Thursday, March 22, 2012

SNES and SCART: Reluctant Friends

Recently, I picked up what was basically the last (what I consider) essential system in my retrogaming collection, a Super Nintendo. I used to have one as a kid and was quite fond of it. I have a setup in my game room that consists of, among other things, a smattering of retro consoles attached via SCART to a 32" Sony PVM monitor. SCART delivers pure RGB video signals from consoles like Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, and Playstation, and let me tell you, they look fantastic. The NTSC SNES (v1) supports RGB via SCART as well, but with a caveat: you need to make sure the RGB lines coming out of the multi-out have 330 uF capacitors on them. If they do not, and you try to attach the SNES to a monitor, the picture will be too bright, and the colors will be washed out. I bought a cheap SCART cable from eBay, and sure enough it was wired incorrectly for my monitor. The RGB lines must be capped, and the ground, sync, 5v, and audio must be straight thru. After much soldering and hassle, I hit upon this configuration. You have never seen Super Nintendo until you've seen it in RGB. It's a thing of beauty.

The audio when using SCART is another issue. There is insufficent shielding either in the SNES or the SCART cable for the audio circuitry, which causes some buzzing noise. It is such that the brighter the image onscreen, the louder the buzz. There exist SCART cables with dedicated RCA outs for audio, which minimizes or alleviates the buzz, but those are currently inadequate for my setup. I just keep the volume low and try to ignore the noise.