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Steven Pendleton

What are the best options for S-video?

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I'm still waiting for HD Retrovision's Dreamcast cable, but I'm thinking about getting an S-video cable while I wait since that seems to have the greatest compatibility with games and both my Trinitron and my Framemeister have S-video. I've never used S-video before and I know nothing about it other than that it's good. Any cable recommendations? Are they all the same? I see the official Sega S-video cable on Amazon for 3,839 yen and I'm considering buying it, but that's a lot to pay for a single cable when there are also Dreamcast S-video cables available for ~700 yen.

Edited by Steven Pendleton
apparently I forgot how grammar is supposed to work

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Can't help I'm afraid as I use rgb scart leads. I expect even the cheap ones are an improvement over composite.

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Well, I've not used the official cables, but I did buy a set of the generic TOMEE branded cables a few years back. The results were aweful checkerboarding in the red hues. I've seen it before on cheap cables and since these cables had both composite and s-video outputs I had a sneaking feeling on something.

 

Taking the cable connector apart where it plugs into the DC my fears were confirmed. The TOMEE cable was splitting the composite signal to the chroma on the s-video output! While that does technically work, it results in a non pure chroma signal and isn't the proper way to do it.

 

Well the wires in the cable only allowed for either composite or s-video to exist so I cut the composite off and rewired the composite lead on the plug to the actual chroma output pin from the DC. That resulted in a really good s-video picture that I used as my main until finally installing the DCDigtal into it and going fully HDMI.

 

So my point is to be aware of the cheaper cables because they are likely doing something similar and if you want to be sure to get the proper results, I would stick with the Sega branded ones or be prepared to have to modify the cable you get if you go 3rd party. Granted the TOMEE branded one is the only other one I've used and I also have one of thier VGA cables and that actually worked really well, but yeah just something to be aware of.

 

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My experience mirrors that of @-^CrossBow^-.  I'd just avoid any cables that have both svideo and composite outputs.  There's a lot of junk out there and you can waste a lot of money going through cheap cable after cheap cable until you find something decent.  You might want to just skip the frustration and get the official cable.

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Who knows when the HD Retrovision cables are going to hit. I'm not sure what's taking so long. At this point you'll probably end up using the S-Video cable for quite some time, so you might as well go official.

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I used to use an official Dreamcast S-video cable into my CRT, it cleaned up the image noticeably - richer colors and more details were seen.   Eventually I bought a flatscreen that doesn't have S-video connections.   But the VGA-to-HDMI box/cable I've used into my flatscreen is immaculate.  Sorry can't recall which one I bought, it was 70 bucks or so like 2 years ago.  Anyway, you will definitely see an improvement with S-video.   

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Alright, thanks everyone. I think I will get the official Sega S-video cable. I may be able to find one in Akiba, so I may go there tomorrow and check, especially since I need to actually get some more Dreamcast games as I only have Power Stone and Power Stone 2 right now along with Xeno Crisis coming in the mail soon, but if not, there is that one on Amazon.

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Well, I decided to be ultra lazy and not go anywhere today so I ordered it online. Hopefully it shows up before Xeno Crisis does (not likely).

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On 2/10/2021 at 3:17 AM, Steven Pendleton said:

Well, I decided to be ultra lazy and not go anywhere today so I ordered it online. Hopefully it shows up before Xeno Crisis does (not likely).

@Steven PendletonHow did that work out for you?

 

@Cafeman Do you know what specific VGA-to-HDMI box/cable you got and use, or is that the item you couldn't remember where from?

Is something like this likely to have good results, or a waste of time / effort?  It's only $13:

https://www.amazon.com/GANA-Converter-Adapter-Computer-Projector/dp/B01N53IESF/ref=asc_df_B01N53IESF/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309807187084&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6250134011642015166&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9018572&hvtargid=pla-493054403985&psc=1

 

 

 

I'm trying to figure out my best option for Dreamcast video.  I've got a VGA box and I have used it on a TV that still had VGA input, but the picture wasn't nearly as great as on an older LCD TV I had that was higher end.  So I'm currently using a LevelHike brand HDMI cord / box, and it does very well.  

But that said I'm an absolute Dreamcast nut, and aside from paying someone to do the DCHDMI, what's the best DC video you can get?  S-Video running into RetroTink 2x / HDMI?  Then an M-cable as well?   So many different possible configurations!

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7 hours ago, Cafeman said:

@Curious Sofa I think I bought  this one.  

 

https://www.beharbros.com/akura

Very nice!  I think I'm going to give it a shot. 

Did a bunch of reading and think I have a better understanding of the issue(s) I had up to now.

My prior DC VGA box was outputting to the most expensive TV I've ever bought (it was like $2200 or more back in 2004 or so).  And it looked INCREDIBLE, bright, just popped off the screen, smooth, amazing.  But hooking that same thing up to my cheapie little newer LCD TV that had a VGA input, it wasn't terrible, it just wasn't like it had been.  If I'm understanding correctly, a lot of that is based on your TV's internal "upscaler".  And that original one was a super high end Panasonic TV so it probably had a great one, unlike my newer TV.  One question I have then is how do you shop for a TV and know whether its upscaling tech is any good?    

Perhaps the answer is you don't, just get an M Classic :) (or OSSC or FrameMeister etc).

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I tried some of those S-video/composite cables from Ebay and didn't notice much of a difference.

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A random followup: I am getting the Akura from Beharbros. It is scheduled to arrive on Thursday. I probably should have saved $10 by buying the Gekko instead, but I didn't. I realized that I have no games that don't support VGA and there are only maybe about 2 games that do not have VGA support that I'd be interested in, so no point in not upgrading. I can also use the S-video cable that I have in case I do ever get either of those 2 games, as I'm keeping my S-video cable.

 

My monitor does support 480p over HDMI, but I wonder how it will look, as I've never used it. If it doesn't look good for whatever reason, I will use the Akura together with the Framemeister's HDMI input, as I know that that will give me a great picture.

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I got my Akura a few minutes ago. This thing is amazing. It's not perfect, as the image is slightly off-center, but other than that, it is perfect so far. Goodbye, S-video. I will likely never use you ever again~

 

I can't believe how good this looks. This thing was worth it just for the massive quality in color alone, but the added sharpness and no longer needing to deinterlace everything with the Framemeister make it even better.

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I am basically sold, thank you!  I will give the Akura a try once I am ready to part with the bones for an upgrade.  TBH my LevelHike HDMI adapter isn't half bad (MUCH better than the Pound or Hyperkin), I really want to get the best (though I'm not going to go as far as a FrameMeister).  Upgrading from a 32" to a 42" for my retro needs, going to want the better colors and picture. :)

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Hydro Thunder said:

I am basically sold, thank you!  I will give the Akura a try once I am ready to part with the bones for an upgrade.  TBH my LevelHike HDMI adapter isn't half bad (MUCH better than the Pound or Hyperkin), I really want to get the best (though I'm not going to go as far as a FrameMeister).  Upgrading from a 32" to a 42" for my retro needs, going to want the better colors and picture. :)

Well, I'd hold off, actually; there are some additional things that I've recently learned about it that I'm not pleased with. First, it and the Gekko use the same generic VGA to HDMI converter that is in those garbage LevelHike and Pound cables. This is why the image is off-center, and it also apparently slightly crushes the image on the vertical axis, although I didn't notice it. They also scratched the numbers off of some of the chips on the PCB, which I didn't notice until later. This makes me rather suspicious, and I imagine that one of those chips is the VGA to HDMI converter. It does look nice, but I think there might be options of better quality, or at least less suspicious quality, out there.

 

I am actually considering getting the official Sega VGA box, as my monitor has a VGA input. I am also considering going back to S-video and seeing if I can get better settings on my Framemeister, as that will at least give me a better aspect ratio until HD Retrovision finally gets around to finishing their Dreamcast cable, which I will then use on either the OSSC or Retrotink 5X-Pro. I have not decided what I will do yet.

Edited by Steven Pendleton

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16 hours ago, Steven Pendleton said:

Well, I'd hold off, actually; there are some additional things that I've recently learned about it that I'm not pleased with. First, it and the Gekko use the same generic VGA to HDMI converter that is in those garbage LevelHike and Pound cables. This is why the image is off-center, and it also apparently slightly crushes the image on the vertical axis, although I didn't notice it. They also scratched the numbers off of some of the chips on the PCB, which I didn't notice until later. This makes me rather suspicious, and I imagine that one of those chips is the VGA to HDMI converter. It does look nice, but I think there might be options of better quality, or at least less suspicious quality, out there.

 

I am actually considering getting the official Sega VGA box, as my monitor has a VGA input. I am also considering going back to S-video and seeing if I can get better settings on my Framemeister, as that will at least give me a better aspect ratio until HD Retrovision finally gets around to finishing their Dreamcast cable, which I will then use on either the OSSC or Retrotink 5X-Pro. I have not decided what I will do yet.

Sound advice, and good information!  I have a non-Sega VGA cable that works well, TV / monitor dependent.  May go with that.  And yes, we all await the HD Retrovision release...I thought that was supposed to be out well before now.  But in any case... I need to also consider the Retrotink various options too.  Unfortunately the "simple, elegant" solution seems a non-option at this point.

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2 minutes ago, Hydro Thunder said:

Sound advice, and good information!  I have a non-Sega VGA cable that works well, TV / monitor dependent.  May go with that.  And yes, we all await the HD Retrovision release...I thought that was supposed to be out well before now.  But in any case... I need to also consider the Retrotink various options too.  Unfortunately the "simple, elegant" solution seems a non-option at this point.

I just now remembered that the RetroTINK 5X-Pro has an S-video input. I totally forgot about that until I read your post for some reason! I think I will likely try S-video with that instead of the Framemeister, especially since the thing has very good deinterlacing, has less lag than the Framemeister, and shouldn't mess up the colors. I just bought one in the batch from last week, so I don't have mine yet. Not sure when those are getting shipped, but I think Mike said the goal is to ship every order in purchase order within about a month.

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I am back to using S-video, but now on the RetroTINK-5x Pro. Image quality is of course softer than using the Akura, not only because it's S-video, but also because of the interlaced resolution. Still not bad, though, and the colors look a lot better on the RetroTINK than on the Framemeister. I don't know, the Akura seems like a shady thing, I think. Cheap off-the-shelf components + scratching the numbers off of the chips, possibly to prevent them from being identified as cheap stuff + off-center image (interestingly, also present on the RetroTINK with S-video) + slightly squashed aspect ratio seems a bit odd to me for something that's supposed to be the ultimate HDMI box.

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On 8/28/2021 at 1:42 AM, Steven Pendleton said:

I am back to using S-video, but now on the RetroTINK-5x Pro. Image quality is of course softer than using the Akura, not only because it's S-video, but also because of the interlaced resolution. Still not bad, though, and the colors look a lot better on the RetroTINK than on the Framemeister. I don't know, the Akura seems like a shady thing, I think. Cheap off-the-shelf components + scratching the numbers off of the chips, possibly to prevent them from being identified as cheap stuff + off-center image (interestingly, also present on the RetroTINK with S-video) + slightly squashed aspect ratio seems a bit odd to me for something that's supposed to be the ultimate HDMI box.

And this is why I installed the DCDigital (Then known as the DCHDMI) into my sports edition DC. Never had to look back since. Wasn't cheap of course but as switching the modes on it is easy with the controller button combos so that non VGA supported games will work, really makes it the best all in one solution for my needs.

 

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If the image is off-center through both the Akura and S-video over RetroTINK, it's probably safe to say that the issue is not with the Akura haha.

 

The squashed aspect ratio is an issue with the DC itself and how it outputs VGA resolution, not the VGA box.  The various upscalers can be set to correct this (OSSC has a video mode specifically meant to resolve this), but from what I understand DCDigital is the best option in that it is outputting the video prior to the DC squashing it.

Edited by newtmonkey

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16 hours ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

And this is why I installed the DCDigital (Then known as the DCHDMI) into my sports edition DC. Never had to look back since. Wasn't cheap of course but as switching the modes on it is easy with the controller button combos so that non VGA supported games will work, really makes it the best all in one solution for my needs.

 

I can't bring myself to make cuts in any system that I have aside from the AES RGB traces. That said, I am considering getting a replacement non-OEM case for my Dreamcast so I can install the DCDigital. Installing it is way beyond my skill level, though, as I've never seen soldering equipment in person.

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I can understand that. Again, I tend to have spare consoles of each system I own that I leave in stock condition. That said, the cut needed for the DCDigtal is very small and minor since the output isn't even a full size HDMI but a mini HDMI port. There are the screws that also are needed to secure the board and those typically punch through the labels on the bottom. However, I recently saw where someone heated up the labels to remove them. Then counter sunk the screws to hold in the board, and then applied the labels back on so you couldn't even see the screws aferwards. Pretty slick, but that is more than I would do as I would want those screws easy to get to in case the board should eve have to be replaced for some reason.

 

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