Basic explanation about M3U, M3U8, TS and MKV Lists

m3u lists 

m3u playlists are a file format that stores media playlists. From what is obvious, m3u files do not play anything more than a list. Nobody expects to find m3u files that play this or any other channel.

In the early days (of m3u files), the ability to create and open this file format was only supported by Winnamp. But over time, many programs have adopted this way of reproducing content in this way. In the case of playing TV channels, perhaps the most popular of them has been VLC.

The format of an m3u file is very simple. It is a text file that, as I already said, specifies the locations of the multimedia files that you want to play. The file text must be encoded in UTF-8 and use the m3u8 extension. Each entry in the m3u file indicates the path of a multimedia file and must be in a format that indicates the location of each file on that computer or on the Internet.

Within m3u listings you can also use comments that are identified by using “#” before them. In the extended m3u format, comments preceded by “#EXTINF:” are included (known as m3u directives) so that metadata can be added. This will be useful when including information regarding the next media file in the list.



Example m3u lists

Next we will see an example of an m3u file


In the first example, the number 180 indicates the duration in seconds of the file to be played. In the others, the length -1 is used to indicate that it is a streaming file. For this reason, it is impossible to determine its duration. The duration value is the title that will be displayed. Normally it is similar to the file path that is placed on the next line.

m3u8 files

A file with the extension m3u8 is a UTF-8 encoded audio playlist file. They are plain text files that can be used by audio and video players. In them you can describe where the multimedia files are located.

For example, an m3u8 file can give you references to online files for an Internet radio station. You can create another one on your computer to create a playlist for your own personal music or a series of videos.

In an m3u8 file you can use absolute paths, relative paths and URLs to refer to specific media files or entire folders of media files. These files can also host comments that describe their content.

These files have a similar format to m3u files. They can use UTF-8 encoding, but can also include other character encodings.

Open m3u8 files

m3u8 files can be edited and read by most text editors (notepad++, sublime text, gedit, …). To actually open and use an m3u8 file you need a media player or a file management program (VLC, XMMS,…)

TS Files

The .TS format is commonly used to transmit HDTV, or High Definition Television. It is particularly designed for higher quality streaming, but is often less stable than .m3u8 files. The Transport Stream (TS) manages error correction at any time when the signal loses quality. It also handles stream synchronization issues much more effectively than other file formats.

The TS format is specified within the MPEG-2 standard. It is a general format for the storage and transmission of audio, data and videos used in broadcast systems (ATSC and DVB). Some of the elements that make up the complete TS transport flow are: packet (basic unit), PID (packet identifier), PMT (program map table), programs, PSI (program specific information), PAT (association of the program), CAT (conditional access) and PCR (program reference clock).

As I have already said, these types of files have a higher quality than m3u8 files. In contrast, the lifespan of these files is usually much shorter (a matter of hours). When I search for channels to watch television online, I always try to find m3u8 files that I save appropriately in m3u lists. Although in the end I always end up mixing them with .ts files and looking for more options.

With this we are going to conclude this small tutorial on m3u lists, m3u8 files and ts files. If anyone has any questions, we will be happy to answer them.



MKV Files

MKV is one of the extensions that Matroska format files can have. It is an open source and free software container format, and one of its main characteristics is its enormous versatility. And it can contain an unlimited amount of video, audio or subtitle tracks within a single file.

What does this mean? Well, for example, if you have a movie in this format, within the same file you can have an unlimited number of audio files to watch it in different languages. Multiple video tracks, in the case of a series, would allow you to have several chapters in a single file. Obviously, the more tracks a single file has, the larger it will be and the more gigabytes it will occupy.

Beyond these qualities, as we read in official website, The Matroska format also includes quick search within the archive, chapter entries, full metadata support, and the ability to expand via modules. TIt also has DVD-style menusand can be played over the Internet and local networks (HTTP, CIFS, FTP, etc.).

The Matroska format is one of the most used to play high definition movies or digitize Blurays. When downloading a video, for example, if you see that the format is AVI you will know that it is low resolution, and if it is MKV you will be sure that it is high definition.

On the other hand, its difference with other popular containers like MP4 is that MKVs are compatible with more codecs and video and audio formats. This means that when we want to join several files within the same MKV, which would act as a container box, these could have a greater variety of formats.

Finally, and although you will not find them that often, it is also worth mentioning that Matroska type files can have various formats. MKVs are video files, which can include subtitles and audio. On the other hand, there are MKAs only for audio files, MKS for subtitles, and MK3Ds that are used to play stereoscopic videos, in 3D.