Tuner and demodulator chip models comparison

Which DVB-S2 tuner/demodulator tech solution is better?

  • Any Conexant solution will do

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Mohaator

Thread Starter
Member
Jan 16, 2010
8
0
Jena-Germany
Hello satguys,
I've looked around and you guys seem to know lots of things about DVB technology.
Lately I searched the net for a very good HDTV DVB-S2 card and I've found out that the majority of the cards usually found out in stores here in Europe are build around old and sometimes obsolete tuner and demodulator chips.
After nights and nights of "googling" I hopefully was able to select two tech solution coming from manufacturers like: Tevii, DVBWOrld, TBS and Prof-Tuners and namely either Montage Technology TS2020/DS3000 or
STMicroelectronics
STB6100/ST0903. Unfortunately no Broadcom solution on the market.
Now some of you already tested such cards and I hope you can share your experiences.
What can you guys say about these two solutions? Which one is a winner and if possible explain your opinion? :confused:
 

qwert1515

SatelliteGuys TheList
Sep 26, 2005
4,244
40
Los Angeles CA
I have only tried the DVBWorld receiver with the "Montage Technology TS2020/DS3000".

From my experience this receiver is the most sensitive tuner that I have ever used.
I have used the Coolsat 6000, Pansat 3500 / 2700, Twinhan 102G, and the BroadLogic 2030.

The TS2020/DS3000 combination by its specifications is able to supports symbol rates from:
1 Msps to 45 Msps -> QPSK (45 Msps), 8PSK (45 Msps), 16APSK (36 Msps) and 32APSK (28 Msps) modulations.
(A maximum data rate of 130 Mbps)

The feature that I like the most about the Montage DS3000 demodulator is that it has a "Fast blind scan" feature,
but I don't know of any cards that are using it for a full "blind scan" feature yet.
(DVBWorld mentioned in another thread that it might be possible to implement this feature on their receivers).
I don't know how important a "blind scan" feature is in Germany, but in North America it is very important.

The DVBWorld receiver makes use of that feature slightly,
in the sense that you can enter an approximation of the correct symbol rate and it will lock the correct symbol rate.
I have managed to find 6 symbol rates that will cover symbol rates from 1000 - 30000 kSym/s.
( I have never found any signals over 30000 kSym/s on the North America Ku-Band)

Here is an example:

Entered SR [Will reliably lock a symbol rate between]
1400 [ 1000 - 2170]
2400 [ 1600 - 3600]
3700 [ 2500 - 5900]
8000 [ 5900 - 12000]
14000 [10000 - 21000]
17000 [13000 - 30000]

Overall I am very happy with the DVBWorld receiver that uses the Montage TS2020/DS3000,
and I have not seen any issues with it. When DVBWorld adds a full "blind scan" to the receiver I will consider it a perfect PC tuner.
(It locks low symbol rate transponders that are normally hard for receivers to do and it locks low quality signals that my other receiver can not)

Here are two threads that may be interesting to you:
Prof 7301, 7500 and 8000 Tuners
DVBWorld DVB-S2
 

pendragon

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 13, 2008
1,100
64
I think you're going to find it hard to get objective reports from people who have tried both chipsets. The STM chips have been out in products for some time, while I have only recently seen the Montage chips become available in cards. I had originally been waiting to buy one of each, but I got impatient this past October and bought a couple of Prof units (7301 and 7500 - they use the same tuner and demod).

I've been very impressed with the STM chips. My experience, along with a number of others, is the Prof units lock low CNR signals much better than previous generation devices. I have the TechnoTrend S2-3200 and DVB World 2104 (the CX24116 version) and they are simply not in the same class. The new STM chips have a blindscanning capability that I have running under Linux, although this is not yet ready for prime time, and I am seeing evidence they can at least recognize S2 signals beyond 8PSK.

While I have been testing the Prof cards very thoroughly, I have no information at all about the Montage chips. You probably will have to wait for others to give cards based on that chipset the same thorough evaluation. Having now purchased four of the Prof units, I am not in a big hurry to buy something else without a good reason. If you want to buy something now, get one of the Prof cards. They are a major improvement over the past.
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
Mohaator

I dont't think your Poll question set is adequate, since most Sat Receiver manufacturers do not use all chipsets form the same supplier in a single product. I.e., they may use a tuner from Sharp or Samsung, a Demod from CX, and a universal video processor to decode MPEG signal. Apart from that, its hard to find someone who have a full collection of all newest receiver products and is professional enough to test compare them all.

Besides, what is good in Germany, may be bad news for North American signal reception, since FTA is very different creature in Europe in many aspects. Have you considered current Technotrend brand products?
 

Mohaator

Thread Starter
Member
Jan 16, 2010
8
0
Jena-Germany
thanks for the quick replies,
I own a Dreambox DM800 as well as an Azbox Premium and I use to do a lot of interesting things with them but some weeks ago a friend of mine came by to visit me and told me that he's got an HTPC with an Tevii 470 card (before he had a TT-S2 3200 and he sold it on e-bay because he wasn't happy with it) and the SD, HD channels switch faster than my both stb's and I start wandering and decided to build up a HTPC. Was all up and ready and I got a TechniSat SkyStar 2 HD ( I wanted to get a Prof Revolution 8000 but I think they are not on the market until may 2010) and I am not impressed with the image quality I get over NVIDIA 9800 GT HDMI output on my 52" LCD, the channels switch in 2-3 sec and the card is getting very hot, and I decided to get rid of it and now I look to get a new DVB-S2 card.
 

starman345

SatelliteGuys Pro
Nov 25, 2004
3,647
0
New Brunswick, Canada
I've had a Prof 7301 for a few months now and I like it. I have it in my htpc using Dvbviewer and don't have any heat problems. You can see in my equipment list some of the devices I've used, some I still have connected. The first thing I noticed about the Prof was the quick channel changing speed in Dvbviewer, quite a bit quicker than my other cards, less than a second for sure. I had been watching with the Prof quite a bit after I first got it then switched to my Azbox elite and the channel changes seemed very long. Of course the Az channel change times are reasonable but the Prof is that much quicker that it is really noticable.
I don't have any test equipment to compare devices nor the expertise to do it but just from having used a lot of dvb cards in the past I would say the Prof 7301 is the best one I've had yet.
I use an ATI 3870HD video card through a Pioneer 1019 AV receiver to a 42" Sony LCD.
 

Mohaator

Thread Starter
Member
Jan 16, 2010
8
0
Jena-Germany
I see you don't want to vote for my poll.....
Has anybody got an Prof Revolution 8000 DVB-S2 PCIe card up to now? As far as I understood the card was on the market but it's been redesigned at the moment.
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
Prof 8000 was never offered on the marker, and no-one knows if it will be. Your Poll sounds like a sales push for Prof to me. Why don't you look at newest (not older like you did) Technotrend offerings designed for your area signal reception, and let us know your opinion, may be present Technotrend cards survey - surprised? ;) You'd need to ask moving your thread to PC DVB section to get more interest and replies.
 
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pendragon

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 13, 2008
1,100
64
Mohaator - I haven't done the poll because it asks which chipset is better and I have only tested one. It's likely very few people have tried the top two on your list. If you get any responses it will be more of a straw poll of who bought what. That's a popularity contest, not a meaningful measure on which is better.

Zamar - I don't see anyone selling here, just people honestly describing how the card they purchased functions for them. As you have not tried any of them, I guess there's not much you have to offer to the request posted: "Now some of you already tested such cards and I hope you can share your experiences."
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
Pendragon

I guess your assumption is based on high school physics course as well? :)

Thanks for your great contribution to this forum and my education in particular! :up

Mohatoor

Here we go: The Best DVB-S2 Card Poll from a European region, where people use this kind of cards a lot more. Keep in mind however, all Polls are subjective and have some regional influence based on various local factors. I don't see DVB World products listed in that poll, not sure if they're sold in that region and under what brand name.

I asked you to present a review of Techotrend DVB product offerings, since you marked to live in Germany, and TT Budget S2-1600 is reported to be excellent budget card in similar price range as the cards others mentioned here (I like a lot both Prof and DVB World brands), which also employs ST0903 demodulator, newer tuner and PCI chipset models, and no RF noise emitting high end voltage multiplier chip to supply clean power to LNBs (very important for catching sensitive DVB-S2 signals) and also to a motor if you have one. Most of such card users would not have a separate motor and LNB power supplies, but instead would usually power them all from the card, making some DVB-S2 signals reception impossible due to extra RF noise generated by some cards' power circuits.

As to your poll request, don't be upset, just think about it: why would people take polls on requests from someone, who never contributed to this forum? Here is a counter-request: are you up to the Technotrend Cards review task? May be you can look through German forums and DVB sites where such reviews are published in German and let us know? :) DVB Card product diversity on North American market is highly desirable, and by posting your review you'll show appreciation of the info you got from this forum as you mentioned and people contributing to it.
 

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pendragon

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 13, 2008
1,100
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I guess you assumption is based on high school physics course as well? :)

It was based only on the observation that others contributing to this thread replied to OP's request to share their experiences with current generation PC tuners chipsets. Since you happen to have such a unit, perhaps you can relate how it works for you?

I agree this thread should be moved to the appropriate subforum.
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
I guess one would need a Sub to request Video-on-Demand service... :) Btw, I think humor lifts up and dissolves that heavy smoky FTA image carefully crafted by major broadcasters. Don't you?

For me to post a comparison test btw locally offered card products based on the above demods would be useless, since I don't have independent power supply to the motor and LNBs so far, and some of the above cards DVB-S2 signal reception sucks without it as tested. On the other hand, most users wouldn't have independent power lines either (since it costs more and requires a lot more efforts and qualification), but in that case it would be a comparison of cards overall design and key components quality instead of artificial comparison of merely their demods performance as asked. And I don't want to compromise any of them even unintentionally to encourage more diverse products offering.
 
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Mohaator

Thread Starter
Member
Jan 16, 2010
8
0
Jena-Germany
Wooo man I feel some attitude here.
I thought It would be fun but if you find it so offensive I ask the admin to remove the poll.
Actually I was just curious to see how the specialists would start to exemplify how those card work ... and dissect those hardware specs ........ well it happened that you reacted quite the opposite I expected.
Don't worry guys, I am not trying to push anybody's sales, and in the end why would I want to do that if I am not in the business :rolleyes:
And if you suggest that I haven't looked up my forums, well rest assure I searched and read probably all that can be read and acknowledge all kinds of views about all DVB-S2 cards on the market.
I'll try to select some reviews from some forums I'm registered
dvbshop.net's forum
dvbforum
dvbmagic
Probably it will be pretty difficult to find some good reviews for tt cards since most of the users in those forums are just unsatisfied customers that got into troubles and post up asking for help. And most of the tech-savvy do just chit chat or try outsmart their counterparts and so on(yes it happens everywhere).
Anyway I looked upon the cards on the market and found out that most of the budget cards on the EU market are rubbish and that only from 150 Euro up you can get something to keep (look here).
How could one distinguish from the market the "bad apples"? It's simply by just counting the unsatisfied users posting on forums and I found out a lot to be disappointed with old TT designs.
Actually looking closer you'll find the design and hardware of those somehow premium targets (PCI and PCIe cards like Mystique TiX range or Media Pointer cars) are quite similar or sometimes under those still being good within the "budget" range, which is in my opinion up to 100 € (makes like TeVii, TBS, Prof and so on). As for TT -3200 and 1600 I hesitated to buy because of the history of the company. It doesn't matter what they build and bundled now, people remember when there was no support for their products and TT cards were e-bayed for nothing and I have to say that at the moment their support is not great at all.
In the end I might order a new TT-3200 and see how it works on my HTPC.
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
In the end I might order a new TT-3200 and see how it works on my HTPC.
See, what I'm talking about? ;)

So you say everyone is complaining about TT products? :D
"The TT S2-1600 is a 2nd generation DVB-S2 PCI card with great performance (supports Symbol rates upto 60MSPS)...I have four of them and they work perfectly...so I highly recommend the S2-1600".

Did you look at the Poll results I linked above? Not trustworthy enough for you, or ain't representative enough? Or to the contrary?
How about a Review of TT Budget 1600? Just list all bad points, since there is nothing good about it. Keep in mind, people are not used here to like bashing sat products.
 
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pendragon

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 13, 2008
1,100
64
Sorry, my time got captured by higher priorities. But better late than never.

I asked you to present a review of Techotrend DVB product offerings, since you marked to live in Germany, and TT Budget S2-1600 is reported to be excellent budget card in similar price range as the cards others mentioned here (I like a lot both Prof and DVB World brands), which also employs ST0903 demodulator, newer tuner and PCI chipset models, ...

The TT-1600 may be an excellent unit, but not because of its 'newer' tuner. I believe we have beat this horse before, but the tuner chip inside is the STV6110, which is unquestionably newer than the previous STB6100 model. However the design objective for the STV6110 was lower power, not performance. This make some sense for a USB tuner, but those with a background in solid-state RF will likely recognize the trade-offs - poorer phase noise is the apropos facet here. The STV6110 levels are such that this is not likely to be much of a detriment for 8PSK, but a nasty headache for 16PSK and 32PSK. The older, higher power STB6100 is more capable in this respect.

I believe there is some question as to what extent the STV0903 has been validated against these higher order modulations, but the Linux driver does enable these features. I have played a little with this and have had some success in partially locking what may in fact be a 16PSK signal with the Prof tuners (STB6100 + STV0903). We need to start getting prepared for this.

... and no RF noise emitting high end voltage multiplier chip to supply clean power to LNBs (very important for catching sensitive DVB-S2 signals) and also to a motor if you have one. Most of such card users would not have a separate motor and LNB power supplies, but instead would usually power them all from the card, making some DVB-S2 signals reception impossible due to extra RF noise generated by some cards' power circuits.

I believe Zamar is making a veiled reference to reports in Russian forum(s) that claim certain species of the Prof tuners have a marginal power supply that requires a modification for maximum LNB performance. I have read crude translations of these posts and developed a rather bad case of skepticism, as it was readily apparent that the claims were made by people with thin backgrounds and insufficient equipment to support their assertions. But since bad ideas never die, I decided to investigate this earlier today before I got trapped in other matters.

I ran the tuner inputs for both a Prof 7500 and DVB World 2104 tuners separately to my spectrum analyzer, terminated in 75 ohms. These units are both USB, which seems a reasonable comparison. I 'tuned' both to both polarities and with/without 22 kHz tones. None of that made a lot of difference in the plots. I ended up going with 18 V polarization and no tone.

I have plotted both 0 - 5 MHz and 0 - 1.5 GHz for both tuners in the following files attached:

7500-5MHz.gif
2104-5MHz.gif
7500-1.5GHz.gif
2104-1.5GHz.gif

These are interesting results with no clear victor. In the 5 MHz BW, the Prof tuner has a naughty spur around 300 kHz, much larger than anything coming out of the DVB World unit. This does look like an insufficiently filtered switching power supply, but absolutely child's play to handle at that frequency and level. Any switch or LNB deriving power from this without a sufficiently sized capacitor is going to be vulnerable to a lot more problems than this. In the 1.5 GHz BW, the DVB World has misbehaviors at around 500 MHz, while the Prof has none. Kind of a draw in my mind, but no smoking gun given the levels of the spurs.

I then hacked a LNB into the equation to see how a DC load and IF source affects the power supply's noise spectra. I did my best to bridge the SA so it did not cause much of an impedance mismatch, but at these frequencies, this is only a best effort attempt. I then fashioned a quick 'anechoic chamber' for my Invacom Ku quatro LNBF with a waveguide and terminator. Nothing perfect here either, but both tuners got equal treatment. I tuned them up as before and took the same noise spectra in the following files:

7500-5MHz-LNB.gif
2104-5MHz-LNB.gif
7500-1.5GHz-LNB.gif
2104-1.5GHz-LNB.gif

Now we're starting to see some separation and it's not looking good for the DVB World unit. The Prof has lots of spurs rising above a reasonably low noise floor on the 5 MHz plot. I would have liked to have seen better. But look at the DVB World 5 MHz plot - the floor is above virtually the whole Prof spectra, and I'm not even considering the peaks. Tsck, tsck. Both units seem to have little influence on the 1.5 GHz plots, which is dominated by the Invacom's noise floor. No spurs of any obvious consequence. In the end it looks like both are decent for FTA use. Some warts but nothing that would presume detrimental effects. I'd personally give the Prof slightly better marks.

Sorry zamar, I think your Russian buddies need to reconsider their theories. If their LNBs are so bad that the Prof tuner's noise power spectrum is causing reception problems, they are only seeing the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended).
 

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Mohaator

Thread Starter
Member
Jan 16, 2010
8
0
Jena-Germany
zamar
Touchdown man,
I was sure you're gonna pick that up. "In the end I might order a new TT-3200 and see how it works on my HTPC." :D Yeah man I will probably order that card along with the other cards that interests me and after testing them I'll keep the better one.
How about you stop poking me around and do some constructive criticism, I ain't bashing no product.
The poll you linked I've seen it already, but lemme tell you something it's pretty old, and those results were not always so favorable to the tt's. Technisat's Skystar S2 used to be up front until TT's were renewed and Russians started to buy the new card so the poll changed
At the moment the best buy according to heise.de is Technisat Skystar HD2 - the card I had and the TT-1600 doesn't seem to be preferred in Germany at list, and I said already why. Probably is also because the card wasn't officially überall tested yet.
Why don't you look up here in the dvbshop forum
I am certain you will find something of interest for you and I promise to post some reviews myself, the only free time I have is past 10 PM when my daughter is asleep:sleeo .
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
Mohaator

I red the so called "test" you referred to in September, when it was posted on that free site allowing to post anything, and then promoted on a popular forum by Prof's Sales Manager, that's how I found about it. :) If posted on that forum, it would be harshly criticized and removed immediately as a marketing material. Its not the 1st time similar promo "reports" were used, and they also were subject to massive sharp critique. I can post numerous examples of typical user reactions to such "reports", if you want. ;)

I'm asking you to find a professional comparison or sole review of TT Budget 1600 in German press, say similar to PC Magazine. We can validate, how independent that publication is.

As was already noted, such consumer Polls are of low value for many reasons:

- people often don't have several card makes of similar tech level to compare;
- results are "historical" in nature - the longer a model is sold on that market, the more people would have a chance to buy and test it;
- there may be numerous biases traditional to that market;
- etc.

On the other hand, many so called consumer Reviews can also be of low value to the public:

- some are evident sales push published or paid for by the manufacturer;
- many are prepared by non-qualified users who can't adequately test product capabilities;
- some are prepared by narrow pros, who test them in ideal non-realistic for a typical consumer working conditions, and often concentrate on their subject of interest.

That's why I ask you to present a TT card review posted by a reputable source, which usually publishes this kind of reviews for a variety of similar products over long time frame and stays behind its own reputation, like a PC Mag. Its next to impossible to find such review in NA, but German press would definitely pay attention to their own manufacturer's products given huge local popularity of Sat TV. May be you want to present a review of another more popular card? Don't be shy. :up
 
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zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
If their LNBs are so bad that the Prof tuner's noise power spectrum is causing reception problems, they are only seeing the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended).
Thanks for the interesting report! Actually, LNB supply over there seems to be plentiful in variety of quality levels as reported, and all popular European LNB models are certainly present on the market decently priced, while not available here. I'm not sure either that people you mentioned as my buddies don't know what they're talking about. Its a well known fact that cheap voltage multipliers used in many consumer sat PC Cards or drawing power via PCI from low end RF noisy weak PC Power Supplies often cause constant headache in sensitive signal reception.

Its obvious, any such tests as the above presented may be subject to some setup variations, changing circumstantial biases, mood, intent to manipulate opinions of unaware or less qualified users, and such. Just looked through previous forum posts comparing current Prof's products with previous gen. DVB World's, and here we go ;):

I was chasing feeds today instead of hanging on the roof with my toroids or messing with drivers. This is only an early data point, but I wasn't particularly impressed with the Prof 7500 (USB) unit vs. a DVB World 2104 (USB) on Windows. The link margin was a little thin and we had very high winds. The 2104 did the better job holding lock out of a splitter feeding both.

Still with the carriers jumping up and down, the DVB World tuners did an excellent job holding lock. I only had one Prof 7500 running as a comparison off the same splitter as one of the DVB World units, and while it did well, it lost lock more frequently...

Still I don't subscribe to fan boy clubs that declare any technology more than six months old to be garbage. The CX24116s in the DVB World units perform very well for me and newer units will have to establish their reputation by direct comparison with real signals, not by spec sheets and not by 14-year-olds posting on forums. At the moment the score on acid signal tests is only DVB World 1 and Prof 0.

Part of the problem I'm having is I've spent so much time tuning, aligning and tweaking my dishes, switches and distribution system that for the most part there aren't many feeds that are on the edge for me. I have a Pansat 9200HD which has a reputation for being deaf on DVB-S. Works fine for me. The TechnoTrend S2-3200, DVB World 2104 and Prof 7301/7500 seem to get nearly everything I throw at them. I initially seduced myself into believing the Prof units were locking better than the older tuners, but I'm not sure any more...

High winds and a weak uplink had me licking my chops. But the Prof 7500 was undisputedly worse than the DVB World 2104.

I took my smallest Ku dish (a T90 toroid) with a crummy LNB and moved it slightly off 83 W as necessary to generate poor CNRs. The target was RTV and I came up with the following abilities for locking from best to worst:

Prof 7301/Prof 7500 (pretty much a tie)
DVB World 2104
TechnoTrend S2-3200
Pansat 9200HD

Even when all the other tuners had lost lock and were capturing nothing viewable, the Profs were still capturing perfect transport streams.

Here is the info on both mentioned tuners to compare from the manufacturer:

STB6100 supports QPSK/8PSK/16APSK/32APSK modulations, and low power STV6110A supports QPSK/8PSK. See Tuner Specs for details, and look through STMicro site for more info.

This is my take on the subject:
I'd like more card brands to be presented and actively promoted in NA by their makers. Our task as I see it is to encourage such diversity. Let consumer decide, which product better suites local fans needs. Certainly not worthy paper battles or a bad mood. Lets not forget, all these products are just for a brief entertainment, they will work for you a couple hours a day one way or another. :)
 
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