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DTMark

TV-Audio PC

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Our Humax PVR box is on the verge of giving up which gives me the perfect excuse to replace it with a full PC setup.

This needs to be able to play video and music from the network and to record TV. Ideally it will replace the Apple TV box, the Blu-Ray player, the Humax box and the laptop (used with an external USB DAC connected to the amplifier). One thing to do it all.

I know Mac Minis are a popular choice but I don't have a great knowledge or love of Mac machines so it has to be a Windows box.

I know you can get TV cards in USB sticks these days. I also need to plug in an external USB DAC. I wonder if the USB hub is going to be overloaded trying to record a TV programme from one port while simultaneously playing audio from another which makes me suspect that a PCI TV card may be a better option?

I'm attracted by the small form-factor PCs but wonder if the requirement for a Blu-Ray drive and PCI slot rule these out. (Can you rip Blu-Rays to a network drive? Not sure..)

Network has a RAID NAS box to store all the content so the internal drive need only accommodate the OS. Will be "always on".

Will need HDMI output to TV. All sound to go via external USB DAC > HiFi amplifier. Since it's a USB DAC the sound card isn't important.

Any recommendations to get me started..?

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Kodi is the obvious option

once you've found a USB tuner (not many about these days) use something like nextpvr (it's free) and then download the nextpvr addon from the kodi repository. 

If you've got films/Tv shows digitally then kodi can put them in a nice library linked to tvdb and moviedb. 

Then get the kodi remote app for android/iOS and you can use your phone as remote. 

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Gramophone records and VHS tapes.

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9 hours ago, DTMark said:

Our Humax PVR box is on the verge of giving up which gives me the perfect excuse to replace it with a full PC setup.

This needs to be able to play video and music from the network and to record TV. Ideally it will replace the Apple TV box, the Blu-Ray player, the Humax box and the laptop (used with an external USB DAC connected to the amplifier). One thing to do it all.

I know Mac Minis are a popular choice but I don't have a great knowledge or love of Mac machines so it has to be a Windows box.

I know you can get TV cards in USB sticks these days. I also need to plug in an external USB DAC. I wonder if the USB hub is going to be overloaded trying to record a TV programme from one port while simultaneously playing audio from another which makes me suspect that a PCI TV card may be a better option?

I'm attracted by the small form-factor PCs but wonder if the requirement for a Blu-Ray drive and PCI slot rule these out. (Can you rip Blu-Rays to a network drive? Not sure..)

Network has a RAID NAS box to store all the content so the internal drive need only accommodate the OS. Will be "always on".

Will need HDMI output to TV. All sound to go via external USB DAC > HiFi amplifier. Since it's a USB DAC the sound card isn't important.

Any recommendations to get me started..?

The Humax may just require a hard drive replacement!

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I had the old PlayTV box (Standard def) from PS3 days up and running on Kodi with NextPVR under windows 8 but couldn't get the thing working on windows 10.

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The picture quality on the current PVR box has been failing for months and a green stripe has now appeared down the left side of the picture.

The idea with the full PC setup is to be able to play music too - for example MQA files on Tidal through the USB DAC but that's the easier bit to sort, Kodi can probably do the TV stuff.

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I used to regard myself as an early adapter. Especially with audio visual equipment. Threads like this make me realise that I'm now totally lost, and will never get it back. I guess I'm now just old! 

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Just to say thanks to DTM for posting the question. To my shame I still use a Pace twin - and it still works fine as long as you know how to overcome the tuning issues.

Have been dipping in and out of threads and other people's projects w/o coming to any real conclusion, so maybe the kind folk of HPC will help me as well as DTM.

Cheers!

PS : DTM, just to say it might be a good idea to put this entertainment network in a separate vlan or maybe behind / in front of another router (behind so you can eschew overheads of host security software, in front if you need streaming services which might otherwise potentially compromise hosts w/ more sensitive content). It's often the network segregation issues that end up seeing me kick the issue into the long grass.

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I was talking with a friend of mine the weke before last saying how we spent years building our own PC based PVRs and now, today, you would simply go out and buy yourself a kodi box or, if you do not wish to mess around with kodi, some other off the shelf product.

There is no real reason to mess around building boxes these days.

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2 hours ago, DTMark said:

The picture quality on the current PVR box has been failing for months and a green stripe has now appeared down the left side of the picture.

The idea with the full PC setup is to be able to play music too - for example MQA files on Tidal through the USB DAC but that's the easier bit to sort, Kodi can probably do the TV stuff.

Check the power supply capacitors. Any sign of a bulge replace them.

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Can you record a stream off a Kodi box, onto an external HDD | NAS | Cloud?  I've used Kodi before - even after changing interfaces with different skins, its still a bit clunky...Many missing streams et al.

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I repaired an old PVR by cloning the hard disk. I kept all of the kids programs which my daughter loved. Like another poster I have also repaired other devices by snipping off and resoldering a new capacitor. 

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3 minutes ago, Shamus said:

I repaired an old PVR by cloning the hard disk. I kept all of the kids programs which my daughter loved. Like another poster I have also repaired other devices by snipping off and resoldering a new capacitor. 

You are wise in the Piniverse!:huh:

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1 hour ago, Dave Beans said:

Can you record a stream off a Kodi box, onto an external HDD | NAS | Cloud?  I've used Kodi before - even after changing interfaces with different skins, its still a bit clunky...Many missing streams et al.

Yep. If your talking about live Tv. I've got a seperate PC that's primary function is a next pvr server. All other PCs can connect to it and record Tv. 

Unless you mean IPTV. Which you can still record but a bit more of a faff

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This whole thing seems double dutch. I've googled some articles and they all seem to start somewhere in the middle. I just want an idiots guide to what to do.

I've got a Qnap Nas that streams wirelessly to my TV. Do I just need to install Kodi on it and then I can stream TV programs from it to my TV? or do I have to buy an Amazon TV stick or some other PC or TV box?

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1 hour ago, thombleached said:

Yep. If your talking about live Tv. I've got a seperate PC that's primary function is a next pvr server. All other PCs can connect to it and record Tv. 

Unless you mean IPTV. Which you can still record but a bit more of a faff

Can you record from the EPG? Series link, etc?

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18 hours ago, The Masked Tulip said:

I was talking with a friend of mine the weke before last saying how we spent years building our own PC based PVRs and now, today, you would simply go out and buy yourself a kodi box or, if you do not wish to mess around with kodi, some other off the shelf product.

There is no real reason to mess around building boxes these days.

Yes I just checked and Kodi can be installed (according to guides it is fairly straightforward) on the Amazon Fire.  Kodi box sales are reported to have skyrocketed and there are installation guides and guides on how to not break copyright laws in the mainstream press. As you say many were putting together their own Kodi boxes years ago! 

 

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13 hours ago, Dave Beans said:

Can you record from the EPG? Series link, etc?

Definitely on live tv. I've never looked into it on IPTV, but the principle should be exactly the same. 

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It's all a bit DIY. I do prefer just "buying a box that does it" and I could replace the Humax box with another one or similar. We do record most of the TV that we end up watching, it's unusual for us to 'watch live' these days.

However where we're moving it's fairly likely that we'll end up with satellite broadband with something like a 40GB/mo usage allowance. Where we are we have a home 4G broadband connection which gives us 100GB/mo and that's plenty to stream TV combined with playing back off-air recordings but we can't rely on having that going forward.

There is a dual purpose here, though - which is the audio side. I can only listen to digital audio if it's at least 24bit 192k or preferably a new format called "MQA" which sounds great. CD (just 16 bit and only 44.1k) sounds godawful to my ears. The bitrate and sampling rate need to be much higher. 192k is getting there and is bearable.

That requires a special standalone DAC (got one of those) which is useless in itself, it requires a playback source. So to listen to digital audio I have to get the laptop out and use that as the source. You then have to put the audio player in "Exclusive Mode" to feed the DAC a "pure bit-stream" and the DAC lights respond to the "true" bit rate and sampling rate / MQA without resampling.

That's why the Apple box is useless for "proper audio listening". Even though it routes through the DAC everything gets resampled to 16 bit 48k and chewed up. So the Tidal App on the iPhone > AirPlay > Apple Box > DAC > Amplifier works. but loses all the benefits of higher sampling and bit rates and the MQA "coding" is lopped off.

Actually, even without the video side of things, I still need a PC to power this with an HDMI lead to the TV and a keyboard and mouse on the coffee table. A laptop is too unwieldy as a music source, I know quite a few listen this way, but I just don't find it practical, actually, just putting records on is more quicker and more convenient which defeats the point somewhat.

So a PC can be the "selector" - OK, it's "overkill", but then does bring the benefit of being able to stream absolutely anything onto the TV and through the DAC not just the apps the TV has, or that the Apple box has. Basically a full PC on the TV downstairs.

If I can get a TV capture card in it, and it can record live TV plus play back video from the network, it becomes a nice all-in-one box. That's where the "Kodi" app or similar comes in.

I am tempted to buy a decent spec brand new PC for the office and use the office one (this one) for the "downstairs entertainment PC" but it's overkill really as this PC is more than capable for the office and doesn't need upgrading.

Off to investigate hardware. Tempted by the really small form-factor things but I am assuming they can't take a PCI video capture card fitted internally and the issue I foresee is listening to MQA via one of the USB ports while trying to record TV from a USB TV card - the USB hub will get overloaded very quickly.

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On 2/25/2017 at 11:59 AM, uptherebels said:

I used to regard myself as an early adapter. Especially with audio visual equipment. Threads like this make me realise that I'm now totally lost, and will never get it back. I guess I'm now just old! 

+1

Never understood why anyone wouldn't just buy a telly to watch telly, a hi-fi to listen to music & an laptop/pc to do do t'internet.

These people who want to connect their washing machine, toaster & toothbrush to everything else are bonkers.

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