Emby Server organizes your media libraries inside a GUI in a fashion that is easy to navigate. It allows you to play media files from a server on a client device. This is known as a server/client, and it can refer to either hardware or software.
Just as there are server devices, there are server apps. As there are client devices, there are client apps. Emby is a server/client software made for popular hardware such as Fire TVs, Rokus and games consoles.
Emby competes with similar applications such as Plex and Jellyfin that use the same server client/model. Emby is a fork of Media Browser and is closed-source, while Jellyfin is the open-source version of Emby. [Read: Plex vs Emby vs Jellyfin vs Kodi: In-depth Comparison ]
Table of Contents
- What is an Emby Client?
- What to Look for in Emby Client?
- Best Emby Client Devices 2023
- 1. Apple TVs - Best Emby client for 4K
- 2. Amazon Fire TV Cube with Recast - Best Emby client for TV apps
- 3. NVIDIA Shield TV - Most Powerful Emby Client
- 4. PlayStation 5 - Best Emby client for PlayStation games
- 5. Xbox - Best Emby client for Microsoft Games
- 6. VBox - Best Emby client for OTA and PVR
- 7. Sonos Beam - Best Emby client for music listening
- 8. Roku Streambar - Best Emby client device for audio and sound
- 9. Raspberry Pi 4B - Best Emby client for DIY and FOSS options
- 10. MeCooL KM9 Pro Series - Best Emby client devices for under $100
- Honorable Mentions for Best Clients for Emby Server
- Conclusions: Which Emby client is the best?
What is an Emby Client?
An Emby client is a device that interacts with Emby Server, which can be installed on a standard PC, server or a NAS device. Emby Server can also be a container image such as when running in Docker. An Emby server (spelled with a lowercase "S") is a device, but Emby Server is the name of the Emby software application.
A good Emby client is necessary for streaming media from Emby Server. The better the Emby client device, the less it must rely on the physical Emby server. Just as Emby Server is software that resides on a physical Emby server, an Emby client can be a device or a software application.
What to Look for in Emby Client?
The best Emby clients support hardware transcoding and 4K playback. Features like Direct Play and Direct Stream are important for playback of all media formats. Emby can even play files stored on your client device that your client device itself cannot play.
Direct Play vs. Direct Stream
Directly playing a file uses local resources on your device. Directly streaming means using a Linux command, codec commands, or network protocols to play a media file across a LAN, WLAN, or WAN (the Internet for most of us). A direct stream is created by Emby for you automatically if your device does not support playing the file, even if the file is streamed from (and back to) your device.
Direct Played means your device supports playing the file. Direct Streamed means the file on your device must use server resources to play the file. The file resides on the client device if it is Direct Played or Direct Streamed.
Best Emby Client Devices 2023
With all the basics out of the way. Let us look at some of the best Emby streaming devices available in 2022. [Read: 10 Best Plex Client Devices  – STUTTER-free Streaming]
1. Apple TVs - Best Emby client for 4K
Apple TV is the best in terms of hardware. Newer Apple devices all use the same Apple "M" Series processor chips for cross-compatibility of apps between Apple devices. The Apple TV 4K is the best hardware option for Emby client devices.
Because Apple devices use Apple operating systems, it comes with the guarantee you will always have the latest updates and upgrades for Emby. Apple operating systems like tvOS and iOS used by phones and tablets (sometimes referred to as iPadOS), all are derived from Unix. Unix is also the parent of Linux, and so Apple operating systems share many qualities with Linux that make it easier for Emby developers to develop for Apple devices.
With the introduction of one processor chip for all Apple devices, apps will work much better across Apple devices of varying types. Emby features and content on your iPhone will sync perfectly to Emby on your Apple TV, iPad, and even when you log in through macOS. Only a few other options on this list rival the Apple TV.
2. Amazon Fire TV Cube with Recast - Best Emby client for TV apps
Historically, Amazon Fire TV devices have offered the best bang for the buck when it comes to hardware. They perform well as client devices for Emby and is the best budget choice.
Plus, if Alexa understands you, you have the added ability to be able to use all Alexa features, as well as, voice control Emby.
3. NVIDIA Shield TV - Most Powerful Emby Client
Shield TV and Shield TV Pro are two of the best Emby clients for gamers. The Pro version can run Emby Media Server as well as act as a Emby client. What you get with Shield TV…
- Emby client app
- Samsung SmartThings on SHIELD
- Google Cast
- SHIELD TV Remote App
- NVIDIA Games
Upgraded features from Shield TV Pro…
- Emby Media Server
- ShadowPlay and Twitch
- GeForce NOW
- NVIDIA GameStream
The power and portability of the Shield TV and Pro version make it a great addition to any network as a client device. For Emby media, all you need is the Shield TV. For upgraded gaming and Emby Media Server, you need Shield TV Pro.
4. PlayStation 5 - Best Emby client for PlayStation games
PlayStation is a great game console and an equally awesome Emby client device. While Emby and Jellyfin only have apps for PS3 and PS4 (at the time of this writing), Jellyfin was quicker to develop an app for PS5. You can also install Emby on PS4 and PS3 from the PlayStation App Store.
What makes the PS5 better than PlayStations before?
Ever wonder how many people buy something new just because it has a new version number, but never know why? It is not economical to be like them. I think everyone has behaved that way with their money, but the PS5 is a serious upgrade from past PlayStation models.
- Ultra-high speed SSD
- 8K output
- 4K TV gaming
- Tempest 3D AudioTech
The PS5 comes in two flavors: Disk Free and with Disk
The PS5 definitely rivals Nvidia Shield TV, if gaming is important to you
5. Xbox - Best Emby client for Microsoft Games
Another oldie but goody is Microsoft Xbox One, which also supports 4K gaming and TV.
6. VBox - Best Emby client for OTA and PVR
It is hard to find an awesome Android TV box (other than Nvidia Shield TV and Amazon Fire TV). Too many times it is only a device that may have the right hardware but just doesn't seem to run the way it should when Android boots. There are many Android boxes like this and many that use poor hardware anyway.
VBox TV Gateway for Terrestrial — DVB-T/T2 is an ideal Emby client device simply because it is running Android and it has built-in TV-tuners. VBox models are the best Emby client hardware for OTA TV with devices that support every major standard for TV-tuners globally with global shipping available in almost all countries.
VBox Android TV Gateways are another supported brand. VBox Android TV set-top boxes are a complete collection including every major TV-tuner type in wide use today. You can find a wide array of VBox TV Gateway Live TV & DVR tuners to provide TV channels to a media server with Emby.
For tinkerers, it is possible to configure a TV-tuner already installed and working with TVHeadend with TVHproxy.
VBox is one of those Android TV boxes that does everything it advertises and smoothly runs Android. Better yet, it comes with 2 or 4 TV tuners to ensure you can record and play more than one OTA or IPTV stream at a time. While this usually comes at a higher price, VBox is reasonably priced.
7. Sonos Beam - Best Emby client for music listening
If music is something you listen to a lot, a better-suited client device could be a smart soundbar. Sonos is a brand compatible with Emby, offering many models of soundbars such as the Sonos Beam product line.
There are several models of Sonos available that are compatible with Emby. The Sonos Beam 2nd Gen compact smart soundbar for TV is the latest, greatest model of Sonos Beam available and you cannot go wrong with that.
8. Roku Streambar - Best Emby client device for audio and sound
Roku makes a soundbar as well. While it is not quite as high-quality audio as most Sonos sound devices, the Roku Streambar is capable of streaming both video and audio. The Roku Streambar comes in two varieties, compact and wide.
Roku soundbar is nice, but my preferred Roku device is either Roku 4K TV or a Roku Ultra.
9. Raspberry Pi 4B - Best Emby client for DIY and FOSS options
The Raspberry Pi is a dev board and has been around for some time. The newest model of Raspberry Pi 4B boards come with up to 8GB RAM with 4G and 2G versions. If you like FOSS and DIY builds, undoubtedly the Pi boards make the best Emby clients.
Various other models of Raspberry Pi exist, and you could even experiment with running Emby on a great variety of Linux distros. [Read: Raspberry Pi Models and Cool Projects for Each in 2022]
The Raspberry Pi together with Linux makes it possible to build a Emby client to suit your specific needs. Another option is to use Kodi on the Raspberry Pi by installing the Emby for Kodi add-on.
10. MeCooL KM9 Pro Series - Best Emby client devices for under $100
The Google Certified MeCooL KM9 Pro comes with 4G RAM 32G ROM and dual 2.4GHz WiFi with 5G Bluetooth. MeCool uses the Google ATV TV OS and ARM Amlogic S905X2 Chipset that supports 4K at 60fps with HDCP 2.2, HDR, HDR10+, HLG, and HDR.
Quality Ultra HD comes from H.265 (HEVC) and VP9 video decoding, making the scenes come to new life in vivid contrast, color and clarity. This is the most powerful 4K Android Media Box available for under $100. It comes with a remote and Voice Control Function using Bluetooth.
Honorable Mentions for Best Clients for Emby Server
- 4K Android Smart TV
- Xiaomi Mi Box S Android TV with Google Assistant Remote Streaming Media Player with Chromecast Built-in 4K HDR and 8G RAM
Is Plex better than Emby?
In the recent times, Plex has separated itself with its content partnerships and Live TV. Today, I believe Emby is caught in a limbo because for practically same price Plex Pass is better than Emby Premium. And if you did not care about premium features, then there is Jellyfin, which is free.
Is there is anything better than Emby, besides Plex?
Jellyfin is the open-source fork of Emby and worthy and free alternative to Emby. Jellyfin has more add-ons and is made for third-party add-ons to be easy to contribute.
If Plex is not enough of a threat to usurp Emby users, Jellyfin has a good chance of winning over the rest. Read also: Emby vs Plex vs Jellyfin vs Kodi: In-depth Comparison 
How to reduce Emby buffering?
Buffering during playback can be reduced by making sure your devices can play the streams you are attempting to play. Make sure Emby and all your supporting software are up-to-date. Checking logs for software changes that may have occurred, such as conflicts in codecs or other Emby software dependencies. Most of all, ensure hardware transcoding is enabled, if available. Read also: Troubleshooting Plex buffering – Solutions for when Plex keeps pausing
Conclusions: Which Emby client is the best?
Apple TVs are the best Emby clients for efficiency, simply because Apple devices use the same Apple "M" Series chip. While other devices may have more powerful processors, they do not all come installed on a variety of devices made for the same platform.
You can get a faster client device, but Apple will provide every type of client device from TV box, smartwatch, phone, tablet, laptop, mini-PC to a standard desktop computer. Other brands may beat the processor speed, but they must compete to parallel cross-compatibility for devices of different types.
My preference is never one platform, but Apple is making advances to change that preference and why I rate Apple TVs as the best Emby client devices for 2022. Because of the new M1 chip, Spectrum TV replaced their in-home DVRs with Apple TVs.