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Official S Video cable
Topic Started: Sep 1 2014, 12:15 AM (3,789 Views)
swaaye
Established Member
I got a Monster Svideo cable for N64 a year ago for pretty cheap. It still has the visible pattern. I'm not convinced that pattern isn't something coming from N64's encoder. For that matter the N64 has an obvious color dither and its texture filtering is flawed and that too is a visible pattern.
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swaaye
Established Member
Well let us know if your cable improves things. I noticed slightly improved sharpness and color saturation.
Edited by swaaye, Sep 3 2014, 02:08 PM.
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swaaye
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Kobeskillz
Sep 3 2014, 04:15 PM
swaaye
Sep 3 2014, 02:07 PM
Well let us know if your cable improves things. I noticed slightly improved sharpness and color saturation.
I have a multi console S Video that also has a composite so from what I hear those are garbage.

I'm sure this should improve things.


I have read that too. The claim is that some Svideo+Composite cables just push a composite signal (C+Y) out each pin of SVideo and that this is the cause of the screendoor pattern. I have a multi-console cable and a Mad Catz SNES/GC/N64 cable (not Monster after all). They both have composite and S-Video. I've continuity checked both my cables and the SVideo is wired correctly with C and Y separate. The composite connector is actually on an entirely separate pin from those signals too.

I'm convinced the screendoor pattern is actually N64's color dithering and that composite blurs it out.
Edited by swaaye, Sep 3 2014, 10:49 PM.
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swaaye
Established Member
Ok I need to backpedal on my opinion of the cause of the checkerboard problem. I have been thinking more about it and reading more about it and I think it is a cable problem indeed. Some sort of signal quality and/or ground issue.

As I said I have two cables. I verified both of these have SVideo at least wired up correctly.
MadCatz Ultra S-Video/Audio Cable
MadCatz Universal S-Video Cable

I experimented with both cables and various inputs and games. The checkerboard varies by color which is probably a solid indication of signal issues. The "Ultra" cable is also considerably worse than the universal cable, even with its fancy claimed shielding and thicker wiring. Both cables have a ferrite core filter.

I get the impression that S-Video is a rather sensitive interface and is particularly susceptible to interference, crosstalk and ground problems.
Edited by swaaye, Sep 4 2014, 04:08 PM.
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swaaye
Established Member
You should do a comparison of both cables by having one connected and then quickly switching to the other. The only major difference I've seen between S-Video cables is the presence of that checkerboard pattern.
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swaaye
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Kobeskillz
Sep 8 2014, 03:06 PM
My comparison cable is pretty crappy though. I'm using a universal s video with the composite as well. I've heard those are really composite and not s video even though they have a s video connection.

I checked my universal svideo+composite cable and it is actually wired for svideo properly. The luma and chroma are separate and wired to the right pins on the Nintendo connector. Same with the Ultra composite+svideo cable I have. The Nintendo connector has pins for chroma, luma, and a separate composite so it would be pretty strange for someone to wire that up wrong.

Also yeah I do see the improved color and sharpness. But with the Madcatz Ultra cable a checkerboard pattern appears over most colors. It fades away sometimes. I don't know what the cause is but it must be some kind of noise, ground or crosstalk problem. It's not a simple wiring issue. The Ultra cable seems like it's high quality so it's really strange that it is the worse of the two!
Edited by swaaye, Sep 8 2014, 06:16 PM.
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swaaye
Established Member
I dissected the MadCatz Gamecube Ultra S-Video cable. They claim it's shielded, but there's no shielding in there. The rubber insulation is pretty thick so you get the impression it's shielded but nope. It looks like the only upgrade is gold connectors but that doesn't mean much when the company's own $10 universal cable outperforms it.


I also picked up
http://www.ebay.com/itm/261448131347?_trksid=p2059210.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
This cable outperforms both of the MadCatz cables.


Worst to best (Ultra -> Universal -> eBay cable)
The camera affects the brightness and sharpness but you can see how the screendoor effect goes away.
Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
Edited by swaaye, Sep 8 2014, 09:19 PM.
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swaaye
Established Member
Yeah the "Madcatz Ultra Gamecube S-Video Cable" puts a very obvious checkerboard over the image. I always blamed the N64 hardware thinking it was a nasty dithering pattern but it was the cable.

The Madcatz Universal cable is a lot better but there is still some checkerboard there. It's almost unnoticeable though.
Edited by swaaye, Sep 9 2014, 10:06 AM.
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swaaye
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Kobeskillz
Sep 9 2014, 10:08 AM
Don't you own a monster cable? Why don't you use that and toss the other wires?


Nope don't have the Monster cable.

The $16 SVideo cable I just got is pretty good though. I'm not sure if the Monster cable would be an improvement that would matter. I might buy one if they get cheap again.

I am hoping the N64 HDMI mod project comes to fruition.
http://retroactive.be/tech_n64_hdmi.php
Edited by swaaye, Sep 9 2014, 11:27 AM.
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swaaye
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Kobeskillz
Sep 9 2014, 12:23 PM
My bad I thought I saw in your post that you bought them cheap.
Oh yeah I did say that. I thought that the Madcatz Ultra cable was Monster until I looked again.

I bought that cable on eBay over a year ago. I think they were sold as Monster cables. They seemed high quality so I didn't bother to dispute it. They were fairly cheap IIRC.
Edited by swaaye, Sep 9 2014, 12:34 PM.
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swaaye
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Kobeskillz
Sep 9 2014, 02:10 PM
I heard the best quality you can get is to mod the n64 then get one of those sony PVM tvs.

Too much trouble. The S video looks great with decent cables and good CRT tv.

I am playing on a 50" plasma TV. I have a DVD recorder that takes S-Video and converts it to 480p HDMI. The TV doesn't have S-Video so that's an unfortunate inconvenience but whatever. I don't really want to go hunt down a quality CRT or fancy monitor.

One thing I've seen is plasma TVs work better than LCD TVs for gaming of almost any sort thanks to their much faster response time. They don't have the motion blur problem. Motion blur on a retro game upscale looks terrible. N64 certainly doesn't need any extra blur! 8)
Edited by swaaye, Sep 9 2014, 03:34 PM.
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swaaye
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Kobeskillz
Sep 9 2014, 04:04 PM
I got my CRT at craiglist and while it was easy to find a quality one listed near by the hard part was lugging that 70 pound beast. Ugh.

Even a 20 inch tv is heavy as heck.

Then the storage problem if you live in a small place.




Yeah I've had a few CRT TVs. I had a huge 34" years ago before going HD and it weighed over 150 lbs. Also scored a free 25" that I almost kept for the N64 but it wasn't really better than using the Plasma and even 25" is like you say very big and heavy.
Edited by swaaye, Sep 10 2014, 11:33 AM.
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swaaye
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Kobeskillz
Sep 10 2014, 12:52 PM
I think you are absolutely right and it's hardware related.

Mix the right tv (good CRT) and good wires and the clarity and sharpness magnifies this issue. Add in hi rez mode and it's more pronounced as well.

I still rather play in hi rez mode since in low rez games are really blurry especially in good CRT tvs vs older ones.

I tried Rogue Squadron and it it hardly had this problem so does it differ from game to game?

Starwars racer had a little bit of it.

Yeah some of it is color dithering and some of it is the 3-sample bilinear texture filtering. The texture filtering in particular can make for weirdly jagged/swimmy textures at times. Maybe some of it is also a cheap video encoding pipeline for TV.

High rez modes make everything sharper so you can see the little problems better.
Edited by swaaye, Sep 10 2014, 02:26 PM.
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swaaye
Established Member
Looked at Shadowman. The green/brown/yellow color of the world combined with low rez and N64's grainy filtering sure give it a, well, mushy look. And that mono audio doesn't help the experience.

This game has Dreamcast and Windows versions too. One of those would probably be the better way to go.
Edited by swaaye, Sep 10 2014, 11:51 PM.
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swaaye
Established Member
N64 games usually have low quality audio unless the game uses sequenced music to good effect. Games that try to use lots of recorded music and voice tend to sound monaural and low bitrate like a telephone or B&W movie. The cartridge capacity conundrum.

Call around and you might find a Dreamcast fairly cheap at a used game shop. Sometimes these places have a stack of them.
Edited by swaaye, Sep 11 2014, 12:20 PM.
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swaaye
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I think some of the best music is in the Nintendo and Rare games. You need a talented MIDI composer who can do amazing stuff with limited resources. Certainly both CPU and storage are concerns.

I agree with the low quality audio creating unique atmosphere. I felt that way about Shadows of the Empire. But of course on the other hand quality music is another form of atmosphere.
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