After a LONG time coming and much poking and prodding from friends, I've decided to become more than a mere lurker on Twitch and stream some good ol' classic games (classic being a relative term of course)! Courtesy primarily of very good friend TinaHacks (call her 'Wuest'), I've been convinced to source a load of SNES hardware, utilizing video formats I'd only ever heard of in legends and fairy tales! Throughout this procurement process, I've done a lot of research, and I've compiled what I consider to be a nice list of things to make the viewing experience as high-quality as possible.. at least in terms of audio/video fidelity.
To spare folks the effort of trying to do all of this stuff themselves, I decided to compile a handy list of things people should consider when purchasing SNES hardware and accessories for streaming. Here goes:
- Every SNES streaming adventure starts with a solid console. I'd already sold all of my retro gear off earlier in the year (GRUMBLE GRUMBLE..), but discovered that what I sold was essentially a launch SNES. The best video quality is had with one of three later models, dubbed the 1CHIP SNESes. These combine the CPU and GPU, lowering visual noise, getting the output closer to that of an emulator
- If you thought the SNES was relegated to composite or RF output, you thought WRONG! To achieve actual RGB output from the console, custom SCART cables were used, fashioned by hand and purchased from retro_console_accessories on eBay. Their cables are recommended by all sorts of folks in "the business", and I've had nothing but outstanding results from both the SNES to SCART cable and SCART to JP21 (Japanese 21-pin SCART cable, which is DIFFERENT from the European version) SCART cable. I also have a SCART to BNC cable from wookieewin on eBay, which connects to my display
- You may be asking 'Tormod, why did you buy so many cables for a single connection?!' If so, you're an astute observer! In order to output to both a display and to something I can pipe into Twitch, I needed to pick up a SCART switch. Unlike composite switches many of you likely needed for your retro consoles, this SCART switch has the ability to take four inputs and provide two simultaneous outputs, of which don't even need to be from the same input! I used the SB-5520 SCART matrix routing switch form ANI-AV
- A CRT display is absolutely necessary when playing retro games; anything else will introduce lag in the display, which will delay your inputs, making you have a Bad Time. As there are THOUSANDS of CRTs out there, I had to ask around to see what people suggested. The Sony PVM series of displays were recommended by many, citing its excellent image quality and accurate color reproduction. I settled on a used Sony PVM-14M2U, A 14" model with a single BNC input (BNC uses red, blue, green, and sync plugs that lock into their receptacles, and composite left and right-channel audio jacks). This display worked instantly, and makes every game I've tried look STUNNING
- In order to get the RGB output from the SCART switch out to Twitch, I needed to find a way to convert SCART to HDMI. The defacto standard for this (CURRENTLY, as these devices are ceasing production soon!) is the XRGB-mini Framemeister (I got the JP21 version, as was recommended to me by Wuest). These buggers are in high demand due to production ending soon, so get off yer tails and order one IMMEDIATELY if you want one! Solaris looks like they're accepting preorders for a batch to go out in May, so you might just be lucky enough to snag one of the very last units. The one I ordered in January still hasn't shipped, but I was told not to give up hope just yet!
- My 1CHIP SNES was the first of three models with that configuration. RetroRGB recommended soldering three 750-ohm resistors, one to each color channel, to ground on the motherboard PCB in the SNES. Doing this lowers the brightness on the three color channels individually, which brings the color back down to a more natural level. A friend of mine helped by doing this for me, and I do notice a difference! Instructions for this can be found on the RetroRGB website
- The 1CHIP SNES also didn't ship with a power adaptor, games, or controllers; games are very easy to find, but the others.. not so much! If you need accessories, I recommend patiently searching for OEM parts, ESPECIALLY for power. First-party is almost always the way to go with Nintendo in the realm of accessories, and you definitely don't want to skimp out. For reference, the power brick's part number is SNS-002, and the two part numbers for the SNES controller (one from the launch series, the other from the SNES mini, both being functionally identical) are SNS-005 and SNS-102
- I came to the realization shortly after getting everything else that the ability to load randomizers and practice ROMs into my system would be a Very Good Thing. Considering those are some of the most enjoyable streams I've watched, I decided I really needed to find an SD2SNES cartridge. Fortunately, a somewhat-reputable site had it in stock, and after some waiting for it to ship from Ukraine, I got my paws on one. You'll obviously need an SD card, but so long as it's formatted as FAT32, it can be any capacity up to 256GB
With all of those purchases made and tested, I now have (almost!) all I need to begin streaming my SNES fumblings to Twitch! I will also be doing games from other consoles, including casual playthroughs, but the SNES stuff is really what got me excited. Thanks again to Wuest for pushing me to procure everytthing! I promised her I'd attempt to learn the 'All Castles' category of Super Mario World. WHO KNOWS how that'll go, but if you'd like to catch me live with much flailing, check my stream out and follow me for notifications of when I broadcast!
Love and lava cookies,