Well it's about that time again for a computer overhaul, I do however have one problem that's making my brain itch. The new video and capture cards and 6 million variations of them. I have been a a user of ATI forever and swear by them, I have my video chores down to science with my ATI 9600 AIW but sadly it must now be retired. So the question is out of all the ATI permutations there are none of them seem to be set up like the old AIW's input wise for capturing from ALL video sources, analog composite as well as digital. Not to mention the lack of audio inputs. Can someone clear this up. And yes I will be buying all ATI again. For better or worse I have never had anything but stellar results with them and the PVR software.
Thank much for any input
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Capture from VHS, analog cable, digital cable(not so much yet). My current capture setup is as follows:
DVD Region2, SVHS, via S-Video > TBC> ATI MMC for Capture and cleaning> output to AVI,Mpeg2,
VHS,Camcorder via ATI composite block> TBC> ATI MMC for capture and cleaning> output to AVI, Mpeg2
Cable via AIW>MMC (capture and clean)> AVI, Mpeg2
All encoding using standard tools Tmpgenc Plus, Decrypter, TmpgencAuthor, Automenu Studio, Vegas Pro
I originally wanted the ATI 3650 HD Premium with daughter board as another one shot solution, alas, not made anymore. My other option was the TV Wonder 650 PCIe but it doesn't seem to be flexible enough for inputs. Not like an AIW for SD wanyway
My card has a one tuner for analog/FM and a second tuner for digital TV. It can provide hardware encoding for analog.
Only the USB versions provides S-Video, composite, and RCA audio connections. The others have a 3.5mm jack for stereo audio input with an RCA stereo to microphone cable to be purchased separately. Mine did not come with the 7-pin purple block input adapter for composite or half-height bracket as an in-box accessories. At one time both could be purchased from Visiontek's online store, but I didn't see the cable when I looked today. The 3 pins in the center carry the composite video and stereo audio, while the four pins on the outside carry S-Video, so some other ATI 7-pin adapters might provide the necessary connections for a composite connection.
Multimedia Center has been replaced with Catalyst Media Center for TV Wonder HD Theater 650 PCI-E dual tuner cards. I have used it for analog recording/capture, and it works, but the interface is a bit clunky. Using something other than Good/Better/Best presets is possible, but I find the procedure for creating a custom profile using my own bitrate to be clumsy. I use Windows 7's Media Center for digital TV.
Proc amp settings are supposedly available for the Theater 650 with the right XP drivers installed when using GraphEdit or GraphStudio for capture, but I can't say its true from personal experience.(I suspect these are not the latest XP drivers from AMD's website.) Proc amp settings are not available using the drivers supplied for Vista or Windows 7, which is what I have.
Some members here object to the automatic gain controls in the Theater 650 and Theater 750 cards, which can't be turned off. The AGC can cause loss of detail in the darkest and brightest areas in a frame during transitions or when a capture first begins.
The ATI Theater 750 PCI-E cards have a 9-pin break-out cable that supplies connections for S-Video, composite video, and RCA stereo audio. It has a single tuner that can handle analog or digital TV. It uses software encoding for analog and comes with an ArcSoft product (don't remember which one) for capture and recording TV.
Some people prefer Theater 550 and Theater 600 devices for capture. These can still be found, but not easily. I believe the Theater 550 devices may include Multimedia Center, rather than Catalyst Media Center, but I am not certain. I don't know if the automatic gain control can be disabled and I don't know what kind of driver support exists for these using Vista or Windows 7.
Thanks for absolutely thorough reply Can you verify/confirm that the 650 does actually use the purple box, I have 3 of them so that would be great, and solve a lot of problems. The input socket on the 650 and 750 keep being referred to as an S-Video, I can't find out for sure as the documentation I have come across is vague at best.
How is the sound handled with these newer cards? The older ATI's had a proprietary jack with multiple leads, one being the audio jumper to the sound card with a bypass plug so you didn't lose use of the audio input jack.
Catalyst is fine I suppose as long as the PVR is still present and Video Soap filters are still part of this package. This is another one of those things I can't seem to find out. I'm using XP with no plans on changing the OS anytime soon so the drivers shouldn't be an issue. As far as the AGC goes, if they all have it I guess it's something I'll have to deal with. The biggest reason I've stuck with ATI for this is the on-the-fly video cleaning tools were really handy and worked well for me and I would hate to lose them and have no option to optimize the signal especially from analog sources like VHS. Also The AIW cards output to AVI and MPEG2, most of the cards I've seen don't.
Do the 550, 600, 650, all recieve QAM/ATSC/NTSC? QAM being the more important feature as almost all the cards including hybrids recieve ATSC/NTSC.
I'm pretty sure I'll go with a Diamond 5570 or Sapphire 100287L for my video card unless..... any thoughs?
Thanks a TON+ in advance for the info and insight.
Last edited by Robet G.; 22nd Nov 2010 at 14:30.
I have a Hauppauge PVR-250 and a Hauppuage HD PVR. Neither of those has AGC problems like the ATI 650/750.
What I can tell you from personal experience that the 4 pins on an S-video cable match up with the 4 outer pins on the 7-pin din connection on my card. That leaves the three inside pins for composite and RCA stereo, but I don't know which pin corresponds to which input.
There are no internal connections for a sound card that I know of. There is a green port on the card for audio input. I have been using that with S-Video. I don't have the block connector.
I'm not doing VHS capture. I'm just capturing the output of an STB once in a while. As far as I can tell, Catalyst Media Center doesn't include any filters going by the name "Video Soap". It allows several compression settings, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, Generic MPEG-4, DivX and H.264. Some of these use avi as a container. I have only used MPEG-2 myself.
The Theater 650 and 750 cards provide QAM tuning. I don't know about the others. My experience with the Theater 650 devices is that they need a stronger signal than the average digital TV. You may find an amplifier is needed for either cable or antenna. The Theater 750 cards have a completely different tuner, and perhaps it is better, but I don't know that for sure.
Also, Catalyst Media Center isn't set up to provide QAM tuning, only analog and ATSC. Windows XP's Media Center doesn't provide support for QAM either. If you want QAM with XP, you need an XP-compatible 3rd party PVR application that supports it. If you decide to change your OS, only pre-built Vista Media Center PCs which include the Vista TV Pack support QAM. The standard version of Vista Media Center doesn't.
Windows 7's Media Center supports QAM and I have experimented with it for QAM, but it is tricky to set up. Since my over-the-air stations are the only ones I'd want to record that are available in clear QAM, I decided to stick with ATSC and an antenna to make life easier.
No thoughts on your video card selection. I don't have a need for a discrete card. I use on-board video provided by a 785G chipset. It is fine for any kind of HD video I'd want to watch.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 22nd Nov 2010 at 19:04.
There is this whole new world out there, it's almost like the wild west in the states in the 1800's. I'll admit I haven't seen it, but I seem to be able to capture and edit new stuff, which I couldn't do just 4 years ago. I go buy stuff, preferably usb now, because it goes from computer to computer. I too have ATI throughout my world, and it works. I'm with you there, but step off the ledge, move forward, ye go forth and capture.It's not important the problem be solved, only that the blame for the mistake is assigned correctly
In an effort simplify, I have the following observations and updates:
From what I can gather the CMC software isn't worth the CD it's burned on. With that said my current setup is-
AIW 9600 AGP, MMC 9.03, Catalyst drivers 6.14. This was the last known really stable combination of driver/software with great function and quality.
The real question then would be this: Does anyone know what the last card was to produce equal to or better results than the 9600/9800 AIW's as a standalone PCIe TV card that can still use MMC 9.03.....or am I pipe dreaming in trying to find a decent replacement for my beloved 9600?
Thanks for the replies guys
This is AMD's page for Theater 750 products: http://www.amd.com/us/products/pctv/tv-theater/Pages/tv-theater.aspx
It turns out the ATI Theater 550 Pro PCI and PCIE cards have just an analog tuner. AMD's product page for the ATI TV Wonder™ HD 600 cards says have an ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuner. Both the Theater 550 and Theater 600 chips have automatic gain controls. Theirs could exhibit the same defects as automatic gain controls for Theater 650 and Theater 750 products. Apparently Theater 550 and Theater 600 products both come with Catalyst Media Center in the box, but a VideoHelp member says in this thread he is using an ATI Theater 550 Pro card with ATI's Multimedia Center instead, with Windows 7 no less. https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/326716-Hardware-MPEG-2-Capture-Software-ATI-Theater-550-Pro That must be where I got the idea that it came with ATI's Multimedia Center.
I have a feeling that it will be impossible to replace your AGP card or ATI Multimedia Center with a more modern PCIE TV tuner card and software that provides equivalent functionality. 99% of the people who buy a TV card have no interest in fiddling with settings to get the best capture possible. What they want is presets, and the easiest possible setup, so that is what manufacturers and software houses provide. These businesses won't spend money on features for consumer hardware and software that almost nobody in that market would use or be willing to pay for.
I have read lots of user reviews for TV cards and regardless of the make or model, many buyers don't like the PVR application that is provided with their hardware. For a free program to use with XP, you can try out GBPVR or its successor NextPVR. They say they support QAM. Otherwise take advantage of the trial offers for BeyondTV or SageTV to see if one of those is a good fit.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 23rd Nov 2010 at 13:07.
Thanks again for thorough response. I had a feeling I was screwed in the TV card replacement area. You just gotta love the dumbing up the population with pushbutton consumerism. Anything to avoid having to actually learn something.
Anyway, do you know off hand if the AGC on all/any of these cards are automatic or function through the software only?
I was entertaining the thought of going for a HVR-1250 OEM white box but was seeing varying reports on quality of picture, then after seeing the game Hauppauge wants to play with thier drivers, I quickly discounted that option. (Very low tolerance for stupidity)
I did do an experiment last night regarding VirtualDub MPEG2 to capture signal via my 9600 and it worked rather well. But then again it's a 9600 feeding signal. I have some concern regarding reports of sync problems cap'ing to avi this way though.
So my question now is this:
Would it be possible to achieve an equivalent grade of capture feeding an ATI 650 PCIe a source signal from whatever I choose via S-Video cable, like the old "channel 3" VCR method, and capture via VirtialDub MPEG like I did in my test last night?
Would I still be contending with AGC problems, and does the 650 PCIe feature/install WDM DirectShow type drives to allow this method of capture and does it matter?
Thanks again for help and sorry for the avalanche of questions.
Last edited by Robet G.; 23rd Nov 2010 at 18:15.
My current system at home is ancient, a homebrew system based on a DFI P4 motherboard. It's using an ATI AIW Radeon 8500DV AGP card, used mainly these days with ATI MMC to allow me to watch TV in a corner window while surfing the web. I'm replacing it with a new system (homebrew again, this time with a Gigabyte Core2 Quad motherboard), and I'm looking to get the equivalent. I've had my eye on the ATI TV Theater 750 PCIe card from Diamond, again mainly for TV viewing (I'm planning on getting a BlackMagic Intensity card in the future for capture operations), but I know that it comes with third-party software instead of MMC.
If anyone is using this card, could you answer this: does the software that comes with it operate in the same manner as MMC (i.e. TV in a window instead of full-screen), and if not, what good alternatives to MMC are out there? I've downloaded and tried ChrisTV, but I can't get it working properly with my AIW 8500DV, so I'm hesitant to try it with my new system. Any suggestions?Don't sweat the petty things, just pet the sweaty things.
The ATI 650 USB2 allows you to capture raw YUY2 with VirtualDub (you can then filter and compress with whatever you want). You can also access the 650's proc amp controls. But, unfortunately, the AGC blowout happens before the proc amp controls. As to whether the AGC is in the driver or the hardware/firmware in the box I don't know. But I have never seen any fix for the problem.
I haven't tested capturing from cable TV much, but I don't seem to recall obvious blowout problems with that. I'll try a cap later today and let you know.
Last edited by jagabo; 23rd Nov 2010 at 18:20.
I tried Virtualdub, but didn't go very far with it. I was trying other things at the same time and I became interested in using GraphStudio instead. For some reason I find playing with filter graphs to be more enjoyable.
Since I don't have an All-In-Wonder VGA card I can't make a comparison between that and a Theater 650 device. All I can say is it's good enough for me to use for TV captures, but then I'm less picky than some other members of this forum.
The Theater 650's automatic gain control will be on and could cause problems no matter what capture software is used. Even at the Direct Show filter level, it apparently can't be turned off. I have looked at the filter using GraphStudio. None of these settings are enabled for Windows 7. jagabo has said the proc amp settings or at least some of them are available using the XP drivers installed on his system, but he can't turn off the automatic gain control here.
Check your messages. I sent you something about the Radeon 3650 daughterboard you were looking for.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 23rd Nov 2010 at 19:45.
Thanks again _Silent. If I could impose upon one more time.........In VirtualDub; assuming you did a standard off the cd driver install of the 650, can you tell me if Go to File>Capture AVI then check Device> do you have the following listed:
1 Microsoft WDM Image Capture (VFW)
2 ATI Rage Theater Video Capture (DirectShow)
This might at least bring me closer to being on the same page as what I am using now. Apparently (for the benefit of others reading this also) the cancer that is AGC extends as far back to at least the ATI 3650. Looks like the ATI honeymoon just might be over Unless there's someone who can recommend a quality, flexible capture card that wont break the bank.
Extra thanks to all who responded
ATI 650 captures from my cable box suffer from the same AGC problem. Here's a sample from my digital cable box connected to the ATI 650 USB2 via s-video, captured with with VirtualDub 1.9.10 (the original cap was uncompressed YUY2, I added a VideoScope graph at the bottom and converted to Xvid AVI for upload). Note how the background is completely white out after the initial black frames, then about a second later the white level drops and you can see details in the background. This was captured on a computer running Windows XP where the proc amp settings are functional. I once tried the 650 on a computer with Win7 and I seem to recall that the proc amp settings didn't work there, like usually_quite reports.
[Edit] These drivers were not from the CD. XP drivers on the CD would do me no good. I either downloaded them from AMD, or Windows 7 found them. I can't remember which now.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 24th Nov 2010 at 00:03.
thanks loads to usually_quiet and jagabo
@jagabo, that's what I was afraid of but on the up side the 650 has some proc amp functionality under XP, true?
@usually_quiet, will that's a start anyway. At least it's still using DirectShow which Virtualdub seems to like.
As a side note, I remembered earlier tonight that I had an oooold Hauppauge ImpactVCB 588 so I thought.......why not.
So I downloaded the latest drivers from Haupp and let her fly. Good news bad new kinda thing. Did it install and recognize in VirtualDub......yes. was I able to capture at least 704X480 NOT! Can't get anything above 320X240! So much for the quick fix.
Does anyone know what can be used for analog or direct feed(S-Video) capture these days that doesn't suffer from AGC disease?
While Hauppauge used to have a different policy for its WinTV software, the one they have now is still better than some others. Avermedia has modified the white box versions of their latest cards so they won't work with the AverTV software provided with the full retail package. AMD doesn't provide software downloads for Catalyst Media Center or the Arcsoft PVR software for Theater 750-based cards. SiliconDust avoids the problem entirely by not providing any PVR software to use with their products.
Many of those buying the white box versions want to use their purchase with Windows Media Center or third-party PVR software and are happy to avoid paying for software they don't want and accessories they don't need or that won't work with the software they plan to use.
@jagabo Thanks much
I stand corrected on the driver thing for hauppauge. Thanks for pointing that out. However, if I can't get my ImpactVCB to function it doesn't bode well for the rest of their stuff
Any recommendations at this point would be outstanding. Many people would disagree, but for me, my AIW 9600 was da bomb and would hate to see it go with no decent replacement in sight. At least quality wise.
Thanks guys for the help, recommends?
Why is it you are retiring your AIW card? For what you want to do, I agree there is nothing better. SFAIK there is no video soap on newer cards.
I almost bought a new AGP mobo just to keep mine going, but the old board is still cranking along. Tried a Hauppage card, not even close and their software absolutely blows. MMC has its quirks but does the job with lots of options.
I will be sad when my AIW finally dies, this is my fourth ATI capture card and they just don't make'em like that anymore.
The bundled software with any card just about sucks today and there are alternatives to MMC (not as good IMO) but alternatives never the less. I've had ATI stuff since early Pentium 2 gen. and they never dissapointed or let me down.....................until now
Upgrade the tech in your main box but keep the old bits and put together a second box for captures and media serving etc.
There is no current device equivalent to your AIW 9600. You need to lower your expectations.
Judging by reviews, there are no TV + capture cards that work well for everybody, particularly for ~$50 or less. Since you don't want Hauppauge, or Diamond, AverMedia is the most reputable maker left, but there are persistent reports of problems with all of their TV tuner cards that go something like this: "The tuner disappears occasionally from Windows Device Manager. Upon reboot it comes back up working fine."
Comes with accessories and AverTV. Tuner can tune analog and digital, but only one at a time. Uses software encoding.
No accessories included, and it's a white box version that can't be used with AverTV, but has both an analog and digital tuner. The hardware encoder chip and tuner are supposed to be pretty decent . http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815100043
Just for fun, this is AverMedia's popular new capture-only PCI-e card, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815100049
I respect all the effort and assistance you have offered and I thank you, BUT, who said anything about a $50 card or no Diamond?
Knowing the general quality I get from the AIW I'm looking for something of equal or better capture quality, that's all. I have to come to grips with the fact the MMC will be just a memory. OK VDub looks like it will do a good job I hope. I tried to get the Hauppauge ImpactVCB working with their driver package and couldn't get a res over 320 x 240, tried the btWDM universal driver, and got nothing from that, finally tried ChrisTV and it fouled up my system so bad I had to go back to a restore point to fix it. This is not a good sign in Hauppauge's favor.
I looked at/wanted to go with Visiontek, Diamond or Sapphire, but all seem to suffer from AGC disease.
I did take a glancing look at AverMedia but was getting all over the place revirews about capture quality.
I appreciate the time out to back and forth with me on this.
All the current products have some warts. If you can't find any with warts you can live with, follow Nelson37's advice and hope for the best. There is nothing with a PCI-e interface that provides equivalent quality and capture settings to your AIW.