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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.

AcidWax is:


·         Something to look at while you listen to music

·         Something to look at while you create music

·         A way to make artwork such as Windows Wallpapers


Updates and Purchasing:



Minimum System Requirements:


  • Important: Please make sure the software runs on your computer using the free version prior to purchasing.
  • Windows 7: This software is not yet compatible with Windows 7 or Media Player version 12.


  • Minimum Recommended System:

    • 1.5 GHz or faster processor
    • 1GB RAM or higher
    • Microsoft® Windows® XP, or Windows Vista
    • Windows Media Player version 10 or 11
    • “Gamer level” OpenGL® accelerated video card
    • 16 bit color or higher
    • Windows Installer version 2.0 or newer (which is on all computers starting with Windows 2000 Service Pack 3)


  • AcidWax 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…
  • AcidWax 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 quality.)
  • Running on systems that do not meet the minimum system requirements may result in poor visualizer performance, or not work at all.
  • It 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.
  • Special notes for those running Windows Vista:
    • Expect a small performance decrease when running on Windows Vista.
  • The latest version of Windows Media Player can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download
  • AcidWax 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.

To install:


  • Close any running applications, including Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer
  • 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.
  • Double-click on the AcidWax.msi installer file, and follow on-screen instructions.
  • Do not run other programs or perform other activities on the computer during installation. Doing so can potentially corrupt the installation.
  • The 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/.


Installation Notes:


  • A 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.
  • Additional short cuts will be placed on your “Start” menu under “Program Files / AcidWax”
  • All other files will be copied to a sub-folder of the Windows Media Player (the standard location for visualizations.)
  • See troubleshooting section below if you have any troubles.


To Remove:


  • Use 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 version:


    • From the Windows Start Menu, Click on “Start / Programs / Acid Wax / PlasmaVis Stand-Alone”
    • Visuals 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:

o    Simply 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.)

o    If AcidWax is not showing, choose it from the “Now Playing” / “visualizations” menu.

o    Once 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.



  • To 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 Equivalent: N

Randomly chooses new visuals


Choose Visualization Preset – Keyboard Equivalent: C

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 displays


Lock / Unlock Visualization – Keyboard Equivalent: L

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.


Save 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 Player\Visualizations\AcidWax\Screenshots\


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 folder.)


Tip: To set a screen-shot as your Windows wallpaper:


      • In Windows Vista: Right-click on the file, and choose “Set as Desktop Background”
      • In 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:


      • For fastest performance choose a “Low” detail setting. Lower settings are best for computers with slow processors.
      • For 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 above)




The speed slider affects how quickly 3D shapes move, and also affects the amount of time between changing 3D shapes.


Advanced Settings



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 changed:


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:


  • Q: If I buy a license, can I install it on multiple computers?
    • If it is for your own personal use, then yes. Refer to the software license agreement for details.
  • Q: How do I know if an update is available?
    • Check http://www.plasmavis.com/acidwax/, 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.
  • Q: Is AcidWax available for other media players?
  • Q: What other visualizers does Olsen Software make?
  • Q: What do I get if I upgrade to the full version?
    • Removal of the “Trial Version” annoyance graphic.
    • Access to all the “Advanced Settings”
    • A larger list of presets to choose from
    • Ability to take screen-shots
    • You help support our development efforts – thank you!
    • Check http://www.plasmavis.com/acidwax/ for details and updated news.
  • Q: What can I do to get the best performance from AcidWax?
    • Performance is primarily a function of 2 factors:
      1. Your video card
      2. Your computer’s speed.

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.

    • AcidWax also needs processor time and memory. Close other running applications for best performance.
    • Reducing the visualization window size will also improve the speed at which it can display, since less work is required to render smaller scenes.
  • Q: How can I get the best image quality from AcidWax?
    • 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 ambience.
  • Q: How can I reduce the amount to CPU that AcidWax uses?
    • Reduce the “Texture Detail Setting” in the “Configure AcidWax” menu. Each change in level is a 4x change in CPU utilization relative to the neighboring setting.
  • Q: How can I take a screen-shot of the image?
    • Method #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.
    • Method #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.
  • Q: I have a suggestion, comment, or feature request. Who do I contact?
    • We welcome your feedback please email: info@plasmavis.com . We will read all emails we receive, but note that we may not be able to reply.
  • Q: I would like a custom version of AcidWax for my promotional purposes (concert, magazine distribution, tradeshow, etc.) Where should I start / who should I contact?
  • Q: I’m having troubles.


Revision History (oldest at top):


  • (March 3, 2007)
    • First Version of AcidWax
  • (September 2, 2007)
    • Fixed a conflict in Windows Vista with AcidWax sharing the same configuration files.
  • (October 30, 2007)
    • Fixed a minor glitch in the visuals that was causing square corners to show up in the fluid flow.
  • (June 1, 2008)
    • Updated installer to behave better on Windows Vista or on computers where the installing user does not have administrator level privileges.
  • (September 16, 2008)
    • Added Stand-Alone version of AcidWax which does not require Windows Media Player, and uses a microphone input to generate the visuals.
  • (December 28, 2008)
    • Made major changes to include a wider variety of effects at higher quality
    • Optimized code for slight improvement in speed
    • Added additional configuration settings
    • Added option to view frame rate (FPS)
    • Added “Presets” option with lots of presets to choose from
    • Added “Screen-Shot” button and keyboard equivalent (S), and other screenshot features.
    • Added “Lock Visuals” button and keyboard equivalent (L)
    • Added “Next Visual” keyboard equivalent (N)
    • Added “Extreme” resolution setting
    • Made “trial version” less annoying
    • Fixed some minor bugs
  • (December 28,2008)
    • Disabled support for “mini mode”, which can cause an error on some systems.
  • (January 2, 2009)
    • Updated 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)
    • Updated installer to prevent a possible lock-up during the installation on Vista computers



Troubleshooting & Known Bugs:


  • Error: “This installation package could not be opened. Contact the application vendor to verify that this is a valid Windows Installer package."
    • Most likely, this is a case of a corrupt download. Try downloading the installer again and re-try.
    • If you are running Windows 2000, it may be that you do not have the correct version of Windows Installer. (Check minimum system requirements)
  • The installer seemed to install fine, but the visualizer does not show up at all in Windows Media Player:

    This 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…

    Manual Registration:

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.

o    Type this EXACTLY (and be sure to include the quotes and spaces.):

Regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\Visualizations\AcidWax.dll"

If you have 64-bit Vista, change the above line to:
Regsvr32 "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Media Player\Visualizations\AcidWax.dll
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.

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.

3.     Press "Enter"

4.     If all is good, you should get a “success message that looks something like this:

5.     It’s now fixed!

  • Error 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.

§  Likely problem: Corrupt VB Script

·         Potential solution #1 (Preferred solution) – Fix VB Script:

o    Click Start, All Programs, Accessories then right click on Command Prompt and select "Run as Administrator"

o    CD to your windows\system32 directory

o    Enter the following command:

regsvr32 vbscript.dll

·         Potential solution #2 (alternate solution) – Run installer in “passive” mode.

o    Open a command prompt

o    Use the “/passive” switch to run the MSI file, as follows:

AcidWax.msi /passive

o    It will then run unattended, and install everything using default settings.

o    Note that you may need to also follow the instructions for the “1904 error” mentioned above after the installation is complete.

  • Conflicts when installing or uninstalling:
    If you see a message similar to this:

    • If anything else is running, close it.
    • Click “Retry”. If that does not help, then click “Ignore”
    • Most likely, at this point, you are fine. If not, and you discover things are not working, then reboot your computer, and try again.
  • After upgrading to a previous version, the installer ran fine but the old version is still there.
    • When 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.
  • Known bugs:
    • Some 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.
    • Screen goes completely black: This rarely happens, but if it does, simply press the “New Visualization” button (or “N” key on the keyboard)
    • If 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 restart.
    • Some 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 release, but it is not known for certain.
    • If 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 info@plasmavis.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.
  • Generic things to try: If you have other troubles, here are some generic things to check:
    • Check that computer meets the minimum system requirements
    • When installing, be sure to grant the installer full privileges, if asked. (Typically Windows Vista users will be asked.)
    • Check that computer is running the latest video card device drivers appropriate for your video card
    • Re-boot the PC to clear out any computer “pollution”.
    • Uninstall and re-install AcidWax after a fresh re-boot. Perhaps there was some computer “pollution” that prevented a proper installation the first time.
    • Consider that there might be OpenGL video card settings that are overriding the ability of AcidWax to operate.
    • Check 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.)
  • Visit http://www.plasmavis.com/acidwax/ for updates and bug fixes



Copyright ©2009 Olsen Software, LLC. http://www.plasmavis.com


Microsoft, Windows Media, and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

ATI is a registered trademark of ATI Technologies Inc. in the United States and other countries.

NVIDIA is a registered trademark of NVIDIA Corporation in the United States and other countries.

OpenGL is a trademark of Silicon Graphics Inc.






AcidWax - High Resolution Music Visualization
Copyright © 2009 Olsen Software, LLC. All rights reserved