If you have been following along with my last few posts (The Family IT Guy and Setting Up MPC) the main goal that I was working towards was to finally set up bitstreaming of HD Audio (DTS-MA and TrueHD) with my HTPC. Leading up to the last few months this was only possible by using an expensive sound card (such as the Xonar HDAV1.3) along with dedicated software (such as PowerDVD and TotalMedia Theatre). Additionally, this would only work either from a Blu Ray disc or a Blu Ray disc image/structure, so you were out of luck if you had ripped your Blu Ray discs into formats like mkv. This was less then ideal for me since whenever I purchase a Blu Ray movie the first thing I do is rip it to my server in either ts or mkv format, so I would need to reformat my Blu Ray rips into a Blu Ray structure and also pay to use one of the 3rd party softwares. Things started to get more interesting with AMD releasing the 5xxx series GPU which supports bitstreaming, and Intel released the core i5/i3 CPU which had built in support for bitstreaming as well. However, you are still stuck with the same requirement of having your videos in a Blu Ray structure and having to pay for a 3rd party solution (although I know TMT has yet to release a patch for this to work with the 5xxx GPUs). Well, it looks like there is finally a solution. Damien Bain-Thouverez (also known as Albain on Doom9), developer of Media Control, has devised a way to allow for full bitstreaming of HD Audio through FFDShow. For those who don’t know, FFDShow is a very popular DirectShow and VFW codec for decoding/encoding many video and audio formats. With the latest beta FFDShow, you can now bitstream from standalone files using either MPC or WMC/WMP. Thanks to the help of the folks over at AVSForum (especially Tulli who provided much of the information for this guide, Andy o, vladd, and SamuriHL) and of course the work by Damien on FFDShow I now have bitstreaming working! The steps are slightly different for setting up using MPC HC (Part I) or WMC/WMP (Part II), so I will try to work through each situation. Also, I can only verify that this works with my setup, so different setups may yield different results.
DISCLAIMER – It is highly recommended that you have a backup or image of your O/S that you can revert to in the instance that something doesn’t work. Really this should be done before installing any software, but I find it particularly important when dealing with codecs/filters. Also, make sure you download the correct files (x32 vs x64).When I first set up my PC I make a backup immediately with WHS (I call the backup something like “W7 Clean”) and lock the backup so it does not get deleted. I have used WHS quite a few times to restore to this backup and it has worked like a charm.
- Windows 7 x32 HTPC w/ Sapphire 5670 GPU connected to Receiver via HDMI
- Onkyo TX-SR906 AVR, 5.1 speaker setup connected to TV via HDMI
- Panasonic Viera TH-58PZ800U Plasma HDTV
- PC running Windows (preferably Windows 7) with either an AMD 5xxx GPU, Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale CPU, or HD Bitstream capable Sound Card
- A Receiver that can decode the DTS(MA) and TrueHD
—————SETTING UP WITH MPC HC—————
Files to Download:
- Latest FFDShow Beta
- Latest MPC HC
- DirectX End-User Runtime Web Installer – necessary to run the latest MPC HC
- Realtek ATI HDMI Audio Device (current R2.39) (5xxx GPU only) or Intel Driver (core i3/i5)
- AMD Video Card Driver (5xxx GPU only). ATI Catalyst 10.1 or ATI Catalyst for HD5670 ONLY
1. Install AMD Video Card Driver (only applies to 5xxx GPU). Restart PC
2. Install Realtek ATI HDMI Audio Driver (only applies to 5xxx GPU) or Intel Driver. Restart PC
3. Set up HDMI Audio (showing setup using 5xxx GPU)
- In toolbar right click on speaker icon and go to “Playback Devices”. The Realtek HDMI Output should be set as default under the Playback Tab. Highlight this, and click the “Configure” button.
- Walk through the speaker setup, which is pretty self explanatory.
- After the Speaker Setup is complete you should be back at the Playback Tab. Select RealTek HDMI Output and click the “Properties” button. Under the Supported Formats tab, you should see all supported formats, including DTS-HD and TrueHD.
4. UPDATE – IT APPEARS THAT WITH THE LATEST ATI CCC RELEASE (10.4) THE EDID ISSUE HAS BEEN FIXED, SO THIS STEP SHOULD NO LONGER BE NEEDED!!! Download and install EDID override (only applies to 5xxx GPU). There appears to be an issue with the ATI drivers not parsing correctly the EDID of certain receivers. Hopefully this will be fixed in an upcoming driver release, but until then you can override the current driver to correct. To make it even more confusing, it appears to only affect Denon, Onkyo, and Sony (but even then not all models). Best idea would be to skip this step completely, set everything up, and if bitstreaming is not working install the EDID override per Tulli’s instructions.
- Download necessary EDID and extract somewhere on your PC
- Right click on desktop and select “Personalize”
- Click on Display -> Change Display Settings
- Click on Screen of AVR display -> click “Advanced Settings”
- Select Monitor Tab -> “Properties”
- Select Driver Tab -> “Update Driver”
- Select “Browse my computer for updates” -> “Let me pick from a list of drivers my computer” -> “Have Disk” -> “Browse” -> navigate to display device .inf file -> Click Open -> OK -> Install new driver
5. Install FFDShow. Launch ffdshow audio decoder configuration, go into Output, and tick off all the audio options under the “Pass-through (S/PDIF, HMDI)” settings.
EDIT – IF YOU GET AN “ACM WRAPPER” ERROR WHEN PLAYING MOVIES WITH LPCM TRACKS, GO INTO THE CODECS SECTION OF FFDSHOW AUDIO, SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM, AND FOR UNCOMPRESSED CHANGE FROM DISABLED TO ALL SUPPORTED. BIG THANKS TO DSUDOT FOR HELPING ME TROUBLESHOOT.
6. Install DirectX End-User Runtime if necessary.
7. Install MPC HC. Open MPC HC, go to View -> Options
- Under “Output” keep default settings. Make sure Audio Renderer is set to “System Default”
Under “Internal Filters” uncheck “H264/AVC (ffmpeg)” and “VC1 (ffmpeg)”
Under “External Filters” click the “Add Filter” button.
Select “ffdshow Audio Decoder” and click OK
Highlight ffdshow Audio Decoder and tick “Prefer”
Follow the same process, except this time select “Microsoft DTV-DVD Audio Decoder” and set it to “Block”
8. Now it is the moment of truth. Navigate to one of more movies that has a DTS(MA) or TrueHD audio track and play it with MPC HC. If all went well you should see the the DTS(MA) or TrueHD logo light up on your Receiver. You can also verify by placing your cursor over the ffdshow icon in your toolbar (pictures below in the bottom right hand corner)
The beauty of using MPC HC as your player is that many Media Center platforms supports the use of a 3rd party player such as MPC. For instance, check out this guide on how to set up MPC as your 3rd party player in WMC + Media Browser. If you have any problems I would definitely recommend visiting one of the resources mentioned below, as there is a wealth of information and very helpful members.
Part II, which will explain how to set up bitstreaming in WMC using the default WMP player, can be found here.
UPDATE – an alternative to using FFDShow for HD Audio bitstreaming is LAV Audio. See my guide here