How to Improve Digital Cable Picture?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by HerbT, Nov 19, 2002.

  1. HerbT

    HerbT Auditioning

    Nov 12, 2002
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    I just got digital cable through TimeWarner, using a Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000 box. The features are great, but we expected a better picture. My tv is the Toshiba 50H82, widescreen & hidef. Would Avia or Video Essentials make a difference, or do you have to just settle for "this kind of picture" when using a big screen? I know that increasing size also increases artifacts or distortion or graininess, but do I have to give up quality for size?
    The Explorer 8000 literature says that in time they'll upgrade the software to process hidef, so I'd like to maintain this setup, if picture quality can improve while I wait.
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

    May 22, 1999
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    Try this: split the CATV feed and go directly to the TV with coax, and run the video from the box to the TV.
    Now you should be able to flip between the two with your TV remote. So set the box and the TV to display the same station.
    When you flip, you MAY notice the analog CATV signal has some "noise" or "snow" - small bits of white in the picture. Most of this is gone with the digital signal. If your area has had a recent upgrade in coax, you may not even see much difference.
    Do you see? Your "Digital" service only gets rid of snow/damage caused by the analog signal running through the coax. It's the reduction of damage that gives you the better picture quality.
    We had another poster in the How to improve PQ with digital cable thread that had loose connectors. Tightening things solved some of his problems.
    Connections: does that CATV box offer SVideo output? This can give you a 20% better picture over the RF Coax/Composite video with a good quality (DVD) source. I dont think you will see as much improvement with a CATV source, but it cant hurt to try.
    But the sad truth is: that TV is much more sensitive than the signal you are feeding it.
    You are watching a signal that:
    - Starts as analog designed in the 1940 for a 9-inch black and white tube
    - Arrives at the local CATV station where it is Digitized, then compressed (some of the bits are thrown away) for the trip through the coax
    - Arrives at your CATV box where it is de-compressed and converted back to analog
    - Goes to your TV where it is converted to digital
    - The TV does 3:2 pull-down detection, line-doubling, SVM, etc.
    - The TV converts the signal back to analog and magnifies it for display on a 50 inch screen
    When you think about all the different processing that goes on AFTER the signal leaves the TV station - it's a wonder it looks as good as it does.
    Yes, having the TV adjusted with Avia will reduce the brightness which may soften some of the artifacts, but you are optimizing the TV for your DVD player, not your CATV service. So I'm not sure it will help.
    (It's a good idea to use Avia or have a ISF tech come in to do the magic). But I'm not sure it will help with the poor quality CATV service.

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