New Media Player Advice Please

dpriest

Novice Member
My apologies for the duplicate post from the Dune Media Player Post but I am looking for a recommendation for the following situation and didn't mean to narrow it to only Dune. I would like recommendations on what to use and how to use it.

I have over 4TB of movies and TV Shows, as well as a whole music collection, workout videos and Home videos on a Synology NAS Drive attached to my network. All of these are Blu-ray rips and not purchased from Apple so I am wanting to exclusively watch my content.

Since I am a Mac guy with a few Macs, Apple TVs, iPhones, etc, I have spent several years building my iTunes library, using the Apple TV to stream the various media through my Yamaha receiver. I had a 5.1 speaker setup and my movies were encoded with AC3 5.1 audio in 1080P video. I moved into a new house several months ago and upgraded to an 85" Sony 4K TV along with a new Yamaha receiver (Aventage rx-a2a) and installed two ceiling speakers to create a 5.1.2 setup. I am now wanting to watch movies in 4K video with higher quality audio moving from AC3 such as TrueHD Atmos and DTS-HD (7.1) being able to take advantage of my 5.1.2 setup.

I like the easy interface of the Apple TV and just bought the Apple TV 4K 2021 because my understanding was that if I use Infuse, I would be able to pass-through mkv/mp4 movie files encoded with TrueHD Atmos, DTS-HD, taking advantage of DolbyVision, being able to use the Apple TV interface I am familiar with, but after on a Firecore forum chat realize I can't do this because of hardware limitations.
So now it looks like I have to start over and someone recommended one of the Dune Media players. It looks like one of the players will do what I want but I am in unfamiliar territory and have no idea how Dune works, if I have to start over since I have been using iTunes/ATV for so long. I'm looking for advice on how I do this, set this up, being able to access all of my media which I have already put in the metadata such as cover art, movie description, etc. with MetaX?

Thank you for your help in advance.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
If its Blu-ray Dolby TrueHD Atmos & Dolby Vision your after then some options are;

Zidoo Z9X
  • Can do 4k HDR10 and Dolby Vision with bit-streaming Dolby TrueHD Atmos, DTS-HD.
  • Operating systems is Android with a custom UI and video player layered on top.

You can see video review of the box here with UI and media indexing on network shared folders added as a source. Owners thread over here might be able to help with more questions you have.

Dune Real Vision 4K.
  • Can do 4k HDR10 and Dolby Vision with bit-streaming Dolby TrueHD Atmos, DTS-HD.
  • Operating systems is Android with a custom UI and video player layered on top.

The Dune uses same hardware as above but has a different UI which you can see here.

Nvidia Shield 2019 model.
  • Can do 4k HDR10 and 4k Dolby Vision with bit-streaming Dolby TrueHD Atmos, DTS-HD.
  • Operating system is AndroidTV and DV playback requires using Plex.

Plex media server runs on your NAS (its on Synology app centre) and this scans your content, the Plex client then plays it on the device, the Nvidia Shield Plex client is more developed than other Plex clients, which are often simple wrappers on a stock video player which causes server to transcode (convert in real time). So the Shield Plex client is less likely to transcode video.

The Shield can also act as Plex transcoding server instead of the NAS, provided you have a good ethernet network link between NAS storage and the Shield. This is a better approach as the Shield has superior video encoding capabilities than your NAS.

Plex has only one UI so your stuck with it but its the most Apple like system I guess, Plex does all its own metadata scanning automatically though it can import some pre-made metadata.

You can install Plex on your own NAS and client on Mac and see how it works.

InFuse can only do DD+ Atmos I believe, everything else is decoded as PCM 7.1, limits of AppleTV platform.
 
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jamieu

Well-known Member
My apologies for the duplicate post from the Dune Media Player Post but I am looking for a recommendation for the following situation and didn't mean to narrow it to only Dune. I would like recommendations on what to use and how to use it.

I have over 4TB of movies and TV Shows, as well as a whole music collection, workout videos and Home videos on a Synology NAS Drive attached to my network. All of these are Blu-ray rips and not purchased from Apple so I am wanting to exclusively watch my content.

If Dolby Vision isn't a dealbreaker — and if your mainly playing back old BluRay rips and workout videos it's possible not.

Then a Vero 4k+ (which runs it's own custom OS pre-installed with Kodi) would be on my list. Just point it at your Synology SMB share holding your TV shows and Movies and it will index them all nicely. Relatively cheap, well built and well supported and will do 99% of what you need — we all like to future proof, but is Dolby Vision really such a major dealbreaker for you / how much DV content will you actually watch on it?

Or as @next010 suggests a Nvida Shield with the Plex server either running on your NAS or on the Shield itself. Plex uses a client/server approach, so normally you'd run the Plex server (centrally) on your NAS and the Plex client(s) on lower cost & lower powered device like a Amazon Fire Cube, Roku, AppleTV or possibly even on your smart TV set itself.

But on a more powerful device like the the Nvida Shield, you can run both the Plex client and server on the same device which will help ensure that content isn't unnecessarily transcoded. The downside to having both running on the Shield is if you want other devices to access the same library you'll need to keep the Shield switched on at the same time. Kodi/Vero 4k+ always runs on a single device, so will never transcode. You can also run Kodi on the Shield, although the Vero 4k+ will still be the cheaper/simpler option (to run Kodi) if you can live without the DV support.

You can try out both Plex and Kodi on your Mac first to see which interfaces you prefer before investing any further. The Vero 4K+ comes with with own OSMC Kodi skin, but you can switch back to using the default 'Estuary' skin or any of the various 3rd party ones — personally after much switching I have gone back to using the default Kodi skin as I find it the most reliable. I use Kodi for my main cinema setup and Plex for watching content when away from home or via a tablet, both platforms have their pros and cons.
 
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dpriest

Novice Member
Great advice which is making me think about options and also confusing the hell out of me which is a good thing because that's how we learn. The movies/TV Shows that are on my hard drive already and all future content I am encoding myself into mp4 but now that I am looking to move away from Apple TV, I can switch to encoding mkv. (I use Vidcoder/Handbrake). These mp4/mkv files will now have TruedHD Atmos 7.1 or DTS-HD which will be a nice move from ac3 5.1. So I don't need a media player/server to do any transcoding for me because I already have, right?

Now that I setup a new home theater room and have a new Sony 85" X950H 4K TV along with the Yamaha rx-a2a receiver and installed two overhead speakers in the ceiling to have a 5.1.2 setup all new content will be 4K hdr10 and from what I have heard, read and seen about DolbyVision, why would I not want a device that can take advantage of this? Again, just thinking out loud.

From all the recommendations mentioned above, I can see pros and cons from the reviews I have seen. Out of all these, which one do you guys think is the best? There has been a lot of talk about the Shield TV Pro. I am not looking for something to stream content but rather play the content I already have. That is how I used the Apple TV over the years in my home theater and I am looking to now pass the baton to a new device that can allow me to pass-through higher quality audio and video (Thank you Apple for dropping the ball on this one).
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
Great advice which is making me think about options and also confusing the hell out of me which is a good thing because that's how we learn. The movies/TV Shows that are on my hard drive already and all future content I am encoding myself into mp4 but now that I am looking to move away from Apple TV, I can switch to encoding mkv. (I use Vidcoder/Handbrake). These mp4/mkv files will now have TruedHD Atmos 7.1 or DTS-HD which will be a nice move from ac3 5.1. So I don't need a media player/server to do any transcoding for me because I already have, right?

Transcoding is only really reverent to Plex.

Even if your Plex server can decode (or pass) a given codec, your Plex client (or AVR if using audio passthrough) must be able to support it natively if you don't want it transcoded. Hence the need for a Shield if you go that route as I think it's the only (widely supported/no hassle) Plex (or Kodi for that matter) supporting device that can support/pass Dolby Vision due to licensing.

All new content will be 4K hdr10 and from what I have heard, read and seen about DolbyVision, why would I not want a device that can take advantage of this? Again, just thinking out loud.

HDR isn't Dolby Vision, they're competing formats (or rather DV is an extension of the HDR base layer). The Vero 4k+ supports HDR10/HDR10+, the Shield supports both when running either Plex or Kodi.

As for why? If all things were equal there would be no reason not to go for the device/software that supported the most formats. But there a fairly significant variation in price, support, features and user interfaces and control apps between Plex, Kodi, Dune and Zidoo which may sway your decision.

DV is a propriety format that Dolby will only licence to certain hardware partners hence the limited options (and likely increased costs) for those devices.

Personally I find the Plex/Kodi interfaces more mature and feature rich, although it's been a while since I have seen a Zidoo/Dune device so things could have changed since then. Plex also offers out-of-home support if you want to watch your content when away from home on a mobile or a friends TV.

Other than the lack of DV support (content will still play, just without the added DV features) the Vero 4k+ (Kodi) offers a good balance of price / features / interface / support / ease-of-setup.

You can try out Kodi on your Mac (pointed at the video files on your NAS) for free (it has same interface/skins whether run on Mac OS, a Nvidia Shield or a Vero 4k+). You can also install Plex server on your Synology (manually installed from the Synology Package Center) and then use the Plex client on your Apple TV to see how you get on with the interface, before splashing out on any additional hardware.
 
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dpriest

Novice Member
There is not much information on Dune. It must be more popular in other countries besides the U.S. because most Youtube videos are in other languages. Cost wise, most of these devices are around the $200-$300 price point which is not bad in my opinion. The Vero 4k+ is going go be ruled out since it does not support Dolby Vision unless it has other features/reasons to go with this that the Shield doesn't have.

I heard the Zidoo Z9X cannot do Dolby Vision in mkv/mp4 files. Is this right. If I am hearing all of this correctly it sounds like the Shield TV Pro has the support, features, capabilities and UI that will do all of what I am wanting. It just sounds like I need to choose between Plex or Kodi. I have narrowed it down between the Shield and the Zidoo Z9X.

Thoughts?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
There is not much information on Dune. It must be more popular in other countries besides the U.S. because most Youtube videos are in other languages. Cost wise, most of these devices are around the $200-$300 price point which is not bad in my opinion. The Vero 4k+ is going go be ruled out since it does not support Dolby Vision unless it has other features/reasons to go with this that the Shield doesn't have.

I heard the Zidoo Z9X cannot do Dolby Vision in mkv/mp4 files. Is this right. If I am hearing all of this correctly it sounds like the Shield TV Pro has the support, features, capabilities and UI that will do all of what I am wanting. It just sounds like I need to choose between Plex or Kodi. I have narrowed it down between the Shield and the Zidoo Z9X.

Thoughts?
The Vero 4K+ is a reliable 4K HDR10 platform for Kodi but it wont do DV so isn't of much use to you.

The Shield also can also run Kodi but DV playback can be hit or miss. Kodi can do skins so its possible to make it look like AppleTV.

Plex on Shield remains more reliable solution it seems, just remember to set up the Shield as also the Plex server, I'd recommend following this video tutorial, which covers this scenario. Also the cheaper Shield cylinder does not work as Plex Server so you will need the Shield Pro.

If you don't like Plex then the Zidoo Z9X is your alternative.
 

dpriest

Novice Member
If Dolby Vision isn't a dealbreaker — and if your mainly playing back old BluRay rips and workout videos it's possible not.

Then a Vero 4k+ (which runs it's own custom OS pre-installed with Kodi) would be on my list. Just point it at your Synology SMB share holding your TV shows and Movies and it will index them all nicely. Relatively cheap, well built and well supported and will do 99% of what you need — we all like to future proof, but is Dolby Vision really such a major dealbreaker for you / how much DV content will you actually watch on it?

Or as @next010 suggests a Nvida Shield with the Plex server either running on your NAS or on the Shield itself. Plex uses a client/server approach, so normally you'd run the Plex server (centrally) on your NAS and the Plex client(s) on lower cost & lower powered device like a Amazon Fire Cube, Roku, AppleTV or possibly even on your smart TV set itself.

But on a more powerful device like the the Nvida Shield, you can run both the Plex client and server on the same device which will help ensure that content isn't unnecessarily transcoded. The downside to having both running on the Shield is if you want other devices to access the same library you'll need to keep the Shield switched on at the same time. Kodi/Vero 4k+ always runs on a single device, so will never transcode. You can also run Kodi on the Shield, although the Vero 4k+ will still be the cheaper/simpler option (to run Kodi) if you can live without the DV support.

You can try out both Plex and Kodi on your Mac first to see which interfaces you prefer before investing any further. The Vero 4K+ comes with with own OSMC Kodi skin, but you can switch back to using the default 'Estuary' skin or any of the various 3rd party ones — personally after much switching I have gone back to using the default Kodi skin as I find it the most reliable. I use Kodi for my main cinema setup and Plex for watching content when away from home or via a tablet, both platforms have their pros and cons.
I ordered the Shield Pro. My Synology NAS is upstairs in my house and my AVR & TV are downstairs where the Shield is going. Since I have already encoded mkv/mp4 files, I don't want these transcoded but just video and audio pass-through. That said, to avoid transcoding, you said I should run Plex and have the client and server both on the Shield. Does that mean I cannot connect Plex wirelessly to my Synology NAS that has all my media on it? Do I have to connect an external hard drive to the Shield and have my media on that instead?
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
I ordered the Shield Pro. My Synology NAS is upstairs in my house and my AVR & TV are downstairs where the Shield is going. Since I have already encoded mkv/mp4 files, I don't want these transcoded but just video and audio pass-through. That said, to avoid transcoding, you said I should run Plex and have the client and server both on the Shield. Does that mean I cannot connect Plex wirelessly to my Synology NAS that has all my media on it? Do I have to connect an external hard drive to the Shield and have my media on that instead?

Run both the client and server on the Shield (see below). Wireless should be fine (as long as your local wifi network can handle the bandwidth ie. around 50-100Mbps throughput). No need for an external hard drive — the Shield will see your NAS file shares over the network via SMB.

Setup the Shield so it can see your NAS's SMB share(s) over the network (per the video next010 linked to above) then install Plex on the Shield and click the 'Install Plex server' option when first launched. See also 'Connecting to a Network Location (SMB)' halfway down this page.

You can then complete the configuration (ie. set it up to scan your files for metadata) via the Plex app or web interface.

As you're running both the Plex server and client on the same device and because the Shield can handle pretty much all modern codecs, there shouldn't need to be any transcoding going on when using the Shield. Instead it will use what Plex calls 'Direct Played' ie. keep the stream native and just let the client do the decoding and/or pass it onto an upstream device (like a TV or AVR) that can do it.

Obviously if you're connecting to it when away from home, on a bandwidth constrained connection, you may actually want the Plex server to transcode your files down to a more manageable size, so you probably don't want to disable transcoding completely. The out-of-the box settings should pretty much get you where you need to be.

btw. you don't need a Plex Pass (it offers some extra features) but if you do there's a 20% off offer on this week.

Good luck with it all.
 

chopples

Distinguished Member
I ordered the Shield Pro. My Synology NAS is upstairs in my house and my AVR & TV are downstairs where the Shield is going. Since I have already encoded mkv/mp4 files, I don't want these transcoded but just video and audio pass-through. That said, to avoid transcoding, you said I should run Plex and have the client and server both on the Shield. Does that mean I cannot connect Plex wirelessly to my Synology NAS that has all my media on it? Do I have to connect an external hard drive to the Shield and have my media on that instead?

If configured correctly (it likely is already) you should get no transcoding when running Plex from your syno. Providing you have the network infrastructure in place (gigabit) then you should encounter zero issues, in fact I think it would be more reliable than having the server on the shield.

If you do wish to run the server from the shield for some reason you can do it one of two ways, first, as you suggest, connect a hard drive to the shield, point to it within Plex and scan. Or, utilise SMB which the Syno has and mount this drive within the shield system settings
 

dpriest

Novice Member
Run both the client and server on the Shield (see below). Wireless should be fine (as long as your local wifi network can handle the bandwidth ie. around 50-100Mbps throughput). No need for an external hard drive — the Shield will see your NAS file shares over the network via SMB.

Setup the Shield so it can see your NAS's SMB share(s) over the network (per the video next010 linked to above) then install Plex on the Shield and click the 'Install Plex server' option when first launched. See also 'Connecting to a Network Location (SMB)' halfway down this page.

You can then complete the configuration (ie. set it up to scan your files for metadata) via the Plex app or web interface.

As you're running both the Plex server and client on the same device and because the Shield can handle pretty much all modern codecs, there shouldn't need to be any transcoding going on when using the Shield. Instead it will use what Plex calls 'Direct Played' ie. keep the stream native and just let the client do the decoding and/or pass it onto an upstream device (like a TV or AVR) that can do it.

Obviously if you're connecting to it when away from home, on a bandwidth constrained connection, you may actually want the Plex server to transcode your files down to a more manageable size, so you probably don't want to disable transcoding completely. The out-of-the box settings should pretty much get you where you need to be.

btw. you don't need a Plex Pass (it offers some extra features) but if you do there's a 20% off offer on this week.

Good luck with it all.
Thank you Jamieu! The Shield should be here later today. I installed Plex on my Mac yesterday to try and familiarize myself with it and find it confusing for customization and overall navigation. I see there are 3 apps: Plex, Plex Media Player, and Plex Server. Since I am new to this, what app do I need? Is Plex free or do I need to pay for a plan? I've looked on the web for tutorials but do you have any recommendations on places to teach me more about Plex?
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
Thank you Jamieu! The Shield should be here later today. I installed Plex on my Mac yesterday to try and familiarize myself with it and find it confusing for customization and overall navigation. I see there are 3 apps: Plex, Plex Media Player, and Plex Server. Since I am new to this, what app do I need? Is Plex free or do I need to pay for a plan? I've looked on the web for tutorials but do you have any recommendations on places to teach me more about Plex?

As you say, Plex has three components, but in the case of the Mac and Shield the installer can actually install all three components on the same machine and so (effectively) presents itself as a single application. Which is why it may seem confusing at first.

In a more complex Plex setup the 3-piece architecture starts to make more sense:

  • Plex Server: This is the heart of a Plex setup and doesn't have an interface, it could run on a PC sitting in a closet somewhere without a monitor. You can only have one Plex server.
  • Plex Media Player: This can run on low-powered output device(s) like a Smart TV or set-top box and simply provides an output stream. It's also built into all the main Plex (control) apps by default, so no need to install it separately. You can have many players.
  • Plex (Controller/Remote): Think of this as a remote control you run on your phone, tablet or laptop or via a web browser or even the HDMI output of your Shield. You can have many remotes. Most remotes also double as a Plex media player.

Splitting it into three components means you can playback content (from the server) to any (Plex supporting) media player, using any Plex controller.

But in your case, just install the Plex app on the Shield (it may even come preinstalled) and select the "Enable Plex Media Server" option on first-run to also install the Plex server component. The main Plex app also doubles as both a control app and a media player, so no need to install a separate media player.

Don't install another Plex server anywhere on your network, other than on the Shield. It may be worth uninstalling/reinstalling the copy on your Mac to make sure your not also running a Plex server on it, as having multiple Plex server will cause you headaches.

As for help I'd start with the video linked to above (which is Shield specific) and then dive into the official Plex help section. Most of the out-of-the-box setting are fine, so it's really just a case of setting the Shield to see your NAS's SMB shares, creating a Plex account and setting Plex to index your movies.

Plex is free to use. You only need to pay for a premium Plex Pass (monthly or lifetime) if you want to use the mobile remote control app on your phone to select and play content, the web based controller is free to use. The Plex Pass also enables some features such as the use of PlexAmp for music playback and better control around allowing friends to remotely access your content and. But none of those features are an essential requirement.

If you don't get on with Plex then you can always switch to Kodi which is 100% open source and requires no accounts, paid or otherwise. It's also simpler to understand as it only has one component (or two if you also use a Kodi remote app on your phone to control it) and has far more variety in terms of skins (so you may find one that better mimics what your used to with Apple TV).

Both Plex and Kodi work with a very similar movie library/folder structure on your NAS (Kodi recommendations / Plex recommendations), so easy to switch between the two and see what works best for you.
 
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Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
I'd try Kodi over Plex to start off with to see if your wireless network is up to the task of streaming 4K.

4K content over wifi, very hit and miss, most users have issues with full 1080p Remuxes and have to use a wired network or try powerline adapters.

Note that Plex server will only install on the Shield Pro, not on the standard version. &You can use Plex on the standard version but you'd need something else such as your Mac or NAS to work as the server.
 

dpriest

Novice Member
Just got the Shield Pro. Question on where to hook it up. I have the Yamaha Aventage rx-a2a receiver. My receiver is connected to my 85" Sony Bravia X90H via eARC. When I connected my Apple TV 4K to the receiver via HDMI and was setting the ATV up, it said Dolby Vision was not available but when I connected my ATV to the Sony TV it could activate Dolby Vision. Maybe my receiver does not support Dolby Vision. I don't know.

When I connect the Shield Pro, do I need to connect it directly to the Yamaha receiver in order to pass-through TrueHD Atmos/DTS-HD or can I connect it to the Sony TV given that the TV and receiver connected to each other via eARC? Also is there a way to verify that Dolby Vision is supported/activated once the Shield is connected? Also how will I know if TrueHD Atmos/DTS-HD is in fact the audio being played?
 

chopples

Distinguished Member
Just got the Shield Pro. Question on where to hook it up. I have the Yamaha Aventage rx-a2a receiver. My receiver is connected to my 85" Sony Bravia X90H via eARC. When I connected my Apple TV 4K to the receiver via HDMI and was setting the ATV up, it said Dolby Vision was not available but when I connected my ATV to the Sony TV it could activate Dolby Vision. Maybe my receiver does not support Dolby Vision. I don't know.

Your AVR hdmi inputs will possibly to be setup as standard, it needs to be enhanced, manual should have the info on how to change this.

If it is set to enhanced then does you avr have any scaling/processing capabilities? If so, it will need to be set to pass through but tbh I expect it will be the hdmi setting, they usually default to standard which means the shield menu running at 10bit or 12bit 60hz won’t detect it as DV capable as it requires the 18gb bandwidth which the enhanced setting provides.


When I connect the Shield Pro, do I need to connect it directly to the Yamaha receiver in order to pass-through TrueHD Atmos/DTS-HD or can I connect it to the Sony TV given that the TV and receiver connected to each other via eARC? Also is there a way to verify that Dolby Vision is supported/activated once the Shield is connected? Also how will I know if TrueHD Atmos/DTS-HD is in fact the audio being played?


As long as the Sony/AVR is setup correctly you should be able to do it either way, The Sony should activate a DV notification in the top right and when you open the picture settings it should say it is in a Dolby vision mode. Your amp should indicate what audio is received from the shield


Thinking on regarding connecting the shield to the amp, the xh90 had an issue where under the hdmi options if You selected the one for gaming (4k120) it would disable DV on that port, not sure if this has been fixed, but I believe one of these ports is the earc one so if the amp appears to be configured correctly then that is the next thing I would check
 

dpriest

Novice Member
Back to the drawing board😟 Since I have had the Shield, I noticed the colors in 4K content are washed out compared to the Apple TV. I checked this out and on the Nvidia Shield forum and this is a known issue unfortunately. The other thing is that when I updated Plex to 8.23.1 I can no longer access media in my library on the Apple TV even when the Shield is left on.

I think the Shield is going back. Now I am in the same dilemma as before but I am clearer on what is important to me. Since I have the Sony XBR-85X950H, the picture quality on the TV is stunning. I want 4K HDR10/Dolby Vision support with stunning picture quality along with TrueHD Atmos/DTS-HD Passthrough. I am strongly considering the Zidoo Z1000 Pro but the Zappiti Neo coming in November looks very interesting but I am open to other suggestions.

I'm looking for recommendations/answers please.

I assume both devices can access all media on my Synology drive?

I don't want to transcode anything as these are remuxed Blu-Ray rips.

Similar to Plex, during playback am I able to select different audio tracks in the same movie file?

I'm not familiar with the Zidoo or Zappiti interfaces. Which UI/UX is better for navigating through movies & TV Shows on my NAS?

In the same folder on my NAS I have different versions of a movie. Example: In a folder called Aquaman I have a 1080P and 4K version. Plex allows me to select either version and go right back to resuming playback where I left off. Are there similar capabilities with Zidoo or Zappiti?
 

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