Author Topic: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-  (Read 7079 times)

TheClash603

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #30 on: January 13, 2012, 11:05:52 AM »
I finally had a chance to read through your monster write-up.  It is well-written, and I am sure that first time Laseractive owners will be very happy with the resource.  When I first got my Laseractive, the only site with any information at all was CyberRoach, and I am glad to see that this has been expanded on quite a bit.

A few points:

1.)  I am glad I don't live in Australia.  It is a.) expensive and b.) obnoxious to get a LA there.

2.)  If you get a Pac-PC1 before me, I won't be happy.  I've been looking for this thing for a while, and it's not easy to find.  I have only talked to one guy who confirmed owning one, he had some pretty good info, but he's not selling it.

3.)  You amassed a lot of LA very quickly, you probably could've saved a little money with some patience.  The prices quoted in your write-up can definitely be beaten if someone is willing to wait a little.  I definitely paid quite a bit less for my setup.

4.)  Where did you get your Time Gal?  I have been looking to pick that up for a reasonable price for a while now.  If the $800 one on ebay would've stuck around til I got my tax return, I would've bit, but alas it didn't....

5.)  Just wanted to let you know there is an AIWA branded Laseractive.  It was sold on the forum here a while ago.  I would really like to get one of these ones, so if the original buyer is out there and wants to sell or trade for a standard unit, let me know!

BlueBMW

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2012, 11:25:20 AM »
I got the AIWA PAC from Saibot, and it was traded/sold to oldschoolgamer.... unfortunately there hasnt been any contact with him for quite some time now.  I didnt realize it was such an uncommon pac to find.  I honestly just didn't like the way it looked lol.
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BlueBMW

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #32 on: January 13, 2012, 12:04:07 PM »
I wonder if one of us should write up a similar PDF for our experience with the LA on the American side...  clash or saibot would be better candidates than me as their collections are much more extensive than mine :P  I'll just cover the repair side of things...

McKie.. do you know if any of your sega or NEC pacs have had their capacitors changed?  If not, please get it done ASAP.  These units all suffer from the same capacitor problems that other systems like the Turbo Duo etc have had.  They leak and it will destroy the pac over time.  I have two completely dead unrepairable PACs already.  The NEC pacs are less prone than the Sega ones, but still should be done as soon as possible.

Here's some info I wrote up concerning the CLD-A100 repair...

http://nfggames.com/forum2/index.php?topic=4434.0
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McKie1

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #33 on: January 13, 2012, 02:14:36 PM »
I finally had a chance to read through your monster write-up.  It is well-written, and I am sure that first time Laseractive owners will be very happy with the resource.  When I first got my Laseractive, the only site with any information at all was CyberRoach, and I am glad to see that this has been expanded on quite a bit.

A few points:

1.)  I am glad I don't live in Australia.  It is a.) expensive and b.) obnoxious to get a LA there.

2.)  If you get a Pac-PC1 before me, I won't be happy.  I've been looking for this thing for a while, and it's not easy to find.  I have only talked to one guy who confirmed owning one, he had some pretty good info, but he's not selling it.

3.)  You amassed a lot of LA very quickly, you probably could've saved a little money with some patience.  The prices quoted in your write-up can definitely be beaten if someone is willing to wait a little.  I definitely paid quite a bit less for my setup.

4.)  Where did you get your Time Gal?  I have been looking to pick that up for a reasonable price for a while now.  If the $800 one on ebay would've stuck around til I got my tax return, I would've bit, but alas it didn't....

5.)  Just wanted to let you know there is an AIWA branded Laseractive.  It was sold on the forum here a while ago.  I would really like to get one of these ones, so if the original buyer is out there and wants to sell or trade for a standard unit, let me know!

Thanks for the feedback. I had fun writing it up but brought a tear to my eye when I added it all up!

At least the PC pac's exist. Wasn't sure if it was one of those items talked about but never evntuated. I'm sure when they go for sale it will go for a pretty penny.

I knew I paid a little too much with a couple of the titles but in saying that a few of the others I got dirt cheap. I thought oh well averaging it out over them all it ends up not being too bad...

That was the Time Gal I picked up. It had been there for about two (2) months firstly at about $1k then $1.4-$1.5k and then suddenly $800. I jumped when it reached that price. I actually sent the seller an e-mail early on offering $600 but to no avail.

Didn't know about the AIWA branded LA.

Problem now is that all the titles I have are mostly the easier ones to procure. The others are damn hard to find (unless you can speak/read Japanese).

Thanks again for the comments. Very few in Australia even know about this beast!

McKie1

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #34 on: January 13, 2012, 02:20:39 PM »
I wonder if one of us should write up a similar PDF for our experience with the LA on the American side...  clash or saibot would be better candidates than me as their collections are much more extensive than mine :P  I'll just cover the repair side of things...

McKie.. do you know if any of your sega or NEC pacs have had their capacitors changed?  If not, please get it done ASAP.  These units all suffer from the same capacitor problems that other systems like the Turbo Duo etc have had.  They leak and it will destroy the pac over time.  I have two completely dead unrepairable PACs already.  The NEC pacs are less prone than the Sega ones, but still should be done as soon as possible.

Here's some info I wrote up concerning the CLD-A100 repair...

http://nfggames.com/forum2/index.php?topic=4434.0


Excellent suggestion on the US write-up as at least you guys didn't have to worry about the shipping issues nor the voltage concerns.

BTW my SuperGrafx thanks you greatly for the region pcb. I had a guy here install it and it works a treat. He also did as you suggested and wired back the switching of the pin grounding. He also installed the 8 pin din RGB mod so it now looks great.

As for the capacitors, whilst he was working on my SuperGrafx I had him look at the four PACS and he said that they all looked good. No buldging nor leaking. Is that all he needed to do to check?

Thank you for your comments and look forward to testing out more of the games.

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BlueBMW

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #35 on: January 13, 2012, 03:10:27 PM »
you wont always see the leakage until you remove the caps.  But if there isn't any visible leakage then that means your PACs are in good shape still.  I havent had one yet that wasnt leaking at all... there's always at least a little bit.  But others I've seen have been absolutely awful....  I think Ive got some pics of those... one sec....

http://i905.photobucket.com/albums/ac253/bmcdanold/Repair/cancer1.jpg
http://i905.photobucket.com/albums/ac253/bmcdanold/Repair/cancer2.jpg
http://i905.photobucket.com/albums/ac253/bmcdanold/Repair/cancer3.jpg
http://i905.photobucket.com/albums/ac253/bmcdanold/Repair/cancer4.jpg
http://i905.photobucket.com/albums/ac253/bmcdanold/Repair/cancer5.jpg
« Last Edit: January 13, 2012, 04:23:05 PM by BlueBMW »
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SuperDeadite

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #36 on: January 13, 2012, 09:48:47 PM »
So I take it my SegaPAC did have some leakage hidden away then?  Was it just starting from under the caps?  Either way glad mine are done with. :)  Haven't read the article, maybe will later, but honestly I'm lazy, and I doubt there's anything in there I'm not already familiar with.  Oh, and if you haven't fully completed Virtual Cameraman 2, then you are n00b.  Any true LA fan has beaten that game.  You can have 10 copies of Australia hidden in your vault, but you are still a n00b if VC2 has not been completed.
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SignOfZeta

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #37 on: March 02, 2012, 09:11:54 PM »
I've been spending some time with a Laseractive for the past few days and I've learned a lot. There is SUCH a dearth of info on this machine from people who actually know anything about LDs or Sega CDs that its just weird. They seem to all be owned by jackoffs who collect other failed systems and don't know WTF they are talking about.

The extremely repeated groupthink on this machine is that its a shitty LD player, and that for the $1000 that this thing cost you could have bought a Sega CD and a better LD player. This...is mostly not true. The LA is one half-ass machine. Its obvious they ran out of time/budget over at Pioneer because there are all sorts of stupid flaws in it that are not uncommon on high end stuff from Japanese companies that is aimed at overly-monied customers who don't care about such thing and just want the features.

There are two problems with LD quality, one that effects all LD movies and one that only effects LA games. The cause of both is the PIECE OF SHIT genlock they built into this thing.

A word about LD players and recording modes circa 1993:

There are two kinds of LDs, CAV (standard play, 30 minutes per side) and CLV (extended play, 60 minutes per side). In theory both are the same quality, although to be honest there are a few reasons why CAV often looks better. I won't go into that here. The main difference is that since CAV stores exactly one frame of video per revolution of the LD, and the LD spins at the same RPM all the time. CLV discs store each frame end to end along a huge spiral and the LD slows down as it gets closer to the end since the physical area of the LD is larger and not as much speed is needed to cover the same ground.

What does this mean? Well, in the earlier days of LD this meant that only CAV discs could give you a freeze frame. The laser could just...stop, basically, and read the exact spot on the LD over and over again. This is a VERY high quality freeze frame for the time, very stable and clear. CLV discs couldn't give you this since one lap of the LD meant nothing. It might be 2.4 frame per lap, or 5 frames per lap, all depending on where the laser was. Keep in mind that this is fully analog video tech from 1977 here. There is no capacity for saving a frame in memory. Also, since CAV discs are always spinning at the same speed the access time is very good. To go from one spot on a CLV LD to another you have to spin the (rather heavy) LD up or down so that it would be the right speed when the laser gets there. With a CAV disc the LD is always spinning the same speed so it can render frames as soon as the laser gets there. This combination of very good seek time and freeze framing allows for the "Multi-Speed" options that allow you to use A-B repeat to almost seamlessly loop video at very high or slow speeds. Obviously LD games are recorded in CAV so that Dirk the Daring can show you his death animation for the 300th time without you having to wait very long.

OK, so by the early 90s digital video technology had advanced enough and had become cheap enough so that you could build a simple digital frame buffer into an LD player for not too much money. I've even seen at least one VCR with this feature. With a frame buffer one could now freeze frame CLV discs! This was a HUGE feature. Why? Why didn't everyone just make/buy CAV discs? Because flipping every 30 minutes or less kind of sucks. Keep in mind that you can't just put a side change anywhere you want either. I have the Fantasia CAV ver. and one side is only 15 minutes long! This is because the movie is made up of multiple musical sequences and they didn't want to break any of them up. With a digital frame buffer an LD player could now offer multi-speed with either kind of disc. It also would keep a freeze frame instead of a blue screen when you switched chapters (or sides, if this is an AB player).

For reference, in 1992 or 1993 I bought a Pioneer CLD-S201. This player had much of the same physical shit in it that the LA has, but a lot less of the technical stuff. It was the cheapest LD player ever made at that point and cost me $380. The S201 did not have a digital frame buffer, a comb filter (ie: s-video), any capacity for LD+G, multi-side play, dual disc play, a headphone jack, digital audio output, and the remote was crappy. It lacked every high end feature except for the (basically useless) dedicated CD drawer.

Now the LA has a digital frame buffer. Its integral to the POS genlock that overlays the MD/PCE/karaoke bits into the LD bits. Because of this you can freeze frame CLV discs, and all that other stuff. There is a HUGE problem with this f*cking thing though. Its a TERRIBLE frame buffer. You can A/B test exactly how shitty it is very easily. Just play a movie LD and push the button the front that turns the thing on and off. You will INSTANTLY see the video quality turn to TOTAL SHIT. That in itself isnít necessarily a problem. A shitty CLV freeze frame is still better than the blue screen the S201 gave you. The problem is that the LA has no capacity to overlay any video without using this POS genlock/frame buffer. Every time you have any kind of on-screen display it uses the genlock. All Laseractive games use the genlock. And whatís really really TOTAL bullshit is that even when you are playing CAV discs which are capable of FLAWLESS freeze frames...it STILL uses the crappy genlock/frame buffer. As far as I can tell there is no way around this. Because of this my normal player, which is from 1989 and doesnít even play Digital Audio tracks, gives a vastly superior CAV experience. It should be said that as long as the frame buffer/genlock isnít on the video quality is just fine. Absolutely comparable to the other non-s-video cheap decks at the time. Its no Elite or MUSE, but those cost thousands. Anyone who says standard movie playback in full analog mode is substandard is either talking out of their ass or their LA needs some work.

Regarding the remote: The remote that came with the LA is actually identical in form factor to the one that came with my S201 except that its inferior because all of the Multi-Speed buttons have been converted to numerals for direct track/time access. If you want Multi-Speed you need to get a better remote (almost all Pioneer LD player remotes work on almost all players) or access it from the MD/PCE pad plugged into the PAC in a really bullshit clunky way.

Another thing that effects video quality is the fact that the genlock, I think only grabs every other line of video. LA games are recorded with two video streams interlaced into each other to make the disc effectively twice as dense. The genlock just grabs every other line and then doubles them to make a full frame. The end result is a blocky mess not unlike what a 240p system looks like on a new LCD TV. This bullshit is partly to blame for the frame buffer in the LA sucking much worse than other LD players.

Regarding Price: the idea that you could get a better LD player and a Sega CD for the price of an LA is not really true. As I mentioned the cheapest player ever at that time was $380 (some places charged more, thatís what I payed from Fretter). A Sega CD was $300, a Genesis was...I canít remember, maybe $120? An LA was about $1000 with one PAC. While you could GET an LD player and a Sega CD system for the price of a LA, I donít think it would have been a ďbetterĒ player. The next model up from the S201 at the time was a bullshit deck with a CD changer in it (the CLD-M401, my friend had it, it was the same as an S201 but with an even junkier loader mechanism) and the models above that, the ones with AB play, s-video, frame buffers, etc were $700-1200. People who are claiming the LA was freakishly overpriced evidently only buy stuff on clearance. Considering the features it had, and the fact that it was the only way to play LD games, the price was absolutely in line with other LD players. LD was on the market for 24 years and it was never ever cheap.

So, can anything be done to improve the LAís stupid stupid problems? In a way, yeah. The main issue I have with it is that it robs me of the true CAV experience. The genlock in the LA evidently can only utilize Y/C separated video so there is actually a comb filter in this thing that serves no purpose except to convert the native composite LD format to Y/C for the genlock to do its terrible job. Because of this there is an s-video hack. I havenít done it yet, but it should restore this, although it will remove all overlays for time, etc. Since the LA has no front display this is an issue, although a minor one. There is also an RGB hack described at Gamesx, but I still havenít found anyone that has done it. This would, of course, give you VASTLY better video that the terrible terrible composite coming out of the Genesis PAC, but it wouldnít include any LD video so actual Laseractive games would still have to be played over the OEM composite connection.

There is a chance though, and Iím pretty sure nobody on Earth has done this, that one could MUX the s-video LD hack and the RGB Genesis hack using an external genlock. I have a TelevEyes Pro genlock that I think can do this. The only thing that would be a problem is that Iím not sure it will sync to 240p video. I think it will since Iíve seen people using it with old-ass Amigas, but personally Iíve only used it with 640x480 PC video cards. This device will put RGB on top of s-video. Thatís what its for, Iíve done it (anime fan subs, back in the day, yo) so Iím hoping to get this shit working. If the TelevEyes Pro wonít do 240p then a difference upscaler like an X-RGB will be needed to line double first.




EDIT: Fixed typos/mistakes. Added pic.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2012, 04:07:46 AM by SignOfZeta »

SuperDeadite

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #38 on: March 02, 2012, 09:37:38 PM »
LOL guess you never read the Tech threads.  Both BMW and myself have RGB modded our LAs.  It's useless for LDs of course, but MD/MCD/PCE/PCECD games all look fantastic.
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SamIAm

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #39 on: March 02, 2012, 09:40:28 PM »
You all might be interested to see that LA emulation is far from dead. It's exciting that once they get the dumping method for Sega games to work, they can probably dump NEC games with the exact same setup since the LD-ROM data is probably stored identically. After that, it's simply a matter of getting rips of the video/sound content, which folks working on MAME are already familiar with.

Reading SignOfZeta's post, it seems like emulation could be much better looking than the real thing.

Tatsujin

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #40 on: March 02, 2012, 11:40:48 PM »
It might be better looking, if, but it's still boring. Emulation is boring. It's ok for testing some stuff before a purchase/release etc., but in general it's not really funbringing. You can emulate a game, but not its original magic. just my opinion :)
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SamIAm

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #41 on: March 03, 2012, 12:48:50 AM »
Well, I'll just say that I'm very pro-emulation for a number of reasons, and I'm quite excited that someone has, just in the last few months, gotten close to dumping an LD-ROM. Only good can come of it.

I know (by reputation) the guy working on doing it, and I can hardly imagine anyone I'd rather have on the case. He's got the time, the equipment and the know-how, not to mention the heart. I hope he follows through.

BlueBMW

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #42 on: March 03, 2012, 01:57:58 AM »
Even though I have the original hardware and it is really awesome to use, I would like to see emulation of the LD games simply because I know that eventually this hardware and the discs will fail, and it'd be nice to know that when I'm 85 years old in an old folks home I can still play some of this stuff even if my Laseractive itself has long since died.  Original hardware is always better, but in the long long term (30 - 50 years) having emulation will be best for the longevity of the software.  Considering these systems have problems already at about 20 years old... add another 20 years to them and I'm afraid to think of how few may still work.
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TheClash603

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #43 on: March 03, 2012, 02:26:45 AM »
Well, I will say that Zeta taught me a bit about Laserdisc players today.  For that, I give my thanks.

However, as a guy that is afraid of ever opening a system for fear of messing it up, it is all about the games!

If you ever have the chance to get the JB Harold games, I assume these will be right up your alley.  These games make playing on the TG16 a bit hard to go back to.  Plus, Road Prosecutor and Triad Stone will bring that arcade LD feeling home.

Finally, the system to me is all about convenience.  I know you guys will say I can mod my other hardware and play everything.  Personally, I a.) Couldnt mod shit myself, b.) Mods cost a decent amount to get done, and c.) Prefer original hardware.

Prior to my LA setup, i had to use a shitty converter for the TG16 for PCE games, you know how many times i accidentally nudged those and lost my game?  To play MD games i had to use a Game Genie and find those obnoxious f*cking codes.

Now i have put away all those other systems, and with the ease of a Pac eject, I can play whatever my heart is calling for.

DragonmasterDan

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Re: The Official Pioneer LaserActive Player thread-
« Reply #44 on: March 03, 2012, 02:33:00 AM »

Regarding Price: the idea that you could get a better LD player and a Sega CD for the price of an LA is not really true. As I mentioned the cheapest player ever at that time was $380 (some places charged more, thatís what I payed from Fretter). A Sega CD was $300, a Genesis was...I canít remember, maybe $120? An LA was about $1000 with one PAC. While you could GET an LD player and a Sega CD system for the price of a LA, I donít think it would have been a ďbetterĒ player. The next model up from the S201 at the time was a bullshit deck with a CD changer in it (my friend had it, it was the same as an S201 but with a junk loader mechanism) and the models above that, the ones with AB play, s-video, frame buffers, etc were $700-1200. People who are claiming the LA was freakishly overpriced evidently only buy stuff on clearance. Considering the features it had, and the fact that it was the only way to play LD games, the price was absolutely in line with other LD players. LD was on the market for 24 years and it was never ever cheap.




The LA came out at the end of 93, by then the Sega CD 2 was out and it was only around 200.00 and the Genesis was 99.99. This effects the pricing just a bit.
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