What is the best picture and sound quality playback player for a HTPC ? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 07:50 AM - Thread Starter
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I know there is an even divide between Mediabrowser and XBMC fans. I know both now also do HD audio and 1080p playback. I also know some use external players like VLC and Jriver.

Curious who's doing what and why ?

What is the consensus on the "best" player for picture and sound?

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post #2 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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And please- No flame wars.

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post #3 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 08:15 AM
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LOL yeah like that's not going to happen.

For me its either MB, xbmc, or JRiver, oh and mpc-hc sometimes as well (particularly with MB) - see I can't make my mind up - I go back and forth between them all the time (looking for the ultimate).

Just a FYI JRiver is not an external player - it is a self-contained media centre application.
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post #4 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

What is the consensus on the "best" player for picture and sound?
You really only have 4 choices for this:

  1. XBMC
  2. VLC
  3. Mirillis Splash Player
  4. All other DirectShow Players


Media Browser is not a player and has no part in a discussion about video quality. MPC-HC/BE, JRiver, Media Portal, NextPVR, WMC are all DirectShow (or MediaFoundation in the case of WMC) players and can all be configured to use the same decoders. Picture quality between them are 100% equal with the proper setup. Mirillis Splash Player is a DirectShow player but uses it's own internal decoders that are not available to other apps.

To say that JRiver has better quality than MPC-HC, etc or vice versa is purely placebo. If you are talking features outside of video quality, then it's different and comes down to personal preference.
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post #5 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 08:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

You really only have 4 choices for this:
  1. XBMC
  2. VLC
  3. Mirillis Splash Player
  4. All other DirectShow Players
Media Browser is not a player and has no part in a discussion about video quality. MPC-HC/BE, JRiver, Media Portal, NextPVR, WMC are all DirectShow (or MediaFoundation in the case of WMC) players and can all be configured to use the same decoders. Picture quality between them are 100% equal with the proper setup. Mirillis Splash Player is a DirectShow player but uses it's own internal decoders that are not available to other apps.
To say that JRiver has better quality than MPC-HC, etc or vice versa is purely placebo. If you are talking features outside of video quality, then it's different and comes down to personal preference.

Thanks.

Good post..

I meant WMC when I said mediabrowser BTW.. as I tend to blend them as a default. (Even though I use external players on my mediabrowser sometimes)

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post #6 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelman1991 View Post

LOL yeah like that's not going to happen.
For me its either MB, xbmc, or JRiver, oh and mpc-hc sometimes as well (particularly with MB) - see I can't make my mind up - I go back and forth between them all the time (looking for the ultimate).
Just a FYI JRiver is not an external player - it is a self-contained media centre application.

I agree. I am pretty impartial. I use all. I don't have a strong opinion either way.

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post #7 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 08:49 AM
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Player is a personal preference. I prefer MPC-HC.

LAV Filters are the best audio & video decoders, and as long as you have a copy of Arcsoft's DTS decoder, you will have lossless audio decoding. They also do a good job of downmixing. (though no virtualization for headphone users)
Reclock is the best audio renderer, as it can upsample to the maximum quality that your sound card can output, while keeping audio/video in perfect sync. (without reclock, there is no way to get perfect sync on your display)
MadVR is the best video renderer, as it processes the video with more precision than other renderers, and offers a variety of high quality upscaling options. It can be quite demanding on hardware though.


I don't really care for any of the media player front-ends as I just play Blu-ray and DVDs, which are either directly from the disc or a ripped .iso
J-River MC has integrated MadVR and Reclock-like functionality though.
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post #8 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 11:31 AM
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How is Lav the best? I've always wondered. What is wrong with MPC-HC's internal decoder?
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post #9 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 11:44 AM
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I tend to use MPC-HC with Mediabrowser. I also have JRiver and both imo are great programs, as I can get the same quality image with both MPC (setup correctly) and River, as both use the same LAV and MadVR filters. In my own comparison tests I saw really no visual difference between River and MPC under the same configuration with HD material. SD material looks just as good on both setups. Its mainly based on preference.
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post #10 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 11:52 AM
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Jriver is not an external player. It has a full HTPC front-end (although setup and changes have to be made in desktop mode). It the best option if you demand the best picture and audio quality without an external player. I'm sure MPC-HC with MadVR and other adjustments can achieve nearly identical results.
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post #11 of 48 Old 12-06-2012, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Jriver is not an external player. It has a full HTPC front-end (although setup and changes have to be made in desktop mode). It the best option if you demand the best picture and audio quality without an external player. I'm sure MPC-HC with MadVR and other adjustments can achieve nearly identical results.

JRiver with Red October basically is Madvr, fwiw.
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post #12 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by assassin View Post

JRiver with Red October basically is Madvr, fwiw.

........ and LAV filters
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post #13 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Jriver is not an external player. It has a full HTPC front-end (although setup and changes have to be made in desktop mode). It the best option if you demand the best picture and audio quality without an external player. I'm sure MPC-HC with MadVR and other adjustments can achieve nearly identical results.
Not sure what you mean with "full htpc front end". If you throw dvr functionality into the mix then it's not so great anymore. It's all relative in the end to what you want...

As vladd summarized it above, for playback all dshow players are the same if one uses the sames filters.
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post #14 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rico66 View Post

Not sure what you mean with "full htpc front end". If you throw dvr functionality into the mix then it's not so great anymore. It's all relative in the end to what you want...
As vladd summarized it above, for playback all dshow players are the same if one uses the sames filters.

Sorry, I was only suggesting that JRiver has a 10 foot interface for consuming media. The Theater mode is, well, designed for HTPC's.
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post #15 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 10:12 AM
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How does JRiver get away with charging money while using open source product?

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post #16 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

How does JRiver get away with charging money while using open source product?

Oh goodness, look what you've done. The last time this came up the thread was closed.

It's not unusual for paid software to contain some open source code. Obviously there's a lot more to JRiver than MadVR, Lav, etc. As I understand it Madshi and others have actually worked closely with JRiver developers, so they obviously don't have issues with it. If your own code is contained in JRiver without your permission, take it up with the JRiver developers. Otherwise, I don't see what the big deal is.
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post #17 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 10:31 AM
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Just wondering.

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post #18 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

Just wondering.

Sorry, didn't mean to get defensive. This topic comes up from time to time (with Plex as well), and it invariably leads to a crap show. Usually people come up with wild accusations without having any understanding of the relationship between the two developers. Just happened here too. While I can understand the curiosity, it has very little to do with the end user, and any issues would obviously be addressed privately between the developers.

Again open source does not me free as in free beer. It means free as in free speech. It's an important distinction that most end users don't understand.
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post #19 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 10:44 AM
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I understand that open source can be used in a paid product and am glad that Madishi is working with JRiver on improving there product. At the same time I hope Nev and Mad continue to provide what they do for little or no cost as open source product because that means better development as somebody else can fork it to be even better (or worse, I suppose). I tried JRiver and didn't like it but that doesn't mean it is a bad product. Apparently the auiod side of it is quite good and they are still trying to get into the video side. If they had a PVR that supported DRM and CableCARD I would be all over it for $50 as WMC is just okay and is the only solution right now.

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post #20 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

I understand that open source can be used in a paid product and am glad that Madishi is working with JRiver on improving there product. At the same time I hope Nev and Mad continue to provide what they do for little or no cost as open source product because that means better development as somebody else can fork it to be even better (or worse, I suppose). I tried JRiver and didn't like it but that doesn't mean it is a bad product. Apparently the auiod side of it is quite good and they are still trying to get into the video side. If they had a PVR that supported DRM and CableCARD I would be all over it for $50 as WMC is just okay and is the only solution right now.

Unless there's something I don't know about, I don't think there's any reason to believe that Nev and Madshi are abandoning open source.
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post #21 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Curious who's doing what and why ?

I'm a recent convert to XBMC, and I'll get to keep it as the only interface if channel changing through NPVR speeds up (Low WAF on slow channel changing)

I didn't set out looking for better PQ or AQ, but my reasoning for the switch is as follows
  • I used MBRemote some, but it doesn't hold a candle to the official XBMC remote or Yatse
  • Built in audio setup is so straightforward my parents could do it (almost)
  • Display refresh rate switching is built in (already had this with MPC-HC, but it took longer to setup)
  • iso support is built in, no more virtual clone drive
  • Rom collection browser does what Gamebrowser II does (but free)
  • Advanced launcher makes it easier to add external programs as opposed to waiting for a WMC dev or mod-into-WMC yourself via MCThemer
  • I think there was once a plugin ($10) to show call info in WMC from bluetooth, but I really like having this feature with Yatse on wifi
  • I like that Movies, TV Shows, Music, Games and other programs are all on the main menu
  • All text fields can receive input from just arrow keys and enter with the on-screen-keyboard (great for lazy remote only days)
  • The airplay and android-remote target feature is very slick
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post #22 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

I'm a recent convert to XBMC, and I'll get to keep it as the only interface if channel changing through NPVR speeds up (Low WAF on slow channel changing)
I didn't set out looking for better PQ or AQ, but my reasoning for the switch is as follows
  • I used MBRemote some, but it doesn't hold a candle to the official XBMC remote or Yatse
  • Built in audio setup is so straightforward my parents could do it (almost)
  • Display refresh rate switching is built in (already had this with MPC-HC, but it took longer to setup)
  • iso support is built in, no more virtual clone drive
  • Rom collection browser does what Gamebrowser II does (but free)
  • Advanced launcher makes it easier to add external programs as opposed to waiting for a WMC dev or mod-into-WMC yourself via MCThemer
  • I think there was once a plugin ($10) to show call info in WMC from bluetooth, but I really like having this feature with Yatse on wifi
  • I like that Movies, TV Shows, Music, Games and other programs are all on the main menu
  • All text fields can be modified using arrow keys and enter with the on-screen-keyboard (great for lazy remote only days)
  • The airplay and android-remote target feature is very slick

One other thing that may seem very trivial
  • Mediabrowser allowed skipping to a certain time for mkv playback, but if you miss the 4 second window to hit the "Play" button it exits out of your movie and takes you to the closest TV channel matching the number you typed
  • XBMC brings up an on-screen time indicator in the top left, and if you miss the 4 second "Play" window it just keeps playing your current location (no more converting to minutes in your head)
  • Also allows FF/RW during MKV playback
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post #23 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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That's a solid post ^

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post #24 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 09:43 PM
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I used to use MPC-HC for foolproof playback with ffdshow and EVR, and JRiver for tagging and organising my media. Then RedOctober HQ happened at JRiver and I said goodbye to ffdshow for good.
I also found that JRiver's DSP settings for surround upmixing (JRSS) were better than Dolby IIx to my ears. So in one of my home theatres, I upmix 5.1 to 7.1 using JRSS and then add height or wide channels in my receiver for 9.1 (using Audessey DSX) that sounds very good. This will finally be 11.1 in a couple of weeks when my new Onkyo arrives.
JRiver has a lot more to offer than a typical directshow player. I still use MPC-HC as a backup. Since I'm a Beta tester of JRiver, the latest build very occasionally introduces a problem, and it's good to have MPC-HC to tease out whether this is a problem with the file, the hardware or the software. Conversely, since JRiver installs and sets up LAV and MadVR, it's a great diagnostic tool too for those with codec problems.

In another thread where someone was having image quality problems with VLC, I recommended JRiver to test out. If there were an improvement I suggested that he either buy the software or learn how to configure MPC-HC to achieve the same results for free. I think I'd give JRiver the edge for ease of configuration of advanced features like auto refresh rate and resolution switching, audio settings and reclock-like video smoothing. Not to mention the improvements being made all the time by the excellent staff. Overall I'm quite satisfied with JRiver, and I am quite sure that my setup is only using about 25% of its potential. After 5 years, i still learn about new (old) features every weeks.
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post #25 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

How is Lav the best? I've always wondered. What is wrong with MPC-HC's internal decoder?
LAV Filters is (mostly) set up to work optimally without requiring any configuration. The only configuration you need is if you're wanting to downmix audio or use custom rules for loading audio/subtitles.

It allows for lossless audio decoding, which I don't think the MPC-HC decoders do. (if you have Arcsoft and drop in its DTS decoder dll)
It avoids unnecessary conversions where possible, and does conversions with high quality when it does need to. It's also been built with madVR use in mind.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Unless there's something I don't know about, I don't think there's any reason to believe that Nev and Madshi are abandoning open source.
To my knowledge, MadVR is not open source.
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post #26 of 48 Old 12-07-2012, 11:20 PM
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I use XBMC as my front end, but I use an external launcher to launch MPC-BE with madVR, lav filters and reclock. There's absolutely nothing in any format that I can throw at that combination that it won't play perfectly, any frame rate, any bitrate, any audio format. It plays everything. even the hard to deal with m2ts and ts streams. Everytime I try to install something else, it's either buggy or the picture quality is worse and I can't stand it a couple days later (DSPlayer version is buggy as hell, Frodo doesn't work with my skin, neither one looks as good as MPC). Matter of fact, I was trying to DSPlayer up until about two hours ago. It crashed on me twice in three hours. I reinstalled Eden and set the launcher up to use MPC-BE and I'm back in business.
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post #27 of 48 Old 12-08-2012, 12:53 AM
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IMO its only worth to talk about video and audio rendering. Well, if you don't want to pay attention to smoothness, color managment etc, of course.
Audio rendering is easy: bitstream or WASAPI Excl/ASIO output. Bitstreaming is not worth to talk about at all these days, and WASAPI Excl/ASIO are the things you can get with ReClock or JR.
Video rendering is far more complicated. If we are talking about free software that means RGB (Full RGB) output. Same thing with any commercial player using EVR or madVR.
So, the real question is how many of you MPC, XBMC, JR whatever users care about proper video driver and display settings? Do you have any idea what happens with video stream in your player/driver/display?

Burned by the Audio Inquisition
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post #28 of 48 Old 12-08-2012, 05:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post

To my knowledge, MadVR is not open source.

Ah interesting. Well I guess what I meant to say is that I haven't heard of MadVR becoming paid software. I think that was Sammy2's concern.
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post #29 of 48 Old 12-08-2012, 09:37 AM
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will mpc-hc play non-ripped blu-ray discs directly? If not, what is the best player for that? Also, I used mpc-hc (downloaded with no adjustments) to play a ripped blu-ray iso (Star wars) and the audio sounded lossless - am I to understand that it is not without making further adjustments? thanks
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post #30 of 48 Old 12-10-2012, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qaq View Post

So, the real question is how many of you MPC, XBMC, JR whatever users care about proper video driver and display settings? Do you have any idea what happens with video stream in your player/driver/display?

Agree with your logic, and to answer the question with my opinion . . . No

Don't know, don't care until I upgrade many other things in my environment

I've got ambient light without blackout curtains 10 hrs a day from the side, Christmas lights up right now, a living room lamp that causes a horrible glare, and top it off with a years old Samsung DLP 61A750 display

Until I have a light-controlled viewing area and much better display, I really don't care if I am getting properly rendered video with full rgb

My situation and $.02
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