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gsgsgs
Level 7

Media streaming

I am thinking of getting a Roku Express or Premiere, specifically for streaming media from my PC.  Will Roku do this, if so are all file formats supported? Thank you in advance

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RokuTannerD
Level 19

Re: Media streaming

@gsgsgs Thanks for reaching out here! In order to play media from an external device, you'll need to configure a DLNA web media server and use this with supported media playback channels, such as Roku Media Player, Plex, Emby or others. 

You can see more about Roku Media Player here: https://support.roku.com/article/208754908-how-do-i-use-roku-media-player-to-play-my-videos-music-an...

You can also play media from a local USB thumb drive on supported models, such as the Roku Ultra. 

Hope that helps! 

 

Thanks,

Tanner

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atc98092
Community Streaming Expert

Re: Media streaming


@gsgsgs wrote:

I am thinking of getting a Roku Express or Premiere, specifically for streaming media from my PC.  Will Roku do this, if so are all file formats supported? Thank you in advance


Tanner provided a good resource, but since this is something I have done with a Roku for years, let me expand. 

No, not all file formats or codecs are supported. For containers, you can use MKV, MP4, TS/M2TS and MOV. For video, you can use H.262 (MPEG-2), MP4 (yes, it's a codec and a container), H.264 and the Premiere supports H.265. For audio, it will depend on if you're using an AVR or plugging directly into a TV. Assuming you use an AVR, you can use AC3 (Dolby Digital), EAC3 (DD+), PCM, AAC, and DTS. Note that there are some restrictions as to containers the codecs are in, and for audio how many channels are used. For any lossless audio (Dolby trueHD/Atmos or DTS-MA/DTS:X) they are completely unsupported. Dolby Atmos contained in a DD+ stream is supported, but that is not the lossless version.

If you are connected directly to the TV, the same container and video codecs apply, but audio becomes more restricted. Your best success is with standard DD or 2 channel PCM. Any other codec will depend on what the TV will accept.

Assuming all of your media is in a supported container and uses supported codecs, you can use a Windows 10 PC to stream via DLNA and use the Roku Media Player channel as the player on the Roku. However, the Windows server functionality leaves much to be desired. It doesn't offer any metadata (synopsis, year released, actors, director, etc.), and you have no control over how it's presented. Also, it has limited ability to transcode if you add any unsupported media to your library.

For streaming media from a home computer, the best option is to use a media server designed specifically for the purpose. There are free programs that work quite well, and offer a Roku app/channel that provides a user interface more like Netflix. They will also provide transcoding for unsupported media, and in many cases can also display captions within your media the Roku by itself doesn't support. Some examples are Plex or Emby, both which offer both free and paid products. These both also offer streaming via DLNA so players that don't have a dedicated app can still be used, as long as they support DLNA.

Another option is a pure DLNA server. It doesn't offer a dedicated Roku app, but uses the Roku Media Player. Again, there are free and paid programs that offer DLNA server functionality. My personal favorite is Serviio, but I wrote the profiles that it uses for all Roku devices, so I might be a touch biased. Smiley Happy But I don't work for them, just a satisfied user. 

Roku players work very well for streaming media from a home server. But it requires either all your media being compatible or using a server product that offers transcoding for unsupported audio, video and containers. Also note that the vast majority of the media server software available (including the ones I mentioned above) are available for more than just a Windows PC. There are versions for Mac, Linux and NAS devices from many of them.

Dan

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wment
Level 7

Re: Media streaming on the Roku Express

I recently purchased a Roku Express for the sole purpose of viewing videos from my home network. Most of my videos are MP4, Mpeg or Mpeg-2, all of which are on the list of approved formats. Of my over 100 videos, in those formats, I am only able to view 2 or 3 of these videos. My network shows up in the Roku Media Player menu and all of the video titles show up but do not play. Is there a different Media Player App?

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atc98092
Community Streaming Expert

Re: Media streaming on the Roku Express

@wment Not really, no. RMP is your sole choice for playing from a DLNA server. But you have to remember there's more to a video than just it's container (the three letter extension at the end, MP4, MKV, AVI, etc.).

Roku only supports a few containers, and even within those containers the audio and video codecs must also be supported. Basically, for containers they need to be MKV, TS/M2TS, MOV or MP4. The video codec must be H.264, MP4 (yes, it's also a codec), or H.262, also known as MPEG-2. With audio, you have a little more leeway, in that it could be AAC , MP3 , WMA , WAV (PCM) , AIFF , FLAC , ALAC , AC3 , E-AC3, although the container might restrict which codec will work. 

The safest combination would be MP4 container and video with AAC audio. Next I would say MKV with any supported audio and video codec. For the Express, I would stick with H.264 video and AC3 audio. 

So, if you have a lot of videos and don't want to take the time to convert them all, then I suggest a different DLNA solution than you're using. I'm guessing you're using the default Windows media streaming as your server. In a phrase, it sucks at it. For straight DLNA servers, I prefer Serviio. If you'd like a nicer presentation than you get with Roku Media Player, then you could use Plex or Emby. All three offer free versions that work just fine on home networks. I wrote the Roku profiles for Serviio, so if you need assistance with that product I can help.

Dan

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wment
Level 7

Re: Media streaming on the Roku Express

The network configuration I am using is a storage drive from a Netgear R6400. No computer is involved. The R6400 is setup for DLNA for the storage drive. This setup works just fine for my Sharp  and Visio TVs in other rooms. I have tried to run Handbrake to change the video format with no success. I must be using the wrong presets.

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atc98092
Community Streaming Expert

Re: Media streaming on the Roku Express

DLNA servers built into a router simply don't have the processing power to transcode anything. Every codec must be compatible (and the container), or they don't work. You are probably correct about the presets used. While I have Handbrake installed, I rarely use it, and the last time was quite a while ago. 

Both of your TVs likely have support for some codecs that Roku doesn't, which is why they are working. I'd have to see the media info for a file that won't play to identify the problem. 

Dan

Roku Community Streaming Expert

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pebbleridge
Level 7

Re: Media streaming on the Roku Express

Sorry to hijack the thread but I'm having a different problem streaming from my WDMyCloud NAS.

RMP displays multiple copies of my shared folders and files.

When I finally find what I want to watch it will play absolutely fine.

Is there a simple explanation for this behaviour?

I've looked at the support page for RMP and WD don't appear in "approved" the list.

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atc98092
Community Streaming Expert

Re: Media streaming on the Roku Express

RMP only displays the content the media server provides. If it's showing multiple versions of the same title, then it's a server problem. Unfortunately, media servers that come with a NAS device seldom have much control or configurability. 

Dan

Roku Community Streaming Expert

Help others find this answer and click "Accept as Solution."
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