This page has reader reports on the G5 (i.e. 3.3v PCI) and previous version of the Miglia AlchemyTV PCI card. Note the G5 model also works in other PCI macs (G4s, G3s, etc.) - the previous model however was for 5V PCI compatible Macs only. (The G5 systems require 3.3v compatible PCI cards.)
AlchemyTV DVR 2.5.1 (dated 7/26/2007) Per
- Resolves issue with new version of Webkit installed with Safari 3 Public Beta
- Other minor bugfixes.
Requirements: 400MHz G4 or better, Mac OS X 10.3 or later, QuickTime 6.5 or later.
Note: still not compatible with OS X Leopard per reports. (See Alchemy TV DVR downloads/support page.)
Alchemy TV DVR Plugins: (from 2005)
Miglia has a page of Plugins for the DVR model that currently include:
MovieGate for AlchemyTV DVR
This plug-in enables you to create DVDs and Mini-DVDs with AlchemyTV DVR. Recorded files can be postprocessed and converted to MPEG-2 (DVD format). Best of all, you can create your DVD's with chapters and burn them to DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, CD-R/W from within AlchemyTV DVR.
DVR Mail Action
Not strictly speaking a plug-in, DVR Mail Action is an Apple Script
enabling you to schedule a recording via e-mail. A .Mac account is required as DVR Mail Action uses iCal to pass along the scheduling information to AlchemyTV DVR
Reader Reports (most recent first)
I welcome feedback from owners of this card (please note card model, driver/OS version used and mac model in reports - thanks)
Still waiting for OS X Leopard Support: (Note: the Alchemy TV and Alchemy TV/DVR is now listed on their Discontinued products page - with different support page link - last driver update still v2.5.1 from July 2007.)
"It's been more than a year since Leopard was released and still Miglia shows no sign of releasing a 10.5 compatible driver for the AlchemyTV card. I believe Miglia was still selling this card even up until Leopard's release, so it seems very premature to simply drop support for it.
I, like many others, filled out Miglia's form to receive updates when a beta driver had been released; I even E-Mailed them recently to inquire about the status of development. Of course, I received no response. I was Googling for any sign of hope and found a post on a forum from an individual claiming to have received a beta release of the Alchemy software, but no amount of attempts to contact him succeeded.
So there are a couple points to address here. First, Miglia's support and quality control was lacking upon the Alchemy's initial release (if you search your archives of my review of the card upon receiving it you'd know what I mean). Second, they're totally brushing off any inquiries regarding the card and instead, offered a coupon to upgrade to another card. That's fine. If you want to drop support for a product go ahead and state it blatantly, but don't mislead people by leaving a beta request form on-line for over a year claiming that a release is right around the corner. (ref: AlchemyTV & AlchemyTV DVR Mac OS X 10.5 Compatibility page last updated Dec. 3, 2007.)
With all that said, the chipset on the Alchemy card is fairly standard and has been used in other PC products; it was designed by Phillips. When I was a Linux user there were a number of open source drivers for various chipsets and a few apps you could use as a viewer. Would an industrious individual be able to scrap something together by looking at the existing code? Is there anyone out there who actually has this mysterious beta software from Miglia in their possession?
If any reader has the rumored Miglia "beta" or any other Leopard-compatible software or suggestions for this card - let me know. Thanks.
(previous posts from 2005 and earlier follow)
Tiger/OS X 10.4 Feedback: (includes reports on beta driver update)
"I have been running the 2.3.3b1 version of Miglia TV DVR software on
my mac running Tiger (10.4.0) and have been experiencing some weird issues.
It seems that even when I selected to turn off auto start the program
would continually start up regardless of what I selected. So I
trashed the prefs and that seems to have fixed the startup problem
but now it constantly wants to shutdown my computer after a recording
which is really annoying.
I have had to delete all of my recordings just to get it to stop
trying to turn off my computer. I'll be reinstalling version 2.3.3
to see if that solves my problems.
regarding the Alchemy TV/DVR 2.3 update (2.3.2beta1? or 2.3.0 non-beta?-Mike), I experienced the same long startup time in Tiger as the other reader mentioned before, but also
both in 10.3.x and 10.4 most of the functions in the Edit menu are
greyed out and the shortcut keys also don't work - I've attached a
screenshot of the german version. However, all the functions are
still accessable via the software remote control. Scheduled recording
I'm pretty sure I first installed the new version in 10.3.9 before
updating Quicktime, so I think the problem is not related to QT7.
I'm using the original Alchemy DVR card for G4 Macs, formerly known
as Meilenstein Televio. System is a G4 MDD 1.25, no other PCI cards
or video hardware installed.
I asked if he had tried the 2.3.2beta1 driver mentioned yesterday.
"AlchemyTV DVR 2.3.2b1 was made available yesterday. I was having
some problems with Tiger and 2.3.0. The remote control was only
working for TV functions, and only with the DVR mode checked in the
Remote Control System Preference. Also, if you looked at Console
with it running, it said it was using some deprecated features and
causing slower performance. The new version works quite well, but is
a beta, so you might see a few peculiarities.
List of changes (so far):
Automatic Start/Shutdown plug-in for the Mac and the application. The settings for the plug-in are found in Preferences > Plug-ins > Startup Plug-in
Re-enabled several keyboard shortcuts disabled in 2.3
The Webdings font should not longer be needed to display the OSD
Just wanted to tell you, that my AlchemyTV DVR works better in Tiger that
in the later versions of Panther. (I asked if he was using the 2.3.2b1 beta driver and he said no.-Mike) I had huge problems with video-/audio
synchronization in recordings in the later versions of Panther, and the
video was already a couple of seconds behind the audio from the beginning
of the recording and the distance kept on growing.
I didn't have these problems when I bought the card and it began suddenly,
probably after a software update, but I don't know what caused this.
In Tiger it just works perfect again. There's no syncronization issues and
I can even record fullscreen MPEG4 on my MDD Dual 867 Mhz, which wasn't
possible in Panther. This is probably because of QuickTime 7.
(When I wrote asking if he was using the 2.3.2beta driver he replied)
No, not yet. I have just downloaded it but the release notes doesn't
mention anything really interesting, and not anything about compatiblity
or audio/video syncronization. I have been using the 2.3 release that
has been out for some time now.
Just read the report (below) on Alchemy TV under Tiger. I have experienced a
general sluggishness since updating to Tiger. Screen re-draws have
become extremely slow both with the TV window and the on-screen
remote. Live window re-sizing is gone. just checked the support
page and they have added a new beta (see above for link) which will hopefully correct this
"I have been using my Miglia TV DVR card on a G5 with Tiger in the tank
and all appears to be well and good. I had to reinstall the DVR
application and the iSight patch to get things working again after doing
an archive and install of Tiger. The added bonus is that H.264 is now
an encoding option for the DVR and I'm looking forward to playing with
it some more and testing the capabilities of this new compression scheme.
(I asked if he was using the 2.3.2beta driver (please include driver version used in reports)
Nope just the standard 2.3 driver. I didn't even know that there was
a beta available until you mentioned it.
The Miglia (DVR) TV PCI card works and the Alchemy DVR 2.3.0 software seems to work
Startup of the application takes some time. Recording and the remote
work as expected.
I have DP 1.8GHz G5 B rev., 1.5GB, OS 10.4.
I asked if he saw any problems later on to report back.
Alchemy TV DVR 2.3 driver update problems: (using the recent Alchemy TV DVR 2.3 software update)
This concerns the 2.3 update for Alchemy TV.
When I use the updated version, I get several failed attempts to
connect to my bluetooth headset and when the program finally loads
completely, the video stutters. Miglia's tech support did get back to
me promptly, asking me to try running the program with the console open and to send them the results.
They indicated to me that at least one of the bugs has been fixed and
should be available in another update soon.
"Hi Mike, I read your reports page on the AlchemyTV DVR card from Miglia, and I thought I'd share my experience with the card, even though I've just had it for a day or so.
I read the reports of people having trouble with audio sync on long
recordings (see below for a link to a doc w/tips on that-Mike), so I decided to test this as the first thing, as I plan to
use the card mainly for digitising old home movies from VHS tapes.
I'm using a PowerMac G5 Dual 1.8 GHz (2003 model) with OS X 10.3.7
I have 1.5GB ram in the machine, and use the stock 160GB HD as
systemdrive + I have an extra internal 250GB SATA drive I use for audio
I made sure that processor performance was set to "Highest" in the
energy saver control panel, and also made sure that the option to "Put
hard-disks to sleep whenever possible" was not checked.
I started recording a movie from TV (via my VCR and the cards composite
and audio ins, as I don't have an antenna outlet near the computer),
using MPEG4 at the highest quality setting. I recorded audio
uncompressed, but in Mono, as I didn't have 2 audiocables at the time.
I recorded the files to my 250GB HD "media" drive.
The recording was a little over 2 hours long, and took up 13GB on disc,
but since I was going for quality not size that was OK, and still half
I'm happy to say, that there where NO sync errors whatsoever, and the
quality is just great. I just ordered the new iLife '05 from Apple -
since the new version of iMovie in this package can edit MPEG4 video
directly, this should be the perfect companion for the AlchemyTV card,
as I can capture to high quality MPEG4, and still use half the disc
space compared to DV, and then I can edit directly in iMovie and burn
with IDVD5 -I can't wait :-)
A/V Sync Tips: (from a reader that reported A/V sync issues in long recordings with the AlchemyTV card)
(Updated to give proper credit for the doc/tips)
Finally Miglia has offered me a solution for the sync problems in recordings longer than 45 - 60 minutes. It's all in this document and it solved my problems-
Try it and let me know if it worked for you.
A reader replied to the above saying the doc was not created by Miglia:
To give credit where it is due, the solution you posted is originally from Duke University's IT department, not from Miglia:
(Update - as of April 2005 that link no longer works - but the miglia link to a copy still does as of 4/15/2005.-Mike)
(I sent this file to Miglia about 3 months ago after finding it during a google search for synch problems, was told that they would study it, and then I never heard back.)
- Paul F.
(he later wrote)
Interesting. If you look inside the directory where that doc was found:
http://cit.duke.edu/pdf/, you will see all kinds of interesting docs on the Duke iPod program and on video processing on the mac. Thought you might be interested.
(Note: reports below are from v2.2 or earlier software)
I have the silicon version of the Miglia TV/DVR running on a G5 DP 2GHz
1.5GB ram running 10.3.5. the v2.2 of the software certainly has improved things. Now the video will resize properly and the application seems to be much more stable. However I am still experiencing problems when editing captured video. After editing the captured video and then converting it into a format to burn onto a SVCD I am getting an audio sync problem where the audio lags behind the video by about 2 seconds.
I have tried caturing in both DV, 3ivx with varying compression ratios the problem always seems to crop up.
Also when I hit the record button the audio is always out of sync with the video.
I would rather have something that works well all the time instead of the hassle of having to convert captured video and then have the resulting file basically be crap. In my opinion this card simply isn't worth it. With so many capture options it actually makes it harder to find good settings that work rather than a
simpler device like the EyeTV.
I'd write miglia tech support to see if they have any suggestions for the sync problem you're having. (If anyone has a tip let me know, or if you're not seeing the problem as some other reports did not mention it.)
(added 9/23/2004 from 9/20 email)
"Hi, I purchased on of these directly from Miglia
Last few remaining G4-only cards Blow-Out Sale:
Get AlchemyTV + DVR software for f49/EUR 73 including VAT! That's a 40% saving over the normal SRP!"
As you can see it's a great price especially since it includes the DVR software. When it arrived I downloaded the latest version of the software (version 2.2), but my serial number didn't seem to work. So I contacted the support team via e-mail and had a response within a couple of hours, not bad especially since this was in the evening outside normal office hours.
What can I say, the card works great, the software is rock solid.
I also downloaded the MovieGate plugin, this works as advertised. The only issue I had was that I was hoping for a fully automated record, convert and write to DVD, but this is a post processing plugin, which it appears you have to invoke manually after the recording has been made, and it only seems to be available on scheduled recordings.
I've also tried using iDVD to convert a couple of recordings to DVD, as you would expect, this was seamless and my perception was this was faster than using MovieGate, the downside was that it didn't allow me to add chapter marks.
"I reported on the 2.2 software update earlier. Had difficulties with titantv plugin not being activated after upgrade. Running the setuo assistant again fixed that, but after that I have a nasty artefact: two white pixel lines running from left to right over the picture, while moving slowly from bottom to the top on all channels. Someone else here
reported on something similar, I wonder what the issue was and how that
Installed 2.2 and did not experienced the many crashes I usually had.
Have been impressed with customer support more than by the product
itself so far . I hope my troubles are over, which appear to be partly
due to 10.3.5.
However, there are still two files created during scheduled recordings
the correct one and a second, now 16kb large file with the same name,
but 0001 added to the name. So the app tries to start the recording
again although its already running (iCal integration ????). This also
creates an error in the log that the movie was not recorded, although
it is. Still, scheduled recordings, where I select tv widescreen fail
to start and crash the app with loss of communication to the card
In general: It would be nice if they could fill in customers about how
the Titan TV integration works, the card is not listed on TitanTV? In
general the documentation is extremely rudimentary anyway, also for the
The export plugins are only usefull if the movie and audio is not too
much out of sync recorded in the first place, since editing outside
will make the files useless for using the pugins from inside Alchemy.
For that reason its only good for things under one hour. Maybe a faster
harddrive in a DP 2.5 would be able to cut it here. Still you can only
compress video in realtime (which is excellent and works great with
3ivx, Divx etc), but audio can not be compressed at the same time, so
you end up with files where half of the size is uncompressed audio,
which you have to extract, compress manually and add back to the
capture. That points to the fact that this is a mostly software driven
solution with high demands on processor power (Usually occupies 65-80%
of processor power on my machine). 2Ghz G5 1.5Gb Ram Stock Maxtor 160
(tried also a G4/500 which turned out to be pretty useless for capture
anything longer than 15 minutes).
"Alchemy TV v2.1.2 feedback
Mac OS X 10.2.8 Dual G4/533Mhz Digital Audio
PowerMac G4 1.25Gb of Ram, Nvidia GeForce3
video card, apple 20" cinema display
I have the G4 only version of this card with the
FM tuner and DVR capabilities.
With this update (v2.1.2 - see above), the card works as advertised! Previously, had worked with their tech support,
and the only fix was to migrate to 10.3.x (which
I haven't done yet for other reasons.. )
Since the update:
Resizing of the window, works flawlessly (in the previous
version I always had to trash the prefs file after the
initial invocation of the application)
Direct import into iMovie works fine as well,
seamless, shows up just like you had a firewire
DV camcorder connected..
Quality is not hi-def, but more than passable, will
work great to make DVD's for the kids (childrens
Haven't really noticed any dropped frames and or
A/V sync issues at the larger screen sizes.
Need to play around with the DVR functions and
compression options at some point.. just havent
gotten around to it yet.
hope this helps
"Been using an Alchemy TV PCI card (G4 version) for a couple of months.
this is truly the greatest and coolest upgrade for my mac.
I have a dual 533 Digital Audio G4 with 1.5GB of RAM and a Radeon
9800pro, Firmtek S-ATA controller, and 2 serial-ata drives running OS
10.3.5 and Miglia 2.1.2. Software runs excellent, picture quality is
clear and the FM radio is the best. i did not get the G5 version
because the FM option is not there.
I only watch tv in a small window (320x240 or 160x120) while i work (or
FM radio) and its great. even at full screen its excellent quality but
you start to see some compression artifiacts. capturing quicktimes
is easy and offers excellent quality as well.
The only problem (and this is small), is when i resize the tv window.
if it's 160x120 and then i select 320x240, the window gets bigger, but
only where the smaller window was is where the picture is. Like
quadrants 2,3 and 4 are black, while the one in the top left is good.
dont know if that makes any sense, but its the easiest way to describe.
Closing the window and re-opening it solves the problem. dont know
if this is from 10.3.5 or not.
"Update: Miglia support is really good and helpful. More Ram is on the
way (this is a pristine new machine). File permission repair helped
somewhat, but there is a bug which apparently cropped up with the
release of 10.3.5 - the video window can go black when you resize the
TV screen. A beta that addresses this problem is available from Miglia.
Overall it is working now.
Also, if the TV window accidentally is moved
outside the desktop, it does not show up in display prefs, in that case
also rebooting doesn't help to get it back. Switching the monitor
resolution a couple of times brought it back, although there must be a
more elegant solution for that. On a DP 2Ghz the realtime encoding in
3ivx and Divx is great, no dropped frames at all.
Wish they would enhance their manual to make it easier to understand iCal scheduling and other plugin access.
(his previous report on 8/19/2004 follows)
"Just got a AlchemyTV DVR for my brand new Dual 2GHz G5. Macos 10.3.5 all latest updates. Nothing installed yet. Geforce Fx5200. 512MB. Used the latest AlchemyTVDVR 2.1.2 to install. Still very unstable software. Numerous crashes even during install. country selection menus in the setup assistant could not be selected. crashes and freezes. finally got it installed.
When it works its doing a great job, great encoding in full size Divx and 3ivx no problem. But if you touch anything ( e.g. switch video input) while watching and recording it becomes unstable, video window vanishes and only comes back after reboot. Actually right now it crashed on starting the program and I can't get any video even after rebooting, although sound is ok. Still needs improvements. What a disappointment. Haven't seen such a buggy software for a long time, except my own ones.
Although I'd want more than 512MB of RAM in a G5 running OS X, I'd contact Miglia tech support (which reportedly is better than avg from some past feedback) to report this.
Mike, After reading the 8/19/04 feedback today, I can offer this
comment: I noticed that the software became unstable AFTER the 10.3.5 update (already installed under 10.3.4). I have it in a dual 2GHz G5 (orig model). At first, I couldn't record anything after the update until I reinstalled the Alchemy software; it kept crashing when it started to capture. After reinstalling the software, I notice these two continuing symptoms:
There will sometimes be an error alert (a yellow triangular highway
caution sign on the scheduler window next to the recording) after a long
scheduled capture prematurely terminates. But what is captured still
plays successfully in quicktime (usually).
If you forget to start up the software, and you start it up when a
scheduled recording is already supposed to be happening, it crashes.
Note: To consistently get close to full frame rate, full size captures
with MJPEG or 3ivX, I found it is helpful to set the processor
performance to HIGHEST in the energy saver.
Since I have started this, I might as well give you the rest of my
Miglia does not trust their customers with too much complexity. They
enforce a 4:3 resolution ratio to match the 4:3 frame size ratio. Thus,
so far, they refuse to support 1/2 D1 resolution (352 x 480 fat pixels,
a legal DVD resolution) which would put much less demand on the
processor during capture, and matches the true resolution of standard
NTSC broadcasts so that there is hardly any downside in viewing quality.
Although the card and software are capable of a larger capture (as
evidenced by the std PAL settings), Miglia does not yet support a
slightly oversized NTSC capture so that you can wind up at 640x480 after
cropping the junk at the edges. It would also be nice if they allowed
720x480 narrow pixel captures so no rescaling would be needed for DVD
I am not sure if this is always the case, but in the one case I tried,
when I captured in MJPEG and used Innobits MPEG2 encoder to recode to
DVD-compliant m2v, I had to choose "top field first" in the interlace
settings to avoid improper field dominance in the final DVD (burned in
toast). Improper field order in the frames causes a jerkiness in panned
scenes or high-motion scenes, as the 2 fields in each frame play out of
order. The standard Innobits setting is bottom field, which is
conventional for DV sources. I don't know enough about it to know if
this is to be expected of an MJPEG capture. It is probably
My card seems to have a defect which causes random streaks of horizontal
snow to appear intermittently when using the tuner as the source (not
the AV inputs). I am sending it in for a swap. Miglia tech support is
reasonably responsive. Usually no more than a two day delay to email.
Not bad, considering that the time difference to England probably by
itself causes a half day delay in their reading what I send.
Because of the instability of the software, you can't really trust it
yet for that "must have" recording. Similar comments apply to El Gato
EyeTV 200 which I tried a few months ago. I wonder if the PC world has
this more under control, as they have a lot more choices and experience.
From my one experience with an AverMedia PCI card and software, I doubt
it. Thanks. - Paul
I have a G4/800 Quicksilver running on Mac OS X 10.2.4 German.
Before I bought the card I carefully had read the reports on your website.
The channel organization issue:
Let me give a brief comment about the way TV programs are organized in Germany (and all Europe).
From my days in the US I know that the TV Guide magazine lists programs by its channel number (e.g. CNN channel 5). That means CNN could be on different channels always depending on where you live. In Europe, we list the programs by its name only. CNN is stored in the TV's memory similar to FM stations stored in your FM tuner. Consequentially CNN can be broadcast on channel 5 but I put in on memory button 16, other people would put it somewhere else.
Here is where the confusion comes in:
As in the example above, US citizens would type 05 on their remote, Europeans would type 16 (or any other number of the memory location of the program). In other words the card does not allow for channel number selection, only memory position selection which is a sorted list within the program.
The Alchemy card does not allow for manual sorting, channel names are always in alphabetical order, it does follow neither of the rules above.
But there is a workaround:
If US citizens type a name like "05: CNN", Europeans type a name like "16: CNN", then both should be satisfied now. The on-screen display would show "05 05: CNN" and "05 16: CNN" respectively. Not so nice but it does the job.
Looking forward to a manual sorting feature!
I also discovered a bug yesterday:
I had a scheduled program that should be recorded for one hour. Only 32 Minutes were recorded. All energy saving options including the screen saver were off. No disk was in the DVD burner. I recorded to an internal drive with 17GB free space, the recording having a size of 2,7GB when it stopped.
(reports below were using driver v2.1 unless otherwise noted.)
"I bought the Miglia Alchemy DVR PCI (the SIL version for future G5
compatiblity) in hopes that I could manage to squeeze out full frame MJPEG
on my upgraded 7500 (800Mhz G4, OSX.3.3, ATI Radeon, LVD SCSI). No way! Let
alone the MJPEG, there is noise if I view at full size (looks like a lot of
snow on the right side of the window). Viewing at 320x240 is OK. I guess the
old 50Mhz bus just can't handle anything more, especially as loaded up as it
is with the ATI and SCSI controller. I popped it into a friend's native
400Mhz G4 tower (100Mhz bus) and it displayed fine at 640x480, so it isn't a
My 7500 also couldn't handle MJPEG encoding at 30fps of the 320x240 stream
without dropping frames and messing up lip synch. My friend's 400Mhz G4
tower could handle it, but lost lip synch at 640x480.
Just thought I'd save any of your readers thinking of trying the same stunt
with an old mac the trouble. Now if only I had a beige G3 to upgrade and
overclock the bus...
Thanks. - Paul
A follow-up report from Harvey on a fix for his previously reported A/V sync problem.
"Hi Mike, After my comments on AlchemyTV PVR were posted last week (below), I received an
email from Eric at Miglia tech support (he had helped me troubleshoot
previously, which is how he knew my email address - I'm guessing that they
don't have too many customers with the same first name as me).
Anyway, he wanted to help me troubleshoot the problem I had described with
video and audio being out of sync in my recordings with MPEG-4 compression.
He suggested that I turn off the option to "Put the hard disk(s) to sleep
when possible" in the Energy Saver preferences.
I tried this, and sure enough, it helped with the sync problem. Not only
that, but it seems to have eliminated the problem of missed recordings. I
wanted to pass that suggestion along for others who may be having the same
How's that for great tech support! As I mentioned, I've been in touch with
them before, and they've always been very responsive. If anyone is having
difficulties with the card, I would strongly suggest contacting them.
"As quoted earlier by other users, I am impressed with the update's features... But I have found a few bugs on my setup.
Upon a Cmd F for full screen, the software will not give up control of the computer to other programs in the menu bar
IE: Safari's web window can be manipulated, but the menu bar still shows the TV as the front app. - and the mouse scroll wheel is unresponsive... If I manually drag the TV screen bigger or leave it at 50% all is fine...
The program crashes upon launch about 70% of the time.
Finally, the channel settings have so far not been saved after a computer restart. I have to run the setup assistant each time I launch the program...
It sounds like my problems are isolated after reading other reviews though...
OS 10.3.3, Dual 1.0 QS, 1.5GB RAM: Radeon Mac edition PCI, Radeon 8500 AGP, ACARD ATA 100 card, and a GeeThree Sweet Multiport card...
(he later wrote)
I forgot to mention that the Main Screen is on the AGP Radeon 8500 (Safari app. running before launching TV app) and the TV tuner is running on a second monitor off the Radeon Mac edition PCI card...
(added 5/18/2004 - he's also sent reports previously below)
"Hi Mike, Here's the latest with my G5 install of AlchemyTV. V2.1 has also
allowed me to capture directly into iMovie (v.4) and then burn directly
from there to iDVD, admittedly there is some post capture processing
taking place which takes time, but the quality is surprisingly good and
the final DVD is great, although its clearly not a DV converter, its
great value. I plan to try QT Broadcaster next week with 2 cards in my
I have had a couple of crashes during capture but I am not sure if
these are application related or are due to something else, I will keep
an eye on it and let you know.
"Hi Mike, I'm using the G4 version of the AlchemyTV PVR card. Version 2.1 of the
software is significantly improved over the previous version - integration
of the TV and PVR functions is especially welcome, and setup is easier.
However, despite the integration of functions, you cannot watch a TV program
while it is being recorded (at least not a scheduled recording). Also,
scheduled recordings still seem to suffer from reliability problems, where
they sometimes fail to be made.
As mentioned in a previous comment, I too noticed that video and audio were
out of sync when recording in MPEG-4 at 50% quality on my Quicksilver 800DP.
I didn't notice this with the previous version of the software. (Update - see his later
report above where disabling drive sleep in the Energy Saver solved the sync issue)
At this point, I think El Gato's EyeTV 200 has a number of advantages over
AlchemyTV PVR. First, scheduling recordings is significantly easier due to
EyeTV's integration with programming guides. Second, editing is easier with
the built-in editor (I find editing out commercials using Quicktime Pro slow
and cumbersome). Third, the MPEG-2 codec used by EyeTV gives a better
picture and easy conversion to VCD or DVD. It also has a few bugs yet, but I
find it much more reliable than AlchemyTV PVR.
I think AlchemyTV DVR is fine for watching live TV and as a backup when I'm
already recording something else on my EyeTV 200, but I wouldn't rely on it
just yet for "normal" use. Thanks for the great site,
Just updated my G5 version of AlchemyTV DVR to 2.1 (from VT) and I am
very impressed by the improvement in the software. It's fair to say
that I was not unhappy with the original version, although having 2
separate applications was a little tedious and the software was a
little clunky in places, especially with the naming conventions for
The new version is a prize piece of software, it integrates a DVR
facility into the TV app, and writes the files to disk as MPEG4 from my
G5 Dual 2Gig without any difficulty.
I can honestly say that compared to the original EyeTV I run on my
Powerbook this is better quality, runs at full screen and still is
under £100 with Tax, when the new EyeTV200 is 3 times that price I have
to say that as a G5 owner this solution really suits me, money well
spent for once ;)
If you own a G4 I see from their site that there is a blowout sale
going on on that particular item ($119 G4/NTSC model, £69 G4/PAL model), typical I always miss those deals:(
Sponsor OWC has the G4/NTSC version for $109. (OWC page notes optional remote control included.)
Re: AlchemyTV DVR (PCI card) v2.1 Software Update
The 2.1 update is a significant improvement, it addresses several of the unsatisfying issues that plagued the previous version. Most notable is the scheduling feature. Previously it had a 24-hour numerical format. Scheduling recordings meant doing math to figure out what time it is (Americans without military training or time abroad don't automatically count this way) and replaces it with a more familiar a.m/p.m 12-hour format. Bravo! It also combines TV and DVR functions into one streamlined package. Best of all, it appears to correct the margin artifacts that troubled the earlier version. I've had the AlchemyTV PCI card for about three weeks, and each recording I attempted had unsightly static at the upper border.
Further, it includes a clipping feature, allowing the user to define how the recorded program will be viewed; TV set, TV set Wide screen, etc., which benefits the user. In preferences, it now has a post-processing plug-in that opens a movie file in the finder, or in a chosen application. This should improve workflow, as the recordings need to be handled and processed before burning to disk.
Which brings us to the shortcomings: Both in the previous version, and this update, there is no clear way to aim for target file-size/recording-quality for DVD /CD burning. I've experimented, with limited success, trying to determine the best settings to get a one-hour program, 30-minute TV show, or feature-length movie, optimally prepared for a usable disc. It's all guesswork. You end up with a file that's either too big, or too small. Adjusting the quality and size is an unnecessarily mysterious, time-consuming chore that would benefit from a more understandable, user-friendly interface. I've done multiple recordings, and in one way or another, frankly, they're crap. Not for hardware reasons, but because of the limits of the software.
Has anyone succeeded in getting consistently good results recording and burning? I've tried different formats, and have yet to produce a single good disc. (see report below for some recording comments)
A peek at my Scheduled Recording Log from the last three weeks reveals my long list of failures "The movie wasn't recorded to disk!", and "the movie was partly recorded to disk!" from user snafus getting scheduled-recording info entered correctly. The complaints about the quality of the end product--your recorded video--are all true, it's barely good enough.
Most users grudgingly accept it because of the bargain price, regarding it as "promising" but "not there yet". This is consistent with my experience. I do find it promising. I'm not happy yet, but I'm not dissatisfied enough to dismiss it as unworkable. This update does come as potentially welcome relief for some of these complaints. The biggest problem was correctly preparing a scheduled recording, it was riddled with opportunities to fail. Now it's much clearer, appears to be more elegant, potentially easier to use and enjoy.
Now if only they could provide a better path to create target-size-and-quality recordings for disc burning. Also, even after rebooting, repairing permissions after install, etc., both with the previous version, and this version, I've had the application unexpectedly crash, requiring me to enter information all over again. Let's hope this gets better.
"just a quick note and feedback: I am on a fresh 10.3.2 and installed the card and the brand new software (v2.1) today.
The alchemy card comes in a box with very poor copied manuals and
sheets of papers. For the money I paid it looks not that someone has
really taken care of the experience the customer gets out of the box. (I asked if he
paid more than US$109 if the G4 version. The G5 compatible version lists for $149US I believe - see above links.-Mike)
I paid 170 Euros, which are 200 US-Dollars (for the G5 Modell). This is
the most expensive card of Alchemy and has the Remote Control. I want
to buy a G5 this year, so the card goes into the new machine.
I opened up my mac and installed the card in a free PCI-slot, fixed the
card with the screw and closed the case. Then I connected the
coax-cable from my cable-provider and the remote control receiver,
which plugs with some kind of a "mini headphone plugin into the card
beside the coax-cable to let me use the remote control, which is nice.
There is a real nasty construction bug. The hole (jack) for the remote plugin
is too far out of the middle on the backside of the card, that the hole
is overlapped by the case of my G4 or by the border plate separating
one PCI-slot from the other. (Not sure why anyone else didn't mention this unless they didn't use the remote? PCI cards have some small amount of play side-to-side in the slot bracket, but I'm not sure if that would help with this as I don't have a pix of the problem.) It is very hard to push in the plug, I guess I have to cut out a little piece of the metal to properly fix the
remote-plug. When I first tried it I thought my remote is not working.
On a second check I found out that I cannot push the plug in as far as
it should be.
Software install is as easy as other software to install. I knew I
would have to restart my machine after installing, but a reminder
bevore the installer makes his work would be neat.
The automatic station finder is slow but works quite well. It found 36
stations and asked me to enter immediately every Station it found. I
would have preferred to enter it later, whenever I want, so it kept me
in front of the machine for the next 10 minutes, because not every
station has a watermark in its broadcasted picture, and most not in the
In the software, there is no way - at least I have not found it - to
reorder the tv-channels as I have them on my other VCRs and TV in the
A language problem: I am in Europe and like to watch channels like
euronews. This channel comes in two languages. German and Spanish. I
would prefer to watch it in german, no way: I have to hear both audio
channels overlaying each other, because there is no way to select on or
the other. (Of course I could balance it to the left or right to switch
to one channel, but this should be fixed in the next release of the
Minimum CPU-requirements for the card seems to be a 867 MHz cpu. This
is true. My dual Mac records full PAL resolution not with the full
framerate of 25 fps it drops down to 10 fps on compression set to
"none". It even does not allow me to watch television with full
framerate, Heavy motions or stocktickers are jerking from one edge to
the other of the screen. This seems to be an automatic feature. I would
prefer to turn this off, especially for recording. There is nothing
more annoying when the framerate falls and falls to "an unknown value"
instead of informing you, that this cpu cannot handle the recording I
prefer or can handle only a recording with particular settings.
So far, I am not so happy with the card. Because I wanted to use the
card to record some information of my cable-tv-provider and use it in
further multimedia apps or even write the movies to a DVD I am
disappointed. I get far better results in plugging in my
Mini-DV-camcorder and transferring the recorded stuff via firewire to
my G4 for further editing. There is at least no uncontrollable jerking.
On the weekend I will plug the card into another G4 with 1.4 GHz to see
if the problems go away and will let you know if there is a big
"I've been using the AlchemyTV DVR 2.x beta-version for some time now,
and for a week I've been using the final candidate of version 2.1. This
is a major and very welcome update to the AlchemyTV software.
Previously the package consisted of two applications and the TV viewing
application was pretty bad; it looked quite ugly in the interface and
it was slow.
This new version is faster at switching channels and contains numerous
updates, which are to many to mention her. Just download the file and
read the release notes and the new updated manual. I'm really happy
with this free update since it gives me a much better TV viewing
experience on my Mac. It works perfectly on my Mac OS X 10.3.3.
It's obvoius to compare Miglias product to El Gatos EyeTV 200 and while
the EyeTV truly is a very nice product, it costs several times more
than the AlchemyTV DVR. If you can afford it, go buy the EyeTV 200, but
the AlchemyTV DVR package is really nice, especially if you have a G5
which is powerfull enough to encode straight to MPEG4 and still have
enough headroom for other work. My MDD G4 Dual 867 MHz is unfortunately
not fast enough for full-size MPEG4 encoding (the sound and video is
not syncronized) so I have to use MJPEG which takes up more harddrive
Rene Frej N.
"I've had the AlchemyTV DVR card for a few weeks and just installed 2.1.
The install was smooth, no trouble but one does need to have one's DVR
serial number handy. Video quality on the screen seems better.
The coolest thing that I don't think the previous version had is, the setup
assistant will connect to tvguide.com and put in all the channel names
for you. So far it's a very good piece of software.
"This update has totally screwed up my previous Alchemy installation. No
more TV window at all, impossible to set up. Thank god I keep a clone
of my entire HD, so I could just copy back my old files. I do not have
the time to look into it now, just thought I'd let you know.
G4 Digital Audio GigaDesign 1GHz, 10.3.3, no problems before the
upgrade, but during installation of the upgrade I got an alert that my
prefs would have to be deleted and sorry for the inconvenience...?
If anyone else sees this problem or has a suggestion, let me know. (the 2 other
update reports didn't have the problem.)
(Note: Reports below were from before v2.1 software was released which has a long list of changes. feedback on the v2.1 is welcome for adding here.)
"I have added the Miglia AlchemyTV DVR card to a PPC 9500 with 1.25GB interlaced memory, an XLR8 SSE G4/450/1M, running 10.2.8. (used Xpostfacto for installing OS X I assume)
The card is recognized, the software seems to be operating and seems to be handling audio input. I am still wiring the Video feeds from my TiVo, so I can't say how well it will grab frames on my slowest, of slow G4s.
"I've had my card for awhile now, and thought it was time to post
impressions. I bought the G5 compatible card even though I have a G4
533 DA at the moment. I plan to own a G5 soon, so didn't want to have
to buy another card. Anyway...
The last report (below) mentioned the bad interlacing problem. I agree, it is
quite bad, BUT there is an option in the View menu, "Optimize for
Motion", which solves the issue at the price of somewhat lower
resolution. I basically leave it on all the time. It is especially
wonderful for playing any sort of console video game system with the
I would also agree that the DVR software needs some SERIOUS work. It
works... if you can fumble through the settings and options. Very
Something that I have not seen mentioned anywhere, and which I thought
was pretty cool is that the new iMovie will import directly from the
card! I remember hearing about how bad the editing software was with
the EyeTV, and Miglia offers none, so this is very nice. You can
choose to import from all available inputs on the card directly into
iMovie. This makes quick work of editing out the commercials, though
this will not work for scheduled recordings obviously. It is also a
great analog to digital converter, cheaper than the FW options as well.
iMovie offers no interface to change the channels, so you must open up
Miglia TV, change the channel, quit, then relaunch iMovie, as only one
app can "have" the card at a time.
Thanks for the site!
"Mike, I just received my AlchemyTV DVR G5 card and installed it on my Dual 1.8Ghz G5. My impressions of
the product are as follows: Image quality is mediocre in the sense that the image is of very high
capture resolution, but during motion, there are very obvious signs of the two interlacing fields
(ie. you see jagged edges). Compared to my ATI All in Wonder Tuner on my PC, which does better
deinterlacing, I would say that the capture quality is mediocre.
As said in previous reviews, there is no noticable lag between the input video and the output on
the screen. Playing a playstation game is perfectly fine via the S-Video input.
In terms of TV Tuning. I was surprised as to how long it takes to change a channel. Perhaps this
is due to the new "Silicon Tuner" but it takes a good second to 1.5 secs to change a channel.
Definitely not good for channel surfing. The software provides a "fine-tuning" option which
allows you to offset your tuner frequency for a better picture. Although this seems like a good
feature, the amount of time it takes for the tuner to change frequencies renders it useless. (you
cannot move along the frequency "slider bar" and watch for a perfect image....you need to drag,
let go, .... wait.... and wait.... then the card tunes to the new offset)
Live capturing seems to work fine. The jagged edges from motion seem to be removed in the
recorded movie due to the compression (MPEG-4) that I used.
I have yet to try the DVR capabilities.
The remote control came out of the box malfunctioning. The IR emitter stays stuck on. I am
currently working with customer support to resolve this. (They are very responsive by the way.)
The IR receiver was a bit disappointing. I was expecting something like a small window with a
stand (or something to balance on a desk), but it's just a wire with a "bulb" at the end. I will
take a picture if needed.
The overall software needs to work on it's user interface. The keyboard controls are fairly
unintuitive. (ie. command-G for fullscreen, command-U for optimised fullscreen). Almost seems
as though the programmers just randomly picked keys from the keyboard. On my ATI, things make
more sense (ie. Ctrl-F for fullscreen, etc)
Hope this review helps others considering a TV Tuner.
Updated comments from previous user report below:
"As promised, here's the update:
The same day my last report was published on xlr8yourmac I received an
E-Mail from Miglia, first asking if I'd tried the new software, and
also giving information on exchanging the whole unit (card, remote
control, and IR cable). Since I've become dependent upon the card, and
I'm using it off and on for a video project I'm doing, I decided to
just write the broken remote off as a loss. Upon telling Miglia this,
they promptly responded asking for my telephone number.
Sure enough, a representative called around 11 AM EST from the UK,
which alone kind of impressed me. He spent about 20 minutes on the
phone with me and determined I probably received a bad remote; instead
of having me send the entire card back, he said a new remote would be
sent next business day. He was also very interested in hearing about
the bugs I've been encountering with the DVR software, and listened to
some of my other suggestions. Overall a really nice and helpful guy.
I can honestly say a week ago I was a little unhappy with the device,
and the DVR software. After dealing with their tech support today
though I've changed my mind. While it's true the DVR software is a
little buggy, Miglia seems to be taking these issues seriously, and I
expect they'll iron out some of the bugs soon. It seems they DO listen
to their customer's complaints, and don't have a problem hearing them.
I think this is a good example of how good customer service can totally
change one's opinion of a product/company, even if they do have some
His original report/comments are below
(Report on pre-G5 compatible card model)
(added Jan. 22, 2004)
I bought the TV card in late August/2002, (pre-G5 comptible model) it was being called as
Televio and shipped with Televio 1.7 software package. (Miglia started marketing the card
in 2003) After using it
for more than 4 months, I noticed that the software is improved a lot.
I have a chance to play with the "AlchemyTV DVR" software to record a
test file. On my test, I input the program title, the filename,
start/end time, and make sure that the device, input, format, and
channel are corrected. (The default setting was pretty much in the
As expected, it started recording in background (the AlchemyTV app
didn't open, but by typing top -u in the terminal, I could see that it
was actually recording). However, I checked the output MPEG-4 file, I
set the duration for 2mins, but the actual footage was just 1 min
55sec. I believe that I have to tell the program to start for few
seconds earlier, since there is a few second delay. I didn't read the
manual at all. Moreover, I found some wording for the software is kind
of weird, not sure it is a typo or the way UK English is.
I suspected that the reader, Haroon A, had a software issue rather than
the TV PCI card. (see previous report below) Did he run the un-installer before installing the latest version of both applications?
I used to have the Formac Studio DV/TV device (silver case) back in
2001. (Running Mac OS 9.2 and Mac OS X 10.1) I hooked it up to the
TiBook/400. It was great for watching TV in DV (740x480, correct me if
I was wrong) resolution. One thing I would like to agree with the
reader, Haroon A, listening to FM on either the Televio or the Formac
device is just a joke.
Both Formac and Meilenstein are started out in Europe, I am happy to
see both companies provide good quality products and customer services
(Formac??) for the Mac users. I am looking forward to "upgrade" to the
G4/G5 silicon card.
As a Televio beta tester, I can see that the company is working hard on
the software package.
My testing setup;
PowerMac G4 DP 1.25 (FW800), 1.25GB of RAM, a 120GB/8MB buffer on the ATA/100 bus, a 120GB 8mb buffer and a stock 80GB drives on the ATA/66 bus, AirPort Extreme card, Apple Studio Display 17"
iSight (iChatAlchemyTVPatch installed), Mac OS X 10.3.2
AlchemyTV version 2.0.4 (public release)
AlchemyTV DVR (beta version)
(Apple system profiler report)
Vendor ID: 0x1131
Device ID: 0x7133
Subsystem Vendor ID: 0x5168
Subsystem ID: 0x0138
Revision ID: 0x0010
(Report on pre-G5 compatible card model - also see his Jan. 26th updated comments above)
(added Jan. 16th, 2004)
Let me begin by saying the actual TV functionality of this card works
more or less perfectly. It's ability to capture to Quicktime (and even
DivX with the properly installed codec) works well too. The DVR
software is poor at best though.
Why is it poor? There are bugs all through it, and the documentation
is horrible. I've searched all over to find out exactly what the
"active" toggle is supposed to do, and though I have a hunch of its
functionality, I'm still not entirely sure what it does. Today, for
some odd reason, instead of recording to mpeg4 while I was gone, the
DVR software decided to record in composite video, filling up a 120gb
hd. The scheduling software has other issues as well. When adding,
deleting, or editing recording times it regularly applies the wrong
channel name to the filename template and changes the name of the
program altogether, usually to something else already in my list.
Another minor gripe with the DVR software is that it schedules in
military time only, but that's the least of its problems.
Here's the most annoying part for me though. About two days after I
received the card the remote control quit working. I bounced some
E-Mails back with their support person, and he was actually pretty
helpful and very responsive in the beginning. So what's the problem?
After testing every possible scenario, he came to the conclusion it was
a hardware problem, then asked me where I was located in order to send
a replacement. "Cool," I thought. I mean, it's kind of a bummer not
having my card for a week or two, but at least they're willing to fix
A week after sending the E-Mail with my location there was no response;
I sent another E-Mail asking if they had forgot about me, and still no
response (after 2 days). Ok, so I guess they're blowing me off now.
The sad fact is I could have just returned it to MacMall the day I
began having trouble with it, now it's beyond their return period.
So my grand advice in all of this: the card isn't HORRIBLE when it
works. The TV viewing software works as expected, with no really huge
glitches. With the troubles I encountered with the card's remote
control and DVR software however, I advise people to not waste their
money on the $140 DVR model, and instead just buy the $109 basic model
(with no remote or DVR capability). If you're in a real grind for a
Tivo-like device, get an EyeTV instead. Also, if you happen to have a
video game console the Alchemy card works well, since there's no mpeg
decoder like in the EyeTV to create delays. Definitely do not buy this
card for its FM tuner, since the software for it is absolutely
horrendous (no, one second delays while manually scanning each
frequency is not acceptable).
(I asked him what System and OS version he was using)
Quicksilver 2002, G4 800mhz. 10.3.2. And before anyone mentions it,
I'm running the latest version of the Alchemy software.
"Regarding your reader report on the G5 AlchemyTV PCI card... (From the Dec 30th news page - also copied below)
I also installed the card on a dual 2GHz G5 and I'm quite pleased with its performance. I agree the the channel "numbering" used in the software is not intuitive. Why not just have the channel numbers agree with the actual channel numbers?
One item that baffled me during the installation was that the remote control didn't appear to function.
The manual for the AlchemyTV card (I actually purchased the AlchemyTV DVR G5 card) doesn't provide any instructions for enabling the remote control nor does the software appear to automatically install the
correct files to use it. Here are the steps that I took to enable the
- Install the infrared (IR) remote sensor at a convenient location and plug it into the back of the AlchemyTV card.
- Make sure that you remove the plastic strip sticking out at the
battery on the back of the remote control. This allows the battery
terminals to make contact with the battery in the remote control.
- Download the Keyspan Remote Control Maps file at the following link:
- Expand the file and follow the directions for installing the Keyspan Remote Control Maps. You will have to create a folder with the name "Keyspan DMR Preferences" at the following location :
System>Library>Preferences> In this folder place the "migliaonly"
- Go to the "accounts" option in System Preferences and add the
following application in the Startup Items list for each account that
you would like to use the AlchemyTV card with: /Library/Application
- You may have to reboot so that the "map" files are visible in the
- In System Preferences click on "Remote Control". Click on AlchemyTV in the Application column. Check the box for "AlchemyTV Mode".
- Reboot the computer. Launch the AlchemyTV application. The remote should now work!
I don't know if simply logging out might suffice at the steps where I
suggested rebooting. I rebooted just to be on the safe side.
Unfortunately, I didn't see any instructions for enabling the remote
control so I had to figure this all out for myself! The included
software did not install these items automatically.
On Feb. 23rd, a reader replied to the above tips:
"Hi, regarding your Reader Report (Directly above - from Dec. 30th, 2003):
There is much right with these steps, but:
- Step #1 is the most important one. Unfortunately the plug likes to catch
on the casing of the Mac instead of going all the way into the connector.
The IR receiver will not work then.
- The Keyspan Remote Control Map is only needed if you want to use a Keyspan
Digital Media Remote instead of the remote control delivered with AlchemyTV
DVR. It doesn't do anything if you don't have the Keyspan DMR. You won't
need steps #3 and #4 in this case.
- The standard installation already has a mechanism for automatic launch of
the Remote Control.app different than step #5. This works differently for
Jaguar and Panther but already makes sure that the Remote Control.app is
started for every login on any account.
- You don't need step #7 for the remote to work.
The AlchemyTV Mode makes the Remote Control.app send IR key events to
AlchemyTV even if you are working in another application (e.g. Mail).
If you uncheck the option the Remote Control.app sends IR key events only to
the active (foreground) application (if you have a key map for it).
With kind regards
Meilenstein Mac OS Software
Here's the first G5 owner report (non-DVR model):
Just wanted to inform readers the AlchemyTV G5 TV PCI card is working fine in my Dual 2 Ghz G5 w/9800 OS 10.3.2. The instructions are poor, and give no clear direction on what compression options to use while recording TV shows. I keep it running in a 640 x 480 window on my 23" Cinema display.
I've had to reboot a couple of times when the software
launched and the sound was missing, but the reboot solved the problem.
The TV channel assistant identified the names of the Cable channels
associated with the nearest Cable provider for my zipcode, but the
channels seem to be identified by counting the channels. In other
words the 1st channel, is channel 2, but the program identifies it as
channel 1. So Speedvision Channel 63, is listed as 62. No big deal if you remember to subtract 1 from the channel you are looking for.
Channels may be changed by typing the #, or using the up/down arrows on the keyboard, or using the on screen remote.
There is an "Optimise for motion" (their spelling) option in the view
menu, which appears to smooth screen jaggies (raster bars?) on my LCD display.
By the way, this is the TV tuner only option, not the TV DVR model. And remember the G5 model does not come with the FM tuner. Overall I'm very pleased with the card and believe it is worth the price ($149 shipped to USA).
Their products page doesn't list the G5 version yet, but their page for the standard card model (5V PCI) is here. The "G5" model is also usable in other Macs. (The original version of the card wasn't 3.3V PCI slot compatible but I suspect the G5 model is probably cut/keyed for both 3.3v and 5V PCI slots as most PCI cards are for some time now, although the price was lower on the original model w/o remote control.)
For other G5 related articles (reviews/tests/noise/cooling/specs/guides) see the
Systems page G5 section.