Only sound, no video for some mkv files (Pi 3)

Issue: when playimg some mkv files, I get only sound, no video output.

I researched the topic and there was no clear conclusions, other then that Rasberry Pi 3 (or ARM architecture) doesn’t support certain codecs. Because mkv is a container format and various codecs can be used to create it, some mkv file play well, some have only sound, no video.

This suggests that there is nothing to do. Is it really? Is there any codec I can install to try if it helps? or maybe I need some optional dependecies that are missing on OSMC?

Other solutions to this problem suggested changing the render method, but as usuall, it doesn’t work, because render method is grayed out, and all answers point out that this is not supported by hardware (Pi 3).

Again, the same question, is it really true or maybe I can install some packages that could fix it?

Thanks for your help


Could you please provide mediainfo for a few of the affected mkvs, instructions below:

It would be good if we could find out more about the file you are having issues playing. Please see the mediainfo section in How to submit a useful support request - General - OSMC.

You can also create the mediainfo-output of the affected media file on the OSMC device:

  1. login via SSH, user osmc, password osmc
  2. if not already installed: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install mediainfo
  3. cdto the directory containing the video/audio material in question
  4. upload the decoded media information using
    mediainfo <mediafile>|paste-log
  5. publish the returned URL here in this topic

Thanks Tom.

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Thanks for the info. Here are some examples of files that doesn’t play video:

Here is my OSMC log info:

10 bit h.265 @ 1080p is asking a lot out of RPi 3. If you want to play those you really need something more powerful. The Vero and RPi 4 would both play those files without issue. Otherwise stick with h.264 files. You can transcode them from one to the other with something like handbrake on a PC, but that is a bit of a task.


The TV is 720p only, so it should scale it down. Regardless of the hardware effort, the system doesn’t even try to open it. I only see spinner, then hear the sound and spinner runs infinitely.

So every time I see h.265, it won’t run? All rips from the current running TV shows work flawlessly and instantly, even if they are 1080pm only old series ripped from Bluray aren’t working. So I guess there is no work around it. Transcoding them is out of question.

Nevertheless, thanks for the info.

I think that particular RPi has a little hardware support for h.265 but I think that only gets you working for less demanding encodes with lower resolutions. To decode these kinds of files without dedicated hardware is a huge ask. They are much more intensive to decode than h.264 and you wouldn’t even be able to play full HD AVC on a RP3 very well without the hardware support it has to offload the task. There is no magic racing stripe that would make your hardware significantly faster in this regard.

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Thanks. At least I know what is the situation. I thought that it’s a software issue. Now I know I should avoid 265 versions and that is something.

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Newer versions of Kodi use V4L2/GBM on Raspberry Pi, meaning that previous hacks to make HEVC work on Pi2/3 are no longer included.

You can use an older version of OSMC/Kodi (although this won’t play everything); avoid HEVC content or upgrade to a more capable device.


Thanks for the info.

Hi, I’ve got two PIs and had this same problem with the PI3. I had updated it to the newest Kodi 19.4 and it stopped playing the video in mkv files. The PI2 on the other hand with Kodi 18.9 had no problems. So I rolled the PI3 back to Kodi 18.9 and supty- do, it now plays mkv files again with no problems. Hope this helps.

From what I understand, my issue is different. It’s about the codec and compression. H264 plays fine, H265 is too heavy for Pi3 (and by extension for Pi2).
As long I avoid H265 videos, all .mkv files work fine for me.