• Hello and Welcome to HiFiVision.com - an online community for the home entertainment and tech enthusiasts!

    If you would like to ask a question, participate in a discussion and view attachments please Register yourself.

Every HTPC has a story !!!

AV Cables

neoonwheels

Active Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
206
Points
28
Location
pune
Every HTPC has a story !!!

It all started couple of years back when I visited one of my friends. He had enormous collection of movies and I wanted to copy few of them to see them on my TV. Most of his files were quite large by size, given that those were full HD and with surround sound in them. I was disappointed since I wanted to burn DVD and watch on my DVD player. I had to be careful since some of the formats were not supported by my DVD player.

With not much luck, I could only copy few romantic movies which were full HD but with stereo (2 channel) audio embedded. He was least bothered about such movies as those were just to please his wife and without them he would have been thrown out of the house with his system.

By that time I was already excited about actually watching the action flicks on his setup. He had attached his PC to his TV and then had some Denon system in between to take care of the audio. So we started off with the legendary title "Saving Private Ryan". I was not sure what to expect so just sat there through the initial 5 mins and then Boooooooom !!!!!!!

I was literally jumping on the seat when the battle scene started. This really sparked the HTPC thing in me. Then I returned to home and eventually to reality. Spending 15-20K on HTPC was something my wife was not happy about. Also we did not have a dedicated Home Theater system but a 10 years old Computer 5.1 Speaker system by "Artis". Its a very humble system and I still have it. I like its punchy yet crisp bass and good mid tone.

Now I wanted to solve the issue of incompatible files with my DVD player and so after researching on net, I got to know about the Android TV which is essentially a small media player developed on the Android stack. It looked like a perfect solution for me since it was pocket friendly and supported almost all the video and audio formats, well almost all! Now this thing does not come with analog audio out so I bought a make-shift 5.1 DAC which was converting the SPDIF digital audio output to Analog to put my audio system to good use.

This make shift arrangement worked for me for couple of years until I bought a dedicated Home Theatre System by Yamaha. This model (YHT 299) supports all formats of audio except the Dolby Atmos and DTS equivalent. But I am least bothered about them anyways. Now this really exposed the Achilles heel of the Android media player. This thing cannot pass through the audio over SPDIF and HDMI. So all the decoding happens inside this media player and then it sends surround signal over SPDIF but only Stereo over HDMI. There is no fix for this thing as the HW does not support this. So I ended with a Home Theatre which is starved of the surround formats which it can decode. Only saving grace was the TATA Sky STB which I have connected to it through SPDIF.

Fast-Forward, I was seriously looking at HTPC solution since it can really solve most of what I want from it. Be it all types of audio format decoding as well pass-through and yet easy to upgrade because of the inherent modular approach. Then I started the research for which I invested a lot of time. Members here also helped me fine tune the system with just the right components. Even though I could not incorporate some of the inputs, I tried my best to address my requirements the best possible way I can. There is no limit to the way you can build your HTPC and there is no one right answer to it. Its all about making sure that it solves all your problems with the budget you have.

So lets go over the basic requirements that I had:
1. Should flawlessly render HD and Full HD movies.
2. HD audio bit streaming/Pass through
3. 3D and 4K not required but should have an upgrade path Through a dedicated GPU
4. Stream media from online and over private WiFi sources
5. Energy efficient as this could run for hours
6. Should look like a HTPC rather than Just-Another-Desktop-Computer

Frankly, the above requirements are very basic and my budget was also on similar lines. I already have a decent performing desktop in my bedroom and was not looking out for a similar config. Here the requirements are completely different.

I started off with FM2 based processor with FM2+ motherboards. AMD FM2 processors offer good VFM as far as media handling is concerned. Few also support good amount of gaming and thus stack up on pricing depending on the support they provide. As my requirements are pretty basic, this made me stick to basic APU and thus reduced the expenses by a good margin.

Only challenge being, most of the motherboard manufacturers omit the HD audio bit streaming (Pass through) information and so makes it very difficult for one to take a call. So after a lot of research, going through YouTube videos and browsing through motherboard manuals, I finalized on the configuration. One of my friends also built a similar setup and thankfully I got a chance to verify point#2 before I take a call. Trust me this is the best bang for the buck config as far as media streaming/viewing HTPC is concerned.


CPU/APU: AMD Athlon 5150 1.6 GHz
Motherboard: Asus AM1M-E
RAM: 4GB HyperX Fury
Cabinet: Circle Lil Black
SSD: Kingston 120GB
WiFi Dongle: 300 mbps speed

I no way claim it to be the Best config but as I said, its one of the most VFM HTPCs you can build. Since most of the media is on 1 TB USB3 hard disk, I did not opt for any internal HDD (Apart from SSD for boot and SW). Also the SSD is put on to make sure minimal booting time. Remember this is an HTPC and should look and work like one. With Windows 10, my HTPC boots up in around 8 seconds.

The Media Player experience:
As I said, HTPC should not only look like one but should behave as one too. Now there are sides of this coin, one being the chassis you put your HW into and the other being the SW part to polish the overall experience.

Chassis: Since the APU is just 25TDP, I had a good chance on skipping the dedicated and expensive SMPS. I opted for the Circle Lil Black cabinet which also came with SMPS built in. This little cabinet is real VFM as it gives you looks and saves you money as well. You can put this cabinet either vertically on its stand or horizontally in your nice Wall Unit in the living room.

Media Player experience: Now that the external look is taken care of, I paid attention to the overall media experience. This thing should not look like just another desktop, so I put on Kodi on this machine and changed the settings on HTPC to boot into Kodi directly. I have not yet touched on the BIOS image/Boot animation but you never know :)

As of now I have added all my movies and music into Kodi (Directed Kodi to the sources) and using Skin called Phenomenal and it indeed is phenomenal. This is my second most favorite skin after the default skin of Kodi. I have also configured Scrapers and review sites so that the movies will have fanart and ratings available. I am also planning to configure YouTube so that I dont have to come out of Kodi and open Browser just to watch YouTube videos. May be down the line, I would like to have Torr* application integrated so that this RIG will also take care of downloading movies.

I have made changes in the Kodi to pass-through all the surround sound formats like DTS, DTS HD, DTS HD MA, Dolby Digital, Dolby True HD etc to my AVR rather than decoding them locally. I can see the correct stream info on the AVR which the movie file has, so this motherboard Asus AM1M-E supports the HD audio bit streaming/pass-through.

I hope this thread has added some value if you are about to venture into the HTPC area. Will keep on updating the thread as and when required.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_20160827_203720.jpg
    IMG_20160827_203720.jpg
    24.2 KB · Views: 225
  • IMG_20160827_203958.jpg
    IMG_20160827_203958.jpg
    32.8 KB · Views: 224
  • IMG_20160827_204013.jpg
    IMG_20160827_204013.jpg
    29.3 KB · Views: 225
  • IMG_20160827_204106.jpg
    IMG_20160827_204106.jpg
    17.3 KB · Views: 226
  • IMG_20160829_093607.jpg
    IMG_20160829_093607.jpg
    15.2 KB · Views: 225

regeHA

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
1,101
Points
113
Location
India/Singapore/US
Looks nice, congrats.

BTW with Kodi you don't really need downloading... just stream content though the tradeoff is usually 720p max and the lack of HD audio. Anyways that's how I use Kodi, typically streaming. For my local HD, Blu-ray rips, I use PotPlayer and madVR. Give them a try... might or might not be your thing... but VQ is really optimized though it will push h/w.

For downloads, just get a Pi, works great and hardly consumes anything.
 

VSG12777

New Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2008
Messages
257
Points
0
Location
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Hey Neo,

Looks great! I am also considering a HTPC as a replacement for my 2011 WDTV Live HD media player. Can you provide the cost split-up and where you purchased them, if you don't mind?
 

tuff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2014
Messages
2,035
Points
113
Location
Thane
Excellent work. Good research.What was the overall damage?
 

sam9s

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
5,386
Points
113
Location
Delhi NCR, INDIA
congratts neo, so finally a thread for your efforts :), .... its good to see your efforts paid off. Enjoy your HTPC. can you perform few tests for me, you already confirm that Asus AM1M-E supports HD Audio passthrough, so that I now am aware, need to know the audio files you used for testing HD Audio was that MKVs, if yes any possibility to test full BD ISO and see how Asus AM1M-E and Athalon 5150 handles them, also if possible I would like you to run 3D BD ISO as well. A file with 10 bit encoded with H.265 (HEVC). Specially level profile 5.0 will be icing on the cake.:) Try the below sample file ..

http://jell.yfish.us/media/jellyfish-90-mbps-hd-hevc-10bit.mkv

Just want to see how far can you push this chipset.
 
Last edited:

neoonwheels

Active Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
206
Points
28
Location
pune
Hey Neo,

Looks great! I am also considering a HTPC as a replacement for my 2011 WDTV Live HD media player. Can you provide the cost split-up and where you purchased them, if you don't mind?

APU+MB combo is some 5800/-, SSD is 3K, RAM is some 1600/- and Cabinet is 2200/-. So total around 13K but then few things I got at good discount since I got them through one of my friend's regular dealer. I did not go for optical drive as all my data is on 1 TB USB HDD. The system is total VFM at 13K.

congratts neo, so finally a thread for your efforts :), .... its good to see your efforts paid off. Enjoy your HTPC. can you perform few tests for me, you already confirm that Asus AM1M-E supports HD Audio passthrough, so that I now am aware, need to know the audio files you used for testing HD Audio was that MKVs, if yes any possibility to test full BD ISO and see how Asus AM1M-E and Athalon 5150 handles them, also if possible I would like you to run 3D BD ISO as well. A file with 10 bit encoded with H.265 (HEVC). Specially level profile 5.0 will be icing on the cake.:) Try the below sample file ..

http://jell.yfish.us/media/jellyfish-90-mbps-hd-hevc-10bit.mkv

Just want to see how far can you push this chipset.

Ok I dont have most of what you said. I will try and source it from my friends. Also would download the file from the link you have given. Lets see what this board is capable of. This would surely benefit our forum :cool:
 

neoonwheels

Active Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
206
Points
28
Location
pune
APU+MB combo is some 5800/-, SSD is 3K, RAM is some 1600/- and Cabinet is 2200/-. So total around 13K but then few things I got at good discount since I got them through one of my friend's regular dealer. I did not go for optical drive as all my data is on 1 TB USB HDD. The system is total VFM at 13K.



Ok I dont have most of what you said. I will try and source it from my friends. Also would download the file from the link you have given. Lets see what this board is capable of. This would surely benefit our forum :cool:

Ok, the link has all possible files :clapping:. Will report back on the files soon.
 

neoonwheels

Active Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
206
Points
28
Location
pune
yes it does except 3D ISO for that head over to ...

Samples - Official Kodi Wiki

another checkI want you to perform is if you can get proper 24p output on your display while playing these 3D files

My Panasonic plasma is only 720p so wont be able to see any 3D. I will see if I can see HD audio (DTS HD MA and Dolby True HD) displayed on AVR when I play such files. That should seal the deal about HD pass through at least.
 

neoonwheels

Active Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
206
Points
28
Location
pune
yes it does except 3D ISO for that head over to ...

Samples - Official Kodi Wiki

another checkI want you to perform is if you can get proper 24p output on your display while playing these 3D files

Here is the summary:

1. jellyfish-10-mbps-hd-h264 - Worked well
2. jellyfish-10-mbps-hd-hevc - Stutter, not watchable
3. jellyfish-10-mbps-hd-hevc -10bit - Stutter, not watchable
4. jellyfish-45-mbps-hd-h264 - Flawless, worked well
5. jellyfish-55-mbps-hd-h264 - Flawless, worked well
6. jellyfish-120-mbps-4k-uhd-h264 - Stutter, not watchable
7. jellyfish-140-mbps-4k-uhd-hevc-10bit - Stutter, not watchable

Apart from these, I downloaded one Dolby True HD and DTS HD MA files (FullHD) form net. I can see the AVR showing up True HD and DTS HD MA for these files. Attached are 2 screenshots of the same.

Now looking at the results, could you please interpret what works and what not :)
 

Attachments

  • IMG_20160901_091419.jpg
    IMG_20160901_091419.jpg
    15.9 KB · Views: 147
  • IMG_20160901_091457.jpg
    IMG_20160901_091457.jpg
    16.8 KB · Views: 147

tuff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2014
Messages
2,035
Points
113
Location
Thane
I believe upping RAM to 8 gigs can solve the stutter issue.
 

regeHA

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
1,101
Points
113
Location
India/Singapore/US
Here is the summary:

1. jellyfish-10-mbps-hd-h264 - Worked well
2. jellyfish-10-mbps-hd-hevc - Stutter, not watchable
3. jellyfish-10-mbps-hd-hevc -10bit - Stutter, not watchable
4. jellyfish-45-mbps-hd-h264 - Flawless, worked well
5. jellyfish-55-mbps-hd-h264 - Flawless, worked well
6. jellyfish-120-mbps-4k-uhd-h264 - Stutter, not watchable
7. jellyfish-140-mbps-4k-uhd-hevc-10bit - Stutter, not watchable

Apart from these, I downloaded one Dolby True HD and DTS HD MA files (FullHD) form net. I can see the AVR showing up True HD and DTS HD MA for these files. Attached are 2 screenshots of the same.

Now looking at the results, could you please interpret what works and what not :)

Running the latest version of Kodi? It decodes HEVC.

A simple way to test is to d/l PotPlayer and see if it plays the files.

If your AVR decodes HEVC (I'm not aware of latest AVRs and whether they do it or not) then you could bitstream video and have the AVR do the decoding... but its more of a workaround and I've found s/w and PC based solutions like PotPlayer to be better at it.
 

neoonwheels

Active Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
206
Points
28
Location
pune
I believe upping RAM to 8 gigs can solve the stutter issue.

OK, will use my other machine's RAM over weekend and will check again.

Running the latest version of Kodi? It decodes HEVC.

A simple way to test is to d/l PotPlayer and see if it plays the files.

If your AVR decodes HEVC (I'm not aware of latest AVRs and whether they do it or not) then you could bitstream video and have the AVR do the decoding... but its more of a workaround and I've found s/w and PC based solutions like PotPlayer to be better at it.

I am using Kodi 16.1 Jarvis. Never used PotPlayer. Any settings you know which I should do in PotPlayer?
 

regeHA

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
1,101
Points
113
Location
India/Singapore/US
I am using Kodi 16.1 Jarvis. Never used PotPlayer. Any settings you know which I should do in PotPlayer?

No, just run at default settings. See how well HEVC performs in it or if you are still with the stuttering.

I've been on the HEVC/H.265/4K bandwagon for over a year now, including ripping my Blu-ray collection in HEVC. Its truly efficient and gives much better PQ with smaller rip size, but not all media players can decode/play it just yet.
 

sam9s

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
5,386
Points
113
Location
Delhi NCR, INDIA
I believe upping RAM to 8 gigs can solve the stutter issue.

Nope nope ..no ... its the H.265 HEVC and 10Bit H.265,nothing to do with RAM.
My C2D plays H.265 (not 10 Bit though) with meek 4GB RAM .. :), but it has GT440 .. :) Hardware accelerated.
 

akd

Active Member
Joined
May 10, 2009
Messages
335
Points
43
Location
Guwahati
Once I also appreciated HTPC, so so that I developed two of them with BD drive. I also had and still have a LG BD 550. I used to watch original BDs through Optoma HD 20. There is no alternative to a HTPC for versatility as ut can perform almost anything you want it to. But there are other aspects such as media player that plays BDs, its compatibility with region (A,B), its relation with any DVD, audio decoding, keeping up with updates for the player, internet connectivity and of course a good PC remote. All in all I got tired with issues associated with a HTPC which one only learns when he uses it. My contention was if to watch a film (from BD) one has to spend 15 mins for start-up then in the long run it will not work for me. So I carefully gave away (some sold) the components and bought two 3D BD player region A (ebay.in) and another region B (amazon UK). Now I spent almost 30K for the HTPC and 16K for the two BD players. These two BD players have been charm to use, I have watched more than 50 films and I never needed more than a few seconds to start the film and in two years I have not touched the players rest apart firmware update and I quite liked that, thats really effortless...


But being in Linux based serious computations I appreciate computers and thus HTPC. Though probably I will never return to HTPC still its the best solution for entertainment.
 

sam9s

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
5,386
Points
113
Location
Delhi NCR, INDIA
R
If your AVR decodes HEVC (I'm not aware of latest AVRs and whether they do it or not) then you could bitstream video and have the AVR do the decoding... but its more of a workaround and I've found s/w and PC based solutions like PotPlayer to be better at it.

That is not possible and not even viable option, AVR cannot render/process/decode video, at the most just upscale it. All video processing has to be done via GPU and/or CPU. If hardware acceleration is supported almost all processing is off loaded to GPU, hence a good GPU with hardware acceleration is recommended, so that CPU is not hurt and all video processing is done on GPU with ease.
 

sam9s

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
5,386
Points
113
Location
Delhi NCR, INDIA
I got tired with issues associated with a HTPC which one only learns when he uses it. My contention was if to watch a film (from BD) one has to spend 15 mins for start-up then in the long run it will not work for me. So I carefully gave away (some sold) the components and bought two 3D BD player region A (ebay.in) and another region B (amazon UK). Now I spent almost 30K for the HTPC and 16K for the two BD players. These two BD players have been charm to use, I have watched more than 50 films and I never needed more than a few seconds to start the film and in two years I have not touched the players rest apart firmware update and I quite liked that, thats really effortless....

You got tired, coz the way you configured your HTPC might not be optimal, 15 min to start a PC, there...there!!! that itself tells why you got tired. Even the lamest, tired and slow to the core PC (of last 10 years) does not take...maybe more then 3-5 min to start. I will throw all my PCs if anyone of it takes more than 5 sec to boot, ...8-10 at the most. With openELEC .... definitely not more than 5...anyway ...

Coming to BD discs, yes I admit, playing a disc in BD player is much easy and hassle free as compared to HTPC, and if a person like you maybe who has truck loads of discs and will almost always view movies on discs, I might as well suggest a DB player with media playing capabilities via USB than a complete HTPC.
 

tuff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2014
Messages
2,035
Points
113
Location
Thane
10 bit is useless unless you have a 10 bit monitor/tv anyways.
 
Top