Software - Latest Config - MediaPortal With KMPlayer - Part I

After my experiences with my original configuration in 2007 and reading the different requirements and problems from many people, I wanted to come up with a very simple HTPC build to get people up and running with minimal fuss.

 

One of the main requirements of HTPC's appears to be to play any movie media file.  This can be one of the more difficult aspects to achieve as there are so many encoders, decoders, codecs, filters, renderers etc. out there.  Also note, that there isn't one build that will suit everyone.  For example, some people love to tweak the picture quality to its limits, others just want something up and running quickly that just works with minimal effort.  This configuration to suit the latter peson well, but does offer to option to tweak the system further if required. 

 

The reason I have chosen to use KMPlayer, is its very easy to configure, comes with its own filters/decoders, has loads of options, and makes troubleshooting problems a lot easier.

 

I'm not going to go into too much detail here, keep it simple and to the point so its easy to follow.

 

 

This is exactly every setting and piece of software I have installed and changed from a fresh install of Windows Vista.  In each case, the latest version was obtained from the vendors website.

 

Software Used:

 

Windows Vista 32-bit

Motherboard Chipset Drivers

Graphics Drivers

Audio Drivers

KMPlayer

CoreAVC Pro

Haali Media Splitter

Daemon Tools

MediaPortal V0.2.3.0

 

This was a brand new hard disk, so BIOS was set to boot from the DVD drive and go into the Vista install process.  This is the simplest and fastest Windows install yet, with minimal effort.

 

1) HTPC is connected to router via ethernet cable for internet access

2) Install latest motherboard chipset drivers from NVIDIA website

3) Install latest graphics drivers from NVIDIA website

4) Install latest audio drivers from the Abit website

 

5) Turn off the Vista Aero in Appearance settings - This is just talking up resources when we wont be using the windows interface anyway.  I found it had a negative impact on video performance.  Some video looked like it dropped frames, so is mostly likely due to the onboard 6150 graphics not being powerful enough, but we wont be needing Aero anyway.

 

6) Install KMPlayer

7) Install CoreAVC

8) Install Haali Media Splitter - Untick all options during install:

 

Haali Media Splitter Install Options

 

9) Once these are installed open up KMPlayer

10) Right click in the player window and goto:

11) Options ---> Preferences General --->Playback---Work Priority

12) Tick Enable SuperSpeed and Goto:

13) Filter Control--->Decoder Usage--->Internal Video Decoder

14) Untick H.264 and AVC1:

 

KMPlayer Settings for Internal Video Decoder

 

15) Filter Control--->Decoder Usage--->External Video Decoder

16) Set H.264 Video and AVC1 Video to System Default

17) Click the "c" next to H.264 and this should display the CoreAVC settings

18) Tick Preferred decoder and click Close

19) Still within the KMPlayer settings Goto:

20) Filter Control---->Splitter

21) Select System default for Matroska and Goto:

22) Filter control---->Source Filter--->The Rest tab

23) Tick Matroska

24) Click Close which will save the settings

 

KMPlayer Settings for Haali Splitter

 

Using CoreAVC and Haali splitter appears to give the best performance with H.264 video encoded in .mkv files.  That is why the settings above are used. 

 

If you are using the SPDIF optical out to get Dolby Digital (DD) and DTS sound do the following:

 

25) Play a movie which you know has either DD or DTS sound

26) During playback right click in the window and Goto:

27) Filter--->AC3Filter and tick Use SPDIF and tick DD and DTS

28) Click Apply and OK. 

 

Settings used within AC3Filter

 

The next thing to set is the Video Renderer.  This is accessed through:

 

29) Right click in the KMPlayer window and Goto:

30) Video (Renderer)

31) Choose Overlay Mixer

 

I noticed on my configuration that using Overlay Mixer gives the best performance.  The actual video renderer you use depends on the hardware setup you have.  In my case I was experiencing a dark picture with H.264 .mkv files and blown out, bad quality picture with divx .avi files.  This was down to me using the VMR9 video renderer.

 

I wont expand on this, in this guide because it really is a huge subject and there is a vast amount of information on video renderers, colourspaces and display configurations around the internet.  The simple method is to:

 

32) While playing different movie files via KMPlayer, cycle through the video renderers to find out which one gives you the best picture quality and performance for YOU.  For me this was the Overlay Mixer.  The main choices to cycle through are: Overlay Mixer, VMR7, VMR9, Haali Renderer.  See which suits you best.

 

 

Before you continue from this point make sure all your movie files play smoothly through KMPlayer.  If they dont, read through the guide again and make sure all the settings are set as stated.  You can even reset KMPlayer to default settings to start again.

 

Tip: While playing an .mkv file in KMPlayer press the Ctrl+Tab keys to bring up the file info.  COREAVC should be displayed as the Video decoder and you should get the Haali Media Splitter Icon in your taskbar.

 

Part II >