Getting desperate... Advice needed on good content streamer ! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 81 Old 05-30-2012, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Guys

This post turned out long, but please stay with me. Just wanted to be thorough !

I have one desire which is driving me nuts lately.
I would like to play Bluray HD 1080p content (mostly from internet) with optimal audio and video quality.
Most of these files are .MKV files with about 8500Kbps video bitrate and 1509Kbps DTS audio bitrate.
Frame rate is mostly 23.976 fps. Not all of my files are like this but 80% of it is, so that should give you an idea.

I live in Belgium by the way and this a PAL area in case that should be important later in the story.

My setup is the following (I added prices not to brag or anything just to give you an idea of the quality of the equipment) :

LG LE8500 TV (40 inch) hooked up to a 5.1 audio surround setup containing the following :

- Marantz SR5004 receiver : 699 euros
- KEF KHT2005.2 surround speakers (2 front, 1 center, 2 back) : 799 euros
- REL Quake subwoofer with 100 watt RMS receiver : 599 euros

All is connected via good quality HDMI cables except REL to SR5004 via a mono interlink cable

And I also have :
Marantz UD7006 Universal disc player : 999 euros
This to play DVD and Bluray content.
For the audio part of the UD7006 I use Audioquest g-snake stereo interlink 1.0 cables. This to use the 7.1-channel analog audio output of the device.

Now I have 2 options to play these .MKV files.
1) connecting to LG TV via USB or DLNA - Surround sound is achieved by using an optical cable from the LG-TV to the Marantz receiver.
2) connecting to Marantz Bluray UD7006 via USB or DLNA - Surround sound via analog audio output or via HDMI.

Option 2 is a no-go because of terrible support by Marantz for playing HD files. For instance : the player converts every file you throw at it to 60hz/fps making the image judder when making panning movements.

Option 1 is a no-go because it does not support DTS audio.
I have found a great program called "Mezzmo" which converts every incompatible file via device profiles. This works by converting the DTS audio to AC3 640Kbps. That way I get good video quality and HD audio via the optical cable.
BUT... The sound of this converted AC3 has very heavy/loud bass sounds coming out of the REL at times. For instance when people enter a club in a movie or something. I tried different encoders but all gave the same result. This way I always need to lower the volume in some parts which is very distracting and irritating.

Is it because of the optical cable output from the LG-TV being sub-par quality wise? Or am I just too spoiled by the optimal audio quality of the Marantz when playing DVD/Bluray discs?


To make the story short (lol ) I would like to buy some media player device which can play almost every video file AND in GREAT audio and video quality like I am used to when watching Bluray Discs on my UD7006 !

Is this too much to ask? And what mediaplayers should I be looking at?
I would like to keep it to 250 euros if possible.

I already looked at the "Western Digital WD TV Live" which got pretty good praise for playing alot of formats but how is the audio output of this device in terms of quality?
I see I can hook it up to my receiver via HDMI or via optical cable.
Any people got experience with this player in a similar surround setup?
Are there better players out there to suit my needs?

I very much appreciate your feedback people!
Sorry for the long post but I liked to be as thorough as possible and provide as much info as possible.

Tia !

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post #2 of 81 Old 05-30-2012, 03:08 PM
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http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1411212

The Micca EP600 G2 will do it, although if you've spent 1000 on a blu-ray player a HTPC is probably a better option.
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post #3 of 81 Old 05-30-2012, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
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^^ Thanks for your feedback !
This Micca is better than for instance the "Western Digital WD TV Live" ?
How is the quality of the Micca EP600 G2's audio output to a good 5.1 surround setup like mine? That's very important to me
Thanks again for the feedback !

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post #4 of 81 Old 05-30-2012, 04:22 PM
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You can output 7.1 over HDMI to your amplifier. The Western Digital is heavily overrated and full of glitches. Just check the forum, it can't even do general MKV playback without stuttering half the time.
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post #5 of 81 Old 05-30-2012, 05:48 PM
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Get a Dune. It will play most formats (with the notable exception of flv) AND decode HD audio.

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post #6 of 81 Old 05-30-2012, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gdc View Post

Get a Dune. It will play most formats (with the notable exception of flv) AND decode HD audio.

I would suggest a Dune player. Or you can try PCH-A300 as well, but the PCH might have sound loss with some HD sound tracks.

Or if you want to spend less money, I would suggest the Micca EP950 or EP600.

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post #7 of 81 Old 05-30-2012, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gdc View Post

Get a Dune. It will play most formats (with the notable exception of flv) AND decode HD audio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GusGus748s View Post

I would suggest a Dune player. Or you can try PCH-A300 as well, but the PCH might have sound loss with some HD sound tracks.

Or if you want to spend less money, I would suggest the Micca EP950 or EP600.

+1 for the Dune!
If it can't play a file- it's because there's something wrong with that file! That's how reliable the Dune Smart series is. If you just want to play your media without fuss and conversions- get the Dune.

You can have cheap..
You can have quality/reliability...
But you can't have both....

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post #8 of 81 Old 05-30-2012, 11:06 PM
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Pffft, what quality? A media streamer lives around its firmware, not how pretty it is. Dune is overpriced for the quality you get. Micca players are solid at a good price. Its a mystery why you'd pay for that sort of media streamer when a HTPC would slaughter any Popcorn Hour or Dune price for price.
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post #9 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 01:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the suggestions guys!

Only problem seems to be that the Micca EP600 does not seem to be available in Europe? Remember I live in Belgium.
What Dune player would you guys recommend (keeping the price a little in mind) ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

You can output 7.1 over HDMI to your amplifier.

So you would suggest using HDMI instead of using the optical output ? Does it make a difference in terms of audio quality output?

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post #10 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 03:49 AM - Thread Starter
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What DUNE player would you guys recommend?

HDI Dune HD Smart H1 (200 eur) or
HDI Dune HD Lite 53D (130 eur)

Or none of the above and another Dune ??

Thanks for the suggestions!

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post #11 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 06:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffietje View Post

Thanks for all the suggestions guys!

Only problem seems to be that the Micca EP600 does not seem to be available in Europe? Remember I live in Belgium.
What Dune player would you guys recommend (keeping the price a little in mind) ?




So you would suggest using HDMI instead of using the optical output ? Does it make a difference in terms of audio quality output?


Optical is incapable of carrying 7.1 HD audio. Hence why you'd wanna use HDMI for that.

And get the Dune H1 or D1 (depending if you like the display on the D1 for a few bucks more)

The 53d is also known as the "lite" and lacks some features in comparison
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post #12 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 06:33 AM
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Any member of the Dune Smart series will do.
The B1 has an internal Blu-ray disc player
The H1 has provisions to add your own internal 5.25" hard disk
The D1 has a front informational display panel

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post #13 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 08:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurtz9 View Post

Optical is incapable of carrying 7.1 HD audio. Hence why you'd wanna use HDMI for that.

And get the Dune H1 or D1 (depending if you like the display on the D1 for a few bucks more)

The 53d is also known as the "lite" and lacks some features in comparison

Thanks for your feedback.
So that means that when the audio is ''only'' 5.1 HD the quality is identical over optical when compared to HDMI ?
I am asking this because to me the sound from my LG-TV (via optical to the receiver) sounds inferiour compared to sound from Bluray to receiver via HDMI. See the part about the loud bass sounds in my opening post.

Thanks again !

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post #14 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffietje View Post

Thanks for your feedback.
So that means that when the audio is ''only'' 5.1 HD the quality is identical over optical when compared to HDMI ?
I am asking this because to me the sound from my LG-TV (via optical to the receiver) sounds inferiour compared to sound from Bluray to receiver via HDMI. See the part about the loud bass sounds in my opening post.

Thanks again !

Maybe your TV is doing some sort of signal processing to the audio stream(s) on the way out?

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post #15 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 08:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffietje View Post

Thanks for your feedback.
So that means that when the audio is ''only'' 5.1 HD the quality is identical over optical when compared to HDMI ?
I am asking this because to me the sound from my LG-TV (via optical to the receiver) sounds inferiour compared to sound from Bluray to receiver via HDMI. See the part about the loud bass sounds in my opening post.

Thanks again !

I'm not sure the LG outputs anything other than 2 channel via the optical output with the exception of a digital television broadcast so yes the BR is going to sound vastly superior since it will be true multichannel and true HD audio.

Page 7 of the manual:
Sending the TV’s audio signal to external audio equipment via the Digital Audio Output (Optical) port.
If you want to enjoy digital broadcasting through 5.1-channel speakers, connect the OPTICAL
DIGITAL AUDIO OUT terminal on the back of TV to a Home Theater (or amp).

Bill
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post #16 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm not sure the LG outputs anything other than 2 channel via the optical output with the exception of a digital television broadcast so yes the BR is going to sound vastly superior since it will be true multichannel and true HD audio.

Page 7 of the manual:
Sending the TV’s audio signal to external audio equipment via the Digital Audio Output (Optical) port.
If you want to enjoy digital broadcasting through 5.1-channel speakers, connect the OPTICAL
DIGITAL AUDIO OUT terminal on the back of TV to a Home Theater (or amp).

Bill

Yeah, the LG-TV is definitely sending out the audio as true HD audio. I can see it on my amp that it is sending it out as HD audio also.
Strange about the bass sounds though... Maybe it is cause I am re-encoding the DTS to AC-3 again (which is already a re-encode from the original Bluray audio ofcourse).
It will always sound better if you can play the DTS directly without re-enconding (again) to AC3 I guess...


What are the ideas of this player by the way : http://www.mediacentershop.be/produc...it-xds73d.html ?
Better as Dune ? Somebody got experience with this brand ?

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Hi Guys

I would recommend that you consider building an HTPC or HTPC Server. The software that I recommend is J River Media Center, it does all the formats. http://www.jriver.com/ Actually, J River Media Center 17 is now doing SACD ISO. 2 channel and multichannel. (None of the media players can do that format) 30 Day free trial and then it is only $50. SACD ISO version is in their forum. Here is the Ipad/Iphone app http://www.jremote.net/ You will need a good sound card, but I say your receiver has RCA Instead of XLR, so you are rather limited on the choice of sound card. I went this one on mine. http://www.htomega.com/claroplus.html and it has the XT with it. You can also go through Nvida video card with HDMI, but it depends on your taste in audio.

J river media center is listed on HDtracks.com and several other websites. I tested several, but most fail due to the audio.
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post #18 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 03:42 PM
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I would recommend that you consider building an HTPC or HTPC Server. The software that I recommend is J River Media Center, it does all the formats. http://www.jriver.com/ Actually, J River Media Center 17 is now doing SACD ISO. 2 channel and multichannel. (None of the media players can do that format) 30 Day free trial and then it is only $50. SACD ISO version is in their forum. Here is the Ipad/Iphone app http://www.jremote.net/ You will need a good sound card, but I say your receiver has RCA Instead of XLR, so you are rather limited on the choice of sound card. I went this one on mine. http://www.htomega.com/claroplus.html and it has the XT with it. You can also go through Nvida video card with HDMI, but it depends on your taste in audio.

J river media center is listed on HDtracks.com and several other websites. I tested several, but most fail due to the audio.

You don't need to drum up paid for software when XMBC or other free apps can do all that for $0.
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post #19 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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For people who own a Dune Smart series : is the HDMI cable provided in the package of sufficient quality for my setup?
I am using a little bit better cables than usual in my current setup, just wondering if I should get another one like that or if the one from Dune is good enough... Tia !

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post #20 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 05:37 PM
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Don't pay more for overpriced Dune boxes. The Micca is more than sufficient as is a $10 HDMI cable.
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post #21 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 06:19 PM
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Don't pay more for overpriced Dune boxes. The Micca is more than sufficient as is a $10 HDMI cable.

You are starting to sound like a broken record fanboy at its worst or micca employee. every post you make is about how good micca is and how bad everything else is. I see no posts on these forums of you trying another player to even be able to compare it for yourself.
And there is no way to build an HTPC for the price of a pch. the A300 at 219$ Power dvd alone is around 60$ just to get bluray menus on an htpc. Unless you go around and pirate all the software, And even still the cheapest solutions being the amd apu and the intel atom setups are usually not enough to push 1080p and they are in the 300$ range. Can an htpc be built for cheap certainly can it be built for under 500$ legally and be able to do everything you want pretty hard to accomplish.
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post #22 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 06:53 PM
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The only thing holding me back from purchasing a Dune is the fact the it doesn't handle the force flag for subtitles in MKV properly... This is a deal breaker in my opinion... I currently use a popcorn hour c-200 which just recently fixed the PGS subtitles issue in MKVs with a firmware update... To me the c200 is the best streamer available, and I'm sure the 300 series will soon see the PGS subtitle fixes too... If dune could handle subtitles properly, i would purchase one in a heartbeat just to have something new to play with...
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post #23 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 09:55 PM
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You are starting to sound like a broken record fanboy at its worst or micca employee. every post you make is about how good micca is and how bad everything else is. I see no posts on these forums of you trying another player to even be able to compare it for yourself.
And there is no way to build an HTPC for the price of a pch. the A300 at 219$ Power dvd alone is around 60$ just to get bluray menus on an htpc. Unless you go around and pirate all the software, And even still the cheapest solutions being the amd apu and the intel atom setups are usually not enough to push 1080p and they are in the 300$ range. Can an htpc be built for cheap certainly can it be built for under 500$ legally and be able to do everything you want pretty hard to accomplish.

I agree. Him and canton are on the same boat.

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post #24 of 81 Old 05-31-2012, 10:59 PM
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I agree. Him and canton are on the same boat.

And what boat are you in? Dune?
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post #25 of 81 Old 06-01-2012, 01:50 AM - Thread Starter
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The only thing holding me back from purchasing a Dune is the fact the it doesn't handle the force flag for subtitles in MKV properly... This is a deal breaker in my opinion... I currently use a popcorn hour c-200 which just recently fixed the PGS subtitles issue in MKVs with a firmware update... To me the c200 is the best streamer available, and I'm sure the 300 series will soon see the PGS subtitle fixes too... If dune could handle subtitles properly, i would purchase one in a heartbeat just to have something new to play with...

Hi
Thanks for the reply!
What do you mean with the force flag in MKV ?
It does play all kinds of subtitles like .sub and .srt as I remember by looking at the specifications.
And I guess it also plays integrated subtitles in the MKV ?
So what kind of subtitles does the Dune have problems with?
Thanks for the feedback, since subtitles is also important for me.

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post #26 of 81 Old 06-01-2012, 02:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

And what boat are you in? Dune?

Ive tested other media players and the Dune has been the easiest to set up and it just works. The other media players just fall behind it. It isnt just me who agree the Dune are more stable over all. There are others such as dbone/Damian who has reviewed and tested many other devices as well.

I do agree Micca is a good media player just based on price alone, but it isnt the best.

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post #27 of 81 Old 06-01-2012, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, looking at availability in Europe, Micca is not an option anyway.

I will probably go Dune after all the positive feedback, just waiting on an answer to my subtitle question and the HDMI cable

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post #28 of 81 Old 06-01-2012, 09:23 AM
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Hi
Thanks for the reply!
What do you mean with the force flag in MKV ?
It does play all kinds of subtitles like .sub and .srt as I remember by looking at the specifications.
And I guess it also plays integrated subtitles in the MKV ?
So what kind of subtitles does the Dune have problems with?
Thanks for the feedback, since subtitles is also important for me.

The Dune will play all subtitles formats flawlessly from what i've read... The only issue is that it doesn't recognize the force flag in MKVs... This means that it you have your subtitles turned off by default, it will not play subtitles with foreign/alien dialog... You will need to manually turn on that subtitle track... Your other alternative would be to rip your movies with only forced subtitles tracks and skip out on the full subtitle track, so that you can have subtitles turned on by default with the Dune... Neither solution is perfect in my opinion, but it is a work around... Bear in mind with subtitles turn on, any movie will play the full track if it is included... Personally, i rip all my movies with the full subtitle track and enable the force flag for forced tracks, therefor i would need to manually enable subtitles for those specific movies... If only the Dune would recognize the force flag, it would be hassle free and have a high Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF)... In its present format, it would be nearly unusable for most children/wives without some assistance for movies containing foreign dialog...
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post #29 of 81 Old 06-01-2012, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Daffietje View Post

Well, looking at availability in Europe, Micca is not an option anyway.

I will probably go Dune after all the positive feedback, just waiting on an answer to my subtitle question and the HDMI cable

The OEM HDMI cable from Dune is sufficient for it's intended use. No reason not to use it other than if you need a longer cable.

BTW- lots of us use Harmony remotes with the Dune, it's pretty easy to setup since the ir codes are in the Harmony/Logitech database.

"If we ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space."
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post #30 of 81 Old 06-01-2012, 12:19 PM
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You don't need to drum up paid for software when XMBC or other free apps can do all that for $0.

yea, no reason to actually PAY for software when you can used a half baked unfinished high school project for free like XBMC*



*note I am over exaggerating a bit... but to me at least, XBMC (and media portal too, T haven't really tried plex or boxee) does seem a bit unfinished...
also, I am not that keen on JRiver either... so no real horse in this race... just Tiddles replies seem to focus way too much on $$$ on not enough on things that actually matter to me (ie performance & reliability)

NOTE: As one wise professional something once stated, I am ignorant & childish, with a mindset comparable to 9/11 troofers and wackjob conspiracy theorists. so don't take anything I say as advice...
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