Viewing posts tagged tversity

the karaoke trail

Initial plan was to stream karaoke files as video to the PS3. Hardware needed: PS3 (got it), mics with echo chamber (got a pair lying around in the old house), AV receiver & surround speakers (not really needed for this particular use, but you know.. we must have them!).

Forgetting about hardware for the time being, we need to do a POC.

PS3 Media Server does not show CDG files on the XMB, so that’s off the table. TVersity shows them, but requires a DirectX filter to play them. A free DirectX filter available on the net can’t work, because it’s too old and missing some tech. There’s a paid one available from Power Karaoke, but I can’t get the trial version to work (no audio in WMP, slow load in PS3 and hangs after about 5 seconds of play).

Another issue: English CDG files are usually paired with an MP3 file for the audio, so they’re usually zipped together for distribution. We assumed that they should be unzipped to be played, but apparently most karaoke players can play them zipped (in fact the free karaoke filter I mentioned earlier can do that using a bundled unzip filter). The IRC channel that we hang out in to get new English karaoke songs also requires our files to be zipped for sharing. Seems like a waste to keep 2 sets of the same files for different purposes (1 set is currently 7GB).

Both PS3MS and TVersity don’t show ZIP files on the XMB. PS3MS has an option called Browse ZIP/RAR files, but that doesn’t help in this matter.

The next idea that we had was to instead stream the karaoke playlist from the media server as a webcast. We can then configure PS3MS to grab it as Internet TV. It’s better than the original idea whereby we can browse for songs and add them to the playlist while people are singing.

Problem is, we can’t find any webcasting programs that simply supports DirectX. None of the karaoke players have a webcast function either. Windows Media Player has a media sharing function, but you can’t drag zip files into its playlist.

I’m currently attending a C# .NET class. Kinda tempted to just code one someday. 😛

But anyway, that particular alternative is a dead end. The last choice that we have: use a dual-screen notebook. A notebook would be better than a desktop because 1) we already have two, and 2) we’re trying to keep the number of running machines in the house to a minimum. Besides, having a full tower that generates enough heat to power the Matrix in a living room without A/C isn’t generally a good idea. 😛

So we have Faizah’s Powerbook G4: it’s nice and small, but it needs a proprietary AV out. It also has an overheating battery that was recalled in 2006 but we’re still using it. Contacting Apple now to see if we can still get it exchanged. 😛 Available karaoke players are also not free.

And then we have my HP Compaq 6910p: new and tons of RAM, but it’s the office notebook. 😛 Only needs an S-Video out, so we’re set! For software, we’d use Karafun, which is free and simple enough to use. We’d just mount the karaoke folder from the media server and use Windows Search to search for music and drag them to the Karafun playlist.

So that’s settled mainly. Just need an S-Video cable to complete the POC.

Then we moved on to looking for Japanese karaoke files. Scoured IRC for a few days but couldn’t find any. Searched the web but nothing in English. Enabled Japanese IME to start doing Japanese language searches, which finally shed a little light.

There was one major source for Japanese karaoke: Club DAM, a website for the makers of a line of Japanese karaoke machines. At 1035憆 a month, you can download all the DRM10-encrypted karaoke videos you’d want. But my Japanese is rusty, so I’m not sure if the files expire after you terminate a subscription.

Today, I managed to find some videos on YouTube (search ă‚«ăƒ©ă‚Șケ) but it’s definitely not comprehensive. It’s a start. Most are high quality and downloadable using DownloadHelper. Playing them back, however, was another problem: the FLV splitter that comes with K-Lite does not play the HQ35 Youtube format (which is essentially AVC/H264 and AAC in an FLV package), but I fixed that easy by downloading a newer version of FLVSplitter ( to replace the K-Lite one (

But now I’m stuck with the fact that Karafun can’t play FLV files. O.o I’m pretty sure there’s another player that does, but I can’t remember which one. Or I could just convert it to AVI or whatever.

I’m still tempted to sign up for a karaoke@DAM subscription. Might acquire Tunebite Platinum for DRM removal.

messing around with DLNA

W00t! I think we’ve finally figured out our DLNA setup.

Picked up a pair of Aztech HL108 HomePlugs from Low Yat which totally fixed the Wifi bottleneck problem. 1080 HD content streamed flawlessly from the media server.

The only remaining issues were stream compatibility on the PS3 and codecs. CCCP and TVersity combination did not seem to work for certain AVI-packaged HD content (Harry Potter 6 trailer). Playback of this video on Windows Media Player (WMP) had the video lagging behind audio by a few seconds.

PS3 Media Server (PMS), however, managed to play every single thing we threw at it, except for CDG karaoke files (which TVersity can’t seem to play either). Only caveat is that the media layout on the XMB doesn’t look as clean. There will be files that PMS can’t play the first time, but you’ll have an option to go into a #TRANSCODE# folder for that file and manually choose a transcoding option. You can even change PMS settings from the XMB, but I’ve yet the need to touch anything.

By all means, this doesn’t mean we’re done testing. Both TVersity and PMS are still enabled on the media server. I still want TVersity to work for everything because we may have more DLNA devices in the future (say, another home theater setup in the bedroom :D). I’m also still wondering how the quality of PMS’ transcoding compare against other products on the market, e.g. TVix (RM 1800~ but looks great) or the WD HD Player. We’ll want to make CDG work as well, as Fai and I are both karaoke freaks. 🙂

messing around with tversity

Yesterday Fai & I messed around a bit with TVersity streaming to the PS3. We followed a particularly long thread on TVersity’s support forums on the proper installation sequence of ffdshow and other relavant codecs.

Playback of the usual divx videos, like the TV series we usually download, worked well without any problems at all. Only problems we had were selecting audio tracks on VOB files, some clipping when playing a particular packaged AVI (FF7 AC with stereo/5.1 tracks), and stuttering when streaming that particular 5.1 track.

For the stuttering part, the bitrate display on the PS3 went up to about 6-8MB/s (can’t recall if it was bits or bytes). I’m guessing the wireless 11g network is the bottleneck, and my crappy Linksys router isn’t helping either. Tonight, we’ll continue testing using wired Ethernet for confirmation, and I even downloaded a full HD trailer of Watchmen for this purpose. 😀 If there are no hiccups, then it’s confirmed to be a wireless issue, and maybe that’ll push me to pick up an 11n router (or I could go back and grab the 3com router from my mom’s home).

Worst case scenario, short of breaking down the walls to lay cable, is to buy two 11n routers and WDS them together.

PS: Another alternative to TVersity is the PS3 Media Server, which is especially made for the PS3. Might give it a go as well.

revamped media landscape

There was a time when I was going to build myself a nice HTPC to stream all my media downloads to TV, as well as replace the usual Astro box as a PVR.

Well that plan has now gone to hell, with the acquisition of a certain piece of equipment. Let’s just say this piece plays really good looking games and is a uPNP/DLNA device. Let’s also say that it’s really expensive. 😛 For now, let’s call this the ‘media client’.

With this purchase, it looks like a HTPC is no longer necessary. Replacing Astro with a PC-based PVR doesn’t seem worth the effort too, so the idea to use MediaPortal will now be replaced with TVersity, a uPNP/DLNA media server software for Windows. With it, I can just stream stuff over to the media client, with support for on-the-fly transcoding just in case the client is anal about format.

Problem is this still needs me to set up a Windows 24/7 server to host the media. So I might use uShare as an alternative. uShare is another supported media server, but for Linux/BSD machines. That means I can continue using my BSD server for torrent downloads, and stream media directly from it.

Speaking of the BSD server, which I named Mario for some odd reason, it will have its Gnome GUI software removed with needed components migrated over to console. Gnome was becoming a pain in the butt to maintain, and I only needed it to run Azureus, which is also being replaced by TorrentFlux.

But anyway, looking forward to to the new way of things.