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.
“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.