s.wav file.bank: writes 5 subsongs, each named differently = correct.

For other players without support, or to play only a few choice subsongs, you can create multiple .txtp (explained later) to select one, like bgm.sxd#10.txtp (plays subsong 10 in bgm.sxd).

You can use this python script to autogenerate one .txtp per subsong: https://github.com/vgmstream/vgmstream/tree/master/cli/tools/txtp_maker.py Put in the same dir as test.exe/vgmstream_cli, then to drag-and-drop files with subsongs to txtp_maker.py (it has CLI options to control output too).

1.3.2. Common and unknown extensions

A few extensions that vgmstream supports clash with common ones. Since players like foobar or Winamp don’t react well to that, they may be renamed to these “designated fake extensions” to make them playable through vgmstream.

  • .aac to .laac (tri-Ace games)

  • .ac3 to .lac3 (standard AC3)

  • .aif to .laif (standard Mac AIF, Asobo AIF, Ogg)

  • .aiff/aifc to .laiff/laifc (standard Mac AIF)

  • .asf to .lasf (EA games, Argonaut ASF)

  • .bin to .lbin (various formats)

  • .flac to .lflac (standard FLAC)

  • .mp2 to .lmp2 (standard MP2)

  • .mp3 to .lmp3 (standard MP3)

  • .mp4 to .lmp4 (standard M4A)

  • .mpc to .lmpc (standard MPC)

  • .ogg to .logg (standard OGG)

  • .opus to .lopus (standard OPUS or Switch OPUS)

  • .stm to .lstm (Rockstar STM)

  • .wav to .lwav (standard WAV, various formats)

  • .wma to .lwma (standard WMA)

  • .(any) to .vgmstream (FFmpeg formats or TXTH)

Command line tools don’t have this restriction and will accept the original filename.

The main advantage of renaming here is that vgmstream may use the file’s internal loop info, or apply subtle fixes, but is also limited in some ways (like ignoring standard tags). .vgmstream is a catch-all extension that may work as a last resort to make a file playable.

Some plugins have options that allow “common extensions” to be played, making any renaming unnecessary. You may need to adjust plugin priority in player’s options first. Note that vgmstream also accepts certain extension-less files as-is too.

Similarly, vgmstream has a curated list of known extensions, that plugins may take into account and ignore unknowns. Through TXTH you can make unknown files playable, but you also need to either rename or set plugin options to allow “unknown extensions” (or, preferably, report this new extension so it can be added to the known list).

It’s also possible to make a .txtp file that opens files with those common/unknown extensions as a way to force them into vgmstream without renaming. Windows 10 folder bugs

Windows 10’s Web Media Extensions is a pre-installed package seems to read metadata from files like .ogg, .opus, .flac and so on when opening a folder. However it tends to noticeably slow down opening folders, also seems to crash and leave files unusable when reading unsupported formats like Switch Opus (rather than Ogg Opus).

Renaming extensions should prevent those issues, or just uninstall those Web Media Extension for better experience anyway. Fallout SFX .ACM

Due to technical limitations, to play Fallout 1/2 SFX you need to rename them from .acm to .wavc (forces mono).

1.3.3. Demuxed videos

vgmstream also supports audio from videos, but usually must be demuxed (extracted without modification) first, since vgmstream doesn’t attempt to support most of them (it does support a few video formats as-is though).

The easiest way to do this is using VGMToolBox’s “Video Demultiplexer” option for common game video formats (.bik, .vp6, .pss, .pam, .pmf, .usm, .xmv, etc).

For standard videos formats (.avi, .mp4, .webm, .m2v, .ogv, etc) not supported by VGMToolBox, FFmpeg binary may work:

  • ffmpeg.exe -i (input file) -vn -acodec copy (output file) Output extension may need to be adjusted to some appropriate audio file depending on the audio codec used. ffprobe.exe can list this codec, though the correct audio extension depends on the video itself (like .avi to .wav/mp2/mp3 or .ogv to .ogg).

Some games use custom video formats, demuxer scripts in .bms format may be found on the internet.

1.3.4. Companion files

Some formats have companion files with external info, that should be left together:

  • .mus: playlist with .acm

  • .ogg.sli or .sli: loop info for .ogg

  • .ogg.sfl : loop info for .ogg

  • .opus.sli: loop info for .opus

  • .pos: loop info for .wav

  • .acb: names for .awb

  • .xsb: names for .xwb

Similarly some formats split header+body data in separate files, examples:

  • .abk+.ast

  • .bnm+.apm/wav

  • .ktsl2asbin+.ktsl2stbin

  • .mih+.mib

  • .mpf+.mus

  • .pk+.spk

  • .sb0+.sp0 (or other numbers instead of 0)

  • .sgh+.sgd

  • .snr+.sns

  • .spt+.spd

  • .sts+.int

  • .xwh+.xwb

  • .xps+dat

  • .wav.str+.wav

  • .wav+.dcs

  • .wbh+.wbd

Both are needed to play and must be together. The usual rule is you open the bigger file (body), save a few formats where the smaller (header) file is opened instead for technical reasons (mainly some bank formats).

Generally companion files are named the same (bgm.awb+bgm.acb), or internally point to another file sfx.sb0+STREAM.sb0. A few formats may have different names which are hardcoded instead of being listed in the header file (e.g. .mpf+.mus). In these cases, you can use TXTM format to specify associated companion files. See Artificial files below for more information. Dual stereo

A special case of the above is “dual file stereo”, where 2 similarly named mono files are fused together to make 1 stereo song.

  • (file)_L.dsp+(file)_R.dsp

  • (file)-l.dsp+(file)-l.dsp

  • (file).L+(file).R

  • (file)_0.dsp+(file)_1.dsp

  • (file)_Left.dsp+(file)_Right.dsp

  • (file).v0+(file).v1

vgmstream automatically detects these pairs and makes a stereo song from L + R. You can open either L or R and you’ll get the same stereo. If you rename one of the files the “pair” won’t be found, and both will be played as mono. This is only done for a few choice formats (mainly .dsp and .vag) that commonly split audio like that, though. OS case sensitiveness

When using OS with case sensitive filesystem (mainly Linux), a known issue with companion files is that vgmstream generally tries to find them using lowercase extension.

This means that if the developer used uppercase instead (e.g. bgm.ABK+bgm.AST) loading will fail. It’s technically complex to fix this, so for the time being the only option is renaming the companion extension to lowercase.

A particularly nasty variation of that is that some formats load files by full name (e.g. STREAM.SS0), but sometimes the actual filename is in other case (Stream.ss0), and some files could even point to that with yet another case. You could try adding symlinks in various upper/lower/mixed cases to handle this, though only a few formats do this, mainly Ubisoft banks.

Regular formats without companion files should work fine in upper/lowercase. For .(ext).txth files make sure (ext) matches case too.

1.3.5. Decryption keys

Certain formats have encrypted data, and need a key to decrypt. vgmstream will try to find the correct key from a list, but it can be provided by a companion file:

  • .adx: .adxkey (keystring, 8-byte keycode, or derived 6 byte start/mult/add key)

  • .ahx: .ahxkey (derived 6-byte start/mult/add key)

  • .hca: .hcakey (8-byte decryption key, a 64-bit number)

    • .awb/.acb also may use .hcakey, and will combine with an internal AWB subkey

    • May set a 8-byte key followed a 2-byte AWB subkey for newer HCA

  • .fsb: .fsbkey (decryption key in hex, usually between 8-32 bytes)

  • .bnsf: .bnsfkey (decryption key, a string up to 24 chars)

The key file can be .(ext)key (for the whole folder), or `(name).(ext)key” (for a single file). The format is made up to suit vgmstream.

1.3.6. Artificial files

In some cases a file only has raw data, while important header info (codec type, sample rate, channels, etc) is stored in the .exe or other hard to locate places. Or maybe the file plays normally, but has many layers at once that are silenced dynamically during gameplay, or looping metadata is stored externally.

Cases like those can be supported using an artificial files with info vgmstream needs.

Creation of these files is meant for advanced users, full docs can be found in vgmstream source. TXTH

Text files describing a format’s header, to make unsupported files playable (helps vgmstream understand the file you are trying to open).

Must be named .txth or .(ext).txth (used for the whole folder), or (name.ext).txth (used for a single file). .txth are indirectly used when a (file.ext) is opened but vgmstream can’t play it by default.

.txth contains static values, or dynamic text commands to read data from the original file, serving as a fake header of sorts.

Usage example (used when opening an unknown file named bgm_01.pcm):


codec = PCM16LE         #standard PCM wave data
channels = @0x04        #read in the file, at offset 4
sample_rate = 48000     #hardcoded
start_offset = 0x10     #first 0x10 bytes are the header
num_samples = data_size #auto TXTP

Text files that apply playback parameters, to customize how other files are played.

Must be named (any name).txtp and opened directly. Useful when games play songs in various non-standard ways, so we can tell vgmstream to handle files differently.

.txtp can do multiple things (can be combined, too):

  • join a playlist of files (for separate intro + loop songs)

  • play a list of single-channel files as a single multichannel file

  • install looping to any file (for files with looping done in code)

  • remove unwanted channels (for layered exploration + action songs)

  • select a subsong in an audio bank

  • playback config such as volume or max playable time

  • apply complex real-time mixing

  • many other features

Usage examples (open directly, name can be set freely):


# plays 2 files as a single one
loop_mode = auto


# plays subsong number 10


# force looping an .mp3 from 10 seconds up to file end
song02.mp3 #I 10.0


# plays channels 3 and 4 only, removes rest
music01.bfstm #C3,4 TXTM

A text file named .txtm for some formats with companion files. It lists name combos determining which companion files to load for each main file.

It is needed for formats where name combos are hardcoded, so vgmstream doesn’t know which companion file(s) to load if its name doesn’t match the main file. Note that companion file order is usually important.

Usage example (used when opening files in the left part of the list):

# Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (PS2)
exterior.mpf: exterior.mus,ext_o.mus
willow.mpf: willow.mus,willow_o.mus
# Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D (3DS) names for .awb
bgm_2_streamfiles.awb: bgm_2.acb
# Snack World (Switch) names for .awb (single .acb for all .awb, order matters)
bgm.awb: bgm.acb
bgm_DLC1.awb: bgm.acb

In rare cases you need to setup some extra flags

event_stream2.awb: event_stream2.acb
event_stream2_dlc1.awb: event_stream2.acb
event_stream2_dlc2.awb: event_stream2.acb
event_stream2_dlc3.awb: event_stream2.acb
# next "flag" allows both effect.acb and even_stream2.acb in the same file
effect.awb: effect.acb
effect_dlc2.awb: effect.acb
effect_dlc3.awb: effect.acb GENH

A byte header placed right before the original data, modifying it. The resulting file must be (name).genh. Contains static header data.

Programs like VGMToolbox can help to create GENH, but consider using TXTH instead, GENH is mostly deprecated. TXTH is recommended over GENH as it’s far easier to create and has many more functions, plus doesn’t modify original data.

1.3.7. Plugin conflicts

Since vgmstream supports a huge amount of formats it’s possibly that some of them are also supported in other plugins, and this sometimes causes conflicts. If a file that should isn’t playing or looping, first make sure vgmstream is really opening it (should show “VGMSTREAM” somewhere in the file info), and try to remove a few other plugins.

foobar’s FFmpeg plugin and foo_adpcm are known to cause issues, but in modern versions (+1.4.x) you can configure plugin priority (go to Preferences then playback > decoding and move vgmstream higher or other plugins lower).

In Audacious, vgmstream is set with slightly higher priority than FFmpeg, since it steals many formats that you normally want to loop (like .adx). However other plugins may set themselves higher, stealing formats instead. If current Audacious version doesn’t let to change plugin priority you may need to disable some plugins (requires restart) or set priority on compile time. Particularly, mpg123 plugin may steal formats that aren’t even MP3, making impossible for vgmstream to play them properly.

1.3.8. Channel issues

Some games layer a huge number of channels, that are disabled or downmixed during gameplay. The player may be unable to play those files (for example foobar can only play up to 8 channels, and Winamp depends on your sound card). For those files you can set the “downmix” option in vgmstream, that can reduce the number of channels to a playable amount.

Note that this type of downmixing is very generic (not meant to be used when converting to other formats), channels are re-assigned and volumes modified in simplistic ways, since it can’t guess how the file should be properly adjusted. Most likely it will sound a bit quieter than usual.

You can also choose which channels to play using TXTP. For example, create a file named song.adx#C1,2.txtp to play only channels 1 and 2 from song.adx. TXTP also has command to set how files are downmixed, like song.adx #@downmix.txtp for standard 5.1/4.0/etc audio to stereo, or manual (per-channel) mixing.

1.3.9. Average bitrate

Note that vgmstream shows the “file bitrate” (counts all data) as opposed to “codec bitrate” (counts pure audio-only parts). This means bitrate may be slightly higher (or much higher, if file is bloated) than what encoder tools or other players may report.

Calculating 100% correct codec bitrate usually needs manual reading of the whole file, slowing down opening files and needing extra effort by devs for minimal benefit, so it’s not done.

In some cases it’s debatable what the codec bitrate is. Unlike MP3/AAC, 48kbps of raw Vorbis/Opus is unplayable/unusable unless it’s packed into .ogg/wem/etc with extra data, that does increase final file size (thus bitrate) by some percent.

Also, keep in mind video game audio bitrate isn’t always a great indicator of quality. There are many factors in play like encoder, type of codec, sample rate and so on. A higher bitrate .wav can sound worse than a lower .ogg (like mono 22050hz .wav vs stereo 48000hz .ogg).

1.3.10. Containers

Some formats are audio containers of other common audio formats. For example .acb/.awb may contain standard .hca inside. Rather than extracting the internal “files”, it’s recommended that you keep data unmodified for preservation purposes. Sometimes containers have useful data (like loop info or names), that you may be unknowingly throwing away if you extract internal files.

It’s a good practice (and simpler) to just let containers be and play them directly with vgmstream. Newer .acb/.awb have extra data needed to decrypt the .hca, so if you are already used to those containers you don’t need to worry about extracted .hca not working later. Plus you can use TXTH’s “subfile” function to easily make unsupported containers playable:

# Simple container with an Ogg inside. Maybe values 0x00..0x10 could contain
# loops or other useful info, that other users are able to figure out:
subfile_extension = ogg
subfile_offset = 0x10

With unmodified data, you can always extract the internal files later if you change your mind, but you can’t get the (potentially useful) container data back once extracted.

However, if your file is a generic container (like a .zip, that could hold graphics or audio) you may safely extract the internal files without worry.

Note that some formats are audio banks rather than containers (like .fsb), in that info for playing the audio is part of the bank header, and extracting internal files as-is isn’t really possible. Or, perhaps you could to transmogrify the original header into something else, but for data preservation purposes it’s preferable to leave it as-is (plus can use TXTH to play unsupported formats).

If your main motivation for extracting is to rename or have loose files, remember you can simply use TXTP to point to a subsong, and name that .txtp whatever you want, without having to touch original data or needing custom extractors.

1.3.11. Cue formats

Some formats that vgmstream supports (SQEX’s .sab, CRI’s .acb+awb, Wwise’s .bnk+wem, Microsoft’s .xss+.xwb….) are “cue” formats. The way these work is (more or less), they have a bunch of named audio “cues”/“events” in a section of the file, that are called to play one or multiple audio “waves”/“materials” in another section.

Rather than handling cues, vgmstream shows and plays waves, then assigns cue names that point to the wave if possible, since vgmstream mainly deals with streamed/wave audio and simulating cues is out of scope. Figuring out a whole cue format can be a huge time investment, so handling waves only is often enough.

Cues can be very complex, like N cues pointing to 1 wave with varying pitch, or 1 cue playing one random wave out of 3. Sometimes not all waves are referenced by cues, or cues do undesirable effects that make only playing waves a good compromise. Simulating cues is better handled with external tools that allow more flexibility (for example, this project simulates Wwise’s extremely complex cues/events by creating .TXTP telling vgmstream which config and waves to play, and one can filter desired cues/TXTP: https://github.com/bnnm/wwiser).

1.4. Logged errors and unplayable supported files

Some formats should normally play, but somehow don’t. In those cases plugins can print vgmstream’s error info to console (for example, .fsb with an unknown codec, .hca/awb with missing decryption key, bank has no audio, .txth is malformed, or .wav has an incorrectly ripped size).

Console location and format depends on plugin:

  • foobar2000: found in View menu > Console

  • Winamp: open vgmstream’s config (Preferences… > Plug-ins > vgmstream + Configure button) then press “Open Log”

  • Audacious: start with audacious -V from terminal

  • CLI utils: printed to stdout directly

Only a few errors types are printed but may be helpful for more common cases.

1.5. Tagging

Some of vgmstream’s plugins support simple read-only tagging via external files.

Tags are loaded from a text/M3U-like file named !tags.m3u in the song folder. You don’t have to load your songs with this M3U though, but you can (for pre-made order). The format is meant to be both a quick playlist and tags, but the tagfile itself just ‘looks’ like an M3U. you can load files manually or using other playlists and still get tags.

Format is:

# ignored comment
# $GLOBAL_COMMAND (extra features)
# @GLOBAL_TAG text (applies all following tracks)

# %LOCAL_TAG text (applies to next track only)
# %LOCAL_TAG text (applies to next track only)

Accepted tags depend on the player (foobar: any; Winamp: see ATF config, Audacious: few standard ones), typically ALBUM/ARTIST/TITLE/DISC/TRACK/COMPOSER/etc, lower or uppercase, separated by one or multiple spaces. Repeated tags overwrite previous (ex.- may define @COMPOSER multiple times for “sections”). It only reads up to current filename though, so any @TAG below would be ignored.

GLOBAL_COMMANDs currently can be:

  • AUTOTRACK: sets %TRACK tag automatically (1..N as files are encountered in the tag file).

  • AUTOALBUM: sets %ALBUM tag automatically using the containing dir as album.

  • EXACTMATCH: disables matching .txtp with regular files (explained below).

Playlist title formatting (how tags are shown) should follow player’s config, as vgmstream simply passes tags to the player. It’s better to name the file lowercase !tags.m3u rather than !Tags.m3u (Windows accepts both but Linux is case sensitive).


# @ALBUM    God Hand
# @ARTIST   Masafumi Takada, Jun Fukuda
# * Global tags apply to all songs, unless overwritten
#   Better use ARTIST instead of ALBUMARTIST (more compatible)
#   Tags usually go in CAPS for readability but no differences

# * This adds TRACK tags automatically from 1 to N

# %ARTIST   Masafumi Takada
# %TITLE    Be ready for it

#... (more songs)

# %ARTIST   Jun Fukuda
# %TITLE    Duel Storm

#... (more songs)

Note that with global tags you don’t need to put all files or info inside. This would be a perfectly valid !tags.m3u:

# @ALBUM    Game
# @ARTIST   Various Artists

1.5.1. Compatibility and non-English filenames and tags

For best compatibility save !tags.m3u as “ANSI” or “UTF-8” (with BOM).

Tags and filenames using extended characters (like Japanese) should work, as long as !tags.m3u is saved as “UTF-8 with BOM” (UTF-8 is a way to define non-English characters, and BOM is a helper “byte-order” mark). Windows’ notepad creates files “with BOM” when selecting UTF-8 encoding in save as dialog, or you may use other programs like notepad++.exe to convert them.

More exactly, vgmstream needs the file saved in UTF-8 to match tags and filenames (and ignores BOM), while foobar/Winamp won’t understand UTF-8 filenames unless .m3u is saved with BOM (ignoring tags). Whereas if saved in what Windows calls “Unicode” (UTF-16) neither may work.

Conversely, if your filenames only use English/ANSI characters you may ommit BOM, and if your tags are English only you may save the .m3u as ANSI. Or if you only use !tags.m3u for tags and not for opening files (for example opening them manually or with a playlist.m3u8) you won’t need BOM either.

Other players may not need BOM (or CRLF), but for consistency use them when dealing with non-ASCII names and tags.

1.5.2. Tags with spaces

Some players like foobar accept tags with spaces. To use them surround the tag with both characters.

# ...

As a side effect if text has @/% inside you also need them: # @ALBUMARTIST@ Tom-H@ck

For interoperability with other plugins, consider using only common tags without spaces, and tags that are commonly accepted in all players like ARTIST instead of ALBUMARTIST.

1.5.3. ReplayGain

foobar2000/Winamp can apply the following replaygain tags (if ReplayGain is enabled in preferences):

# %replaygain_track_gain N.NN dB
# %replaygain_track_peak N.NNN
# @replaygain_album_gain N.NN dB
# @replaygain_album_peak N.NNN

1.5.4. TXTP matching

To ease TXTP config, tags with plain files will match .txtp with config, and tags with .txtp config also match plain files:


# @TITLE    Title1
BGM01.adx #P 3.0.txtp
# @TITLE    Title2


# matches "Title1" (1:1)
BGM01.adx #P 3.0.txtp
# matches "Title1" (plain file matches config tag)
# matches "Title2" (config file matches plain tag)
BGM02.wav #P 3.0.txtp
# doesn't match anything (different config can't match)
BGM01.adx #P 10.0.txtp

Since it matches when a tag is found, some cases that depend on order won’t work. You can disable this feature manually then:


# %TITLE    Title3 (without config)
# %TITLE    Title3 (with config)
BGM01.adx #I 1.0 90.0 .txtp


# Would match "Title3 (without config)" without "$EXACTMATCH", as it's found first
# Could use "BGM01.adx.txtp" as first entry in !tags.m3u instead (different configs won't match)
BGM01.adx #I 1.0 90.0 .txtp

1.5.5. Issues

If your player isn’t picking tags make sure vgmstream is detecting the song (as other plugins can steal its extensions, see above), .m3u is properly named and that filenames inside match the song filename. For Winamp you need to make sure options > titles > advanced title formatting checkbox is set and the format defined.

When tags change behavior varies depending on player:

  • Winamp: should refresh tags when a different file is played.

  • foobar2000: needs to force refresh (for reasons outside vgmstream’s control)

    • select songs > shift + right click > Tagging > Reload info from file(s).

  • Audacious: files need to be re-added to the playlist

Currently there is no tool to aid in the creation of these tags, but you can create a base .m3u and edit as a text file. You may try this python script to make the base file: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/bnnm/vgm-tools/master/py/tags-maker.py

vgmstream’s “m3u tagging” is meant to be simple to make and share (just a text file), easier to support in multiple players (rather than needing a custom plugin), allow OST-like ordering but also mixable with other .m3u, and be flexible enough to have commands. If you are not satisfied with vgmstream’s tagging format, foobar2000 has other plugins (with write support) that may be of use:

1.6. Virtual TXTP files

Some of vgmstream’s plugins (and CLI) allow you to use virtual .txtp files, that combined with playlists let you make quick song configs.

Normally you can create a physical .txtp file that points to another file with config, and .txtp have a “mini-txtp” mode that configures files with only the filename.

Instead of manually creating .txtp files you can put non-existing virtual .txtp in a .m3u playlist:

# playlist that opens subsongs directly without having to create .txtp
# notice the full filename, then #(config), then ".txtp" (spaces are optional)
bank_bgm_full.nub  #s1  .txtp
bank_bgm_full.nub  #s10 .txtp

Combine with tagging (see above) for extra fun OST-like config.


# play 1 loop, delay and do a longer fade
# %TITLE    Too Hot !!
circus_a_mix_ver2.adx       #l 1.0 #d 5.0 #f 15.0 .txtp

# play 1 loop instead of the default 2 then fade with the song's internal fading
# %TITLE    Yet... Oh see mind
boss2_3ningumi_ver6.adx     #l 1.0  #F .txtp


You can also use it in CLI for quick access to some txtp-exclusive functions:

# force change sample rate to 22050 (don't forget to use " with spaces)
test.exe -o btl_koopa1_44k_lp.wav "btl_koopa1_44k_lp.brstm  #h22050.txtp"

Support for this feature is limited by player itself, as foobar and Winamp allow non-existent files referenced in a .m3u, while other players may filter them first.

You can use this python script to autogenerate one .txtp per virtual-txtp: https://github.com/vgmstream/vgmstream/tree/master/cli/tools/txtp_dumper.py Drag and drop the .m3u, or any text file with .txtp (it has CLI options to control output too).

1.7. Sequences and streams

Roughly, there are two types of game audio:

  • streams: prerecorded audio where all instruments are pre-mixed into a single file, often compressed with some custom format.

  • sequences: series of instrument notes, typically in MIDI-like formats with a bank of instrument sounds.

As the name implies, vgmstream plays “streams”. Old games mainly use sequences (very small and more dynamic), while other games use streams (easier to handle but lot bigger and sometimes CPU-intensive).

vgmstream’s internals are tailored to play streams so, in other words, it’s not possible to add support for sequenced audio unless massive changes were done, basically becoming another program entirely. There are other projects better suited for playing sequences.