article date: Jan. 23, 2005
last updated: Feb. 13, 2005
author: lyberty

Here is the very poor (and sometimes inaccurate) description of quality settings from the WinTV manual:

[Note bandwidth / bitrate settings use the convention of 1 kb =1,000 bits and 1 mb =1,000,000 bits
(as opposed to 1 kilobit = 1,024 bits and 1 megabit = 1,048,576 bits).]
Values here are "Mbit/sec" (million bits per second). This table reflects the default settings.

CBR bitrate
Resolution constant bit rate or
variable bit rate
Audio BitRate (kpbs): Audio=
Marketing Claim:
MPEG-1/ VCD :    1.2 Mbps 352x240 CBR 224 44.1 kHz  
MPEG-2 Half D1:   2.0 Mbps 352x480 ? ? ?  
MPEG-2 Full D1:   2.0 Mbps 720x480 ? ? ?  
SVCD Standard Play:   2.5 Mbps 480x480 VBR 224 44.1 kHz  
DVD Extra Long Play: 3.0 Mbps 4.4 Mbps 720x480 VBR 384 48 kHz 4MBit/sec full D1 CBR or VBR*
DVD Long Play: 4.8 Mbps 6.2 Mbps 720x480 VBR 384 48 kHz 6Mbit/sec full D1 CBR or VBR*
DVD Standard Play: 6.4 Mbps 8.0 Mbps 720x480 VBR 384 48 kHz 8Mbit/sec full D1 CBR or VBR*
MPEG-2 Full D1 VBR:   12.0 Mbps 720x480 VBR 384 48 kHz 12Mbit/sec full D1 CBR or VBR *
MPEG-2 Full D1 CBR:   12.0 Mbps 720x480 CBR 384 48 kHz  

* You can make your own setting profiles, or redefine the existing profiles, in the WinTV Settings > "Property Sheet".
To change, for example, from Variable Bit Rate to CBR for DVD, you'll have to manually change and save the setting.

The audio encoding in all cases is "MPEG1 Layer2". "MPEG1 Layer1" and "AC-3" are also listed as options, but these are not enabled (un-supported).
There must be some way to add external support for AC-3 (DolbyDigital), but I haven't found any info on this yet.

Quality Settings in SageTV--
Which Quality Setting Should I Choose?

(This discussion applies to the SageTV software, which defines the defualt "DVD..Play" settings differently than WinTV.)

To choose which recording quality you should select, assume you want the highest quality (highest bits per second and the highest resolution).
Then it is just a matter of determining how much video you want to fit onto your hard drive. In other words, balancing the size of the file
against the quality of the file.

[Disclaimer: I use a Haupaugge capture card, so I don't know if this works differently for other capture cards. Concepts should still be the same though.]

For example, I use "DVD Standard", "DVD Long Play", or "DVD Extra Long Play" (because I'd like to transfer the video to DVDs eventually).
This is how much hard drive space is taken on my system for each of these for 30 minutes of video and for 60 minutes of video:

Quality Level............30 minutes....60 minutes
DVD Standard ............. 1,525 MB.... 3,050 MB
DVD Long Play .............1,178 MB.... 2,144 MB
DVD Extra Long Play .... 788 MB..... 1,576 MB

These are just examples, of course, and your values will vary (especially for variable bit rate recording: more movement
or complexity means a higher bit rate is needed, and this means a bigger file). But at least this gives you something to work with.
[In my case, I'm using a PVR-150, and the audio is encoded as MP2.]

If you do the math (just remember that 1 GB = 1,024 MB), you can figure out about how much tv you'll be able to fit into
the free space left on your hard drive. For example, if you have 20 GB [20,480 MB] free , you'll be able to fit about:

6.7 hours of DVD Standard Video
9.5 hours of DVD Long Play Video
13 hours of DVD Extra Long Play Video

According to the SageTV manual: "Great" Quality Setting takes about 2 GB per hourof video stored. So at the "Great" quality setting, you'd
have room for 10 hours (in 20 GB).

And if you want more video to fit, you can try the other options. But you'll eventually get to some level where you think "this recording is awful",
and then you know you'll need a higher quality setting.
In my limited experience, I found SVCD quality was just barely okay for shows without a lot of movement,
but in general I want the DVD quality levels so I don't get a lot of digital artifacts.


If you want the full details on the other SageTV settings, you should check out this file:
It tells you what the values in your "" file means (and how to make custom quality settings).
The "" file is in your SageTV directory, and it can be opened with a text editor (like Notepad).
In it, you can find out what the quality settings are (for example, "Best" means 6,000,000 bits per second Constant Bit Rate [CBR]).

Just make sure to make a copy of the "" file before you open it, so that if you accidently change something, you
can replace the file with your backup file.


mmc/python2_encoding/Fair =videobitrate\=1700000|vbr\=0|width\=480|height\=480|audiobitrate\=256|outputstreamtype\=10|audiosampling\=48000
mmc/python2_encoding/Good =videobitrate\=2800000|vbr\=0|width\=480|height\=480|audiobitrate\=256|outputstreamtype\=10|audiosampling\=48000

mmc/python2_encoding/CVD =videobitrate\=2500000|peakvideobitrate\=3000000|vbr\=1|width\=352|height\=480|audiobitrate\=224|outputstreamtype\=0|audiosampling\=48000

mmc/python2_encoding/Great =videobitrate\=3800000|vbr\=0|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=384|outputstreamtype\=10|audiosampling\=48000

mmc/python2_encoding/Best =videobitrate\=6000000|vbr\=0|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=384|outputstreamtype\=10|audiosampling\=48000

MPEG-4\ Extended\ Play
MPEG-4\ Long\ Play =videobitrate\=1,500,000|vbr\=0|width\=480|height\=480|audiobitrate\=128|outputstreamtype\=102|audiosampling\=48000
MPEG-4\ Standard\ Play =videobitrate\=2,000,000|vbr\=0|width\=480|height\=480|audiobitrate\=226|outputstreamtype\=102|audiosampling\=48000
MPEG-4\ Good\ Quality
=videobitrate\=3,000,000|vbr\=0|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=224|outputstreamtype\=102|audiosampling\=48000 mmc/python2_encoding/
MPEG-4\ High\ Quality =videobitrate\=4,000,000|vbr\=0|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=224|outputstreamtype\=102|audiosampling\=48000
MPEG2\ Max\ Quality

mmc/python2_encoding/SVCD\ Long\ Play =videobitrate\=1600000|peakvideobitrate\=2000000|vbr\=1|width\=480|height\=480|audiobitrate\=224|outputstreamtype\=12|audiosampling\=44100
mmc/python2_encoding/SVCD\ Extra\ Long\ Play =videobitrate \=1152000|peakvideobitrate\=1440000|vbr\=1|width\=480|height\=480|audiobitrate\=224|outputstreamtype\=12|audiosampling\=44100
mmc/python2_encoding/SVCD\ Standard\ Play =videobitrate\=2000000|peakvideobitrate\=2500000|vbr\=1|width\=480|height\=480|audiobitrate\=224|outputstreamtype\=12|audiosampling\=44100
mmc/python2_encoding/VCD =videobitrate\=1150000|vbr\=0|width\=352|height\=240|audiobitrate\=224|outputstreamtype\=11|audiosampling\=44100

mmc/python2_encoding/DVD\ Extra\ Long\ Play =videobitrate\=3000000|peakvideobitrate\=4400000|vbr\=1|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=384|outputstreamtype\=10|audiosampling\=48000
mmc/python2_encoding/DVD\ Long\ Play =videobitrate\=4800000|peakvideobitrate\=6000000|vbr\=1|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=384|outputstreamtype\=10|audiosampling\=48000
mmc/python2_encoding/DVD\ Standard\ Play =videobitrate\=6400000|peakvideobitrate\=8000000|vbr\=1|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=384|outputstreamtype\=10|audiosampling\=48000
mmc/python2_encoding/DivX\u00AE\ Certified\ Handheld\ High\ Quality=videobitrate\=200000|peakvideobitrate\=200000|vbr\=0|width\=176|height\=144|audiobitrate\=64|outputstreamtype\=101|audiosampling\=48000|fps\=15|ipb\=2|deinterlace\=1|aspectratio\=0
mmc/python2_encoding/DivX\u00AE\ Certified\ Handheld\ Medium\ Quality=videobitrate\=128000|peakvideobitrate\=128000|vbr\=0|width\=176|height\=144|audiobitrate\=64|outputstreamtype\=101|audiosampling\=48000|fps\=15|ipb\=2|deinterlace\=1|aspectratio\=0
mmc/python2_encoding/DivX\u00AE\ Certified\ Home\ Theater\ High\ Quality=videobitrate\=3000000|peakvideobitrate\=3000000|vbr\=0|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=224|outputstreamtype\=101|audiosampling\=48000|ipb\=2|aspectratio\=0
mmc/python2_encoding/DivX\u00AE\ Certified\ Home\ Theater\ Highest\ Quality=videobitrate\=4000000|peakvideobitrate\=4000000|vbr\=0|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=224|outputstreamtype\=101|audiosampling\=48000|ipb\=2|aspectratio\=0
mmc/python2_encoding/DivX\u00AE\ Certified\ Home\ Theater\ Medium\ Quality=videobitrate\=2000001|peakvideobitrate\=2000001|vbr\=0|width\=720|height\=480|audiobitrate\=128|outputstreamtype\=101|audiosampling\=48000|ipb\=2|aspectratio\=0
mmc/python2_encoding/DivX\u00AE\ Certified\ Portable\ High\ Quality=videobitrate\=2000000|peakvideobitrate\=2000000|vbr\=0|width\=640|height\=480|audiobitrate\=128|outputstreamtype\=101|audiosampling\=48000|ipb\=2|deinterlace\=1|aspectratio\=0
mmc/python2_encoding/DivX\u00AE\ Certified\ Portable\ Medium\ Quality=videobitrate\=768000|peakvideobitrate\=768000|vbr\=0|width\=352|height\=240|audiobitrate\=128|outputstreamtype\=101|audiosampling\=48000|ipb\=2|deinterlace\=1|aspectratio\=0