Leanest Codec install to play everything

groove

Established Member
Just about to embark on a rebuild of my lounge HTPC and wanted to hear everyones thoughts on the leanest codec install to play the following from within VMC / My Movies / MyTV -

720p and 1080p MKV's
DVD .IMG and .ISO's (mounted with slysoft virtual clone drive)
DVD folder structures (VOB's)
.AVI
.XVID
.DIVX
.WMV
.TS

previously I used SHark007's codec pack exclusively , but had CPU usage problems with 1080p .MKV's so added CoreAVC into the mix.

Although everything worked I started having a few issues with this combo and wondered if it would be better not going for the Codec pack and just installing what is actually necessary.

So would the following do it all ?

FFdshow
CoreAVC
AC3 filter

Is that a good/ known working combo of codecs ?
I need to pass audio out of SPDIF to my receiver and have heard AC3 filter is better than FFdshow ? If thats the case how do i configure AC3 filter to take precedence over the ffdshow audio ?

Thanks

G
 

gavbrown

Standard Member
Yeah this is the only things I have installed (I think I might have even forgone the AC3 filter for a while, can't remember why I installed it, I think it might have been to try and get DTS working in XBMC....)

Just make sure you install them in that order (ffdshow, coreavc, ac3 filter) and that you disable the mixer in ffdshow audio config so it doesn't try and monkey with the audio stream.

I haven't done much with .img and .iso's, but I'm guessing if you mount them with something like deamon tools they should just play like a normal DVD.

The only think you might have to do for some of the formats is to drag and drop a file into windows media player, it will moan something about the not knowing the file format / codec and tell it to try anyway and not warn you again and it should play the file format fine in VMC from then on.

Good luck!
 

groove

Established Member
nice one......

My only concern is installing ffdshow from scratch as it looks so daunting when first confronted with all those pages of options ( Shark007's pack installs ffdshow, along with a load of other stuff, but configures it so all ive ever had to do was go in and turn of the h264 so coreavc is used.)

And i cant ever remember going into the audio settings at all so that will be interesting.

Oh well i have my copt of graphedi handy so ill know what is what when im done.

Thanks for the tips...going to get cracking on this tonight.
 

Deleted member 42550

I found the CCCP pack to be good

I've also installed CCCP pack on both my Dell Laptop and my dedicated HTPC and to date both have played everything I've thrown at them without problem.
 

jameson_uk

Prominent Member
Codec packs tend to be bad and normally end up leading to conflicts with other installed codecs.

Really try and figure out what you need rather than just installed lots of things in the hope it will sort everything out. FFDShow is very powerful but also very complex and the cause of many issues.

DVD support first. DVDs are MPEG2 video and the necessary codecs are built into Vista. No need to install anything. VOBs are also just MPEG2 videos so you can change the extention to .mpg and play them as mpg files.

The only thing you need to support MKVs is Haali Media Splitter This however will only open up the contents and you then need codecs to decode the data inside. Support to do the same for AVIs is inbuilt into Windows.

A 720p MKV could have video encoded in many different ways. Most of which require different methods of decoding. If could be MPEG2 in which case you are fine as above, there is an MPEG2 codec that comes with Vista. If it more likely to be an MPEG4 codec of which there are three main types MPEG 4 - part 2 (XVid, DivX) and MPEG 4 - part 10 (H264, X264) and VC1.

It is unlikely you are going to come across much else video wise.

Problems arise with MPEG4-Part 10 and VC1 codecs. These are quite hard to decode and if you want to decode video at 1080p you need the right combination of hardware and software. The ideal is a video card that does the decoding for you but this only works in conjunction with the right codecs. The requirements to get your hardware to do the decoding is also quite picky on the encoding following standards. Unfortunately if these files have been sourced from t'interweb then it is likely that the standards have not been adhered to and you wont get hardware acceleration.

As you have found CoreAVC can help here. My ideal solution (if you graphics card supports it) would be to install a version of PowerDVD that gives you H264 and VC1 codecs. The PowerDVD codecs can then be used elsewhere and provide you with both hardware acceleration and the ability to pass through DD / DTS audio over SP/DIF. I am guessing by your post you do not have an "Ultra" version of powerDVD ? (I am not sure if you are still able to download the trial and get the codecs from that or whether they are timebombed to stop them working when the PowerDVD trial runs out or perhaps you can do this with Arcsoft's Total Media Theater)

So for video I would recommend you only install
Haali Media Splitter
Xvid
CoreAVC (or better still a version of PowerDVD or TMT that supports hardware decoding)

I am not sure how the MS audio codec works but I seem to recall it supports DD passthrough over SPDIF but not DTS. If that is the case then your options depend on the video. If you install any version of PowerDVD or the like it should provide you with the abililty to pass DD and DTS over SPDIF.
Failing that I would not install AC3Filter but instead install just the
Spdifer | AC3Filter
part of AC3Filter as that is all you need (just tick the passthrough DD and DTS boxes)
 

groove

Established Member
Wow...thanks for that jameson.......

Exactly what I was after , the leanest and cleanest codecs i could get away with.

Ill look into powerdvd , i downloaded the standard version a couple of days ago to have a look at the MPEG2 codec , and noticed the ultra version has the other codecs but decided coreAVC would suffice. I assume the hardware acceleration in the ultra is dependent on video card ? How can i tell if my current video solution will support the hardware acceleration ?

For £55 id want to ensure i'm really getting benefit from it.

So forgive my stupid question, I usually test all my file types with graphedit to ensure the codec's I want to be used , are being used. Obviously this is done from within Vista itself. Do these results translate exactly to VMC ? so what I see being used in vista/WMP is the same as what VMC will use ?

Thanks for such a detailed explanation.

G
 

jameson_uk

Prominent Member
Along with the onboard graphics
I do not believe that graphics card is going to cut the mustard so I guess 1080p decoding is going to be down to your CPU but I suspect that you are going to find some material that wont play smoothly. CoreAVC is probably going to be your best bet (especially if you have a dual-core processor)

As for VMC and graphs, I believe that to be the case but I have seen posts from people who have graphs working in WMP but not in VMC so I guess there are some oddities out there. (but in theory WMP and VMC are meant to be identical) I have not used VMC so can not confirm
 

groove

Established Member
hmmm.......

Ok so a new graphics card and a copy of powerdvd ultra need to go onto the shopping list.

For now CoreAVC will have to suffice then....i was playing 1080P mkv's with it at around 50-60% cpu utililisation so not too bad.

Any suggestions on a cool/quiet Video card with HDMI that wont break the bank ?

EDIT - Reading the sticky something like an ATI 3650 looks like it would be ok ?

ASUS HD 3650 256MB DDR3 Dual DVI HDTV out PCI-E Graphics Card

or

Sapphire HD 3450 256MB DDR2 VGA DVI TV Out PCI-E Graphics Card
 
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jameson_uk

Prominent Member
Ok so a new graphics card and a copy of powerdvd ultra need to go onto the shopping list.
I would leave it a while to see you you cope. If you can deal with the heat generated from running your CPU a little and everything works then no need to spend any more.

I would only look to upgrade once you hit problems (probably if you hit a movie with a particularly high bitrate). I have a 3650 and it is ok but I am looking to upgrade mine now as I am not that happy with the de-interlacing (that and I want 8 channel LPCM audio)

I would certainly only go for a passive card but I see there aren't that many 3650s left on the market.

The 4550 should have roughly the same grunt as a 3650 (I think a little less in theory but is newer and is meant to have better decoding, has a HDMI socket onboard and support 8 channel LPCM audio to boot)
GV-R455D3-512I - 512MB Gigabyte HD 4550, PCI-E 2.0 (x16), 1600MHz GDDR3, GPU 600MHz, 80 Cores, D-Sub/ DL DVI-I/ HDMI - Scan.co.uk
£44 for a passive card seems like a bargain. This is just about where I am at... what to upgrade my graphics card too so no experience of the 4550 but seems to be ok for HTPC use)

As I said before you would really need to team this with a HD codec that actually offloads decoding onto the card. PowerDVD Ultra does this (I had a quick look and I do not believe their trial allows any HD stuff). If you are not actually going to use the media player parts then I would look at other options (I got a Blu-Ray drive which came with PowerDVD Ultra so never really looked any further). I am guessing the codecs that come with the trial of Arcsoft's Total Media Theater are likely to continue working beyond the trial
 

deksawyer

Established Member
For everyone's information, the CCCP "codec pack" really is superb.

It's nothing more than FFDshow bundled with a couple of players (MPC HC being one of them) and the Haali splitter as well. Nothing to be afraid of and certainly not the usual codec bloatware.

I've been using it for a good few years now and couldn't do without it. I haven't even bothered to install CoreAVC anymore as the FFDshow decoders are superb.

It enables playback of everything bar BD or HD DVD from within VMC.

D.
 

groove

Established Member
Thanks for all the tips guys....

Nearly finished the build, went for Jamesons suggestions in the end , after the Vista setup all I have loaded is coreAVC ( with the bundled Halli splitter ) and the suggested xvid codec.

Ive tested every type of file I have and everfything is playing perfectly , output through spdif , no lip sync problems , no juddering , no skipping........spot on !

Ive got two minor issues i need to nail though....

Randomly (it seems) when playing an mkv from VMC the windows task bar pops up and becomes the active window.......video still plays , and a press of the menu button on my remote brings VMC back into focus. a quick Google lead me to the coreAVC forums where others seem to be having the same problem. Appears to be no fix at the moment ???

Also a couple of times when resuming from standy when playing a mounted image or a ripped dvd file structure i get sound and only a green screen for video.....weird. Not sure where to start with this one atm...a reboot fixes it.

Still working through these little things , but a big thanks to everyone who has helped with this. Ive been documenting my build every step of the way ( software wise ) so i should end up with a good set of instructions when im done
 

groove

Established Member
OK with a bit more digging around on coreAVC's site it appears they are aware of the taskbar focus bug in the latest release and are working on a fix in the next (1.90) release.

Havn't had a reply yet as to timescales. :mad:

Pretty annoying after 'upgrading' to a paid for h264 decoder from a free one.

So I either stick it out , and get the benefits of smooth 1080p decoding , but annoying taskbar coming into focus ( and the subsequent loss off remote functionality until the video is clicked and brought back into focus ) or go back to ffdshow or similar and have no interface issues but also poor 1080p playback.

Of course my other option is to stick my hand in my pocket and buy a new video card capable of hardware decoding , and a copy of powerdvd so I can use their codecs.

Talking of powerdvd , does anybody know what version comes with the following blu-ray drive -

LG Electronics Blu-Ray & HD-DVD-Rom Combo 16x DVDRW Black SATA - Retail Box With Software


Will it have the h264 codecs I need ? As it seems silly buying the software on its own , when i could get a drive as well for not much more.......
 

jameson_uk

Prominent Member
Talking of powerdvd , does anybody know what version comes with the following blu-ray drive -

LG Electronics Blu-Ray & HD-DVD-Rom Combo 16x DVDRW Black SATA - Retail Box With Software


Will it have the h264 codecs I need ? As it seems silly buying the software on its own , when i could get a drive as well for not much more.......
I got it a while ago and it came with 7.3 Ultra (including H264 codecs). Not sure if it has been upgraded to 8 now but will still come with H264 codecs as it you need the Ultra version for BD playback
 

groove

Established Member
Well thats that then .....i think.

Ill pick one of these bad boys up and a new video card......

The one you found at scan is out of stock , and not sure when they are getting deliveries......damn

So i need to find a card that paired with that BD drive and powerdvd will give me hardware accelerated h264 playback and i should be done.

I think...
 

jameson_uk

Prominent Member
OK with a bit more digging around on coreAVC's site it appears they are aware of the taskbar focus bug in the latest release and are working on a fix in the next (1.90) release.

Havn't had a reply yet as to timescales. :mad:

Pretty annoying after 'upgrading' to a paid for h264 decoder from a free one.
Is the problem limited to VMC or does this happen with other players?? (just thinking that other players have always on top type settings) An interim solution might be to use a different player for H264 material until CoreAVC fixes the issue???
 

jameson_uk

Prominent Member
The one you found at scan is out of stock , and not sure when they are getting deliveries......damn

So i need to find a card that paired with that BD drive and powerdvd will give me hardware accelerated h264 playback and i should be done.
I guess budget and audio are of consideration here. If you want 8 channel LPCM then you need an ATI 4xxx card. The one I linked to on Scan is going to do the job and is silent but as you say no-one seems to have any in stock. I would avoid the 4350 if you playback any SD material as I have heard bad things about how they handle de-interlacing etc.

If audio is not an issue then you have more choice. I am currently running an ATI 3650 which does a good job of most things and the main reason I am upgrading is for the multi-channel audio
ASUS EAH3650 SILENT MAGIC 512MB DDR2 DVI HDCP HDTV out PCI-E Graphics Card - Ebuyer for £45

If you want to spend less the 3450 is cheaper (but less powerful)
Sapphire HD 3450 512MB DDR2 VGA DVI TV Out PCI-E Graphics Card - Ebuyer is only £32

Not really sure about NVidia cards but I am guessing something like a 9500GT would be sufficient
XNE+9500T-TD01-PM8096 - 1GB Palit 9500 GT Super, PCI-E 2.0 (x16), 800MHz GDDR2, GPU 550MHz, 32 Cores, D-Sub/ DVI-I/ HDTV - Scan.co.uk is £48

I have no real experience of the NVidia cards but must admit I am looking at an new motherboard with integrated NVidia GPU after reading about issues with 24 fps playback on ATI cards.

Just remember that if you have downloaded files that are not standards compliant that you will not get hardware acceleration and this may end up making your files not play at all.

I think...
lol a HTPC is never done :D
 

groove

Established Member
Only VMC......If i launch a film from the dash and maximise the screen its fine , its just when the taskbar pops up 'over' VMC that all hell breaks loose.

Seeing as the main driver behind all of this is ease of use for the family , they dont want to be going to the dash to launch stuff. it boots straight into VMC and really that is all they should ever see.

EDIT ( typing while you posted )

Those two ATI cards are exactly the ones ive got open in another tab here ! I was just going to post details....you beat me to it !

Audio is not a n issue as I spdif staight to my amp at the moment.......

lol a HTPC is never done

LOL...why we cant we ever just be happy and leave the things alone !
 
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jameson_uk

Prominent Member
The 3650 has my eye.........but that looks like a mighty big HS.....wonder how much heat that things going to pump out....
Mine gets warm and there is basically no airflow in case but never had a problem with it. It will take up one the slot next to your card.

Actually noticed
Force3D HD 4550 512MB VGA DVI TV Out PCI-E Graphics Card - Ebuyer
for £42 which looks tempting

More powerful than the 3450 but slightly less than the 3650. Only takes up one slot and I believe the new 4xxx cards use less power than the 3xxx cards
 

Anjin

Standard Member
My situation in kinda... invert.

I just installed Vista Ultimate 64bit to my new PC, and started to study everything I'd need to playback HD-videofiles (no need to playback BD's, PS3 handles those).

So, I thought I need atleast CoreAVC, Haali, Mediaplayer Classic and ffdshow. Yesterday I thought that I wanna try how 64bit software works, and installed 64bit ffdshow and 64bit mpc-hc. And to my HUGE surprise, everything works!

I have about 15 1080p/720p MKV's in my HDD, and all of those play smoothly. I'm dumbfounded.

Is it possible that for some reason those MKV's I have just dont need haali to work?

Processor load is between 5-20 when playing those videos. I've never seen it go over that.

EDIT: Should I have included vobsub or do something else when installing ffdshow to get subtitles working? If something was supposed to be done, can I do/add it later, or should I just remoev and reinstall ffdshow?
 
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jameson_uk

Prominent Member
Is it possible that for some reason those MKV's I have just dont need haali to work?
Yes and no :cool:

You need some form of splitter to extract the different streams from the container (MKV in this case). Haali is the normal one for MKV but I have a feeling you can get others to work (just as you can use Haali to work as a splitter for AVI and MP4 containers).

That said, I have a feeling that some splitter has probably been installed as part of something else and is doing the job

Edit: Indeed got this from the 64 bit MPC-HC website "MKV : use internal Matroska filter (until Haali x64 is available)"
 

Anjin

Standard Member
So I'd say that I have THE leanest install.. Nothing else but ffdsshow and mpc-hc :)

And I havent configured/tweaked anything. Just installed those with recommended setting ie. pressed "next" until install was finished.
 

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