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wisem2540
Level 7

Roku Ultra and Plex Buffering

I maintain a Plex sever in my house with various quality levels of content from 480p to 4K.  Better than half of the devices that stream this content are Roku.  Some are Roku 3s, Some are Streaming Sticks, At least one Roku TV..the list goes on. 

Recently a friend of mine purchased a Roku Ultra and began complaining that content streamed from my plex server would buffer so often that it was unusable.  I also witnessed this first hand with the plex quality turned all the way down to 480p.  My connection, and his both have no known issues.  Youtube TV, Sling, and a host of other applications stream with no issues.  Enterprise grade hardware exist at both ends (Cisco) and bandwidth is not a concern at 200/10 on both sides as well.  Considering that these services work fine, that would seem to rule out any networking issues with the Ultra itself.

The buffering happens pretty much with all content.  480P TV Shows, 1080P movies, basically anything coming out of plex. using the Ultra.  If we walk upstairs and use the roku streaming stick and play the same content, it plays smoothly, which also seems to rule out connection and network issues.

So i am appealing to this community hoping someone can confirm my suspicion that perhaps the Roku Ultra may have an issue when it comes to Plex.  Any feedback is appreciated.
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7 Replies
RokuShawnS
Level 10

Re: Roku Ultra and Plex Buffering

From your post, I'm assuming you gave your buddy a login to your Plex server.

I have a 200/10 bandwidth with Spectrum, and I can safely say that anyone viewing a video on my server will encounter an issue with only a 10Mb/s upload speed.  20Mb/s would probably mitigate some of this, but even then it could prove problematic depending on their hops to your server.  The download bandwidth (200Mb/s in this case) doesn't factor into the equation in the least.  It's the upload bandwidth that would be the issue.

Likewise, the server itself (if it's being used for other things, is transcoding, or has other issues) can be a source of the issue.  480p should be okay, but I've noticed my server will sometimes buffer remote connections at 480p.

Services like Netflix et al don't have this issue because they have higher upload speeds, in which case your download speeds would enter into the picture.  They also have multiple CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to help further mitigate buffering issues, and have more robust servers than the average consumer system.

You probably need to post over on the Plex forums with your issue.  There are a lot of fine folk over there who may be able to give you some advice to help alleviate the issues you are experiencing.
C. Shawn Smith
Community Liaison

------------
The Cosmos is all that is, and all that was, and ever will be. -- Carl Sagan
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hackztor
Level 9

Re: Roku Ultra and Plex Buffering

"wisem2540" wrote:
I maintain a Plex sever in my house with various quality levels of content from 480p to 4K.  Better than half of the devices that stream this content are Roku.  Some are Roku 3s, Some are Streaming Sticks, At least one Roku TV..the list goes on. 

Recently a friend of mine purchased a Roku Ultra and began complaining that content streamed from my plex server would buffer so often that it was unusable.  I also witnessed this first hand with the plex quality turned all the way down to 480p.  My connection, and his both have no known issues.  Youtube TV, Sling, and a host of other applications stream with no issues.  Enterprise grade hardware exist at both ends (Cisco) and bandwidth is not a concern at 200/10 on both sides as well.  Considering that these services work fine, that would seem to rule out any networking issues with the Ultra itself.

The buffering happens pretty much with all content.  480P TV Shows, 1080P movies, basically anything coming out of plex. using the Ultra.  If we walk upstairs and use the roku streaming stick and play the same content, it plays smoothly, which also seems to rule out connection and network issues.

So i am appealing to this community hoping someone can confirm my suspicion that perhaps the Roku Ultra may have an issue when it comes to Plex.  Any feedback is appreciated.

Assuming your 10mb upload is enough (1 stream, friend using 8mb or lower for quality) and asasuming your server is on ethernet (not wifi) Plex has been having issues with remote Rokus. They have a test channel available for Roku that supposedly fixes it up.
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wisem2540
Level 7

Re: Roku Ultra and Plex Buffering

"hackztor" wrote:
"wisem2540" wrote:
I maintain a Plex sever in my house with various quality levels of content from 480p to 4K.  Better than half of the devices that stream this content are Roku.  Some are Roku 3s, Some are Streaming Sticks, At least one Roku TV..the list goes on. 

Recently a friend of mine purchased a Roku Ultra and began complaining that content streamed from my plex server would buffer so often that it was unusable.  I also witnessed this first hand with the plex quality turned all the way down to 480p.  My connection, and his both have no known issues.  Youtube TV, Sling, and a host of other applications stream with no issues.  Enterprise grade hardware exist at both ends (Cisco) and bandwidth is not a concern at 200/10 on both sides as well.  Considering that these services work fine, that would seem to rule out any networking issues with the Ultra itself.

The buffering happens pretty much with all content.  480P TV Shows, 1080P movies, basically anything coming out of plex. using the Ultra.  If we walk upstairs and use the roku streaming stick and play the same content, it plays smoothly, which also seems to rule out connection and network issues.

So i am appealing to this community hoping someone can confirm my suspicion that perhaps the Roku Ultra may have an issue when it comes to Plex.  Any feedback is appreciated.

Assuming your 10mb upload is enough (1 stream, friend using 8mb or lower for quality) and asasuming your server is on ethernet (not wifi) Plex has been having issues with remote Rokus. They have a test channel available for Roku that supposedly fixes it up.

I am confident that network is not the issue, given the fact that it works on a roku streaming stick in the same house.  I will search for how to install the test channel.  If you have the instructions handy, could you post them?
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DubTaylor
Level 10

Re: Roku Ultra and Plex Buffering

My Roku Ultra with Plex exhibits a really annoying habit of the transcoder kicking in for no earthly reason. If I notice a transcode happening (sometimes difficult - powerful server), I can 'Force Direct Play' in the Plex app and it will Direct Play <--- leading me to believe the transcoding was bogus to start with.

As for remote connections, you may think 10Mbps is plenty fast enough, but it might not be. Plex will inspect that stream and make the determination based on - god knows what - but one thing it does base transcoding on is the bit rate of the file and the connection speed available at the time. Let's say you have a file with 6Mbps bit rate. Depending on action and complexity, some of those rates can be WELL above 10Mbps, so Plex will happily transcode a version it 'thinks' will fit into the available bandwidth (whatever that ends up being - at the time Plex looked at it).

If your server doesn't have some hefty horseys under the hood and Plex requires a big, juicy transcode, buffering will likely ensue.
If you have HEVC material and Plex 'thinks' it has to transcode it, that puts a whammy on even the strongest horseys 'cause an HEVC to H264 encode takes 5 times (or more) the power than a little-ol' H264 encode.

There's also not much hope of getting 4k - reliably - to a remote viewer.
1) you don't have the upstream bandwidth
2) Plex is going to transcode that video stream for any number of stupid reasons, and some that aren't so stupid.

In the end, you'll be much better off creating libraries specifically for your remote viewers made up of material that you create for the purpose. Bit rates should stay well under 5Mbps (2.5 is even more realistic) with an audio format anything can play, like AAC-LC 2.0, for instance.

Countermeasures you can 'try':

Buy more horsepower! Do NOT spare the horseys.
In the event Plex (The Destroyer) has to transcode, make sure there's plenty of resources available.
At no time (even for a milisecond) exceed the upstream bandwidth (8Mbps - on a good day) - create material with bit rates 25% of the bandwidth guestimate of 8Mbps. It would also be good to create that material with Handbrake, or ffmpeg with a rate limit, instead of Constant Quality. You can do a 2 pass with turbo encdode at 2.5 - 3.5Mbps that'll look pretty good (real good, actually) and be easy to get out to remote clients.

As for Plex's uncanny ability to transcode everything... good luck. Educate your remote clients in the art of setting their 'Remote Quality' properly - like 8Mbps 1080p - and make sure you try to deliver 25% of that. If everything goes well you may even get a Direct Play out of it.
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stanbaker
Level 7

Re: Roku Ultra and Plex Buffering

I'm trying to track down the same thing.  I have 1Gb/s fiber supporting my PMS, and I have one remote client - a Roku Ultra - that buffers constantly.  The remote site has 60/10 for internet speed, so streaming a 2Mb 720p MKV shouldn't be an issue.  No use of subtitles, and PMS shows it as being a direct play.  I really have to think its the Roku.  No web clients have issues.  No Firesticks have issues.  No android clients using cell data have issues.  Only this one Roku has a buffering problem.

Previously mentioned was some "beta" channel for Roku code that could potentially resolve the issue?
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trekkeriii
Level 10

Re: Roku Ultra and Plex Buffering

Honestly, I can say I see more buffering on transcoded items (either a low quality video or a 4k video) on my Roku Ultra 4660. This is locally streamed items and I have my Roku Ultra wired. This is on both the Plex and Plex beta channels. I did on the beta channel change the transcode format to MKV instead of HLS and that helped. Direct Play items are no problem. My 3500 and 3600 sticks and Roku 3 do not have this issue. So seems to be specific to HLS streams coming from Plex.
http://trekkeriii.com/Roku_PHP_list.php
Router - ASUS RT-AC68U
ISP - TWC - 50 Mbps/5 Mbps
Net+ Cert
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hackztor
Level 9

Re: Roku Ultra and Plex Buffering

"wisem2540" wrote:
"hackztor" wrote:
"wisem2540" wrote:
I maintain a Plex sever in my house with various quality levels of content from 480p to 4K.  Better than half of the devices that stream this content are Roku.  Some are Roku 3s, Some are Streaming Sticks, At least one Roku TV..the list goes on. 

Recently a friend of mine purchased a Roku Ultra and began complaining that content streamed from my plex server would buffer so often that it was unusable.  I also witnessed this first hand with the plex quality turned all the way down to 480p.  My connection, and his both have no known issues.  Youtube TV, Sling, and a host of other applications stream with no issues.  Enterprise grade hardware exist at both ends (Cisco) and bandwidth is not a concern at 200/10 on both sides as well.  Considering that these services work fine, that would seem to rule out any networking issues with the Ultra itself.

The buffering happens pretty much with all content.  480P TV Shows, 1080P movies, basically anything coming out of plex. using the Ultra.  If we walk upstairs and use the roku streaming stick and play the same content, it plays smoothly, which also seems to rule out connection and network issues.

So i am appealing to this community hoping someone can confirm my suspicion that perhaps the Roku Ultra may have an issue when it comes to Plex.  Any feedback is appreciated.

Assuming your 10mb upload is enough (1 stream, friend using 8mb or lower for quality) and asasuming your server is on ethernet (not wifi) Plex has been having issues with remote Rokus. They have a test channel available for Roku that supposedly fixes it up.

I am confident that network is not the issue, given the fact that it works on a roku streaming stick in the same house.  I will search for how to install the test channel.  If you have the instructions handy, could you post them?

As a test, we have updated the private channel 
PlexTest

 to use live MKV instead of HLS for transcoding video. 41[/color][/url:3stfhu9n] Try installing this private channel and let us know how playback goes for ...
Settings -> System -> System update
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