Plex Server Setup

Posted on 2014-08-18
Last Modified: 2014-11-03
I've read articles on the web about how easy this product is to use. Maybe to use, but certainly not to setup.
My Plex Server is on my Synology DS1513+ along with over 1400 1080p, mp4 (video) and acc (audio) movies. It is my understand that this format will play using DirectPlay so NO transcoding is required.

The problem is, all of these titles transcode when playing on my Roku 3 with the Plex app. I know this because it drives my Synology CPU through the roof (100%).
That being said, the movie won't play for very long before it starts buffering.

I've verified the video parameters using Infomedia and am at a stand still insofar as what to try next. I take great care when creating these mp4's so no transcoding should ever be necessary.

If I play the movie on my iPad using the Plex app and transfer it to my HDTV with Air Play, it works fine and my Synology CPU remains next to 0 as it should. The same is true if I use the Roku Video Player app on the Roku pointing to the Plex server.

Plex doesn't offer technical support or I would be asking this question to them directly. I'm hoping one of the Experts have already figured this out.
Question by:SpaceCoastLife
    LVL 31

    Accepted Solution

    Plex is basically a glorified wrapper for DLNA. That means that the client needs to support the codec of the content that is arriving, otherwise it will request transcoding from the server.

    This sounds to me like everything is working - the iOS Plex app supports the codec, the Roku Video Player App supports codec, but the Roku Plex App does not.

    As a test, try putting a small video on your server that is encoded with MPEG1 - that should be supported by just about everybody, and see if the Roku Plex App can play that without transcoding.

    Assuming that works, you have three options.

    1) Run your Plex Server on a real computer with more CPU horsepower so that you can take advantage of the transcoding feature.

    2) Re-encode your movies into a format that is playable on the Roku Plex App, or,

    3) Settle on using a different DLNA-enabled app on the Roku, like the native Roku Video Player app, for playing videos from your Plex server.

    Author Comment

    Appreciate the response. I understand I could solve the problem with item 1 though I'm not sure I want to spend the extra bucks for another computer. Besides that, I'm not sure I know how to set that up either maintaining the movie files on the Synology.

    Item 2 - wouldn't know what I would re-encode my files to since I thought I already did that.

    Item 3 might be a solution for me but I also want my daughter who lives down the street to watch my movies. She can do that now with the Plex app on her iPad and Apple TV but the goal for her would be the same as mine if she invested in a Roku and use the Plex app on Roku so she wouldn't need to use her tablet at all.

    As far as the test - I haven't found any software that converts a video file to MPEG1. Could be it's an older format not included in today's products.
    LVL 26

    Expert Comment

    Have you tried running DSVideo on the Synology and the Roku?  Works fine for me.
    LVL 10

    Expert Comment

    I'm not sure if you have found an acceptable solution yet or not but I would also offer that you try another set-top-box and not a Roku.  There are dozens of Android based set-top-boxes now available that blow the hardware of a Roku away.

    I can highly suggest the MINIX hardware (can be purchased on Amazon).  They make great boxes that I have been using for years, running Plex and XBMC (Kodi).  I am utilizing a a Falcon Northwest based server for content distribution over my network so there is  a considerable difference in the processing power I have available but I have never needed it with these boxes.  My server has never had to go beyond 20% CPU usage while serving more than 5 devices in my home, the hardware is at least worth a look.

    Hopefully you'll find one that meets your needs and save you the headache of building a new server, and honestly re-encoding 1400 videos isn't a solution that would take more time than it is worth. (You can checkout an article I wrote for EE about the new Amazon Fire TV, it would more than meet your needs and is only $100)

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