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Four big HTPC problems... :(

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by JackOTrades, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Dear all,

    I spent the "long" bank holiday weekend immersed in web browsing and htpc setup. I thought it would be long enough to get it all working... how wrong I was... :(

    These might even be very basic mistakes of mine, but I have been through every click and read everything I could get my eyes on and now I am stuck.
    So any help will be really appreciated.

    The setup I have right now is basically this:

    DVD Playing:
    Media Portal player using NVidia PureVideo Codecs for audio and video
    Audio out via SPDIF

    DivX:
    Media Portal player using FFDShow codecs

    TV:
    Sweetspot MCE drivers (I cannot get this to work for the life of me)

    Music:
    WMP10

    The problems I have now: :confused:

    a) Media Portal lets you use FFDShow postprocessing for DVD, DivX and TV by clicking a tickbox. I have ticked the box, but using FFDShow OSD i see it is only being used when I play DivX and not when I use NVidia codec to play DVDs from the drive. Is there something I can do to get FFDShow to be used with DVDs as well?

    b) Sound. Using SPDIF straight into my AV amp, I get brilliant DD and DTS sound from DVDs (using NVidia Audio codec). However, anything that is not DD or DTS (amp uses Dolby ProLogic II) comes through horribly. It is always played in five channels (i guess thats the DPLII) and i lose the voices and midband sounds, leaving me mostly the rear speakers and the edge frequencies. Any idea if I have to use analog RCAs to listen to stereo or if I can do this via SPDIF (in which case I must be doing something very wrong).
    This way I cannot play MP3 or even audio CDs properly and it really is a shame.

    c) TV. I am giving up on this one. Will pop out and buy a signal booster as I have tried everything else I could think of. What I would ask you as a suggestion is if there is any TV viewing/recording software I could get hold of to use with Sweetspot MCE on XP to try the card out and see if I can get it to work (or see if the card is faulty). Something you know works. MP is not working, and Showshifter trial didnt work either. Sweetspot MCE did not bring any software to do this with. The drivers are the only download I found for it. Thanks a lot for any help.

    d) Theatretek. If I decide to give up on MP and go MCE, can I use Theatretek instead of WMP for playing dvds from the dvd drive direct? I heard about the "My Movies" plugin but it seems to me that it is for saving the dvd to HDD and then playing it. Can I use it or something else to play DVDs from the DVDRom drive directly via TheatreTek instead of MCEs player?

    This is it.
    I will be really grateful for any help. I know it is a long post, I am sorry for the time it took you to get this far. I wanted to give you as much info as possible. I did try everything so far, but you all are my last resort. :lease:

    Cheers, all.
    Jack
     
  2. WBC

    WBC
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    I use Theatretek with MP, no problems!
     
  3. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
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    Jack,

    Sound: Is the sound that is coming from the PC already decoded DD/DTS/ProLogic or are you letting your amp do that ? If the PC is outputting ProLogic and the amp is expecting a digital stream to convert to ProLogic, it might be throwing it out.

    There is another Media Centre called jriver (www.jriver.com) that you can download for a 30 day trial. I'd suggest you download this to see if it's the hardware or the software.

    Make sure the Sweetspot MCE drivers work for normal XP Pro. I seem to remember a freeview card where you could buy an XP version and an MCE version. I think it was Black Gold which the Sweetspot is based on.

    Riche.
     
  4. Dr_Mike

    Dr_Mike
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    That makes two of us !!!

    I've been trying to get everything running with the NVIDIA Codecs in Zoomplayer. In Zoomplayer, the Nvidia audio codec only seems to work in SPDIF output mode. In WMP I can get analogue out but it's quite quiet and turning the amp up just amplifies the noise. I've seen other people saying that the NVIDIA codec is very quiet and doesn't work properly with ZP. Think I'll trial the Intervideo (WinDVD) codecs and AC3filter (free) for audio.

    With FFDSHOW, have you enabled Raw Video input in the set up? Not that my success rate is any better. If I enable FFDSHOW it causes Zoomplayer to hang.
     
  5. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Thank you Riche, lots of good stuff there.

    The DD/DTS is working fine, so whatever the PC is sending (from NVidia Audio Codec) is good, I imagine it is sending the DTS/DD decoded signal. It is with MP3, WMV, XDIV etc (anything non DD/DTS) that it doesn't work. I tried using the NVidia Audio codec, the DirectSound, the RealTek, FFDShow codecs... nothing seems to work and I am bemused and at a loss... Will I need to use RCA cables?

    As for the drivers, you might be right. I will see if I can dig it out. I installed the only version of the driver I could find (I don't remember it saying it was for MCE or XP) and the one recommended by Media Portal in their website. Still, good idea, I will have a look. (I will try everything, hopefully one will work!).


    Dr.Mike I feel your pain. I hope things get sorted on your front.
    I never thought the volume would be the issue. In DD/DTS it is pretty high the volume, ie, it sounds as my dvd player when it reads dvds. It's everything else that works badly via spdif... I changed the decoder from NVidia Audio to the ffdshow one but it is still pretty bad. :(

    Thanks guys and if anyone has any further ideas please, I will be very grateful. No matter how simple you may think they are, I might have forgotten something really basic... (I tend to do that at times)

    Cheers!
    Jack
     
  6. The Dude

    The Dude
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    OK, insulting question No#1 - Sound

    When you are listening to 2ch sources have you tried selecting 2Ch mode on the Amp?
     
  7. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
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    Try with RCA cables and see what this produces. Have you tried other codecs other than nvidias ?

    Richie.
     
  8. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I don't have MP but a common reason for failing to get FFDSHOW when playing DVDs is that MPEG hardware acceleration (aka. DXVA) is enabled, you cant' use that if you want to use post-processors such as FFDSHOW. Check is MP has such an option, if not try checking the NVidia codecs own config, this should be available via the system tray icon when the codec is running .. I use TT and it takes care of this for you, it also hides the icon so TT users rarely know about it. :)
     
  9. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Guys excelent things to try out! I will try them out later today and report back.
    And no suggestion insults me, I will try everything! (at least once) :)

    Last evening I tried different sound codecs (ie the FFDShow ones and the NVidia ones. For anything but DD/DTS NVidia's is much much lower in volume just as it happened with Dr.Mike - i suppose it is a "feature rather than a fault" but not a good feature at all.

    I tried disabling every single codec last on ffdshow last evening, as per Theatretek setup suggestion. Didn't make any difference other than now i couldnt play divx. I have the "raw" set up for "all available". Still doesnt do it. KraGorn you might be right, I will try to find a setting for the DXVA hw acceleration. I am sure MP doesn't have a setting for that. I will try to find the driver settings and disable it.

    Cheers everyone. I will report back soon.
    Jack
     
  10. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Ok, last evening i spend some more time around these issues. Here is what I found out so far (not much I must add).

    a) the suggestion was to disable hw decoding of the mpeg2 streams by editing the driver's properties. i went everywhere i could find and found nowhere i could disable any hardware acceleration. i am using NVidia PureVideo Codecs but the trial version (for now) so do you think this is why i can't disable it? Anyone knows where i should be able to do this? Thanks!

    b) sound. I tried everything in the amp while playing .wmp files and when playing the coral reef adventure hd video. the NVidia audio decoder is much lower in volume than the one provided by ffdshow. however, both of them sound like i am using a karaoke setting, ie, the voices disappear (midrange) or are very low and sound like have effects going on. No matter what setting i choose on the av amp this is what i get. I have enabled SPDIF to send both analog and digital output. No matter. Still karaoke. No idea what is wrong. Looked for any equaliser option anywhere but there is none on. At a loss now. :(

    c) Freeview tuning via sweetspot MCE: not solved yet, but contacted blackgold's support. they told me the MCE version only works with MCE2005 with the WHQL drivers. I have to buy an upgrade pack to get the drivers and application that work with XP (non-MCE). I have bought it now, I am waiting for the software. It comes with a remote control, apparently.

    d) No closer on this one. Does anyone know if there is a plugin for MCE that allows you to use TheatreTek instead of WMP?

    Thanks for all your suggestions and continued help.

    Jack
     
  11. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Re: the codec config.

    You're sure you didn't get a system tray icon appear when you played a DVD (of course you'd have to do this in a window rather than full screen). If not, try setting this registry entry:

    and try playing a DVD again.

    If you're not sure how to do that simply cut/paste the text (all 4 lines) I put in that quote, save it in a file somewhere (the desktop is the easiest place), the name of the file doesn'tmatter but it MUST end in .reg. Simply double-click it and you should get a dialog asking if you want to add it to the registry, click OK and you're done.


    About the 'missing' audio, aka. 'karaoke', sounds like you're losing the centre channel in a 5.1 system .. I had a similar experience with a standalone Pio 868 player when I mis-configured the decoding, obviously an entirely different context but possibly a similar root cause?
     
  12. Dr_Mike

    Dr_Mike
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    I found I get much better sound with SPDIF set to digital only. I get quite a 'noisy' sound with it set to Digital & Analogue out. Even in 'digital' only it will give a stereo (or Dolby Headphone) downmix of DD or DTS from the NVidia Codec. This is only in Windows Media Player. With Zoomplayer I can only get the NVidia to output undecoded DD/DTS via SPDIF.

    Am planning to try lots of other codecs over the weekend. I haven't got a NVidia gfx card so I'm not sure if there's any real advantage to having the Nvidia codecs. I plan to dry DScaler5, Intervideo (winDVD) and Cyberlink (PowerDVD). I'd like to try the Sonic Cineplayer one as well but they don't do a free trial and I'm abit loath to spend a few notes on something with no guarentee of success.

    BTW, I seem to remember from the MediaPortal forums that they recommend the Intervideo ones for use with their program.
     
  13. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Guys,

    Thanks a lot for all your help.
    I made a bit more progress, even if I am not sure I can call it progress...

    KraGorn I looked for the registry key but it isn't there. Perhaps because it is a trial version still. Nonetheless I discovered (and feel really dumb now) that the tray icon only comes up when you are actually playing a dvd. I was looking for it as a general icon in the system tray, hence not finding it.

    However, having found the settings pannels for NVidia Decoder didn't help too much... I cannot find any option to disable hardware acceleration... can anyone help with the settings for the NVidia Decoder to get the best picture and especially how to cancel the hardware decoding to try ffdshow? Thanks a lot!

    On the sound front Dr.Mike I tried everything and nothing worked.
    I then had to take my machine back to a restore point before i installed Media Player and everything else (because of the freeview card install) and took things step by step and now the sound works again. Not sure why, or what I did differently but it both DD/DTS and Stereo work via SPDIF into my AV amp. :)

    On the Freeview card it is a saga that has not ended yet. Still talking to their tech support in finding out why on earth i cant tune a single channel... :(

    Thanks for all your support here.
    Will appreciate any hints on how to disable hw accel. on NVidia PureVideo to try FFDShow.

    Cheers,
    Jack
     
  14. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    KraGorn you mentioned you are using TT with NVidia PureVideo.
    Can you please tell me if you are using it in MCE? If so, how did you manage to get MCE to use TT instead of WMP?

    Also, are you using TT with the latest codecs from NVidia or the ones it comes pre-installed with? If the former, is it easy to setup TT to use the latest codecs?

    Thanks a lot for your help!
    Jack
     

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