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[Problem Report] Transcoding is not working when playing music using mobile data or external Wi-Fi

delacosta78delacosta78 Members Posts: 137 ✭✭
edited March 11 in Android (mobile)

With a local server or Plex cloud, transcoding doesn't seem to work if the quality is set to any of the available options different than "original" when using mobile data or external Wi-Fi on my Alcatel U5 Plus (4047A) with Android 7.0.

When trying to play a FLAC file from the local server, This message appears at the bottom:

Could not play: Direct playback not available; Conversion OK., but nothing happens, nothing is converted, the song won't start to play.:

When trying to play an MP3 file, the song starts to play but if the selected quality is lower than the one within the file, instead of transcoding, it begins to play the song directly. For example, if the song is 320Kbps and the selected quality in settings is 192Kbps, the song won't be transcoded but played back directly:

FLAC files and MP3 files played from Plex cloud start to play, but they won't get transcoded to the desired quality selected in settings:

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Comments

  • delacosta78delacosta78 Members Posts: 137 ✭✭

    After testing this again with the new Plex Media Server Version 1.11.3.4803, I didn't get the error message but music was still played directly, transcoding still fails.

  • delacosta78delacosta78 Members Posts: 137 ✭✭

    On new Plex version 6.14.0.3735 FLAC files higher than 320Kbps (that's the quality I have set)are still not getting transcoded, even MP3s with the same quality are not getting transcoded if I set the quality to 192Kbps in settings. This is annoying and frustrating because I've been unable to listen to my music outside my home when using mobile data or someone else's wifi.

  • DerpleDerple Members, Plex Pass Posts: 40 Plex Pass
    edited February 28

    I've also had this issue for a while now, which I'm actuay unable to use data unless I want to get charged extra because of this. If sync isn't going to work, we at least need to be able to use a lower bitrate as streaming FLAC on cellular is data consuming and takes much longer to load in areas with limited cellular data.

    EDIT: I'll try to provide gather Android logs when I get a chance and see if anything looks out of the ordinary. If I find something, I'll post them. It also might be worth tagging a Plex employee/team member to get their attention.

  • delacosta78delacosta78 Members Posts: 137 ✭✭
    edited March 14

    @Derple said:

    EDIT: I'll try to provide gather Android logs when I get a chance and see if anything looks out of the ordinary. If I find something, I'll post them. It also might be worth tagging a Plex employee/team member to get their attention.

    Hey @Derple I was wondering if you did what you said above...

  • DerpleDerple Members, Plex Pass Posts: 40 Plex Pass
    edited March 14

    @delacosta78 said:
    @Derple said:

    EDIT: I'll try to provide gather Android logs when I get a chance and see if anything looks out of the ordinary. If I find something, I'll post them. It also might be worth tagging a Plex employee/team member to get their attention.

    Hey @Derple I was wondering if you did what you said above...

    Thank you for reminding me about this issue. I played a couple songs over my cellular connection and found something somewhat interesting. Just to note, I'm not attaching the zip with the logs because it turns out that Plex puts your public IP address in the logs when remote streaming, exposing your IP to anyone who reads the logs. They should really fix this as it is a security issue.

    A little information: This is on a Pixel XL running Android 8.1.0, the latest Plex for Android app, and the latest version of PMS Beta running on my server.

    First, I decided to enable original quality on remote connections again. This time It played, but again not at 320Kbps which is selected with the "Internet Streaming" quality option under "Music Quality" in settings. Logs for this can be found here: https://pastebin.com/raw/G7ckAFDr (Scenario #1)

    Then, I decided to limited the server to 320Kbps on remote streams, which ended up failing, shown here:
    https://pastebin.com/raw/9p1L9kT2
    For some reason, when the server is limited to 320Kbps on remote connections, the Android app decides that there is not enough bandwidth to play the song, completely throwing the option of transcoding out the window, and none of my FLAC songs would play until it was set back to original. (Scenario #2)

    Based on the logs, I figure:
    1. The "Internet Streaming" option in the Android app's settings is completely ignored by the media server or the Android app isn't sending the selected "Internet Streaming" option to the server when pressing play on a song, so the server is unaware that 320Kbps is selected. (Scenario #1, where remote quality on the server is set to original).
    2. The Android App and/or Plex Media server does not know what to do when remote quality on the server itself is limited to 320Kbps. You'd expect for it to fall back to transcoding the song to meet the server's limit, but instead it fails to play on the Android device with the message "Playback was not possible: Direct play not available; Conversion OK.". (Scenario #2, where remote quality on the server is set to 320Kbps)

    If anything else comes to mind, I'll edit this post.

    EDIT: I'd also like to mention that another user of my Plex server who uses an iPhone (iOS app) does not have any issues with transcoding music to a lower quality from FLAC when my server's remote quality is set to original.

  • triplemmediatriplemmedia Members, Plex Pass Posts: 1 Plex Pass

    I am also getting the 'playback was not possible, direct play not available, conversion OK' error when trying to play Flac files. However, I get this error even when i put the quality to original. Playback is fine when in my home network, just have the issue when streaming. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • delacosta78delacosta78 Members Posts: 137 ✭✭
    edited May 8

    @triplemmedia said:
    I am also getting the 'playback was not possible, direct play not available, conversion OK' error when trying to play Flac files. However, I get this error even when i put the quality to original. Playback is fine when in my home network, just have the issue when streaming. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Get down on your knees and start to pray because I've been waiting for this to be fixed since last year, until I decided to post the issue back in january...

  • Kris DKris D Members, Plex Pass Posts: 5 Plex Pass

    Guess I should go ahead and put in my two cents. Plex refuses to transcode FLAC files to an android device regardless of what settings are chosen. If there's not enough bandwidth for direct play it just errors out. I think it's crazy how well PLEX handles video files and still can't manage simple audio transcoding.

  • occidentalmachineoccidentalmachine Validating, Plex Pass Posts: 6 Plex Pass
    edited May 9

    I got the "playback was not possible, direct play not available, conversion OK" message on my N5X.
    I originally came here to complain, then I was distracted by dinking with the app settings.

    From the Plex Android Home screen, I selected my Plex Server.
    Then I clicked Hamburger (Menu) Button --> Settings --> Quality

    On the Quality menu, under Music quality, I clicked "Internet streaming" and changed it from "Original" to 320 kbps. Now the Plex server transcodes. Sometimes the app will still play audio when I switch it from 320 kbps back to Original.

    Wifi tests were connected to to my home network, same network my plex server is connected to.
    Tested running Plex 6.16.2.4628 (696vf583).

    • Nexus 7 2013 deb, using wi-fi only.
    • Nexus 5X, wifi & 4G LTE test.

    So I had both devices playing tracks at the same time, with Quality set to Original. The Nexus 7 was on Wifi, & Nexus 5X on LTE. On the console of the Plex server, Now Playing says both devices are using Direct Play. Occasionally, with the Nexus 5X on mobile data, the "playback was not possible, direct play not available, conversion OK" will come up. Even with that message, the Plex server says the device is Direct Play-ing the file. Yeah, it would be nice if this were consistently broken or working right...

    Also, hitting the "Automatically adjust quality" toggle seems to make the server 'remember' the changes I'm making on the specific device. If I do this after getting the "not possible, not available, conversion OK" message, my phone will play tracks again w/ Original Quality as Direct Play while on mobile data.

    No matter what settings I select on my Phone, I can't get it to reliably transcode-and-play. I can run through TONS of mobile data playing as Original Quality, but that's not what I came here looking for.

  • delacosta78delacosta78 Members Posts: 137 ✭✭

    Lucky you @occidentalmachine It has never worked for me, no matter what I do.

  • occidentalmachineoccidentalmachine Validating, Plex Pass Posts: 6 Plex Pass
    edited May 9

    @delacosta78 said:
    Lucky you @occidentalmachine It has never worked for me, no matter what I do.

    Yeah, I can't get it to reliably transcode to a lower bitrate. This is still a problem for me, too.

    In the Quality menu, try turning on the following options:

    • Turn on the "Video quality: Automatically adjust quality" toggle
    • Internet Streaming: set to 192kbps.

    With those settings, some tracks from my library will play, and some won't. Bizarre.

  • Kris DKris D Members, Plex Pass Posts: 5 Plex Pass

    @occidentalmachine said:

    @delacosta78 said:
    Lucky you @occidentalmachine It has never worked for me, no matter what I do.

    Yeah, I can't get it to reliably transcode to a lower bitrate. This is still a problem for me, too.

    In the Quality menu, try turning on the following options:

    • Turn on the "Video quality: Automatically adjust quality" toggle
    • Internet Streaming: set to 192kbps.

    With those settings, some tracks from my library will play, and some won't. Bizarre.

    I've tried all of those settings and no luck. Both my Note 8 and my GF's S7. I can set internet streaming to any setting, 320, 128, 96, etc. It always plays a direct stream. Unless my server's up stream is saturated in which case I get that error message. This is a tragedy for those of us on metered mobile data plans. :-/

  • occidentalmachineoccidentalmachine Validating, Plex Pass Posts: 6 Plex Pass
    edited May 9

    @Kris Damon said:
    I've tried all of those settings and no luck. Both my Note 8 and my GF's S7. I can set internet streaming to any setting, 320, 128, 96, etc. It always plays a direct stream. Unless my server's up stream is saturated in which case I get that error message. This is a tragedy for those of us on metered mobile data plans. :-/

    Have either of you pulled logs from your Plex Server and read them to see what's going wrong? Turn up Verbose Logging while you're testing. On your Plex server, go to Settings --> Server --> General --> Check the box next to "Enable Plex Media Server verbose logging" and then click Save Changes. Try to play some media you're sure it'll choke on.

    Logs can be downloaded from Settings --> Server --> Help. Click the Download Logs button. Don't forget to turn off Verbose Logging when you aren't testing.

    This looks like it's partly a server-side issue. The logs I pulled from my Plex mediaserver say there's a bandwidth limitation on the selected files. Also, it's not transcoding down to 192kbps, and I have that checked in the settings on my Android. I tested all the way down to 96kbps and still no dice.

    Snip From Logs:
    WARN - Streaming Resource: Bandwidth exceeded: 3528 kbps > 3200 kbps
    DEBUG - MDE: Selected protocol http; container: mp3
    DEBUG - MDE: analyzing media item 60967
    DEBUG - Highway Tune - audio.bitrate limitation applies: 1764 > -2147483648
    DEBUG - Highway Tune - audio.bitrate limitation applies: 1764 > -2147483648
    DEBUG - MDE: Cannot direct stream audio stream due to profile or setting limitations
    DEBUG - MDE: Highway Tune: selected media 0 / 60967
    DEBUG - Streaming Resource: Reached Decision id=8817 codes=(MDE=3001,Not enough bandwidth for direct play of this item. Required bandwidth is 3528kbps and only 3200kbps is available. General=1001,Direct play not available; Conversion OK. Direct Play=3000,This app cannot play this item. The reason is: audio.bitrate limitation applies: 1764 > -2147483648. Transcode=1001,Direct play not available; Conversion OK.) media=(id=60967 part=(id=61047 decision=transcode protocol=http streams=(Audio=(id=127386 decision=transcode bitrate=32 encoder=libmp3lame channels=2 rate=44100))))

    It appears that Plex isn't picking up the configuration changes being made via the Android app, so it isn't stepping down the transcode to 192kbps.

    Edits: because knowledge is power.

  • DerpleDerple Members, Plex Pass Posts: 40 Plex Pass
    edited May 9

    Have either of you pulled logs from your Plex Server and read them to see what's going wrong? Turn up Verbose Logging while you're testing. On your Plex server, go to Settings --> Server --> General --> Check the box next to "Enable Plex Media Server verbose logging" and then click Save Changes. Try to play some media you're sure it'll choke on.
    This looks like it's partly a server-side issue. The logs I pulled from my Plex mediaserver say there's a bandwidth limitation on the selected files. Also, it's not transcoding down to 192kbps, and I have that checked in the settings on my Android. I tested all the way down to 96kbps and still no dice.
    It appears that Plex isn't picking up the configuration changes being made via the Android app, so it isn't stepping down the transcode to 192kbps.

    Your conclusion is basically identical to both of the scenarios in my post. Boils down to either the server doesn't take the internet streaming option into account, or it won't stream on Android when the server has limited remote streaming quality. Fix sounds like making the server reconize internet streaming quality option and force transcoding when bandwidth requirements aren't satisifed.

    (Cut your logs and previous replies out to save some space)

  • occidentalmachineoccidentalmachine Validating, Plex Pass Posts: 6 Plex Pass
    edited May 9

    This Support Article said: "The Plex Media Server is smart enough to prevent saturating the bandwidth value specified here. It will only use 80% of this for streams..."

    In my logs, I noticed that the failed streams were always coming up short on bandwidth.

    Example taken from above:
    "Not enough bandwidth for direct play of this item. Required bandwidth is 3528kbps and only 3200kbps is available"

    I checked the Internet upload speed Setting in my Plex Server. Settings --> Remote Access --> Internet upload speed

    This was set to 4 Mbps, or 4000kbps. 80% of 4000kbps is... 3200kbps! This is how it decides how much upload bandwidth is available. Not based off any active test, but the number entered in this box.

    speedof.me says I get around 78Mbps down and between 4 - 6Mbps up. (That's very feculent of you, Comcast.)

    So, I bumped the Internet upload speed up to 5Mbps, and now I get consistently good streams from my Plex server with the Android app set at 320kbps & 192kbps.

    Edit:
    **TL;DR: **
    1. Turn on verbose logging, try to play music and let it fail.
    2. Check your logs, then turn off verbose logging.
    3. See what the log says your Required bandwidth is vs available bandwidth.
    4. (Or just skip right to) Increase the Plex Server Internet upload speed a little bit and see if that helps.

  • occidentalmachineoccidentalmachine Validating, Plex Pass Posts: 6 Plex Pass
    edited May 9

    @Derple said:
    Your conclusion is basically identical to both of the scenarios in my post. Boils down to either the server doesn't take the internet streaming option into account, or it won't stream on Android when the server has limited remote streaming quality. Fix sounds like making the server reconize internet streaming quality option and force transcoding when bandwidth requirements aren't satisifed.

    Right. I'd expect the server to force transcoding or obey the "Automatically Adjust Quality" setting when bandwidth requirements aren't optimal.

    I spoke too soon. Some songs will play, some songs won't.
    Changing the Plex Server Internet upload speed setting improved things, but it looks like Plex is doing some active bandwidth checking to keep things sane.

    DEBUG - I Can Change - audio.bitrate limitation applies: 2977 > -2147483648
    DEBUG - I Can Change - audio.bitrate limitation applies: 2977 > -2147483648
    DEBUG - MDE: Cannot direct stream audio stream due to profile or setting limitations
    DEBUG - MDE: I Can Change: selected media 0 / 60954
    DEBUG - Streaming Resource: Adding session 0x7f0216c2d560:8f2298df8b7da427-com-plexapp-android which is using 34kbps of WAN bandwidth. Used is now 34kbps
    DEBUG - Streaming Resource: Added session 0x7f0216c2d560:8f2298df8b7da427-com-plexapp-android
    DEBUG - Streaming Resource: Reached Decision id=8802 codes=(MDE=3001,Not enough bandwidth for direct play of this item. Required bandwidth is 5954kbps and only 4000kbps is available. General=1001,Direct play not available; Conversion OK. Direct Play=3000,This app cannot play this item. The reason is: audio.bitrate limitation applies: 2977 > -2147483648. Transcode=1001,Direct play not available; Conversion OK.) media=(id=60954 part=(id=61034 decision=transcode protocol=http streams=(Audio=(id=127353 decision=transcode bitrate=32 encoder=libmp3lame channels=2 rate=48000))))

  • DerpleDerple Members, Plex Pass Posts: 40 Plex Pass

    @occidentalmachine said:

    @Derple said:
    Your conclusion is basically identical to both of the scenarios in my post. Boils down to either the server doesn't take the internet streaming option into account, or it won't stream on Android when the server has limited remote streaming quality. Fix sounds like making the server reconize internet streaming quality option and force transcoding when bandwidth requirements aren't satisifed.

    Right. I'd expect the server to force transcoding or obey the "Automatically Adjust Quality" setting when bandwidth requirements aren't optimal.

    I spoke too soon. Changing the Server's Internet upload speed setting improved things, but it looks like Plex is doing some active bandwidth checking to keep things sane. Some songs will play, some songs won't.

    DEBUG - I Can Change - audio.bitrate limitation applies: 2977 > -2147483648
    DEBUG - I Can Change - audio.bitrate limitation applies: 2977 > -2147483648
    DEBUG - MDE: Cannot direct stream audio stream due to profile or setting limitations
    DEBUG - MDE: I Can Change: selected media 0 / 60954
    DEBUG - Streaming Resource: Adding session 0x7f0216c2d560:8f2298df8b7da427-com-plexapp-android which is using 34kbps of WAN bandwidth. Used is now 34kbps
    DEBUG - Streaming Resource: Added session 0x7f0216c2d560:8f2298df8b7da427-com-plexapp-android
    DEBUG - Streaming Resource: Reached Decision id=8802 codes=(MDE=3001,Not enough bandwidth for direct play of this item. Required bandwidth is 5954kbps and only 4000kbps is available. General=1001,Direct play not available; Conversion OK. Direct Play=3000,This app cannot play this item. The reason is: audio.bitrate limitation applies: 2977 > -2147483648. Transcode=1001,Direct play not available; Conversion OK.) media=(id=60954 part=(id=61034 decision=transcode protocol=http streams=(Audio=(id=127353 decision=transcode bitrate=32 encoder=libmp3lame channels=2 rate=48000))))

    Yeah, that solution would probably not matter for me. I've told Plex I've got about 40-45Mbps of upload to spare, so too little bandwidth shouldn't be an issue for any songs. I only got that message when I purposely limited remote streaming quality and it wouldn't transcode any songs.

  • occidentalmachineoccidentalmachine Validating, Plex Pass Posts: 6 Plex Pass
    edited May 9

    @Derple said:
    I've told Plex I've got about 40-45Mbps of upload to spare, so too little bandwidth shouldn't be an issue for any songs. I only got that message when I purposely limited remote streaming quality and it wouldn't transcode any songs.

    Going off of that, on the Plex Server side, I set "Internet upload speed" to 20 Mbps and "Limit remote stream bitrate" to 8Mbps (1080p)

    On the Android client side, I set the Quality --> Automatically adjust quality toggle on, and Internet streaming is set at "320kbps"

    Now I can play all the files that wouldn't play before.

    Tautaulli says that these are being played as...
    Quality: Original (2.5 Mbps)
    Stream: Direct Play
    Container: Direct Play (FLAC)
    Audio: Direct Play (FLAC Stereo)

    So, it isn't even being transcoded. What gives?

  • xlr23xlr23 Members, Plex Pass Posts: 68 ✭✭

    Same here, audio transcodings options are just useless, all my flac are played directly; actually have to switch to another audio server (subsonic) waiting for fix

  • jpsuttonjpsutton Members, Plex Pass Posts: 10 Plex Pass
    edited May 20

    I've also been using a different music server (airsonic, a subsonic fork) for quite a while since it's clear that the Android client's music quality settings are completely ignored, and while the problem has been reported often on the forums, Plex mgmt seem to be more interested in Sonos and VR than the core features of the product that Plex Pass members expect to work.

    To be clear, here's what my specific situation is:

    • My internet upload cap at my Plex server is about 10 Mbit/s, and the down speed on my Android client is about 9 Mbit/s (as tested at the time of writing this, but I've seen much greater download at other times).
    • On my Plex server, I have Limit Remote Streaming Bitrate set to 3 Mbit/s.
    • On my Android client, I have the Music Quality -> Internet Streaming set to 320 Kbit/s.
    • When I try to play a FLAC-encoded file from my music library on the Android client, the playing screen appears on the client, but hangs at 0:00 for about 25 seconds before the song starts to play.
    • On the server, I can see a burst of about 5.5 Mbit/s upload during this whole 25 second delay.
    • Once the song starts to play on the client, the heavy upload rate on the server stops, suggesting to me that it buffered the entire song before the client starts to play it.

    All this suggests to me that there are at least 2 bugs where Android clients are involved:
    1. The Android client's Music Quality setting is ignored, either not sent by the client, or not correctly handled by the server.
    2. The client is buffering the entire song from the server before it begins to play.

    I can provide log information as requested by Plex devs, but I think at this point there's been enough logs posted by others.

    Edit: Also worth noting is that my father-in-law is here visiting, and he's got an iPhone. I tried the same song I tried above on his device, and it started playing immediately and converted FLAC -> AAC during playback. This suggests to me that the problem is limited to Android clients, and is most likely a client-side bug.

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