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Noticeable Quality difference using Plex app from built-in media player

zodd721zodd721 Posts: 28Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

Hello,

 

I looked through all of these threads and didn't see anything that matches my issue.

My apologies if there's already a discussion about this. 

 

When playing a file within the Xbox One Plex app I see a lot of pixelation and playback speed weirdness.

If I play the same file using the built-in media player pointed at my Plex server the playback looks noticeably better and plays without issue.

 

I should note that I'm running everything on a 1GB wired network and these files are not being transcoded.

Plex is running on a 2.3Ghz Quad Core Opteron with 8GB of ram with Windows Server 2008 R2.

 

In addition, I see the exact same issue when using the Plex app on the Xbox 360. 

 

Is anyone else experiencing this?

Maybe someone knows of a setting on the Plex Server configuration that corrects this?

 

 

Thanks for any help.

Best Answer

  • zodd721zodd721 Posts: 28Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    Accepted Answer

    So, it's been a great while since I've posted an update and the issue still persisted. So, today here's what i did after a buddy of mine (another Plex user) suggested it. I'm not really sure why i didn't think to try this until today. As a test I stood up another Plex server on one of my other systems and loaded my movie library. Now here's the kicker transcoding works flawlessly on the FireTV. Does anyone know of anything in Windows Server 2008 R2 that might mess up Plex's ability to transcode properly? Maybe installing a 3rd party codec pack or another media server like Tversity or subsonic because I've had these all installed on this server at one time or another? So, i'm going to uninstall any other codec related servers and software, then uninstall and reinstall Plex and hope this fixes it.

    So, cross your fingers for me. I really don't want to rebuild my server and let me know if  you have any suggestions?

    Thanks again everyone for the help considering it's most likely a self inflicted problem...

    Sean

Answers

  • richleesonrichleeson Posts: 1Members, Plex Pass

    Are you using subtitles on the plex app? I get a similar issue when using subtitles.

  • zodd721zodd721 Posts: 28Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited December 2014

    Thanks for the reply

    From what I can tell the videos i'm testing with don't have subtitles.

    However, I might have mis-spoke about what's going on here. After digging a bit further, I noticed using the Xbox one media player initiates a DLNA direct play connection.

    If I use the Plex app it is transcoding the file. I'm a bit confused why Plex needs to transcode when the Xbox One supports the native file format.

    So, I guess there's gotta be a way to tell it not to transcode the files.

    Being new to Plex I'm still learning  :wacko:

  • xain09xain09 Posts: 105Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    I tend to use the DLNA function of the XboxOne for the moment instead of the client. No screen dimming here ;)

  • 11alastair1111alastair11 Posts: 48Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Have you set the quality setting to 20mbps? When I installed it defaulted to a lower quality (I think 4mbps) which was really blocky.

    Al

  • tennisbgctennisbgc Posts: 55Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    he mentioned that were not being transcoded.

  • zodd721zodd721 Posts: 28Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    It turns out that the file is being trans-coded. However, when I initiate playback from the media player through DLNA it starts up a direct play connection.

    This leads me to believe that the format is natively supported on the Xbox One and question the need to trans-code at all.  As a side note the files are MKV.

    As a test, I changed the transcoder to the "Make my CPU Hurt" setting. I didn't see any change in the quality level during playback.

    The stream shows throttled which means my system is keeping up and it's not a horsepower issue.

    While writing this I've been searching around and came across this:

    https://forums.plex.tv/topic/123720-xbox-one-profile-direct-play-mkvs-help-please/

    Not sure how I missed it.

    It looks like maybe Plex doesn't have the MKV support yet but MS enabled it in October.

    So, it looks like I'll now be in the waiting game for native MKV support in Plex. fingers crossed that will be soon.

    My plan here was to use Plex for my family because the user interface is very easy to use and navigate.

    Otherwise I'd just use the built in mediaplayer.

    Thanks everyone for your help!

  • 11alastair1111alastair11 Posts: 48Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    edited December 2014

    Yeah, there is a client side setting for quality as well, which is what I was referencing. I assume you have done this, but you can adjust this setting by pausing the video being played (Button A) and then moving across to the right to the settings menu. I suspect in your case the quality is best set to "highest" (which is still limited to 20mbps) if you want to maximise picture quality (and I see you're on a wired network which shouldn't limit your bandwidth). If this was previoiusl;y set below this then this can cause the quality problems you have been noticing.

    You shouldn't have any issues from the MKV support, the Plex Server just converts the .mkv wrapper to one that is supported by the Xbox. It is the same with the lack of DTS support. This is pretty light on CPU. Anything above 20mbps is transcoded which will be CPU intensive. I'm hoping this ceiling will be lifted soon. Along with MKV support, 24p support and DTS support....

    Al

  • zodd721zodd721 Posts: 28Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    I verified that the Quality setting is on high. Thanks for pointing that out (it's located in a strange place on the xbox one).

    I tried increasing the IPC from 4Mb to 8Mb and increased the transcoder default throttle buffer from 60 to 120 seconds.

    Somethings weird though. I decided to test on a couple of other devices and here's what I found:

    Xbox One:  

    1. Dlna media player plays everything perfectly (Direct play - no transcoding)
    2. Plex app hit or miss some shows look great others are bad quality. (transcoding -h264 aac

    Xbox 360: 

    1. Built in dlna media player plays but looks extremely pixelated (transcoding -h264 aac)
    2. The plex app plays just as poorly (transcoding -h264 aac)

    Chromecast:

    1. Plex app casting. Same poor quality (transcoding -h264 aac)

    Roku XD:

    1. Plex App - Same poor quality (transcoding -h264 aac)

    The only thing I can take away from this is the Xbox One has a GB Ethernet connection while the rest of the devices are either 2.4Ghz wireless or 100Mb ethernet.

    I would expect a level of consistency on at least on 1 device.

    Perhaps I'm missing the super secret server configuration button that seems to make this work for others.

    Maybe i'm hitting the quality limit with 20Mb? Who knows but 20Mb should still be attainable on these slower connections.

    I'm really starting to question investing in the Plex pass for what's turning out to be a half baked piece of software.

  • cayarscayars Posts: 4,819Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    You have something weird going on if you are having trouble with all these different clients.  The only things in common are the server and the operator. :)

    First make sure each client is setup to use the maximum resolution/bitrate.

    Pick one 1080p (whatever) video file.

    Make sure it's encoded as h.264 with an AAC audio channel for testing purposes.

    Verify the video bitrate in this file is under 8mbit (for this test).

    Make sure it's an MP4 video file container.

    Play it on all devices and check to see if any transcoding is going on.  Check from both the web interface and also check you CPU usage and report back what the CPU usage is for each device.

    Give us the details of the XML file for the video being tested.

    Also let us know how this "test" video looks on each device.

    Carlo

    10.7K+ Movies, 435 Shows - 37K+ TV Episodes, 515 Christmas Movies, 480 Documentary, 335 3D Movies, 1300 Sports Events, 1280 Educational Videos, Premium Music: 215K+ Tracks, 900 GB Plex Meta-Data. 9 Network Tuners.
    Thread on my setup with some tips and tricks: https://forums.plex.tv/discussion/131308/cayars-setup-walk-through-and-some-tips-and-tricks/p1
  • adamskoogadamskoog Posts: 2,549Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    You should provide the xml info for a file you are having trouble with as well as some server logs while the issue is happening..

    Xbox/Windows store apps don't allow mkv to be played natively, only the built in players (such as the dlna player) can use this, plex cannot. This will result in a remux at the minumum (which should not degrade quality as it's just a container change).

    I have noticed that sometimes the info window in plex web will say transcoding instead of direct stream for files that have the same container and codecs while others seem to direct stream. All my stuff is ripped the same with handbrake (mkv, h264, either aac or ac3 depending on when it was ripped). I haven't noticed the degraded quality that you have noticed however, my library is 99% mkv right now and everything shows up just as well as if it was direct played on my raspberry pi.

  • zodd721zodd721 Posts: 28Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Thanks for the assistance. There's nothing I'd like more than to get this working.

    I'm working on getting this info together. I've enabled debug logging and verbose logging on the server side.

    Any particular server log you want?

    Can you tell me where to find the XML files you've mentioned?

  • adamskoogadamskoog Posts: 2,549Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    When you are on specified media in plex web. Look for the 3 dots on the left, then click info. Make sure to create them as attachments and not just dump them in a post, makes it hard to read the post if you do that. :)

  • zodd721zodd721 Posts: 28Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Thanks again everyone for your help with this. 

    I've attached the server logs and xml file as requested.
    Transcoder currently set at make my CPU hurt. Clients are set to highest quality.
    I've included timestamps (in CST) for each in hopes of helping pinpoint in the system logs.
    The file i'm using is 1080P AC3 and a little higher than 8Mb. I hope this doesn't impact things too much.
     
    Xbox One-
    Start Time: 11:07pm
    CPU: avg 35% then down to 3%
    How does it look? Excellent
    transcoding? Yes
     
    Xbox 360-
    Start Time: 11:30pm
    CPU: avg 50-85%
    How does it look? poor pixelated and streaking
    transcoding? yes
     
    Chromecast- 
    Start Time: 11:13pm
    CPU: avg 100%
    How does it look? Poor (Pixelated and Color run/streaking)
    transcoding? yes
     
    Roku- 
    Start Time: 11:20pm
    CPU: avg 75-95%
    How does it look? Pixelated (A lot of pauses to load)
    transcoding? yes
     
    XML file for testing = 13610.xml
    In addition I've attached the xml for one of the files I was having issues with.
    It's called: Problem_File_4_comparison.xml.
    I should also note that most of my content is encoded in 720p.
     
  • 11alastair1111alastair11 Posts: 48Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Could this be a "Reference Frame" issue for your problem file? Not sure what the profile is for the Xbox to trigger true transcoding rather than a remux. I know the Chromecast and Roku (and ATV3 via plexconnect) have issues with higher number of reference frames.

  • zodd721zodd721 Posts: 28Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass
    Accepted Answer

    So, it's been a great while since I've posted an update and the issue still persisted. So, today here's what i did after a buddy of mine (another Plex user) suggested it. I'm not really sure why i didn't think to try this until today. As a test I stood up another Plex server on one of my other systems and loaded my movie library. Now here's the kicker transcoding works flawlessly on the FireTV. Does anyone know of anything in Windows Server 2008 R2 that might mess up Plex's ability to transcode properly? Maybe installing a 3rd party codec pack or another media server like Tversity or subsonic because I've had these all installed on this server at one time or another? So, i'm going to uninstall any other codec related servers and software, then uninstall and reinstall Plex and hope this fixes it.

    So, cross your fingers for me. I really don't want to rebuild my server and let me know if  you have any suggestions?

    Thanks again everyone for the help considering it's most likely a self inflicted problem...

    Sean

  • seqfaultseqfault Posts: 25Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Not really answering any questions, but:

    Plex is not using windows' directshow video pipeline - codec packs won't interact with it in any way.

  • zodd721zodd721 Posts: 28Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Just to add something else I discovered. 

    I found when I use Handbrake to covert my BluRays using the problematic system the output is also poor quality and blocky.

    I checked the benchmarks for my Opteron 1356 and while it's old, it should at least be able to trans-code 1 stream.

    My solution for now was just to move the Plex server onto another computer.

    The only other test I can think to do is stand up a virtual machine (probably BSD or Linux) on the problem server with Plex and see if the same problem exists.

    However, I haven't gotten around to it and am starting to wonder exactly what it will prove.

    Sean

  • kingplex1kingplex1 Posts: 26Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    mines started doing after last few updates with plex hammering my cpu on my server its mega fast i7 64gb ram, with over 100tb space, yet it struggles when playing one MKV,, starting to p me off, plex sort ya act out going backwards with designing the app im paying for , please fix the stream issue its not my end its software ,, either go full hog and play mkvs for dont, as its like watching mind craft it got more blocks on new 1080p movies, than a little.. any help on settings MKV mode on lastest plex version, just installed and its worse than ever,, unwatchable ,, plex Version 3.37.2

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