Apple TV with Infuse Pro or HTPC with madVR ?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by max2, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. max2 macrumors 68030

    May 31, 2015
    Which one would be better, have higher picture quality, and more reliable + supported ? I know which one is cheaper.
  2. HDFan macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2007
    An HTPC is a "home theater pc"?

    Why do you mean by "better"? What quality - 480, 1080p, 4k?

    Do you prefer Apples or Oranges (windows)? Do you like mucking around with a PC's innards and or do you just want something that works with minimal setup? Do you want to use commercially available software with (hopefully good) support, or maybe state of the art custom software which may be somewhat unstable?

    Since you are posting in a Mac forum then the most common Mac solutions are Plex and Infuse. Plex requires a Plex server, Infuse can use either a Plex, DNLA or SMB server. A Plex server can run on almost anything, from a router, NAS to a high end Mac.

    There are heated discussions about which is best. My take on it is that Infuse is the best solution for just a single server and just a few libraries. The Infuse player audio quality may be the best since it supports DTS-MA. Support is excellent.

    Plex is better when you are running on many platform clients, have several servers, have a lot of libraries and want to preserve playback status between devices. It has very rich sorting and searching capabilities and a good server status displays. Playback quality is a function of the capabilities of the playback device. On an Apple TV I haven't seen any major video quality differences between Infuse and Plex playing 4k HDR videos ripped with DTS-MA, although I have seem some unexplained pauses with Plex. Support is unfortunately just via forums, but the frequency of their software updates is the highest of any software I use - almost weekly.
  3. GrumpyCoder macrumors regular

    Nov 15, 2016
    This is actually very simple to answer.
    Are you running the AppleTV through a Lumagen processor for dynamic tone mapping? If the answer is yes, get the AppleTV. If the answer is no, a MadVR solution will blow the AppleTV out of the water when it comes to image quality (assuming your display is up to the task). If you don't plan to use dynamic tone mapping or other image processing, it doesn't matter, just get the cheaper solution.
  4. ZeitGeist macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2005
    I found TV combined with Infuse to be the perfect solution for watching video from a server or other local sources.

    Infuse requires a subscription to decode x265 compressed video, but Infuse’s subscription is the most reasonable one ever - I hate monthly subscription cash grabs, but I gladly signed up for Infuse’s at $7/year. Well worth it for a well supported, well-designed product.

    Infuse’s user interface, the way it presents videos and seamlessly integrates with the AppleTV and Siri is what makes it worthwhile... it also does an awesome job finding metadata for thumbnails and descriptions.

    TV 4K + Infuse is what I would suggest.
  5. max2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    May 31, 2015
    What the heck is a Lumagen processor please? Thanks. Sorry.
  6. GrumpyCoder macrumors regular

    Nov 15, 2016
    It's a video processor used for all things image processing and calibration (see: Basically, you attach every source device to it and the output is attached to your display/projector. The processor can handle the full calibration and does things such as scaling, converting aspect ratios, handling anamorphic lenses for projectors, framerate conversion, and much more including the mentioned dynamic tone mapping. It's very common in full installations to get the best possible video quality.

    MadVR is also for optimizing video quality and does dynamic mapping, but it only does it for the HTPC it's installed on. You can't use it with external devices such as AppleTV, a game console or any other playback device. An external video processor allows to attach external devices to it.

    Let me point one thing out, since some things have been mentioned by others, which I think completely fail the question or the question is not the right one. MadVR is all about video processing and getting the best image quality possible. It has absolutely nothing to do with what source you're using for playback (NAS files, ISO, Plex, ...) or how you organize your library by TV shows, movies, various genres (actors, sci-fi, action, horror, etc.) or how you navigate your library. The one and only purpose of MadVR is applying specific settings for video processing. In addition you still need video playback software such as Kodi and others. The latter is what Infuse on an AppleTV does.

    AppleTV with Infuse is a simple media player. You can use it to organize your library and play your media from different sources, add metadata and so on. It has nowhere near the capability to customize your video processing as MadVR has, nor does it have the quality of videoprocessing as an external processor or MadVR.

    So the question is really, do you only want to organize and playback your collection? Then get the AppleTV.
    Or do you want the absolute best video quality possible? Then get the HTPC and MadVR and a media player software that can organize your library (or a Lumagen in addition to an AppleTV). Just be aware, in order to take full advantage of MadVR, get a Nvidia GPU for the HTPC as some filters require a lot of processing power. Also consider, MadVR usually requires custom tweaking to get the best out of it. This is not plug & play, i.e. not downloading, installing and you're done. You will have to tweak settings.
  7. max2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    May 31, 2015
    Thank you good observations!
  8. star-affinity, Aug 9, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019

    star-affinity macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2007
    I'm curious – how much better can it be? Is this difference in quality for all kinds of sources – for example a 1080p Blu-ray – or is the difference more easily seen with 4K HDR material?

    Would be interesting to see a side-by-side comparison. :)
  9. GrumpyCoder macrumors regular

    Nov 15, 2016
    How much better depends on what you're looking at. From barely visible to night and day. That is assuming your display device doesn't screw things up. Some displays have further processing that can't be turned off and mess things up. With projectors, lenses that soften the image can mess things up, so can eshift/4k enhancement. And yes, it's for all kind of source material.

    As far as comparisons, the best way is to try it yourself, since it's calibrated specifically to the performance of your display. So watching it on another display will not yield the same results. Also, you won't see how it performs in motion when looking at pictures. For tone mapping, start here:
    But that's just tone mapping, there's much more in MadVR and a processor. There's also alot of material and info in the Doom9 forums. Just do a google search and you'll be busy for weeks if not months.

    But again, this is not a plug & play thing. It requires full calibration and lots of tweaking.
  10. Michelasso macrumors 6502


    Feb 20, 2012
    Treviso, Italy
    Personally I have bought the ATV 4K because of Infuse. And I never regretted my choice. You plug the ATV, install Infuse (Pro), build an SMB server with all your videos organised at file system level, connect to it via Infuse and you watch anything you have. With Hi-Res audio (TrueHD and DTS-MA), 4K, HDR (not sure about Dolby Vision, since my TV doesn't support it) and rarely a glitch. The support via web is also excellent.

    I can also use Infuse to stream my videos, HEVC or less, 4K, 1080p or anything else, HDR included, from my iPhone to my S-L-O-W 1080p SDR Fire Stick TV via a cheap app I bought, AirReceiver. Subtitles work as well. Controlling the video with the Fire TV controller (unlike with ChromeCast).

    And Infuse will work with any TV supporting Airplay 2. It isn't always perfect, I have to duplicate the screen to make it working with AirReceiver, and I had many issues lately because I have all my Apple devices on beta OS. Still it's an option. Plex (just to add heat to the discussion) wasn't a solution, too laggy is an understatement. Still nothing forbids to install a Plex server using the same SMB libraries for Infuse, adding a plugin that keeps everything in synch via Trakt.

    About HTPC I know little to nothing. Because only the idea of using a (Windows!!) computer to stream instead of a little box gives me nightmares already. And then if one really wants quality is better buying an UHD BR player.
  11. GrumpyCoder macrumors regular

    Nov 15, 2016
    Anything you describe can be done with a HTPC as well. I agree about Windows, but using a HTPC is not about having a normal streaming box.

    And this is plain wrong, sorry. Any streaming box can provide the same quality as a regular player, ATV4k, Nvidia Shield, etc. As I've pointed out before, a HTPC running MadVR or a dedicated video processor will allow to optimize the quality further than any streaming box or dedicated player can. This is just another step up in quality. What a HTPC does is save you around around $6.5k for a Radiance processor to get an AppleTV, Shield, etc. to the same level of quality as a HTPC. There will be an external MadVR processor soon which will also be an option, but I'd be surprised if it's under $4k.

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10 August 8, 2019