MPEG-2 Transport Stream Analysis and Recording

Updated October 2, 2017

What's Here?

Features and Editions
Computer Requirements
Screen Shots
Developer Info
Sales and Licensing
Download TSReader Lite
Related Software

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TSReader is a transport stream analyzer, decoder, recorder and stream manipulator for MPEG-2 systems. It supports DVB, ATSC, ISDB, SCTE, and DigicipherŪ II extensions to the base MPEG-2 specification. TSReader gives the user the "big picture" overview of what's being carried inside MPEG-2 transport streams and can be very useful for finding errors or inefficiencies. If you're not familiar with MPEG-2 transport streams, we suggest reading our web page about North American MPEG-2 Information as this covers this subject in depth.
Digicipher is a registered trademark of Motorola Broadband

TSReader was developed because we saw a need for a reasonably priced MPEG-2 transport stream analyzer that when exposed to a stream coming from a file, satellite, terrestrial, cable, or IP source would show an overview of the channels and tables carried in the mux along with decoding of many aspects and implementations of MPEG-2.

Features and Editions

TSReader comes in three different editions - Lite, Standard and Professional. The grid below shows the features of TSReader and which version supports which features.

Feature Lite (free *) Standard ($99) Professional ($399)
Decodes MPEG-2 tables with DVB, ATSC, ISDB, SCTE and Digicipher II extensions.    
Decodes MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and H.264 (AVC) video in thumbnail format.
Decodes H.265 (HEVC) video in thumbnail format

Decodes VC-1 video in thumbnail format.

Thumbnails can be exported as they are generated to JPEG files for remote monitoring via a web browser.
High speed parallel PMT parser
Parallel stream decoding (thumbnails display very quickly)

Parses MPEG, A/52 (AC3) and DTS audio streams to show bitrate/mode settings.
Parses AAC audio streams to show bitrate/mode settings
Generates scope-style thumbnails for MPEG, AC3 and AAC audio streams  
Shows A/52 (AC3) dialog-normalization.  
Indicates CC/DTVCC streams for ATSC streams and VBI/Teletext/Subtitle/WSS/VPS on DVB muxes.
Supports a wide range of MPEG-2 hardware input and output devices Transport streams can also be fed from a file or UDP & TCP network streams.
Records the transport stream to a file.
Records an individual program to a disk file with PAT/PMT regeneration into files with a very flexible file naming scheme.
Decodes IP/DVB transmissions in MPE format with decodes of the MAC and IP destination addresses.
Can save the payload from TCP and UDP transmissions and act as a multicast UDP/IP/DVB router.
PID usage graph with percentage displays for each PID.
Actual bitrate on PIDs carrying PCR and estimated bitrates for non PCR carrying PIDs.
PID graph is color coded to indicate unscrambled and scrambled PIDs.
Counts continuity and TEI errors on mux and PID-by-PID basis.
Variable resolution real-time or average charting.
Table report generation into HTML.
Export mux information to XML
EPG data export to XMLTV format for use with myHTPC and other HTPC frontends.
Automatic transport stream recording and export for unattended operation.
Table viewer shows tables carried on a PID with repetition rates.

Supports plugins written for MultiDec.
Manually defined channels can be added to any multiplex.
Record PIDs from a mux either as separate files or combined in their received order. 1 16 64
Multiple card support in a single system with qualified drivers.
Serial receiver control for Motorola DSR-4800 and Tandberg Alteia Plus/TT1260 receivers.
TCP/IP based remote control server to allow TSReader to be operated remotely by other software.
Graphing capability - see screenshots below. Limited
EPG grid for DVB, ISDB and ATSC networks.
Record scheduling from EPG Grid using the standard Windows Scheduler.
Video mosaic shows all video streams in the mux.      
Archiving mode - records all programs from all or some channels within a mux.      
Profiles - different configurations for TSReader allowing multiple instances to run simultaneously.    
EPG server to provide programming information to other TSReader instances running in archiving mode.      
Closed Caption decoder (EIA-608/CEA-708) for caption monitoring.      
Stream monitor function with alarms (ETR 290 style).      
UDP Forwarder - routes programs or the entire mux to UDP unicast/multicast. RTP and RTP with SMPTE 2022-4 also supported when forwarding the mux.

Custom descriptor decoding    
Hardware Forwarder - routes the transport stream to ASI, SMPTE-310M, LVDS & RF output devices.    
TSWatcher multi-channel monitor included.

Displays and logs SCTE-35 CUE messages used in advertisement insertion.

* Free for personal non-commercial use only.

What that means you can do with TSReader

OK, so after all that technical mumbo-jumbo, here's some of the things our users are doing with TSReader:

Stream Analysis
Find PIDs in a mux quickly even if the MPEG-2 tables aren't correct
Spot channels within muxes that occasionally switch from scrambled to free-to-air
Analyze new transmissions and get all the pertinent technical information about the mux in just a few seconds
Stream Recording
Record free-to-air SD and HD programs directly to the hard drive
Monitoring table repetition rates.
Recording the entire mux and later using TSReader as a demultiplexor to pull out the individual programs
Stream Monitoring
Spotting if an encoder is running correctly or how much bandwidth is being wasted on null or ghost packets
Monitoring JPEG thumbnails of free-to-air MPEG video to verify correct encoder operation
Exporting automatically DVB tables for real-off-air stream verification
Transcoding the MPEG-2 stream in real-time with VLC to MPEG-4 and then streaming over the Internet - allows remote monitoring of the transmitted stream anywhere in the world
Stream Viewing
Streaming to VLC which can decode for playback, transcode for Internet streaming and a whole variety of other neat things
Stream off-air channels over a local area network
Watching video real-time through the Stradis Professional decoder. Even with the cost of a 4:2:2 capable Stradis card, this solution is still thousands of dollars less than a 4:2:2 capable commercial receiver

Computer Requirements

To run TSReader successfully, you need:

Screen Shots

See what TSReader looks like. We suggest looking at the first picture to get an overview of what TSReader is showing. Click the thumbnail for a full size screen shot.

Overview of TSReader's main window. The DVB-S service from Dish Network at 119 degrees west is used as an example.
Click the thumbnail to see an overview of the parts of the TSReader main window.
An ATSC station (WUSA in Washington DC) viewed in TSReader.
TSReader's EPG Grid display. The red circles indicate a recording is scheduled for the time shown.
TSReader Professional's profile browser - manages multiple TSReader configurations.
Chart showing PID utilization in the mux, sorted by PID in this case.
Pie chart showing PID utilization by major streams.
Multiplex usage area chart. This shows how each channel within the mux is using bandwidth. Clearly in this sample variable rate MPEG-2 encoders are being used.
The program usage chart shows how each each program, SI tables, NULL packets and unreferenced (ghost) data use the bandwidth within the multiplex. Pseudo channels mapped from other active channels (commonly called virtual channels) show up very obviously in this chart.
Encoder bitrate can be watched in detail with the video bitrate line chart.
  Look at the encoder's GOP configuration and bitrates with the video composition chart.
  The table viewer function shows tables carried on a PID and their repetition rates in milliseconds.
TSReader streaming to VLC for realtime playback. VLC has a huge range of functionality - use it to decode, transcode, stream and a bunch of other functions.
TSReader Professional's archiving mode. In the sample, two channels from a mux are being recorded with file splitting based on EPG data. A modest modern PC with five DVB-T cards, some large hard drives and plenty of memory can record everything from a service like Freeview in the UK -- simultaneously.
A sample HTML export from TSReader. This one is from an ATSC (US terrestrial digital TV) transmission from WNVC in Virginia.
With a high-resolution monitor, you can easily see an entire mux with many services such as this one from Intelsat Americas 5.
Sample XML export from TSReader for the above mux.
The viewer in TSReader Professional for archived material. Thumbnails are automatic scrolled.
The power of TSReader and VLC. Here TSReader is receiving an off-air digital TV station, extracting one program and feeding it to VLC. VLC then transcodes to MPEG-4 at 256 Kbps and makes it available to other clients via HTTP, so in the inset picture we see VLC running on Mac OS-X decoding the same resulting video. VLC also puts a nice logo and the current time onto the video.
EIA-608 captions decoded by TSReader Professional
EIA-708 captions decoded by TSReader Professional

Developer Information

Many people use TSReader with their own custom code for special applications. We have a Developer's Index available which links to relevant documentation. We also welcome feedback from customers and suggestions to improve TSReader.

Sales and Licensing Information

Both TSReader Standard and TSReader Professional can be purchased using a credit card via PayPal. Orders are also accepted by means of a purchase order for commercial establishments but please get in touch with us first.

TSReader Lite is free for personal non-commerical use but lacks certain features and limits recording/playback to one minute at a time.

The TSReader license allows operation by a single user on a single PC. This means that if you're on a team at work and have multiple team members using TSReader, each needs their own license, but if you're using a copy on your main work PC and you sometimes use a laptop in the field you only need one license since only PC will be used at a time. Conversely, if you have a PC at the office and a monitoring PC in a remote location, that PC needs it's own license.

We do not offer discounts on TSReader and we do not provide discounts to resellers. There are two exceptions to these rules: Either OEM customers who bundle TSReader with their own product or site licenses for large corporations. For either of these situations, please feel free to email us.

Purchase TSReader Standard on-line via PayPal for $99 per license. A PayPal account is not required - a credit card can be used too. Updates to TSReader are included for one year from purchase date and $29 per year after the first year. PayPal requires manual processing so your order may take a few hours to deliver via email.

Purchase TSReader Professional on-line via PayPal for $399 per license. A PayPal account is not required - a credit card can be used too. Updates to TSReader are included for one year from purchase date and $79 per year after the first year. PayPal requires manual processing so your order may take a few hours to deliver via email.

If you wish to renew support or upgrade, please follow this link.

If you cannot use a credit card to purchase TSReader, you can perform a wire transfer to our account. Once our bank has confirmed the funds transfer, we will issue licenses electronically.

Our bank details are as follows:

Wells Fargo Bank
PO Box 563966
Charlotte NC 28262-3966
Account Name: COOLSTF.COM
Account Number: Please contact us for account number
Wire Routing Code: 055003201

Download TSReader Lite

Please click this link to download TSReader Lite. TSReader Lite may only be used in commercial environments for brief evaluation purposes. To use TSReader Lite on a day-to-day basis in a commercial setting violates the license agreement - you must purchase at minimum a TSReader Standard license.

We suggest you read the README file by clicking this link and if you have questions about TSReader, have a read through our support info.

Technical support is provided to registered users only - follow this link to log into our Support and Update site. Also follow the link if you're not sure of your password - help will be provided.

Related Software

A number of developers have written add-on or plugin software for TSReader. Here's a list of those that TSReader might find useful. If you've developed some software that you believe should be listed here, please let us know.

Name Description Website
TSReader Channel Manager Allows easy manipulation of the TSReader transponder/mux lists. Especially useful for European users. http://www.denton.privat.t-online.de/
DVD from TSReader Not actually a program, but a description of how to easily convert a transport recording generated by TSReader into DVD VOB files. http://www.denton.privat.t-online.de/tut_DVD_Creation.htm