Sometimes only records audio

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Re: Sometimes only records audio

Post#21 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:50 pm

I've found that if I don't restart the ehrecvr service that the channel still shows audio only, not just in recordings but live as well.

I've had this problem for some time, including on a computer I just replaced a few months ago. I have both a 4 tuner Ceton card as well as an HDHR Prime and it happens on both of them. For this reason I don't think it's the tuner. It's some combination of WMC and FIOS I would guess. I'm in Massachusetts in the Metro West area.
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Post#22 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:31 pm

I was just able to reproduce the issue at will, based on a theory thanks to the combined input from all of you. And I feel like one of those people where when you ask: "What did you change since it worked? Nothing. Oh, except the one variable that is likely the cause."

I woke up this morning to more black thumbnails, so out of frustration I called Verizon and rambled to the technician about MPEG2 and MPEG4 and missing video codecs in the recorded file. He said that they've heard about issues from Tivo users with the MPEG4 channels, but all of the channels I'm having recording problems on are still MPEG2. And then I mentioned that there is one channel that has never had a problem, TV Japan (#1769). I asked him if that was one of the MPEG4 channels and he told me it was. Then thinking back we started subscribing to this channel a few months ago... [not] coincidentally around the time we started having this problem.

So it looks like Media Center is ok with recording MPEG4 stuff, but then whatever tuner was recording that channel gets confused when it tries recording MPEG2 shows indefinitely until the service is restarted.

My test was record something on TV Japan, let it finish, then simultaneously record four different MPEG2 shows. Three recorded fine, but one did not, the one whose tuner previously recorded TV Japan (Tuner1). I stopped the recordings and recorded more. Again, Tuner1 had a bad recording but the other tuners where ok. For testing completeness, I recorded TV Japan again (got lucky it used Tuner1) and it recorded fine. I imagine things get progressively worse if in the future a different tuner happens to record TV Japan.

I've only run this test once, but it seems to line up with when I have the symptoms and the "randomness", and why I get it much more often than other FiOS subscribers because even after reboots many TV Japan recordings happen before future recordings.

Assuming this is consistently reproducible, my next task is to figure out some automation to rectify the tuner after it goes into this state. Something like at the end of every MPEG4 channel recording reset the service as mskenny suggested.

mskenny, can you let me know if you ever record any of the MPEG4 channels? Verizon sent me their latest list:
Channel Name Channel Number
beIN Sport (English) 598
beIN Sport (Spanish) 1538
Cars TV 599
Comedy TV 695
ES TV 558
ESPN 3D 1002
ESPN Goal Line 571
ESPN Buzzer Beater
ESPN Deportes HD 1537
MGM 744
MLB/NHL 1 HD 1466
MLB/NHL 2 HD 1467
MLB/NHL 3 HD 1468
MLB/NHL 4 HD 1469
MLB/NHL 5 HD 1470
MLB/NHL 6 HD 1471
MLB/NHL 7 HD 1472
MLB/NHL 8 HD 1473
MLB/NHL 9 HD 1474
NBA/MLS 1 HD 1450 1489
NBA/MLS 2 HD 1491
NBA/MLS 3 HD 1492
Universal Sports Channel 596
NBA/MLS 4 HD 1493
NBA/MLS 5 HD 1494
Multimedios 1511
MyDestination TV 674
Pets TV 633
Recipe TV 676
Sony Movie Channel 735
TV Japan 1769
Ultra Cine HD 1690
Ultra Clasico HD 1693
Ultra Docu HD 1570
Ultra Fiesta HD 1670
Ultra Film HD 1691
Ultra Kidz HD 1730
Ultra Luna HD 1585
Ultra Macho HD 1650
Ultra Mex HD 1692
Universal Sports 596
 Univision Deportes HD 1539
Willow Cricket 1007
World Fishing Net HD 597
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Post#23 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:44 pm

I definitely record shows from beIN Sport every week though that channel is 596 here. I also watch Willow Cricket frequently; that is channel 806 here. Thanks for the detective work, well done!
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Post#24 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:19 pm

Nice detective work!

But Verizon's "latest list" is not accurate. Here is a more accurate list:

Even looking at this list, I don't think I record from any of these channels, so I am not completely convinced that it is the reason it happened to me, although it is possible I was "channel surfing" (which is something I almost never do) and tuned to an MPEG4 channel.

I am sure that there are many people that record from both MPEG2 and MPEG4 (h264) channels and would expect many other complaints.
Plus, I don't think I ever did anything to "reset" the tuner so that it could work again, so it must have cleared on it's own (perhaps if you try to record an MPEG2 channel on an affected tuner, it corrupts that recording, but it also resets it so that subsequent recordings work OK, although that didn't seem to be the case with your single test).
Another thing is that, so far, it's only FiOS users who have reported the problem, so maybe it is something specific to how FiOS does something.
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Post#25 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:09 pm

Space, thanks for the real current list.

I agree that there might be other situations that cause this to happen, other considerations that prevent it from happening, and other ways to clear things up. I only conducted a very narrow test once, and with Verizon service with a Ceton tuner, and got it to happen, so I'm one for one; not much of a population sample.

The condition might also happen with just tuning Live TV to an MPEG4 channel, stopping it, then trying to record with that same tuner. I haven't tried that. By the way, I reset the ehrecvr service and it did clear up. And I do vaguely recall in other testing I was doing last week that once I got into the state I think if I just tuned live TV first to the channel it was going to record then the subsequent recording would succeed. I didn't do that test again because at that time I didn't know how to reproduce it, but that could explain why yours cleared up without a reboot or service restart. And there may be other ways that it clears up, as you suggested.

And it does seem suspicious that it happens to me A LOT, happens to mskenny some, and we both record MPEG4 channels regularly. It happens to me very often, and I virtually never watch live TV, hence no auto-clear up (if that does indeed clear it up). FiOS chose less common channels so it follows that less people experience this. And until this morning to me the problem seemed unrelated to the MPEG4 channel, so even if it has been reported it might not be described as an MPEG4 issue because the symptom manifests itself on an MPEG2 channel.

It would be great if we could get some others with various service providers to try out the test case where I was able to reproduce it. First we'll know if it is consistently reproducible with Verizon in different regions, and with different MPEG4 channels, and different tuner types. Then we can determine if it is a Media Center issue with any provider. If not then we can start narrowing down the relevant factors.
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Post#26 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:35 pm

I would suggest creating a new topic (perhaps referencing this one) with a subject similar to "If you record both MPEG2 and MPEG4 channels please read this" or something like that. Then we can perhaps get a survey of who does/doesn't have the problem and what service provider they use, etc.
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Post#27 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:10 pm


A survey would be a good idea. However, I think we (I) need to do some more testing to get it absolutely consistent, based on some new test findings I just did.

I tuned live TV to MPEG4, stopped it, then recorded MPEG2 stuff. All was ok. Then I recorded MPEG4, stopped the recording, then recorded MPEG2 stuff, all was ok. So I thought maybe it was because I was recording channels that I recently recorded, so I ran the previous test again: recorded MPEG4, stopped it, then recorded four different MPEG2 channels I hadn't recorded since my last service restart, but all was ok. Uh oh, what was different between this test and the one where it had a failed recording, and is this entire premise faulty if I can't reproduce it with what I thought were all of the same conditions?

Fortunately I realized that on my first test this morning I had let the MPEG4 show record until the end of its stop time (wow was I lucky), whereas with the more recent tests I had stopped it prematurely. So the most recent test I just did was to create a manual recording on the MPEG4 channel to record for one minute, let it finish, then record four new shows on channels I hadn't recorded since the service restart, and this time it failed on one of the recordings. Phew.

I'm still not confident on the variables: that I kept recording different channels, the manual stopping, live TV, playing back a recording I already did, etc. Oh, and this time I conducted all of the tests via the Xbox 360. Or maybe it is just the sequence of events and has nothing to do with MPEG4. I don't think some of those are relevant variables, but the reproduction steps are looking a bit more fragile than I was first under the impression. And all this brings back into question how this happened to you.

I'm losing count, but I think I'm something like 2 for 6 in reproducing this with different test cases. Still not a good sample.
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Post#28 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:19 pm

Were the test that caused the failure back-to-back recordings (first recording ended on the same minute that the next one started)? If so, maybe try a test with a minute of no recording in between to see if the problem still persists.
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Post#29 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:38 pm

None of my testing today was with scheduled recordings. For the first one that failed I went into the guide and selected record on the MPEG4 show. For the second that failed I set a manual recording. In both failure cases I let the MPEG4 show gracefully finish and then some time elapsed before I went back into the guide and set four recordings.

In the recordings where the files were ok I prematurely stopped the MPEG4 recording.

With the limited testing it seems like that is the variable, but I think a lot more trials need to be conducted. Additionally we need a better understanding of what clears things up so we know the current state of the system is going into the next test. Hopefully I can get some more time this weekend.
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Post#30 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:56 pm

Just a quick update. I didn't have a chance to do any more testing, but I did implement a non-scalable workaround that has provided three days without issue.

All of our MPEG4 recordings happen either during the day or late at night, whereas currently all of the other regularly scheduled recordings happen in the evening. So the workaround is a Scheduled Task that every day around 7pm kills ehshell, stops ehrecvr, starts ehrecvr, then starts ehshell. I found I needed to restart Media Center because after just restarting the ehrecvr service when I tried to record something else it would say all tuners are busy with recording something like "not available".

Three days is not a great sample size, but I was having this problem almost daily so it's at least a slight improvement.

As I mentioned, this workaround is extremely limited and happens to be functional in our home because of our particular schedule of the channel recordings, and only works so far for the regularly scheduled shows. And this will immediately become a problem when football season starts because I have no idea what happens if during a recording you stop the ehrecvr service, but I imagine not good. Not to mention the unpleasantness of if while watching Media Center at 7pm and it suddenly quits and starts up.

At first I tried to think of an easy way to detect current or simultaneous recordings and wait for them all to finish, but the Event Log only logs recordings after they've completed. And even if that was detected then back to back recordings might not record if the service is being restarted in between. But that is assuming that a back to back of MPEG4 to MPEG2 recordings on the same tuner even exhibit this symptom all of the time. And this is all assuming this is indeed the root cause of any of this; I haven't done multiple, consistent reproducible steps.

Anyway, that's where I'm at right now. Even if I can't stay with this workaround long term it will provide some data if the issue happens again and to come up with a more robust solution.
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Post#31 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:23 pm

It is just a thought but could you edit the source in the channel list for the Mpeg4 channels that you record from so they just select tuner 4 and the edit the Mpeg2 channels you record form so they will just use tuners 1,2 and 3? It would be painful to set up but it would insure that an Mpeg2 recording never followed an Mpeg4 recording on the same tuner.

Just a thought and a workaround but it might help but again it would be a lot of work to setup.
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Post#32 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:34 pm

Nice. Great idea.
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Post#33 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:18 pm

So I'm not having the 100% success I was expecting with even my tactical workaround. Here is what I noticed last night and the series of events:

There was a daytime MPEG4 recording on Tuner1. My daily scheduled task ran at 7:25pm that kills Media Center, stops and starts the recording service, then starts Media Center. Then there were two shows that recorded last night and their times coincidentally overlapped. After both shows finished recording, the Tuner2 show was good, the Tuner1 show was bad. So without ever viewing live TV (I think that clears it up), I went the guide and hit record. It used Tuner1 and again that show was bad. I closed and opened Media Center, went into the guide, recorded the same channel, again bad. So I closed Media Center and ran my Scheduled Task, then tried recording again. This time it was good. I confirmed all attempts used Tuner1.

Hmm, so what was the difference between resetting the service at 7:25pm versus doing it later when it fixed it? My hypothesis is that it first needs to make a bad recording? No idea and it doesn't really seem logical, but it is the only variable I can think of, so I inserted that step into the process. I created a daily manual recording from 7:23pm - 7:24pm before my reset tuner job runs. If this works then I'll add a last step to the job that deletes that 1 minute wtv file.

If this doesn't work then my next step is to reboot the PC instead every day at 7:25pm and see if I get the symptom.
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Post#34 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:38 am

I should mention that in the long run I'll probably go with Paw Paw's idea of dedicating a tuner to the MPEG4 channels, but I'm still curious as to when it occurs and what clears it up.
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Post#35 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:47 am

I've still got to believe that there is something specific about the MPEG4 channels from FiOS (as opposed to other cable companies) that is causing it. I would expect to see more complaints from people that other cable systems that have both MPEG4 + MPEG2 channels.

FiOS currently has a limited number of MPEG4 channels, but I am pretty sure that there are other cable services that have more, although I am not sure to what extent they mix both MPEG4 and MPEG2 channels.
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Post#36 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:16 am

As you mentioned, the lack of mixing of channels by providers might make the incidents lower. Combined with viewing habits (e.g. never watching live TV). Or maybe it is just dumb luck that it happens to me a lot for some other variable reason, and I am just stretching the reason to line up with mskenny's experience.

For more data though, my manual 7:23pm recording on Tuner1 was bad, but my scheduled 10pm recording on the same channel looks good, presumably also on Tuner1 since it is the only thing recording (I'm trying not to run any debug stuff that might introduce a variable).
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Post#37 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:41 am

How old is your WMC?

How many recordings has it made?

How many Series Recordings do you have scheduled?

You could give WMC a factory reset. I'm sure everyone here knows how.

If you wanted to continue down the "service needs to be restarted after recording MPEG4" road, I'm sure someone might be able to do that in TaskManager.

Here are a couple ideas to get you started. ... -a-service
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Post#38 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:15 pm

My PC is a few years old, and has made countless recordings. In the evening there are about three scheduled recordings on average. And since subscribing to the MPEG4 channel a few months ago during the day there are on average a half dozen recordings on that channel. The interesting thing to note is that there have been exactly zero bad recordings for the shows on the MPEG4 channel, all recorded on Tuner1, and all of the bad recordings happen on other channels after that on Tuner1 (for all the ones I checked, which were many).

I've reset WMC a few times before starting this thread.

Crash2009 wrote: I'm sure someone might be able to do that in TaskManager.

Did you mean Task Scheduler? If so, that is how I have it setup now, but the trigger is simply at a daily time. I have some ideas on how to get it to trigger off of MPEG4 recordings, but it gets a little complicated to determine that, as well as if there are any other overlapping recordings before restarting the recording service. I want to first iron out the cause-- on my system at least-- and the minimum steps required for the manual workaround, before digging into sorting it all out programmatically.

On top of that I think there is a logistical hurdle with multiple overlapping recordings: Tuner1 MPEG4 recording from 8pm-9pm; Tuner2 MPEG2 recording from 8:30pm-10:30pm; Tuner1 MPEG2 recording at 9:30pm. I can't think yet how to workaround that type of schedule.

That's why I'm thinking the simplest solution is Paw Paw's suggestion of dedicating a tuner. It has some limitations and setup overhead, but might be the most straight forward. Of course unless we figure out a different root cause, or if my FiOS magically resolves itself.
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Post#39 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:55 pm

I had already thought of dedicating a tuner to MPEG4 channels, but in my case that would not be a good option since I only have three tuners and record way too much TV (with many concurrent recordings). The other option I thought of was setting the MPEG4 channels to have an opposite tuner priority (try to record on tuner2, tuner1, tuner0, instead of tuner0, tuner1, tuner2) from the MPEG2 channels, but this would only minimize the problem, not eliminate it.

Right now I am pretty safe, since I don't usually record from any MPEG4 channels, but this may change in the future if FiOS starts rolling it out to more channels. I would be good to know definitively what triggers it and what clears it, as I do channel surf (very rarely) and I would hate that to cause my recordings to fail.
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Post#40 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:01 pm

Nice, I hadn't thought of the tuner priority idea either. But with that the tuners might eventually need to be reset because at some point that same tuner would run into the condition that causes it (whatever that is). By dedicating tuners I suspect they wouldn't need to get reset.

Assuming we get things consistently reproducible, perhaps there could be a universal logic of when to restart the tuner service (if that's the best fix). I haven't spent much time thinking about it, but I fear it would need to involve a combination of dynamically understanding the recording schedule and channels associated with each, as well as the number of tuners available and their priority.

Or ironically hope that lots more channels move to MPEG4. Or invest in another card to dedicate those tuners to MPEG4. Or again hope this whole thing is isolated to a few systems with simple workarounds.
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