Converters

Converters

There are many different reasons you’d want to convert a signal and this page will slowly grow to discuss all of them.  To start, I’d like to make the clarification that in this context, converters just change the signal type;  There’s no scaling or processing of the image.  This should always result in a zero-lag solution, with video quality varying.

RGB to Component Video (YPbPr)

There are a few scenarios where converting RGB to component would be the right choice for your particular setup.  If you’re using a consumer-grade CRT that only has component inputs, these are the best choice.  They might even work well on your flat-screen TV, depending on compatibility.  For more info, please check out my upscaler comparison page, as it describes in detail the difference between using RGB to component, vs an upscaler.

RetroTINK RGB2Comp:  Amazon / StoneAgeGamer:  The “RetroTINK” line of products includes a transcoder that converts between RGB and component.  These should preserve the signal quality, while allowing an easy way to convert the signals.

Shinybow SB-2840 This is a great converter, but the recent release of the much cheaper RetroTINK products has bumped it to second in line.  It was tested and verified on an oscilloscope and it works with 240p, 480i and 480p. 

CSY-2100 & Clones I tested both a CSY-2100 SCART to Y-U-V converter and a clone system (the clones look similar to the one in the upper left picture, but have the screws on the sides, not front. The original CSY-2100 seemed to work well, however they’re expensive and hard to find.

I didn’t have as good results with the clone’s though;  I had to tweak the tuning POT’s before it looked right, which should never be necessary with analog video. Here’s the POT’s I tweaked, but YouTube user Billkwando also has a good video about it:

As an FYI, if you’re using a 240p console on a basic, consumer-grade CRT, you won’t see a big difference between RGB (or component) and S-Video…and it’s certainly not as drastic a difference as seen on high-end displays. If both your CRT and console support S-Video, that might be a cheaper solution when available.

 

Analog to HDMI

Any device that converts from analog (VGA, Component, Etc) to HDMI with no scaling should be a lag-free device.  Video quality may vary, but as long as lag isn’t added, it shouldn’t harm the overall gaming experience.  WARNING:  Makers of cheap generic devices often sell inconsistent products.  The ones I’ve found that work well use a “Lontium” chip and even work with 240p.  I keep a list of the equipment I use on my Amazon affiliate store, but keep in mind that there’s no way to guarantee you’ll get one with the same chip inside:  https://www.amazon.com/shop/retrorgb?listId=IP72N6BL06SV

 

Component (YPbPr) to VGA (RGBHV) & SCART (RGBs)
RetroTINK Comp2RGB:  Amazon / StoneAgeGamer:  The “RetroTINK” line of products includes a transcoder that converts between YPbPr Component video and RGB SCART.  This will work in all resolutions from 240p – 1080i.
Garo:
The Behar Bros have recently released the Garo, a component to SCART / VGA box.  It offers both a SCART RGBs output and a VGA outputs that’s switched between RGBs / RGBHV.  It offers scanlines as well, however they aren’t very dark and aren’t very accurate to a standard “scanline look”.  Here’s a screenshot for reference.

 

RGB to VGA (no scaling)
Almost every VGA monitor will not accept 15KHz (240p and 480i) signals from classic game consoles.  Some VGA monitors can accept a 320×240 signal, just not at 15Khz (or as RGBs), but that results in a look that’s different from a standard 240p signal.
If you’re looking to use classic consoles on a VGA monitor, there are a few choices that will double 240p to 480p and offer scanlines that when used on a CRT look very close to a true 240p signal.  As an FYI, if you’re looking to simply play classic games on a flat-screen, stick with HDMI sclaers and don’t try to use VGA.
Retro Scaler A1 – This converter is the best solution for retro gaming on a CRT VGA monitor.  It produces an extremely sharp image and the scanline generation is great.  It’s the most expensive option and only works on VGA monitors, not capture cards or flat-screen TV’s, making this a good, but extremely niche product.
RetroTINK 2x SCART + HDMI Converter – The 2x SCART is a linedoubler that accepts RGB SCART signals and outputs 480p HDMI.  With a cheap HDMI to VGA converter. you can use both devices to convert SCART to 480p VGA and it’ll look great on an RGB monitor.  This solution is less than half the price of the above linedoubler and is compatible with all TV’s and capture cards, making it the best choice for people who want a device with multiple uses.  Links for HDMI to VGA converters can be found here:  https://www.amazon.com/shop/retrorgb?listId=IP72N6BL06SV
OSSC 2x mode + HDMI Converter – The Open Source Scan Converter can convert RGB SCART and YPbPr component video sources to VGA and with the same converter from the above link, you can set the output to 480p and use it on a VGA monitor.  Optimal timings can be used and scanlines look great when set to 100%.
Keep in mind, these converters are not compatible with light gun games, or the SegaScope 3D glasses for the Master System, since both were designed for 15Khz CRT.

 

VGA to HDMI (no scaling)
VGA to HDMI converters that offer no scaling are very affordable and don’t add any lag.  These will only work if the source signal is 480p VGA and up, but are a great choice if you simply want to display 480p VGA on a TV that only has HDMI inputs.  Links for inexpensive analog to digital converters can be found here:  https://www.amazon.com/shop/retrorgb?listId=IP72N6BL06SV

 

Please head to the Display RGB page for more info on how to get an RGB signal on your display. If you’re here as part of the RGB Guide, please either move onto the next section: upscalers, or move along to getting your SCART RGB cable into your display.