Sega Master System :: RGB201 / MY LIFE IN GAMING
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Sega Master System :: RGB201 / MY LIFE IN GAMING

September 23, 2019

– Getting into RGB on your retro consoles can be a very daunting task. If you’ve checked out the 100 level of our RGB master class, congratulations, you have all the basic knowledge to dive in. But some people had questions that were console specific. So we decided that it would be helpful to create an extension to the RGB series, where we can address specific platforms head on. We’ll be covering each system, their major revisions, and what kind of video signals they support natively or via modification to ultimately get the best picture possible from them. Welcome back to the RGB Master Class and this time we’re checking out the Sega Master System. (theme music) Sega released the Mark III in Japan in 1985, and then brought it to the US in 1986 as the Master System. It was an 8-bit console that was designed to play cartridge and card based media, and it can display its games at a resolution of 256×192. The SMS can also produce up to 32 colors on screen at once from a palette of 64. There were two major versions of the Master System released in the US. The first model, the Master System Power Base is the one that’s most commonly seen. There were four different variations of that one, with the easiest way tell the difference being the games will appear when turn on the system without a cartridge in it. For such an early console, it’s surprising that the Master System is capable of outputting several different formats of video without any kind of mod to the system. In the 1980’s and the early 90’s the most common sound and video output was via the use of a connector called a RF Modulator. If you had a console before the PlayStation One, there is a good chance that it was hooked up using one of these. An RF signal, which stands for Radio Frequency, outputs through a port on the back of the system that actually looks kinda like a RCA jack. This signal passes through the modulator and emits from a coaxial cable that you screw into an input on your television and your audio and video will show up on Channel 3 or 4. Now, I know we’ve been very hard on composite having to squeeze all that audio and video through three RCA cables, but imagine squeezing those through one of these! Yeah, it’s a noticeable step down. If you’re ready for something a bit higher grade, then check out the other main port on the back of the Master System that’s labelled A/V. This rather large, 8-pin DIN is capable of outputting Composite if you have the correct cable. This cable was not included with the system and had to be purchased separately. Most of Sega’s consoles are known for having a particularly inferior looking Composite image, and the Master System fits in nicely with that description. For my money, it doesn’t look all that bad on a decent CRT. But plug into a LCD and suddenly everything looks smeared and dark, even going into the XRGB Framemeister it looks especially awful. Thankfully, your options don’t stop there because out of this same port, if you have a SCART or JP21 cable, you can get RGB directly without any need for modification to the hardware. While Sega systems have fairly bad looking composite, they are generally known to have the absolute best RGB quality in the business. The Master System delivers on this standard with flying colors and it simply looks fantastic! As you can see here, the CSYNC RGB image looks razor sharp. If you are looking for a nice bump up from composite, but don’t have any way to take advantage of RGB, the Master System’s RGB signal can be modulated into a slightly substandard S-Video signal. But it is, regardless, a step up from the composite. One thing to consider: if you’re planning on using some of the Master System’s unique peripherals like the Light Phaser or the 3D Sega Scope Glasses, these will not work at all on an LCD television at due to the way they use a CRT television’s electron beam to sync with the TV. Lets check out some examples of the Master System’s Composite vs RGB when upscaled via the XRGB Framemeister. (fantasy exploration music) Shortly after the release of the Genesis, Sega released a remodeled, streamlined version of the SMS called the Master System II. When I say streamlined, I really mean it. Major features were removed to fit into a more compact package that that might not have made a difference then, but they certainly do today. For our purposes, the biggest change comes in the form of the complete removal of the A/V output leaving with only a dismal looking RF signal. Fortunately, with some heavy modifications you can get composite, s-video, and RGB out of it, so not all is lost.. It’s just going to take significantly more work. Another option is a Sega Genesis using the Power Base Converter add on. This peripheral is a is superior option to the Master System II in that it supports the Sega card games and 3D glasses. The Genesis actually contains the Master System’s hardware in it’s own hardware, so you can expect an accurate backwards compatibility experience. In some ways, it’s even superior to the original hardware The colors are much brighter and vivid. I wasn’t expecting that. What’s interesting is that the first version of the Genesis used the exact same cables as the Master System! So there you go, that’s all you need to know about getting the best possible video out of your sega master system. Thankfully, it’s one of the easier systems to get into when it comes to RGB. I’d absolutely go with the first version of the console if you’re looking to get the most out of the system visually, and you don’t even have to mod it! (theme music)

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  1. im haveing a problem with some of my ms games where the image appears warped at certen points on the screen is this a console or cartrige problem ?

  2. im haveing a problem with some of my ms games where the image appears warped at certen points on the screen is this a console or cartrige problem ? its a model 2 mastersystem though

  3. im haveing a problem with some of my ms games where the image appears warped at certen points on the screen is this a console or cartrige problem ? its a model 2 mastersystem though

  4. im haveing a problem with some of my ms games where the image appears warped at certen points on the screen is this a console or cartrige problem ? its a model 2 mastersystem though d

  5. This is a very US-centric video. The Master System was also available in Europe and Australia/New Zealand, but we don't use F-connectors for our terrestrial television here in NZ, so there is no "screwing in". It's a larger connector, similar fit to an RCA connector.

    But these are just little details…

  6. Hey guys – question…if I s-video mod a Sega Master System (original) – will it still be able to perform RGB? Thx!

  7. Rgb is absolutely great BUT many games are designed with rf in mind and uses those artifacts to give the ellusion of more colors ,create transparrancy, rainbow or rain effects,so for those whose wants to preserve those effects while still being enable to hookup their master system 2 to a frame meister?? Just hook it up to a vcr and then connect the vcr to the frame meister, there you go.

  8. It's amazing how ahead of their time Sega consoles were regarding the quality of video signals you could tap in right out of the box. The fact that the Master System ouputs RGB natively is crazy.

    Nintendo, on the other hand, has always been screwing customers in that regard.
    The NES didn't offer anything better than composite (at the time, offering composite was actually good : but look at what the Master System could offer). For the SNES, some of the revisons offer a blurry RGB picture, and all of them have vertical bars in the middle of the screen when stock (the Genesis, on the other hand, offers crystal-clear RGB). The N64 have a very nasty Anti-Aliasing filter that blurs the picture (meanwhile, the Saturn offers clear RGB, as is always the case with Sega consoles).

    Thankfully now there are nice solutions for nintendo consoles (i almost cried of joy the first time I played on my RGB modded Nes lol), but they still require work and money to be invested in them, while Sega consoles offer crystal-clear RGB natively on all their consoles, and you have to appreciate that.

  9. sega is fantastic looking if u have th right t.v or pc monitor. sega mega drive was ahead of snes in this way. the snes didnt have natural rgb while the mega drive did hence even tho the snes was supposed to be more colourful (which it had more colours technically) it didnt turn out this way in reality, the sega mega drive looked better and played faster to boot.

  10. Does your tv have a builtin satellite receiver ? Why are you plugging your master system into a satellite receiver?

  11. im the 11,800th subsctiber get rekt matez also i loke tbese guys since im really big like extremely big in really every generation of gaming

  12. 1:58 No WONDER why my apartment neighbor was able to watch me play my Nintendo games down stairs next to my bed room -.-
    I don't even recall using an amplifier to emit higher audio/video air waves.

  13. Any chance of going to consoles prior to this generation? I think someone just developed a true RGB mod for the 2600. If any pre-SMS/NES system is worth it, it would be that one. Also, some early computers might be worth discussing (Apple II for sure).

  14. I'm surprised you didn't mention anything about the fm modulator on the Japanese version and how the west didn't get this as standard – otherwise it was a very informative video indeed and I look forward to watching the rest of this series 🙂

  15. Love your videos guys, they are very helpful. I have a SMS Model 1 with a framemeister and a CSYNC cable from I see some pretty significant jail bars. Any idea what could be the issue?

  16. +my life in gaming so does the master system power base for the genesis have the same video quality as the first master system or is the power base also better than the first master system model?

  17. anyone able to tell me where i can tap into a 5v power source on the sms? doing the svideo mod and thats the only info im missing.

  18. Personally I think some of the games look worse in RGB.
    SURE, the pixels are sharper, but some games were clearly designed to take advantage of the blurring produced by composite to increase the number of displayed colors

  19. seeing you sit on that couch with the glasses on and all those wires running across the floor was hilarious

  20. actually, the signal coming out of the RF port on the system is already modulated, the device you stick in between the TV and console just prevents the game's video signal from interfering with the connected cable TV or antenna and leading to a not so pleasant visit from your cable company or the FCC =P

  21. The Master System DID include the composite cables in the box. At least they did at one point, like when I got mine for Christmas in the 80's. I no longer have that SMS, but I still have the cable. Sold the SMS after I got a Power Base converter, but still needed the cable for my model 1 Genny.

  22. What game is shown at 5:00 ? It tickles my memory of something I enjoyed playing years and years ago. The one in the desert.

  23. Are sega Saturn cables the same? Incidentally, I'd like to see that video, although I'm guessing I've got close to the best I can with a scart cable.

  24. In case someone might need to use an RF modulator on a system but cannot find one, here's a great tip: You can use a standard RCA cable (the same used for composite/component) and plug it into the RF port on the console. Then, you can hook it directly to the coax input on the TV with a dirt cheap adapter (coax on one side, RCA plug on the other). Generally the adapter is called a RCA Female to F Male.

  25. Technically, they REPLACED Snail Maze with Alex Kidd in the MSII.
    Plus even in the SMS 1 there were a bunch of other versions with other games build in like Hang On, OutRun and Safari Hunt.

  26. I have a question unrelated to the excelent video here:
    is it possible that you'll making a video about the "PS2-Backwards-Compatibility"-mod for PS3? I remember that someone sold a small board that should make it backwards compatible again and better than every Sony solution at the start of the console. But it could be possible Sony already locked this mod completely out years ago. I really don't know, but it would be interesting to see how good or bad it worked and how video quality turned out.

  27. I don't know if all board revisions are the same but my Sega Master System works great with the Genesis cable from HD Retrovision.

  28. Nobody seems to know that there are some variations of the Master System 2 that came with the same AV/out as the model 1, especially in France where SCART was prevalent. I have one of those, they come with a scart cable but they only work with the framemeister if you disable the SYNC as it was handled differently in the SECAM standard.

  29. I have been doing every thing on a 1080p Dell screen for pc or rf signal going through a old vhs player. I used record gameplay using the bus player take the tape to my grandma's and use her DVD player turn it to disk format and then put in my computer and commentary would be recorded through a spy watch toy I got from a quarter machine and plugged it into the computer. I then put it all together using movieplus x5 and exported it in the lowest format and fastest mode. it looked horrible. now I use a HD tv, elgato game capture tv, and still use movie plus x5 I deleted all my videos but could try again at youtube people wanted though most have unsubed by then. like if you want me to retry youtube.

  30. so basically. everyone with scart cables had the luxury of rgb when this came out. now in the us, we can get adapters to use scart on our us crts. this is amazing.

  31. The Saturn and Dreamcast haven't been covered yet in the RGB201 series. Please consider making a video about them in the future.

  32. Well my Sega Master System is connected through RGB and has jail bars in the image. I bought the cables from Retro Console Accessories. I think it may be an issue with the system. Wonder what version of the system they are using.

  33. Question, because Sega are known for low quality Composite cables, does this mean Dreamcast has low quality composite?

  34. so that FM sound mod… Viletim said it works with the Genesis. is there a way to find out how to install this board into a Genesis?

  35. Could you or someone here please direct me to a place I can find that metal shelving unit you are using to stack your consoles?

  36. Given that your videos are generally more than complete (cf the video on Nintendo handhelds) on hardware and RGB, I'm surprised you forgot to mention that the Japanese Master System was the best way to benefit from some FM games with the FM Sound unit included. Best of it, some PAL cartridges kept the FM sound, then you can use them with a proper converter..And it's true as well that some games were only compatible on Master System 2 because of the 256×224 resolution instead of the usual fixed resolution of 256×140 from the first model.

  37. Some Master Systems have a jailbar problem in RGB mode that requires an amplifier mod to fix, so your mileage may vary on how easy it is to get the best picture quality from it.

  38. Hmm… this console is mildly annoying. It is wired to output RGB, but it won't do component. There were HD RetroVision cables, but you can't get them anymore. Most of the available cables of any kind are made for Genesis and make the Master System look kinda dark. Sega's composite signal is of a lower quality than that of most other retro consoles, so settling for that is almost as bad as using the RF modulator the MS came with. It kind of feels like my only option is to buy a SCART cable and some kind of SCART to Component converter box, which really isn't what I want to do. And for all that trouble, I'll probably get a weak signal with too much resistance that's optimized for Genesis. This is such a lame situation. :/ Trying to hook up your Master System to a CRT with component cables is nearly impossible. I feel like the entire retro gaming community had a meeting while I was out, and everyone decided that all they cared about was running SCART switchers into a Framemeister, and anyone who has only one or two retro consoles is SOL and has to overpay to deal with solutions optimized for those people. I also feel like the same people decided that anyone who buys a Master System is dumb, and they think you should get a Genesis and a Power Base converter instead.

  39. i have the sms with the scart cable ( I am French ), the image quality is just amazing and I think the rgb cable was included in the box.

  40. I just got myself an OSSC and the Packapunch SCART cable for the SMS, but I notice some pretty intense jailbars on solid colors… anybody else have this issue? Are there any optimal OSSC settings? Or is it a bad cable?

  41. Do you mod any systems for those of us that can't do it ourselves? (bad wrists) I'd love to get my SMS to the stage that the quality is at during 4:15 that's just gorgeous!

  42. hey there, yesterday i found my master system 1 on the atic and hooked it up to my tv and stil works, the image is no bad but can be better ofcourse so what is my best option i have hdmi connections and also scart. i have seen some cables from a seller from the UK are those any good or do i need more?

  43. I have honestly never used a weird box thing that screws into the television. Is it an American thing? My English televisions don’t even have a screw on port.

  44. Eitherway the picture quality in RGB is kinda bad so I'd go with SMS 2 as it's much easier to get and cheaper and install RGB AMP to get crystal clear picture as you would need to do exactly the same mod on SMS 1 to get a good picture.

  45. One thing that was not mentioned, is what kind of RGB: sync-on-composite or composite sync (aka csync), but it's most probably the first one. Love all your videos, specially this series! Sooner or later I'm taking most of my systems to RGB heaven 😀

  46. Okay, so I have a question. Is it possible to mod a NES controller to work with a Mega Drive (or vice versa) for use with master system games, or perhaps an adaptor to do that? And if not, can you make one work with the Master System?

    I don’t know myself, but you guys, as retro geniuses and great Youtubers, are more likely to know than me so I thought it was worth asking.

  47. Hi Coury and Tryce. @MyLifeInGaming

    Have you thought of doing a RGB Master Class episode about getting the best picture for the Atari 2600? Looked on your Playlist and couldn't see one. 😮
    Any chance of seeing that episode in the future?


  48. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM 2!!!! My first ever console! Had Sonic The Hedghog byuilt into the console and that was of course my first ever game!

  49. that difference in quality is amazing. i have a A/V to red/yellow/white AV an the quality's not great. i'm gonna get the scart adapter now. subscribed you rule my dude

  50. I was told that the SMS needs the 75Ohm resistors to display properly, but I don't think this is the case… I get the same problem with a very dark picture on my SMS when using the same RGB SCART cable that I use with my Genesis. I am assuming that this is what you are referring to in the caption in regards to the dark picture? Is this correct?

  51. It seems you guys have come a long way over the past few years as there is quite a bit of misunderstanding happening in this video. Perhaps some of these older video's could use an update? Not that there's anything wrong with that, my understanding of RGB was probably no better back in 2015 as I was just getting into the RGB scene around that time.

  52. As normal, great video for one of my fav classic systems. SCART cables, do they require CSYNC or will cheap Sync-on composite cable works (1/2 the price)?  I tried one that I grabbed for the Genesis but, I got audio and no video though my framemeister.

  53. the genesis having better graphics with master system games than the master system itself is like if youre smarter than your parents

  54. I have a SMS nodded with the FM sound chip. After watching this video I bought a scart rgb cable for the av out. I then connect it through an Elephas scart to hdmi converter to the tv. No noticeable lag in game play and a great picture after choosing 720 resolution on the converter and adjusting the picture settings on my LG tv. Not perfect like the frameister but still really good and only about $60 to$70 in total.

  55. The main trouble with the Sega Master System is that eventually the D-Pad on the controller breaks and falls out. You can just buy a high quality 3D printed sega master system replacement D-Pad for £2.75 off riscman on eBay!! Works better than the original!! Sega Master system Game Pad problem solved!!

  56. Two questions:
    1.) Regarding best possible picture console, I don't really get it: Did I get something wrong, I think you mention on one hand the Mega Drive with Power Base converter delivers best picture quality, but on the other hand in the summary you state the Master System I delivers the best experience visually?
    2.) Is the Mega Drive with Power Base converter also superior to a RGB modded Master System II? I have the latter and so far I'm very satisfied with its picture quality.

  57. Hey, I came here to know how to play Master System nicely, and now I realise that I need a Power Base 😛

  58. Still have my original from 1987, first game was Transbot and teddy boy in card, my favourite game was Golden Axe Warrior which was a role playing game “sega version of Zelda”.

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