Roku Ultra and Direct Play



The other day I was playing around with my new Roku Ultra. For some reason it's transcoding everything. If I use the Roku Player and connect to my NAS (where my media is) it plays just fine, there's no transcoding, but when I play the same movie through Plex, it tries to transcode.

Is there some way to force it to direct play in Plex?


Check the Plex client settings on the Roku. There should be options in there to allow direct play and direct stream.

Roku Ultra always hitting default profile "Roku-7.x.xml"

It is setup that way, other things direct play. It’s almost like it doesn’t understand that it can direct play the formats that these specific files are in (HEVC, Main 10/5.1 or H264, high/5.1)


I assume you’re using the Plex Pass Preview channel? There is a bit of a glitch with the new player in the Preview channel that is preventing direct-streaming of HEVC. ljunkie has said that there should be a fix released soon. In the meantime, you can install/use the public channel which still has the old player.


AHH, Okay, thanks. I’ll give that a try when I get home.


However, the HEVC problem doesn’t explain this:

That movie plays fine using the Roku Player direct from my NAS. It shouldn’t need to transcode either the video or the audio.


That’s a 4k movie, 34982kbps bitrate, high/5.1 H264. Audio is ACR 640kbps 5.1 channels.


Roku typically won’t direct-play 4K that’s encoded with H264. It only supports H264 up to level 4.1 or 4.2 (officially, anyways). 4K H264 requires level 5.0. It will sometimes direct-play if you force it too…but not all the time. HEVC and VP9 are the supported 4K encoding formats.

That movie is being transcoded down to h264 1080p.


That’s silly, if the device supports it directly. Why would it do that?


Because, like I said…it doesn’t always work. Each H264 level places certain limitations on what the encoder can do during the encoding process. Depending on many variables (resolution, motion, target bitrate, target quality, etc)…the resulting file may not even come close to the limitations put in place by the H264 level. This would create a file that a player that technically only supports a lower H264 level could actually play with no problems. A different file may bump up against those limitations routinely during the file play-back, in which case a player that only supports lower levels would fail.


@Sc00ter Roku only supported 4k using h265. It looks like the Roku now officially supports 4k using h264 using the Premiere, Premiere+, and Ultra only. We will investigate the claim and add support in the near future. In the meantime, you can attempt to force direct play in the settings.


Forcing direct play did work.

The Roku Ultra absolutely supports 4k in HEVC



Also curious about this.


I’m also curious about this!


Same issue here. Setting it to level 5.1 doesn’t work either. Forcing the direct play was the only thing that does work. Would love to see this implemented !!


Would love to see this added. The hardware supports it, so let’s update the software!


So the preview has become the public - 5.1.1 and now I cannot direct play HEVC (not all mind you, but more than I like).
I just woke up yesterday and the new version was there. Has the fancy new loading ring and all. Is there a new version in the preview channel that has addressed this glitch?

It was working fine until this version - minus some 4k fast forward/rewind issues that this version fixed.


Ok, so I’m doing some more testing, and in fairness, I’m only having trouble with a handful of HEVC titles. I may need to repack into a different container to work with this version. I am noticing that more of my 4K titles are (also HEVC) are transcoding (throttled?) where they didn’t before.


I too am seeing strange behavior with the new versions. I will submit a new post with logs when I have time. Basically what I have seen so far is when you use embedded subtitles the quality becomes poor. You get “washed” out colors. If you select external subs the quality is the same. Also noticed there are more “buffering” that is occurring with the newer versions of plex client. It plays fine for a while then buffers… Rinse and repeat. Before the new updates, it seemed to only occur on the beta version. The one thing I did notice it seems to use hls container more vs the original media format mkv container. Not sure if that is part of the issue or not.