Update: As of Shark 007 codec pack version 2.28 for my configuration to work as described below, I now also have to “Disable the DMO codecs on the SWAP TAB”
I’ve been in Codec hell again lately, ever since first connecting a Windows 7 Media Center PC to an AVR and wanting to get 5.1 surround sound working. Previously I was in bliss with a 2.0 speaker setup on my Media Center at home and had no codec / playback issues what so ever.
I also wanted to make my MKV’s look better on the XBOX 360 MCX, as with the Shark 007 codec pack and the native Windows 7 transcoding of MKV’s to the extender the video quality looked pretty bad.
First thing I tried was the DIVX Tech Preview, however I was unable to get anything other than 2 channel PCM on the HTPC when it was installed and my MKV’s didn’t really look any better on the extender, not sure why? I also found the DIVX Tech Preview pretty unstable for me. Allot of people have been raving about this Tech Preview, I guess I must be missing something.
I then tried just the Haali Media Splitter Alpha for Windows 7 and I was able to play my MKV’s and get 5.1 audio pass through to the AVR but on some of the MKV’s I would get bad pixelated blocky pictures, I also get the same thing happening when using Shark 007 but I have a fix for this which is covered later on.
In the end I’ve gone back to using Shark 007, however initially with Shark when using the AC3Filter I was unable to get 5.1 audio on AVI files (XVID) that had AC3 in them, in fact Media Center would not even play these movies and would error. I was able to get 5.1 audio however on MKV’s with AC3/DTS.
If I un-checked the Use SPDIF options in AC3Filter settings, my AVI’s with AC3 then played OK, but I lost the 5.1 audio on the MKV’s so at this point I was going around in circles.
I finally cracked my configuration and below is now how I have Shark 007 configured under Windows 7 (32 bit). My system is based on a Gigabyte GA-MA785GPM-UD2H motherboard which has an onboard ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics processor. The PC is connected for video and sound via an HDMI cable to a Harmon Kardon AVR 255 which in turn is hooked up to the HDTV via HDMI.
The PC has the latest drivers installed from ATI and also from Realtek for the audio devices both the Digital Optical (Not in use) and the HDMI audio device.
The first setting I changed was a newish setting on the Realtek / ATI High Definition Audio Device properties on the custom tab. Ticking this option allows audio pass through.
I then installed the Shark 007 pack with the full installation option. The following screen shots show the options I have changed, if you cannot see a particular tab from the Shark 007 program that means I did not change any settings on that tab and used the defaults.
- No Subtitles
- Disable AC3Filter
- FFDShow – Use passthrough
- Enable Audio normalization
When the Use Microsoft codec (default) option is selected some of my MKV’s don’t play properly and I get the blocky pixelations as shown in the screen shot above. Enabling Use FFDshow’s codec option sorts this right out and cures the problem. Worth noting however I don’t have any live TV on this Media Center due to my locale so something to keep in mind?
I found that MKV’s with AC3 audio were crashing Media Center so I had to go in to the FFDShow audio configuration and change the decoder for AC3 to liba52.
Finally click on Output at the bottom and ensure AC3 and DTS are checked for pass-through.
With this configuration I am finally able to play all my files in Windows 7 Media Center connected to the AVR:
AVI’s (XVID) with AC3 (Dolby Digital)
AVI”s (XVID) with MPEG (MP3) (2CH PCM)
MKV’s with AC3 / DTS
MKV’s with AAC (2CH PCM) *
DVD rips VIDEO_TS (VOB’s) with AC3 / DTS
Blu-ray ISO’s with AC3 / DTS (PowerDVD9)
* The only thing I’d like to be able to do is encode on the fly MKV’s with AAC to AC3 but I haven’t figured this out yet. What are you doing with MKV’s that have AAC audio tracks?
I’ve set this up on two different PC’s and so far it seems to be working well, I’m not saying this is the only or best way to do things as I’m not a codec guru but it’s the way I was able to get my files all playing with audio pass-through in 7MC.
However my MKV’s still look bad quality on my XBOX 360 MCX, so I’ve started converting all my MKV’s to WTV using DVR-MS Toolbox, so maybe then I won’t need any codec / packs installed Amen to that!
Some related forum threads.
Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP