In the process of trying to debug some playback issues with Plex app on my Apple TV 4K it was recommended to try Infuse 6 and I’m trying to understand the advantages/disadvantages to this approach.
Overall I’ve been pretty happy with the performance of Plex running on a Windows i7 based server back-end and feeding out Plex to the Plex app on my various devices, most of them now are 1080P Apple TVs.
I recently upgraded my main viewing area and purchased a 77" LG OLED TV and an Apple TV 4K. I noticed after this upgrade a couple of issues with the Plex app;
I am getting “bit rate choking” when playing higher bit-rate MKV files from my library. None of my content is 4K so at most these would be 1080P BD rips where I ripped the full bit-rate Blu-ray using MakeMKV to an MKV file, these files might include VC-1 video codec, True-HD audio codec, etc. Normally my expectation is that these files get transcoded by the Plex server since the Apple TV can’t handle these codecs. When the bit rate is too high or the codec seems to be incompatible I will notice bad video stuttering, macro blocking, etc., and this is usually cured by one or more corrective actions such as limiting playback to 20mbps 1080P or disabling direct play in the Plex app.
I am getting “micro stutters” during playback. These are tiny jumps in the picture, some users might not notice them, but I do. I don’t observe these micro-stutters in other apps just the Plex app.
How will Infuse help me out here, or will it? I tried setting up the Infuse App, pointed it to my existing Plex server and it immediately wanted me to do a subscription. Before subscribing I want to better understand what I would be getting out of Infuse that Plex is not doing for me.
P.S. I have an Intel NUC system that I use Kodi on that I used to bust out when I wanted to watch my full bit rate HD stuff as it can convert HD audio formats to PCM, etc. It’s not clear to me if Infuse would also allow me to relegate this machine to the dust bin of history.
I’m not a plex user so I can’t really address your specific questions but don’t forget that you get a free trial period before your subscription starts so you could do a year and I think you get 30 days free before you get charged. That may give you the time you need to get settled in. If not you can cancel and not be out anything.
okay I understand that I can get a free week or month via signing up for a subscription.
Can anyone explain why, when I play the video back with Infuse I am seeing different performance and behavior then when I play it back with the Plex app and using the same back-end?
How does Infuse advertise itself to the Plex server for purposes of Direct Play? Does it ask the server to transcode anything?
I watched my full bit-rate BD rip of The Goonies with my son and noticed that I wasn’t getting any micro-stutters but I did notice that I was getting some severe macro blocking on parts of the pictures during certain scenes… is Infuse asking the Plex server to transcode the video? This title, I believe, has forced subtitles that probably have to be transcoded somewhere unless somehow Infuse is able to handle those… How can I figure out what it is doing with the MKV it is being fed?
Should I configure Infuse as a standalone player w/out Plex just pointed to my shares to get better performance?
I tried Plex Pass and running it on a Windows 10 machine. It looked great but I had all sorts of issues… Most notably with bigger files and running 4K material. Some files it just wouldn’t run. Kept getting an error message that I didn’t have enough bandwidth (on a cabled connection). I did a search for it and it seems it’s one of those errors they never fixed, so if you get it you’re f****** basically. So I went back to infuse.
No issues with Infuse at all in this department. I have to say having tried quite a few solutions now, infuse is the best for me with ease of use and it just runs everything that I ask it to.
So I’ve done some a/b testing with one of my favorite test films, a full BD rip of Gravity in MKV format with DTS-HD audio. I like this clip because the white astronaut suits against the black space background make any motion artifacts immediately apparent.
When this is played back on Plex with default settings there is noticeable video judder (almost looks like frames are dropping) that is not eliminated by messing with the motion settings on the C9.
Oddly if the video playback quality is reduced in Plex to 20mbps 1080P the playback is nearly perfect. I’m not sure if this is due to the transcode lowering the bit rate or if the conversion is eliminating 24P judder.
If I play the same video in infuse I am also getting the stuttering effect that almost looks like frame drops.
Believe it or not, Apple has chosen to have the Match Content options off by default, so I would highly recommend enabling them. I suspect this choice was made for compatibility, as not all TV support 24Hz input.
In particular, without the frame rate matching option enabled, the Apple TV will be outputting a fixed 60Hz (or 50Hz) signal, which will always leave you with 3:2 pulldown judder when playing 24p videos.
Infuse does not currently have a debugging overlay option, sorry.
So this info was solid gold as it does seem to have resolved the choppiness which must have been introduced when the ATV was doing its own 24p-60p conversion and doing a rotten job of it.
These settings also fixed some odd content color depth issues I was seeing in my material which was probably introduced when ATV took REC.709 color space material and “upconverted” it to Dolby Vision.
So, here’s my observation now that I have these settings locked in;
Plex legacy player was struggling with high bit-rate BD material resulting in some macro-blocking and other artifacts.
Plex beta player did not have this issue.
Infuse did not have this issue.
Infuse seems to have some other advantages such as showing scene information in the scrubber bar which is missing in both Plex players.
A couple outstanding questions;
Every time I play a new title with Infuse I am getting the subtitles, is there an option that will disable the subtitles automatically but still display forced subs in MKVs that have those (I believe I set something on the server side to display forced subs automatically bot not sure if that propagates to players like Infuse).
Is there any way to see a feature roadmap for this player? I’m interested if multiple user profiles, etc., are coming along with more information about audio format support (I’m curious if the TrueHD and DTS-MA HD audio support can eventually go bitstreamed and if other high resolution audio format support is coming.
I signed up for the free one week subscription, and when I go manage it on my Apple device I only have options for monthly or yearly subscriptions. I believe there was an option for a lifetime subscription and if I pay for the application that is what I would prefer.