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Use of display technology to produce the best possible image from the N64
Topic Started: Jan 27 2014, 05:43 PM (8,627 Views)
andyk2003
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Hi, this is a technical question/discussion for those who have a fairly deep understanding of this kind of thing.. This is necessarily a long post so sorry for that!

My aim is to find out is the best type of display for the N64.


Most people will happy just plugging their console into their HDTV or any CRT that they have to hand which is totally fine and understandable. People have different perspectives and tastes on this and I respect the fact that this is all largely subjective - but as I say, my aim is to get the absolute best possible picture out of an N64 console.

I have already done quite a bit of research & experimenting with this & would really value any further wisdom on this.
Here are some things that I've already sussed out:


1: A high quality old fashioned 4:3 CRT TV or CRT monitor that accepts a 50/60Hz signal is essential. Many people are happy to use a flatscreen but we're looking for the absolute best image and LCDs and plasmas are not the way to go in this case. No matter how good a plasma or LCD display is, it still has to internally linedouble (and scale) the N64's 240p output which introduces lag and produces a blocky image. The N64 was designed with a CRT in mind. The NTSC console outputs a progressive 240p (15Khz) image which inherently has scanlines. Without these scanlines, the image would look blocky and unattractive (again, the effect seen on flatscreen TV's). Also, I wouldn't use a 16:9 CRT as I prefer the N64's 4:3 image to fill the screen.


2: It's important that the CRT display hasn't had too many hours of usage. A CRT has a half-life of roughly 10,000 hours (variable). An overly used one will have a soft, blurry output.


3: An RGB mod (preferably with a THS7314 Amp chip) is essential for the best image. Also a high quality RGB scart cable is a must (preferably official) to prevent interference. There are a couple of options being developed that produce an HDMI output via a DAC from an N64, but even these inevitably produce a blocky, linedoubled picture. An incredibly knowledgeable guy galled Viletim has developed (and will hopefully soon be selling) a DAC kit that bypasses the N64's analogue output circuitry and apparently produces an amazing true 240p image via RGB scart - this seems as though it might be the best option so far.


4: High quality scalers like the XRGB series are an excellent (and expensive!) option for getting many retro consoles to look good on a flatscreen TV. To me, this works less well for the N64. You can either have the image linedoubled (blocky) or with emulated scanlines - which look great on 2D consoles like the SNES etc. - but make the N64 output look false and not authentic IMO.


5: The size of the TV being used makes a difference . Some people are happy using 29 inch and above CRT's but in my opinion, these larger screen expose and amplify the negative aspects of the N64's output - namely it's blurry, overly anti-aliased picture. A 21 inch will always be one class better than a 29 inch. I don't find small screens involving enough so for me a 25 inch CRT is a good compromise. (An N64 will look amazing on a 14 inch screen!)


6: The display should not process the output in any way - for the best, truest picture it should be pure RGB in, pure RGB out. Processing of various kinds was introduced into TV's from all manufacturers at varying points during the 90's. All types of processing are generally considered to be detrimental to the output of retro consoles. An example is 100Hz technology which gives a blurry image when there's movement on screen). Other types of processing introduce unwanted artifacts into the picture. Philips started using 100Hz as early as 1988, whereas Sony was still producing larger TVs with no processing as late as the late 90's.


7: The TV would need to be an SDTV (pre-HDTV & EDTV). Even CRT HDTVs/EDTVs linedouble and scale the image (again, blocky and laggy image).


8: There are basically 2 types of CRT TV - Aperture grille (all Sony CRT's were this type) and shadow masks (everyone else). The difference is that although Sonys produce a really excellent bold picture due to their aperture grille, they have really strong, prominent scanlines as the phosphors are perfectly lined up in rows rather than the 'triad' alignment of a shadow mask. As mentioned earlier, these strong scanlines look great on earlier 2D consoles but (in my opinion) not so good on the NTSC N64 as they break up the 3D graphics in a detrimental manner. (On the PAL N64, the scanlines are much less apparent due to the higher resolution, so are not as much of an issue. I'm not into PAL gaming but if you are, this is a non issue). In my opintion, the softer more blended scanlines of a shadow mask TV really complement the NTSC N64s picture. As I said before, scanlines are essential for the N64 to look at it's best, but I think softer, blended ones look better than bold, prominent ones.


9: In terms of CRT monitors, this last point rules out the popular Sony PVM/BVM series which are aperture grilles and have strong scanlines (I had one and didn't like it). Shadow mask monitors include Hantarex (EQ 25/28s amongst others) NEC, Mitzubishi etc. I haven't had much experience with these except for the fact that they seem to be hard to find in good condition with low usage/hours. These are supposed to be very good if found in good condition though. The monitors that are most suitable are generally presentation or broadcast monitors that can produce a true 15Khz (240p) image and not multisync or computer monitors. A good quality CRT TV can match a good CRT monitor, though, and I personally find that a TV gives me a more authentic feel (I always used TV's back in the day)


10: The general quality of the TV - i.e. I would obviously take a Loewe or a Metz over a Bush or a Goodmans .
These CRT TV's are slowly dying out now so I think it's worth making a small collection of high quality little-used CRTs now for when they are mostly gone.


11: There are certain aspects to a CRT display that affect the quality of their picture, such as geometry issues, focus & convergence issues etc. but In mentioning CRTs in this post, I'm assuming that they're well-sourced, little used CRTs that have minimal problems.


12: Whether the N64 is PAL or NTSC region. The jump from an NTSC (240 lines) to a PAL (288 lines) is almost the same jump, relatively, as from PAL standard definition (576 lines) to 720p (720 lines). This means that the PAL N64's image looks quite a bit cleaner (though I prefer the NTSC colours) but we all know the disadvantages of PAL gaming - slower, bordered games - with some exceptions, notably Rare's games. Actually, even though well optimized PAL games run at the same gameplay speed as their NTSC counterparts, they still have lower framerates, topping out at 25/50fps rather than 30/60. In my opinion the higher the framerate the better in terms of gameplay, so PAL is a non-option for me.


I should mention that I'm discounting emulators in all of this - I much prefer the N64 hardware for various reasons.

So does anyone have any further insight into this - or know of a display that pairs particularly well with the N64 to produce a really spectacular picture quality? Any further insight would be well appreciated :)


Cheers!


Edited by andyk2003, Sep 13 2014, 06:48 AM.
My CRT thread:
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kartmaster
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Nice write up. I think you're pretty much right on base with getting the best looking picture out of original hardware.

In my case I've chosen to make some compromises, considering I never had the benefits of an RGB mod or anything like that back in the day. Infact, I have my NES hooked up with RF just because that's how I used to play it.

I definitely agree with hoarding a few of those old high quality CRTs though. I wish I had room to do so. There're as cheap as they'll ever be now, and in some cases free if you'll just haul 'em off. They're just so darn big! I have one nice Sony and a couple cheapo Magnavox's. There WILL be a day though when they're just plain gone and you can't find 'em anywhere.
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I stopped after the first chapter. there were lies concerning the lag. mine has ZERO lag whatsoever. whatever the game/console it is. and even if it did, I could adjust it with amplifier which has a built-in lag adjuster specifically for games.
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mjwatts26
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I intentionally bought the biggest CRT I could find (36" or 37" sony trinitron) and I regret it now. I don't think the picture looks very good for N64 even with s-video. But for all I know it was used a lot so it could very well be the result of heavy use. If you sit really far away it's okay, but I wish I had gone with a 30 inch or so.
Edited by mjwatts26, Jan 27 2014, 09:22 PM.
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Cabanon
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oops sorry, double post.
Edited by Cabanon, Jan 27 2014, 09:19 PM.
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Grizzmeister
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I'm lucky to have a nice 20 inch CRT TV for my N64 and I'm optimizing the image by using an S-Video connection. However, I'm not completely opposed to emulation as that opens up many of the N64's masterpieces to people who might not have otherwise given the software a chance.

Lots of people are still playing Super Smash Bros. semi competitively on-line thanks to PC emulation, and of course many youngsters are still discovering the wonders of Ocarina of Time because of the Wii's Virtual Console service.

My feeling is that in the very near future people who still play N64 games will be doing so via some form of emulation as CRT TV's are no longer manufactured and their image quality is admittedly archaic and obsolete.
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer

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andyk2003
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Jan 27 2014, 09:18 PM
I stopped after the first chapter. there were lies concerning the lag. mine has ZERO lag whatsoever. whatever the game/console it is. and even if it did, I could adjust it with amplifier which has a built-in lag adjuster specifically for games.
There is NO external device that can eliminate HDTV lag because the process that introduces it happens internally in the TV. The amplifier that you mentioned here and in another post doesn't decrease lag in the slightest bit. It's circuitry is designed to actually delay the audio part of the signal to compensate for any potential lag between audio and video timing. If you want to decrease lag you would be much better off with a decent scaler like an XRGB mini or XRGB 3.

All HDTV's introduce lag. This is because the image that they receive from an N64 isn't in their native display format, which is either 720p or 1080p - this means that the TV has to do 2 things to convert the image to an image that they can output. One is to linedouble the image and the other is to upscale it to the TV's native resolution. This is done by the internal processor in the TV and always takes a certain amount of time - therefore introduces lag. There are other processes going on in HDTVs that also contribute to this.

Some TV's are much better at it than others. Some Samsung HDTV's have a reputation for horrendous lag - around 100ms - even on 480p material. A very few have extremely low lag (around 20ms) & won't be noticeable unless you're very sensitive. It helps to research this when buying an HDTV. Some TVs have a 'game' mode which turns off some of the processing & cuts the lag down considerably. Some PC monitors also have extremely low lag but you can't connect an N64 directly to them. The SD CRT TVs I mentioned in my post are MUCH faster than any flatscreen TV - in the order of nanoseconds - which is undetectable.

This is subjective though. The vast majority of people aren't bothered - or don't even notice - and it won't really detract from the gaming experience unless you are sensitive to it.
Edited by andyk2003, Jan 28 2014, 09:09 AM.
My CRT thread:
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kartmaster
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mjwatts26
Jan 27 2014, 09:18 PM
I intentionally bought the biggest CRT I could find (36" or 37" sony trinitron) and I regret it now. I don't think the picture looks very good for N64 even with s-video. But for all I know it was used a lot so it could very well be the result of heavy use. If you sit really far away it's okay, but I wish I had gone with a 30 inch or so.
I have a 32" Trinitron. I found the picture very acceptable in the center of mine, but noticeably blurrier at the corners. I don't know if that's because of it's age or a drawback of the flat tube. We never could afford one of these fancy TV's back in their prime, so I couldn't tell you what it looked like out of the box!
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andyk2003
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Jan 28 2014, 07:52 AM
mjwatts26
Jan 27 2014, 09:18 PM
I intentionally bought the biggest CRT I could find (36" or 37" sony trinitron) and I regret it now. I don't think the picture looks very good for N64 even with s-video. But for all I know it was used a lot so it could very well be the result of heavy use. If you sit really far away it's okay, but I wish I had gone with a 30 inch or so.
I have a 32" Trinitron. I found the picture very acceptable in the center of mine, but noticeably blurrier at the corners. I don't know if that's because of it's age or a drawback of the flat tube. We never could afford one of these fancy TV's back in their prime, so I couldn't tell you what it looked like out of the box!
Nothing to worry about - most consumer grade CRTs will have that to some degree :)
Edited by andyk2003, Jan 28 2014, 09:30 AM.
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Cabanon
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I can see a 20ms lag no problem (thanks to Guitar Hero & Rock Band), yes it has a game mode but I had to turn it off because it was creating major lag when playing GH/RB. that said, I dont see lag at all when playing nes/snes/n64 on my TV.
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andyk2003
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Jan 28 2014, 06:19 PM
I can see a 20ms lag no problem (thanks to Guitar Hero & Rock Band), yes it has a game mode but I had to turn it off because it was creating major lag when playing GH/RB. that said, I dont see lag at all when playing nes/snes/n64 on my TV.
Hi - The lag is there but you aren't noticing it. This might be because you have one of the better, lower lag TVs. Also some people just aren't as sensitive to it.

A good way of measuring your TV's lag in it's native resolution and one that I've used in the past is this:

Use a PC/laptop that has an S-video output. Connect the S-video output to a CRT TV that is old enough to be completely free from any image processing and another output to your HDTV. Then find a free PC stopwatch program that will display in milliseconds. Put the TV's next to each other and run the stopwatch program so that it is displaying on both TVs ('clone' your desktop to be displaying on both screens). Make sure you are feeding your HDTV it's native resolution. Then take several photographs of the screens. The video signals will be reaching both displays at the same time, but the CRT will have no lag. Because all HDTVs have lag, in the photo the HDTV's stopwatch reading will be lower than that of the CRT. The average difference between the two numbers is the innate lag of your HDTV in it's native resolution in milliseconds .

This is a more accurate way of measuring than using Rock band but takes a bit more setting up.

The trouble with all of this, though, is that although this resulting figure might possibly be quite low, in this case we're feeding the display it's native resolution so the TV is having to do no extra work to interpolate the image. When we play retro consoles, we're asking the TV to do another round of processing to get the display on the screen. In the case of an N64, the image needs to be linedoubled to 480p and then scaled to the native resolution of the TV. These processes further add to the image processing time and can increase the lag time quite a bit, depending on the display.


This means that a NES/SNES/N64 will inevitably produce MORE lag on your HDTV than the 20ms you recorded in Rock Band and is one of the reasons that CRTs are so appealing for retro console gaming.
Edited by andyk2003, Jan 29 2014, 03:57 AM.
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Cabanon
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actually, i play GH/RB at 0ms. what I play is what I see and im spot on. I know when I plugged my n64 directly to my TV, it had lag because whenever I tried to play MK64, it would take maybe 20-30ms to do the proper turn (which is VERY VERY bad), but when I plugged it in my amplifier, everything went ok. so yes the TV produce lag (sometimes very little, sometimes alot) but there's solution around it which doesnt include a frikkin CRT
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andyk2003
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Jan 29 2014, 06:35 AM
actually, i play GH/RB at 0ms. what I play is what I see and im spot on. I know when I plugged my n64 directly to my TV, it had lag because whenever I tried to play MK64, it would take maybe 20-30ms to do the proper turn (which is VERY VERY bad), but when I plugged it in my amplifier, everything went ok. so yes the TV produce lag (sometimes very little, sometimes alot) but there's solution around it which doesnt include a frikkin CRT
. If you want a decent low-lag retro gaming experience on your HDTV, look into an XRGB-mini.

BTW, I do not recommend that anyone buy that amplifier for HDTV lag reduction purposes. For anyone else, the gold standard for this purpose is the XRGB series of processors, ideally the XRGB3 or XRGB-Mini (Framemeister) from Micomsoft. Not only do they reduce lag, they make 2D retro consoles look a lot nicer on HDTVs.
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andyk2003
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As a side note, I just received a Loewe Calida 70 - a fine model of shadow mask TV - but it still doesn't beat my Sony Trinitron for colour and sharpness. I'll collect a few more shadow masks, but I'm getting the feeling that the Trinitrons will eventually win out.
My CRT thread:
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Coligion
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Lots of solid information. The Nintendo 64 is a tricky system when trying to get good picture quality from it. As of right now, it's the only system I refuse to play on my Panasonic plasma. Instead, I leave it hooked up to my 27" Sony Trinitron CRT. It would have been so much easier had Nintendo left in RGB through the multiAV-out like the SNES, but they decided to make things difficult :angry: . Anyway, I have no problem playing my retro console on my plasma: SNES, Saturn,and Neo Geo all look great when using RGB cables. Thankfully, my TV accepts 240p over component, so one of those RGB to component transcoders works quite well. Personally, I don't see a huge difference going from s-video to RGB, but newer TVs no longer support s-video, so RGB to component it is.

Lately, I have been considering picking up a Framemeister. My biggest concern is the lag induced from the unit added onto my TV's. My component input is great on my set. There is no discernible lag. However, I have used other video transcoders to convert video signals and the delay they introduce is off-putting. Strangely enough, my VGA input is noticeably more laggy than my component input; typically, people recommend VGA over component because the signal should be less processed and create less delay. I really have not had a chance to game using my HDMI input, though: no current-gen consoles interest me.

Anyway, I'm one of those people who is very sensitive to input delay. Try playing Smash Brothers 64 on a CRT and then go to a laggy HDTV setup--not fun. The Framemeister is steep price to pay, but aside from an XRGB3, there really is no alternative for a fast video processor. I will one day take the plunge and try it, but at the moment, I rather enjoy having my Sony as the dedicated N64 TV :) .
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andyk2003
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It would still be awesome to hear from anyone who's experimented specifically with N64s and displays - and found a solution that really works well.

The Shmups forum's great but the N64 is a bit of an enigma with it's very individual blurry, overly antialiased output & this seems like a place to find some experienced N64 veterans who might shed some light on this :)
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andyk2003
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Coligion, the best person to contact about these XRGBs is Fudoh from the Shmups forum - he has an awesome amount of knowledge about this. Here's a resource of his on the XRGB mini:

http://retrogaming.hazard-city.de/framemeister.html

The Mini is seriously fast (1-9ms depending on the input). Adding it into the chain should actually decrease the overall lag.

Basically you could break down an HDTV's lag into 2 parts - 1 is a kind of 'baseline' lag that the TV will always have when it's being fed it's native resolution - this can't be changed. Then there is the other part which is caused by the TV's scaler processor upscaling the 240p image from a retro console. The XRGB takes over this task & scales the image much faster than the TV could & then feeds the TV it's native resolution so it doesn't have to do that work (along with scanlines, if needed). Therefore the overall lag should actually be less after you add in the XRGB. Also the Lag Database (http://www.displaylag.com/) and other sites have good info on which TVs are the fastest lagwise.

Fudoh would have more in depth knowledge of how this would work with your particular setup. It'd be great if there was a way for people to test one out before buying it - they're pretty expensive!

Do you find that the Sony has a nice sharp image & does it have prominent scanlines?
Edited by andyk2003, Jan 30 2014, 06:44 PM.
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Coligion
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I have actually spoken to Fudoh a lot. His site has a wealth of information on the topic, and he is extremely helpful. I own two devices that are covered on the site: the iScan Pro and the iScan HD+. They are both nice units, but the input delay created from them is very noticeable and bothersome to me. My next step was to try out a Framemeister, but as you already know, ~$400 is a tough price to take a gamble on, and I'm hesitant to think they'll process things noticeably faster than my iScan units.

My specific Panasonic model is not listed, but a similar model that shares the same panel has it listed at 32ms (great) rating. Composite and component feel fast and lag is not noticeable. I still find it odd how my VGA input is slower for some reason. I like to play Dreamcast with my VGA box, but I often find myself going back to the scart cable because of the slight delay added from VGA.

My Sony TV gives a very nice picture for the N64. The scanlines are very prominent I would say. I notice the picture is a bit softer on the corners of the set, but I'm not sure if that is normal or due to age.
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andyk2003
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I know, I would have thought that the VGA port would have been faster too - that's a strange one :/ I've got a panasonic too (g10) & it's generally very fast (not sure about the VGA port tho'). As you say, the Mini is a bit of a gamble especially if you're as sensitive to lag as you are..

I'm really glad you like the Sony - the reason being that at first I just couldn't get used to their strong scanlines on my N64. But I think I just need to forget about it & not let it bother me. I've got some shadow mask TVs (gentle scanlines) but none of them are as sharp as the Sony - I've noticed that the way the scanlines break up the N64s very soft image somehow makes it look more crisp... I'm still interested in finding a really high quality shadow mask that hasn't been used much (in a guest room or something) & seeing how it compares to the Sonys.

If I still end up with a blurrier picture on a great shadow mask then I'll probably just go with the Sonys - sharpness is more important to me than the issue of prominent scanlines & it definitely helps to know that these are a non-issue for you :)
Edited by andyk2003, Jan 31 2014, 04:56 AM.
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Cabanon
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just curious, are you guys in PAL land ?
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andyk2003
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Jan 31 2014, 11:26 AM
just curious, are you guys in PAL land ?
Hi, I'm in the UK - but have PAL & NTSC N64s both RGB modded. I got the PAL one to experiment with with well optimized PAL games (mostly by Rare) but nearly always play NTSC :)
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Cabanon
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ok thanks. that explain a few things.
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andyk2003
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Thought this side-by-side test was a good demonstration of HDTV lag:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoqA_DFIrwE&feature=player_detailpage
Edited by andyk2003, Feb 1 2014, 08:40 AM.
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NintendoLuke99
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TBH,Playing the N64 on a CRT Tv Has always made the games look like they did back then(not pizelated or stretched) and it looks much better on a CRT than on a LCD.I did play the N64 on a Sylvania 13 Inch CRT up until about November when it broke because the VCR built in Broke...i just replaced it with a GE 13 inch CRT TV which is great.I think part of the reason is that the games are really low resolution and lcds do not do well with that
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andyk2003
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Hi guys, I have a final conclusion in my search for the perfect N64 display so I thought I'd share it here.

I've been collecting and evaluating displays for a while now and think I have found the answers I was looking for. This is only for the really discerning types who absolutely have to have the best N64 experience - most people won't even care and will be fine with what they have. Also this is all pretty pointless if you don't have your N64 RGB modded.

As I mentioned before, the high quality CRT monitors either have scanlines that are too prominent for the N64 or line double to make a blocky image. Also they are hard to find in 25 inches - the ideal size IMO. Go higher than 25 inches and the picture degrades significantly. Also any TV that frame doubles (100Hz) or line doubles (EDTV/HDTVs) will not do the N64 any favours. Old fashioned (preferably 4:3) 50Hz TVs are the way to go for the absolute best experience.

High quality shadow mask CRTs were virtually non-existent in the UK (apart from Bang & Olufsen, which have a horribly dim output). For us, the Sony Trinitron TV's (aperture grille) were the best of the bunch and produce an amazing, vibrant and sharp image. I've tried lots of other makes from the UK next to the Sony and absolutely none of them come close. This is partly due to the aperture grille technology they used.

The only downside is that Sonys are prone to the image softening and loss of clarity after a lot of use so it's important to get one that hasn't been overly used - ideally one that's been used in a guest room or bedroom instead of as a main TV. I've picked up a lot of Sonys and only one is really sharp - it had been rarely used. If searching on eBay etc. a good clue is how worn the remote is. The numbers wear away with a lot of use so a new looking remote is a good sign.

I wanted to also see if a very high quality shadow mask TV could surpass my Sony but this meant that I had to import from Germany. The Germans made a few brands that were the absolute pinnacle of shadow mask technology - namely Metz, Loewe etc. I decided to go with Loewe as they produced a few 50HZ models as late as the year 2000 while Metz stopped producing them quite early on.

After some research, the very best and last range of models they produced had the E3001 chassis - which has a reputation amongst CRT collectors as being very high quality. After shipping quite a few (5) to the UK, only one still had a really bright, sharp image. This is because although they retain their sharpness a little better than apperture grille TVs, they will lose brightness and contrast with a lot of use.

Although this was a time consuming and expensive process (not too much of a problem for me) I ended up with 2 absolutely brilliant low use TV's - one a shadow mask and one aperture grille. This meant that I could make a good comparison of how the N64 works with both technologies.

As I mentioned before, the only disadvantage to the Sonys are the slightly more prominent scanlines - which complement the 2D consoles but not so much the first gen 3D ones. This problem gets way worse on the larger sets - 29 inch etc. but the scanlines are much milder than that of an apperture grille monitor like the Sony PVM/BVM series - a favourite among retro gamers. Apart from that, and on a 25 inch screen, the N64 looks very sharp, defined, bright and colourful.

As for the Loewe it has an absolutely beautiful, clean sharp image. There is absolutely no colour bleed even at quite high contrast levels. The colours are amazing and as a whole this even slightly tops the Sony. The scanlines are much less prominent than the Sony but the side effect of feeding it a low resolution image like the N64's is that it looks a little 'bitty' in the horizontal plane and not quite as cohesive as the Sony as a result. It turns out that there is no way to feed a 240p image of a first generation 3D console to a really sharp display capable of displaying twice that resolution and not notice some kind of resulting effect.

Also, due to the intrinsically rough nature of the N64's video output (even if it's RGB modded), it will always look much better at a distance of 6 feet as opposed to 3-4 feet no matter how high the quality the display is. Actually, for SD CRT TV's the recommended viewing distance, even for 480i/480p content is 3-4 times the diagonal size of the screen so for a 25 inch screen this translates to a closest viewing distance of 6.25 feet.

Either way, at this distance, the prominent scanlines of the Sony and slightly 'bitty' image of the Loewe completely blend in to the picture and you have a really cohesive image. This, coupled with the fact that the 6 foot distance also negates the N64's rough output, gives a fantastic, sharp image - much better than a TV with a softer image. This is because you end up with the high clarity and sharpness of these TVs but without the imperfections of both the N64's output and the shadow mask/aperture grille - the ideal sweet spot for this console.

My conclusion was that I found that a really sharp, little used, high quality 25 inch CRT at 6 feet distance gives the absolute best picture I've seen from an N64 with the exception of using a quality CRT monitor at 640x480 (31Khz) with PC emulation using a custom VGA to scart cable (or an Arcadeforge UMSA adapter). The PC emulator settings have to be just right to get the perfect image. The Wii virtual console gives a fairly good N64 output as well but only the PAL Wii outputs in RGB Scart (s-video is not good quality wise) so for 60Hz gaming the only route here is using a component compatible CRT monitor/TV.

As you probably know, PC N64 emulation on a flatscreen just looks 'wrong' (i.e. not authentic) due to the low polygon count and other factors such as when 2D sprites are used as a 3D effect in 3D games (Mario 64, Mario kart 64 etc.) The Wii virtual console for the N64 also looks terrible on a flatscreen, even on a high quality plasma (i.e. more forgiving than LCD/LED for SD content). Maybe future Nintendo consoles can improve on this.

Personally I prefer to use the original N64 hardware though. The smaller you go with the CRT, the sharper the image is and the less obvious the drawbacks of the N64's output quality are. As I say, I prefer 25 inch. My N64 looks amazing on my 13 inch CRT but that's too small for me. A 21 inch might be a good compromise for some people.

One word of warning for people looking to buy an XRGB mini for their N64 - these machines are amazing for getting old 2D consoles to look good on large modern TVs but don't play well with the N64. Depending on the settings, they either look much too scanlined and 'artificial' or very blocky. It's best to try one out before purchasing it, although that's easier said than done..

So there we have it - I hope this is useful for obsessive types who are searching for the best there is. For everyone else, their current TV is perfectly fine.
Edited by andyk2003, Jul 6 2014, 12:58 AM.
My CRT thread:
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myth
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I had my n64 on a hd crt in the past and it does make a difference as this thread says, I now have a 10 inch sony crt and it looks fantastic.


From what Iv read the sony BVM (not what I'm using) will give one if not the best picture for retro game consoles.
Been reading N64 forever since 2013.
Snes & N64 forever!
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andyk2003
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Actually I just bought a top of the range Sony BVM-20E1E and if you don't mind a 20 inch screen the image is incredible. It's generally considered to be the best 15Khz (retro) CRT display ever made and cost over $12,000 when it came out - but can now be bought for $200-$300. Ideally, the monitor would need to have low hours and be connected to the N64 using RGB via the monitor's BNC connectors.

Actually the scanlines aren't really overly apparent at a 2-3 feet distance and the image is very bright, sharp and colourful - quite a lot more so than a standard TV (or even a PVM). It's cool to see the N64 on such a phenomenal CRT. The interesting thing is that, for the N64 specifically, a standard Sony TV can be comparatively beneficial in some ways as it's softer, more blurred image gives a kind of anti-aliasing effect which smooths out the low res pixellated output of the N64 whereas the BVM's incredibly sharp image can highlight the N64's drawbacks a little.

So the Sony trinitron TVs are awesome and so are the BVMs - for different reasons. The 4:3 BVMs only go up to 20" but give better image quality (and geometry) and the TVs are fantastic too, give a more genuine 'retro' feel, but are blurrier and a touch smoother as a result (the bigger and more used the TV, the worse the image quality gets).

I have both permanently connected to all my retro consoles so I can switch between the two :)
Edited by andyk2003, Sep 5 2014, 05:12 PM.
My CRT thread:
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andyk2003
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Final conclusion!

Having spent some time with my BVM I'm completely sold. The image is so much bolder and sharper than any CRT I've ever seen - the image really leaps of the screen.

The caveat is that it's a 20" display - which made me reluctant at first - but I now find that the image quality more than makes up for it. A 20" screen will always looks sharper than an equivalent larger screen anyway but combined with the quality of the BVM, there's no going back for me

So there we have it. My mission is over - and for me, a Sony BVM monitor combined with a decent RGB mod gives the best possible N64 image quality :)
Edited by andyk2003, Sep 5 2014, 05:58 PM.
My CRT thread:
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Kobeskillz
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andykara2003
Sep 5 2014, 05:10 PM
Final conclusion!

Having spent some time with my BVM I'm completely sold. The image is so much bolder and sharper than any CRT I've ever seen - the image really leaps of the screen.

The caveat is that it's a 20" display - which made me reluctant at first - but I now find that the image quality more than makes up for it. A 20" screen will always looks sharper than an equivalent larger screen anyway but combined with the quality of the BVM, there's no going back for me

So there we have it. My mission is over - and for me, a Sony BVM monitor combined with a decent RGB mod gives the best possible N64 image quality :)
This is really interesting.

I recently got this tv. How good is this tv for retro gaming?
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andyk2003
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Did you mean that you bought a BVM monitor? If so that's great, they're generally regarded as the best CRTs ever made for retro gaming. The quality is awesome.

I've been searching for the best display possible because time hasn't been kind to the N64's image quality - I remembered it looking great back in the day but now I generally find it hard to look at. The BVM really changes that & makes playing my N64 a pleasure.

I have one alongside a really nice Sony CRT TV that's had very little use and the BVM is much sharper, clearer & the colours are much better. As I say, the image really leaps of the screen. The TV looks dull and blurred in comparison even though it's a great TV.

Saying that, the Sony TVs are in no way bad - in fact they're very good, it's just that the BVM looks so much better side by side.

Preferably, you'd want to use an RGB modded N64 with this monitor. The video connection uses BNC connectors so you'd need to use custom scart to BNC cables from somewhere like Retrogamingcables.

Which model BVM did you get?
Edited by andyk2003, Sep 6 2014, 05:14 AM.
My CRT thread:
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