The new version of GTH Electronics’ ACE adds standards conversion to an already-extensive repertoire of features. Martin Pipe looks in ...

Some time ago GTH introduced its original ACE digital video processor. On offer were RGB colour correction and adjustment of other video parameters (for tweaking dodgy footage), invert (for effects), a basic wipe-effect generator; three test patterns and a choice of automatic or manual audio/video fades. A control marked ‘shift’ modified the horizontal position of the colour relative to the brightness. It’s provided to correct multiple-generation copies, where colour bleed is common.

The new version also gives vertical colour shift correction in order to compensate for some modern VCRs which introduce such errors. When combined with a multi-standard VCR it can also be used as a standards converter. On offer are NTSC, PAL or SECAM (which is mightily impressive as no standalone converters that we know will convert to SECAM).
(GTH Note: The Original ACE was upgraded earlier so both products now have vertical colour shift.)

Preaching to the converts

In terms of standards conversion, the ACE blows everything else out of the water including a Far Eastern PAL/NTSC unit that sells for over twice the price. There’s no colour bleed, or unacceptably awful conversion artifacts. In addition, the sharpness of the original source is preserved. If you want better, you’ll need to spend several thousand pounds on the type of gear used by broadcasters and facilities houses.

Connectivity is also exceptional. You can choose between S-video and composite outputs and inputs - an identically-priced Far-Eastern standards converter (which has none of the ACE’s video tweaks) caters only for composite video. But, that’s not all. A Scart socket on the rear panel provides additional composite video outputs, as a result it can act as a distribution amplifier, capable of feeding up to 4 VCRs or monitors. That Scart can also be switched so as to deliver additional RGB or YUV (component) video outputs. The ACE can thus be used as a multi-standard colour decoder for PAL-only TV sets with an RGB Scart input.

An ace performance

The YUV output can drive some new projection monitors and plasma screens, and has obvious interest to anybody who wants to transfer S-VHS footage to broadcast-spec recorders.

Again, the picture quality is superb. In other respects, the new ACE is as good as the old one. The automatic fader is very smooth, while the RGB colour correction and video (contrast, brightness, sharpness) knobs give accurate control combined with a good range of adjustment plus no obvious deterioration in video quality relative to the input.

Summary: ACE Digital Video Processor

The new ACE’s features have relevance in both linear and non-linear editing worlds, and others besides. I am rarely tempted to buy review equipment - but here’s one exception. English readers will be pleased to know that the multi-talented device is not the brainchild of a vast multinational corporation, but a tiny company based in Ipswich!

Martin Pipe

What Camcorder, Verdict ********** (10/10)

What Camcorder, February 2001

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