Best ripped DVD converter App besides Handbrake

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by 3282868, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. 3282868, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2011

    3282868 macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    I've been using everything from Fairmount, RipIt and Mac the Ripper 4.0 for full DVD backups on my Mac Pro.

    1. I've used Handbrake to convert the rips, using the BEST settings as to not decrease the quality of the DVD rip:

    Handbrake Settings:

    - m4v w/ H.264
    - Large file size
    - 1500 or 2000 bitrate with 2-pass

    Extremely crucial as I have a Pioneer Elite VSX-33 AVR that supports AC3/DD/DD Pro-logic II, THX, MCACC and I want to maintain quality
    - AC3 - AC3 − 6-Channel Discrete, Highest kbps (640+)
    - AC3 Passthru
    - AAC (I believe for 2-channel stereo devices)

    Months of intense research has resulted in many conflicting recommendations. I know audio layer 1 is usually decoded first, other layers are automatically selected based on the device. I want the BEST options for audio that would supply 5.1-7.1 surround sound w/ Dolby Digital and THX, etc and a second layer for 2-channel stereo for iPad's/iPhones.

    Streaming Handbrake converted m4v's via iTunes to my aTV2 which is connected to my Pioneer AVR via HDMI (Devices input via HDMI to my AVR, and AVR outputs video via HDMI to my 50" Pioneer Elite). Streamed m4v's via iTunes play in 5.1 rich surround sound, everything works. However, I need to make certain this is the best method to maintain full movie quality.

    I want to ensure that Handbrake is the BEST converter, I don't care about free or not.
  2. BlackMangoTree macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2010
    I use to rip Dvd's, by far best app i have used.

    With handbrake keep it simple, just use the Apple TV 2 preset. The quality slider at 20 will produce excellent results. You could put it up to 18 if you feel you need a little more quality..

    You will never maintain full movie quality. You will always lose quality, thats just life. Though you can achieve something that looks pretty dam close to the original.
  3. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Thanks, I'll check out your recommendation. I've been using "Ripit" more as it rips DVD's Handbrake and "Mac the Ripper 4.0" cannot. As well, it names them just as the batch encode workflow in the sticky.

    There's no way to maintain full quality eh. Shame. I was hoping to rip my collection and convert them into full quality movies in order to toss my DVD's as I did with my 1000+ CD collection over a decade ago. Guess I'll have to keep them in their Caselogic books. :)

    Thanks again for your help!
  4. From A Buick 8 macrumors 68040

    From A Buick 8

    Sep 16, 2010
    Ky Close to CinCinnati
    Rip the DVD and save the resulting full DVD rip on some ext hard drives. This. Way you have a full quality backup of each one. At that point you can store the originals somewhere out of the way, or even sell.
    You can JB the ATV to play these through your ATV. Or you can use something like a Mac mini to play them.

    I think if you play around with the setting in Handbrake you will get a quality encode that you will like, but yes any encoding will reduce the quality some.
  5. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Exactly! I jail broke my aTV2 using Seas0npass (have jail broken all my devices, even installed OS X Tiger on my 1st gen aTV). Afterwards, I installed NitoTV then XBMC. I did so as I have a second "Time Capsule" extending my wireless network, and attached to this "Time Capsule" via Ethernet are my aTV2 and Pioneer Elite VSX-33 receiver for internet radio.

    I have the HDD in that "Time Capsule" configured for sharing, and I can access it from my Mac Pro and simply drag-and-drop converted DVD's in m4v format. I then configured XBMC to access that "Time Capsule's" HDD vis SMB, therefore it can read anything on the HDD. XBMC plays those m4v's, but for some reason down codes the full surround sound to 2-channel stereo even though the same m4v when streamed from my Mac Pro to the same aTV2 plays all the sound.

    This has to be an issue with XBMC, as I have tried all the recommended fixes suggested to many users (such as optical instead of just using the HDMI). As my Pioneer Elite VSX-33 handles all incoming HDMI connections with one HDMI out to my 50" Pioneer Elite plasma.

    Since there are so many variables I was able to isolate two possible issues: XBMC not handling the chosen audio from my Handbrake conversion of my full DVD rip, or that using ethernet to access my "Time Capsule" media. My Pioneer Elite AVR handles all codecs (AC3, DD II, THX, MCACC, 7.1+ surround sound) and it plays the same exact m4v's beautifully when streamed the official way.

    So if I cannot find a solution to play media off an attached HDD to my aTV2 (I know this cannot be done with the microUSB connection), I supposed I will have to get an NAS or simply deal with having 3TB's of m4v's on one of my Mac's and to make certain it's always on with iTunes.
  6. From A Buick 8 macrumors 68040

    From A Buick 8

    Sep 16, 2010
    Ky Close to CinCinnati
    For what it is worth, I have 4TB hooked to my iMac (FireWire) and it all stays on all the time, no big deal.
  7. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    I know, I really should. I'm a dog with a bone, I never back down from a challenge and once I started this [supposed] easy work around to get an attached device to the new aTV 2 I refused to let it go.

    In truth, I'm also doing this for my parents. They have an iMac with the same receiver and TV. Since my father is more of an intermediate, I thought it might be easier for him to access his movies right from the aTV 2. He's also in a wheelchair from double leg amputations and having eyesight issues due to juvenile diabetes. I figured not having to make sure he knows to keep his iMac on with an external HDD and iTunes open would be better, but after weeks of this I'm waving my white flag lol.

    Thanks for all your help! :)
  8. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    Handbrake, like all other apps which would perform the task you require, uses x264 to encode the video. Handbrake is just a front end, exactly the same output could be achieved using the x264 binary via terminal, it's just more work. So don't worry :)

    Your settings look good too, especially going for at least 1500KB/s rather than CQ.
  9. dynaflash, Apr 25, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2011

    dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    A bit confused on your first two tracks you list.

    AC3 Passthru is as good as you are going to get from the source dvd as it is the sources AC3 track passed thru to the final encode unmolested. Anything else will transcode it. That first track is AC3 Six channel discrete ? That would only apply to aac or the Handbrakes AC3 *encoder* as opposed to its AC3 Pass thru. There would be no advantage whatsover to Transcoding a sources AC3 Track back into AC3 whatsoever. So if it were me I would only use the AC3 Encoder on say a DTS track since currently and .mp4 can not contain a DTS Track.

    Yes, for iPads, etc Use the AAC encoder and Dolby Pro Logic 2. It is a 2 channel signal using phase shifting to create a 5.0 Dolby Pro Logic surround effect. For an iPad or iPhone or even an atv hooked up to a non AC3 Pass thru capable source (for instance a stereo tv via hdmi w/out a receiver) it will give you the best possible sound in those instances from the source audio.

    I am curious why you chose to put the aac track last instead of first. The stock atv requires that the aac audio track be first and the AC3 track to be second in order to properly "auto detect" which track to play. Though it is a workaround for the fact that xbmc automatically picks the first audio track so unless you specify different for each source (like specify the second track) you would get the better track by default.

    Video: If your looking to have the best reproduction I agree with BlackMangoTree that Constant Quality is far better than an arbitrary specifed ABR. Fwiw in general rf 19 is considered generally transparent to a dvd source visually.

    Hope that helps. :)
  10. Ommid macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2008
    Even handbrake still needs alot of work in my opinion.
  11. Brucewl macrumors 6502


    Sep 15, 2010
    Maybe you can also try to use Leawo Mac DVD Ripper, I used it to rip DVD to my Apple TV 2. And if you set the output quality as "High", the quality of video after convertion is really so close to DVD. Different people own different views, maybe it's not the best after you tried it, but it is still worth trying. BUT, BTW, isn't it illegal to rip DVD with copy-right protection?:confused:
  12. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Ok, now I'm even more confused about CBR and VBR, but I'll tackle that later. :)

    Here is my setup and what is working and my intent:

    1. 50" Pioneer Elite
    2. Pioneer Elite VSX-33 (all devices connect via HDMI to the AVR, which outputs one HDMI signal to my 50" Pioneer, the AVR handles everything, DD/THX/7.1+ - I have a 7.1 B&W setup/etc and all the m4v's play perfectly through my aTV 2 in XBMC. I can select any of the audio tracks I need w/ no issue (the only issue I have is in OS X which I learned Quicktime X and 7 do not handle AC3 well although VLC does)
    3. aTV 2 JB'd and running XBMC, connected using SMB via ethernet to a second "Time Capsule" set to extend my network in order to supply internet radio to my Pioneer Elite VSX-33 and allow the 2TB HDD to act as a media drive for my aTV 2)

    This setup works perfectly, no issues.

    I used the batch workflows but found the quality to be subpar on my 50". I spoke w/ a lot of members, and learned about custom coding for the Handbrake CLI, but the codes weren't taking so I settled for the GUI and used this in advanced settings:

    I spent a lot of time researching on B-Frames, Adaptive Direct Mode, Subpixel ME & Mode Decision and how they effect each other and the m4v. There is a significant difference in image quality using that code. All the m4v's play perfectly

    The only issue is audio, which has always perplexed me. I've read up on all the various codecs, AC3 Passthru being one most recommend. I only chose AC3 6-channel discrete in Handbrake GUI as it allowed a higher Hz and kbps (48 and 640 respectively) and I thought this would transcode the AC3 to a higher quality but then realized how stupid that is as you are right, it's extra work and there is no way to take a lower quality track to a higher level as, well, it's basic logic LOL (I'm blond) and as you stated:

    About DTS, do I need to use the mkv container for DTS tracks? I have one DVD (Pirates of the Caribbean I believe) that has a DTS audio track listed in HB.

    Awesome, glad to know I FINALLY got something right. AAC is needed as a second layer for stereo devices.

    Good question. I thought the first track would be the default and as such should be the best, and the device would automatically detect the second/correct track. XBMC defaults to the first track as well which is another reason. However, I can always select the second track within XBMC, which would then allow Apple devices to properly play the necessary audio track as it would be the first track.

    Ok, this is where I have so many differing opinions my head hurts. My friend Jackee is a documentary film maker and editor (in fact she went back to Apple to help design a recent pro-app). According to her and others VBR is better as CBR can produce quality fluctuations whereas VBR encoding is a method that ensures high audio quality bit-allocation decisions during encoding (encoder allocates an appropriate amount of data/second, depending on audio complexity). If consistent audio quality is important VBR encoding has been recommended.

    The advantages of VBR are that it produces a better quality-to-space ratio compared to a CBR file of the same data. The bits available are used more flexibly to encode the sound or video data more accurately, with fewer bits used in less demanding passages and more bits used in difficult-to-encode passages. The disadvantage is that it can take more time to encode.

    Then there are various methods of VBR encoding:

    Multi and single pass, Fixed quality, Bitrate range, Average Bitrate (I believe this is what I selected?) and Constrained Variable Bitrate.

    When referring to codecs, constant bit rate encoding means that the rate at which a codec's output data should be consumed is constant. CBR is useful for streaming multimedia content on limited capacity channels since it is the maximum bit rate that matters, not the average, so CBR would be used to take advantage of all of the capacity. CBR would not be the optimal choice for storage as it would not allocate enough data for complex sections (resulting in degraded quality) while wasting data on simple sections. This issue can resolved by choosing a higher bitrate to ensure enough bits for the entire encoding.

    Then to top it all off, after weeks of HB'ing my DVD rips into m4v's, I've noticed/learned that OS X Quicktime X or 7 do not process AC3 very well (VLC seems to be the only media player that does).

    I have been encoding my m4v's audio w/ AC3 only tracks:

    1. AC3 (5.1) / AC3 / 6-Channel discrete / 48Hz / 640
    2. AC3 Passthru
    3. AC3 DD / Stereo

    I thought this would "future proof" my DVD's to near lossless quality so that I can toss them. However, using AC3 for all my audio tracks has produced m4v's that crash Quicktime X or produce movies with severe static no matter what audio track I select. In some cases OS X forces an m4v to be played in QT 7. You assured me of what I learned today, that AAC should be used for stereo devices and should be the first track.

    In the end this is what I should be selecting for audio:
    I encoded an m4v that was having audio issues and used this setup:

    1. AC3 Passthru
    2. AAC Stereo

    It played fine on my Mac Pro in all applications. Is this ALL I need for audio, nothing else, and it will play full surround on my Pioneer VSX-33 (which handles all my m4v's on my aTV 2 with no issues)?

    I'm so confused cause everyone has good points and I don't know what to do anymore! lol

    Thanks to everyone who has put up with me over the past few weeks and has taught and helped me so much! :)
  13. Scarpad macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    I've actually started using Plex on my Mac Mini and have gone to doing straight rips to mkv files using MakeMKV, for both Blu Rays and DVD's. Storage is so cheap now and now matter how I encoded with Handbrake the image looked crappy on my 65" TV. Now I just use the plex app to stream on my Phone and my Ipad, it looks great.
  14. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Plex still requires your OS X system be on and running Plex Server no? I want to bypass that which is why I'm using XBMC, allowing me to use an external HDD (a previous gen Time Capsule I replaced with the current model) via ethernet to access my media locally w/o needing iTunes or my Mac Pro on. I've heard great things about Plex though, especially the GUI/front-end.

    Good point about mkv's. Using the batch workflow the m4v's looked awful on my 50" Pioneer Elite, hence all the research I did in order to use custom settings in Handbrake. I know Blu-Ray rips can only be encoded in mkv format no? Does the aTV 2 natively support mkv files? My only fear is encoding all my rips into mkv format, tossing my physical DVD collection, and being stuck with a restricted format.
  15. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Um, wow ... okaaay. Not sure really where to go with this one but here is basically the Upshot of Constant Quality vs. Average Bitrate in HB:

    Average Bitrate: You tell HB what you want for a video bitrate and HB will use that as an *average* bitrate via its x264 encoder. Quality be damned. The plus is that you can ensure your resulting file will be a specific average bitrate (note, this is still a variable bitrate encode as the bitrate will vary from scene to scene somewhat, however only within the encoders specified bitrate range which you specified overall. So do not think that Average Bitrate is the same as Constant Bitrate.

    Constant Quality: You specify a Visual Quality level in terms of RF values (this is where you commonly see the presets use say an rf of 20, etc.). HB will then keep your source at that specified visual quality ... bitrate be damned. The upside is once settling on a given accepted visual quality you can apply it across many sources and know that they will all look the same from a visual quality perspective. Basically you are allowing the encoder to determine the proper bitrate for a given quality for the source material. The downside if there is one to this is resulting bitrates / file sizes can be hard to predict. Noisy and grainy sources require higher bitrates to achieve the same visual quality as say an animated movie which is much cleaner.

    That all said ... the hard core devs we work with over at the x264 project all tend to favor Constant Quality (also referred to as CRF) encoding by far over specifying what you think is an appropriate average bitrate. Frankly its likely the encoder is smarter than you are at choosing the right bitrate to achieve a desired quality ;)

    The one real place where I would recommend Average Bitrate is when you have a device that you know is pretty bitrate restricted. The origina iPod 5G was such a device, which is why we used an average bitrate of 1500 kbps for its preset. It would puke if it went any higher than that.

    The devices you are using have much more leeway in terms of bitrate.

    I highly suggest using Constant Quality. But thats just my .02. :)

    If you do, as a very general rule of thumb I suggest using an rf of 19 for dvd sources and around 21 or 22 for say a blue ray rip or anything 720p and up. Appropriate RF values are a bit of a black art, otoh so is throwing an arbitraty bitrate at a given source and predicting the resulting visual quality.
  16. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Awesome! I'll set them for CBR at your recommended settings! That was the last piece in all of this, so thank you SO much for helping me out! :)

    … oh one last question. Do BD's have to be encoded in mkv format? I've only been ripping my SD collection. Someone mentioned mkv's are superior to m4v's in terms of quality?
  17. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Well, I know you hate this but .... its Constant Quality ... not CBR which is Constant Bitrate. The two are diametrically opposed.
    Someone was wrong. mkv is a container ... it only has as good of video quality as the video track in it. Both mp4 and mkv can use an h.264 video track with the same range of options so from that perspective they are equal.

    Handbrake can read decrypted blu ray to an extent though many people use makemkv to decrypt it and transcode it to a mkv first (why mkv ? Cause thats what it transcodes to). That is up to you. Note: Handbrakes nightlies have a bit more robust libbluray support than 0.9.5.
  18. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    Ok I'm using the HB nightly builds (at least I got something right). And yeah, sorry, my mistake, I'm multitasking a dozen things and not paying attention to well lol. In video quality I selected CONSTANT quality ;) with an RF of 20 (basically the already set variable).

    Forgot about MakeMKV. I have a ton of notes on the printout of the "How to" listed in the forum. Right when you mentioned MakeMKV I remembered that it was suggested/used in the batch encode workflows.

    Handbrake nightly builds may be able to decrypt Blu-Ray's, allowing me to use it as a universal app for my DVD encodes. I'll compare the two with the few Blu-Ray rips I have done.
  19. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    No, Handbrake can in no way / shape or form decrypt blu ray. You will have to decrypt it first. Handbrake can read a decrypted blu ray file. ;)

    Not trying to be picky but want to make sure you didn't get the wrong idea.
  20. 3282868, Apr 26, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2011

    3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    LOL God you must HATE me :eek:

    Thanks for everything mate, I can't imagine a more patient man than you

    MakeMKV for BD decryption, MP4 File, Large File Size, FPS Same as Source, CFR (?), Constant Quality ~20, AAC Stereo track first, AC3 Passthru second (additional tracks such as "Director's Commentary" last and can you name audio tracks in HB or only in Subler?), Subtitles (not burned in), MetaX or Subler for tagging and this in Advanced:


    So that should cover it… I hope… and where can I send you a check? j/k lol ;)
  21. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Well, I'd use same same as source vfr personally ... as well were it me I'd stick the aac track first.

    Also that a bit of a strange opt string, I assume by including an aac track your concerned about a stereo device like say an iphone or ipod... 10 bframes probably won't go. I'd drop it to say 4 if it were me. bframes won't increase quality, just lower final file size. But thats just me. There is volumes on settings in the hb forums.
  22. 3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    I thought you suggested placing the AAC track first as aTV, etc defaults to track 1. I've been encoding Track 1 for AC3 as XBMC defaults to Track 1 as well, but I can easily change the audio track in XBMC so putting the AAC Stereo track first would solve the issue of aTV and OS X defaulting to a track it cannot process (Quicktime X and 7 go nuts on my m4v's with AC3 in Track 1).

    Here's a snap of the Advanced window:


    I have adaptive B-Frames set to Optimal thus the value 10 in Maximum B-Frames. Optimal mode makes much more accurate decisions especially when used with B-Pyramid.


    Reference Frames - 10

    Max B-Frames - 10

    CABAC Entropy Coding, 8x8 Transform, Weighted P-Frames - Checked

    Pyramidal B-Frames: Default (Normal)

    No DCT Decimation - Unchecked


    Adaptive B-Frames - Optimal

    Adaptive Direct Mode - Spatial (Default)

    Motion Estimation Method - Uneven Multi-Hexagon (more accurately captures complex motion)

    Subpixel ME & Mode Decision - 8: RD refine in I/P-Frames (values greater than 6 retain more detail, 10 requires Trellis=2)

    Motion Estimation Ranger - 30 (someone recommended it although it doesn't apply to diamond or hexagon search options)

    Partition Types - Default (Most)

    Trellis - Always (although compression isn't an issue with me)

    Deblocking - 2,2
  23. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Um, yeah I did suggest aac track first. you quoted them last. Either way whatever works for ya.

    yes, I am familiar with the advanced panel in the hb macgui. I was just suggesting that in the case of some sources it might use as high as 6 or 8 bframes which will make an ipod iphone possibly puke (few sources will ever cause the x264 encoder to use more than that in practice). Was just a suggestion for compatiblity. If you like it and it works ... go for it.
  24. 3282868, Apr 26, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2011

    3282868 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jan 8, 2009
    I'm sorry man, I'm juggling a million things and am a little frantic so my apologies. Thanks for your help. Take it easy.

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