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Plex to Apple 4K TV as MKV (1 Viewer)

smithbrad

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I have a Synology server running Plex and an Apple 4K TV to output to my projector. Unfortunately, while Plex can handle MKV the Apple 4K TV apparently does not, which means re-encoding MPG files to MP4. Currently, I've been re-encoding TV shows at 4.5-5 bitrate and I'm not noticing any degradation, but I know there is some. Between the time to re-encode and the loss of some quality, I'd obviously prefer to just move the MPG file into an MKV container.

One of the reasons I went with Apple 4K TV is its proper handling of integer based 24.00 fps content that is used within all the HD content I downloaded from Amazon Prime. Without that support the video drops a frame around every 42 seconds. Most everything supports 23.97 fps and 59.94 fps, but so far it looks like only the Apple 4K TV supports 24.00 fps and 60.00 fps.

Any suggestions?
 

Peter Apruzzese

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I use the Infuse app on my Apple TV4K to play MKV files from my Plex server and haven't noticed any issues.
 

Greg.K

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I have no problem playing DVD/BD ripped files in MKV containers on my Synology NAS running Plex Media Server to an Apple TV 4k. With the current Plex client using the mpv video player it can direct play them without transcoding.

But even with the old video player (the tvOS's built in AVPlayer) it should just copy the streams from the container rather than have to transcode.

In settings do you have Direct Play enabled, and Use old video player disabled?

Maybe the mpv player has a problem with that content? What does it show under the playback info technical details in the client for these videos?
 
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smithbrad

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I have no problem playing DVD/BD ripped files in MKV containers on my Synology NAS running Plex Media Server to an Apple TV 4k. With the current Plex client using the mpv video player it can direct play them without transcoding.

But even with the old video player (the tvOS's built in AVPlayer) it should just copy the streams from the container rather than have to transcode.

In settings do you have Direct Play enabled, and Use old video player disabled?

What does it show under the playback info technical details in the client for these videos?
Thanks, I will give a look during lunch break. I recall going through the Plex client to ensure Match Frame Rate was on, but I likely didn't know how many of the other settings worked, so left them at their defaults.

I completely redid my Synology in early Spring with the latest DSM and Plex Server app, and only purchased and setup the Apple 4K TV about the same time, as I was trying to get rid of the 24.00 fps and 60.00 fps issue.

What I read online seemed to point to Apple just supporting MP4, so I'm glad to hear others are able to get MKV working.
 

smithbrad

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I use the Infuse app on my Apple TV4K to play MKV files from my Plex server and haven't noticed any issues.
I recall when first looking into the 24.00 fps and 60.00 fps that both the Infuse and Plex clients worked. If I can't get it to work within Plex (however, it sounds like I should be able to) that is already installed, I will look at Infuse. Thanks.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I concur with everyone else that this is a settings issue. What setting, I have no idea (make sure “direct play” is enabled if you haven’t already), but I’m running a Plex server, AppleTV 4K is my playback device, and whether I use the native Plex app or the Infuse app, it’s direct playing all media without any additional transcoding or issues. The Plex app circa 2019 had some occasional issues but that’s been resolved for at least a year. My content is all from discs I own, ripped to MKV using MakeMKV with no additional transcoding or compression applied.

I’m sorry I don’t know exactly what buttons to press to resolve the issue but I hope you’re able to get it sorted with a minimum amount of fuss :)
 

smithbrad

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So, I converted some MPG files into MKV containers and loaded them on the Synology server. When trying to play them directly from the Synology server using my computer, I received the Plex Error "This server is not powerful enough to convert video." When I went to the HT and checked the Plex settings, they were as Greg said they should be. When I tried to play them, they actually played fine.

All I can think is that back in the Spring when I moved from DS Video to Plex and from a Fire 4K Stick to an Apple 4k TV and worked my way through configuring everything, that there was a time I couldn't play MKV files. Combine that with the Synology error I received above and confusion from Google searches saying MKV files would need to be converted to play on Apple TV, all led me to believe it was a lost cause.

Now that I see I can, I think I can better understand what was confusing me from before. I believe the Synology server error is that while I'm connected to the server from my Window's box, I'm actually running off the server, not my Windows box. While I can play MKV files from Windows, my Synology server doesn't find an app that can and the ARM processor in the server can't convert. As for the google searches saying Apple 4k TV does not support MKV unless you 1) convert to MP4, 2) stream from a Mac, or 3) use a player that supports MKV. What I wasn't realizing is that my Plex client was likely acting as that third option.

Whether I now understand the what's and why's is not really important. I can play MKV's through the Apple 4K TV when I originally thought I couldn't. I can easily create MKV's of my TV series without needing to convert. Thanks all.
 

smithbrad

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Just to close the loop, there are many shows I have that were extracted from DVDs and backed up as single episode MPEG files. I did this way before having my own streaming service. I did this to cut down on shelf space, having at one time 250+ TV series and many inflated size cases from the early days. I burned many of these to blu-ray disk blanks. While I still have some of the original disks/cases, most were donated or given away as no longer needed.

Unfortunately, the streaming capabilities all want containers and don't seem to want to work with basic MPEG files. I've used various tools I already have to convert the MPEG files into MKV containers. I've used various tools (e.g., MakeMKV and DVDFab) to extract the MPEG from my personally created blu-ray disks into MKV files. In all cases, the MKV files are slightly different sizes for the same episodes (likely some extra metadata added by the tool). In all case, I get a slight faint stutter during playback. I've come to the conclusion it isn't in the conversion but must have something to do with the playback. I didn't get this from the H.264 converted MP4 files, but I want to avoid any loss of quality and the time required to convert.

I tried both the Plex client on the Apple 4K TV and I downloaded Infuse client but got the same results. I'm guessing it may be related to the Synology NAS, and additional processing going on with MKV files that the ARM processor can't handle fluidly. Funny thing is, on a whim, I experimented by coping the M2TS files for each episode directly off the burned blu-ray disks. These are just another type of container following the blu-ray spec that contain the original MPEG file. They played back flawlessly with no loss in quality or stutter. I guess for now I'll just stick with the M2TS approach for everything I previously burned. Since I have two copies of all this content, I'm just going to leave the MPEG file on one and copy the M2TS file to the other, just in case something changes in the future.
 

Greg.K

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Not sure what the issue is, not having any of these files on hand to test, but I really doubt it has anything to do with the Synology. If it's not transcoding then it's not taxing the processor much at all.

What does the the Plex client say is going on under the playback settings and technical details? (Press down on the remote d-pad while the video is playing to see)

How are you playing the m2ts files?
 

smithbrad

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Not sure what the issue is, not having any of these files on hand to test, but I really doubt it has anything to do with the Synology. If it's not transcoding then it's not taxing the processor much at all.
It's obviously not doing a full video transcode. I thought maybe it had something to do with the audio being transcoded, but I checked today, and the audio is the same format across containers. That leaves the difference in types of containers, but I would think that would be at most be an initial hit. Possibly, for whatever reason it handles H.264 better than not, whether that be the Plex server, Plex client, or Apple 4K TV? So many variables I don't know. All I have is some cursory evidence. It plays 5GB HD H.264 MP4 files w/o issue. It plays 1GB to 2GB SD H.264 MP4 files w/o issues. Interestingly, all these MP4 files were either downloaded or were created from DVDs using DVDFab. They all ended up being H.264 @ 24fps and Progressive (which I though a bit strange for DVDFab to do with the SD content).

What brought all this on was a particular show that I had just as just MPEG-2 files. I converted them to H.264 MP4 30fps Interlaced thinking I couldn't support MKV. There was a random faint bit of stutter, but not consistent like a frame rate issue. Then I tried the MKV, found I could support it, and the image quality was noticeable better (no compression), but the stutter was still there and a bit worse. It would seem strange for it to be related to 30fps or interlaced since that is the native format of the video. That is when on a whim I copied a few M2TS files off a blu-ray I created of the same content, and it played better all around.
What does the the Plex client say is going on under the playback settings and technical details? (Press down on the remote d-pad while the video is playing to see)
Haven't checked but would like to. Not sure what you mean by d-pad (down?) on the Apple 4K TV remote? When I pressed on the remote pad before I got details about the show playing but didn't notice anything technical about the playback. I'll relook.
How are you playing the m2ts files?
Apparently, Plex recognizes the M2TS files as part of the Blu-ray spec and can play them. With HD content there may be multiple M2TS files for one video, but in this case, I've found there to be exactly one M2TS file per SD episode. Standard MPEG-2 files were used to create these blu-rays, no H.264 was applied. The M2TS files are just a container wrapper around the original MPEG-2 source file.

Oh, and my internet speed in the basement is more than acceptable at around 80 Mbps.
 

smithbrad

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I'm open to suggestions? If any transcoding is going on, I might have to consider the Plex Pass to get hardware capable transcoding.
 

Greg.K

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d-pad (down?) on the Apple 4K TV remote? When I pressed on the remote pad before I got details about the show playing but didn't notice anything technical about the playback.
Yeah pressing down shows that info on the item playing. There are two tabs, playback settings and technical details, that will give you info on the streams and whether they are transcoded or played directly. But if it’s playing the same video encodes from the m2ts container that are in the mkv‘s, I would think they’d play the same.
 

smithbrad

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Yeah pressing down shows that info on the item playing. There are two tabs, playback settings and technical details, that will give you info on the streams and whether they are transcoded or played directly. But if it’s playing the same video encodes from the m2ts container that are in the mkv‘s, I would think they’d play the same.
I watched one of my M2TS formatted episodes that is 720x480, interlaced, and 5.2 Mbps. When I brought down the Plex client details during playback, I expected to see the same, but I did not. It did show it streaming in "Direct" mode, so there was no transcoding, but it also showed it being output at 720x560 and 11 Mbps, which surprised me. My understanding of my settings is that it should output just as it is stored. I know my projector will upconvert from there.
 

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