What Is the Most Accurate CRT TV Shader and Accurate Aspect Ratio?

Hi, I have been using Retro Arch for a few years now, but I am new on the forums and am starting to get serious about accuracy. I hope this is the right spot to put this thread in. If not, then feel free to move it to the appropriate area. I also should probably break this up into separate threads, but I’m going to try to put this all into one. This is going to be a very long post, so please bear with me, and I hope that my questions aren’t stupid or annoying to any of you guys. Thank you.

  1. My first questions are that I noticed that Retro Arch takes over a minute to launch, reset, load games, etc. I read that it has to do with having a Corsair Keyboard plugged in and also the Corsair iCUE software running. I have to constantly unplug my Keyboard and then start Retro Arch and then plug it back in. Is there any fix to this yet?

  2. What is the most Cycle Accurate Cores in Retro Arch right now? There are 18 systems that I am currently emulating. 1. Atari Jaguar. 2. TurboGrafx 16. 3. Sega Genesis. 4. NES. 5. SNES. 6. GB. 7. GBC. 8. GBA. 9. N64. 10. PSX/PSONE. 11. PSP. 12. Sega Dream Cast. 13. PS2. 14. GC. 15. Wii. 16. Arcade. 17. DS. 18. 3DS. What is the most Cycle Accurate Cores for these systems? I know for example, that BSNES is the best one for SNES, or so I’ve heard anyway. Also, are the default settings for the cycle accurate cores perfect out of the box, or do I need to change/tweak any of them? Like for example, the N64 Core: Parallel is the most accurate from what I’ve heard, but the default settings on it are far from accurate. I had to change the GFX plugin to Angry Lion, and the RSP plugin to CXD4, and the Glide 64 Texture Rendering to N64 3-Point etc.

  3. What is the most accurate aspect ratio for the systems? I hear some people say Core Provided, and others say 4:3. Could I just manually set Retro Arch to 4:3 to force every system and game to be 4:3 and be done with it or is it not that simple? Note: I don’t care about Pixel Perfect crap or what the developers intended the correct aspect ratio to be. My idea of accurate is the nostalgic version, meaning, whatever the aspect ratio was for Consumer CRT TV’s back in the day. Not professional ones either, consumer.

  4. Why is it that some games and systems seem to be different aspect ratios when I have everything set to forced 4:3 in Retro Arch’s main settings? What I mean is that in some games and consoles, the game perfectly fills the entire CRT TV Overlay/Border, whereas in other games and systems, there are black bars on the tops and bottoms or slightly on the sides. Or in Paper Mario for example, on the intro, main menu, file select screens and the little prologue that plays if you let the screen sit there for a while, the entire screen is filled, yet when you go to actually play the game and select your file, the actual game itself has black borders all around the entire game. I don’t remember it doing that when I played the game as a kid on a real CRT TV.

    https://imgur.com/a/RiHLFpY Ape Escape has everything fill the entire screen.

    https://imgur.com/a/K66BqH1 Spyro the Dragon has a slight black bar on the top of the screen.

    https://imgur.com/a/DhxqqwH The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has everything fill the entire screen.

    https://imgur.com/a/8fpI3ux Super Mario 64 has a slight black bar on the top of the screen.

    https://imgur.com/a/bj5Kl7D Paper Mario has everything fill the entire screen on the main screen, menu select, intro, prologue etc.

    https://imgur.com/a/JtwmIke However, start the actual game and now there are black borders all around the entire screen. On the top and bottom, and slightly on the left and right.

  5. Or some games barely have anything cut off on the edges of the screen when I have my CRT TV Overlay/Border in place, whereas some other games seem to have more cut off to the point where some of the letters are slightly cut off on the bottom or some of the letters or image is slightly cut off to the sides or the top.

    https://imgur.com/a/WnxuLgk Tomba! has the bottom of the letters slightly cut off. Where it says Village of All Beginnings, the second one, not the first one, the bottom parts of both of the g letters are cut off.

    https://imgur.com/a/UnxYYcO Same game, on the left, the letters themselves are not cut off, but the blue selection circle, or square or whatever that weird shape is, has the left part cut off. Also, the green leaves around the menu selections are also slightly cut off to the left.

    https://imgur.com/a/p4OUwcd Kirby: Super Star has the green bar at the top of the screen slightly cut off.

    https://imgur.com/a/O1GujS1 Illusion of Gaia: This one is harder to notice but on the right part of the huge word Gaia, you will notice that there are two little letters next to it that says TM. Half of the letter M from the TM are cut off.

    https://imgur.com/a/Kn5uYsl Spyro the Dragon again: On the bottom part of the screen, where you see where it says the studio info stuff, on the left where it says Spyro, the S is slightly cut off. On the right where it says INC, half of the letter C is cut off.

  6. Which leads me to this: Are there any CRT TV Overlays/Borders as awesome as the one in my screenshots and videos but that perfectly fits 4:3 so that way, nothing is cut off on the edges of the screen? I don’t want to have to use custom to make them fit, because then it won’t be exact 4:3 anymore and I don’t know the exact numbers to fill in to make sure it’s even on all sides if that makes sense. When I say perfect fit, I don’t mean literally everything as I understand that developers deliberately left the edges blank or put the important info stuff lower down or more centered most of the time because most consumer CRT TV’s back in the day cropped the image and cut off some of the edges. But they never cut off bits of the actual image or letters like they are in my screenshots. That’s what I need help fixing.

  7. Also, how do I make it so that every single system and game all has the same exact 4:3 aspect ratio and all completely covers the CRT TV Overlay/Border screen without having any sort of black bars or borders? When I played my games on an old CRT TV as a kid, I don’t remember there being any black bars or borders on anything. I remember every game and system perfectly filling in the entire screen. I also don’t remember having to constantly change my TV’s aspect ratio for different games and systems to make them fill the entire screen either as I would not have known anything about that back then as a kid. I want everything to be consistent across the board and be the same exact aspect ratio of 4:3. Having it set in Retro Arch’s main menu settings should have enabled that, but apparently not. I’m tired of different systems, and even different games of the same system all looking slightly different aspect ratio wise when I have the same setting applied across the entirety of Retro Arch to prevent exactly that. I need help fixing that.

  8. What are the most accurate overlays/borders for the different systems? I know I have that CRT TV Overlay/Border set for the old retro systems, but what about newer ones such as GC, PS2, Wii etc.? Or handhelds such as GB, GBC, GBA, PSP etc. Or for Arcade/MAME.

  9. What is the most accurate CRT TV Shader for the systems? This is the real meat of my thread, and the one I need help with the most. When I say accurate, I don’t mean as in developer accurate or professional monitor accurate. I mean as in old consumer CRT TV accurate that you would see in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s. Nostalgia. I don’t necessarily want blurry or snowy/foggy, but I also don’t want the crisp, sharp look that most professional CRT monitors look like and that most shaders emulate. The reason I ask is this: Most everyone on the internet claims that CRT-Royale is the most accurate shader for CRT TV’s. But is it, and if so, is it the most accurate as in professional monitors or as in old, consumer CRT TV’s? It just doesn’t seem to be what I remember a CRT TV looking like back in the day. It seems almost too crisp and sharp. It’s not that I want blurry, but the shader just doesn’t seem to be what I remember. Perhaps my memory is just off? Is it that default settings in the Shader Parameters aren’t what I want them to be, and that I need to adjust them to make the shader emulate an old consumer CRT TV accurately? If so, then what are the exact settings that I need to put in if anybody knows? If not, and CRT-Royale isn’t what I want, then does anybody know what CRT TV Shader I need to use?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDDOVCTKj_0&ab_channel=ChristopherNeff Here is a video I uploaded to YouTube showcasing the CRT-Royale in action.

    What I remember being the most accurate are some of the shaders in the old Analog Shader Pack that no longer works for newer Retro Arch versions, so I have a 1.9.0 version as well since that is the last version that worked. In that Shader Pack, I used one in the Vintage TV section known as Dirty Atari TV Shader. I customized the parameters too in order to make it look like what I wanted. I set halation and diffusion from 27 both to zero. I set brightness from 75 to 90. Then I took the CRT TV Geom Target Gamma setting and set it from 2.40 to 1.40. It may not be perfect so that’s where any other advice will come in really handy here.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3fOaYo19M0&ab_channel=ChristopherNeff Here is a video I uploaded to YouTube showcasing the Dirty Atari TV Shader from the Analog Shader Pack with my customized settings in action.

    Which one is the more accurate looking? Is it really still the CRT-Royale shader one, or my customized Dirty Atari TV shader one? Do my custom settings look good for it, or are there any other tweaks I should make in the Shader Parameters to make it look as close to perfect as possible? If anyone knows any settings I should change/tweak, please let me know. If it is the CRT-Royale Shader that is the most accurate, then is it really the most accurate out of the box as shown in my video, or is there any settings I need to change/tweak to make it look more like what I remember an old consumer CRT TV looking like? If neither one is what I want, then I would greatly appreciate it if someone can tell me what Shader I need to get and what settings I need to change/tweak in the Shader Parameters to make it look like an authentic, old consumer CRT TV. Also, if there are any shaders that work with the newest version of Retro Arch or if I will have to stick with the older 1.9.0 version. Also, is there any way to make the Analog Shader Pack work with the newest Retro Arch? Will anybody convert the pack to GLSL or Slang for example?

  10. What are the most accurate shaders for handheld systems such as GB, GBC, GBA, PSP, DS, 3DS etc.?

  11. What is the most accurate CRT Arcade Monitor shader for arcade games such as MAME? I hear people say CRT-Lottes, but it just doesn’t seem to be what I remember arcade games looking like either. Unless my memory is wrong here too, I remember the games having more over blown out colors which the Lottes Shader doesn’t seem to do. I like some of the Arcade Monitor shaders that were found in the Analog Shader Pack. So, I would appreciate it if you can tell me the best shader and any parameters I need to change/tweak. Note: I would like to make the arcade versions of Gauntlet Legends and Gauntlet Dark Legacy in particular look as much like the old Arcade Cabinet versions as possible.

  12. I hear that Integer Scaling is something that you want to have turned on and enabled for games because it makes the scan lines even. Is that true, and if so, is Integer Scaling for the professional monitor look or the old consumer CRT TV look? In other words, is perfect even scan lines what an old consumer CRT TV would have had or is wobbly scan lines what it would have had? If it doesn’t make it look like what the old, consumer CRT TVs would have looked like, then I am going to leave it off as I don’t want anything that will ruin the purity. So, should I enable it or leave it off?

  13. Is 4K and Integer Scaling really needed for CRT-Royale? I have Integer Scaling turned off and am running on 1080P, 1920x1080. Wouldn’t 4K and Integer Scaling ruin the purity of the old consumer CRT TV look I am going for? I want the OG resolutions of those games.

  14. I tried Integer Scaling and it seems to make it a small window on my games with black borders surrounding the games. How do I make it fill the entire CRT TV Overlay/Border while still keeping the 4:3 aspect ratio? If I try to change the size config, it’s either the small screen or it’s so huge that almost all of the game is cut off and it’s so zoomed in that I only see the character’s feet for example if that makes sense. They must have changed something in the Retro Arch settings, because at one time, you could change those settings and only have a little bit of the image cut off, but now it seems to be all or nothing. I am on 1080P, 1920x1080 as when I try to set my Desktop resolution to 4K, the Integer Scaling then fills up the entire Overlay/Border like I want but Retro Arch halts to a snail speed when I load it or a game while I have CRT-Royale enabled with screen curvature. My PC specs are: 8 GB DDR3 RAM, Intel 4790-K Quad Core CPU, and Nvidia GTX GeForce 750 TI GPU.

  15. What should I have my actual TV settings on? The reason I ask is this: From what I remember, old, consumer CRT TV’s back in the day that were not calibrated were set to a more blueish look, whereas calibrated sets were set to a warmer look. Well, I calibrated my TV to be as close to the D65 Color Standard as possible, but when I am playing old games, I want the purity uncalibrated look if that makes sense.

    I have the Samsung KU7000 UHD 4K TV and I followed this guide to set the TV to the D65 Color Standard: https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/samsung/ku7000/settings As you can see, it shows all of the menu selection items. So, what should I tweak in those to make it look like the old, consumer, uncalibrated CRT TV’s? Should Sharpness be at 0 or not? Should Dynamic Contrast be on or off? Should Color Temperature be at Warm 2 or Standard, or Cool? Should Color Space be Auto or Native? Native makes the colors more vibrant and overly saturated as an example. Out of all of those menu selection items on that site, what should I tweak everything to in order to get that perfect old, consumer, uncalibrated CRT TV look?

  16. How do I get the BIOS splash screens to play on all of the cores when launching a game? I have all the BIOS files for my cores, and they are all in the System folder of Retro Arch, but not all the cores will play the splash screen. Like, GC for example, doesn’t do the purple, spinning GC logo when launching a game like it does when you turn on a real GC system. PSP doesn’t do the white and green splash screen with the little da-ding jingle that plays when launching a game like it does when you load a game from the XMB Menu of an actual PSP system.

Thank you for answering my questions and I am sorry if my post is too long and/or detailed and annoying or the questions are stupid et cetera.

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As far as the questions about shaders and CRT looks, it’s probably best to look in the Shaders section of the forums here , as everyones’ tastes are a little different. Some great shaders , presets , and graphics have their own topics in there!

Pertaining to cycle accurate cores- on NES there is Mesen, which I beleive is pretty high on accuracy. SNES there is the bsnes-accuracy core, Genesis is probably GenesisPLusGX or BlastEm. You might be able to find more info on others by perusing the Libretro Docs and going to the ‘Core library: Emulation’ section

For the BIOS splash screens, once you start a game, hit your menu button and go down to ‘options’. There may be an option to enable the BIOS splash screen - it just depends on how the core was designed to if that is an option.

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As in I should post my CRT TV Shader question in there to hopefully get accurate answers to my question etc?

Take a look at these as well as other Shader Presets. There’s a whole world out there and a small army of Shader and Preset developmers who are aiming for that holy grail/Pepsi Challenge accuracy.

I suggest you get yourself abreast of all the current developments and recommendations.

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Did you check out my YT videos I linked in my main question? Which CRT Shader out of those two do you think looked more accurate to a real CRT TV, if either?

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If you want a straightforward old CRT look with all the blur and that, use crt-Lottes-fast. If you want a customized look that you can tweak it to what you want then guest.r-dr.venom. Most if not all need some tweaking, they look either too blurry or too thin scanlines, or too bright or too dark by default. Shaders need at least 1080p to look any good. It depends on your monitor resolution too. If I had 1440p I would use guest.r-dr.venom with mask 1 (6 pixels form 2 RGB pixels then).

What did you think of my 2 YT videos? Do you think CRT Lottes Fast is more accurate to a real CRT TV then CRT-Royale that everyone seems to always talk about?

Is Lottes Fast better than just normal Lottes?

Also, for the second YT video, do you think the Dirty Atari CRT shader I used with custom Shader Parameters looks accurate at all?

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Unfortunately, my time to do things like that is extremely limited so I tried to give you a very very quick starting point to help you along the way to what you might want to achieve based on your questions (not the images or videos). It’s as easy as clicking on the link, viewing the screenshots (which are mostly outdated though), following the instructions, downloading and installing my Shader Preset Pack and HSM Mega Bezel Reflection Shader which I already know can provide almost exactly what you have described.

At that point it’s either you like it or you don’t. If you do then we all win! If not, you can move on to the next shader and probably read some more e.t.c.

HSM Mega Bezel Reflection Shader is all you should really need though. Why don’t you give it a shot first, then come back and tell us if you’re still in need of something?

Okay. Thanks. So, your Shader Pack will replicate an accurate, old consumer CRT TV? Not a professional CRT Monitor/TV?

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There are many parameters. What cable? Composite, RGB, RF? What mask? Trinitron, shadow mask etc. Usually old TVs use shadow mask so I would use Guest.r with mask 1 on 1440p. Lottes-fast is straightforward without many options (and lighter). I think default mask is 3 pixels RGB Trinitron style there.

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It’s RF for the Dirty Atari TV Shader. Did you see the second YT video showing it off with NES Zelda?

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There’s a very easy way to find out.

I looked at the videos and I’m no authority on accuracy like @Nesguy is but to me I prefer Part 1 featuring CRT Royale by a long shot.

I won’t be able to say which is more accurate to your memory but the first is definitely closer to the clean, clear, saturated and detailed look that I was spoiled with in my youth by playing on a Commodore 1702 monitor at home. Even when I played on TVs, they still looked much closer to the first video than the second.

That warping/fishbowl effect caused by the fake curvature almost gave me a headache. That was never a part of my CRT Gaming experience. Plus some of the graphics at the top of the screen are also bent due to the fake curvature. Despite picture tubes themselves being curved, if viewed straight on, I never noticed much if any curvature of any images on screen back in the day. If anything the curvature would’ve been in the Z axis not the X or Y axis that just looks and feels wrong to me especially when it’s exaggerated.

Follow the link I posted and welcome yourself to a new rabbit hole of modern CRT Shaders/Presets and software. If you like your overlay, perhaps one of the fine folks over at the HSM Mega Bezel Reflection Shader team can assist you with a proper modern upgrade with real-time reflections. So follow the yellow brick road to pixel nirvana.

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CRT-Royale and other shaders look best using integer scale due to accurate mask scaling. Guest Advanced works really well at non-integer.

It will also give you the control you need to get both consumer and professional CRT appearance.

This could be due to your overlay setup or just differences in the way the game displayed.

CRTs were just simple analog devices, developers didn’t have to worry much about aspect because the image just took advantage of the available area. Emulation is different, overlays can be tough to get perfect, with limited control over these issues.

If you are trying to recreate the experience of gaming on a CRT TV then 4:3 is your best choice, for the above reasons, although this is purely subjective. (As is the answer to almost all of your questions.)

If you want something with a lot more control over things like independent cropping for each side of the screen and perfect scaling, you can try the Mega Bezel shader.

It also uses Guest Advance so you have the needed control over the CRT shader.

As far as your videos are concerned, you are using a CRT shader, they look good. Refer to my comment about subjectivity.

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Which one did you like more? The first one using CRT-Royale or the second one using Dirty Atari shader from Analog Shader Pack with custom Shader Parameters?

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I use guest advance, so have no preference.

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try this and tell me what you think, uses filter and soft scanlines like a normal CRT would do

https://mega.nz/file/OypiHToa#V2h2qVBgDn_IVmk-Lg-uodvTgwEqs6Rte5rkSE24PYw