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streaming 4K content

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streaming 4K content

Postby thydney1970 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:42 pm

I'm owner of a AS7004T NAS and that's why I would like to know, how I can stream 4K/UHD content directly from my NAS to my TV. The AS7004T is directly connected with my DENON AVR X7200WA home cinema receiver. My TV is a Panasonic DXW904 4K screen. My home cinema system fulfills completely the HDCP2.2 standard is fully compatible for 4K content. All my equipment is wired with HDMI Highspeed high end cables too.

Therefore I have following questions :
How is it possible to stream the content to my TV and which apps I have to install therefore on my NAS and maybe on my TV too?
Is a 4K/UHD streaming in 4K possible via KODI and if so how? What additional add-ons are required within Kodi 17.x for streaming ?

Your answers and support is highly appreciated and I'm looking forward hearing from you soon.

Thank you very much and kind regards

thydney
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Re: streaming 4K content

Postby MikeG.6.5 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:09 am

First let's look at a couple of things about 4K.

1) 4K gets it's name from being 4x the pixel count of 1080p HD video. This is due to the screen having the same "density" in 1/4 of it as a 1080p screen has across the whole thing.

2) 4K also uses 10-bit color depth where blacks are blacker and whites are whiter. The 1080p standard still uses (generally) 8-bit color depth.

So the information on the TV is 4x as much info due to pixel counts, as well as an additional 20% due to color. For instance, a 1080p version of a movie could be as high as 20Mbps bitrates. Where as the same movie in 4K is going to start at 45Mbps and might go as high as 65Mbps or 80Mbps. (We're not going to talk about 6-channel audio over 2-channel. that should be a no-brainer, but nothing to do with video.) This increase in pixel count can really become CPU intensive if anything needs to be transcoded for any reason. (And it is sometimes hard to find out the reasons for transcoding.) The receiver might be able to take the stream straight from the NAS, but if the TV can't, transcoding happens. Or the other way around.

Plex Media Server could handle this without transcoding, if there is a Plex client app for your TV, and if the app supports 4K on that model/make. That's going to be up to you to research. BUT, with transcoding, that NAS hasn't got enough CPU for consistent RT transcoding. (I know, that's the model I have as well.)

Right now, I'm not sure of any streaming apps that can reliably handle transcoded media when it's 4K. That's a lot of data to be pushing through the pipeline in a short period of time. (CPU, memory, disk reads/writes, and then network. Everything else has to happen before it hits the wire...) If the media doesn't require transcoding, you just have to worry about reads and the wire. (Not trying to run this wireless are you? If so, rethink it!)

Plex Media Server makes a recommendation of 2K passmarks for a 1080p 8Mbps movie if transcoding is involved. Just doing the simple math of 4X means the passmarks for transcoding is going to require 8K passmarks. That CPU has about 5K passmarks. So if there's no transcoding, the CPU could handle quite a few streams. If just one stream requires transcoding of a 4K stream, none of the people watching any stream from the box are going to be able to watch anything.

CPU technology has to come a long way before everyone will be watching their 4K streaming media from their own devices.

H264 is reliable and consistent on that box. H264 doesn't support 10-bit very well, though.. H265 is new, not all together reliable and problematic to get devices to work with this codec. Yes, it's smaller file size is appealing, and it can easily deal with a 10-bit video stream, but, most CPU's aren't able to work with it very well.

Last thought and I'm done for now. 4K seems nice. But most people couldn't tell you if they are watching a 4K stream or a 1080p stream from the realistic watching distances. (https://carltonbale.com/does-4k-resolution-matter/ for reference) Is it worth spending a bunch of money to get something you may not even be able to see a significant difference with? Are you sitting within 6-8 feet of that 90" TV? If not, you likely couldn't tell the difference which stream is which. (And if you can, it's probably time to call Ripley's as you have better eyes than most of the rest of humanity.)
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Re: streaming 4K content

Postby MikeG.6.5 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:14 am

BTW, check out the links in my signature. Some of them are hosted on these forums, some are on the Plex Media Server forums. I give a lot of really good tips on optimizing media, what additional apps to install, server environment and clients to run with any NAS. And on the 7004T they are a dream for any streaming on any client you wish to use on 1080p. (Or how to maximize viewing with smaller devices, such as tablets.)
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Re: streaming 4K content

Postby thydney1970 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:37 am

Thanks a lot for your answer and your mentioned links. I use Plex for streaming on to my portable devices for streaming movies when I'm away from home. Do you have any experience with Kodi too ? I moved through your tips, couldn't find something for me by going through quickly. In which topic are information which could be helpfully for me ? Do you have some must have recommendations for 4K streaming as mentioned in my topic already and do you have also recommendations for Kodi related issues therefore?

Thank you very much and I'm looking forward to hear from you again.

kind regards
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Re: streaming 4K content

Postby MikeG.6.5 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:26 am

People ask this time and time again, both on these forums and on the Plex forums. Kodi might be able to handle a single 4K stream out on the HDMI of your NAS. (Doubtful you get the full range of color, though. The specifications of the HDMI port are rather old, and doesn't state whether it supports the bitrates required.)

Have never used Kodi. I used XBMC and found it wasn't capable of handling the size of my library. (2500+ movies and 10K+ TV episodes across 190+ TV series.) When XBMC died and became Kodi I never looked at it. I was firmly embedded in Plex at that point, as it does more than I wanted a streaming platform to do, does it faster and much better than I imagined it would. I haven't looked at any other platforms since trying Plex, and probably won't unless Plex further alienates the user base. (Then it will likely be Emby, as Kodi is a single stream platform and I have several users that stream from me remotely.)

And haven't messed with 4K. Don't own any 4K devices, and not likely to in the near future. Too much hype for something most people aren't ever going to see any improvement on. As most living rooms are larger than the recommended viewing distance for 4K for a given screen size. (You did read the link I provided in the first post right? The one that gives a graph of viewing distance to screen size? In my living room that would mean a 2000" TV to make 4K even moderately noticeable. The room is 12 feet wide and 20 feet long. I refuse to move the couch into the middle of the room!)

My whole point with the first post is this: 4K is marketing, plain and simple. It's how the TV manufacturers and sales people talk you into buying a new TV when your old one is perfectly fine. (As long as you prepare the media correctly.) 4K is a lot like dealer options at the car dealership. They charge $500 for a fog light kit, when you can get one at an auto parts store for under $100 and put it in yourself.

If you are running Plex Media Server share your server out to friends and aren't running Plex Requests (now called Ombi), PlexPy, or just aren't interested in stats of those watching your media, then other than the media prep portions of my links aren't likely to help you much. If you DO share your media out and want to know who is watching what and when or give them the option to add other shows to your library, that's where the add on apps come in.

Optimizing the media to best fit the most used (or likely used) viewing device is a major way to prevent problems down the line with your server. Transcoding on the fly is a potentially destructive task. It's reading the data off the drive, then writing it back in a different (more useful) codec. (Then it reads what was just written back to send out to the client device. When you are done watching that media item it's deleted. It's the reading, writing, reading to stream then deleting that can be a major long term issue. HDD failures can increase through this constant activity. Not too mention the heating issues on the CPU as it's working to convert the media into a usable codec.

To optimize for most platforms you should think seriously at MP4 container with H264 Video codec. Audio codecs should be AAC stereo as the first track and perhaps AC3 or DTS 5.1 as a second track, stored in the same container. Every Plex Client that exists can use H264 and AAC. As long as the bitrates aren't higher than the device's capabilities (usually about 20Mbps) or the connection can support the bitrate (determined by your upload internet speed.) everything in your library could play on any device any where in the world. I convert all of the media I have into H264 with AAC stereo in an MP4. I use external (srt) subtitles and have them stored in the same folder I have the media item in. I've had as many as 7 streams going at one time, 5 Direct Streamed, 2 transcoded (bitrate limits). All of this on a 7004T running PMS before HW Transcoding. That's just not going to happen on Kodi.

I have enabled the HW transcoding on my NAS. So when a RT transcoding session is required, it uses about 20-25% of a SINGLE core on the CPU. (As opposed to requiring 300-400% of all 4 cores without it.) That means, conceivably I could have as many as 16 transcoded streams active at one time as long as the HW transcoder is capable of dealing with it. HW Transcoding doesn't work with H265, and won't unless you have a real new CPU in your PMS machine. (Which means not the NAS you have now.)

The biggest tip I can give you regarding 4K? Forget it. At this point in time, the specification is too new there aren't many CPU's capable of handling more than a single stream. Stick with something you can get to work easily (1080p or lower) and can be relied on for repeatability and consistency.

If you insist on 4K then you need to use the NAS to store your media and build a machine that can handle 4K streaming. CPU's are going to run $1000+ and MoBo's at least half of that. Case, drive, memory, etc are all considerations to factor in as well. You aren't going to get reliable results with even the workhorse 7004T NAS. It has a CPU that is several generations old, and isn't up to the task. No off the shelf NASes are capable of streaming 4K consistently as the CPU's involved aren't the cream of the crop newest latest and greatest. They are the workhorses, tried and true and capable of doing what they do. 4K pushes the envelope for even top end machines at this point.

Your call. chase after a dream you may not even see a noticeable difference in, or stick with something that works.
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Re: streaming 4K content

Postby thydney1970 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:42 am

Hi Mike

Thanks a lot for your detailed statement and all your explanations. I fully agree that 4K is primary a marketing gag for most users. I'm a an absolutely homecinema freak as you i guess. I don't have 2'500 movies available on my NAS but I at around 1'000 movies too :-). Until now I only high quality BD's with high bitrates and most of them in DTS HD Master audiostream which is completely enough. At this moment I use 4K especially for all my picture due to I'm an enthusiastic semi pro photographer too and then 4K resolution is just fantastic and the difference to Full-HD 1080p really noticeable. I know that the HDMI connectors on the AS7004T only fulfills the HDCP1.4 standard which doesn't allow 4K stream in general. Maybe only via Wifi but then the bandwith, beside the cpu power is the critical component for stutterfree streaming. I only knew until now that the AS7004T should be able to stream 4K content, maybe only pictures.

As I already told I only use PLEX for streaming on all my mobile devices and as you told also for sharing my library within my family members. I haven't considered PLEX until now, because Kodi streams directly via HDMI which is my main argument for DTS-HD Master Audio streaming. PLEX only allows Wifi streaming as I knew. Is it meanwhile possible to stream the HD audio tracks too in current versions or is it still limited to AC3, AAC, DTS streams?

Thank you very much for your kind explanation.

kind regards from Switzerland

thydney
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Re: streaming 4K content

Postby MikeG.6.5 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:46 am

I watch Plex on my TV with my NAS as the player for 90% of my viewing. This is through the fantastic work from another user named @father.Mande. He has ported over the Plex Media Player onto the Asustor platform and it works FLAWLESSLY for my uses. I have both the Beta Version (2.0) and the public release installed, but of late find I use the beta more often. I honestly have no idea what audio streams this player can support. I know it eats up AAC and AC3 and DTS. as I've seen these reported in PlexPy as well as Plex's own in app monitoring. (Those are the only audio tracks any of my media has in them. The conversion scripts I use strip out everything else. I don't want the extra fluff hanging around if I know I will never use it.)

I am also a photographer. But don't put any of my photos into Plex at all. I use Adobe Lightroom and prefer this as t he viewing platform as well as the library software. (Hint here... If you install OwnCloud and put your LightRoom libraries into that OwnCloud folder on your desktop machine, it gets backed up onto the NAS. It also allows you to use LightRoom networked on multiple machines. Just not at the same time!)

Plex will work on any networking style with any NAS. WiFi or wired. The only requirement is networking needs to be solid. WiFi is hit or miss. Things like the neighbor's WiFi router, garage door openers, microwave ovens, wireless phones, etc. can cause interference with either the 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz radios on your WiFi router.
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Re: streaming 4K content

Postby orion » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:29 am

As far as I know, AS7004T CPU is Haswell series which can support 4k@30Hz output (HDMI v1.4), rather than 4K@60Hz. If you don't care about 30Hz or 60Hz output, I think KODI is simple enough to play movies and music. And, yes, you should be able gain very good quality of sound output (NAS -> AVR -> TV). You'll need to install Asustor Portal App (it will notify you for other related apps to install), Remote center app and KODI.
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