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Discussion Starter #1
I know very little about the great depth of what madVR can do but everyone I talk to seems to think it's stupid to build a htpc when I could just buy a shield and be done.

What exactly will I gain in madVR vs a shield?


Here is what have and will use it for:

Epson 4000 (4k, hdr, limited to 30fps)
150" screen
AVR - Onkyo 656 and 5.1 setup

Older pc -
Win 10 64bit
AMD Phenom II x6 1045t 2.7ghz
6gb ram
GeForce GTX 970 4gb
WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM

Watch local content (no streaming) that primarily consists of 4k hdr mkv movie files (~60gb).


My plan is to either add a gtx 1060 6gb card to the pc or get a shield. Cost is a little cheaper going the 1060 route (around $170 on ebay vs $200 for the shield).

I've been told that this pc with a 1060 6gb card should play 4k hdr content fine - thoughts?


My initial thought is that the shield, while plug'n'play, may somewhat limit my ability to fine tune or maximize pq and other image enhancements - true? Will the fact that my pj only does 30fps cause problems for the shield?

On the flip side, I don't want to spend hours learning how to use madVR and be constantly messing with settings. Once things are dialed in, will I ever have to mess with its settings again?
 

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I would say madVR's biggest benefit is its high quality scaling algorithms. If you're watching 4K content on a 4K display, you're not getting that benefit.



I know madshi has been working on HDR functionality quite a bit recently. There is a thread here. It all sounds very bleeding edge, requiring you to find the right combination of OS, drivers, settings, etc. Then, pray that nothing breaks. Maybe someone with experience can jump in here.



I'd say get a shield and save yourself the headache. That, also, gets you the option of streaming content that will probably never work as well on a PC.



-tm
 

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The Shield is easy to use for those who are not technical and more reliable for everyday use. By comparison, the HTPC can be unreliable and does require some technical knowledge of Windows, and to a lesser degree, madVR. Small things can go wrong on a regular basis due to Windows updates, driver upgrades and updates to madVR. It helps to have some idea on how to fix them. It is not rocket science, however, once you figure out how to run everything. If you are not comfortable on Windows, this can be a deterrent.

If you are planning to watch any 1080p content, the Shield has horrible upscaling. The image will be fuzzy. Those who don't use proper upscaling may not know there is a difference, but it definitely exists when making direct comparisons to the Shield. There is one image in this gallery that illustrates this point: See the comparison under "image doubling" labelled "Corporate Photo" and compare Bilinear to NGU Sharp.

Other enhancements (artifact removal, image sharpening, 3D LUT support, etc.) are available in madVR that you may or may not care about that are not available on the Shield. When it comes to video playback, a Shield is plug-and-play for the most part.

No, you don't have to fiddle with your settings in madVR once you are comfortable with what you have. With that said, there is a small learning curve involved.

You said the majority of your content is 4K HDR and you own a projector. Honestly, that should make the choice easy in favor of the HTPC. 4K passthrough with the Epson is known to be poor compared to the tone mapping available in madVR. If you are going to watch HDR content on a projector, you need tone mapping, and you aren't going to get better tone mapping from projectors for another generation or two. The new projectors set to be released by JVC illustrate how little tone mapping for projectors has improved over the last generation. The auto-tone mapping of the JVC uses static metadata to set the brightness of its tone curve, while madVR has already moved on to dynamic tone mapping similar to Dolby Vision and that made possible by HDR10+. This is high-quality tone mapping for free.

There are some threads here to educate yourself:

Thread where tone mapping for madVR is being developed

Why you shouldn't expect great HDR from a projector
 

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Many are intimidated to set up an HTPC and settle on something plug and play instead. As luck has it, there are guides readily available that cover everything from A-Z including pictures so you don't have to learn anything. Pick what applies to your environment, set it, and forget it.


Although you have only one interest, UHD only, many others have multiple interests. Devices like the Shield cannot handle everything and some of what it does isn't great quality - it's ok as is the same with other devices. Even combined devices (which many people do) cannot achieve everything. An HTPC can in the event your tastes expand or something like a new format is introduced, 8k for example.


When a device like a Shield becomes obsolete and firmware updates no longer rectify problems and/or keep up with new additions, you have no choice but to purchase the new model. And if you use multiple devices that equates to multiple new models. An HTPC, on the other hand, is not reliant on all the various components. The graphics card is the only component that may need updating from time to time. I've found an upgrade is only required once every ten years or so. Presently I use a GTX 960 and upgrading would achieve nothing for me except some higher madVR algorithm processing. I guess upgrading a GPU vs upgrading a device(s) sounds like a wash except devices upgrade every year... GPU's don't and often when they do, it isn't much different than the previous models unless a HUGE gap needs to be filled. Also consider, when your device breaks, and it's out warranty, you trash it unlike an HTPC, you simply repair and that repair is usually an upgrade.


For someone using a 150" theatre, I wouldn't think you would skimp for the sake of convenience but that's just a guess and an opine. With pixels as large as you are displaying, they are less forgiving than smaller displays with smaller pixels. Imo, making every pixel count comes with the territory. Just sayin'...
 

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My HTPC is also an older AMD Phenom II x4 960 I think with 8GB mem and a GTX 1050TI 4GB. I am also an IT professional. Hardware built pre Win10 is defiantly an issue with drivers and will give you some headaches. But MadVR is great but be prepared for a large learning curve, maybe people with more up to date hardware have less issues but I pray every WIN10 update that something else won't break. I run KODI W/dsplayer with my latest issues are getting ATMOS to work with everything else. Every rev update with KODI also breaks something else and it can get frustrating. NVidia updates are also a nightmare and should be avoided once you get it working. With Win10 settings also are changing on their own and need to be corrected on a regular basses. I would sum it up as expect maintenance to be high with older hardware maybe newer hardware is more reliable as I never had any issues running Win7 on this HTPC.
 

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I use both HTPCs and Shields and my experience is still a work in progress. The Shield is a great streaming box and I like that it has Plex built-in so I can stream content from my unRAID server using the Plex Docker. I built a new Win 10 HTPC to use mainly with 4K content and audio. I'm still tinkering with MadVR so I can't say much about it at this point. I've been experimenting with MPC-BE, MPC-HC, Kodi, and JRiver Media Center for 4K playback. I have issues with JRiver getting out of sync with the audio after watching a movie for about 10 minutes or so. MPC-BE just gives me an extremely dark picture to the point where it is unwatchable. I just haven't had a lot of time to tinker with the settings after the initial setup to see if I can iron out the kinks.

I have been extremely disappointed with the Shield for 4K playback. There are a lot of various settings for the picture and you have to play around with them to find out what works best with your display. I don't have any problem viewing streamed content, but UHD Blu-Ray rips on my server have way too much of a soap opera look to them. I understand now why so many people bash the Shield for the video output, which is surprising considering that Nvidia is primarily a video card manufacturer. You would have thought that they would excel in this area. My Shields have taken a few updates since I last tried them for 4K playback so maybe it has improved since my last viewing attempt.

I would highly recommend the Shield as a streaming box as it is probably the best box out there for that. The added ability to use Plex and also the HDHR DVR app makes it about the closest thing to an all-in-one box on the market. If they would improve the picture for 4K playback it would be the hands-down winner. For now I intend to stick with my Win 10 HTPC for 4K playback as well as audio using JRiver. Right now I'm mainly using my old Win 7 HTPC for recording and watching TV shows so the Shield and Win 10 HTPC don't see a lot of action.
 

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I use a HTPC with Jriver for music and DVDFab Media Player for video. Any other commercial streams are handled via their native Windows apps.
 

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I use a HTPC with Jriver for music and DVDFab Media Player for video. Any other commercial streams are handled via their native Windows apps.
First time I have heard of someone using DVDfab as a media player. Any reason why its your go to?
 

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First time I have heard of someone using DVDfab as a media player. Any reason why its your go to?
It supports every video format including menu navigation. It also supports 3D. It's quick and comes with both PC and big screen modes. The only thing that it does not yet support is dolby vision from a file.
 

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I have all 4k chain. In my experience, DVDFab Player v.5 (the latest) will only engage HDR if you do it prior to playback using the HDR switch in Windows. Then you have to manually turn it back off for SDR content and so on. I know of no shortcut to engage and disengage that switch other than navigating to it constantly back and forth.


Also, in my experience, for 3D to engage, you have to manually change resolution from 2160p (4k) to 1080p. If you don't, it crashes the drivers so bad, you will BSOD and have to reboot. I've had it crash the drivers so bad once, they needed a reinstall. As with HDR, you would need to change the resolution manually back and forth depending on content.


On the other hand, v.3 of DVDFab Player handles HDR perfectly. This was when the software used private API's to engage HDR mode prior to switching to using Windows HDR. The algorithms used also produce a very decent picture imo. Why they switched is anyone's guess? This version has no 3D capability. It's greyed as a matter of fact. If you want menus, I would suggest FAB v.3 for HDR and any version of PowerDVD for 3D. Both handle SDR 2D menus fwiw but PDVD requires special hardware for HDR and FAB does not.


Since there was a mention of DVDFAB Player, would you be kind enough to confirm or deny these statements so I know it's not exclusive to my system and if it is indeed global. TIA.
 

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My HTPC is also an older AMD Phenom II x4 960 I think with 8GB mem and a GTX 1050TI 4GB. I am also an IT professional. Hardware built pre Win10 is defiantly an issue with drivers and will give you some headaches. But MadVR is great but be prepared for a large learning curve, maybe people with more up to date hardware have less issues but I pray every WIN10 update that something else won't break. I run KODI W/dsplayer with my latest issues are getting ATMOS to work with everything else. Every rev update with KODI also breaks something else and it can get frustrating. NVidia updates are also a nightmare and should be avoided once you get it working. With Win10 settings also are changing on their own and need to be corrected on a regular basses. I would sum it up as expect maintenance to be high with older hardware maybe newer hardware is more reliable as I never had any issues running Win7 on this HTPC.
You could always *not* keep installing updates for everything. Atmos works great in Kodi. Set the audio to *bitstream* and that's that. Windows isn't involved at all then.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Is MPC with madVR the best setup?

I keep hearing kodi being mentioned and know nothing about it; what is it?

All my viewing will be local content and no streams or online content.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
 

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KODI is a front end media catalog and player. It is extremely customizable for each individuals tastes especially layouts and artwork. There are many official add-ons and many unofficial that introduce further capability. It works on different platforms such as Windows 10. There is an official supported version and many unofficial unsupported versions. It is open source thus the many offshoots and why it is freeware.


Kodi has its own internal player. Like all players, it has its limitations but is constantly under development. That said, an unofficial build of KODI was developed with a custom player that is compatible with madVR. madVR adds additional processing to content delivering exceptional quality and functionality. It too, as well as other components, are under constant development. This setup is popular and named KODI DSPlayer.


Personally, I do not prefer DSPlayer as my front end. It is too limited for things (I) prefer so I use the official version of KODI and add my own custom players with madVR and other things. I actually use 5 of them. Again, afaik, no one player can do it all and I desire to do it all. As for the "best setup"... that is up to the individual since users can be more or less demanding than others as well as preferences in complete control vs convenience.
 

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Yeah, there is no "best" setup. There are just different trade offs. Some people think madVR is secret sauce they sprinkle on their videos to make them look perfect. They usually come asking for the optimal settings. They don't exist as you are always forced to make trade-offs e.g. sharpness vs artifacts.


It comes down to individual preferences for image quality, ease of use, cost, etc. 99% of people aren't crazy videophiles. If you're not in that group, it probably doesn't matter what platform or software you choose (as far as image quality anyway).


I use my Shield for most content. It's good enough on the plasma and it just works. If I watch a movie in the theater, then it's worth it for me to use JRMC w/ madVR. The HTPC is definitely more finicky and it gets annoying dealing with it at times.



-tm
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yeah, there is no "best" setup. There are just different trade offs. Some people think madVR is secret sauce they sprinkle on their videos to make them look perfect. They usually come asking for the optimal settings. They don't exist as you are always forced to make trade-offs e.g. sharpness vs artifacts.


It comes down to individual preferences for image quality, ease of use, cost, etc. 99% of people aren't crazy videophiles. If you're not in that group, it probably doesn't matter what platform or software you choose (as far as image quality anyway).


I use my Shield for most content. It's good enough on the plasma and it just works. If I watch a movie in the theater, then it's worth it for me to use JRMC w/ madVR. The HTPC is definitely more finicky and it gets annoying dealing with it at times.



-tm
What is jrmc?

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Given my setup, what players should I get to have a good platform to work from?

I have vlc and MPC w/madVR already.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
 

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Any other commercial streams are handled via their native Windows apps.
Is there a Prime Video app? Also, the Netflix one is not remote friendly at all and even the helper program available here on AVS has its shortcomings. Streaming apps on Windows are kind of bad, in my experience.
 

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Is there a Prime Video app? Also, the Netflix one is not remote friendly at all and even the helper program available here on AVS has its shortcomings. Streaming apps on Windows are kind of bad, in my experience.
I generally use the Netflix and Amazon apps on my smart TV for those.
 

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Given my setup, what players should I get to have a good platform to work from?

I have vlc and MPC w/madVR already.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
JRiver has a free 30 day trial. If you're willing to put some time into getting an HTPC setup, I'd say it's worth trying. I've used JRMC, Kodi, Plex, EBMC, on a Shield, a Zidoo x9s, Roku, Fire, HTPC. All have pro/cons, but I keep coming back to JRiver for my theater setup. It's a bit of work to get it setup initially, but it's been the best picture and sound of all them. Once it's setup, it's not bad to keep running.
 
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