AcidWax Windows® Media Player Visualizer:
What is AcidWax?
AcidWax is a music “visualizer” that turns
sounds into graphic works of art. It features high resolution
hardware-accelerated graphics combining texture, color, and advanced
mathematics such as real-time fluid flow simulations. It can be run as a
“plug in” inside of the Windows Media Player, or as a stand-alone utility to
visualize microphone input.
to look at while you listen to music
to look at while you create music
way to make artwork such as Windows Wallpapers
Updates and Purchasing:
- Important: Please make sure
the software runs on your computer using the free version prior to
- Windows 7: This software is not yet compatible with Windows 7 or Media Player version 12.
GHz or faster processor
RAM or higher
Windows® XP, or Windows Vista™
Media Player version 10 or 11
level” OpenGL® accelerated video card
bit color or higher
Installer version 2.0 or newer (which is on all computers starting with
Windows 2000 Service Pack 3)
performance is highly dependent on the power of graphics cards. For best
performance, use a high performance video card. However, a fast graphics
card is only ½ of the performance requirements…
performance is highly dependent on the speed of your computer. It is doing
complex fluid calculations that are not typical of most other visualizers.
For best results run on a very fast computer (high GHz numbers). If you
run on a low-end computer, expect low-end results – even if you have had
good results with other visualizations. AcidWax defaults to a
configuration for high end systems. Use the on-screen controls to
reduce the set the “Texture Detail Settings” to lower levels to reduce CPU
load and increase frame rate (with correspondingly reduced visual
on systems that do not meet the minimum system requirements may result in
poor visualizer performance, or not work at all.
may be impossible to run it on some systems. AcidWax is not guaranteed to
run on all system configurations. Use the free download as your
opportunity to test before purchasing.
notes for those running Windows Vista:
a small performance decrease when running on Windows Vista.
latest version of Windows Media Player can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download
is not compatible with some Windows Media Player “skins”. It is intended
to be run in the default Windows Media Player skin configuration, and in
full screen or full window mode.
any running applications, including Windows Media Player and Internet
- Important: If you have a previous version installed, you
must un-install it first. The “Remove” dialog will automatically
appear when you try to install the new version. If this occurs, allow it
to un-install, and then re-run the installer to install the new version.
on the AcidWax.msi installer file, and
follow on-screen instructions.
not run other programs or perform other activities on the computer during
installation. Doing so can potentially corrupt the installation.
same installer is used for the free and purchased versions of AcidWax.
Therefore, all that is needed to upgrade to the full version is a
password. To purchase, please visit http://www.plasmavis.com/acidwax/.
shortcut to this “ReadMe” file will be placed on your desktop, along with
a short-cut to “Buy AcidWax”. If you do not wish these icons to be on
your desktop, simply delete them by clicking on the icon, and pressing
“delete” on your keyboard.
short cuts will be placed on your “Start” menu under “Program Files /
other files will be copied to a sub-folder of the Windows Media Player
(the standard location for visualizations.)
troubleshooting section below if you have
the Windows “Add / Remove Programs” utility. This is accessed from the
Windows Control Panel. Make sure that all applications are closed
(including the Windows Media Player) during the removal process.
Instructions for Use:
Note: These instructions assume Windows XP or
Vista and Windows Media Player 11. For other systems the instructions may vary
slightly from what is here.
Acid Wax can be run in “stand alone” mode, or
as a visualizer within the Windows Media Player.
To run the Stand-alone
the Windows Start Menu, Click on “Start / Programs / Acid Wax / PlasmaVis
should start immediately. Use your computers microphone input for
additional effect. Please note that not all sound cards or microphone
input are supported.
To run the Media Player Visualizer:
open Windows Media Player, start playing some music, then go to “now playing”
to show the visualizer. (Note that the exact method for doing this will depend
on the version of Windows Media Player that you are using.)
AcidWax is not showing, choose it from the “Now Playing” / “visualizations”
running, put on your favorite music, dim the lights, turn up the volume, double
click on the display to run it in full screen, and then stare at it for hours.
access AcidWax controls, move your mouse towards the top left corner of
the visualizer display. Controls will drop down:
Use these controls to optimize the visualizer
to your hardware and preferences.
Note: These controls may not be available when
running in “mini” mode (on the Windows Taskbar), or when the window is
otherwise stretched smaller than the space the controls occupy.
New Visualization - Keyboard
Randomly chooses new visuals
Choose Visualization Preset – Keyboard
Allows one to pick from a variety of preset
visuals, as shown below:
On this screen, the “Random” button does the
same thing as the “New Visualization” button.
Configure preferences related to how AcidWax
Lock / Unlock Visualization – Keyboard
When locked, the current visualization will
continue to animate, but it will not change to a different visualization until
it is either unlocked, the “new visualization” button is pressed, or a
different preset is chosen.
Screenshot to file – Keyboard Equivalent: S
If you are running in Windows Vista,
then screenshots are saved to:
If you are running in Windows XP or
older, then screenshots are saved to:
C:\Program Files\Windows Media
Tip: To access the screen-shot folder quickly, click on the “View
Screen Shots” button in the “Screen Shots” tab:
(This will open an Explorer Window to this
Tip: To set a screen-shot as your Windows
Right-click on the file, and choose “Set as Desktop Background”
Windows XP or Older: Right-click on your Windows Desktop, and Choose
“Properties”, and then choose the “Deskop” tab, then press the “Browse”
button to browse to the folder containing the image.
Help (shows this ReadMe file)
Details on configuration options:
Texture Detail Setting
These settings allow optimization of visual
quality and speed. Texture detail has a huge effect on the performance of
AcidWax and the amount of CPU AcidWax uses. If you intend to run other
applications at the same time as AcidWax, it is recommended that you use lower
resolution settings. If you intend to simply stare at AcidWax when not doing
anything else, pick a higher detail setting – one that gives you lots of detail
without too low of a frame-rate.
What setting is “best” will depend on your
computer’s capabilities, and your personal preference:
fastest performance choose a “Low” detail setting. Lower settings are
best for computers with slow processors.
best image quality, choose a “High” detail setting. Higher settings
only work on very fast computers.
The higher the visual quality, the higher the
hardware requirements needed in order to view the visualization at a high frame
rate. Fluid flow calculations are running on the processor of the computer
(not the video card.) These settings determine the size of the calculation to
perform. The larger the size of the calculation, the faster of a computer is
needed, but the more stunning the clarity of the fluid flow in the
visualization. It takes a very fast computer to use the “High” setting, and
it takes 4x the speed of a computer to run the Super-High setting. At the time
of this writing, the “Extreme” setting is just barely usable on the hottest
hardware available for under $6,000.00
Tip: Although the Super High and Extreme settings may
not perform well on your computer, they can make for some nice screen-shots or
Windows wallpaper. (See Save Screenshot to file
The speed slider affects how quickly 3D
shapes move, and also affects the amount of time between changing 3D shapes.
AcidWax creates visualizations by combining
various settings randomly, producing thousands of possible different
visualizations. With the advanced settings, it is possible to adjust these
settings to make a custom variation. There are seven settings which can be
Shape - This setting chooses the 3d dimensional
shape that textures are projected onto, such as tubes, or planes.
Draw - This affects the shapes that the music
draws on top of the texture.
Texture – Changes the equations used to
create the textures.
Flow multiplier - This affects how
quickly colors flow with the fluid flow fields
Range multiplier - this affect the
range over which the texture is applied. Higher numbers will result in a more
detailed texture, whereas lower numbers will result in less detail.
Coordinate type - the polar setting
plots the texture using polar coordinates, and rectangular uses
"normal" Cartesian X, and Y coordinates.
Overflow - The overflow setting affects what the
colors do when they flow past the edge of the texture. When overflow is
allowed, the colors that flow off one edge wrap around to the opposite edge. When
overflow is off, the colors just stop at the edge.
Display Frames per Second – Displays the
frame-rate at which the visualization is drawn.
Restore Defaults – Restores all
settings on the “Advanced Settings” tab back to their default values. It also
changes the “speed” setting on the “Settings” tab back to its default setting.
Frequently Asked Questions:
If I buy a license, can I install it on multiple computers?
it is for your own personal use, then yes. Refer to the software license
agreement for details.
How do I know if an update is available?
and compare the version number on the web site with the version number in
the AcidWax “about” box. If they are different, then there is an update.
Is AcidWax available for other media players?
What other visualizers does Olsen Software make?
What do I get if I upgrade to the full version?
of the “Trial Version” annoyance graphic.
to all the “Advanced Settings”
larger list of presets to choose from
to take screen-shots
help support our development efforts – thank you!
for details and updated news.
What can I do to get the best performance from AcidWax?
is primarily a function of 2 factors:
Updating your video card to the latest CAD or
“gamer” level video card, and / or updating your video cards device driver can
make a big difference. AcidWax is tested on modern ATI™ and NVIDIA® video
cards. Also, your processor speed is very important for the fluid flow
calculations. Faster computers (in particular with high GHz numbers) allow
running at higher levels of texture detail. AcidWax does not (yet) take
advantage of multiple cores / processors very well, so increasing GHz is the
best route for faster performance.
also needs processor time and memory. Close other running applications
for best performance.
the visualization window size will also improve the speed at which it can
display, since less work is required to render smaller scenes.
How can I get the best image quality from AcidWax?
looks best when running at high resolution and full-screen with a fast
video card on a large monitor with a high contrast ratio, and a fast
computer. Dim the lights in your room for improved visual clarity and
How can I reduce the amount to CPU that AcidWax uses?
the “Texture Detail Setting” in the “Configure AcidWax” menu. Each
change in level is a 4x change in CPU utilization relative to the
How can I take a screen-shot of the image?
#1 – Press the “S” key. This will save a screen-shot as a .jpg image to
your computer. For more information, see the screenshot section above.
#2 – (works with just about any program): Press the “print-screen” key on
your keyboard to copy an image of the screen to the Windows Clipboard,
and then “paste” the image into another document or paint program. Third
party applications such as HyperSnap (http://www.hyperionics.com/) are
also excellent choices for taking screen-shots.
I have a suggestion, comment, or feature request. Who do I contact?
welcome your feedback please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
. We will read all emails we receive, but note that we may not be able
I would like a custom version of AcidWax for my promotional purposes (concert,
magazine distribution, tradeshow, etc.) Where should I start / who should
I’m having troubles.
Revision History (oldest at top):
(March 3, 2007)
(September 2, 2007)
a conflict in Windows Vista with AcidWax sharing the same configuration
(October 30, 2007)
a minor glitch in the visuals that was causing square corners to show up
in the fluid flow.
(June 1, 2008)
installer to behave better on Windows Vista or on computers where the
installing user does not have administrator level privileges.
(September 16, 2008)
Stand-Alone version of AcidWax which does not require Windows Media
Player, and uses a microphone input to generate the visuals.
(December 28, 2008)
major changes to include a wider variety of effects at higher quality
code for slight improvement in speed
additional configuration settings
option to view frame rate (FPS)
“Presets” option with lots of presets to choose from
“Screen-Shot” button and keyboard equivalent (S), and other screenshot
“Lock Visuals” button and keyboard equivalent (L)
“Next Visual” keyboard equivalent (N)
“Extreme” resolution setting
“trial version” less annoying
some minor bugs
support for “mini mode”, which can cause an error on some systems.
(January 2, 2009)
installer to prevent Vista UAC dialog from timing out and spoiling the
installation in the event user does not respond in time.
(January 9, 2009)
installer to prevent a possible lock-up during the installation on Vista
Troubleshooting & Known Bugs:
“This installation package could not be opened. Contact the application
vendor to verify that this is a valid Windows Installer package."
likely, this is a case of a corrupt download. Try downloading the installer
again and re-try.
you are running Windows 2000, it may be that you do not have the correct
version of Windows Installer. (Check minimum
installer seemed to install fine, but the visualizer does not show up at
all in Windows Media Player:
can be caused by unusual security settings on your computer, other
applications or programs or services running during the installation
process, failure to allow user account control to register the DLL (or
failure to respond to the prompt in a timely manner, in which case it may
time out), or other. The solution is…
1. Go to: Start / All
Programs / Accessories
(Note that the “Start” button in Vista is no longer called “Start”, but is
instead the Windows Vista log in the lower left corner of Windows.)
2. Right - click on
"Command Prompt", and choose "Run as administrator". This will open a
“command prompt” window with administrator privileges needed to associate AcidWax
with the Windows Media Player.
this EXACTLY (and
be sure to include the quotes and spaces.):
Regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Windows Media
If you have 64-bit Vista, change the above line to:
Regsvr32 "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Media
If you are unsure if you have the 64 bit version of Vista – you probably don’t.
Most people run 32 bit Vista – even on 64 bit computers.
Note: The exact line of code to enter here depends on the exact
location of your “Program Files” folder, which may differ from the above,
especially on non-English computers. The above assumes that your “Program
Files” folder is named as shown.
4. If all is good, you
should get a “success message that looks something like this:
5. It’s now fixed!
when installing on Windows Vista: “Fatal Error: Installation ended
prematurely because of an error.”
This error message occurs after pressing the “Next” button on the very
first welcome screen dialog of the installer.
problem: Corrupt VB Script
solution #1 (Preferred solution) – Fix VB Script:
Start, All Programs, Accessories then right click on Command Prompt and select
"Run as Administrator"
to your windows\system32 directory
the following command:
solution #2 (alternate solution) – Run installer in “passive” mode.
a command prompt
the “/passive” switch to run the MSI file, as follows:
will then run unattended, and install everything using default settings.
that you may need to also follow the instructions for the “1904 error”
mentioned above after the installation is complete.
when installing or uninstalling:
you see a message similar to this:
anything else is running, close it.
“Retry”. If that does not help, then click “Ignore”
likely, at this point, you are fine. If not, and you discover things are
not working, then reboot your computer, and try again.
upgrading to a previous version, the installer ran fine but the old
version is still there.
installing the software, it is important to remove the old version
first. Do not choose the “Repair” or “Modify” options when presented
with the “Repair / Modify / Remove” dialog – choose only “Remove”. Once
removed, run the new installer in order to install the new version.
Windows Media Player “skins” may not display the visualizer properly, or not at all.
In particular, skins that have external windows for displaying. In these
cases, it is necessary to choose a different skin, or use the Windows
Media Player default interface.
goes completely black: This rarely happens, but if it does,
simply press the “New Visualization” button (or “N” key on the keyboard)
you remove the “Windows Media Player” tool bar, while the media player is
running in the tool bar mode, it can cause Windows Explorer to crash and
users have reported an “Error 1400: Invalid Window Handle” when switching
between AcidWax and other Windows Media Player features, such as watching
videos. It is believed that this bug is fixed in the 22.214.171.124 release,
but it is not known for certain.
you find a bug, please let us know so that we can fix it, or at least
document it. Please send what you know to email@example.com.
- Hiccups: When playing on
low performance computers, AcidWax may experience stuttering frame rates
at times (or all the time on really slow computers). Running at a lower
texture detail setting can be a big help in many cases.
things to try: If
you have other troubles, here are some generic things to check:
that computer meets the minimum
installing, be sure to grant the installer full privileges, if asked.
(Typically Windows Vista users will be asked.)
that computer is running the latest video card device drivers appropriate
for your video card
the PC to clear out any computer “pollution”.
and re-install AcidWax after a fresh re-boot. Perhaps there was some
computer “pollution” that prevented a proper installation the first time.
that there might be OpenGL video card settings that are overriding the
ability of AcidWax to operate.
that hardware acceleration is turned on for your video card (Right-click
on windows desktop, choose “properties”, then the “settings” tab, then
“Advanced”, then the “troubleshooting” tab, then experiment with various
settings. Don’t forget to write down the original settings, in case you
care to restore them.)
for updates and bug fixes
Olsen Software, LLC. http://www.plasmavis.com
Media, and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft
Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
is a registered trademark of ATI Technologies Inc. in the United States and
is a registered trademark of NVIDIA Corporation in the United States and other
OpenGL is a trademark
of Silicon Graphics Inc.