I've been collecting retro games for half my life but recently I decided to focus on beefing up my Sega collection. I started out by replacing my entire Sega Genesis setup with the best possible versions of each system. First I got a Model 1 “High Definition Graphics” Genesis console. The reason I went for the Model 1 is because it has the best sound chip of any of the Genesis versions that are out there. I was previously using a Model 2 and I noticed an immediate improvement in sound quality when I switched. Here's a comparison so you can see what I'm talking about.
Then I got a Sega CD1. While these are harder to find, more prone to failure, and a bit harder to repair than the CD2s; in my opinion they look much more aesthetically pleasing when they're paired with a Model 1 Genesis. You'll be lucky if you can get a working one for $200 on eBay but I managed to find one for $99 that had problems with its disc drive. A little bit of fiddling and some white lithium grease on the gears and guide rods fixed that right up and, after installing a new save battery, I've now got myself a fully functioning Sega CD! Sometimes I amaze even myself.
I finished off by getting a 32X that was missing all of its cables and adapters. After taking it apart and thoroughly cleaning it (it had clearly been in someone's garage for years judging by the pine needles and spider egg sacks I found in it) I finally had all three parts of the Sega Trio!
It was time to assemble everything and play some games!
Of course, I quickly found out it wouldn't be that simple. Given that the Genesis and its add-ons were targeted at the consumer market, you'd think Sega would have made it easy to hook them all up. Well you'd be mistaken. It's farcically complex. So I'm going to explain what I learned figuring out how to hook up these systems and then I'm going to give you the simple step-by-step instructions I wish I had when I was setting up my Trio.
The first issue is that each system requires its own AC adapter and they all have one of those giant box things on the plug. A normal power strip isn't big enough to hold all three of them at once so Sega actually released their own power strip that has extra space between the outlets so all the adapters fit. Of course now that power strip is a collectors item and goes for nearly $100 on eBay. Seriously.
You'd think having to deal with all those AC adapters would be the most annoying thing about hooking these up but you'd be totally wrong. The worst part is getting the highest quality audio out of the them. You see, the 32X uses the Genesis' audio and video chips in conjunction with its own via a patch cable that goes from your Genesis' A/V out port to the 32X's A/V in port. Then the 32X combines the sounds and images from both systems and outputs the result through its own A/V out jack.
The problem is the 32X needs stereo audio from the Genesis in order to output sound. Without a stereo signal, it will only output video and will route all the audio to the 3.5mm jack on the front of the Genesis. So in order to get the 32X's A/V cables to output both video and audio, you'll need a specially made patch cable that has a 3.5mm audio jack coming out of it. That will send the Genesis' stereo sound to the 32X where it will then be combined and relayed through the 32X's A/V out port.
But things get even more complicated when you throw the Sega CD into the mix. That system has CD audio and while it can output it through the Genesis' 3.5mm port, the trip through the Genesis' logic board causes a slight but noticable degredation in quality. In order to avoid that and get the highest quality audio from your Sega CD, you're going to need to run a male-to-male 3.5mm cable from the front of the Genesis to the mixing port on the back of the Sega CD. The Sega CD will then combine the audio from the Genesis with the audio from the CD and output it via the two RCA jacks on the back of the Sega CD. That will give you the highest quality audio possible from the system. The only problem is the 3.5mm audio jack on the patch cable won't work, so we're going to need an RCA to 3.5mm adapter to plug the patch cable into. Once we've done that, we've got the best quality sound from each system and it's all being sent through the 32X's A/V cables.
So now that I've taken a short break to give the Excedrin I just popped a chance to kick in; I think it's time to move on to the step-by-step instructions on how to hook this mess up.
Here's what you'll need
1. One Sega Genesis Model 1 “High Definition Graphics” Console
2. One Sega CD Console (It can be either the Model 1 or Model 2 but I'll be showing the Model 1)
3. One Sega 32x Console
4. One Sega MK-1602 “Black Tip” Power Adapter OR One Sega Model 3025 Master System Power Adapter*,**
5. One Sega MK-1602 “Black Tip” Power Adapter**
6. One Sega MK-2103 “Yellow Tip” Power Adapter**
10. One Genesis Model 2 A/V Cable (whatever your preferred format is, mine is SCART)
*The Sega Master System power adapter will also work work with the original Model 1 Sega Genesis. However, despite the ports being the same, it WILL NOT work with the Sega CD and could possibly cause damage.
**There are companies that sell power adapters that combine all three systems in one outlet but I haven't had a chance to try them myself. The reviews are quite good however, and even with the international shipping and conversion from Euro to USD, they're actually cheaper than buying all three OEM adapters separately. I'll eventually get around to buying one of these but as of right now I'm using OEM power adapters.
Now that you've got all the stuff you'll need, let's get started hooking it up.
Plug your Genesis Model 1 into your Sega CD via it's expansion port. Either Model Sega CD will produce the same results but the picture is of a Model 1.
Plug your 32x into the cartridge slot of your Sega Genesis. Sadly this will make it look like it's got a giant ugly tumor growing out of the cartridge slot.
Plug the 3.5mm audio cable into the front of the Genesis and into the mixing port on the back of the Sega CD.
Plug the stereo Y adapter into the RCA out ports on the back of the Sega CD.
Plug the patch cable into the Genesis' A/V Out port and into your 32X's A/V In port, then plug the 3.5mm audio jack on the patch cable into the Y adapter.
Plug the A/V cable into the 32X's A/V out port.
Plug the MK-1602 or Model 3025 power adapter into the Sega Genesis console.
Plug the MK-1602 power adapter into the Sega CD System.
Plug the MK-2103 power adapter into the 32X.
Plug the A/V cable/s (SCART or composite) into your A/V setup.
Plug all three power adapters into your electrical setup.
And with that you're done! Now you can finally play that version of Corpse Killer that requires both the Sega CD and 32X.
I hope this was informative and helped you have an easier time setting up your Sega Trio than I did. If you've followed the instructions correctly you should now have the ultimate Sega Genesis setup! Let me know in the comments what you think about the ridiculous mess Sega created or if you've had any simmilar difficulties setting systems up. I'd also appreceate any constructive feedback you may have.
Thank's for reading!
NOTE: I have no affiliation with any sites I linked to. They're just the places I went to get the equipment I'm using. Feel free to do your own research on where to purchase the parts you need.