Otaku 6in3out Amplified Auto SCART Switch Review

There’s a new line of switches in the Otaku product line that offer auto-switching and a new layout.  Before I get into the review, I need to warn people of an issue I found with the switch they provided me for review:  When using normal SCART cables everything seemed okay, but using cables with sync strippers in them caused the Otaku switch to output very high voltage!!!  Just to make sure I’m clear on this:

WARNING:  Using this switch with consoles that output higher voltage sync, or SCART cables with sync strippers built in may cause damage to any scaler, monitor or other SCART device you plug it into!!!

At the moment, I’d suggest most people use any of the other switches I tested in my previous review, including Otaku’s own basic 6 in-1 out switch;  That was excellent and had none of the issues mentioned here.  Full review below:

The switch I tested was the $80 6-in, 3-out version with six SCART inputs, two SCART outputs and one set of RCA connectors from RGBs/LR output:

There’s also a $67 single output version for sale:

Each version can also be purchased without a case, however I strongly recommend you get the cased versions, unless you plan on making your own enclosure.

The 6-in, 3-out version I tested performed okay, with some good and bad points to it.  The good:

  • If your RGB SCART cables include a voltage pin, there’s no need to power the switch with an external adapter;  The entire thing can run right from your console’s power.  This may be an issue with custom cables, or with RGB-modded consoles like the 3DO that don’t often include voltage.  If that’s the case, just use a power adapter.
  • Auto-switching worked seamlessly, as long as ONLY one console is powered on at a time (more on that below).
  • All three outputs could be used simultaneously, if needed.  This will work with and without an external power supply.
  • There was very little signal degradation, even when testing with cables that use composite video as sync.  Overall, it doesn’t perform as well as the highest-end switches, but certainly not bad for the price (click for full-sized).

Unfortunately, I ran into quite a few issues with this switch.

  • As mentioned above, the output voltage can be dangerously high if you use a SCART cable with a sync stripper built in, or if you daisy-chain another powered SCART switch into this one.  The voltage was so high, you’d most likely kill any equipment rated for SCART standards, such as the OSSC, RetroTINK 2x SCART and Framemeister:
  • When using a standard RGB SCART cable that outputted 364mV on the oscilloscope, the RCA outputs were fine, but the SCART output was a bit high.  This should be fine for use with SCART devices, however I’m wondering about superguns or consoles where the sync output can be as high at 1v;  Based on the above results, it seems the Otaku’s built-in amplification might spike the voltage too high:
  • While most consoles worked fine, any time I tried a PlayStation 1 with another console plugged in, I’d get interference.  To be clear:  A PS1 with no other consoles plugged into the switch worked fine, but the moment I connected another RGB SCART cable (with the 2nd console powered off), the PS1 showed interference.  I tried multiple PlayStation consoles (all model 5501 though), as well as multiple cables with the proper 220uF caps and even tried a PS2 RGB SCART cable, but nothing seemed to fix it.  I also tried using a power supply (and toggled the power switch) as suggested on the Otaku website, but I couldn’t get the problem to go away.  Otaku couldn’t reproduce this issue on their end and when I sent this switch to Ray Commend he didn’t have the issue either, so this might not be a problem for you.  I felt this was worth mentioning though, just in case:
  • Powering on more than one console at a time cause interference on the screen and will try to activate both consoles at the same time!!!  Now, it’s normally not recommended that you have more than one console powered on at a time with any SCART switch, however it’s almost never a safety issue…until now.
    The scope plots below demonstrate what’s happening.  On the left, is the switch with two consoles plugged in, but only one powered on.  The blue line shows the sync and while the voltage doesn’t change after the console is plugged in, you can see the interference in the signal on the right.  The yellow line is the red color signal, which is shown to drop in voltage after the second console is powered on;  This most likely signifies twice the load being placed on the consoles and that’s definitely not good for them!

Overall, I think these new Otaku switches have quite a bit of potential, however I don’t feel comfortable recommending them at this time.  Their previous, passive 6-port switch performed really well and is still my favorite choice for a low-budget option:

Otaku SCART Switch:
Otaku SCART Switch with RCA jacks – single output and only one input (RCA or SCART) can be used at a time:

I think, respectfully, this is a good example of “you get what you pay for”.  Trying to include high end features in an inexpensive switch is an incredibly hard task.  This is why switches like the gscartsw are so expensive:  The parts that go into them allow them to perform in all the above situations with no issues, plus they include sync regeneration features and RGsB to RGBs conversion.

There absolutely is a scenario the Otaku auto-switch would be a good fit though:  If you have basic RGB SCART cables from standard consoles – and can make sure to only power one on at a time – it’s not a bad choice for someone who wants an auto-switch.  That’s a lot of if’s though…

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