Home > Video > Convert Video > Best HandBrake Settings for Plex

Posted by Donna Peng - Contact Author

Best HandBrake Settings for Plex (2020 Update)

Before we take out the best HandBrake settings for Plex, we'd like to answer some people's question - why still transcode with HandBrake when Plex can do transcoding automatically for you. Two reasons.

Reason 1. Plex transcoding is CPU-heavy. If your CPU isn't powerful, the CPU usage will be around 100% while transcoding. Transcoding will probably make your videos jerky and not smooth. So, it is necessary for some guys to optimize your media with HandBrake, WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe, or something else beforehand, for later direct play on Plex.

Reason 2. Plex doesn't support all formats. Plex is compatible with almost every format, except for DVD, Blu-ray, and disk images. We still need to use HandBrake, WinX DVD Ripper, or something else to digitize DVD and convert disc image files to the best format for Plex.

Well, What're the Best HandBrake Settings for Plex?

It depends on the capability of your Plex client device. You need to look up the specifications of the client you're using to see what it supports and set HandBrake to match. That'll give you the best results. We have listed best formats that Apple TV HD/4K and Xbox Plex apps support. Refer to these specs before you perform settings on HandBrake.

Apple TV HD Plex client supported formats:

Video formats:
HEVC SDR up to 1080p, 30 fps, Main/Main 10 profile
H.264 video up to 1080p, 60 fps, High or Main Profile level 4.2 or lower
H.264 Baseline Profile level 3.0 or lower with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 fps, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

Audio formats:
HE-AAC (V1), AAC (up to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (up to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV; AC-3 (Dolby Digital 5.1) and E-AC-3 (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound)

Apple TV 4K Plex client app supported formats:

Video formats:
H.264/HEVC SDR video up to 2160p, 60 fps, Main/Main 10 profile
HEVC Dolby Vision (Profile 5)/HDR10 (Main 10 profile) up to 2160p
H.264 Baseline Profile level 3.0 or lower with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 fps, Simple profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

Audio formats:
HE-AAC (V1), AAC (up to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (up to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV; AC-3 (Dolby Digital 5.1), E-AC-3 (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound), and Dolby Atmos

Xbox One Plex client app supported formats

Video formats:
MP4 (H.264/HEVC/MPEG4/VC1/WMV3 + AAC/AC3/MP3/EAC3),
MKV (H.264/HEVC/MPEG4/VC1/VP9 etc. + AAC/AC3/MP3/FLAC etc.);
MOV (H.264 + AAC), WMV, AVI, ASF and MPEGTS/TS containers.

Audio formats:
AAC, ALAC, E-AC3, FLAC, MP3, M4A, WAV

If you're going to stream videos to multiple clients, you need to figure out if there're a single set of codecs all your clients can play.

The most widely supported format that will direct play on most Plex clients is:
Container: MP4
Resolution: 1920x1080 or lower
Video codec: H.264 (level 4.0 or lower)
Video framerate: 30fps
Video bit depth: 8
Audio codec: AAC
Audio channels: 2
Bitrate: 20Mbps or lower

How to Set HandBrake to Transcode BluRay or DVD Rips for Plex

Below we will show you the best settings for HandBrake to convert DVD/BluRay for later using on Plex.

First of all, open HandBrake and import the source video.

Now, you can start settings:

Go to Summary tab, choose MP4 file as the container format and leave Aligh A/V Start checked.

Best HandBrake settings for Plex
Best HandBrake settings for Plex

Go to Dimensions, choose Automatic for Cropping and leave other things as default.

Best HandBrake dimension settings for Plex
Best HandBrake dimension settings for Plex

Filters: no need to make any changes

Under Video tab:
Choose H.264 (x264) for your Video Codec. If your client supports H.265, you can also choose H.265 (x265). H.265 results in smaller file size at the same quality level. Leave the framerate same as source and keep Peak Framerate selected.
Under Optimise Video, drag the Encoder Preset to slower, choose Film for Encoder Tune, choose High for Encoder Profile, and set the Encoder Level to 4.1.
Under Quality, set Constant Quality as RF 18

Best HandBrake video settings for Plex
Best HandBrake video settings for Plex

Under Audio tab:
Choose AAC as the codec
If your movie has a 5.1 channel track, you can mix down the 5.1 Channels. If you are not worried about surround sound, you can just choose Stereo. 160 bitrate is perfectly fine.

Best HandBrake audio settings for Plex
Best HandBrake audio settings for Plex

There's usually no need to adjust the settings of Subtitles and Chapters.

Now you can specify the directory and start encoding video for Plex.

Note: The above settings probably take Handbrake hours to finish ripping. If you think it's worth trying, just do it.

Tips: HandBrake has presets for Android, Apple, Chromecast, Amazon File, Playstation, Roku, and Xbox. If it is difficult for you to mess with these settings, you can directly choose a device profile. HandBrake supported device profiles are limited, but HandBrake alternatives WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe (mainly used for transcoding video) and WinX DVD Ripper (used for converting DVD and DVD-like files) cover all popular device profiles. WinX tools can transcode videos to Plex clients compatible formats easily and quickly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author - Donna Peng

Donna Peng twitter icon

Donna Peng's fascination with multimedia began at an early age - shortly after she licked the physical disc and then she's been obsessed ever since. Her decade-long career at Digiarty after the graduation has seen her unmatched expertise in the field of DVD, digital video, software and anything related to home theatre. She is currently fascinated with photography.

Home > Video > Convert Video > Best HandBrake Settings for Plex

Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with our news, updates, guides.