An Overview of the MKV File Format McMaster University 04.05.2012. The MKV file format (Matroska format) is used for storing subtitle files, video and audio. One DVD or CD file could be fitted in one Matroska file. It is becoming one of the most popular file formats for use with video and audio. File Extensions The MKV extension is for a Matroska video file. If the file only has audio, the extension will be MKA. If there are only subtitles, the extension will be MKS. Its main competitors are Appleâ€™s MOV, MPEG, and Microsoftâ€™s AVI. While those formats are better known, the Matroska file format has several benefits and advantages. Benefits of the MKV File Format What sets the Matroska apart is the flexibility. The format is made in EBML (Extensible Binary Meta Language). It is also open source. By being open source, this means the code is free for developers to modify and make improvements on. This feature makes it easy to spot and fix bugs. In contrast, most of the other audio / video formats are proprietary. Being an open source program, solutions are usually quicker. Supported Formats The Matroska format has several features. It has support for DVD chapters and several audio streams. The streams include multiple languages and audio tracks. If you are creating a DVD, the multiple language features gives you different choices. The format also has support for soft subtitles. The soft subtitle is a subtitle in the container that can be turned off or on. This is something AVI files cannot do. The Matroska file format also has plus B-frame compression, variable frame rate video and variable bit rate audio. This is also supported by other containers. However, Matroska also supports other formats. These include RealVideo, Windows Media Video (WMV), MPEG-4 Part 10/Advanced Video Coding (AVC)/H.264, MPEG-4 Part 2 (H.263), MPEG-4, MPEG-2 and MPEG-1. Other Features of the Matroska File The Matroska format offers support for all major audio formats. It also has support for Ogg and lossless formats including FLAC. There is also support for Speex, a lossy format used for compacting audio speech. The EMBL format also makes it easy for the file to provide support for other formats.
Support for the Matroska Format There are still some audio players that do not play Matroska files. However, a large number now do. The open source VLC player can play Matroska files without having to download any special plugins. Matroska has its own player called CorePlayer. Players that are based on DirectShow can also play Matroska files. But this is possible only if you install the Community Codec Pack (CCCP). The flexibility of the MKV file format is the main reason why it is becoming very popular. Already, major TV manufacturers like LG and Samsung have thrown their support behind it. References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matroska http://www.matroska.org/ http://www.tech-faq.com/mkv-file.html