MKV with XBOX 360 as extender - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 07:04 AM - Thread Starter
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So, thanks to this forum I have everything all set up. I have ripped all my Blu-ray and DVDs to MKV using Make MKV (great program and well worth the $50!).

I use Windows Media Center and Media Browser (Chocolate) and Media Center Master. I use MPC HC as my external player. LAV filters.

Everything is working fantastic. (Thanks Assassin!) I feed this to my dedicated Home Theater receiver/projector and to a smart TV both via HDMI.

I decide I'd like to be able to access this collection on a TV in an exercise room that I can't connect via HDMI, so I buy a nice but used black XBOX 360 S on eBay for $100, and get it set up as an extender. So far so good. On my network, good strong signal, etc.

Then I figure out that this will choke on MKV files!

So, my question is this. How can I keep my working HTPC setup and somehow play MKV files on an XBOX 360 used as an extender?

Or do I have to recode everything using Handbrake. I have done that (MKV to MP4 via Handbrake), and the XBOX as extender is working great.

It just doubles the work, and even though the converted file sizes are much smaller, it still eats up storage capacity...Plus, converting 150+ movies (mostly BD) using Handbrake takes a LONG TIME!

Thanks in advance,

David
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post #2 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 09:00 AM
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With a good network (e.g. non-wifi) and right filter (I use Shark007 codec pack), my Xbox 360s have no problem with BD rip mkv files as long as it doesn't contain HD audio tracks. The problem with HD audio is that it doesn't work correctly for DTS-HD audio on the Extenders.
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post #3 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 09:08 AM
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Are those 1:1 Blu-ray rips or are they compressed with handbrake or something else?

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post #4 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Everything is 1:1. I have 16 TB of HDD storage!

However, for playing on an XBOX as an extender I have started using Handbrake to drop them down quite a bit...

So now I have the Blu Ray movie (usually around 20-30 GB), and now a copy of a converted version (around 1 to 2 GB) to use with the XBOX. Plus a full backup of all movies.

Thanks,

David
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Are those 1:1 Blu-ray rips or are they compressed with handbrake or something else?
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post #5 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Hmmmm....Nearly everything I have has HD audio since I want my Home Theater configuration to set the bar, so to speak.

However, I usually save ALL the English Audio choices so maybe I need to look at this.

Thanks,

David


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Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

With a good network (e.g. non-wifi) and right filter (I use Shark007 codec pack), my Xbox 360s have no problem with BD rip mkv files as long as it doesn't contain HD audio tracks. The problem with HD audio is that it doesn't work correctly for DTS-HD audio on the Extenders.
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post #6 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 09:24 AM
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HD audio is useless for Extender anyway. I'm not sure if you can set them as non-default audio track and assign some AC3 or DTS track as default will solve the problem. Never really tried that. But alter track info is easy with various MKV tools without going through the re-encoding process or create duplicate files.

For extender usage, the best splitter is DIVX MF plugin, not LAV. If you installed Shark007, it will install DIVX MF plugin for you.
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post #7 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Do you think I would be better served by removing LAV and going to Shark007? Like I said, I used Assassin's excellent instructions and used LAV, but I could go with Shark007 if that would be better for BOTH scenarios.


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Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

HD audio is useless for Extender anyway. I'm not sure if you can set them as non-default audio track and assign some AC3 or DTS track as default will solve the problem. Never really tried that. But alter track info is easy with various MKV tools without going through the re-encoding process or create duplicate files.

For extender usage, the best splitter is DIVX MF plugin, not LAV. If you installed Shark007, it will install DIVX MF plugin for you.
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post #8 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 10:18 AM
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Does the TV in the exercise room require Live TV or WMC recordings? Nothing mentioned about it in your initial post, but if that's what you want then the extender route makes sense

If you just wanted to watch full 1:1 rips on your htpcs, I can't see why you would have gone with mediabrowser. It doesn't hurt anything to leave it that way on your main htpc, but you could easily build a g1610 ($35-40) on a H61 board ($40-50) with 4GB DDR3 ($20-40) and a case w/builtin psu for ($40-60+) and boot openelec from a flash drive (or a cheap SSD) and save the cost of a windows license. Should idle down to ~20W and doesn't use much at load, but it'll play 1:1 rips all day long. It's a little more expensive, but if you go for the full blown additional ssd, additional windows license, etc then you'll pay even more. My time is still too important for me to take my collection down to a level that is appropriate for extenders to play back. I'll wait until things like that come up (performance wise) to a level that can handle 1:1 rips w/ and w/o passing through hdaudio, and then sell the extra htpc I built to handle things as they exist today.
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post #9 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 10:28 AM - Thread Starter
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The TV in the exercise room has access to my main DVR via a HDMI splitter, so I have TV okayl

I just wanted access to my movie collection stored on my HTPC, which I just built in January, 2013.

I hadn't considered building another HTPC dedicated for this task, but I may. Like you, I don't want to have to spend the time to down convert everything for this one location....

I also just built a PC for another room in our house that closely matches the specs you laid out...with the Celeron G1610, Asrock H77 MB, 64 GB SSD, 4 GB DDR, cheap case and PS, with Windows 7 and a 1 TB HDD. I may just , uh, decide to re-purpose THAT build and build another to take it's place!

Thanks for the reply.

David
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4th-horseman View Post

Does the TV in the exercise room require Live TV or WMC recordings? Nothing mentioned about it in your initial post, but if that's what you want then the extender route makes sense

If you just wanted to watch full 1:1 rips on your htpcs, I can't see why you would have gone with mediabrowser. It doesn't hurt anything to leave it that way on your main htpc, but you could easily build a g1610 ($35-40) on a H61 board ($40-50) with 4GB DDR3 ($20-40) and a case w/builtin psu for ($40-60+) and boot openelec from a flash drive (or a cheap SSD) and save the cost of a windows license. Should idle down to ~20W and doesn't use much at load, but it'll play 1:1 rips all day long. It's a little more expensive, but if you go for the full blown additional ssd, additional windows license, etc then you'll pay even more. My time is still too important for me to take my collection down to a level that is appropriate for extenders to play back. I'll wait until things like that come up (performance wise) to a level that can handle 1:1 rips w/ and w/o passing through hdaudio, and then sell the extra htpc I built to handle things as they exist today.
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post #10 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

For extender usage, the best splitter is DIVX MF plugin, not LAV. If you installed Shark007, it will install DIVX MF plugin for you.

A bit of advice ...
If you choose to use the official Divx installer, you will be introducing your system to a whole new world of hurt.

Use Shark007 Codecs and retain your sanity.
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post #11 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpn View Post

Everything is 1:1. I have 16 TB of HDD storage!

However, for playing on an XBOX as an extender I have started using Handbrake to drop them down quite a bit...

So now I have the Blu Ray movie (usually around 20-30 GB), and now a copy of a converted version (around 1 to 2 GB) to use with the XBOX. Plus a full backup of all movies.

Thanks,

David
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

Are those 1:1 Blu-ray rips or are they compressed with handbrake or something else?

So does the Xbox play full 1:1 Blu-ray rips? I'm not going to take the time to compress my library so I can play some of it sometimes on an extender of any flavor. From what you are saying you compressed them for portability but I'm wondering if the uncompressed rips play too.

Thanks.

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post #12 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

HD audio is useless for Extender anyway. I'm not sure if you can set them as non-default audio track and assign some AC3 or DTS track as default will solve the problem. Never really tried that. But alter track info is easy with various MKV tools without going through the re-encoding process or create duplicate files.

For extender usage, the best splitter is DIVX MF plugin, not LAV. If you installed Shark007, it will install DIVX MF plugin for you.

It is my understanding that MPC-HC loads LAV and then releases it after use. Am I wrong in assuming this? Should I use the DivX MF Splitter in MPC-HC and not use the LAV splitter for extender compatibility?

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post #13 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

It is my understanding that MPC-HC loads LAV and then releases it after use. Am I wrong in assuming this? Should I use the DivX MF Splitter in MPC-HC and not use the LAV splitter for extender compatibility?

Unless you are on Windows 8, extenders do not use directshow (LAV is directshow only)
MPC-HC (directshow only) cannot use the Divx splitter because it is Media Foundation based.

Use Shark007 Codecs and retain your sanity.
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post #14 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shark007 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

It is my understanding that MPC-HC loads LAV and then releases it after use. Am I wrong in assuming this? Should I use the DivX MF Splitter in MPC-HC and not use the LAV splitter for extender compatibility?

Unless you are on Windows 8, extenders do not use directshow (LAV is directshow only)
MPC-HC (directshow only) cannot use the Divx splitter because it is Media Foundation based.

So in theory there should be no conflicts.. In theory only.

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post #15 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post


So in theory there should be no conflicts.. In theory only.

This is not theory - it is fact.
Directshow and Media Foundation cannot and do not conflict.
Depending on your systems setup and player involved, it will use one or the other.

EDIT: I should add, a player that can utilize both pipelines (such as WMP and MC) will prefer MF over DS.

Use Shark007 Codecs and retain your sanity.
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post #16 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shark007 View Post

A bit of advice ...
If you choose to use the official Divx installer, you will be introducing your system to a whole new world of hurt.

I know, memory leaks.
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post #17 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Sammy2,

I couldn't get any MKV files to show up on the XBOX 360 as extender, but I didn't fool around too much.

I really MAINLY converted them to a format I knew the XBOX/WMC combo was known to handle, which is MP4. While I was at it, and since this was going to ONLY be used on a smallish, wall mounted TV in my gym, I went ahead an decreased the quality as well for a smaller finished file size. I still have all my original 1:1 rips backed up in duplicate!

David
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

So does the Xbox play full 1:1 Blu-ray rips? I'm not going to take the time to compress my library so I can play some of it sometimes on an extender of any flavor. From what you are saying you compressed them for portability but I'm wondering if the uncompressed rips play too.

Thanks.
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post #18 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpn View Post

The TV in the exercise room has access to my main DVR via a HDMI splitter, so I have TV okayl

I just wanted access to my movie collection stored on my HTPC, which I just built in January, 2013.

I hadn't considered building another HTPC dedicated for this task, but I may. Like you, I don't want to have to spend the time to down convert everything for this one location....

I also just built a PC for another room in our house that closely matches the specs you laid out...with the Celeron G1610, Asrock H77 MB, 64 GB SSD, 4 GB DDR, cheap case and PS, with Windows 7 and a 1 TB HDD. I may just , uh, decide to re-purpose THAT build and build another to take it's place!

Thanks for the reply.

David

I see, so you aren't using the HTPC as your DVR

I realize you've already gone down the mediabrowser route, but did you ever give XBMC a try? If you are using something like MCM for your metadata, then you just have to tick a couple boxes for it to create XBMC compatible metadata as well. No folder structure change, and you can keep windows running on the main htpc just launch XBMC instead of MB. Then on these and any other secondary ones you can install openelec. XBMC and openelec's biggest achilles heel is live cable tv (fledgling, still working on support, not as smooth as WMC) but if you aren't using the HTPC for that then it's quite the viable alternative. No windows updates, no AV scans, no filters or splitters, just an appliance like htpc that taps into any existing XBMC library on the network (or create it's own if you don't want to run XBMC anywhere else). Refresh rate switching and subtitle support is miles easier, hd audio as well. Passthrough or decode supported, but it will only decode the core track from dts-hd rips
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post #19 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I have LOOKED at XBMC a bit, and liked what I saw, but hey, I had to choose SOMETHING, and went with WMC/Media Browser.

I AM using MCM for metadata.

I would assume that XBMC works great with an XBOX, huh?

I don't need TV support on this.

I want to make sure I understand what you're saying. If I install XBMC on my "main" HTPC, and get it set up to properly feed my dedicated Home Theater Room with 1080p projector, 7.1 audio, tactile transducers, etc., then I can use the XBOX 360 S connected to a TV in my gym to play the content stored on the "main" HTPC, right?

I need to do some research on openelec. Is it used with an XBOX, or with another HTPC?

Sorry for the questions but I'm still learning (and un learning) as I go!

Thanks again.

David

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4th-horseman View Post

I see, so you aren't using the HTPC as your DVR

I realize you've already gone down the mediabrowser route, but did you ever give XBMC a try? If you are using something like MCM for your metadata, then you just have to tick a couple boxes for it to create XBMC compatible metadata as well. No folder structure change, and you can keep windows running on the main htpc just launch XBMC instead of MB. Then on these and any other secondary ones you can install openelec. XBMC and openelec's biggest achilles heel is live cable tv (fledgling, still working on support, not as smooth as WMC) but if you aren't using the HTPC for that then it's quite the viable alternative. No windows updates, no AV scans, no filters or splitters, just an appliance like htpc that taps into any existing XBMC library on the network (or create it's own if you don't want to run XBMC anywhere else). Refresh rate switching and subtitle support is miles easier, hd audio as well. Passthrough or decode supported, but it will only decode the core track from dts-hd rips
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post #20 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpn View Post

I have LOOKED at XBMC a bit, and liked what I saw, but hey, I had to choose SOMETHING, and went with WMC/Media Browser.

I AM using MCM for metadata.

I would assume that XBMC works great with an XBOX, huh?

I don't need TV support on this.

I want to make sure I understand what you're saying. If I install XBMC on my "main" HTPC, and get it set up to properly feed my dedicated Home Theater Room with 1080p projector, 7.1 audio, tactile transducers, etc., then I can use the XBOX 360 S connected to a TV in my gym to play the content stored on the "main" HTPC, right?

I need to do some research on openelec. Is it used with an XBOX, or with another HTPC?

Yeah, sorry. Best choice is to ditch the XBOX (just my opinion) as it's not a matter of software that's holding it back. There used to be XBMC builds for XBOX, but they are long gone. There are still some unofficial XBMC4XBOX builds, but again they don't really bring it any closer to smooth playback on 1:1 just a different interface and set of addons, etc. Really the 360 is never going to do this, but it is plenty capable of playing SD material and music as well as extending live tv from WMC if you ever add live tv down the line. It has benefits and isn't useless, but it doesn't overcome the main 1:1 rip shortcoming so it may be best to sell it off.

The easiest way to run XBMC at this point without any fuss is on Intel or AMD. One user here going by the name StardogChampion has used the celeron 847 setup and reported on it's playback here and in the hardware for XBMC forumshttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138368. $90 for cpu, mobo, and 8GB is pretty compelling. I've never used this only read about it, but he eventually mentions openelec allows HW acceleration and playback is smooth. If you run XBMC from windows on the same setup he recommends using an external player

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1438912/mini-itx-motherboard-with-sandy-bridge-mobile-celeron-847-and-intel-hd-graphics
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post #21 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shark007 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post


So in theory there should be no conflicts.. In theory only.

This is not theory - it is fact.
Directshow and Media Foundation cannot and do not conflict.
Depending on your systems setup and player involved, it will use one or the other.

EDIT: I should add, a player that can utilize both pipelines (such as WMP and MC) will prefer MF over DS.

Gotcha! It is that Merit thing. My set up should have no conflicts because I am using the MC/MF player on the extender and the MPC-HC/DS player on the HTPC.

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post #22 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 02:29 PM
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http://www.plexapp.com/getplex/

What about PLEX? No additional investment except time. If you just built your HTPC it's certainly capable of running PLEX media server (free) and then access it thru the XBOX.

PLEX will transcode your 1:1 rips on the fly and make them playable on the xbox. Also a ROKU 3 would be a great $99 alternative to an XBOX with its PLEX channel.

PLEX will also let you continue to use your existing Home Theater setup if you wish or you can use the Windows client. You'll also be able to access PLEX with mobile devices but those are paid apps.

Good luck whatever you decide.
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post #23 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 03:25 PM
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question for everyone here then........I have BD rips (1:1 ratio no handbrake) that I have only encoded with HD audio (either Dolby HD or DTS Master Audio) only and have verified the Xbox 360 chokes, gags, and vomits on them something fierce......My question is - What if I re-rip them and include just a regular DD audio track as well as the HD audio? Will the xbox 360 be able to play them then?

Might try just one movie and see if it works.......just thought I would pose the question.

Thanks,
Toys

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post #24 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4th-horseman View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpn View Post

I have LOOKED at XBMC a bit, and liked what I saw, but hey, I had to choose SOMETHING, and went with WMC/Media Browser.

I AM using MCM for metadata.

I would assume that XBMC works great with an XBOX, huh?

I don't need TV support on this.

I want to make sure I understand what you're saying. If I install XBMC on my "main" HTPC, and get it set up to properly feed my dedicated Home Theater Room with 1080p projector, 7.1 audio, tactile transducers, etc., then I can use the XBOX 360 S connected to a TV in my gym to play the content stored on the "main" HTPC, right?

I need to do some research on openelec. Is it used with an XBOX, or with another HTPC?

Yeah, sorry. Best choice is to ditch the XBOX (just my opinion) as it's not a matter of software that's holding it back. There used to be XBMC builds for XBOX, but they are long gone. There are still some unofficial XBMC4XBOX builds, but again they don't really bring it any closer to smooth playback on 1:1 just a different interface and set of addons, etc. Really the 360 is never going to do this, but it is plenty capable of playing SD material and music as well as extending live tv from WMC if you ever add live tv down the line. It has benefits and isn't useless, but it doesn't overcome the main 1:1 rip shortcoming so it may be best to sell it off.

The easiest way to run XBMC at this point without any fuss is on Intel or AMD. One user here going by the name StardogChampion has used the celeron 847 setup and reported on it's playback here and in the hardware for XBMC forumshttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138368. $90 for cpu, mobo, and 8GB is pretty compelling. I've never used this only read about it, but he eventually mentions openelec allows HW acceleration and playback is smooth. If you run XBMC from windows on the same setup he recommends using an external player

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1438912/mini-itx-motherboard-with-sandy-bridge-mobile-celeron-847-and-intel-hd-graphics

XBoxMediaCenter is no long being developed for XBox..

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post #25 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toys7505 View Post

question for everyone here then........I have BD rips (1:1 ratio no handbrake) that I have only encoded with HD audio (either Dolby HD or DTS Master Audio) only and have verified the Xbox 360 chokes, gags, and vomits on them something fierce......My question is - What if I re-rip them and include just a regular DD audio track as well as the HD audio? Will the xbox 360 be able to play them then?

Might try just one movie and see if it works.......just thought I would pose the question.

Thanks,
Toys

It might be a bit more than the existence of HD Audio.

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post #26 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toys7505 View Post

question for everyone here then........I have BD rips (1:1 ratio no handbrake) that I have only encoded with HD audio (either Dolby HD or DTS Master Audio) only and have verified the Xbox 360 chokes, gags, and vomits on them something fierce......My question is - What if I re-rip them and include just a regular DD audio track as well as the HD audio? Will the xbox 360 be able to play them then?

Might try just one movie and see if it works.......just thought I would pose the question.

Thanks,
Toys

Make sure you mark the regular audio as the default audio track (Make MKV doesn't do that). Otherwise, it will be the same results. I can verify that if 1:1 BD rip with only AC3 or DTS 5.1 audio tracks works fine for me.
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post #27 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 06:25 PM
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To the original OP. The xbox can only handle each file type up to a certain bandwidth per second. I think h264 is capped around 10mbps which roughly equates to about a 9 gb file (approximate 2 hour movie)with DTS or ACS (allowing passthrough). The highest value was their container wtv which caps out around 15mbps (providing the ability to have around 22gb file size which is almost the original file size for many movies). There is some documentation on the Xbox 360 website confirming this that I am too lazy to link to right now.

That being said h264 is a preferred format for a number of reasons.
The first of these reasons is that Compression is very good on h.264, and this means that you can compress 2 or 3 : 1 without much noticeable loss in picture quality.
With that being said the above file size of 9gb tends to give me a picture quality on my 96" projected screen that I can't discern any visible degradation from the original blu ray file.
The other major reason is that MKV has become a widely accepted open source format. It is not proprietary to anyone company (such as wtv) and because of these two scenarios sets it up to be very future proof, or in the least a future program will allow muxing from MKV with h.264 to whatever the preferred future format is. (not all softwares out there mux to wtv container)

Taking all of this into consideration I have created 1 single version of all my files. I use handbrake and rip them to MKV (h.264 DTS/AC3) I use constant bandwidth of 9000 kb (this results in a file that is usually with audio a little over 10mb per second but still works great on hard wired xboxs). Picture quality is unnoticeably changed, and I always have the HD audio.
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post #28 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 07:06 PM
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I have no problem playing BD rip of 20 or 30 mbps of H.264 mkv as long as there is no DTS-HD audio. Never tried TrueHD.
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post #29 of 33 Old 06-20-2013, 09:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oman321 View Post

http://www.plexapp.com/getplex/

What about PLEX? No additional investment except time. If you just built your HTPC it's certainly capable of running PLEX media server (free) and then access it thru the XBOX.

PLEX will transcode your 1:1 rips on the fly and make them playable on the xbox. Also a ROKU 3 would be a great $99 alternative to an XBOX with its PLEX channel.

PLEX will also let you continue to use your existing Home Theater setup if you wish or you can use the Windows client. You'll also be able to access PLEX with mobile devices but those are paid apps.

Good luck whatever you decide.

I've found PLEX clients, whether it's the ROKU3 or on a Samung TV we have in the bedroom to be an excellent option for rooms where a full media center experience isn't necessarily important.

Looky here!
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post #30 of 33 Old 06-21-2013, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

I have no problem playing BD rip of 20 or 30 mbps of H.264 mkv as long as there is no DTS-HD audio. Never tried TrueHD.

Interesting.. Most all my rips have either one of these HD Audio in them and most are dts-HD/MA. Will this work if you set an AC3 or dd track as the default but leave the HD Audio in the mkv?

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