1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

PQ with Sweetspot, Dscaler & Showshifter

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by pixuk, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi All,

    I'm a novice at HCPC, but a long time computer & AV geek. I've finally got round to building a home cinema box, but I'm a bit disappointed with the results. I'm probably either doing something wrong, or expecting too much, but I can't seem to get close to the quality of just feeding the Plasma a component signal through a RGB-Component converter box. Pictures are either soft, solorized or jerky.

    The set up is;

    P4 2.4GHz
    1GB DRR300 RAM
    250GB UDMA HD
    GeForce FX 5200 AGP (in 4x Slot)
    Sweetspot Card using RGBS Scart cable

    LG MZ-42PZ45V PDP
    Sky (Panasonic) Digibox
    Tivo
    Sony STR940 Amp

    Dscaler 4.1.7p3 (& 4.1.11 also tested)
    Showshifter 3.01
    Windows XP SP2
    PowerStrip 3.5.4

    Ok, so I can get a picture in both Dscaler and Showshifter from the Sky box, but the quality isn't great and there's a slight - but noticeable - stutter (almost like the effect you see when NTSC video is played on PAL). Checking the stats in Dscaler, it doesn't look like it's dropping frames (other than at start up), and from what I've read, a P4 2.4GHz should have no problem handling it. Tried various de-interlace & filter settings, from a few as possible to as many combinations as I could stack on it. Calibrated the card using the THX Optimiser pattern and tweaked the PC settings for as much video performance as possible. Images in Dscaler seem better than those in Showshifter, although I have loaded the Dscaler plug-in. Solarisation appears worse than the component input. Doesn't seem to be anywhere near as much control over Dscaler from within Showshifter as seems necessary to tweak the picture.

    So, my questions are;
    1. Anybody with any prior experience of a similar setup to mine that can offer advice on settings, etc?
    2. Is there anything in my hardware/software setup that stands out as the likely cause for quality/smooth video issues?
    3. Early days, but Showshifter seems a bit of a mess. Is this the best PVR solution out there? I've also downloaded DGShow to try and get some more TiVo features, but couldn't figure out how to use it.
    4. Since I have a Skybox and a Sweetspot card, how do I set up channels in Showshifter? It seems to expect a built in Tuner? I've bought myself a RedRat to control the Skybox, but given the above problems being more of a priority, I haven't installed it yet.
    5. Are my expectations of the system unrealistic? Should I actually just stick with TiVo and the component converter box?

    Thanks in advance for any advice or pointers. You can of course always just laugh and point at my poor attempt to crack this HCPC thing ;)

    Pete
     
  2. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Messages:
    2,026
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    41
    Location:
    dat london
    Ratings:
    +13
    I haven't got a HTPC but I am looking into it so I am guessing on this one. IIRC Sweetspot takes Component YUV or RGB through the same connections. As your Sky box is RGB only, is Sweetspot set to take RGB or have you set it to take Component YUV ? That is if you can set something like that !

    Richie.
     
  3. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    It's set to take RGBS - any other selection would give you some fun sync problems ;)
     
  4. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Messages:
    2,026
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    41
    Location:
    dat london
    Ratings:
    +13
    What make is the RGB converter box and I'm guessing it's sitting between the PC and the Plasma. Is it going from the GeForce VGA-> Converter -> Plasma ?

    Have you tried playing a DVD on the computer ? This will go through the GeForce card without Sweetspot and you can set the GeForce card first. If the picture is good then start looking at the Sweetspot settings and maybe try another source (DVD Player with RGB).

    Richie.
     
  5. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    I'm not using the RGB converter box with the PC, the RGBS signal goes into the Sweetspot card, and then the Plasma is hooked up to the DVI out of the GeForce card. The RGB converter box is the pre-PC solution to getting a decent picture on the Plasma on Sky.

    Pete
     
  6. Mr.D

    Mr.D
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2000
    Messages:
    11,064
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Ratings:
    +1,150
    What resoluton and refresh are you running into the plasma?
     
  7. philipb

    philipb
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2002
    Messages:
    1,986
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Swindon
    Ratings:
    +132
    The stutter may be that your card is outputting at 60Hz or above while PAL is at 50Hz.

    Most of us with this sort of set up use Powerstrip to send a 50Hz signal to the plasma. That should give you smooth playback.

    Need to check that your display can take a 50Hz signal. Also Nvidia cards are notoriusly bad at 50Hz in my experience. The latest drivers do support it but I got a really bad picture so went back to a Radeon 9600.

    If you can afford it I would recommend a new graphics card - Radeon 9600 or above would be best IMHO.

    I now no longer use Showshifter, but I got pretty good PQ by loading the WDM drivers for the Sweetspot then running it from within Showshifter. If you are doing this you are not employing dscaler. Showshifter can be set up to use the dscaler deinterlacer filters but I never got a good result. Basically you either use Showshifter or dscaler. The latter gives better PQ for me, but of course you lose all the media PC functionality of showshifter.
     
  8. Mr.D

    Mr.D
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2000
    Messages:
    11,064
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Ratings:
    +1,150
    Dscaler with a 50Hz source into a 60Hz display normally looks not bad (especially with judder terminator switched on )
     
  9. philipb

    philipb
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2002
    Messages:
    1,986
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Swindon
    Ratings:
    +132
    True, but it does vary with the display. My old 433MXE was horrible because of the internal FRC being done. The new 43MXE1 is miles better. But feeding it a 50Hz signal is the smoothest.

    If the LG is internally converting the frame rate to something other than 60Hz it could introduce quite bad stutter, especially with PAL signals.
     
  10. Mr.D

    Mr.D
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2000
    Messages:
    11,064
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Ratings:
    +1,150
    Yes but if its converting in the first place it defeats the main point of using an HTPC. I seriously doubt its going to do any conversion on a 60Hz signal from an HTPC. Much more chance of it mucking with a 50Hz signal.

    First thing to do is match a resolution that the panel performs best at , ie doesn't remap the timing or rescale the resolution. Issues concerning video format come secondary to this when dealing with the majority of digital panels.If its a PC flat panel then its likely to be a standard resolution 1280x768 at 60Hz if its an SD plasma probably 856x480.

    Playing 50Hz Pal through an HTPC using Dscaler (or just about every other app out there) with a 60Hz refresh on the HTPC doesn't introduce a lot of objectionable stutter ( possibly less visible than 3:2 pulldown on film sourced NTSC to be honest). Playing 60Hz NTSC video originated material creates a lot of terrible judder at multiples less than 60 as it forces the graphics hardware to cull frames. This effect isn't subtle and is what most people perceive as bad stutter.
     
  11. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2003
    Messages:
    544
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Ratings:
    +10
    Hi Pixuk

    The picture you should be getting via RGB in to SweetSpot should be much better than the component input in to your TV.

    The first area to check is that the 1:1 pixel mapping is working correctly from PowerStrip. There is a great little program called Nokia Monitor Test http://www.pluggedin.tv/sweetspot/support/downloads/Nokia.zip that lets you create test patterns at the current resolution that you are running at. Using the readability test you should see perfect text with no bleed.

    If that checks out ok then please take a screen grab (press L in Dscaler) of the solarisation issue and check it on another PC (preferably one with a CRT monitor) to see if the problem is specific to the panel or is present in the file. If it is present in the file then email to us for further checks.

    Finally re the judder then certainly if you can drive your panel at 50hz then that should deliver smooth playback.

    good luck :)
     
  12. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    Thanks David, tried the Nokia test and set up the resolution, although I still can't seem to get a decent picture out of the system. Either the picture judders too much, or it's soft, or (a more recent problem) my early experimentation with recording in Showshifter turned the live picture into a slide show, and the resulting files unplayable. I upgraded the GeForce FX 5200 to a 6600 GT under some misunderstanding that the onboard MPEG with the 6600 might help things out a bit.

    If anyone has a Sweetspot running with Showshifter (and also a 6600 GT or FX 5200), and can get great pictures out of the system, would you mind sharing how you've got it set up? I must be missing something.

    Alternatively, I'm seriously considering switching to MCE 2005 with a different capture/tuner card. Although in theory the picture quality would be inferior due to S-Video, I'm not sure how it could be worse than what I'm getting at the moment. Any advice on kit to go with should I opt for the MCE route?

    Pete
     
  13. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    The native resolution of the LG appears to be 852 x 480, but when I switch to that using PowerStrip, the picture looks like it's shifted up by about 15 pixels (with a corruption at the bottom of the screen), and video sparkles on the rest of the screen. Tried viewing some video in that res, and it was really blocky.

    Any recommendations?

    Pete
     
  14. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    Another update...

    Viewing video through DScaler (not through Showshifter) is perfect at 1024 x 768. Can't even get vaguely close to the PQ in Showshifter - which makes me thing it's a settings thing.

    Pete
     
  15. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2003
    Messages:
    544
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Ratings:
    +10
    Hi Pete

    The native resolution is as far as I know 852x480, but you would also need to get the refresh rate correct - the timings that can be accepted should be shown in the manual. This is really key, once you have this working then that is the basis for everything else. If you get this working and the Nokia monitor test images look correct, then DScaler should give a brilliant image from Sky RGBS. I would concentrate on getting DScaler working correctly and then move on to ShowShifter after that. As others have pointed out though DScaler is still the king for picture quality and for live viewing, ShowShifter is all about convenience.

    re your thoughts about MCE2005, then at the moment you cannot get close to the picture quality you are looking for due to the limitations of the supported capture cards - so I would give that a miss (its ok for small screen/casual viewing but thats it)

    Keep us posted :)
     
  16. LTJ

    LTJ
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Dave , what's happening with x-card my card. You have only replied once to me via this forum in another thread. Could you please let me know.

    lawrence.jenkins@btinternet.com

    Apologies for interupting this thread.
     
  17. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hmmm... dug out the manual for the panel, and the info is pretty slim. Over than the resolution (852x480) and refresh rates (H 31.5KHz V 60KHz), there's no other info. I used what it gave me in PowerStrip, and the video in Dscaler is worse than at 1024 x 768. The image was very juddery, although it did improve a little with all filters turned off - still sluggish though. Looking at the OSD, without any filters I don't get any dropped frames but lots of 'Not Waited' (although I don't know what that means, and couldn't find any reference to it on the web).

    My goal is to find a PVR solution that has PQ at least as good as the TiVo. Logic tells me since the TiVo is (now) pretty old hardware, capturing at reduced resolutions and using slower hardware not necessarily sophisticated as the Sweetspot, it should be possible to improve on the TiVo's picture. Don't ya think?

    I can get a reasonably good picture in Dscaler at 1024x768 (don't know why that works and 852x480 doesn't) - but it goes horribly wrong in Showshifter. Which codec do I need to use - and does the codec choice effect the live TV display anyway? What other things can I do to tweak the settings (and is there anything to 'move' the picture into position other than 'Zoom' in Showshifter?).

    The most frustrating thing is simply trying to find info on how to set it up. AV was so much easier when your toughest choice was whether to go for the slightly more expensive hi-fi cable...

    Pete
     
  18. Mr.D

    Mr.D
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2000
    Messages:
    11,064
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Ratings:
    +1,150
    Ok try 856x480 at 60Hz (look for threads on the ae100 or plasmas this is a very common res), a lot of frame buffers can't handle anything not a multiple of 8.
    Hopefully this should be recognised by the panel and not scaled. If the panel is 852x480 hopefully it will lose 2 pixels either side of the screen and give you 1:1 mapping. ( losing 2 pixels either side is no great loss.

    You will likely have to fiddle with the panels picture position and size controls to "snap " the image into 1:1 without any unwanted distortion .

    You will probably have to then adjust the phase and or pixel clock controls to deal with variances in the timing of the image. Marc Rehjon's dila pattern is good for this.

    Your specs fro Dscaler are fine , no dropped frames is what you want, so this is a display /res/refresh issue. Initially turn off all filters use autodetect for the deinterlace and have either tomsmocomp or mocomp2 set for the video deinterlace algorythm.Have judder terminator on.

    I use a sweetspot for displaying all my analogue sources and for dual tuner use with a digibox when.... I am recording with a Nebula digiTV card ( look for info on this forum) Excellent bit of kit for PVR duties. Sweetspot with Dscaler has the edge on deinterlacing quality though.
     
  19. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi Mr D,

    Thanks for the pointers. The dila pattern is especially useful, since it shows the pixels certainly aren't at 1:1; and I think this may be the root of my problem.

    What I can't seem to do is make the necessary adjustments to get to 1:1. This is probably because I just don't know how use Powerstrip properly (having searched and read various online resources, I'm still none the wiser!). The LG panel's own menu system doesn't offer a lot of control over the DVI input, sadly; so I need to figure out how to tweak those advanced options.

    Pete
     
  20. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2003
    Messages:
    544
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Ratings:
    +10
    Hi Pete

    If you have a VGA input on the plasma try that as well, often the support for different resolutions/refresh rates is more mature on the VGA. Out of interest did you try the readibility test in the Nokia test program? Also it should help report the resolution that is being run on your graphics cards - sometimes the actual resolution being run doesnt match the resolution that the card reports , just to make it even more fun :)

    cheers
     
  21. Mr.D

    Mr.D
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2000
    Messages:
    11,064
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Ratings:
    +1,150
    Also in your graphics card settings disable the option to only show display rates this monitor can handle. Its also a good idea to use the sony 900w monitor driver for your display( just update the driver for the monitor in the graphics cards advanced settings and pick from the selection that windows comes with) as it will unlock any non-standard refresh rates as far as window is concerned. Not doing this can sometimes initially give problems with powerstrip identifying what your monitor can do and what its prepared to try and force on your graphics hardware.

    This might be your problem.

    You can use the image position and size controls in powerstripn instead of the display but be careful not to go to extremes as your display can lose sync.
     
  22. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    David,

    Ran the Nokia test, but the text displaying the resolution was too small to read - even if I set the monitor res to 640x480. All the test displayed pretty good pictures at an 852x480 res, although I did see the waves in the pixel-test pattern, similar to the dila pattern.

    The Plasma will take a VGA input, but the 6600GT only has two DVI outputs. I can probably get hold of an adapter if you think that's worthwhile persuing.

    Keith, I don't seem to have any problem selecting custom resolutions and refresh rates, I just don't know which ones I should be selecting. Tried fiddling with the position and size controls in Powerstrip, but couldn't achive the 1:1 scaling.

    One thing I've noticed in the ForceWare control panel, is use scaling in the adapter card or monitor (I've tried both - but which one is better for continued testing?)

    Picture quality is much better in 1024x576 than 852x480 - although there's still some judder (probably because of the extra work the cpu has to do at that resolution).

    Pete
     
  23. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2003
    Messages:
    544
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Ratings:
    +10
    Pete

    If you are seeing 'waves' then as you suspect you havent got 1:1. The VGA option is I think worth persuing as these are often easier to get to map, and if nothing else it gives you a point of reference. In terms of picture quality then at these low resolutions there wont be any appreciable loss of quality either. Is the judder visible on when the camera is panning or all the time? Also have you tried 50 or 75hz for PAL?

    cheers
     
  24. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi David,

    Plugged in a DVI/VGA adapter, but couldn't see much difference. If anything, the picture may have been a little softer; but in terms of control of the 1:1 scaling it was all the same.

    At 848x480, 852x480 & 856x480 the judder is noticeable pretty much all the time. At 1024x576 & 1024x768 it's not as bad, but when panning it's pretty obvious. I'll have a play with 50Hz & 75Hz (not sure if the PDP accepts 50Hz, but I'll give it a go).

    Pete
     
  25. LTJ

    LTJ
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Dave at Plugged please tell me what is happening with the xcaed you sent me that doesn't work . Why are you ignoring me I've now emailed 4 times given my telephone number and so on. I've been in touch with Barclays Bank about this situation and you've taken my money and I have a product that doesn't work I've tried another PC and still the same problem, but you know this as I've told all ready. How can you skip past my messages as if nothings wrong. So far I have not recieved one email from you to confirm you've received mine. The only contact I've had from you was via a thread I'd started last week seeking some help. You advertise and promote your products here if you can't respond to me when I mail you and then only respond on the forum what do you expect. Please please tell me what's happening.

    If I don't here by tomorrow I'm sending the card back and will get back to Barclays Bank as to the situation. This is a rediculous situation I've paid for something that doesn't work, you will not respond to that and I'm supposed to accept that while you still advertise on this forum.


    Lawrence Jenkins 0208 402 7399
     
  26. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2003
    Messages:
    544
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Ratings:
    +10
    Lawrence

    I dont know what is happening but we have replied to all your emails, often within the hour and out of office hours as well.

    All I can assume is that our email is being filtered by your ISP as they clearly show as having left here on the 16th and 17th.

    We have identified a design change in the current batch of Xcards and that is the problem - the digital video option has been modified in some way. The email that we sent to you explained to send the card back and that we were testing a replacement batch of OEM Xcards to confirm that they were still correctly supporting the digital video before we sent replacements.

    We would have absolutely no hesitation in giving you a full refund for the xcard, there is no issue at all with that. Alternatively if you want a working replacement we will be able to ship those we think Monday latest by the time they have been fully tested. We are getting your emails fine so please feel free to let us know which way you want to go and we can take it from there.

    Again we can only apologise for this - it looks like this change in the Xcard specification was made entirely unannounced and is not documented anywhere - expect to see a rise in the value of early revision Xcards on ebay :)

    best regards
     
  27. LTJ

    LTJ
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Dave I'm not trying to cause trouble. You say that your'e receiving my emails then you should already know that I'd agreed try a replacement card. I just want the thing to work. So I'll tell you once again, yes I will try the replacement card,and I will send the non working card back to you tomorrow/Saturday by recorded delivery.
    If this has been purely a misunderstanding I apologise. It has however been a very frustrating experience.

    Lawrence.
     
  28. pixuk

    pixuk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2005
    Messages:
    62
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +0
    Er, ok... so. Um. About that resolution thing then?

    Pete
     
  29. Mr.D

    Mr.D
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2000
    Messages:
    11,064
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Ratings:
    +1,150
    When I get the chance I'll copy and paste the settings for 856x480 at 60Hz I use on my plasma. See if it makes any difference.
     
  30. LTJ

    LTJ
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Sorry pixuk but "hey man cut me some slack!" I too had a problem that wasn't being resolved through the correct channels and I was getting very frustrated which meant looking for Dave where ever I could find him. Back to the thread and if Dave is true to his word my new card will be on it's way, so I can now relax and actually read what seems to be very interesting thread.


    cheers
     

Share This Page

Loading...