A few days ago, I wrote Part 1 of this series about basic information on PS3 Media Server. Today I want to go a little more in-depth about the configuration of PMS and some common options you’ll need to configure. (edit: You can also view my PS3 Media Server Configuration Video Tutorial.)
PS3 Media Server will work for most people out-of-the box without any additional software. If you plan on playing many different types of video and music files you’ll need to install a few other pieces of software. For simplicity’s sake we’re going to assume you’re running Windows, though the installation process is similar on all supported operating systems (OSX, Linux, Windows).
To get started lets grab the software we will need.
- PS3 Media Installer
- AviSynth 2.5 (For frame-serving and video post-production, non-graphical utility used by PMS)
- Combined Community Codec Pack – CCCP (Codec Pack for DirectShow, MKV, DIVX, Xvid, H.264, many more)
- Video LAN Player (VLC) (can be used for video streaming)
- Latest version of Java Runtime
Install Java first (or update your current version) and then install PS3 Media Server, AviSynth, CCCP and VLC. You can use all of the defaults or customize the installation directories to where they work for you. I run PS3 Media Server from one partition and my codec packs and other software are installed on a separate physical disk. I do not recommend running several codec packs, such as K-lite with CCCP as you could inadvertently be using different versions of stable codecs but still run across strange transcoding and muxing errors.
What Is Transcoding
Transcoding is digital-to-digital re-coding from one format to another, such as converting MKV to Divx. Transcoding with PMS can be done on the fly while playing a video. Transcoding can be processor intensive and I only recommend transcoding video if you have at minimum a dual-core processor. Transcoding with PMS tends to lower overall quality on the desired video.
What Is Muxing
Muxing, better known as MUltipleXING, is combining separate files into one file for viewing. In PMS, AC3 Audio and a video file can be combined, playing hi-definition audio with your video. PMS utilizes mencoder and TSMuxer for multiplexing audio with video. In my own experience with PMS, TSMuxer tends to present a smoother muxing process than mencoder with less stutter and buffering over 803.11N wireless networks. G networks theoretically support it as well, but I’ve noticed severe degradation and stuttering when attempting to mux audio with a hi-def video (such as Blu Ray Disc rips) over less than an N-wireless network.
PS3 Media Server utilizes Java to run. When you launch PS3 Media Server it is “wrapped” in Java, basically the PMS executable launches a file that calls Java with many different parameters. If you view the running processes under Task Manager you’ll notice Java running and utilizing a large amount of RAM, up to 600+ MB.
Configuring PS3 Media Server
When you open PS3 Media Server after installing it, PMS.exe, you’ll experience a tabbed interface with a “Save,” “Restart HTTP Server,” and “Quit” buttons at the top, like so.
We’re primarily going to be concerned with the General Configuration, Navigation/Share Settings, and Transcoding Settings tabs. These are the tabs that you’ll use the most. The other tabs are more for your information, reviewing logs, the readme, FAQs, help and additional information.
Let’s start with the General Configuration Tab.
You’ll want to choose your language and decide if you want to run PMS as a service that automatically starts. I’ve chosen that option so that it’s always running, especially if I restart my system. I want it to always start with the computer.
If you have multiple network cards you’ll want to choose the interface you want PMS to use for the network. I also force my IP Address on my computer to be the active IP address, to ensure that my Playstation can always access my system. I use a static address on my system so that it doesn’t change. You should also consider using the HTTP Engine V2 (which is the default) and selecting “Prevent OS from sleeping while streaming” so that your streaming isn’t interrupted by your computer going to sleep for not detecting any use.
The Navigation/Share Settings tab is where you configure your library that you want to watch or listen to. PMS will also stream audio files (non-DRM), including your DRM-free iTunes files.
I select Thumbnails generation so I can see a video thumbnail of the show I’m playing, as well as generate DVD ISO thumbnails. ”Thumbnail seeking position” defines at what second in the video will it generate a thumbnail and can be configured for any time period in the video.
PMS provides the functionality to change muxing and transcoding engines “on-the-fly” from your playback device, so I don’t select “Hide #Video Settings# folder and “Hide #Transcode# Folder.” Play with these options as much as you wish until you find what makes you happy.
The bottom, under “Shared Folder” is where you’ll add the folders where your media resides at. I have a hierarchy of folders I store my media at with it separated by TV shows, Movies, etc. You can add as many folders as you wish and switch between them easily on your playback device.
Now lets take a look at the Transcoding Settings tab, Common Transcoding settings options.
If you have more RAM (I’ve 4GB in my PS3 Media Server system) bump the buffer size up to 600 MB. That’s the maximum it will use. I’m hoping in the future that they allow more than this as a 32-bit application can support up to 3.2+ GB, I’d prefer to double the current maximum that the application supports.
PMS will detect how many cores you have, stick with what it finds. If it doesn’t detect 2 or more cores, and you have a dual or quad core system, bump it up to the correct number.
I utilize 2 channel audio, as I am not running an audio/video receiver capable of surround sound. If you do, select the audio output you desire that your system supports. Select the Ac3 bit-rate as well. If you’re using DTS audio or FLAC (lossless audio) feel free to convert it to LPCM if you have an HDMI receiver.
If you have AC3 audio you can also select to have it remux’d to work with your system.
Under video quality you can change the maximum bandwidth used. This works well if you’re on a G wireless network or a 10Mb/s wired connection. Hi-def audio and video are bandwidth intensive. If you are brave at heart, you can define several transcoding variables, such as keyint, vqscale and vqmin to customize the quality of the video and help save on bandwidth.
Under transcoding you can also disable subtitles and skip or force transcoding on different file types.
On the left, you can re-order the way in which PMS will attempt to use transcoding, muxing and streaming engines. Use the blue UP and DOWN arrows to find an order that works best for you. The order you see is what I currently use. If you find that you’re seeing choppy video, you can change transcoding and muxing options from the playback device #Transcode# folder you see while using PMS or reorder it in the configuration and restarting PS3 Media Server.
One caveat, if you decided to run PS3 Media Server as a service, you will have to use the Services Manager utility to restart PMS and the PMS.exe file to configure it. The “Restart HTTP Server” button will not work when you run PMS as a service. To open services manager you can click on Start > Run and type “services.msc” without quotes. Hit enter. It will open up the Services Manager program. Find “PS3 Media Server,” select it, right-click on it and choose “Restart.” It is more tedious but you won’t need to do that very often.
All of the configuration options in PS3 Media Server can also be adjusted by editing the PMS.conf file that is in the same directory as PMS.exe, where you installed PS3 Media Server. All of the options in PMS can be configured via the text file and the text file is used by PS3 Media Server when you start it to ensure that it is configured properly. If you edit the text file and restart PMS the UI will reflect any changes.
To end Part 2, here’s my configuration file. Leave a comment if you have any questions!
thumbnails = true alternativeffmpegpath = E:\\Program Files (x86)\\PS3 Media Server\\win32\\dvrms\\ffmpeg_MPGMUX.exe mencoder_ass = true engines = mencoder,tsmuxer,tsmuxeraudio,ffmpegaudio,mplayeraudio,mencoderwebvideo,mplayervideodump,vlcvideo,mplayerwebaudio,vlcaudio,ffmpegdvrmsremux,rawthumbs folders = I:\\PS3_media,G:\\Archived TV And Movies maxvideobuffer = 600 audiochannels = 2 network_interface = eth5 usecache = true thumbnail_seek_pos = 3 tsmuxer_mux_all_audiotracks = false skiploopfilter = false mencoder_fontconfig = true mencoder_disablesubs = true mencoder_mt = true avisynth_convertfps = true mencoder_mux_compatible = false codec_spec_script = mencoder_encode = keyint=1:vqscale=1:vqmin=1 dvd_isos_thumbnails = true ffmpeg = -threads 6 -g 1 -qscale 1 -qmin 2 mencoder_remux_ac3 = true embed_dts_in_pcm = false itunes = true audiobitrate = 384 port = 5001 hostname = 192.168.0.197