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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone, long time reader here, first post since I've seemed to hit a wall in my search.


I've been reading tons of material for finding the right media streamer. Mosty discussions are centered around HD audio. Frankly that is just not that important to me since I don't consider myself an audiophile in the least bit. Because of this its been hard to nail down what best suits my needs.


What IS important however, is video quality and capabilities. I'm looking to steam uncompressed blu-ray rips in either MKV or ISO format (I haven't yet decided which better suits my needs yet, still experimenting). Full menu support with BD ISO would be nice, but it seems that only comes on the more expensive players.


A must is that when a external HDD is plugged directly into the streamer, I'd like it to show up as a shared/mounted drive on the network to easily be able to transfer files. Some don't seem to do this. eSata seems like it would be good for this, but not important if uncompressed blu-rays play fine over USB.


The interface is important though probably not a deal breaker unless its horrible.


ANY help from the pros around here is extremely appreciated!


Also, the $150 price range seems to be what I'm looking for.
 

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Regardless of whether you're an audiophile or not, HD-Audio is important. More video will come with only an HD audio soundtrack in the future and if your player can't decode it then you'll be left with silence in some cases (a.la DTS and the WDTV1).


I'd say AC3 and DTS are essential, with the lossless formats being a bonus.


In that light, there are many Realtek players below $100 that will do AC3 and DTS. The Asus O!Play, Play!On Mini, and Ellion/Hyundai Labo would be my recommendations. Cheap with decent firmware all of them. Those are all without an internal HDD bay.


Or wait for the Popbox. As a home entertainment device it will be a step forwards from all of the above owing to the on-demand content. It also has a faster chipset and only costs $129.
 

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I own a cheap Noontech A6 that plays everything, but I personally would not upgrade until USB3 players are available. USB3 (5Mb/s) is here.


If you need it right now - buy cheap.


Look for a cheap player that can output 1080P @ 24, 25 and 30fps.


Audio is very misleading. So your cheap player doesn't output TRUEHD or DTSMA ? Don't worry.


Many Bluray movies have the main high bitrate lossless audio track as LPCM.


eg;


CASINO ROYALE - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 6ch 16bit

PATRIOT - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 6ch 16bit

THE FIFTH ELEMENT - TRUEHD 4851Kbps 48KHz 6ch + LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 6ch 16bit

GHOST RIDER - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit

CHICKEN LITTLE - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 6ch 16bit

HELLBOY DIRECTORS CUT - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 6ch 16bit

KILL BILL 2 - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit

TALLADEGA NIGHTS - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 6ch 16bit

THE WILD - LPCM 6912Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 24bit

BLOOD DIAMOND - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 6ch 16bit

HOSTEL PT1 - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit

MEET THE ROBINSONS - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit

OPEN SEASON - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit


and many others.


LPCM is a mainstream uncompressed audio format that can play over either your HDMI or SPDIF (optical or coax).


So what ? Well, if you have a cheap player, you can create a new lossless LPCM track from the demuxed TRUHD or DTSMA track using the CLOWN DB software.


I used Clown last night, and added a new LPCM 6912Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 24bit track to TERMINATOR2, from the original DTSMA 48KHz 5.1ch track. Works well, and sounds glorious.


Unfortunately, the Bluray DTS and AC3 tracks are now generally very low bitrate and sound it. Worse, you may accidently be playing the 'core' DTS or AC3 and not realise it, and wonder why you have a couse grainy sound.


So yes - high quality audio is important, but a lossless LPCM track can be added for cheap players at no cost.


BTW - there is absolutely no loss of audio quality converting TRUHD or DTSMA to LPCM.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by iboum /forum/post/18208738


Regardless of whether you're an audiophile or not, HD-Audio is important. More video will come with only an HD audio soundtrack in the future and if your player can't decode it then you'll be left with silence in some cases (a.la DTS and the WDTV1).

Almost nothing will come with only an HD audio soundtrack. Few people already have the capability of taking advantage of HD audio. The video distributors aren't crazy. They are not going to aim stuff at .001% of the market.


philip
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by isHawkeye /forum/post/18208364



[ ]


What IS important however, is video quality and capabilities. I'm looking to steam uncompressed blu-ray rips in either MKV or ISO format (I haven't yet decided which better suits my needs yet, still experimenting). Full menu support with BD ISO would be nice, but it seems that only comes on the more expensive players.


A must is that when a external HDD is plugged directly into the streamer, I'd like it to show up as a shared/mounted drive on the network to easily be able to transfer files. Some don't seem to do this. eSata seems like it would be good for this, but not important if uncompressed blu-rays play fine over USB.


The interface is important though probably not a deal breaker unless its horrible.


ANY help from the pros around here is extremely appreciated!


Also, the $150 price range seems to be what I'm looking for.

Since you want your drives to show up on your computer's desktop that rules out the Asus O!Play unless Asus adds that in ( and I don't think they have committed to that).


Is fan noise an issue?


I would look at PCH-A200, PopBox (not out yet), WDTV Live, Boxee Box (not out yet), ACRyan.


The interfaces on most media players is terrible. That is supposed to change but who knows... The WDTV Live interface is not bad and it has wide support. The PCH-A200 is a really interesting player. The PopBox isn't out but does not have an internal drive and how closed it is will be an issue (same with the Boxee Box).


If I had to choose now I'd go with either the PCH-A200 or the WDTV Live.


philip
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcd /forum/post/18213904


Almost nothing will come with only an HD audio soundtrack. Few people already have the capability of taking advantage of HD audio. The video distributors aren't crazy. They are not going to aim stuff at .001% of the market.


philip

I have just looked at 50 Bluray movies taday, and the AC3 tracks are all 640kb/s (basically crap) - even though AC3 spec does actually go up to 1.6Mb/s. AC3 is now just a token effort on Bluray - except for the very few discs that are AC3 only. The DTS tracks, although rare, are better, but either way the HD audio tracks are the way to go.


Beware also - you may accidently be playing the 'core' DTS or AC3 and not realise it, and wonder why you have a couse grainy sound.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by iboum /forum/post/18208738


Regardless of whether you're an audiophile or not, HD-Audio is important. More video will come with only an HD audio soundtrack in the future and if your player can't decode it then you'll be left with silence in some cases (a.la DTS and the WDTV1).


I'd say AC3 and DTS are essential, with the lossless formats being a bonus.


In that light, there are many Realtek players below $100 that will do AC3 and DTS. The Asus O!Play, Play!On Mini, and Ellion/Hyundai Labo would be my recommendations. Cheap with decent firmware all of them. Those are all without an internal HDD bay.


Or wait for the Popbox. As a home entertainment device it will be a step forwards from all of the above owing to the on-demand content. It also has a faster chipset and only costs $129.

I have considered waiting on the PopBox, but I haven't decided if I want to be patient enough for it. The interface sure looks like it will be head and shoulders above everything else if I can stand the ads.


And for your response about the audio...let me see if I understand this correctly, and bear with me. What if I'm actually just playing the actual Blu-ray disc in my player that only has HD audio, and my receiver can't decode it(not sure if it does or doesn't)? What then, I'm still screwed? I find it hard to believe they would sell discs with only HD audio, unless I'm misunderstanding this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcd /forum/post/18213947


Since you want your drives to show up on your computer's desktop that rules out the Asus O!Play unless Asus adds that in ( and I don't think they have committed to that).


Is fan noise an issue?


I would look at PCH-A200, PopBox (not out yet), WDTV Live, Boxee Box (not out yet), ACRyan.


The interfaces on most media players is terrible. That is supposed to change but who knows... The WDTV Live interface is not bad and it has wide support. The PCH-A200 is a really interesting player. The PopBox isn't out but does not have an internal drive and how closed it is will be an issue (same with the Boxee Box).


If I had to choose now I'd go with either the PCH-A200 or the WDTV Live.


philip

Thats too bad, I was considering the Asus. Is there no way to access a drive connected to the O!play over the network?


As for noise fan, I'm not sure, I may have a HDD connected and under the TV and thats about all I would be able to stand hearing. I assume your referring to the XStreamer?


As for the A200, wasn't that released with the same buggy firmware as the C200? It sure sounds like thats been a major thorn in the side for C200 owners. I'm looking more for something to work out of the box at this point.

Also relating to the A200 and its HDD, does that mean it has a drive bay, or comes with an actual drive(what size)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pepster returns /forum/post/18214162


What is it with the MKV container ? Even the cheap players play the .m2ts files.

I guess I'm just not too familiar with sticking with the .m2ts files. MKV seems like a good standard that is easy to use.


I guess my question would be, whats the advantage of using .m2ts files and how does that generally work? Just grabbing the main movie .m2ts?


I actually think using .iso would be the easiest if the filesize wasn't so huge.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by isHawkeye /forum/post/18215119


I guess I'm just not too familiar with sticking with the .m2ts files. MKV seems like a good standard that is easy to use.


I guess my question would be, whats the advantage of using .m2ts files and how does that generally work? Just grabbing the main movie .m2ts?


I actually think using .iso would be the easiest if the filesize wasn't so huge.

I recommend you straight rip you BRdiscs to the same file structure that is on the disc (I do). Media players will come and go, but you only want to rip your movies once. It is only a matter of time before even the cheapest players will play the BRay menus direct from the play list (.mpls) files.


You will be doubling your work if you rip to a MKV container, or image (.iso) and then only to find out later that you could then be playing the .mpls files direct with your new $50 2011 player.


The catch (there always is one...); many movies have the main program (.m2ts files) broken up in to many separate files (and seemingly random order, eg BOLT).


The fix here is to open the correct playlist (.mpls) file - (usually the largest, but not always - a bit of trial and error here...) with the excellent (and free) CLOWN BD software. Clown will automatically gather up all the the various .m2ts files in the correct order, and create a new single program file in either .mt2s, .ts, .mkv container format - your player will most likely play all container types. This conversion does not recompress - ie there is no A/V loss. You will only need to run clown for some movies, so I recommend you stick to .m2ts format so these files can sit next to your others that will already be in the original .m2ts format.


Or, you can run clown for all your TRUEHD and DTSMA movies to create a new LPCM track (no loss) to allow you to use the cheapest player (my recommendation).


BTW, I have looked a another bunch of BLuray discs today and have found some more that use LPCM as their main HD audio track;


KILL BILL 1 - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit

ACDC LIVE AT DONNINGTON - LPCM 6912Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 24bit

2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit

CARS - LPCM 6912Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 24bit


All of these LPCM movie tracks should play just fine though HDMI
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by isHawkeye /forum/post/18208364


Hello everyone, long time reader here, first post since I've seemed to hit a wall in my search.


I've been reading tons of material for finding the right media streamer. Mosty discussions are centered around HD audio. Frankly that is just not that important to me since I don't consider myself an audiophile in the least bit. Because of this its been hard to nail down what best suits my needs.


What IS important however, is video quality and capabilities. I'm looking to steam uncompressed blu-ray rips in either MKV or ISO format (I haven't yet decided which better suits my needs yet, still experimenting). Full menu support with BD ISO would be nice, but it seems that only comes on the more expensive players.


A must is that when a external HDD is plugged directly into the streamer, I'd like it to show up as a shared/mounted drive on the network to easily be able to transfer files. Some don't seem to do this. eSata seems like it would be good for this, but not important if uncompressed blu-rays play fine over USB.


The interface is important though probably not a deal breaker unless its horrible.


ANY help from the pros around here is extremely appreciated!


Also, the $150 price range seems to be what I'm looking for.

As far as HD audio is concerned read through the article in this link:

Signal to Noise - Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD MA vs. Uncompressed PCM


Pay attention to some of the comments concerning the compressed codecs.


I appreciate lossless HD audio and uncompressed LCPM and have the equipment to take advantage of it. But at the same time realize that the differences can be very subtle.


Unfortunately many people think that the pop they see when moving from SD video to HD video will also be the case when moving to the HD lossless audio codecs. Or uncompressed LPCM for that matter. This simply is not the case.


Even the proclaimed "golden ears" say the differences can be very subtle. Don't get lost in the "frenzied specifications driven world" which is designed to stimulate people to spend dough on new gear. Let your own ears be the judge.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by isHawkeye /forum/post/18215107


Thats too bad, I was considering the Asus. Is there no way to access a drive connected to the O!play over the network?


As for noise fan, I'm not sure, I may have a HDD connected and under the TV and thats about all I would be able to stand hearing. I assume your referring to the XStreamer?


As for the A200, wasn't that released with the same buggy firmware as the C200? It sure sounds like thats been a major thorn in the side for C200 owners. I'm looking more for something to work out of the box at this point.

Also relating to the A200 and its HDD, does that mean it has a drive bay, or comes with an actual drive(what size)?

You cannot access an Asus HD from the network. There are some hacks which work but it's really iffy.


I first got an A200 and have since moved up to the C200. All the firmware for all the players lack something. I can play anything with my C200 that I can with my Asus O!Play. I don't know which buggy firmware you are referring to. Usually people complain about the HD Audio streaming which may or may not work at this point. I don't know as it's not a priority for me. In fact I really couldn't care less about HD Audio ( and I do like music, audio, etc...).


The A200 will take either a 2.5" drive or a 3.5" drive. I had a 2.5" drive in it as that runs silent and cool. In my C200 I have a 2.5" and 3.5" and no fan.


Fan noise from small fans can very very annoying. That's what is nice about the O!Play, WDTV Live, etc... No fans. The A200 has a fan but it's actually very quiet. Still, I dislike fans and moved to the C200.


One of the very nice features of the WDTV Live is that it mounts attached hard drives to your computer's desktop via the network. Same with the A200 when you have an internal hard drive.


I still think the WDTV Live is what you should get or perhaps the A200 if you are buying now. If not now then there is the Boxee Box and PopBox to consider. The only reservation I have about the A200 is the fan, but that fan is silent compared to the fans I have used in Realtek devices ( the Xtreamer is an example).


As for the O!Play you will be getting a samba client and no server. This means that any transfer from a computer to the O!Play has to be initiated from the O!Play.


Have a look at http://www.iboum.com/net-media-players.php and good luck. If possible buy from somewhere that has a good return policy. I have had great service from onlybestrated.com . They have the A200 and you can try it to see if the fan noise bothers you.


philip
 

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Recomended Players:Sigma

Dune Prime,Popcorn c-200,HDX BD1,WD LIVE.


Recomended Players:Realtek

Asus AIR,Acryan MINI,Xtreamer,Ellion Labo 110,Sumvision MKV(Mvix Ultio)

Tvix N1.


T.

http://mediaplayerworld.com/Forum/index.php
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by nextoo /forum/post/18218484


As far as HD audio is concerned read through the article in this link:

Signal to Noise - Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD MA vs. Uncompressed PCM


Pay attention to some of the comments concerning the compressed codecs.


I appreciate lossless HD audio and uncompressed LCPM and have the equipment to take advantage of it. But at the same time realize that the differences can be very subtle.


Unfortunately many people think that the pop they see when moving from SD video to HD video will also be the case when moving to the HD lossless audio codecs. Or uncompressed LPCM for that matter. This simply is not the case.


Even the proclaimed "golden ears" say the differences can be very subtle. Don't get lost in the "frenzied specifications driven world" which is designed to stimulate people to spend dough on new gear. Let your own ears be the judge.

Thanks for the link.


The article defies logic and one can only assume that there is an error in their testing procedure.


LPCM is to TRUEHD / DTS that

WAV ie to MP3 and

BITMAP is to Jpeg


ie, uncompressed to compressed.


To convert uncompressed (LPCM, WAV, BITMAP) to compressed (TRUEHD / DTS, Mp3, Jpeg) = loss.


To convert compressed (TRUEHD / DTS, Mp3, Jpeg) to uncompressed (LPCM, WAV, BITMAP) = no loss.


I would like someone to come up with a rational argument why this would not be the case.


BTW, the first thing your media player, amp, tv, mp3 player, or PC does when confronted with compressed files is - you guessed it - uncompresses them.


So, if your media player, amp, tv, mp3 player, is uncompressing your files, and then passing this data on to the D/A converter, then what is the difference in passing the uncompressed files directly to the D/A ??


I fail to see why there would (should) be a difference. I am simply decompressing in software. Note, approximately 25% of all the Bluray discs I looked at on the weekend used LPCM as their main HD audio track.


I do agree with the argument that LPCM uses more space on the disc, and there is a (remote) possiblity that the LPCM could be downgraded to fit the disc if space was an issue - which it isn't, btw.


I note from the reader comments, that others also have issues with this article.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pepster returns /forum/post/18223289


Thanks for the link.


The article defies logic and one can only assume that there is an error in their testing procedure.


LPCM is to TRUEHD / DTS that

WAV ie to MP3 and

BITMAP is to Jpeg


Hold up. Way too many assumptions here.


First, if there is an error in our testing procedure, it was an error done by me and David (not too likely), and, you know, the entire staffs of both Dolby and DTS (really not likely). So no, I don't think there was any error on that front.


Your base simile is only accurate in the coarsest way. Yes it is true that DD/DD+/DTS etc are compressed formats, but that is where the similarities end. The encode end of these formats are significantly more advanced than MP3, and have been tweaked and honed for over two decades.


There is a LOT that can be done at the encode end that can affect how good a given soundtrack sounds that has nothing to do with the decode end (your receiver/BD player). This is one of the reasons why a remastered title can sound better than its original DVD release. Even if it's the same audio mix (a big if) the DD encoder today is far more advanced than it was 10 years ago.


And that's not even discussing the quality of the codec itself. Though such a comparison wasn't done for this article, I'd put money that DD at 128kbps would sound way better than MP3 at 128kbps. But talking about differences in codecs makes a lot of people's eyes glaze over. Either you believe it's possible for there to be a difference or you don't, not sure what I could do to prove it either way.


And let's not forget, DD isn't 128kbps, it's a lot higher. So even if you don't want to believe there is any difference in codecs or encoding equipment (not sure why you'd disregard all that, but hey, to each their own) then the very basic "more bits" argument works just fine.


As I've said in the past, I find it fascinating how people take what they want from this article. It seems like both pro and con high-rez format people can use it to prove their points. Without a doubt there is a difference with the new formats, but it's the subtle differences of codecs, not as a poster above pointed out, the difference between SD (480i) and HD (1080i).


If you want to have the best you can, then go for the upgrade. I have. But it's far more likely the difference you hear going forward is a different mix, a different level, or in some cases a different master used to create the track itself. Because of that, if you're stressing about what to upgrade, or if you should upgrade, or stressing about anything at all. Don't. It's not like you're missing the jump to 1080p (which, of course, is the same resolution as 1080i - but that's a different article).
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pepster returns /forum/post/18218293


I recommend you straight rip you BRdiscs to the same file structure that is on the disc (I do). Media players will come and go, but you only want to rip your movies once. It is only a matter of time before even the cheapest players will play the BRay menus direct from the play list (.mpls) files.


You will be doubling your work if you rip to a MKV container, or image (.iso) and then only to find out later that you could then be playing the .mpls files direct with your new $50 2011 player.


The catch (there always is one...); many movies have the main program (.m2ts files) broken up in to many separate files (and seemingly random order, eg BOLT).


The fix here is to open the correct playlist (.mpls) file - (usually the largest, but not always - a bit of trial and error here...) with the excellent (and free) CLOWN BD software. Clown will automatically gather up all the the various .m2ts files in the correct order, and create a new single program file in either .mt2s, .ts, .mkv container format - your player will most likely play all container types. This conversion does not recompress - ie there is no A/V loss. You will only need to run clown for some movies, so I recommend you stick to .m2ts format so these files can sit next to your others that will already be in the original .m2ts format.


Or, you can run clown for all your TRUEHD and DTSMA movies to create a new LPCM track (no loss) to allow you to use the cheapest player (my recommendation).


BTW, I have looked a another bunch of BLuray discs today and have found some more that use LPCM as their main HD audio track;


KILL BILL 1 - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit

ACDC LIVE AT DONNINGTON - LPCM 6912Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 24bit

2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY - LPCM 4608Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 16bit

CARS - LPCM 6912Kbps 48KHz 5.1ch 24bit


All of these LPCM movie tracks should play just fine though HDMI

I do actually have some straight BD filesystem rips that I haven't played around with yet, since I'm still learning about the filesystem and what is what. My question about this is, I also want a simple way to play my rips on the computer, not just the streamer. What software do you use for this when playing ripped .mt2s? At this point its easier for me to just mount a BD image and play that with the bundled BD software that came with my computer. I am trying VLC to play BD files but it doesn't work quite like it should by skipping to chapters and opening correctly.


Also, I've only tried Clown BD once so far. Would I use the M2TS function or Blu-ray for .m2ts? I'm not sure what the difference there is. Also since I don't care about listening to the HD audio, I'm confused as to how I should rip the audio as well.
 
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