Grex Stabilizer - video is way too hot - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 06-05-2011, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Received my Grex today and hooked it up. The video appears to be way too hot. Did an A/B compare with it inline and bypassed and with the Grex inline it is almost unwatchable as it is way too bright (over modulated). Is this a common problem and if so is there any way to reduce the signal to an acceptable level? I am using it with a Panasonic DMR-EZ-485V DVD recorder.

BTW I purchased it because Comcast is blocking me from recording a number of channels with my DMR-EZ-485V and this forum recommended that the Grex was the best solution to being able to record again.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 30 Old 06-05-2011, 01:23 PM
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I don't have a Grex but all of my Simas are all to bright! I've commented that it's like the black level is too high, blacks are grey and not true black.
I use mine with a DVD player(to make realtime copies) and I've learned to only use players that have picture adjustments for line outputs. Pioneers work nice since they have a full set of adjustments. To get the output(through the Simas) to look similar to the inputs I must -7 brightness and +3 contrast, I think I also set the gamma +1. I would guess that your Comcast STB has no such output adjustments so your only option might be to use a Proc amp(installs inline either before of after your Grex) which has picture adjustments. Note also verify that your Panasonic has been set to DARKER for line input black level control. The black level control is one of the SETUP options and if it's set to LIGHTER that would also make your picture way too hot.
Unfortunately Panasonic DVDRs don't have input picture adjustments, Pioneers do but they are very hard to find and no longer made.

I'm a big stickler for black level and uncorrected I agree with you that the picture(if it's like my Sima) is almost unwatchable. I don't think I've heard such complaints about another more expensive filter called simply "Video Filter" but that filter does costs more. AVS member Logic Design sells the VF.
http://home.roadrunner.com/~filter/
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post #3 of 30 Old 06-06-2011, 05:20 AM
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There is no such picture problem with the Video Filter. I have not had a single complaint from users regarding output picture quality. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact.
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post #4 of 30 Old 06-06-2011, 05:38 AM
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I use this video filter with good results. However, I have not tried it with Comcast because so far all channels are still recordable by my older Panasonic DVD recorders.


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post #5 of 30 Old 06-06-2011, 02:17 PM
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Tomwil, have you tried that filter with DVDs or something digital like cable TV? I believe the filter you linked while nicely priced is for VHS only. VHS only needed to deal with macrovision whereas DVD and cable can use Macrovision plus a digital CP which I believe your filter will not remove. Something like that is fine if you're only copying VHS though.
If I didn't already have several Simas I'd probably just bite the bullet and get the Video Filter, while more expensive than others I believe you probably get what you pay for
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post #6 of 30 Old 06-06-2011, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post
Tomwil, have you tried that filter with DVDs or something digital like cable TV?
That video filter works with VHS and DVDs. I recently tried it with DVDs when I was testing the HDMI-to-Composite converter to do a comparison between the two.

However, I have not tried it with Comcast, because Comcast has not blocked any channels that I am aware of. In other words, I can record every channel on Comcast with my DVD recorders, so the filter was never tried.

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post #7 of 30 Old 06-06-2011, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomwil View Post

That video filter works with VHS and DVDs. I recently tried it with DVDs when I was testing the HDMI-to-Composite converter to do a comparison between the two.

However, I have not tried it with Comcast, because Comcast has not blocked any channels that I am aware of. In other words, I can record every channel on Comcast with my DVD recorders, so the filter was never tried.

Just to be sure, the DVDs you tried it with had CP? As I've found out not every commercial DVD has CP. Some have CP that will stop a DVDR but not a simple PC copy and others have encryption that prohibit PC copying without a program to break the encryption.
So the DVDs you tried wouldn't copy before you tried the filter but would after you tried it? If so that's a great price, the link only mentions VHS but of course could be misleading.
I also don't have access to CP'd cable but I'd think my Simas would enable recording it, it does everything else I've tried including BR.

edit: according to one reviewer on your link This unit won't allow recordings to be made off shows available off cable television (AT&T) if they are encoded as such to not allow recordings.
So it looks like cable is out.
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post #8 of 30 Old 06-06-2011, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Jjeff, I set the black level out in the recorderd settings to darker but it made no difference. Wish that I had bought the Video Filter instead (not that I knew about it before!)

I wrote to Grex and they are suggesting that I use the S-video in and out. However my Comcast Pace RNG110 box not have a s-video so that will not work.

My bet is that if I could find 3db and 6db attenuators to go inline that that would reduce the level enough.

I opened the Grex up and there are no possible adjustments. Was hoping that there would be a potentiometer to set the level but all I see are SMD components.

What a pain this has become.
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post #9 of 30 Old 06-06-2011, 04:29 PM
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Zaax, the black level that you want to adjust is the input not the output. The input should be set to DARKER while the line output should be LIGHTER, component should be NORMAL. I know it's confusing but it has to do with the US(actually N. America) black level being different(+7.5 IRE) than the rest of the world for SD inputs/outputs(component/HDMI IRE is 0 like the rest of the world). I'm guessing your INPUT is already DARKER but if not you should see a difference in your recordings by setting to DARKER.
Trust me, S-video will make NO difference with black level(I use S-video all the time), the cheaper filters just seem to have a issue with proper black level and tend to be light on all outputs.
Don't bother with a standard line attenuator, they will only reduce the line output level(which the ACG will just try and compensate for), the black level which is within the actual signal will not change. Could you try and return the Grex? if so that might be your best option and try the Video Filter.
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post #10 of 30 Old 06-07-2011, 03:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

Just to be sure, the DVDs you tried it with had CP?

Yes, all the DVDs I tried had CP. When the filter was not used, I got the "Cannot Record" message on the DVD recorders for each commercial DVD and Blu-Ray I tried.

Still, I do not know if it will block Comcast CP, as I cannot test that function since I have no blocked channels to test.

That which may be known of God is evident within man, for God has shown it to them, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20)
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post #11 of 30 Old 06-07-2011, 08:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Well it looks like I will put the Grex on ebay and include 2 s-video cables for $65 or so. Then buy a Video Filter.

Thanks to all for the input. It is greatly appreciated.
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post #12 of 30 Old 06-07-2011, 02:35 PM
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Zaax, can't you return the Grex for a refund since you just bought it? Which Video Filter are you referring to? The one that Tomwil shows in the picture? If you are trying to record using a DVD recorder, you need to be aware of CGMS. This is Copy Generation Management System which is what most recorders honor. I would be very surprised id the above unit
does CGMS at all. The only unit that I know of which generates your own CGMS command, is the real Video Filter, not a generic like the one in this thread.
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post #13 of 30 Old 06-07-2011, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Logic Design View Post

If you are trying to record using a DVD recorder, you need to be aware of CGMS. This is Copy Generation Management System which is what most recorders honor. I would be very surprised id the above unit does CGMS at all.

According to Wikipedia, CGMS comes in an analog form, and a digital form.

Apparently, CGMS-A is what comes out of an analog output from a digital device, and is easily stripped by the cheaper filter:

Quote:


Copy Generation Management System - Analog (CGMS-A) is a copy protection mechanism for analog television signals. It consists of a waveform inserted into the non-picture Vertical Blanking Interval (VBI) of an analogue video signal. If a compatible recording device (for example, a DVD recorder) detects this waveform, it may block or restrict recording of the video content.

Implementation of CGMS-A is required for certain applications by DVD CCA license. DVD recorders comply with CGMS-A signal on analog inputs. The technology requires minimal signal processing.

The signal itself can be easily stripped by normalizing the VBI, e.g. using a video stabilizer to counter the side effects from Macrovision's manipulation of the VBI. CGMS-A VBI data is commingled or generally near captioning signals, so removal of CGMS-A will likely remove captioning as well.


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post #14 of 30 Old 06-07-2011, 03:08 PM
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The OP was specifically interested in recording from cable TV (which one reviewer of the cheaper filter specifically said it wouldn't help) so I'm hoping he'll go with the genuine Video Filter brand.
Zaax, whatever you get please post back your findings, some people are OK with the Grex but others and apparently you aren't satisfied. It's always good to find out someones impression of something else if they weren't satisfied with the first thing they tried It sounds like the Video Filter has a very good return policy if for whatever reason it doesn't work out for you, not that I expect you to be unsatisfied.
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post #15 of 30 Old 06-09-2011, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post
The OP was specifically interested in recording from cable TV (which one reviewer of the cheaper filter specifically said it wouldn't help) ...
Still not sure if the cheaper video filter will work with Comcast, but the unit can be fine-tuned by adjusting the potentiometer (in this case, RW1) for the best filtering/picture. See photo:


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post #16 of 30 Old 06-10-2011, 04:15 PM
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You have 60 days for return, that is including s&h, the pay for that too.
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post #17 of 30 Old 06-10-2011, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomwil View Post

That video filter works with VHS and DVDs. I recently tried it with DVDs when I was testing the HDMI-to-Composite converter to do a comparison between the two.

If this is true, there should long since have been a friggin stampede to MCM by the hordes of demented newbies who still think its "easier" to do a tedious analog DVD copy than use computer cloning software. MCM has been selling this cheap disposable generic filter forever: if it worked reliably to break CGMS-A it would have been the go-to alternative a few years ago when everyone here freaked out over the Sima discontinuation (especially at $24.95, a fourth what the Sima or Grex cost). Something here is not adding up right: you're either very lucky with your particular hookup, or MCM is utterly clueless that their cheapo VHS filter can fully compete with a Grex at a fraction of the cost.

I've been recommending this MCM filter almost continually since 2006 for VHS dubbing, but never remotely thought it would work for CGMS-A. I own a couple identical-looking units (inside and out), millions have been churned out by the same handful of Chinese factories since 1993. Mine are definitely limited to clearing VHS MV only: when tested with DVD or protected cable they are very unstable. tomwil, you've got me very curious to try one from MCMs more recent batch to see if I can match your results: if so, I'll buy a bunch then sell off my overpriced Simas. (BTW you're getting real good at tipping us off to bargains here- I'm still in shock over the two HDMI>Composite converters I got for only $29.95 each based on your "one day sale" Amazon link).
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post #18 of 30 Old 06-10-2011, 06:04 PM
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Tested my $25 MCM between my DVD player and Mag 2160 and it allowed me to copy 6 of 10 randomly selected comm. DVD movies. On all 10, I confirmed that they would not copy w/o the MCM.

The 6 that copied were released between 2000 and 2009.

Copy quality is excellent on 47" LCD!

* * * * * * *

Contrary to a report by another user, I also found that the 2160 will only allow buffer copy-to-HDD if the source has CP that a stabilizer can defeat... w/o a stabilizer, it won't record/copy either directly or thru the buffer.

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post #19 of 30 Old 06-12-2011, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaax View Post
...

BTW I purchased it because Comcast is blocking me from recording a number of channels with my DMR-EZ-485V and this forum recommended that the Grex was the best solution to being able to record again.

Thanks!
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaax View Post
...
However my Comcast Pace RNG110 box not have a s-video so that will not work.
...

What a pain this has become.
My comment isn't about the Grex, although I had been looking at them.

Did you try swapping out your Comcast STB for a different model? I had some channels that my Magnavox DVDR would not record yet it would record others. I swapped out the RNG110 for a Motorola STB and now I can record all of the channels.
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post #20 of 30 Old 06-13-2011, 05:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post

I own a couple identical-looking units (inside and out), millions have been churned out by the same handful of Chinese factories since 1993. Mine are definitely limited to clearing VHS MV only: when tested with DVD or protected cable they are very unstable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

Tested my $25 MCM between my DVD player and Mag 2160 and it allowed me to copy 6 of 10 randomly selected comm. DVD movies. On all 10, I confirmed that they would not copy w/o the MCM.

The 6 that copied were released between 2000 and 2009.

On my filter, I have found that sometimes that potentiometer needs to be tweaked for best results, depending on the VHS or DVD. So far, I have not found any DVD I own with CGMS-A that wasn't defeated by the cheap filter after adjusting that pot.

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post #21 of 30 Old 06-17-2011, 09:42 AM
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Where can you get the video filter from these days? (The actual Video Filter, not the Grex.)
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post #22 of 30 Old 06-17-2011, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gastrof View Post
Where can you get the video filter from these days? (The actual Video Filter, not the Grex.)
2nd post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post
AVS member Logic Design sells the VF.
http://home.roadrunner.com/~filter/

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post #23 of 30 Old 09-07-2011, 05:21 PM
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im afraid i am not educated in the world of electronic aside from hooking up an occasional cable dvd tv system so pleased be patient--i have two magnovox zv427mg9 dvd recorders that were recording all movies ect just fine until we had a power outage and now everytime i try to record a movie i get the message that its a once only copy which prohibits me from copying it--i tried all the basic ways to fix it multiple different dvds--unplugging to reboot but the just wont work any more--will the unit described here help my situation ,and if so the exact name of the unit and where i can obtain it--thanks so much --i know i must sound like an idiot to all of you who are so versed in this knowledge but i was never educated in it so i just try and pick up what i can----thanks to all of you who have put in your suggestions--i came to the conclusion that att uverse is sending out the signal blocking my copying even though no one that ive talked to there will acknowledge it--i did buy a copy all dpx 7000 and couldnt be more pleased--i dont know if i over paid or not but money was never the issue here only the convience of being able to copy and keep movies for later viewing --again thaks to everyone for there ideas and suggestion
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post #24 of 30 Old 09-07-2011, 06:13 PM
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What are you recording from? If it has a component(not composite) output you have another option for removing CP.
It's odd that this happened after the power outage unless maybe you were recording from a DVR and the outage prompted a automatic download which included enabling a CP bit
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post #25 of 30 Old 09-07-2011, 07:35 PM
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first of all thanks for even looking at this--i am recording from att uverse which is hooked up to my digital hd tv onto magnovox zv427 dvd recorder--i was not recording anything at the time of the outage
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post #26 of 30 Old 09-07-2011, 08:09 PM
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I have a Grex for around 4 months. Very happy with the unit, not perfect but do the job. Direct Tv is protecting most of the channels and I like to make a copy of movies that I like, or a copy for friends or family members.
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post #27 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 04:56 AM
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The Grex is a popular less expensive filter but if your Uverse box has component(the 3 video wires) output then something like this would do the job.
My guess is your power outage caused a download to your Uverse box which included enabling the CP bit. It is possible this is in error so if you had another box to try(or maybe a friend or neighbors box in your same area) you might want to try your recorder on that one first, it's possible your Uverse box is somehow defective setting the CP bit when it shouldn't.
You could also check your local forum on AVS to see if other Uverse users in your area are having similar problems. Hate to see you spend money on a filter that you may not need. Lastly you could just have Uverse replace your box, but generally they don't have much sympathy when it comes to you recording their signal, they'd rather you rent their DVR or simply not archive it to DVD. I really doubt your DVDRs are to blame, too odd that both would act the same way.
Good luck!
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post #28 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marquitos306 View Post

I have a Grex for around 4 months. Very happy with the unit, not perfect but do the job. Direct Tv is protecting most of the channels and I like to make a copy of movies that I like, or a copy for friends or family members.

I fnd this statement interesting, because it has been my experience that DirecTV hasn't been protecting anything. I regulary record content from many channels, including premium channels and have yet to find a program with imbedded CP. What receiver and DVD recorder are you using? On what channels specifically are you seeing copy protections?

This does not apply to pay-per-view channels, or the vast number of sports channels, which I seem to never watch, so I have no info on those.

Luke

Evil is charming and beautiful. It makes you doubt yourself. It asks for one small compromise after another until it whittles you down, and it functions best when no one believes in it.-JOA
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post #29 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 12:23 PM
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I've never had any problems with Dish Network, either, using my older Panny recorders, or an earlier model Sony.

I don't actually subscribe to (pay for) any premium channels, but I've never had any issues recording from any of them when they've had their "free previews" (HBO is coming up for a weekend later this month, and we had Skinemax last month. They've also been giving us Encore and all the Starz channels free through all of this year, but I've never had any problems with those, either.

However, from everything I've heard about U-verse, it pretty much sounds like you won't be able to avoid CP, no matter what recorder you're using.
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post #30 of 30 Old 09-08-2011, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

..... pretty much sounds like you won't be able to avoid CP, no matter what recorder you're using.

Of course one with the use of a filter(or component to S-video converter) CP shouldn't be a issue with any recorder
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