I have uncovered something that some people may or may not care about, but it is worth mentioning about the fact that QNAP says they can do hardware transcoding in certain devices. In particular I purchased a TVS-671 which boasts this claim. Now I am also using Plex Media Server which currently does not take advantage of the built in hardware transcoding. I have however, been experimenting with using the automatic transcoding to create dual versions of files that Plex can see and serve up potentially reducing the software transcoding CPU usage. That is until I discovered that QNAP hardware transcoding does not actually work on any MKV files that are multi-channel.
QNAP Hardware Transcoding Requirement
What you need to know is that hardware transcoding is not “automatic”. You need to install a software package called CodeX Pack, which seems counter intuitive for “Built-in” hardware transcoding, but whatever. At first it worked fine until an update came for CodeX Pack 4.2.10.
Then all of a sudden I kept getting Read/Write errors on the processes. After a little searching in the forums I found out this was a pretty widespread issue on not only the TVS line but others that claim hardware transcoding. I also opened up a support ticket in which the response was:
Unfortunately, The transcode function does not support files with Dolby/DTS audio encoding (including AC3)
After digging around the forums it was mentioned this is not any technical issue, but rather a licensing issue that QNAP appears to not want to pay for.
The functionality was removed intentionally by QNAP due to licensing reasons (based on our understanding).
Unless QNAP decides to change their position in terms of licensing, or offers some option to purchase the license on an individual level, the functionality is not likely to return.
QNAP Hardware Transcoding Workaround
The only known work around is to drop your CodeX Pack down to a previous version from 4.2.10. There was a few posts in the forum (login required) to get the lower versions but I pulled the links out for those that want to give it a try
I have downloaded and tried both the 4.3 and 4.7 versions and both seem to work. You will just always see the ‘Upgrade Available’ for the package which will bump you back to 4.2.10. The best way to replace this is to remove the 4.2.10 package then install one of these new. I’ve also put copies at these direct locations as well for QTS 4.2.2.
QNAP Hardware Transcoding Is Gone
Essentially, this claim of hardware transcoding is false. The fact is most people with media files most likely have AC3/DTS encoded files they are trying to transcode. There are people that are running QTS 4.3 Beta and have also verified the functionality is gone. So according to QNAP support you if you want to keep any kind of hardware transcoding you can not even go to QTS 4.3 when it becomes available.
That is correct, you would need to stay on 4.2.2 in order to continue to use the Codex Pack. – QNAP Support
So there may or may not be a lot of people using this, but it’s something that QNAP advertises heavily AND more importantly it’s not not even something that Plex could leverage in the future on these devices. That I think is even more upsetting. There was posts that Plex was testing integration to use the hardware transcoding feature as they are doing it in other devices. By QNAP refusing to license something for DTS/AC3 they have essentially killed that potential integration.