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Cheap upscaler/converter for laserdisc and VHS?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
hi all,

i mainly use a blu-ray player for both discs and streaming, but i sometimes like to "kick it old-school" and use my Pioneer Elite CLD-97 laserdisc player or Mitsubishi HS-U69 S-VHS player.

i'm currently using both with composite out to my Panasonic 42-GT25 plasma TV.

i'm wondering if the video quality would improve noticeably if i buy one of the below cheap converter/scalers and run the S-video out of the LD and the VCR into one of these "magic boxes", then to the TV's HDMI port as opposed to going directly into the composite input of the TV and having the plasma's video processor upscale and convert itself?

if anything, i think there would be an improvement by using the LD player and VCR's S-video out instead of composite out?

http://www.amazon.com/Lenkeng-Lkv363A-Composite-Converter-Upscaler/dp/B008F29NYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1368730189&sr=1-1&keywords=lkv363a

http://www.amazon.com/Lenkeng-Lkv363A-Composite-Converter-Upscaler/dp/B008F29NYY/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1368730189&sr=1-1&keywords=lkv363a

Regards,
Robby
post #2 of 22
I take it your TV doesn't have a S-video input? That would give you the best picture quality. AFA the Lenkeng converters you linked, every Lenkeng converter I've tried has rather low picture quality. They do what they do for a good price but it's my strong belief you'll get a better picture using native composite instead of S-video and going through a converter like Lenkeng.
I have tried several Lenkeng HD(HDMI or Component) to SD(S-video/composite) converters and I've found using native composite to be far superior to HD generated S-video.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
thanks jeff!

nope, my 42GT25 does not have an s-video jack. so, just use the composite and let the TV convert?

okay, thanks for your input.

Regards,
Robby
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by centaurus3200 View Post

thanks jeff!

... so, just use the composite and let the TV convert?
Yes if you feed your plasma 480i it will upconvert it to your panel's native resolution(which I'd guess might be 1920x1080). Again if your device had S-video out(which it sounds like they do) and your TV had S-video input, you should see a noticeable improvement over using composite but you won't see an improvement using a lower cost converter.
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
okay, bummer then. yeah, my TV does not have S-video. only HDMI, composite and component.

to clarify, if my TV did have s-video, it would be relying on either the VCR or the LD player's comb filter, right? i'm sure both are ancient and suck compared to the panny's digital 3D comb filter. one of the reason i bought it was because they still used decent comb filters.

the LD player looked A LOT better running composite to the plasma compared to S-video through my old sony wega CRT.

Robby
post #6 of 22
Laserdisc is a composite format. In most circumstances laserdisc will look better using composite, look worse using S-Video. Some manufactures added S-Video to late model LD players claiming that the comb filter will better separate the Y/C signal (using S-Video) than the TV would if using composite. This might have been true in 1995 using a brand new top of the line LD player when hooked to a cheap older TV. Certainly most modern TVs have a better comb filter (Y/C separator) than old LD players.

SVHS and even VHS are native S-Video formats meaning the Y/C signals are separated prior to recording to tape. They use a technique called “color-under” recording. Although for regular VHS using S-Video isn’t nearly as important as using S-Video for SVHS. The reason is because SVHS uses a lot wider frequency range and the separation is farther apart natively. In most circumstances using S-Video out of a SVHS deck will look better than using composite. Again this is because of the native way color-under recorders work.

For reference google phrases like “color-under video recording systems”.

An option is getting an up-converting with HDMI out DVD recorder like the 530 Magnavox. Hook the SVHS player’s S-Video out to line in S-Video in the Maggy. Hook the LDs composite to the Maggy’s second input but use composite this time. Let the Maggy upconvert via HDMI Digital 480i and let the TV do a second conversion to it’s native HD resolution. This way the TV is already getting it’s conversion from the native S-Video signal from VHS/SVHS and from a native composite signal from the LD player.

I only say use the TV for the SD to HD up-conversion because most likely the TV has a better video- scaler and let the Magnavox only do the analog to digital conversion using native analog signals (S-Video for color-under tape) (composite for LD)
Edited by Super Eye - 9/25/13 at 3:32pm
post #7 of 22
I was going to suggest using a DVD recorder as a composite-to-HDMI bridge to the TV, but Super Eye beat me to it (and gave you some good background on why LaserDisc is one of the few instances where using s-video instead of composite is almost guaranteed to look worse).

My hesitation to recommend a DVD recorder solution stems from both the cost (you're looking for "cheap") and the improvement being highly subjective (you may not think the improvement is significant enough). Much depends on the TV and how it processes analog inputs vs HDMI.

My personal experience agrees with everything Super Eye posted. I find that VCRs and LaserDisc played to my Sony, Samsung and Panasonic LCD TVs via direct analog connections look noticeably inferior to those same sources passed thru my Pioneer DVD/HDD recorders, connected to the TVs via HDMI. The analog>HDMI circuit in recorders performs a nice, optimized composite or s-video to baseline 480i HDMI output conversion, which the TVs seem to digest better in their own upconversion to native resolution. I'm always (unpleasantly) surprised by how blurry my TV screens look when connected via analog: the recorder "pre-conversion" to HDMI helps enormously. I still have a few LaserDisc dubs sitting on my recorder hard drives, so was able to do a comparison a few minutes ago. Playback over HDMI vs the analog outputs of the recorder is noticeably cleaner.

Wal Mart has a liberal return-refund policy, so you could always try a Magnavox MDR533 DVD/HDD recorder, and if you don't feel it performs well as converter for your plasma TV, just return it. Alternatively, you could look for a second hand Magnavox, or even a Panasonic (which is reputed to have the best-quality 480i A-D converter). Many Panasonics get sold at low prices when owners think they have "broken" dvd drives: this could be a bargain for you, since you just want to use the machine as a signal pass-thru. Check your local Craig's List for these.

While at first glance it would appear the Lenking type of converter should do the same thing, it doesn't. Many here, including jjef and myself, feel they are just barely adequate for emergency use. They degrade the video quality to below direct analog clarity, and tend to alter the brightness/contrast as well. The recorder passthru is vastly better, but whether you'd find it a huge benefit on your particular plasma screen is something you'll need to test yourself.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
thanks for all the replies.

i got the mitsubishi HS-U69 S-VHS player last night. man, that's one serious VCR! sometimes i have to help it eject a tape... probably a slipping belt, but for $40 AND the dude delivered it from brentwood to oakland, CA, i wasn't going to complain.

anywho, via a composite cable... a bluejeans one i had, the picture looks like... well... 250 lines ;-)

picture quality is about what my now dead panasonic/quasar 4 head hi-fi stereo vcr looked like, but more stable and sharp.

question, on the back of the mitsu, there's a label that says something like "technology licensed by faroudja laboratories". what did mitsu license? a video processor?

so... i would really like to try the s-video out through an hdmi converter. sure wish my TV had s-video, but it doesn't.

maybe i can find a used gefen converter or something. i'm not against buying a new or used panasonic dvd recorder and use it solely as an scaler/converter, but i really don't want another big-ass box in the rack when actual scaler/converters are nice and small.

Robby
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by centaurus3200 View Post

question, on the back of the mitsu, there's a label that says something like "technology licensed by faroudja laboratories". what did mitsu license? a video processor?

Faroudja is most notable for their scaling technologies in things like upscaling DVD players and receivers, but back in the day they were a co-developer on the S-VHS format, so some of their tech is probably what that's referring to.

BTW, nice to see someone else likes to throw in a VHS tape from time to time. smile.gif I have a Mitsu HS-U748. I use my receiver's scaling tech, though.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by centaurus3200 View Post

I would really like to try the s-video out through an hdmi converter. maybe i can find a used gefen converter or something. i'm not against buying a new or used panasonic dvd recorder and use it solely as an scaler/converter, but i really don't want another big-ass box in the rack when actual scaler/converters are nice and small.

Something like the Gefen GTV-COMPSVID-2-HDMIS should be significantly better than the generic Lenking type of converters, but now you're distinctly moving away from the realm of "cheap" unless you get a really good deal on a used one. It isn't that tiny or light, either: these 'small' boxes become rather clumsy to position in a rack once the power and signal cords are attached, and at 2 lbs you can't really let it dangle. If you can't find a used top-quality dedicated converter for under $200, consider trying a dvd recorder despite the loss of rack space. A Panasonic EZ series with a dead dvd drive can be had for $100 or less on Craig's List if you're patient.
post #11 of 22
rolleyes.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by centaurus3200 View Post

thanks for all the replies.

i got the mitsubishi HS-U69 S-VHS player last night. man, that's one serious VCR! sometimes i have to help it eject a tape... probably a slipping belt, but for $40 AND the dude delivered it from brentwood to oakland, CA, i wasn't going to complain.
That vintage Mitsubishi was notorious for not ejecting the tape, worst case scenario it would keep the tape inside the machine and crinkle the tape as you tried to pull it out mad.gif
I have a U67(I believe thats the model) that I used for many years, towards the end I made sure I had my hand ready to assist in the eject process to avoid the possibility of a crinkled tape. I believe the problem is a worn idler pulley that ejects the tape, could be a belt but I think it was a idler. If you like to tinker you should be able to get it working again with a little bit of a product like Regrip, thats applied with something like a Q-tip and gently eats the dead rubber off the surface and exposes fresh grippy rubber that should last for a year or two. After applying the Regrip let it sit for a minute and then use another Q-tip to rub off all the dead rubber, the second Q-tip generally gets very black. Don't leave the Regrip on indefinitely, it's meant to wiped off along with the dead rubber.
BTW my local Pawn shop has a nice Panasonic EA-18 for $60. I'm tempted to get it but am having a hard time justifying it as I already have so many DVDRs. The EA-18 has S-video input and HDMI output and would excellent for your use, it has a very good upconverter IMO. Of course the downside is it's the size of a regular DVDR, not small like one of the Lenkeng devices.
My point is you don't have to spend a ton for a standalone converter when if you keep your eyes open you occasionally see good deals on such things smile.gif
Edited by jjeff - 9/26/13 at 1:15pm
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
what about a used panasonic DMR-E55 for $30?

or a used Panasonic DMR-HS2 with a busted dvd drive for $50?

Robby
post #13 of 22
Neither of those two models upscale to HDMI, the best you'll get out of them is 480p component. If thats OK then they should work fine, either will take S-video as a input or output.
Personally I'd steer clear of the HS2, besides being ancient and large/power hungry, it may have issues related to the HDD not working. Note if the DVD drive is bad in any Panasonic it will give you various errors as it starts up but you should be able to clear them.
I see working E55's frequently on Craigslist for under $50 so for that I don't know if I'd go with one where the drive didn't work but thats up to you.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
yeah, i figured it was something like that as far as the eject issue. but basically the guy lives like 1.5 hours away but was visiting friends in oakland. he brought it to my house and let me try it out first. for $40, i wasn't going to shaft him and say i didn't want it. it is a pretty sweet machine nonetheless.

i'll keep an eye out for a used dvd recorder. i would like to let the mitsu shine and not handicap it with composite out.

Robby


Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

rolleyes.gif
That vintage Mitsubishi was notorious for not ejecting the tape, worst case scenario it would keep the tape inside the machine and crinkle the tape as you tried to pull it out mad.gif
I have a U67(I believe thats the model) that I used for many years, towards the end I made sure I had my hand ready to assist in the eject process to avoid the possibility of a crinkled tape. I believe the problem is a worn idler pulley that ejects the tape, could be a belt but I think it was a idler. If you like to tinker you should be able to get it working again with a little bit of a product like Regrip, thats applied with something like a Q-tip and gently eats the dead rubber off the surface and exposes fresh grippy rubber that should last for a year or two. After applying the Regrip let it sit for a minute and then use another Q-tip to rub off all the dead rubber, the second Q-tip generally gets very black. Don't leave the Regrip on indefinitely, it's meant to wiped off along with the dead rubber.
BTW my local Pawn shop has a nice Panasonic EA-18 for $60. I'm tempted to get it but am having a hard time justifying it as I already have so many DVDRs. The EA-18 has S-video input and HDMI output and would excellent for your use, it has a very good upconverter IMO. Of course the downside is it's the size of a regular DVDR, not small like one of the Lenkeng devices.
My point is you don't have to spend a ton for a standalone converter when if you keep your eyes open you occasionally see good deals on such things smile.gif
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
oh, i didn't see that. so they don't have HDMI out?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

Neither of those two models upscale to HDMI, the best you'll get out of them is 480p component. If thats OK then they should work fine, either will take S-video as a input or output.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
thanks. it looks like the E55 worked and it was $30. but if there's no HDMI, i might as well hold out. unless 480i to the component input on my TV... then let the TV upscale to 1080p would look nearly as good as having a 1080p scaler in the dvd recorder to the hdmi input of the TV?

the TV listed for about $1,200 in 2010. might be better at scaling than a $200 dvd recorder? no idea.

how much of a determent is component over hdmi?

Robby
post #17 of 22
I've always noted HDMI looks better to my HDTV than component, even comparing 480p to 480p and 1080p upconverted by my Panasonics even looks a bit better. HDMI tends to look brighter and the colors "pop" better than component IMO.
Check out this thread for Panasonic DVDR models and features:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1134909/panasonic-dvd-recorder-us-models-years-produced-and-features
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by centaurus3200 View Post

it looks like the E55 worked and it was $30. but if there's no HDMI, i might as well hold out. unless 480i to the component input on my TV... then let the TV upscale to 1080p would look nearly as good as having a 1080p scaler in the dvd recorder to the hdmi input of the TV?

There's really no point in accommodating something the size of a DVD recorder if you aren't going to get HDMI out of it. Large plasma and LCD televisions prefer HDMI, period. In theory, connecting to their analog component inputs should give similar results to connecting via 480 HDMI, since you are relying on the TV's internal upscaler either way. In reality, these TVs just cannot stand analog input and only grudgingly accept it. Composte and s-video are barely watchable, component analog is notably better, but HDMI trumps component on most TVs. I have checked my various DVD recorders against all of my TVs, to see what gives the best results with a VCR input. In every case, patching the VCR to the line input of the DVD recorder and out to the TV over HDMI beats the same unit connected via analog component. You may of course see different results with your own TV: mine are all variations of LCD, which needs the fastest possible connection to avoid motion artifacts. A dvd recorder pre-converting to HDMI provides this. Plasma displays are inherently faster, so might not be quite as sensitive to analog component vs HDMI.

It's one of those "ghost in the machine" factors that for some strange reason are more prevalent in the digital era than they ever were in analog. With the old analog gear, strange interactions were sorta predictable and you could understand how it happened. Digital is just ridiculous with its harebrained inconsistency issues: we assume it is all locked down and standardized, but it isn't, and half the time makes no logical sense when you try to wrap your mind around what shouldn't work better (but does).

Quote:
the TV listed for about $1,200 in 2010. might be better at scaling than a $200 dvd recorder? no idea.

The scaler in the TV is often not as good at processing direct analog input as the HDMI circuits in the better DVD recorders. Passing thru the recorder first avoids the TV jumping thru hoops processing analog, it does much better upscaling the pre-digitized 480 HDMI conversion from the recorder. Makes absolutely no sense, but that is how it works out for many of us.

Note all of the above assumes we're talking about playing VHS, SVHS, Beta, or LaserDisc to a large flat HDTV. Results are different when you have a pristine source like a commercial Hollywood DVD release: those play extremely well via component analog, very comparable to HDMI. The same connection just seems markedly worse when playing lo-fi analog sources. I personally was not too happy with how harsh LaserDisc looks on HDTVs: it was fantastic on standard-def 32" CRT televisions, but doesn't seem nearly as impressive on a 42" LCD.
Edited by CitiBear - 9/26/13 at 5:54pm
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks citibear!

I'm assuming that the component input on my TV is only for digital? Or could I use an s-video to component cable?

Might be an easy experiment to see if it looks better than composite from the VCR to the TV?

My pioneer cld97 ld player looks pretty nice running composite to the Panny TV an letting it do the analog to digital scaling. Surprisingly so.

Robby
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by centaurus3200 View Post

so... i would really like to try the s-video out through an hdmi converter. sure wish my TV had s-video, but it doesn't.

Remember what I wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super Eye View Post

SVHS and even VHS are native S-Video formats meaning the Y/C signals are separated prior to recording to tape. They use a technique called “color-under” recording. Although for regular VHS using S-Video isn’t nearly as important as using S-Video for SVHS. The reason is because SVHS uses a lot wider frequency range and the separation is farther apart natively. In most circumstances using S-Video out of a SVHS deck will look better than using composite. Again this is because of the native way color-under recorders work.

I wouldn’t recommend a DVD recorder just for the sake of having S-Video to watch regular VHS tapes. On the other hand having a DVD recorder, preferably a DVD/HDD recorder would come in handy to archive your laserdisc and VHS collection. And if you get one with a HDMI output you also have the benefit of letting the DVD recorder do the analog to digital conversion straight to the TV.

I think the reason most DVD recorders do a better job doing the A/D conversion is because DVD recorders were designed to take in an analog signal and convert it to digital. Modern TVs are designed to input digital signals. Although Panasonic plasma TVs are known to be pretty good at converting A/D. You are confirming that in your post.

Congratulations on your Mitsubishi SVHS purchase, I hope it serves you well but remember old VCRs and old LD players won’t last forever and I think you would do good in purchasing a Panasonic or Magnavox HDD/DVD recorder and start converting your VHS and LD content over to DVDr.

BTW component that we are referring to is analog I/O signal and no you can’t get a decent but inexpensive component to S-Video converter. It's not just a matter of an adapter plug, the signals are different - S-Video uses CH1 Luminance CH2 Chrominance. Component separates the signal even further, into three channels.
Edited by Super Eye - 9/26/13 at 7:50pm
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
thanks!

obviously, y'all know much more than me about this stuff. please educate me. i was at my parent's house and my dad hooked up his old dvd player (no hdmi) and used a component to hdmi cable. i didn't even know they exist. and they shouldn't even work, right? yet it did.

what would happen if i bought a cheapie s-video to component cable to just try with my vcr and plasma TV? would it work at all? would it hurt anything?

Regards,
Robby
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super Eye View Post

Remember what I wrote:
I wouldn’t recommend a DVD recorder just for the sake of having S-Video to watch regular VHS tapes. On the other hand having a DVD recorder, preferably a DVD/HDD recorder would come in handy to archive your laserdisc and VHS collection. And if you get one with a HDMI output you also have the benefit of letting the DVD recorder do the analog to digital conversion straight to the TV.

I think the reason most DVD recorders do a better job doing the A/D conversion is because DVD recorders were designed to take in an analog signal and convert it to digital. Modern TVs are designed to input digital signals. Although Panasonic plasma TVs are known to be pretty good at converting A/D. You are confirming that in your post.

Congratulations on your Mitsubishi SVHS purchase, I hope it serves you well but remember old VCRs and old LD players won’t last forever and I think you would do good in purchasing a Panasonic or Magnavox HDD/DVD recorder and start converting your VHS and LD content over to DVDr.

BTW component that we are referring to is analog I/O signal and no you can’t get a decent but inexpensive component to S-Video converter. It's not just a matter of an adapter plug, the signals are different - S-Video uses CH1 Luminance CH2 Chrominance. Component separates the signal even further, into three channels.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
never mind, looks like there are only 7 pin s-video cables to component, not the usual 4 pin.

Robby
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