Thanks for your testing..
You're welcome. I live for geeky experimentation
I'll have to try the title you mention and see if I SEE a difference (I have no other way to tell a difference) ?
Sadly, there is no way to tell on the Roku for sure. The PS3's Netflix player and the player on 2012 Sony BDPs have this
cool stream status overlay which indicates which video encode you're getting: Low/SD, Medium/SD, High/SD, Medium/HD, High/HD or X-High/HD, where X-High/HD is 1080p. A few other devices have something similar.
I was using the TV show Scandal (Episode 6) for my previous test.
Could be that this show in stereo is only 720p and 1080p with DD 5.1+ ??
Seems unlikely--sound and video are uncoupled in these adaptive bit rate oriented encodes so that you can choose stereo or 5.1 or an English dub of a French film or whatever. They have example clips with 5 or 6 selectable audio tracks for different language dubs (those clips, of course, have no dialog
I'm curious what you used to measure bandwidth ??
I'm using some open source firmware for my venerable old Linksys WRT54G router called Tomato. Tomato has a realtime bandwidth monitor graph; the graph shows bandwidth usage over a ten minute span. I use Ong Bak 2
for a couple of different reasons: first, it has a very high action, encoder-challenging sequence near the beginning, martial arts combat in the rain, which creates a stream with the highest possible average bit rate for the 10 minutes that I need; second, it was available on all of the streaming services that I cared about (Netflix, VUDU, Amazon, Zune)--I ran this test on every one of them on every device that I owned that they could run on. All I do is start the movie and set a countdown timer; at the end of 14 minutes I capture a snapshot of the graph.
You can see the data I collected this morning on this
graph; data collected under the same circumstances a year ago (except that the Roku's global audio mode was set to "5.1") can be seen on this
graph (unfortunately there's no control of y-axis scale so the curves look more different than they are).
I also have a 2 year old XDS I use on my other older TV (only 720p) and I keep the XDS permanently in debug mode so I always see the bit rate and all HD titles are at 2.6Mb/sec. They used to be at 3.6Mb/sec until about 6 months ago (USA streams btw).
That's interesting--I briefly owned an XDS and decided to return it. The Netflix players on the old Rokus and the Roku 2 use two different sets of video encodes; for the newer, adaptive bit rate oriented encode sets HD titles have 720p encodes at 2350 and 3600 Kpbs and (usually) a 1080p encode at 4800 Kbps. Add 192 Kbps for stereo sound or 384 Kbps for 5.1 channel DD+ (or 64 Kbps for stereo in the web player). They're highly variable bit rate encodes, so you if you're monitoring the bit rate of a fairly static sequence it might not get anywhere near as high as those average limits. For instance, the 10 minutes following the one that I use in Ong Bak 2
is much more sedate (martial arts training and meditation, etc) and has a 37% lower average bit rate.
Perhaps they reduced the average bit rate of those older encodes to save space. Perhaps they think that few people will notice or care. Perhaps they used new encoders which achieve the same results in 38% less bandwidth. If so, perhaps they'll do the same thing to the newer set of encodes. It behooves them to continually seek ways to save server storage and bandwidth; the storage costs them money and the lower the stream bit rate the more people they can serve who scrimp on network service speed. Amazon's 720p w/5.1 sound is pretty decent and they encode it at 2.3 Mbps. Not as good as Netflix's 1080p at its best, but not at all bad.
I'm always above 20Mb/sec internet speed so that is not an issue.
The nominal speed of your network service is an upper limit which does not guarantee any particular average speed to any arbitrary site. There could be a lot of traffic on the path between you and the Netflix server you get assigned to.
I wish the Roku 2 XS would still show bit rate in debug mode (works in other places but not Netflix)..
I agree, but in those other places it just shows the bandwidth measured in a very short test. I'd want something like the PS3 display that I linked to above, with a continuous indication of what you're getting now.
Been searching for something that will convert DD plus but no luck, might as well get a cheapo AVR for $250 ??
That's what I did when Netflix came out with 5.1 DD+ on Roku 2, but I'd been considering upgrading my AVR for a couple of years--this was just the final straw. But weren't you the guy with the Bose system whose speakers can't be used with another AVR?