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
A quick word before we begin. As you may know already my name is Jeremy and it's been over 4 years since I created this tutorial. 4 years during which I have not counted the hours to give you one of the most complete HTPC tutorial that exists. So if you feel like it, when you have finished it and if the quality you get is up to or beyond your expectations, feel free to click on the button below.
I updated the tutorial to integrate the latest new features of madVR.
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.
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.
Fixed a small error in MPC-HC external filters. ffdshow (audio and video) have to be set on "Set merit".
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
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 every softs in 32bits (x86), even with Windows 64bits (x64) because Reclock, madVR and Avisynth 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)
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 !
To install the softwares you have to select them according to the audio output and capabilities of your hardware.
Image Credits: Jaako
- 1. Intro
- 2. Selecting Softwares
- 3. Media Player Classic Home Cinema - 1
- 4. Media Player Classic Home Cinema - 2
- 5. Media Player Classic Home Cinema - 3
- 6. Media Player Classic Home Cinema - 4
- 7. ffdshow Video - 1
- 8. ffdshow Video - 2
- 9. ffdshow Video - 3
- 10. ffdshow Video - 4
- 11. madVR - 1
- 12. madVR - 2
- 13. ffdshow Audio - 1
- 14. ffdshow Audio - 2
- 15. Reclock
- 16. AutoFrequency
- 17. Tips
- 18. Before / After
- 19. Conclusion