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Thread: Damn Scalers

  1. #1
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    Damn Scalers

    Today I was exploring some cheaper options for image scaling, and I started considering the GBS-8200. I went through some videos, and it seemed OKish.

    I don't feel like spending tons of money on a Framemeister. I'd rather get some new arcade boards, or NeoSD's upcoming multi, or whatever it will be.

    Why looking at GBS, I started looking at different videos and comparisons. I'm aware of OSSC, and I was considering it as well, but it doesn't offer S-Video scaling, but neither does Framemeister.

    While looking at said videos and comparisons, I've noticed one dude comparing OSSC and XRGB mini, while playing his retro games in 16:9 instead of 4:3. Go figure.

    This got me thinking. During the 8Bit era, RF and composite were the norm, and that picture was shit, especially the RF, but we played these games anyway. Arcades were RGB on CRT and looked clean, but let's not kid ourselves, arcade CRTs weren't of PVM quality, or the quality some higher end CRT TVs could offer.

    Why are we chasing that emulator-esque pixel perfection? Sure, I agree that N64 upgrated with the HDMI module outputs an amazingly clean picture, but that's another $100+ purchase, plus some stunt-soldering.

    Someone may say old games on LCDs look like shit, especially on bigger LCDs, but come to think of it, I started using RGB as a norm during the fifth generation.

    I didn't have RGB cables for SNES and Megadrive. All of that came later. Living in Europe, I had the luxury of having SCART in almost all of my TVs. I even used a DVR, which had a SCART input, and HDMI output. It was lagless when not recording. Still is.

    I guess what I'm trying to say here is: scalers suck. All of them. There's always something. No matter how much you pay, there are things that won't work. Be it Sonic 2 split-screen on Framemeister, or interlace issues on hi-res N64 games with OSSC. You'd pretty much have to own everything to have an OK setup.

    The GBS alone won't cut it, either. I'd have to get Sync Strike as well. I've seen artifacts around sprites in some GBS videos, but none in others. The results people are getting are really inconsistent.

    This is all really costly and confusing. Do we really need all of this? Isn't RGB to LCD and 4:3 mode enough?

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    The Chinese Kid Kid Panda's Avatar
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    Framemeister has a s-video in.

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    Dogg-Father
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    XRGB2+ has s-video in.
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    Mature's Make-Up Artist
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    You lost me when you said "N64" and "amazingly clean picture" in the same sentence.

    But to answer your question. It isnt so much about chasing "pixel perfection" as it is keeping these systems playable in the future and on modern setups. Regardless if you are using composite or RGB, modern TVs have to upscale the picture in order to display it. The upscalers in most modern TVs are not centered around retro gaming or gaming in general so they are usually pretty laggy and can introduce noise when converting the analogue signal to digital. The way around this problem has been to use quality external scalers such as the OSSC or Framemeister in order to get the picture as close to the native resolution as possible so the TV wont have to do any scaling or processing on the image.
    Last edited by Niko; 10-30-2017 at 02:49 PM.

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niko View Post
    You lost me when you said "N64" and "amazingly clean picture" in the same sentence.
    You know what I meant. The N64 picture from UltraHDMI can't get much closer to 100% clean emulation, assuming said emulation is 100% accurate. I'm curious about one thing, though. How good does the UltraHDMI picture look on an LCD when you use cheat codes to disable AA? I always thought devs should have been more selective with AA, or rather with exceptions to the AA rule, like Treasure in Tsumi to Batsu.

    It isnt so much about chasing "pixel perfection" as it is keeping these systems playable in the future and on modern setups.
    Yeah, I get that. But my problem with this scaler mess is that nothing works exactly as I would want it to. In the end, I probably could get by on a Chinese RGB to HDMI if I really wanted. GBS is what? $18 shipped? Sync Strike is $30, which gives us under $50 for an OK setup, if you can't stand those halos around bright edges you get on RGB to HDMI made in China.

    For the longest time I wanted to invest into something that would be worthwhile, but I can't bring myself to spend big money on stuff I'm not completely sold on. My in-laws have a Trinitron with my name on it, and the only reason it's not at my place is because I don't have the room for it. Before my last CRT broke beyond repair, I didn't play on LCDs at all.

    I too wish the picture on my LCD was a bit cleaner, because while my TV isn't terrible at scaling the RGB image, it's obviously not what I'd get with the Framemeister or OSSC. BUT ... is the difference worth it on an LCD? That's my problem. I'm on the fence, and have been for the longest time.

    The scaler business is a mess. Instead of getting better and more versatile scalers, to connect our retro hardware to modern TVs, we get HDMI emu-boxes from just about everyone. I always thought that with time, we'd get products competing with Framemeister, but nope. There's the OSSC, and that's that.

    Anyways, I just felt like whining for a bit. I'm bitter because devices I'd pay hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for would only get me this far. I mean, without the UltraHDMI or an RGB mod, there's no way to get a clean picture from N64. I've never modded my WonderMega either, but I haven't found anything, except for the Framemeister, apparently, that would scale S-Video properly. For months now I've been trying to get that PCEngine RGB addon from DB Electronics, but it's always sold out ... Everything sucks balls.

    P.S. - One of the main reasons behind me wanting HDMI capable scalers was gameplay recording, but screw that. Doesn't look like it's happening anytime soon.
    Last edited by Morden; 10-30-2017 at 03:39 PM.

  7. #7
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    I agree to a point. This scaler is better for X, the other scaler is better for Y, but if you need to do Z then there's another scaler you'll want. Buy this cable with this kind of sync, but not this other one with different sync or your house will explode. A buncha goddam nonsense. All to play 25 year old video games. Before I got my Framemeister I was quite fine with plugging composite or s-video from older consoles into my LCD. I don't think I ever noticed any lag, I'm not even sure I knew it existed until I started reading shit from autistic gamers online. I got the Framemeister after getting an Omega and then realized other systems had RGB without mods so I picked up those cables. For me it's fine, but the whole thing does seem a bit ridiculous for what seems like a simple task. As mentioned though, composite and s-video inputs aren't going to be around forever.
    >

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    Quote Originally Posted by madman View Post
    As mentioned though, composite and s-video inputs aren't going to be around forever.
    Same goes for SCART, component and VGA. My current TV is getting old, but I intend on keeping it around for as long as I can, because it offers 4 HDMI ports, VGA, component and two SCART, one of which also supports S-Video [and RF ... amazingly enough]. I got it before TVs got "smart" and could connect to internet by themselves. Plus, it had 3D. It can play video and audio off of a USB, and supposedly even record video onto, but I think recording is only supported for digital TV. I never got it to work, but it would kick ass if it simply recorded everything. I guess they disabled this to prevent people from "ripping" BluRays via TVs.

    As far as inputs go, I'm covered. There isn't a console I can't just plug into it directly, and there hasn't been a console with a weird enough signal for it to reject it. Pretty much the only issue I have with it is the fast that for some reason, RGB picture gets chopped on the right side. It's really minor, but in fighting games for example, you can notice the right bar being closer to the edge than the left one. I assume this could be adjusted in the service menu, but it's an off brand TV, so I never found any service codes for it.

    Newer TVs are like Apple phones. They're aiming to have just one port for everything, which makes it mandatory to buy a breakout brick for HDMI and what have you. Samsung does this. I could be a fan of this solution if they made universal bricks for all TVs. Bricks with different inputs depending on your needs. Like standardized scalers for the hardcore, and regular, current inputs for the masses. But no. Everything has to be proprietary. I don't think these bricks are even interchangeable between different Samsung models.
    Last edited by Morden; 10-30-2017 at 04:37 PM.

  9. #9
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    I'd say in about 10 - 15 years things will be much more ironed out and seamless.

    But you will probably never have a good solution in the $20 - $50 range. Retro gaming is a niche market and eventually the bubble will burst and future generations will stop caring about the games and experience we try so hard to preserve.

  10. #10
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    Just save yourself the headaches and buy an OSSC. Job done.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yodd View Post
    Just save yourself the headaches and buy an OSSC. Job done.
    Yeah ... That still doesn't cover my S-Video needs, and I really don't feel like RGB modding my WonderMega. If there's a risk of me messing it up, I might as well get a Framemeister. I'd sooner 60Hz mod one of my Megadrives.

  12. #12
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    Mine is like a 10 year old Samsung. I think 3 HDMI inputs, 2 or 3 sets of component, 2 s-video, 2 composite and a VGA. I'm hoping it doesn't give up the ghost anytime soon. For now I'll just be sticking w/the framemeister. I use the HAS Supergun and it's nice to just use a DIN cable to hook it up. I'd probably look at the OSSC if I didn't have an existing scaler.
    >

  13. #13
    Neo Bubble Buster
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    I've been using the Framemeister for a couple years now, but a few months ago I decided it was time to add the OSSC to the mix and ordered one. It FINALLY arrived today!

    myossc.jpg

    But yeah, if you want the best of both worlds, you gotta buy both worlds it seems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by madman View Post
    Before I got my Framemeister I was quite fine with plugging composite or s-video from older consoles into my LCD. I don't think I ever noticed any lag, I'm not even sure I knew it existed until I started reading shit from autistic gamers online.
    Here's a little story about how I got back into CRTs.

    Just like you, I would always hook my stuff with composite or whatever I had handy onto modern LCDs, be it my Mega Drive, Playstation or what have you.

    Some games were really hard for me and couldn't grasp why; eventually, I decided that I just wasn't as good as the younger me and called it a day.

    Still, there was one boss of Rocket Knight Adventures I just couldn't beat, it looked like I couldn't move in time, I was reacting too slow and that really got on my nerves. After some days I decided to just put the game away and get onto something else.

    Then I read about those amazing Sony BVM/PVM monitors and snagged a nice hi-end 800 lines BVM, 14" for ~40€ (a BVM 14M4DE), so I started making my own RGB cables and started playing some games. Needless to say the picture was amazing, I was speechless at how much I was missing with LCDs.

    Finally, I fired up Rocket Knight Adventures and as soon as I took control of Spark, one thing became apparent: it was like the game was reading my mind, it moved the character before I would press the button.
    After the initial shock I realized I was so used to the lag that my brain would intentionally slow down my reactions to get in sync with the lag; this is why I was getting the impression of the game reading my mind.

    I cleared the game with 1 life, on my first try. The impossible boss became a breeze.

    Now, a CRT is kind of impractical these days, but for fuck's sake go get a nice scaler because if you play those old consoles you're really missing a lot (and making playing these games a lot more frustrating then they used to).


    P.S.: Eventually I went full retard and got myself a SEGA Astro City arcade cabinet. I'm back to being a happy kid.

  15. #15
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    I'm not fantastic at any game so if there's any lag that isn't obvious I'm not going to notice it but when it comes to scalers the GBS is pretty awful. Those OSSC's look really good, if there are any shortfalls with it I wouldn't know.



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    Quote Originally Posted by donluca View Post
    Needless to say the picture was amazing, I was speechless at how much I was missing with LCDs. Finally, I fired up Rocket Knight Adventures and as soon as I took control of Spark, one thing became apparent: it was like the game was reading my mind, it moved the character before I would press the button.
    Maybe it was your LCD's fault? The drastic difference, I mean. For a time, I had both a CRT and an LCD, and sometimes I would hook up games to the LCD simply because it was bigger and I could sit in the sofa while in front of it. Hammerin' Harry is one of those games I could probably play blindfolded, so if there are games I know well enough to notice even a subtle difference, this one is definitely one of them.

    I had absolutely no problems with playing it on the LCD. Maybe it depends on the TV, the mode it's in and the type of connection, but living in Europe, the obvious way of connecting arcade boards to a TV has always been RGB via SCART, and it worked like a charm as far as lag is concerned. There are things I do in that game which require a degree of precision, and I couldn't see myself doing them with the type of lag you mention.

    Also, if this was true for all LCD TVs, we basically wouldn't be able to play bullet hell games. It's not that I'm not sensitive to lag at all. Like I said, I have a DVR which can act as a scaler and I could call it lagless, as long as it's in pass-thru mode. When you start recording, it immediately starts lagging to the point playing any games requiring precision is impossible.

    Quote Originally Posted by lachlan
    I'm not fantastic at any game so if there's any lag that isn't obvious I'm not going to notice it but when it comes to scalers the GBS is pretty awful. Those OSSC's look really good, if there are any shortfalls with it I wouldn't know.
    I'm curious about the scaling of mid-res [24kHz], like what Model 2 and 3 use. Can OSSC and Framemeister handle this? Say what you will about GBS, but apparently it can do it just fine, lack of razor sharp image aside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lachlan View Post
    I'm not fantastic at any game
    Thats a fucking honest statement mate. Takes balls to admit one is average

    OSSCs look the bomb. The thing that does my head in is the complete crapshoot when it comes to compatibility with TVs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by joala View Post
    OSSCs look the bomb. The thing that does my head in is the complete crapshoot when it comes to compatibility with TVs.
    I'd be interested in OSSC's compatibility with capture devices, like Elgato Game Capture HD60 and HD60S.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morden View Post
    I'd be interested in OSSC's compatibility with capture devices, like Elgato Game Capture HD60 and HD60S.
    Check some of the OSSC youtube vids (if you havent already). Users have been using capture devices and list which they're using in the description
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  20. #20
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    There's no big market out there for this stuff. And it's a messy situation - a raft of resolutions and frequencies, and then trying to upscale a small image, on top of which something like svideo will be noisey . Nearly every other solution other than 2d games will be seeking to avoid clean pixel edges. Even the retro/new input lag conscious gamers are niche enough that tv manufacturers see little need to to ever advertise this performance metric. As for those interested in, say, scanlines... forget about it

    And there's an economy of scale. Essentially even efforts like the the xrgb/framemeister are hobbyist companies, and these are cheap compared to say 'specialist' av equipment (whose performance varies but whose ticket price is typically (necessarily) bonkers compared whatever you see in a more regular store).

    In the case of nintendo, almost consistently up to the wiiu (and I would argue extending beyond this to the switch), they have made poor engineering decisions, especially as concerned image quality. These may have been smart/convenient commercial choices, but I still pretty much would agree if you want to single anyone out in this mess there's a company that has worsened your struggles today. (... If you're in the states; of course feel free to also get mad with anyone in american tv manufacturing that argued against component or rgb input options being standard .

    The good news is that if you are about recording footage you can always split your signal, play on a crt, record your signal as perfectly as you can and either do scaling + effects in post, or, if, say, streaming, or don't want to re-record footage, at least allow for a delay that would normally be counter intuitive to playing on original hardware but perfectly acceptable - if not preferable for streaming/commentary purposes. And this should give you a few more options...

    There is of course a flip side. Instead of playing with games + systems that are now antiques and worth 100s, plus adding in specialist gear for more 100s, you can often play ports/emulation which will give you generally very good results (+tunable to your personal taste). This isn't a slam dunk in the input lag states, but pretty much solves the issue of how to get perfect digital video. And, lets face it, if the scaling cost/complexities are ruining your playing experience there's little point in sticking with original hardware...

    ... And this is why everyone else wants nintendo to sell them a nice emu box.
    Last edited by gray117; 10-31-2017 at 09:00 AM.

  21. #21
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    ^ Hit the nail on the head.



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    There's a thread over on the Shumps forum looking at improving the GBS-8200/8220 units.

    There also appears to be a new HDMI variant available on eBay now.

    s-l300.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by nam9 View Post
    There's a thread over on the Shumps forum looking at improving the GBS-8200/8220 units. There also appears to be a new HDMI variant available on eBay now.
    Yeah, I've seen both. The problem is, while the Pi solution is interesting from a technical standpoint, it's too clunky for what it offers. I'm not going to attach something that is more expensive than the GBS board itself to get slightly better results. As for the HDMI variant, it uses the exact same chipset. Converting VGA to HDMI is not an issue, really.

    Quote Originally Posted by gray117
    There's no big market out there for this stuff. And it's a messy situation - a raft of resolutions and frequencies, and then trying to upscale a small image
    Yeah, I know. This topic is mainly me expressing my frustration. I'm aware of the current situation. I just wish we had something better, and at the same time, cheaper. It's 2017 for crying out loud. When I was a kid, I thought we'd have flying cars in the year 2000. Guess what. The cars still run on fuel and upscalers are expensive and far from what I would want them to be.

    On one hand you have enough people interested in running things on original hardware to justify a market for flash devices. Krikzz alone has a ton of them, and is releasing new ones along with hardware revisions. So you want to play on real hardware but you want it to look like shit? Flash cartridge market and scaler market should almost go hand in hand. We all seem to want the same things. We want the real deal, and we want it to be cheap, or at the very least, convenient. There's no point in owning one of Nintendo's minis if you own a flash device and original hardware. If you want to emulate Starfox 2, you might just as well do it on your PC, or a Pi, or inject it into a Virtual Console emulator, or whatever.

    For me, it's crystal clear. You get an official console capable of outputting RGB, you get a flash device, and all that is left is a scaler, if you want the edges to be crisp. It's a three item combo. The problem is, scalers are such a pain in the ass. Then again, I shouldn't say anything, really, since throughout the years I have paid hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for flash devices. I own four for the Megadrive alone, but that's my favorite 16Bit platform, and Titan's Overdrive forced my hand, and I just had to get that MegaEverdrive X7. I could have bought an OSSC for the same amount of money.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morden View Post
    I'm curious about the scaling of mid-res [24kHz], like what Model 2 and 3 use. Can OSSC and Framemeister handle this? Say what you will about GBS, but apparently it can do it just fine, lack of razor sharp image aside.
    While I don't have any first-hand experience with a 24kHz input signal on the OSSC, Fudoh, who knows his video processing shit, claims it does:

    24khz (384p) is also accepted and properly line doubled to a 768p output timing (that's for your Model 2 and Model 3 fans out there).
    Quote Originally Posted by joala View Post
    OSSCs look the bomb. The thing that does my head in is the complete crapshoot when it comes to compatibility with TVs.
    The other caveat is that while Line x3/x4/x5 modes should, in theory, work with 50 Hz material (i.e. unmodded PAL consoles), in practise, all bets are off in 288p Lx3/Lx4/Lx5 mode.

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    24khz works on the OSSC. I have tested it with my x68000.
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