VisualHub 1.31, DD5.1 and .mkv - my informal test

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by traderx1, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. traderx1 macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2007
    Now that AppleTV does DD5.1, the folks at VisualHub have been EXTREMELY fast on releasing a great update. With the new version, I can convert my own DVD or .mkv (or any other format) to AppleTV format (.mov) with DD5.1.

    So I decided to some testing, nothing formal, just my own opinions. I used a Samsung 40inch 1080p LCD with internal speakers, and a Pioneer Elite 50inch 1080p with a Denon AVR 3806. And for comparison to AppleTV I used DVICO TViX 4800SH and Samsung BDP-1200 Blu Ray Player.

    Source was Casino Royal (the new one) Blu Ray and 7.8gb 720p .mkv with DD5.1 track.

    The obvious winner in all this is Blu Ray version of Casino Royal in both video and audio. No contest, and not surprising.

    I converted the .mkv file using VisualHub at Highest setting (go insane) and DD5.1. The software does what is promises. It converted the .mkv file to a .mov file and retained the DD5.1 track. When played on the AppleTV the audio is passed through to the Denon receiver and DD5.1 light shows up on the receiver. Of note, for some reason, even at the highest setting the .mkv file of 7.8gb got converted to a 4.3gb .mov file. Not sure why.

    I streamed from my MacPro to my AppleTV over a "N" network. There were no hiccups/pauses on the video or audio when streaming to my tv. Even at this high bitrate, it was impressive. On my Samsung, using internal speaker, I could not hear any audio. VisualHub only places one audio stream, the DD5.1 stream. Obviously my Samsung internal speaker does not play DD5.1 so this was not a surprise. Speaking of video, the dark scenes had many artifacts and at times blocky. The lighter scenes, were excellent, which occasional blockiness. Overall very watchable and definitely better than DVD. I would have to say it was on par with the HD Movie previews that are on AppleTV.

    I then connected the AppleTV to my Pioneer ELITE 1080p and Denon Reciever. As mentioned earlier the audio played in DD5.1. The same dark and light scenes were used and there was a NOTICEABLE difference. There as much less blockiness and minimal artifacts. The picture was excellent, and audio was in sync. On a side note, I have always enjoyed my ELITE but now I can clearly see why it costs $5000 more than the Samsung. The difference is was much more evident when using the AppleTV versus Comcast HD. And I am finally NOT kicking myself in the butt for spending the extra money. There is clear difference between the 2 TV.

    To compare the video even further I have a DVICO TViX 4800SH which can natively play these infamous .mkv files. The audio is the same on both AppleTV and TViX - DD5.1. As far as the video, the TViX video was a bit more crisp in the darker scenes but the lighter scenes were not any different. Very comparable, the TViX video being a bit better. Again recall that the file sizes are different. 7.8gb for .mkv and 4.3gb for .mov.

    So in the end the VisualHub AppleTV HD video files are very good and very watchable and easily on par with HD Trailers, and the best part is, it now has DD5.1....something I have been waiting for since I bought this AppleTV a year ago. Great job VisualHub

    My personal dilemma is "Is it worth converting the .mkv files to AppleTV format, if I already have a box that plays .mkv files". The conversion of the file took over 2hrs using a MacPro. Yes it can stream anywhere in the house, but I only have one AppleTV so........
  2. MrPunk2u macrumors member


    Jun 25, 2007
    West Hollywood, CA
    [q]Of note, for some reason, even at the highest setting the .mkv file of 7.8gb got converted to a 4.3gb .mov file. Not sure why[/q]

    i think originally appletv could only play video files that were 4gb
  3. tronic72 macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2007
    I have quick question. (No, I'm not trying to be smart). How come you use the .mkv format?

    I thought there might have been a reason to do with the new take 2 ATV.

    I got mine updated today and ripped a few of my Star Wars DVDs. I ripped them with Mac the Ripper and then converted them to .MP4 using the iTunes: Apple TV 5.1 setting and the result was brilliantt!

    File size for ROTJ using Standard Quality was 1.5GB and took 333 minutes
    File size for ROTJ using High Quality was 2 GB and took 336 minutes (preferred).

    It was soooo good to finally watch a movie on my Apple TV with 5.1 surround.
  4. gotohamish macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2001
    Does VisualHub remove the DVD chapters though?
  5. traderx1 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2007
    .mkv is all in one container/format that has been out for a bit allows you have have HD movie rips (ie HD-DVD and Blu Ray) and also DD5.1 or DTS audio. It can take a hi-def movie and compress it from 30gig-40gig down to 5-8g. Basically .mkv is to HDDVD/Blu Ray as Divx/Xvid is to DVD.
    hope that makes sense..
  6. speakerwizard macrumors 68000


    Aug 8, 2006
    ...and has been a pain in the butt to convert! until now ill have to give it a play, hopefully this can replace playing with mkv extract and mp4box
  7. RustyM macrumors regular


    Jun 8, 2004
    Traderx1: I've not heard of this "DVICO TViX 4800SH" before. A native .mkv players sounds pretty damn cool! I wasn't able to find this model on their website, nor any info via google. Could you point me in the right direction?
  8. traderx1 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2007

    the official model is "Tvix HD M-4100sh"

    that is the main website.

    Model 4100sh is last years model. It is exactly the same as the 5100sh except with different exterior. The company just released the 6500 which has better .mkv support, but i have no problem with last years model. hope that helps, and yes it is a good alternative, but does not have the ease and wireless capabilities of appleTV. But if you are looking strictly for native .mkv support, there is nothing out there better for your TV
  9. traderx1 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2007
    yes that method is/was a pain. VisualHub does a nice job all at once.
  10. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    I have to get myself one of those.
  11. mrrory macrumors regular


    Nov 13, 2005
    United Kingdom of America
    Ok, my Mac the Ripper is not working anymore. Every DVD I try to rip (and these are my personal DVDs) gives me a bad sector error. I had assumed this was the copy protection of these newer discs. I've ripped many movies before, but for some reason it just won't work anymore. Any tips??

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