I would say I am sorry for not having posted anything for so many months, but… it’s been a very bad year for this world, I haven’t been able to get myself to write a post in a while. I have been spending a lot of time upgrading my setup, though, and as a result decided to finally get back to the site with this, an article explaining how my setup works, and some basics of running consoles on modern TVs with good image quality. This is not a full explanation of how to do that, other sites and Youtube channels do that well, but I felt I should cover the fundamentals at least.
For the last several years, my main television was a 46″ Sony rear-projection CRT set from 2003 which I got for free. It’s a great TV for anything up to the ’00s, but that 720p (actually 480p somehow)/1080i set doesn’t cut it for current-gen systems, the image quality is noticeably lower particularly on the Xbox One. Still, for its good quality with older systems I was very happy with it. Sadly, in spring 2020 it broke and I had to make a choice for what to replace it with. My SD CRT still works, but that is only for classic systems.
I chose to get something nice for myself, and got a 55″ LG C9, a somewhat high-end 4K TV set. With that I had to upgrade my setup, because a modern TV requires upscaling for classic systems to look decent. So, I spent a bunch more money on switches and cables. Soon after I spent even more on the cables needed to upgrade the systems I easily could to component cables for better RGB image quality.
These all added up to some pretty major upgrades, and while I am not entirely done — I need another upscaler, so I don’t have to switch cables to output stuff on the 4K TV and also need a new cable for my Xbox because the thing isn’t working at all on the 4K TV with component output for some odd reason — but it’s close enough to make this article explaining how my setup works now. I’m sure it may interest someone. This is not the best way to do a setup, but it mostly works.
My primary goals with my setup are threefold: to allow me to use any console simply by turning it on and going to the correct input; to have all classic consoles output to both my 4K TV and my CRT without cable switching required; and to have as good video output as each system natively supports, if the cables are available. I only have one console modified (modded) for better video output than it natively supports; otherwise I stick with what they support out of the box, which is usually sufficient.
With that said, here is how my setup works.
So as I said I have two televisions in my living room. They are in the same room but in different parts of the room, with the SD CRT above my classic consoles, and the 4K TV in front of the modern ones. With my previous setup, only the classic consoles area systems output to the SDTV. However, my PS2, which I also use for PS1 games, and original Xbox are in the modern area, which means that I can’t use my lightguns for those consoles, or play the games on a CRT, which for the PS1 and PS2 definitely looks better than a HDTV will. I decided to solve this problem by adding some more switches to the setup and sending all of the signals to the modern area before they go to both TVs, so my NES, for example, goes through a whole lot of cable before it reaches the TV just above it, probably up to as much as 50 feet of cable depending on the system. That is not great in some ways, for potential impedance, interference, and lag issues, but it works and gets everything to both screens so for now it’s what I am doing.
VIDEO GAME CONSOLE OUTPUT TYPES
I am going to break the rest of this down by which switch each system is connected to, organized by which type of connection(s) the box uses. The video output types that my systems use are as follows:
– RF: This analog input is the lowest-end option, which I only use for old consoles that only support it. It sends the whole signal, audio and video, on one cord. The output is on a coax cable line cord also known as an F connector, or, alternately, a single RCA plug also known as a phono jack; generally the cord from a console uses the phono cord, which connects via an adapter to your cable or antenna line input. This may look like a regular composite input cable, but it is not; in most cases you need a compatible switchbox for your system or a phono to F adapter and need to connect it to a cable (F connector) port somewhere, most easily on a VCR. A few systems use required external RF units instead. For lower-end CRT TVs cable-line RF is the only graphical option you have, too, but I don’t use one of those TVs anymore. [NTSC] Resolutions supported: 480i (interlaced, drawing every other line) or 240p (progressive scan, drawing every line but with half as many total). These are the output resolutions of standard television and remained the same for decades. A TV screen is 640×480, but the image must either alternate lines — interlaced — or have half the resolution in progressive scan mode. Game consoles may use resolutions other than these two, but the actual TV output scales that to these.
– Composite – The most common input in the US through the ’90s and ’00s, this form of analog input is one step above RF since it separates audio and video. This is also known as AV, A/V, or RCA; it is the once-omnipresent red, white, and yellow phono plugs. The image from composite is decent but not great, with plenty of blurring and image quality issues like wavy lines and such. It was designed for CRT televisions and looks significantly better on a CRT than it does on a flatscreen television. With a flatscreen TV, an upscaler such as the Retrotink or OSSC is VERY highly recommended if you want your systems to look close to how they would on a CRT. I used composite on CRTs for a long time — I only started upgrading to anything better than this for classic consoles last year, really — and it looks fine for consoles of the day, but since I can get better options now I decided to. I am not a serious videophile though, so I have no problem with using composite for any classic system today, on a CRT or with an upscaler… except for the Sega Genesis, that one badly needs RGB. Anything else looks fine on composite though. Composite’s blurrier output is how most classic games were intended to be viewed, after all. Resolutions supported: 480i or 240p.
– S-Video – A definite step above composite, S-Video is noticeably sharper than composite since its video cable has four small wires in it instead of only one. It also uses the same two-plug RCA audio leads as composite. S-Video never was commonly used in the US, but some TVs and a lot of systems and equipment do support it and it’s a great option for those that do but would be hard to get full RGB out of. S-Video graphics are quite a bit sharper than composite, but still have some of that analog blur that was how graphics looked to most people in the ’00s and before. Modern flatscreen TVs do not have s-video ports on them anymore, so you will need an upscaler to use this type of cable on recent TVs. Resolutions supported: 480i or 240p.
– VGA – While almost always used exclusively for computer video output – this was the standard PC video cable of the ’90s – a few consoles do support VGA, most notably the Dreamcast. The DC released before component became popular, so in order to get progressive scan for a video output option above regular television, they decided to go with VGA. A few other consoles also have VGA cables, such as the Xbox 360. VGA supports a lot of resolutions, but on console it goes up to 480p. Adapters exist to use VGA on modern televisions.
– RGB Output Types: RGB Cable, Component, SCART – RGB is the best form of analog video output for classic consoles from the ’80s and ’90s. Some systems natively support it and others require modification to use RGB, but either way, RGB will get you an extremely clean and sharp signal, with none of the blur that was the way we all saw images on TVs back then. That is both a good and a bad thing, as some systems such as the Genesis rely on that blur, both from the cable and a CRT TV, putting colors right next to eachother to make something appear to be a different color, but the sharpness is impressive and usually an improvement. As for cables, there are several ways to get RGB signals — via component cables, the five-cable phono RCA cable system with red, green, and blue video cords and white and red audio ones. I got HD Retrovision’s component cables for four of my classic consoles. Alternately, people in Europe or other PAL territories, or people willing to import all of their hardware to the US, can use SCART for this. I have never used SCART and it has some complexities, so look up tutorials for how to do that before just buying cables. In Japan only there is a plug called JP21 which looks like SCART but has a different (and VERY incompatible) pinout, and also a smaller, more VGA-looking RGB cable, which some things use. And lastly, there are modern homebrew cables which adapt classic console outputs to HDMI available for many systems. The results should be similar no matter which way you get your RGB to the screen though, which one you use just depends on what systems support easily and how you have done your setup. Modern flatscreen TVs do not have any of these types of ports on them anymore (unless there is something in Europe with a SCART port still on it? I don’t know), so you will need an upscaler to use this type of cable on recent TVs. Most modern TVs also do not support 240p RGB as a resolution, so an upscaler really is required to see anything on screen; a cheap component to HDMI adapter will only work with 480p consoles such as the PS2 or newer, not older systems. And even with the PS2, a cheap component to HDMI adapter will only work with PS2 games and not PS1 games, which output in 240p when using a component cable. Unfortunately a more expensive option is required to even see anything on your TV. There are many now, for many consoles, and the list grows all the time; I will not try to list them all. Resolutions supported: 480i or 240p.
– Component – I know I just covered component above, but running RGB over component is only one use of this cable, it has others. This is the best form of analog video cabling used. Modern component cables exist for RGB usage for some classic systems, as covered in the above category, but this five-plug cable was originally popularized for higher resolutions such as 480p, once TVs that supported that resolution were released. But while component was mostly used for EDTVs and HDTVs and systems which support 480p or better, SD CRTs that support component, for sharp RGB 240p output, were also sold; I should know, my SD CRT is one of those. Having to deal with five separate cables can be a pain, since they can be hard to tell apart and it’s a lot of cables to keep track of and keep plugged in correctly, but when set up correctly you get great results, if everything works. I use component both for RGB on some classic consoles, and for progressive-scan 480p or better output on some modern ones for the ’00s that do not natively support HDMI. Recent TVs don’t have component outputs. Also see above for more on how most modern TVs do not support 240p RGB so an upscaler and not just an adapter will be required for classic systems on component cables, or to play PS1 games on a PS2 using component. So, an upscaler is unfortunately required if you want better than composite. Resolutions supported: 480i, 240p, 480p, 720p, 1080i.
– HDMI – HDMI is a much simpler standard than any of the above — you simply plug in the cord and go, it carries both audio and video, is fully digital, and supports up to 1440p resolutions I believe. After dealing with the many, many issues regular RCA analog cables have given me, going to the simplicity of HDMI is very nice. HDMI supports all resolutions component cables do, as well as 1080p. It is simple and works well.
– Ultra HDMI, aka 4K Ultra HDMI – This high-speed variant of HDMI looks the same as regular HDMI, but carries a lot more data. It is required for resolutions over 1080p, such as the “4K” resolutions the newest consoles support, or 8K for people who have one of those very high-end sets.
So with that out of the way, it’s finally to the main event here, the list of how my stuff is actually laid out. I will start from the top, with the RF systems.
Archer Video Selector Switch, model 15-1261:
For RF systems, I use an Archer manual switch. This early ’80s switch does not number the inputs but instead names them. The first four inputs are phono (cable line) plugs, and the last an RCA (F-connector) plug instead. So, for classic consoles, you won’t need a phono to F adapter for that last input, which is nice.
I recently got this early ’80s Archer manual switchbox to solve my ‘I need to regularly swap cables behind my VCR to use some of these systems on the HDTV’ problem, and it’s a great answer! Any RF switchbox you get will be from the ’80s, but fortunately the tech in these is very simple and should still work fine. This switch from Archer, an ’80s Radio Shack brand, has two dials on the front to set which input you want to go to each output, and is not powered. It has five input and two outputs, and in a design you will see often from Radio Shack products, locks out one of the inputs from going to one of the outputs, so if you’re recording from a VCR that is also connected to the unit you can’t create a feedback loop. This limitation frustrates me at times, but oh well, that’s how it is. Amusingly this box uses the early term”VTR” instead of the later standard “VCR”, but they mean the same thing.
My RF switchbox is sitting on top of my VCR, which it connects to. The easiest way to get RF consoles onto a modern TV is to use a VCR. Mine is a VCR/DVD combo unit, which are great.
Inputs: 4 RF coax F-connectors, 1 phono plug.
– ANT – Texas Instruments TI 99/4A (first silver model) (when on RF; I also have AV cables for thie system). This system uses a manual RF switchbox which is required to output RF, so it outputs on a cable line plug.
Connected to the output line on the TI99/4A’s switchbox is my Atari 2600, which I rarely use since I have a modded 7800 I will get to later, but I keep the 2600 plugged in for compatibility reasons; some games do not support the 7800. I need to slide the switch on the box to change these inputs but that is easy enough. The 2600 requires a manual rf box or phono to F adapter and a dedicated connection. I use the latter for image quality reasons.
– CABLE – Magnavox Odyssey 2. This uses a phono-to-F adapter. This system also requires a manual switchbox or phono-to-F adapter.
– VTR – Mattel Intellivision (Sears Super Video Arcade model). This uses a phono-to-F adapter. This system also requires a manual switchbox or phono-to-F adapter. If I had a second output from this box, which I do not, this wouldn’t go to output 2 (see below for why).
– AUX-1 – Atari 5200 (model 1). I have both models of 5200, but use a model 1 5200 as my regular console. Its unique, and first-of-its-kind, automatic switchbox still works perfectly, so it connects to the F-connector directly.
Connected to this is an automatic switch I connect to my NES 2, the small NES. I usually use my original-model NES since it has AV output, but also have this one that I now only really use for large-sized Famicom carts. I use a NEC-branded auto switch that came with my TurboGrafx-16 since it is the best-made auto RF switch I own.
Finally, connected to that is a line from a splitter for my cable TV signal, for if I want to view TV on my SD CRT. I do not often use this but the input was free, so why not?
– AUX-2 – Coleco Colecovision. This input is the phono plug, so the system connects directly to the switch. This system also requires a manual switchbox or phono-to-F adapter, or native phono jack of course.
Outputs: 2 RF coax.
1 – Connected to VCR/DVD Combo unit.
2 – Not used. Input 3 (VTR) won’t go to this.
Philips VCR/DVD Combo:
The Archer RF switch outputs to my ’00s Philips VCR/DVD combo unit, as I said above. So, I will cover this next. This is a VCR/DVD combo unit from the ’00s, and I do have the remote for it thankfully. One of these is an extremely handy thing to have! I rarely watch DVDs on this since I rarely watch DVDs and I don’t have this hooked up with component outputs for the DVD side so the image quality is quite a bit worse than it would be on my consoles, but it’s nice to have the option available. Note that in all VCR/DVD combo units, component output is ONLY for the DVD player; VCRs are designed for composite and only output that signal. Naturally, both A/V inputs on this player are also composite.
Inputs: 2 composite AV, 1 RF coax.
– AV 1 (Rear) – Texas Instruments TI 99/4A Computer (when using composite, which is usually the better choice for clearer picture). Composite is the best signal a TI99 natively outputs so use it.
– AV 2 (Front) – Currently unused. A front AV jack is convenient sometimes though, it’s much easier to get to than all the rest of the inputs I have.
– RF 1 – Archer model 15-1261 RF switch listed above.
Outputs: 1 composite AV, one RF coax.
– RF – Not Used. I used to use this for a rotated TV but now do not.
– AV – This is connected to S-Video / Composite Switch 1.
Composite / S-Video Switch 1 – Philips Master Video Switching Center, model PH61153
This automatic switch has four inputs and one output, and supports S-Video or composite. This thing has a bunch of features, though many have limited use. This is an automatic switch wit hthree modes, auto, manual, and scan. Yes, you have a scan function to scan for inputs to automatically switch between; I am not sure why this is required, my Radio Shack switches and component switches don’t need this. It also has an RF phono cable port and apparently will output anything over cable as well, for older SDTV support, though I haven’t tested this. It has a stand to put it vertical, though I am not using it. Additionally there is a single RF cable input jack, but it won’t upscale that to composite or s-video, it only outputs it in the cable output port, so this is a largely pointless, 1-in-1-out thing. It’s just an extender. On a more positive note, in addition to being an auto switch it claims to support generic remotes, if you want to change inputs from a distance. This is a decent switch with some features.
As far as inputs go, from the instructions I got the impression that this switch will not upscale composite to s-video. I have not tried that myself so I can’t say for sure, though. I decided to use this for some composite systems, so that’s not a major issue since my other switches do convert between them.Unfortunately however, even though I got this switch new old stock earlier this year, sadly both audio ports on input 1 are totally broken, so I have to use it as a 3-in-1-out switch.
Inputs: 4 AV / S-VIdeo, 1 RF. The RF input will only output to the RF output, NOT the composite/s-video output, so it is not very useful. The other four inputs support composite AV or S-Video, though I am only using composite in this box currently.
– AV/SV 1 – Not Used since both audio ports for this input are broken. 🙁
– AV/SV 2 – NES (composite). The NES does not support above composite without an internal mod. It looks good on composite.
– AV/SV 3 – VCR/DVD Combo Unit (composite). VCRs only output composite.
– AV/SV 4 – TurboGrafx-16 CD (composite). This is the best output a Turbo CD natively outputs and it looks very good. This system has very dark RF but great looking composite.
– RF – Not Used. This will only output to RF.
Outputs: 1 composite or s-video, 1 RF coax.
– AV/S-Video – To S-Video/Composite Switch 2 (S-Video)
– RF – Not Used. The RF input will only output here.
S-VIDEO AND COMPOSITE SYSTEMS
Radio Shack Auto-Sensing A/V Switch, model 15-314 – three in sequence
Next in my setup, the automatic switches continue with three more chained automatic S-Video/composite switches. All three of these are from Radio Shack. Radio Shack made this 5-in 2-out auto AV/S-Video switch in the ’90s and ’00s, and I mostly love these things, which is why I have so many. I should mention the downsides first, though. I have heard that these slightly degrade image quality, and while I can’t say I have noticed that it may well be true. Worse, I have had ports on these fail or become much touchier. Everything works on the three of these I’m using, but a few ports, most notably the audio output jacks on one of them, are really touchy. I also have a fourth one of these I can’t use because its audio output has totally failed. I am sure this is fixable with some soldering, but it’s still unfortunate.
Still, I love this model of switch for its ease of use and features; there are not many options for automatic AV/S-Video switches and of them I like this the most, issues and all. The Phillips above is the only other one I know of, but it supports one less input and one less output. That ones’ additional features are not things I use, either, and it has more distracting lights on the front. This just has one on top per input, plus one on top if auto mode is on. A switch on the back disables auto mode if you are having issues with it with an input. Unlike the Philips there is no option to use a remote with these, but I’ve never needed one, the automatic switching works very well. Additionally, the Radio Shack one will internally convert between S-Video and composite, so you can take in composite and send out S-Video, and vice versa. This is quite useful; sure, it may affect image quality slightly, but it’s more than worth it in my opinion for what I get. S-video definitely looks better through these switches than composite, it is not just turning s-video into composite or such. Oh, and like the Archer RF switch above, one input won’t go to one output so as to not let you create feedback looks while connecting it to a VCR for recording. This limitation is annoying for how I use them, but oh well.
Two of these switches are in my classic consoles area. They then connect with a long 15′ cable to the modern area, where one last one of these takes in several more inputs and then outputs to both TVs, via another 15′ cable to the SDTV and with a much shorter cord via the Retrotink 2X Pro to the 4KTV. These boxes take a second to recognize that a signal has been turned on, so it takes a few seconds for the image to appear on the screen after turning on a console with these, but it’s worth it for me.
Note, these switches only have text labels on the front, but numbers for the inputs on the back. They also come with various alternate labels and cable labels when you buy one of these new, but I just use the defaults since they don’t have ones actually named for consoles. Below I list each input with both its number and the default name on the front. Oddly the numbers go backwards here, so 1 is the input on the right.
Composite/S-Video Switch 2, a Radio Shack Auto-Sensing A/V Switch, model 15-314
Inputs: 5 composite or s-video.
– 1 (AUX) – N64 [standard black model] (S-Video). This is the best output you get out of an N64 without an internal modification.
– 2 ( GAME) – 3DO [FZ-1 model] (S-Video). The 3DO FZ1 has composite and S-Video ports on the back.
– 3 (DVD) – Input From S-Video/Composite Switch 1 (the Philips switch above). (composite)
– 4 (CBL/SAT) – Atari 7800 (S-Video). This is my one and only system modded for better video output, and it makes a huge difference! The 7800 by default requires a manual switchbox and has poor image output quality, but this modded system fully fixes those issues. I’d recommend a modded one if you get this system.
– 5 (VCR) – Laserdisc player (Pioneer model). (S-Video). The player has composite and s-video ports on the back. This is a movie player, not a game machine. Oddly laserdisc players only send out an image, unlike a VCR they can’t be used for inputs. Too bad. This input will not go to output 2 (which I’m not using anyway here).
Outputs: 2 composite or S-Video.
– 1 – To S-Video / Composite Switch 3 (S-Video)
– 2 – Not Used. Input 5 won’t go to this output.
Composite/S-Video Switch 3, a Radio Shack Auto-Sensing A/V Switch, model 15-314
Inputs: 5 composite or s-video.
– 1 (AUX) –NEC PC-FX (S-Video). The PC-FX has composite and s-video ports on the back.
– 2 ( GAME) – Atari Jaguar (S-Video). The Jaguar supports RF, composite, s-video, and RGB via SCART. A homebrew adapter to use component cables exists but are very hard to find and sadly I do not have one. There are also adapters to use an RGB cable with that VGA-ish port, but I’d have no way to use that in my current setup so for now it’ll be on s-video. The image output is pretty good.
– 3 (DVD) – Not Used. Yes, it’s a free input!
– 4 (CBL/SAT) – Input from S-Video/Composite Switch 2 (the first Radio Shack switch above) (S-Video)
– 5 (VCR) – Philips CD-i (composite). The CD-i model I have, the DVS VE-200, is great in some ways (no battery-in-a-chip design for the saving!), but only has composite outputs on the back so that is what I use. Some other CD-i models have S-Video output but you will need a save chip solution for them ASAP. This input will not go to output 2 (which I’m not using anyway here).
Outputs: 2 composite or S-Video.
– 1 – To S-Video / Composite Switch 4
– 2 – Not Used. Input 5 won’t go to this output.
Composite/S-Video Switch 4, a Radio Shack Auto-Sensing A/V Switch, model 15-314
This switch is in my modern consoles side of the room, instead of the classic one. Modern consoles for me are ones from the sixth generation and beyond, so it’s systems Dreamcast and newer – systems designed for progressive scan most of the time and higher resolutions.
Inputs: 5 composite or s-video.
– 1 (AUX) – Input from S-Video/Composite Switch 3 (the second Radio Shack switch above) (S-Video)
– 2 ( GAME) – Sega Gamecube (S-Video). I usually play Gamecube games on my Wii, which has a component cable, but I set this up as well because I can so why not? This is also my only way of playing GBC and GBA games on a TV since the GC does have a Game Boy Player attached. The Gamecube supports component output for 480p in many games, but while I may get that sometime for ease of use (not having to use a Wiimote to get into the GC game, etc.), this s-video output also looks pretty nice. It’s not progressive scan but is sharp. It’s a great output choice for the SD CRT, with component or HDMI cables it’d be quite a hassle to disable progressive scan for one TV and enable it for the other one…
– 3 (DVD) – Sega Dreamcast (composite). I mostly use my Behar Bros. DC to HDMI adapter box with the system, but for games that do not support VGA and thus won’t work with the HDMI adapter I need this option. For the DC I could get s-video cables, but so far I have not. This HDMI adapter is good, but I may get HD Retrovision’s Dreamcast cable once they release it; the HD Retrovision cable will have an easy ‘switch to composite’ switch, saving the cable switching this method requires with games not VGA compatible. Additionally, when I want to play original Xbox games in composite, on my SD CRT, which is a good option for certain titles, I plug it in to this port since neither is used much.
– 4 (CBL/SAT) – Sony PlayStation 2 (composite) As with the GC, DC and Xbox above, this is a system I mostly use component with, but I have two PS2s, one American fat one and one Japanese slim one, and chose to connect one with composite and the other with component. Many PS2 games look less bad with composite than with any other output option because of how the system was designed. Right now the Japanese PS2 Slim is the one on composite but this changes depending on what I am playing.
– 5 (VCR) – Not Used. This input will not go to output 2, my SD CRT, so nothing is attached to it.
Outputs: 2 composite or S-Video.
– 1 – To Retrotink 2X Pro (S-Video) which then outputs to the 4K TV (via HDMI).
– 2 – To SD CRT TV (S-Video) Input 5 won’t go to this output.
That completes the RF, Composite, and S-Video chain — from this last box finally everything goes to a TV. Next is the component chain, which is newly greatly expanded and caused me a whole lot of problems in the last few days. Other than the aforementioned issue of the Xbox not working at all on component, though, I’ve diagnosed and solved all other problems. Some of them were compatibility issues, others issues with me plugging things into the wrong places or cables coming out; with so many cords, remember every connection here has five separate plugs everywhere other than on the consoles themselves, there are a LOT of cords to keep track of. So, here goes!
Component Switch 1, a Philips PH61150 HD Automatic Video Switcher (in Classic Consoles Area)
The Philips automatic component switches are similar to their composite one, and also are 4-in-1-out switches, but are a bit simpler than that one. These has only two modes, auto or manual, first. That’s all that is needed anyway. They also do not come with a stand if you want to put the switch vertical like the composite/s-video one does, so I guess they are for horizontal use only. Fine with me. The box supports component or composite, but I only am using component with it. The Philips HD switch also doesn’t have the RF passthrough or RF output. No big loss there. All inputs work correctly on both of these boxes, which is great. These are quite nice, other than their output being seriously incompatible with distribution amplifiers; see below for more on that annoying problem.
Inputs: 4, all with component, composite, or s-video. I am using component with everything below.
– 1 – Sega Saturn [model 2] (via HD Retrovision Genesis component cable, with Saturn adapter) I also have composite and s-video cables for the Saturn, but RGB does look slightly sharper.
– 2 – Sega Genesis 2, with Sega CD 2 and 32X (via HD Retrovision Genesis component cable) The Genesis has infamously horrible RF and composite v ideo output quality, and does not support s-video, so SCART or this HD Retrovision cable are the only ways to get nice-looking video output out of a Genesis. This system is the reason why I went for this classic component upgrade, it’s expensive but worth it to finally for the first time see Genesis games actually looking sharp and clear on a television. The Genesis has the worst composite and RF output of any console I own, hands down. Get RGB out of it if it is at all possible to do so!
– 3 – Sega Master System (via HD Retrovision Genesis component cable, with SMS/Genesis 1 adapter). The SMS is surely the first console with RGB output support, nice work Sega! (As with most American SMSes, mine is just a console, it does not have a built-in game.)
– 4 – Super Nintendo / SNES (via HD Retrovision SNES component cable). How good SNES RGB looks depends on the internals of your Super Nintendo, they vary, but it does look better than composite or s-video, at least, on mine. It’s an earlier model 1 system I believe.
Output: 1, with composite, component, or s-video.
– 1 – To Component Switch 2 (Component)
Component Switch 2, a Philips PH61150 HD Automatic Video Switcher (in Modern Consoles Area)
Inputs: 4, all with component, composite, or s-video. I am using component with everything below.
– 1 – Microsoft Xbox (component). This is the original Xbox. There are some games that look better on a SD CRT and I can switch the system over to that (see above), but for the vast majority of titles on this console component is the way to go, it has a lot of games with progressive scan support.
– 2 – Sony PlayStation 2 (component) I use this for both PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 games, and the results look great for PS1 games, which output over component in 240p RGB. With the PS2 it varies depending on game though, most look pretty much the same as composite while a few do support 480p. PS2s are known as the last console designed for CRT screens first and foremost. Right now my US PS2 is connected here but I sometimes swap the cables with the composite cable now on the Japanese one. The two systems are placed one on top of the other so it’s not hard.
– 3 – From Component Switch 1
– 4 – Nintendo Wii [black model] (component) This is the best output a Wii outputs natively. HDMI adapters exist now I believe but I don’t have one, yet at least. I also have used this for Gamecube games a lot. It is best for the ones that support progressive scan 480p, since I don’t have a component or HDMI cable for my GC.
Output: 1, with composite, component, or s-video.
– 1 – To Radio Shack component switch model 15-316, a manual with remote component switch, and from there to a Ce labs AV400COMP distribution amplifier, and from there to the three destinations. So, this gets complicated.
From this component switch, I need to send the image to three places, one for 240p systems – a Retrotink; one for 480p or higher – a cheap HDMI adapter; and one for the CRT TV. So, to split the signal, I need to send the image to a component distribution amplifier. This device takes in an input and sends out multiple copies of it at full quality, without any degradation in image quality that you would get otherwise with things such as cable splitters. The amplifier then outputs to the three sources listed below. So I tried this but had a problem: when I directly connect the Philips switches to a distribution amplifier, it badly messes up their colors! All shades of color vanish, and only red, blue, and green colors appear on screen for everything. It’s a crazy glitch to say the least, and it’s an issue with the Phillips switch, not the amplifier.
After testing a lot of things I eventually found a workaround — I hooked up my old Radio Shack 4-in-1-out manual component switchbox, model 15-316, again. I got the Philips switches because the Radio Shakck is a manual switch and you need to put it line of sight with the remote in order to change inputs, which is a problem. setup location-wise. It only has one input used on it now though, from the second Philips component switch, and then sends its output to the distribution amplifier. It’s too bad this is required since it wastes more of my very limited power outlet spots, but at least it works! … Well, for everything other than the Xbox, but that’s some other issue.
Outputs: from the CeLabs AV400COMP distribution amplifier: (all component):
– 1 – To Retrotink 2X Pro (which then outputs to the 4K TV over HDMI). This is for systems that output at 240p or lower, so it will NOT work with the original Xbox or Wii unless you set them to SD output. As I described in the outputs section above, this will work with the PS2, but not with games that natively support 480p progressive scan, only for PS1 games and the large majority of the PS2 library that do not support progressive scan.
– 2 – To SDTV (via component, 240p only this is not a 480p TV)
– 3 – To a cheap, no-name Component to HDMI adapter that I have (via component), and from there (via HDMI) to my 5-input HDMI switch, which output to my 4K HDTV. This is for progressive scan systems that support 480p or better, so the Xbox (if working), Wii, and PS2 (the few supported titles).
To simplify this setup, I could get an OSSC instead of the Retrotink for component inputs and use the Retrotink only for the S-Video chain. (The OSSC only natively supports component, RGB, or SCART. There is also an addon for the OSSC called the Kouryu that adds s-video support to it, but as I have a Retrotink I don’t know that I will buy one.) This would have the benefit of supporting SCART for systems which support it but I can’t really get component inputs for, eg the Jaguar, and the Neo-Geo if I get one someday. The OSSC also supports 480p inputs, so I could drop the need to use two HDMI inputs for one chain of devices, which would be nice. OSSCs are expensive though so I have not done this yet after spending so much. I will probably get one eventually, or the upcoming OSSC Pro.
5-in-1-out Automatic/Remote HDMI Switch 1: – this thing says IIIP on it so maybe that is the brand name? It says 5×1 Enhanced HDMI Switch and 4Kx2K on it, as its model name / features list. There are a lot of generic HDMI switches out there and this is one of them.
This switch is nice — it’s small, has five inputs, will automatically switch to devices when they turn on, and has a remote extender so if you need to use the remote you can put the sensor in a visible spot; this is key, you want to put a switch like this hidden well behind stuff, not visible in range of the IR remote.
Inputs: 5, all regular HDMI. This thing claims some form of 4K Ultra HDMI support but I think it is limited.
– 1 – Nintendo Switch (original model)
– 2 – Nintendo Wii U (black 32GB model)
– 3 – From HDMI Switch 2 (below)
– 4 – Sega Dreamcast (via Behar Bros. HDMI adapter box; most games support this, but some do not and need the composite cable instead.)
– 5 – Microsoft Xbox 360 (Slim)
Output: 1 HDMI.
– 1 – To 4K TV
HDMI Switch 2, a NewBEP 4-in-1-out Manual/Remote HDMI Switch:
This basically noname but NewBEP-branded switch says 4K ARC HDR HDMI 2.0 and 4 IN 1 OUT Switch on it, so it should support all those things in some form, though 4K support is probably limited. This second switch works well, but it doesn’t have the nice features of the other one. Sure, it makes more claims about HDMI 2.09 and 4K, but I wouldn’t want to attach a 4K console to this, it’s probably 30fps only or such. The downsides are much more significant – there is one less input, and no automatic switching switch here so you need the remote or button on the device to change inputs. And there is no remote extender either, so you’d better find somewhere to put it where it will have a direct line of sight to its little IR remote. So, I have it on the top of the back of my Xbox One S.
Inputs: 4, all regular HDMI with some 4K support which I am not using.
– 1 – Sony PlayStation 3 (HDMI)
– 2 – Steam Link (HDMI)
– 3 – Not Used
– 4 – Not Used
– 1 – To HDMI Switch 1
The TVS THEMSELVES
So, the result is this, the inputs on the TVs themselves:
LG C9 4K TV (55″)
Inputs: 4 HDMI, all fully Ultra HDMI 2.1 compatible, and 1 composite AV via adapter. There are also four USB ports, though those are mostly for powering devices.
– HDMI 1 – XBox One S (with 4K-compatible Ultra HDMI cable)
– HDMI 2 – Retrotink 2X Pro (HDMI)
– HDMI 3 – HDMI Switch 1 (HDMI)
– HDMI 4 – the cheap Component-to-HDMI Adapter (HDMI) Again, this is mostly for PS2 and Wii games now that the Xbox has an issue and isn’t working on the 4K TV. PS1 games will NOT work here, my TV does not natively support 240p; for PS1 games an upscaler like the Retrotink is required.
– [Composite] AV 1 – Not Used I have tried this input and as expected it makes everything look horrible. An upscaler is pretty much required on a TV like this, unfortunately.
Output: Audio output only. Boo! It is optical at least.
PHILIPS CRT TV (from the early ’00s)
I am have had this TV since the mid ’00s, but am not sure what model it is exactly because unfortunately before I was given it the label on the back was mostly torn off. It has better image quality for older consoles than anything you can get on a modern television. The audio is mediocre, far behind a modern flatscreen, though. Oh well.
Inputs: 1 RF coax, 1 AV or s-video, 1 AV or component.
– [Composite] AV 1 / S-Video – From S-Video/Composite Switch 4
– [Composite] AV 2 / Component [aka CVB as it says onscreen] – From Component Switch 2. Remember not to output 480p here, it will NOT look good to say the least; this is a SDTV. This TV looks great with 240p component, though!
– RF 1 – Not Used
Outputs: 1 composite AV.
– Composite AV – Not Used
Older consoles were not online. Modern systems, however, require the internet. Wi-fi is not reliable however and I have a bunch of systems, so I use a mixture of wi-fi for some systems I use online less often for anything other than downloads, and wired internet for ones that I use online more.
Wired Internet via Ethernet: I have two wired internet lines going to my console area from my router.
– 1 – One goes directly to the Steam Link, for the best possible speeds while streaming PC games to the TV.
– 2 – The other one goes to a Linksys ethernet switch. This is not a wi-fi router as my main router is, but is only a 1-in-4-out ethernet splitter, effectively. So, it’s perfect for what I am using it for. Its output are as follows:
– 2-A – Nintendo Wii U (via a third party Wii LAN Adapter) This system works on my wi-fi, but it drops sometimes so online play can be bad. The switch to wired is well worth it.
Note that if I want to use the Wii online for whatever reason, I just need to move the USB cable with the LAN adapter on it from the Wii U to the Wii. They are on top of eachother so this is easy.
– 2-B – Nintendo Switch (via official Switch LAN Adapter) – This system drops wi-fi CONSTANTLY and is pretty much unusable on wi-fi, so wired internet is essential. It’s too bad the dock cdoesn’t have a built in ethernet port! Of course, the same goes for the Wii and Wii U.
– 2-C – Microsoft Xbox One S (via ethernet) – This system hates my wi-fi and pretty much can’t see it at all, so I have no choice other than to use wired internet for this system. I would anyway, but it is annoying.
– 2-D – LG C9 4K TV. Wired ethernet is key here for the best possible streaming video speeds.
Wireless Internet via my wi-fi router:
– Xbox 360 Slim – The X360 doesn’t work perfectly with my wi-fi as it drops sometimes and rarely connects correctly when you turn the system on, but it does function well enough for downloads and such. I used to use wired internet on it but have less need for this online since I got an Xbox One so this works.
– PlayStation 3 – The PS3 seems to work just fine with my wi-fi. Nice.
– Additionally, my Sony PlayStation Vita and Nintendo New 3DS XL handhelds connect to my wi-fi, both with no issues at all. My Windows 8 tablet also connects via wi-fi, again with no problems. The original DS, Wii, and PSP support wi-fi- but only with very basic security that I do not use, I use better security than that. There is no reason today to have a DS or PSP online, anyway, and with the Wii the LAN adapter works.
– As for other systems, the Dreamcast, original Xbox, and PS2 have modems, a phone modem for the DC, phone or ethernet for PS2, and ethernet for Xbox, but I’ve never used them. I may get a DreamPi sometime to be able to play Dreamcast games online though, that would be interesting.
For powering all of this stuff I use surge protectors from the brand APC. I wanted quality power supplies and got them. There are five of them, each directly plugged into a different outlet, in different parts of the room — two in the modern area, two in the classic area, and one near the wall behind the chairs. Three are ones with 11 inputs, 6 transformer size and five regular plug, and two USB ports. One has the same inputs, but has cable line protection instead of USB ports and a cord one foot longer. And the last is a smaller one with only five regular and four transformer inputs, and two USB. These all work well, you don’t want to overload circuits. On that note, helpfully, the modern-console area surge protectors are on a different circuit from the other three. I am running very low on outlets, though ; in the modern area I think I have only one free transformer plug,. In the classic area, everything is full plus two things are directly plugged into wall outlets even though I do keep a few system’ power supplies not plugged in, such as the Colecovision and its giant and notoriously unreliable power supply. I do not turn everything off when I’m not using them, but do turn off the surge protectors sometimes, it’s not good to leave things running all the time.