Handbrake Quality/Settings

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Agent-W, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. Agent-W macrumors member

    Jan 5, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    Hi All,

    I've converted a couple of HD .mkv's with handbrake, and on my ATV they all appear SD (no HD logo next to them, quality of SD movie). The movies have varied (some 720p, some 1080p) but handbrake always seems to make these into SD movies.

    I've tried looking into the settings, and increasing the constant quality from 59% upwards, but whenever I do this, I can't see them movies from my ATV once I've imported the movies to iTunes.

    Is there another setting to adjust, or does the quality have to be set to 59%?:confused:


  2. lindmar macrumors 6502

    Oct 31, 2003
    At least it works for you.
    Crashes every time for me.

    Now I use VisualHub - takes longer, Shows as HD on AppleTV and work perfectly.
  3. ugacdawg macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2008

    Your problem is one that I had at first with HD (Blu-Ray) movies... a couple of things - officially the ATV only supports 720p and 5k total average bitrate... if you try to put something higher than 6k in total bitrate the ATV will not sync it from iTunes since it thinks it cannot play it...

    For me, the best solution (I encode on a Windows box if that matters) has been to load up a M2TS file in Handbrake (.9.3 for me), select the AppleTV preset, change the anamorphic width (highlighted green on mine) to 1280, and change the average bitrate to 5k (sometimes it will encode slightly higher or lower based on the movie content but if you select 5k it should stay low enough for the ATV to run the movie).

    A lot of people say to stay with encode quality of 55% instead of average bitrate but I didn't like the quality output as much and many times it ran a much lower overall bitrate than 5k... and I could definitely tell a difference. Especially in movies that are digital from origin (like the Pixar stuff), they look amazing at 720p around 5k bitrate and they are still plenty small enough for a bunch on a 1TB drive...

    Good luck!
  4. PupnTaco macrumors regular


    May 29, 2007
    Here are the Handbrake settings I use to convert HD MKVs (and some MOVs and M4Vs that cooperate):

    Framerate 23.96 (NTSC Film)
    Avg bitrate: 4500
    Large file size: checked

    Picture Settings
    Anamorphic off
    Fit to 1280 wide max
    Keep aspect ratio: checked

    Track 1: AAC Dolby ProLogic II 160kbps
    Track 2: AC3 passthru
  5. lindmar macrumors 6502

    Oct 31, 2003

    DOes that do a nicer job than VisualHUb?
  6. PupnTaco macrumors regular


    May 29, 2007
    VisualHub was taking three days per movie, HandBrake is doing them in four - five hours on a pokey slow MacBook.
  7. macrazee macrumors regular

    Jan 4, 2009
    How are you guys converting the 1080P MKV to AppleTV?

    Handbrake will open them but it always sets the video to 1920x1080 which AppleTV cannot handle. Also, the audio is a huge problem. I can never get anything other than 2-channel audio, it never allows AC3 Passthru even when the track is there.

    VisualHub seems to be much easier for MKV conversion but it cannot do the 5.1 audio, either. You are left with just a downmixed AAC audio track. Video looks great, though.

    I don't know how the folks are converting Blu-Ray stuff (M2TS) as I never had any luck with it. Handbrake won't even load those files and also I notice lip-sync issues big-time even with MKV especially when you fast-forward or flip through them...it goes out of sync pretty quick.

    Now maybe I'm just naive or my hardware sucks (which I doubt, as all my Macs are 2008 models) but I've had little to no success using Handbrake and while VisualHub works OK the audio thing pretty much makes it a showstopper as I want that 5.1 audio track...(WITH the downmixed AAC for devices which can't handle the 5.1) just like a DVD conversion.

    Also I assume there is no way to chapterize the MKV or Blu-Ray stuff? Doesn't appear to be...
  8. lindmar macrumors 6502

    Oct 31, 2003

    I'll echo your statements. I've been trying to convert 720p mkv's.
    HB kinda sucks as far as I'm concerned....usually it crashes...

    The lack of 5.1 for any of the conversions is really a drag.
    Yesterday I converted the same movie with VH and HB - I couldnt see any difference whatsoever in terms of quality.
  9. macrazee macrumors regular

    Jan 4, 2009
    Heh, I wouldn't say Handbrake sucks. I have over 700 DVDs that I have converted through it flawlessly and it has been great. Blu-Ray and the high definition stuff is a whole new ball game and I understand it will take them time to get that down...

    And at least Handbrake is being actively developed. VisualHub is dead in the water...I use it for only two things: quick encodes of home movie clips from crap-quality sources (cell phones, et al.) and for quickly transcoding an M4V file to a DVD (quality not important). It's excellent for those tasks but when you want to make archival-quality versions and backups of your discs Handbrake is the much better choice.

    I'm sure they'll get this stuff down to a science over time.

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