Red Green Blue

I’ve always been very particular about getting the most from my consoles. Case in point: RGB SCART connections. Ensuring my PS2 is kitted out with a proper 21-PIN SCART and plugged into the RGB compatible SCART socket of my TV is of genuine concern to me. The visual difference between a composite signal and an RGB output is, to my eyes, black and white. Anyone who regularly turns on their PSX and watches the red ripples travelling down the side of the ‘P’ of the Playstation logo will understand what I mean here. It’s the same effect that I noticed when I first turned on my Amiga 500 and observed the side of the blue workbench disc icon gently undulating. I was positive that this was not a deliberate choice on the part of the manufacturers but some kind of compatibility issue betwixt console and telly and it bothered me like an unpicked scab on a child’s knee.

Years passed before I had the savvy to take action against this visual annoyance and even then the epiphany was a result of nothing more than happenstance. I lost my old PSX composite cable to the same vortex that greedily gobbles up all my stationary and plectrums, bought a new, non-Sony SCART replacement, plugged it in and bam: crisp, ghostless edges and pure, vibrant colours. A brief period of ‘WTF?’ followed, after which I did some research and discovered the explanation was as simple as the right SCART in right socket. From that moment onward I became obsessed with ensuring I had the correct cables and console settings to get the best image possible out of my games machines.


Now, I’m sure there are many of you who won’t understand why the hell I’m bleating on about what is essentially a very small aesthetic difference. After all, graphics are but one tier of the delicious, multi-layered sponge cake we call video-gaming, so why should I let some slightly saturated hundreds and thousands spoil my birthday party?

I do have some justification to offer for all this superficially anal wire-worrying. If I spend £280 of my hard-earned English pounds on something, I want to make damn sure that I’m getting my money’s worth out if it. If I were to make an analogy (which I are), I would say that playing a poorly wired console is similar to buying an original Rembrandt, hanging it in the western wing of your private gallery (which I assume you possess if you are in the position to afford an original Rembrandt) and then stretching a layer of clingfilm over the front of the canvas. The beauty is still apparent, but a barrier has been erected, a misty shroud that distorts its purity. You can still gaze and admire, but at the same time you long to tear the film off and let the true, unsullied glory shine out.



Nowadays, with so much time and money pumped into making games eye-meltingly gorgeous, it rankles me to know that, for the lack of a few pins and a couple of tech pointers, I’m not seeing what the console is really capable of. Without the appropriate connectors, the viewing experience is something akin to wandering around all day wearing someone else’s prescription glasses: it’s all there, only muddier and slightly out of focus.

Of course, it’s all about HDMI now, with SCART becoming a relic, a geriatric uncle shaking his fist angrily at the youths on the street playing with their hoverboards and 1080P Etch A Sketches. This means ‘True HD’ LCD screens are now required if we are to unlock the full graphical prowess that lurks within the current generation of consoles. Unfortunately, it also means that a lot of gamers find themselves priced out of the high definition market. However, if anyone still uses their PSX/2 (or even their 360 or PS3 through composite connectors) on a standard CRT TV and has never heard of an RGB SCART before, a £10 cable and 20 seconds in the settings menu will let you see your entire games library in a new light. Go on, spoil yourself. Your eyes will thank you.

Click here for a head to head comparison of RGB vs composite over several platforms.







9 responses to “Red Green Blue”

  1. van-fu avatar

    I don’t think I appreciate you calling my SCART cable a geriatric uncle. I like to think of it more as my stoned cousin, stuck in the past, still loving his LSD.

    I also feel that I may get a ton of abuse from you if I say that I don’t feel that the difference in quality between HDTV and standard definition TV’s is worth the extra premium. Maybe, my Samsung HDTV is crap, or my JVC CRTV was superb, but I genuinely feel ripped off. What are your thoughts?

  2. van-fu avatar

    Oh, and there is nothing wrong with puting clingfilm over your Rembrandt. Mine hangs in the bathroom, and I find it protects it from the steam I make when having a shower.

  3. Tony avatar

    “Maybe, my Samsung HDTV is crap, or my JVC CRTV was superb, but I genuinely feel ripped off. What are your thoughts?”

    Funnily enough, Van, I actually went from a 28″ JVC flatscreen CRT TV to a 32″ Samsung LCD HDTV a few years ago… and I couldn’t believe how much better the picture is/was.

    Worlds apart. Are you connecting your console via a wet bit of string or something?

  4. Retro Boy G avatar
    Retro Boy G

    RGB with Scanlines FTW! I used to have an XRGB-2 system for one of my arcade machines to upscale the 15/24k picture to 32k. You can also use them for consoles.. Great little machines but rare as hens teeth! If you haven’t looked into them buddy then you should.

  5. Chummp Change avatar
    Chummp Change

    Ahh… A fellow cable enthusiast. Good post. I’ve taken the plunge into the hdmi pool recently, but know exactly where you’re coming from when it comes to the old RGB scart OCD. Good times.

  6. Martin avatar

    I remember a friend getting an import Super Nintendo which ran via a scart instead of the tv aerial. It was amazing, we were all sooooo jealous, at that point I started to care about how I hooked my consoles up.

  7. Jay avatar

    Brilliant post. I’m obsessive about hooking everything up the best possible way. To that end I recently got hold of an RGB-modded N64 as I couldn’t stand looking at the work of the vaseline fairies any longer. Being in PAL land, I try and have everything running at 60hz too so have a switched Saturn, Switched Megadrive, switched Nomad, a Japanese PSX and so on. OCD? Yes, probably.

  8. Celeste avatar

    My ps2 looks rubbish on my LCD TV no matter what I do. But I’m not going back to a CRT TV; I’d sooner start dressing up in sheep’s skin, carrying a huge club wherever I go and making primitive grunting noises. We never got along, you see.

    Nice post, you crazy enthusiast 🙂

  9. James avatar

    Hey, I’ve got my PS2 running through my LCD TV, and it looks… crap. Damn.

    It’s all about combining a string of tech that belongs together. PSX/2’s love CRT TV’s, coz that’s what they were conceived to run on. In the same vein, my 360 clearly wants babies with my LCD TV, but the PS3 would get jealous. When I replayed SOTC I seriously considered dragging an old CRT from the crawlspace (Celeste, just call me ‘Uhg-Mug Munga’).

    Van-Fu: For me it’s 50/50. Old, standard def media looks worse in HD – all those hitherto unseen low-def flaws and blocky-ass pixels become glaringly apparent on a big LCD. However, Blade Runner in blu-ray on my 37″ Samsung is the absolute tits, coz they were technologically made for each other. Aaaaaw.

    Jay: Once you’ve gone 60hz there’s no going back. Like rich, Colombian filtered and Tesco’s granulated, there is no comparison. Coffee. I’m talking about coffee. Obviously.

Leave a Reply