HD Analog DVRs With Exacq, Milestone and Genetec VMSes Tested
HD analog offerings have proven to deliver HD video at radically lower prices.
However, the main limitation for professional applications is their recorders / VMS software. The advanced features and usability of Dahua and Hikvision's DVR / VMSes are not close to that of the Favorite VMS Manufacturers 2016.
In this test report, we share results of integrating Dahua and Hikvision HD Analog DVRs with VMS software from Avigilon, Exacq, Genetec and Milestone. Essentially, we made the DVRs act as encoders feeding video into the VMSes.
Some combinations worked, some did not, and one crippled a VMS.
New Test Results
Since our original tests in 2014, two key improvements have been made to VMS support for HD analog recorders:
Milestone Improved Support
Milestone XProtect has improved support for Hikvision/Dahua recorders, with better detection of device type and proper driver discovery. Previously, device discovery was finicky, and XProtect often added cameras beyond the number of actual camera channels.
Genetec Dahua DVR/NVR Driver
Genetec Security Center now offers a Dahua DVR/NVR driver which connected to multiple models (both Dahua and OEM without issue).
Here are our key findings from this test:
- All recent DVRs (HDCVI, HDTVI, AHD) tested offered RTSP streaming out to third parties of both main and sub streams for each channel.
- RTSP streaming worked with all tested VMSes, though offered no configuration of the stream from the VMS client, requiring users to change settings in the DVR web interface.
- Dahua HDCVI and Hikvision HDTVI DVRs include unofficial ONVIF support, with ONVIF Device Manager able to connect, stream, and configure them as with other ONVIF cameras and encoders.
- Milestone XProtect was able to connect to, configure, and record both Dahua and Hikvision DVRs via its ONVIF 2-16 channel device driver.
- Genetec Security Center includes a Dahua DVR/NVR driver which connected to multiple models without issue. Hikvision DVRs are unsupported.
- Exacq was able to connect successfully to Dahua HDCVI DVRs but had major errors when connecting to Hikvision HDTVI DVR requiring restarting services, reboots, or reinstallation to repair.
- Avigilon Control Center does not connect to either manufacturer's DVR, displaying only the first channel of Dahua DVRs, but timing out when connected to Hikvision.
Using analog HD DVRs as encoders provides the benefits of these technologies (reusing existing cable, much lower camera and encoder costs) while allowing users to select the VMS of their choice, effectively the best of both worlds.
However, users should not assume ONVIF compatibility of these DVRs with their chosen VMS, and support was spotty in most cases when using leading VMSes, with the exception of Milestone, which connected to both Dahua and Hikvision DVRs without issue (and using only a single license for all channels) and Genetec, which offers a Dahua DVR driver.
At the very least, testing of the DVR/VMS combination should be done before deployment, or RTSP streaming (and its associated drawbacks) assumed.
Connecting via RTSP
Nearly all of the DVRs and NVRs we have tested in the past 1-2 years have streamed each channel out via RTSP. This includes Dahua (and Q-See), Hikvision, and even Sunivision and Hofo AHD DVRs.
This streaming support allows the majority of VMSes to connect to camera streams from these recorders simply by entering the RTSP stream URL. This simple support is nearly universal, however there are two key drawbacks:
- No stream configuration is supported from the VMS unlike encoders integrated via ONVIF or direct integrations. This requires the user to log into the individual DVR to adjust CODEC settings.
- Many VMSes now require reduced license counts for encoders, such as one license per four channels or one license per MAC or IP address. RTSP streams would not see this reduction in licensing cost as they are seen as individual cameras.
This video shows the basic process for adding RTSP URLs to the VMS:
RTSP Stream URLs
DVR RTSP stream URLs are rarely readily exposed by device manufacturers. We have included streams for recorders which we have tested below for quick reference.
Dahua recorders use the following stream format:
Where X is the channel number, and Y is stream type: 0 for the main full resolution stream, and 1 for the low resolution sub stream. So a sample URL for channel 1's full resolution stream would appear as:
Hikvision recorders use this URL:
X in this case is the channel number, while Y represents the stream type: 1 for main (full resolution), and 2 for substream (low res).
So a sample URL for channel 1, full resolution stream, may look like this:
Other manufacturers' RTSP streams may be available, but the exact strings required for each vary widely, and we have not tested these extensively. Streams are often easily obtainable using Wireshark or other packet grabbers to sniff stream URLs while operating the DVR's web interface.
DVR models from Dahua and Hikvision also include non-official ONVIF streaming support, allowing some VMSes to connect to them as they would any other ONVIF device. Since basic configuration changes (CODEC, frame rate, resolution, etc.) may be performed from the VMS instead of requiring users to access the device web interface, this is preferable to RTSP streaming.
Neither of these manufacturers' DVRs are Profile S conformant as they do not support MJPEG, which is required by the profile. However, when viewed in ONVIF Device Manager, both are listed as ONVIF 2.4 and video may be streamed and configured as any other ONVIF device.
This video shows this ONVIF support through ONVIF DM, including version and all channels of streaming video.
VMS DVR ONVIF Support
Despite this support and connection via ONVIF Device Manager, VMS support for these DVRs via ONVIF is limited. We attempted to connect multiple VMSes to three DVRs, detailed below:
- Dahua HCVR7208C 8-channel HDCVI DVR
- Dahua HCVR7816S 16-channel Tribrid DVR
- Hikvision DS-7204HGHI-SH 4-channel HDTVI DVR
Only Milestone XProtect was able to connect, stream, and configure these DVRs without issue or further configuration. There are two points to be aware of when used with Milestone:
- Manually add devices: Selecting "scan for hardware" will often result in the wrong driver being selected. Instead, users should manually add the DVR and select "ONVIF Conformant Device (2-16 Channels)" as the driver.
- May add more devices than channels: In some versions of Milestone, adding DVRs via the 2-16 channel driver added 16 cameras to XProtect regardless of actual channel count. This appears to be fixed in recent versions, though may still occur in older releases.
This image shows a Hikvision DS-7204HQHI-SH TVI DVR (top, four channel) and a Dahua HCVR7208 CVI DVR (bottom, 8 channel) added to XProtect, with cameras, audio, and outputs available.
This video reviews the process of adding these DVRs to Milestone:
Genetec: Dahua DVR/NVR Driver
Genetec Security Center now includes a Dahua DVR/NVR driver, which properly supported multiple Dahua recorders we tested.
Note that users must manually change the port to match their recorder's management port (typically 37777), instead of the default port 80 used by most Genetec drivers.
Once added, all video channels, as well as I/O and audio are available, as in Milestone XProtect:
Note that Genetec requires a license per camera channel, unlike XProtect. Additionally, Hikvision DVRs are not supported.
ExacqVision: Hikvision and Dahua Support Via ONVIF
ExacqVision is able to connect to the Dahua DVRs (but not Hikvision, see below) but requires each channel of the DVR to be added separately using a configuration string in the device URL, formatted as:
Where X is the channel number, from 1 to 16. Note that unlike XProtect, each channel requires a camera license.
This video shows the process of adding Dahua DVRs to Exacq:
Warning: When attempting to add the Hikvision DVR to Exacq using the same method, we encountered critical errors requiring services to be restarted or server reboots in order to remove the DVR from the server. In one extreme case, our test server became nearly inoperable and required reinstallation. As such, we do not recommend trying to add these models to ExacqVision.
Avigilon No connection
We were unable to add either DVR to Avigilon Control Center 5.4 and Genetec Security Center 5.2. These VMSes (both Profile S conformant) did not encounter major errors as Exacq did, but simply timed out when trying to connect.
Genetec includes a Dahua DVR/NVR driver (below), but still did not connect in our tests.
These are the DVR firmware versions used in this test:
- Dahua HCVR7208A: 3.200.0003.0
- Dahua HCVR7816S: 3.210.0001.0
- Hikvision DS-7204HGHI-SH: V3.3.2
- Avigilon Control Center Core: 220.127.116.11
- ExacqVision Enterprise: 18.104.22.168464
- Genetec Security Center: 5.4 SR 3 (5.4.686.18)
- Milestone XProtect Enterprise: 2016 R2 (10.1a , device pack 8.6)