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Welcome to assassinhtpcblog.com. This is the most comprehensive and most detailed tutorial on the internet in regards to how to setup and use your HTPC.

JRiver Setup

Table of Guides (with quicklinks):

The video portion of these guides were created by GreenEyez for assassinhtpcblog.com.

JRiver Media Center is another playback option for HTPC. Unlike some of the other options JRiver isn’t free but does have some advantages otherwise to some of the other options that I have mentioned thus far. One of the things that sets JRiver apart is that the developers are often very quick to implement changes that their customers want. JRiver also incorporates some of the highest video and audio quality of any of the playback options as you will see below.

One of these options, MadVR which is a high quality video renderer, has perhaps the highest video quality available in any player for videophiles who demand the absolute best. Switching between standard playback and MadVR playback is easy in JRiver and requires minimal tweaking and expertise. Please note that to use MadVR you must use a capable video card and/or hardware. Benefits of MadVR include

– high quality chroma upsampling
– high quality scaling (bicubic, mitchell, lanczos, spline etc)
– high quality YCbCr -> RGB conversion
– gamut & gamma correction for display calibration
– full 16bit processing queue
– final 16bit processing result is dithered down to RGB output bitdepth
– bypasses graphics card’s video (damage) algorithms
– all work is done via GPU shaders
– no shortcuts, highest quality has priority over anything else

JRiver can be purchased and downloaded here if you are interested in trying out this option. They have a trial period if you want try it out as well.

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Setting Up JRiver

Settings up your folder structures for correct metadata (movie info/posters/background) downloading

JRiver Media Center, like a lot of modern HTPC front-ends, has built in “scrapers” that download information from the internet like movie synopsis, actor information and posters/backgrounds to be displayed when browsing your movie and tv show libraries. But to do that, a minimum amount of organization of your movie and tv shows folders is required.

When it comes to movies, best practice is to have a folder called Movies, and within each movie named correctly with the title and release year (the release year between “( )” ). For example, let`s take the movie Avatar and see how it would look like :

D:/Movies/Avatar (2009).mkv , where D is the drive letter of your HDD.

Alternatively, you can have each movie in it`s own folder, named like the file, Avatar (2009), and the results will look something like this :

D:/Movies/Avatar (2009)/Avatar (2009).mkv

Going forward to TV Shows, here the trick is to have a main folder called TV Shows. In that folder, each show has a dedicated folder, named after the show. In each show folder, you will have season folder, named Season 1, Season 2 etc. . In those folder, you can put the episodes, named something like this : TVShowName – S01E01 , TVShowName – S01E02 etc.

As a practical example, let`s take the show True Blood. Your folder structure will look like this :

D:/TV Shows/True Blood/Season 1/True Blood – S01E01.mkv, True Blood – S01E02.mkv , etc.

Adding your videos to the JRiver database

From the top menu bar, click on Tools -> Import. You will be presented with 3 menu options, from which you can select “Configure Auto-Import” . This means that the Movies/TV Shows in the selected folders will be monitorized for any changes from now on, automatically

Using the Add button, select your Movies and TV Shows folders, like above.

After the auto-import process finishes (on the left side of the screen, there is a small window that shows you the status of the library importing process) , it`s time to head on to configuring the playback settings.

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Playback Settings

First of all, we need to select the set of codecs JRiver will use for playback. The application has a function called “Red October” with 2 quality settings, Standard and High Quality, which are basically a set of predefined codecs.

Standard uses the EVR renderer with DXVA hardware decoding which works on all modern graphic cards, while High Quality uses the MadVR renderer with LAV CUVID decoding.

The difference between the 2 is the picture quality, Red October HQ provides better picture quality than Standard, but it has some limitations and requires more powerful hardware, like discussed below.

Since LAV CUVID only provides hardware decoding on Nvidia GPUs via CUDA, it`s recommended you have at least an Nvidia GT430 in your HTPC, because that is the minimum GPU that can handle both MadVR and CUDA  GPU decoding at the same time. Otherwise, for ATI and Intel IGPs, a CPU based decoder will be used, requiring at least a 2.2 Ghz Core 2 Duo or better, for high bitrate video files.

Now, on to the settings : From the Tools option in the top menu bar, select Options and then select Video, like below

Based on the above mentioned notes, select either Red October Standard or High quality and “Hardware accelerate video when possible”.

The next option we need to configure is the audio decoding type. If you have an HDMI or S/PDIF receiver with DTS-HD/  True HD  &/or Dolby Digital / DTS decoding capabilities, you can select Bitstreaming as the option and either HDMI or S/PDIF, depending on the connection type between the receiver and the HTPC.

Next up we have the automatic display refresh rate switching. Since movies are filmed at 24 frames per second, and TV broadcasts at 29/25 (Europe PAL/USA NTSC standards), the best way to obtain smooth video is to have the refresh rate of the display match the video file number of frames. JRiver has a function for doing this automatically. The setting to activate this is found below the audio options, in the “Display Settings” category, like in this image

To enable HD Audio bitstreaming first set the Audio Output to WASAPI under the Audio settings

Now select Bitstreaming under Video options

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The Theater View Interface

JRiver has 2 types of main interfaces. The normal interface we just used for the settings above, which is also the main desktop user interface, and the Theater GUI, which is basically a 10 foot interface designed for use with a remote on the big screen.

To activate the Theater GUI, go to View -> Theater View or press Ctrl + 4 on the keyboard

As you can see, you have an Video section, with your Movies and TV Shows sub-sections. Let`s take a look at the Movies one first. When you first enter this section, you will be presented with your movies complete with backgrounds, posters and information about the flick, in a poster wall style view. J.River has other types of views, which can be activated by selecting the “More” option (right after the “Name” selection)  and then “Toggle List Style” , like below

There are multiple view types which get shifted when pressing that button, like this coverflow type

or these views

Now, onwards to the Tv Shows section, to see how our TV Shows look like and and how they are organized. Bye default, JRiver will display a lif of the most recent episodes added to the library. However, if you prefer browsing by the series names and seasons, when on the “Recent” tab, press down and select “Series”. Now you TV Shows view should look something like this :

When you enter a TV Show, you will be presented with the episodes in chronological order. Again, just like in the Movies section, the “More” button gives you the sub-category button called “Toggle List Style” which switches the viewtype.

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Configuring the Weather

On the main menu of J.River, when you go to the last menu option called “Gadgets”, you will find the weather app.

From there, you can go inside the Weather app. There are a couple of predefined cities from the USA, but you can add or remove cities using the Configure button, the last one in the sub-menu.

From there, you will be taken to a menu which requires a keyboard and mouse for configuration. Using the Add and remove buttons, you can add cities, using either the NOAA (USA) or Google (International).

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