[Update] Play films with the highest quality - HTPC Windows

We are going to tackle the wide subject of Home Theater PC with the aim of reading all types of videos (SD, HD, DivX, Xvid, h264, avi, MKV, DVD, Blu-ray...) with maximum quality and without spending a single penny. Indeed all softwares that we are going to use are free in contrast of PowerDVD, WinDVD or even TotalMedia Theater which, though, are more widely used. Icing on the cake is that the obtained quality will be better than of these softwares. It should be noted that to read bluray you must have an "unlocker" as AnyDVD HD witch it isn't free...

Before you begin the settings take a look on this page to get an idea of what you'll get : Before / After

Many people told me thank you for the work provided, whether the comments or on different forums where we talk about the tutorial, and it is really cool to read I must say. However, as we say in France, if I had received €1 each time ;) So if you want, there is absolutely no obligation, you can give me €1 or more, of course, according to your possibilities for the time spent in making this tutorial and the quality you got. Thank you !

Update 27/01/14

I updated the tutorial to integrate the latest new features of madVR.

Update 16/01/14

The update is online. The ffdshow audio and video parts are modified and you have to do to the settings in "RAW" filters. I tried to make as few changes as possible following the inclusion of MPC-HC LAV filters but it did not work every time ... Video and audio are already decoded, we must now use specialized (RAW) ffdshow filters.

In ffdshow audio and video put "Raw video" and "Uncompressed" on "Disabled". Feel free to make a comeback in the comments or on the forum.

Update 15/01/14

In some cases put ffdshow (audio and video) on "Set merit" is not enough, it does not start. The problem is that the video and audio is decoded with MPCHC internal filters. The solution is to use ffdshow "RAW" filters that are made ​​for use on stream already decoded. I will update the tutorial in the coming days.

Update 11/01/14

Fixed a small error in MPC-HC external filters. ffdshow (audio and video) have to be set on "Set merit".

Update 01/01/14

Big update the tutorial to reflect the new internal MPC-HC codecs that are no other than LAV filters. We can now use the internal filters of MPC-HC for decoding and it simplifies things a bit. So I remove the LAV Filters part which is anyway in the MPC-HC part.

I also divided some parts to make it a little easier to digest even though it's still a lot to read. I also made small corrections here and there. I added a new avisynth sharpen 'FineSharp" specialized for HD and I've updated the Avisynth pack.

With all these changes if you have a problem report it in the comments or on the forum ...

I invite you to read the tutorial carefuly and adjust your settings. Of course, if everything works for you now, there is no obligation to change anything ;)

I will not detail all options of the software we will use only those required. You will see that's not bad. If you have any doubt about the options that are not addressed refer to the screenshot. Remember you can ask all the questions you want on the forum.

Recommended hardware requirements

A Windows (XP, Vista, 7 ou 8) PC powerful enough to decode HD (dualcore 2Ghz). If your CPU is not fast enough and you have a NVIDIA graphics card you can decode the video with the graphics card with CUDA. Else you can decode the video with any graphics card in DXVA but the quality will be lower

A flat panel TV or a projector HD Ready or HD Ready 1080p linked to HDMI or DVI or VGA to the home theater PC

5.1 home theater amplifier

Softwares

Make sure that your graphic card drivers are updated. Install or update DirectX including with Windows 7 because it will update DirectX 9, 10 and 11. Update .NET framework 3.5 SP1 and Windows Update.

Should I download the 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) version ?

  • If you're on Windows 32bits (x86), download 32bits (x86) versions of softwares.
  • If you're on Windows 64bits (x64), 2 choices are available:
    • If you use Reclock, madVR or Avisynth you have to download the 32bits (x86) software, even with Windows 64bits (x64) because these softs only exist in 32bits (x86).
    • If you do not use Reclock, madVR or Avisynth you can, but it's not an obligation, to download the softwares in 64 bits (x64).

You should know that there is almost no difference between 32 (x86) and 64bits (x64).

The explanations for install the softwares can be found in the sections dedicated to these applications. There are 2 core software that we install :

Media Player Classic Home Cinema x86 - x64 : This is the multimedia player that we will use. Download this file MPC-HC.xxx.yyy.7z (the xxx represents the version of mpchc and the yyy the compatibility 32 ou 64 bits)

ffdshow x86 - x64 : This is a video and audio decoder with advanced postprocessing features. We will use it to do postprocessing, ie apply filters to improve the image and for audio management.

Then depending on your choice of audio output you will have to install the necessary software :

madVR x86 : Essential in our quest for quality. It's the best renderer currently. A renderer is software that will display the image on the screen. Its main advantage is its high quality. It can also switch between windowed mode to D3D Fullscreen (to have always access to the functionality of MPC-HC). It requires a relatively powerful graphic card.

Reclock x86 : This software is very clever, thanks to it everything will be perfect if your TV can't be set to the frequency of the video. Indeed it will change the framerate of the video to be set to the frequency of the screen to avoid stutters.

AutoFrequency x86 - x64 : This software allows you at the opening of a video to automatically change the frequency of your screen depending on the video, to launch MPC-HC and play the video. When you close the player AutoFrequency switch back to your usual frequency. No manipulation is required everything is automatic !

AnyDVD HD x86 - x64 : Which is mandatory if you watch Blu-ray. Not free. It must be launched before watching a Blu-ray.

To install the softwares you have to select them according to the audio output and capabilities of your hardware.

Image Credits: Jaako

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76 Responses

  1. Zesk dit :

    Can you "export all setting " and give me this file ? plz. Hope you read this comments and Reply to my email

  2. sucht dit :

    if your on linux now ... can you do a HQ guide like this one for linux?
    if you have the time for stuff like that :)

    thanks anyway for this guide ;)

  3. Thor dit :

    Bless you for this tutorial!...I really appreciate the effort you made to syntethize this tutorial... a linux tutorial would be fantastic ....It's pretty much the only thing preventing me to use linux...I don't play games on windows so I would have no problem on fully transitioning to a good linux distribution.

  4. Rulet dit :

    Jeremy, what player do you use for blu-ray folders and iso on linux? Is default vlc configuration enough for playing them in high quality?

  5. Elga Nelly dit :

    How do you change the hotkeys?

    When I go Forward for 5 seconds, for example, I have to use Ctrl + Right Arrow, but I wanna use only the Left Arrow!

    • Jeremy dit :

      In MPCHC "Keys" you can change the hotkeys like I say in the tutorial.
      Search in this part if there is an hotkeys to "Forward for 5 seconds".

  6. Cris dit :

    Do you know if there are any issues with HDMI DTS output on windows 8.1? I simply can't make it work.

  7. carmine dit :

    you could post a printable version?, pdf maybe?

  8. carmine dit :

    you can then integrate your guide with this: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1471169/madvr-argyllcms

  9. daglax dit :

    Hi! Thank you very much for your updated tutorial. Many thnigs have changed since your first tutorial back on another website.
    One question:
    Is it better to resize with Avisynth or with MadVR. In your tutorial you say it's better with Avisynth. But i'm not sure. You apply the sharpen before resizing both on Madvr and on Avisynth. Madvr has better resizing-algorithms, so i think it produces the better overall looking. What do you mean?

    • Jeremy dit :

      Avisynth and madVR are very good to resize, but as I say it's better to resize before sharpen. So only avisynth (or ffdshow) can do resizing before sharpen. madVR is the last filter and we can't do postprocessing after madVR

  10. Ricardo dit :

    madVR was updated and now has new interesting settings, but I don't know what they actually do...

  11. Tomq dit :

    Thanks for the tutorial! I was quite suprised that I needed all those magic when switched from good old 720p plasma tv to modern 1080p. My HTPC and TV suddenly suffered from tearing, stuttering etc. when played 720p material on 1080p screen. I did near everything to solve the problem, but before AutoFrequency it was all fruitless due to video skipping once a few seconds. Now - PERFECT!

  12. daglax dit :

    It's me again....i've a question about your updated tutorial.
    What's the benefit of LAV-decoding in MPCHC? You don't need to add ffdshow raw decoders, if you deactivate internal MPC decoding and let ffdshow decode the video. LAV is just one more decoder/filter that possibly affects video quality. The less decoders/filters interact with the picture the better (in my opinion).
    In my opinion the only advantage is, that lav supports cuvid.

    • Jeremy dit :

      LAV Filters are the best filters available (performance, features, updates) so now that its built-in MPCHC why don't use it !

      Don't worry it doesn't affects video quality ;)

    • daglax dit :

      nah, ffdshow has much more features available. but, i agree, that's not a real problem.

      i searched the whole day for some bugs with the new configuration and i finally found them :)

      Interframe is not possible with ffdshow raw filters. it has to be used with ffdshow video decoder!
      i think, that's not a big problem, just wanted to mention it. :)

    • Jeremy dit :

      Interframe must work with ffdhsow raw. I have made some research and some people use it with ffdhsow raw.
      I didn't test but did you test it ?

    • daglax dit :

      Yep. Tested it. There was no failure warning or something like that, but it just didn't interpolate. If i use the normal ffdshow decoder it works just fine.

    • Jeremy dit :

      Ok I will test that

    • Jeremy dit :

      I test it and Interframe works. Gabriel confirm it works too.

  13. Tomeq dit :

    Hi, thanks for your tutorial :) It solved most of my problems with Zotac AD10 HTPC and my new LCD TV (Toshiba 40TL938). On good old Panasonic plasma there were no problems with tearing/skipping/choppy video. Nevertheless, I've found that setting TV to 4:4:4 RGB full format is not a good option for me. TV shows the mode as "Limited" 4:4:4 and videos played in this mode are terribly dark - no details in blacks visible. I found best results when using 4:4:4 YbCbCr mode - TV shows it as "Full" and everything looks MUCH better. Besides that I still have problem with fluid playback of 50/60p 720p material upscaled to 1080p. No matter what settings I choose all I can get is medicore result (good on static scenes, terrible skipping/stuttering on fast scenes and camera movements). I'm trying to discover why is that happening - Zotac AD10 is equipped with Radeon HD 6310 which should be sufficent to do upscaling in hardware without a problem. I've expanded frame buffer memory to 1GB (which gives 3 to system, 1 to GPU) - little change. Any hint on that? Is that machine not powerfull enough? It would be very suprising, because I've tested cheap android devices that couped with upscaling of 50/60p material very well...

  14. firdhaus dit :

    I have a problem, using madVR will make the video blank. Using other renderer is ok. I start having this problem after trying to update because your guide is updated. I update by uninstalling and starting again from scratch. Please help. Thanks :)

    • Jeremy dit :

      If you follow the guide, everything have to work. I don't know why with madVR it doesn't work for you.
      Check your drivers, softs and settings.

    • firdhaus dit :

      Thanks for fast response :)
      Did you install everything before to configure them, or do I need to install one by one according to the steps? Is it possible that it is because I am running on Windows 8?

    • firdhaus dit :

      I solved the problem :)
      It seems that I need to enable "use random dithering instead of OpenCL error diffusion" in the "trade quality for performance" for some reason. Just want you to know, and tell others if ever they face the same problem as I did. Thanks for your guide. :)

    • Jeremy dit :

      Ok thank you for the info, I will add that to the guide.

    • firdhaus dit :

      I tried to finish configuring my mpc-hc, but there is another problem. When I double-click the "ffdshow Audio Processor" the dialog didn't pop up. Can you help?

      It also does not show when I "right-click>Filter" on a running video.

    • alr dit :

      Hello,
      Thanks for the great tutorial.
      I have the same problem as above mentioned( no ffdshow audio processor dialog in mpc-hc).
      I also noticed when I changed the name of the "mpc-hc" executable to "mpc" the dialog did work which is very strange(apparently it depends on the name??)
      Maybe a bug in mpc-hc?
      Meanwhile I use ffdshow audio decoder instead.
      For all the other settings(madvr,ffdshow raw,etc) I use the tutorial and it works perfect.
      Also the problem with madVR is solved by enabling "use random dithering instead of OpenCL error diffusion".

    • Jeremy dit :

      Thanks for the infos

    • firdhaus dit :

      I don't know why. But changing the name to mpc still does not solve the problem of the ffdshow audio processor having no dialog. Perhaps there are other solutions?

  15. Gabriel dit :

    Thanks for the guide i was surprised the different to scale only with madVR, and with avisynth script LimitedSharpenFaster the different was awesome, 720p -> 1080p, i was using svp project instead of interframe but now i cant make work both because both use avisynth, if a add the sharpen instantly crash..

  16. Kshitij K Parashar dit :

    I get black screen with audio when I play MKV 1080p on my 1080p monitor using MadVR latest with MPC-HC1.7.3(with inbuilt LAV fuilters) though I am able to see the video with EVR as Direct Show Video output in MPC-HC. Also when using madVR as output, after I close the black screen MPC-HC window, Windows gives an error message that "MPC=HC has stopped working".
    My config: CPU- Intel Core 2 Duo E8400, GPU-AMD Radeon HD 4850 512MBGDDR3, RAM- 4GB DDR2-800,
    Windows 7 SP1 x64, MPC-HC 1.7.3 x86
    MPC-HC Build information:
    Version: 1.7.3 (cb22afa)
    Compiler: MSVC 2013 (SSE)
    Build date: Feb 2 2014 17:50:05

    LAV Filters:
    LAV Splitter: 0.60.1.5
    LAV Video: 0.60.1.5
    LAV Audio: 0.60.1.5
    FFmpeg compiler: MinGW-w64 GCC 4.8.2

    Operating system:
    Name: Windows NT 6.1 (build 7601, Service Pack 1)
    Version: 6.1 (64-bit)

  17. Steve dit :

    Using MPC HC, how do I get DTS MA or the DTS core decoded internally on PC,
    so that my Sony Bravia HX955 TV can recognise and playback sound?

    Setup:

    Asus Z87 I Pro MB
    Onboard HDMI (No graphics card, only integrated Intel)
    Integrated Sound - Realtek HD
    Using HDMI from PC to TV

  18. Nusty dit :

    Hey guys, I dont know why but everytime I finished configuration of ffdshow Video (all 4 parts), my MPC crashes everytime I play movies

    My laptop's specs :

    CPU i5
    RAM 2 GB
    VGA : Nvidia GeForce GT 520 MX

    Thanks so much in adv

  19. daglax dit :

    Perhaps you did a mistake in your configuration. If you leave the LAV video decoder by default, it auto-deinterlaces the video (watch your settings on page 5). So you don't need ffdshow to deinterlace the picture any more.
    One more thing:
    With NNED13 enabled there is no need for a avisynth resize + sharpen script any more, because NNED13 is better than any sharpen script you can enable on avisynth.

    • Jeremy dit :

      You are right it is unnecessary to activate the deinterlacing of ffdshow with lav video.
      NNED13 requires a lot of power however maybe I will modify this part.

  20. Moses35i dit :

    First of all, big thanks for the tutorial!
    However, I ran into a small problem. I reconfugured the audio-section of ffdshow Audio Processor (from whithin MPC-HC itself) so DD5.1/2.1 AC3 and DTS are automaticalled selected for output but when a movie contains only a AAC 5.1 it only outputs PCM stereo. I have to manually richtclick on the blue ffdshow audio tray-icon and select the right option to get the 5.1 PCM audio (MPC-HC 5.1 (in 2.0 / out 2.1) or MPC-HC 5.1 (in 5.1 / out 5.1)) but if I do nothing it stays in MPC-HC 2.0 (in 2.0 & 5.1 / out 2.0). Is it possible to make this an automatic selection too as it goes for DD5.1/2.1 (AC3) and DTS or did I messup something?

    Soundboard: Asus DG-Xonar with only opticla out to my 5.1 receiver.
    MPC-HC (latest stable version) and ffdshow (latest stabel version)
    Windows XP pro SP3 with .net 3,5 sp1

    • Jeremy dit :

      Check your profile in ffdshow audio.
      If there is no error try to uncheck "Convert output to standard chennel layouts" in mpchc / lav audio

    • Moses35i dit :

      Thanks for your response. I checked the audiosettings in fddshow audio processor: No errors or mistakes according your tutorial. Then I removed the check on "Convert output to standard chennel layouts" in mpchc / lav audio. After restarting MPC-HC, the same still did happen. Still needing to switch manyally.

      I was thinking the follwing: I used the old tutorial and updated my settings with this new tutorial and found out some errors I made in the past (with the old tutorial). Could this be the cause by wrong settings in parts of MPC-HC and fddshow?
      Maybe it's a good idea to uninstall MPC-HC and fddshow completely and clean up de registry if needed and re-install them and setting it up per this new tutorial?

      The video part is excellent regarding the low power machine I use (I lowerd some of the video settings and don't use MadVR, DXVA and ReClock, until i get my hands on a much faster machine) but it's much better dan before. The only problem is the AAC/PCM sound output issue. Other audio formats are working as they should be.

      What's your advice and/or idea on this?

    • Jeremy dit :

      You can try to remove / reinstall the softs and redo the settings.
      If it's the same we can search somewhere else.

    • Moses35i dit :

      Thanks Jeremy. I'll redo the installation after cleaning up. A simple question. Settingscreens not shown as in your tutorial do not need to be changed? I remember an old tutorial where more setup-screensshots were shows with additional info on that particular screenshot.

      I'll report back here when done.

    • Jeremy dit :

      If a settings is not in the tutorial so it must remain default.

  21. Marcos dit :

    Fantastic guide! Thanks.

    I have this doubt:

    The aim of "deband" filter in ffdshow and "dithering" (or error diffusion) in madVR is the same, reducing banding, isn't it? So, should both of them be used in conjunction, or is preferred to choose just one?

    Thanks.

    • Jeremy dit :

      I think it's better to use only one deband.
      I think the best is to use the deband of ffdshow because it should to be applied before sharpen, etc...

  22. Ricardo dit :

    Just to say that if you configure ffdshow video filter by clicking in MPC-HC's External Filters on "ffdshow raw video filter" there is no option to export the .reg file to any place, and even if you go to "Video decoder configuration" located in Start on Windows there will be no settings left by you, so the way is to go directly configure by "Video decoder configuration" icon.

    • Jeremy dit :

      I know I have to add it to the tutorial.

    • Ricardo dit :

      Well actually you can forget what I said, I decided to try save again the .reg file going in "Video decoder configuration" and "Audio decoder configuration" on Start menu, and despite it wasn't showing the settings I made, I clicked and accepted the .reg file, then I went check the filters in MPC-HC and noticed my settings have been added anyway.

      Sorry for anything :)

  23. Zig dit :

    I´ve just installed MPC 1.7.4 and ffdshow 1.3.4500.
    When I try to add ffdshow as an external filter, it doesn´t show as an option like sugested (raw filter).
    Any ideas?

  24. feelingblue dit :

    Hello and congratulations for this manual

    I have a suggestion:
    it would be possible to add also the configurations for Potplayer?

    This player has the advantage of integrating internal postprocessing filters and support for Avisynth scripts.
    I think they are the same as ffdshow.
    The problem with ffdshow and that is discontiuned.

    I also did a lot of testing with my test pattern and it seems to me that the level of integrated splitter and decoder is equal to lavfilters.

    This player has more functions compared to mpc

    thanks for your attention

    • Jeremy dit :

      Sorry no, I prefer MPC-HC.
      Anyway MPC-HC has the best internal filters, Lav Filters.

      ffdshow is used only for Avisynth and audio mixing.

    • feelingblue dit :

      OK!

      Anyway MPC HC and Potplayer are exatly the same, if you want, because in Potplayer you can usa any decoder and splitter you want, also LAV.
      Potplayer have the advantage of iclude avisynth script support without install ffdshow that is discontinued. Potplayer support also 3D and have other interesting function.

    • Jeremy dit :

      Potplayer is a good player, maybe someday I will look to include it in the guide...

  25. Marcos dit :

    When you say, in ffdshow Audio:

    "For all profiles don't check box in "Pass-through (S/PDIF, HDMI)" otherwise the sound will out in bitstream and will not pass by Reclock if you use it."

    Is that correct? I mean, if you check "pass-through" shouldn't sound just pass through without being packed in bitstream? I understand that "pass-through" is the opposite to "bitstream".

    Besides it is inconsistent with the settings in LAV Audio Decoder, where you must check bitstreaming options if you want bitstreaming output (which seems fine).

    Or am I totally lost?

  26. Clint dit :

    After installing MadVR, media player classic doesn't give it as a renderer option. It says "unavailable". I guess these instructions aren't sufficient, because there's no way to install something wrong. The BAT file said it was a registered filter. :/

    • Jeremy dit :

      Maybe you don't read this "If you use Reclock, madVR or Avisynth you have to download the 32bits (x86) softwares, even with Windows 64bits (x64) because these softs only exist in 32bits (x86)" or this "Unpack the archive of madVR into a folder. Double click the file "Install.bat". As the message says do not move or delete the madVR directory"

  1. 9 février 2014

    […] HTPC Guide – Play your movies with the highest quality […]

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