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Question about Play To feature in Windows Media player to DLNA Onkyo receiver

    Question

  • I have the Onkyo TX-NR807 receiver which is DLNA compatible for streaming all the common music file types including lossless files such as flac according to its manual. Since I'm an audio geek and concerned about the quality of audio I was wondering when I use the play to feature or use the receiver itself to browse music files on the computer and audio streams to the receiver is this process a bit perfect transmission such as when using ASIO sound card drivers? Like does Windows 7 send it through the internal audio mixer or do any processing to the audio file when a request is made from the receiver or when using the play to feature to play an audio file through the network connection? Ive been listening to music files in this way and they sound amazing, especially ones that are higher than 16/44.1khz quality but I just want to make sure I'm listening to the highest quality available. I've been searching for hours and I cant find any information on this topic or specifically how Windows 7 handles the Play to and audio streaming functions.

    One thing Ive noticed is when I use the play to feature to stream a music file to the receiver which is usually a lossless file, the audio drops out and skips a lot during playback. On the other hand, when I just have Windows Media player open in Windows 7 x64 and use the receiver's remote to browse the music folders on the computer I notice that it doesn't skip at playback or have any problems. Is this issue due to the data not being prioritized over other data on the network when going through my Dlink router?

    Thanks for any help on this topic!
    Monday, December 14, 2009 2:28 AM

All replies

  • Hi there,

    The Win7 PlayTo feature is using the WMPNSS service that is incorporated in Win7. This service is a DLNA DMS like device that shares out media content in a UPnP and DLNA way. What makes Win7 DMS uinique is its capability of transcoding native content to various types and formats. THis is why for each media item that it is shared out by Win7 DMS, the PC offers a few more alternatives for devices to play. For example, for a WMA file Win7 will also provide an MP3 and an LPCM version. Depending on what format a device may ask for, the Win7 DMS will transcode on the fly the WMA file and provide the alternative format to that device. PlayTO takes fully advantage of this technology, and match the content that you want to render with the capabilities of the device. In this case, if the device cannot render WMA, but it can render LPCM, the PlayTo will send the LPCM version of that file with WMPNSS transcoding on the fly. The transcoding process can trim the quality of the file and if the PC that transcodes is not that powerfull it is expected to have glitches or not even playing at all (if not matching format is found you get an error icon close to your media item in the PlayTo playlist)
    PlayTo learns about the device media capabilites "asking" the device for them (there is a method called GetProtocolInfo that each DLNA device is required to implement). The PlayTo asks the device what media formats it may support and choose the right content format based on this information. However, sometime the device may lie, not advertising its capabilities correctly (I've seen devices that claim support for a specific format, but fails to render, but I've also seen devices that does not claim support for a specific format, but they manage to play it properlly). This happend to me especially for high definition formats or lossless formats. If the device claims support for native support of something that it cannot play, most likely PlayTo will send that format to it. This is because the non-transcoded version is always preffered because it has the highest quality possible. In this case, the device may crash of fail to play properlly.
    If the device does not claim support for a specific native format (e.g. WMA lossless), but it is albe to render it, the PlayTo will send a transcoded MP3 or LPCM format (which means lower quality. We preffer MP3 first since it is most likely for a device to support that). When the user uses the device itself to browse the Win 7 library and pull the same file (wma lossless), the device fully aware of what it supports, it may choose the WMA lossless format. But since PlayTo does not know the right device capabilities it cannot send the same format (DLNA specifically mandate proper content matching, and we do not want to crash the user devices either). THis is probably why your pulling scenario works better than the PlayTO scenario.
    The coincidence is that I've just got an Onkyo receiver in hand and I can try your scenario in the following days. If you could tell me exactly the format that you've try I can get you more info. Besides that, Onkyo receivers have Windows Logo firmware, and it may help if you would upgrade your receiver to a newer firmware. From my information received from them, the logo posted on their website in Nov is WLK certified. Have you tried that?
    Thanks a lot
    CCazang@MSFT
    Tuesday, December 15, 2009 6:10 AM
  • Thanks for that information, that helps me understand a bit better how the process works. So if for example I play a .wav file using the Play to, it should be a lossless transmission to the device on the other end? No transcoding or processing done by Windows since its PCM? When I use the Play to feature to the 807 the format that I use that causes skipping during playback is .wav files. Mp3 sounds ok to me and doesnt skip. I updated the firmware on the 807 when I first got it which was about two weeks ago to its latest version, the one thats listed on the website.
    I tried searching for a different program to use like the Play to feature to see if I got the same problem and one that also included .flac file support. I came across one called TVersity. I installed it and configured it to match my network connection, 100mbps, and adjusted other settings such as ability to turn off transcoding which I did. I used the receiver to browse the shared files and play them and so far after listening to many songs, over 20+ .wav files I havent noticed any skipping, but using WMP gave the same flawless result when I used the receiver to browse files. The difference is the TVersity gives you options to adjust settings for streaming and transcoding. Maybe if the Play to had an options tab with those various settings and adjustments it would make device compatibility better and troubleshooting easier. I was also able to play .flac files when browsing them from my receiver and I had the transcoding turned off in TVersity. It would be really nice if WMP supported the .flac format.
    It will be interesting to hear of the results you have with the Onkyo receiver you test. Do you know which model it is?

    So when Im using the receiver to browse the shared files, the Play to feature using the WMPNSS service doesnt understand what file formats are supported and therefore may transcode them? From what I understand this can still happen if there is an error in the firmware of the device or some other problem when using Play to also, correct?
    Tuesday, December 15, 2009 10:26 AM
  • Vengeancerr1: I have a TX-NR807 myself...would be interested to share experience with you....
    I'm looking for a way to stream media from a Windows 7 machine to the Onkyo as well....some program that can be remotely controlled from an iPhone.
    Not sure from your posting if TVersity offers the same possibility as the 'PlayTo' feature ? For all I know all DLNA servers simply make the library available to a DMP to browse the files. But starting the streaming from the W7 machine makes more sense.

    Regards,
    Robert

    Thursday, February 18, 2010 3:31 PM
  • Guys,
    I know that suggesting an alternative application is never the best option however I have reached the conclusion that whatever WMP12 tries to do there is always another application that does it better.

    My suggestion for you is to use foobar2000 with the "UPnP/DLNA Server and Control Point" component. You can achieve the same as the "PlayTo" feature using a much more reliable application.
    And in case you want to play music locally via your soundcard foobar2000 also support WASAPI output, i.e. you can bypass the Windows mixer and send bit-perfect audio to the receiver via HDMI or SPDIF. WMP12 doesn't even support WASAPI!!

    foobar2000:

    http://www.foobar2000.org/

    DLNA component:

    http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_upnp

    Enjoy!

    By the way: I don't think TVersity has a "control point" functionality; it's a media server but you can't use it to replace the "PlayTo" feature.

    Oh another important thing to add: foobar2000 is freeware!


    Thursday, February 18, 2010 3:53 PM
  • Thanks so much for the clarification.  I too am an audio geek who likes to stream his Hi Rez audio content from the computer.  TVersity IS the solution.  WMP 12 just doesn't do it right.  Thanks for the trans code tip.  That was the piece that was missing.  I was going Nuts, even thinking of using my old computer as a stand alone media server except it cpu is getting tired.     

     

    Again thanks for your tip,

     

    Mike

    Sunday, December 04, 2011 3:17 PM
  • I have searched for better solutions, will try foobar.   It's too bad that Win 7 WMP 12 users that want to use DLNA devices have to go to another product.
    Wednesday, May 02, 2012 2:55 PM