Watch and record live TV

Link in Emby with your TV back-end and you can watch, man­age and in­te­grate TV record­ings into your me­dia li­braries.

Linux Format - - STREAM IT! -

“Emby was one of the first stream­ing me­dia servers to of­fer live TV and DVR ca­pa­bil­i­ties”

One of the most frus­trat­ing thing about any set-top box used to watch and record live TV is that your record­ings are al­most al­ways tied to the box in ques­tion. Emby changes all of that – it was one of the first stream­ing me­dia servers to of­fer live TV and DVR ca­pa­bil­i­ties, en­abling you to tie in your record­ings from TV into your me­dia li­brary to sit along­side your other con­tent. Bet­ter still, your record­ings are stored in an un­en­crypted for­mat, so you can eas­ily port them else­where.

You’ll need a com­pat­i­ble TV tuner for this to work. Emby sup­ports the HD Homerun Con­nect, a net­work TV tuner with twin Free­view HD (DVB-T) tuners, but there are sev­eral plu­g­ins for other TV back-ends – in­clud­ing TV Head­end, which you’d need to con­fig­ure. Emby also sup­ports M3U Tuners, which al­low you to link Emby to any TV back-end that can gen­er­ate a M3U file. The step-by-step guide ( right) goes through the ba­sics of link­ing your back-end to Emby once it’s in place.

If you go down the HD Homerun route, you’ll need to con­nect the box to both your net­work via Eth­er­net ca­ble and a suitable aerial socket. If your aerial socket is nowhere near your router, a Home­plug setup (visit https://faculty-x.net for some op­tions) is es­sen­tial. If you’re not al­ready ex­tend­ing your net­work us­ing Home­plugs, you’ll need to buy two plugs: one for your router, the other for your HD Homerun. If fi­nances stretch, two AV2 1,200Mbps with Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net ports are rec­om­mended for max­i­mum through­put.

Once plugged in, switched on and con­nected to the net­work, sim­ply open a web browser and go to my.hd­home­run.com – af­ter a short pause, your de­vice should be iden­ti­fied by its ID (as listed on the back of the box), com­plete with ver­sion num­ber and num­ber of chan­nels found. You’ll be told a firmware up­grade re­quires the Win­dows or Mac ap­pli­ca­tion – in­stead, visit www.sil­i­con­dust.com/ sup­port/linux for down­loads and up­date in­struc­tions.

Check your stream

It’s a good idea to test the live TV stream across mul­ti­ple chan­nels – if it fre­quently freezes or breaks up, there’s an is­sue with the qual­ity of your sig­nal. Check the ca­bles be­tween aerial and HD Homerun Con­nect and mon­i­tor the sig­nal strength and qual­ity of one of the tuners by open­ing the HD Homerun app to watch a live feed, then open­ing a browser win­dow to https://my.hd­home­run.com. Se­lect your HD Homerun model, then click Tuner Sta­tus fol­lowed by Tuner 0. Pe­ri­od­i­cally re­fresh the page as you test to see fluc­tu­a­tions in sig­nal strength and qual­ity.

If the sig­nal strength is too low, a booster may be re­quired; if it’s at or near 100 per cent you may find it needs fil­ter­ing (4G sig­nals are known to in­ter­fere with Free­view sig­nals) or even weak­en­ing us­ing an at­ten­u­a­tor. At­ten­u­a­tors can be pur­chased for un­der £5 on eBay; if you’re look­ing for a sig­nal

booster, we had good re­sults with an SLX 28101HSG, which com­prises vari­able sig­nal booster and 4G fil­ter – ex­pect to pay around £16-20 on­line.

Once you’re happy with the pic­ture, con­nect it to Emby fol­low­ing the step-by-step guide ( above).

Set up extra func­tions

Next, set up an Elec­tronic Pro­gramme Guide so you can browse cur­rent and fu­ture broad­casts. If your TV back-end doesn’t al­ready pro­vide this (HD Homerun Con­nect doesn’t, for ex­am­ple), then you’ll need to add this your­self. The sim­plest solution is to click Add next to Guide Providers and choose Xml TV. You’ll need to source your own XML TV feed, but there are plenty on­line to choose from – see www.xmltv.co.uk/feeds for a wide ar­ray of choices for UK TV chan­nels, for ex­am­ple.

The free ver­sion of Emby only sup­ports 24-hour feeds, so en­ter www.xmltv.co.uk/feed/6482 un­less you have an Em­byPremiere sub­scrip­tion, in which case one of the longer op­tions (72 hours or even seven days) is a bet­ter bet. Click Save – you’ll no­tice a progress bar ap­pear un­der Re­fresh Guide Data, which will fill as the EPG is down­loaded. Once com­plete, your live TV is up and run­ning. You’ll find a Live TV op­tion now ap­pears in Emby, en­abling you to browse the guide and watch live TV for free.

When you click to watch a pro­gramme, roll your mouse across the screen to re­veal play­back con­trols – you can pause, rewind and fast for­ward the pro­gramme you’re watch­ing from the point you started to watch it. You’ll also find op­tions for view­ing sub­ti­tles and tweak­ing qual­ity set­tings from the de­fault ‘auto’. So if play­back is choppy and you sus­pect your net­work con­nec­tion, try a lower set­ting to see if it im­proves mat­ters. When you’re done watch­ing the show, click the back but­ton to return to the TV Guide.

As things stand, you have ac­cess to live TV through your browser. How­ever, this is the limit of your ac­cess as a free Emby user. If you’d like more func­tion­al­ity – in­clud­ing the abil­ity to watch shows on any de­vice, record live TV and sched­ule fu­ture record­ings, or ac­cess an elec­tronic pro­gramme guide stretch­ing more than 24 hours into the fu­ture – then you’ll need to up­grade to Em­byPremiere for around £4 a month.

If you up­grade, return to the guide page. When you next click on a pre­vi­ous or fu­ture record­ing, you’ll see op­tions for record­ing that in­di­vid­ual episode or the en­tire se­ries. Click either but­ton and a Set­tings op­tion will ap­pear. Be sure to click this to tweak set­tings, such as set­ting cus­tom pad­ding for in­di­vid­ual episodes, or for choos­ing se­ries-wide op­tions like whether to only record new air­ings (and ig­nore any episodes al­ready in your me­dia li­brary).

Once record­ings have been made, they’ll ap­pear un­der Record­ings in the Live TV sec­tion. If the show is misiden­ti­fied (for ex­am­ple, a record­ing of TheGold­bergs com­edy may in­cor­rectly link to a show from the 1950s), then browse to the record­ing in your li­brary, click the More but­ton and choose Iden­tify to use the search tool to lo­cate the cor­rect match (in our ex­am­ple, TheGold­bergs show from 2013 on).

If you’d like to re­name and move these files into your ex­ist­ing me­dia struc­ture, check out the box ( left) for de­tails.

Pur­chase an Emby Pre­miere sub­scrip­tion if you want more than just live TV ca­pa­bil­i­ties from your stream­ing me­dia server.

The HD Homerun Con­nect box is the sim­plest way to add TV ca­pa­bil­i­ties to Emby. Twin tuners en­able you to watch and record si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

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