I use WMC7 with Media Browser as my UI, and I'm happy with this setup, but subtitles continue to be a pain for me.
My library is 100% .MKV files of lossless ripped Blu-rays (via MakeMKV). When ripping titles, I always select all of the English subs (with and without the "Forced" tag.)
I have the latest version of DirectVobSub installed, but it seems a bit clunky if I'm using it correctly. Here's my scenario:
• DirectVobSub automatically engages once a movie starts playing, its "green arrow" icon appears in my System Tray so I know it's running. In DirectVobSub's settings (under Misc.) I have Hide Subtitles checked, because if it's not checked, it displays complete English subtitles during every movie, rather than just foreign language passages, which of course I don't want.
• So I'll be settled in to watch a movie, then at some point realize it's one that has occasional subtitles. Then the process begins: I have to Pause the movie, minimize the WMC7 playback window to switch back over to Windows Desktop, right-click the DirectVobSub green arrow in the system tray, select Show Subtitles, then depending on the title usually have 2-4 English subtitle tracks listed. I pick one somewhat at random (some are labeled "Forced", so I start with those), then return to the movie, rewind it a bit, hit Play, and see if the subtitles show up. If not, I go back and choose another one off the menu, rewind the movie a bit, and try again until I find the proper Forced Subtitle track. Some movies have several English subtitle tracks, so it can be infuriating trying to find the right one.
As you can imagine, this is far from an elegant solution, and of course ruins the viewing experience and immersion for me and my family or guests.
I've looked into a number of possible solutions culled from various threads over the past several months, listed in order of least-painful to most-painful:
• "Try XBMC instead of WMC7." No dice. Had a different kind of problem with XBMC's subtitle support (i.e. they ALWAYS show for every film until I turned them off, and doesn't respect the Forced flag either), plus even the latest Eden build still does not properly decode lossless audio for me, so it's a dealbreaker. I prefer the Media Browser skin and UI anyway, it's set up just the way I want it.
• "Use another player besides WMC7 via Media Browser's "Additional Player" feature, like MPC-HC, TMT5, or even VLC2." I've dutifully tried out each alternative player, but none of them successfully picked up Forced subs, and many wouldn't display subs at all. So this avenue didn't work either.
• "Use MKVToolnix's mkvmerge to go into your MKV, and make sure subtitle "Forced" flag is set to YES on the subtitle track, then resave the file." Tried this as well, didn't make any difference.
• "Just burn the subtitles into the movie." This isn't an option for me as this requires re-encoding each title, which I don't want to do because it would not only compromise the lossless quality (even if just a bit), but is also impractical given a collection of over 500 movies, and having to figure out if each one has occasional foreign subtitles. Then add the seemingly overly-complicated multi-step process of properly burning subtitles (not to mention the multi-hour encode) which would turn into several week project. And all that to gain what would usually amount to about 60 seconds worth of actual spoken foreign dialog in an average film. Again, a non-starter option for me.
• "Re-rip your library using [a different/better/my personal favorite] tool." I've heard from time to time that either MakeMKV doesn't "properly" rip subtitles, and/or that DirectVobSub doesn't properly respect Forced Subtitle flags, but I don't know if either reason is actually true, or applicable to every title. In any case, I don't want to identify and re-rip every single movie with another tool, that may or may not actually fix the problem.
• "Use a different format than MKV. I use .ISO or [insert personal favorite format here]." Again, with a 500+ title MKV collection, not something I can consider.
My preference would be that DirectVobSub would work the way I hoped it would: it runs silently in the background, and when it detects an MKV playing that calls for a Forced Subtitle track and sees that that track is present, actually just displays it without the above multi-step scenario playing out. Is it supposed to work this way? Does it work this way for anyone?
If it isn't possible to get DirectVobSub to run the way I expected it to, is there anything else I can try? Getting subtitles to work is pretty much the only remaining thorn in my HTPC setup.