I have about 40 VHS tapes that I am trying to convert to DVDR. The tapes were recorded in 1996-1998, mostly in EP mode on a VHS deck that my parents bought in 1986. I think it was an off-brand machine, possibly manufactured by Sears(?) The videos themselves were reused, and in-expensive Sony and TDK stock - yeah, I know, the deck is stacked against me.
I have a JVC SR-V101US deck for playback and these tapes will not track properly, even with manual adjustment. I can typically get them to clear up with manual adjustment, but the tracking never seems to hold.
I had a Zenith consumer level machine circa 1999 that tracked them much better than my JVC (go figure), but it is dying. The original VCR these videos were recorded on died several years ago, and I no longer have it.
Could someone recommend a VCR that has a wide tolerance for tracking? I know that it's unlikely these tapes will look perfect, but if I had something that could track them somewhat reliably long enough to get them to DVDR, that would be awesome.
Thanks in advance,
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JVC vcr's do not track long play type tapes well, I am converting my NTSC VHS's and have a brand new jvc 9911 and never use it, instead use a panasonic 1980P or a Sharp wit the super picture ability, sharps are very good at tracking and indeed may have made Sears machines at one point.PAL/NTSC problem solver.
USED TO BE A UK Equipment owner., NOW FINISHED WITH VHS CONVERSIONS-THANKS
Yeah, I would say a Panasonic is the way to go with tracking EP tapes (or so I've heard). I have a JVC SR-V101US and had the same issue with some of my EP tapes. I also have a JVC SR-W5U and it does a much better job with tracking tapes that the new SR-V101US had trouble with.
The tapes were probably recorded on an out of track recording VCR. The only way to play them is to use a oscilloscope to adjust the tracking to max the RF envelope. You can take a VCR tech course and get the right hammars and lube or you can pay a local VCR service guy to dub/capture these tapes in his spare time.Recommends: Kiva.org - Loans that change lives.
The Panasonic AG-1980 is your best bet to try first. It's my go-to machine for any tapes in LP or SLP/EP. 9 times out of 10 it will usually track these tapes well (and you can adjust the tracking manually if needed too). There are usually tons of them on eBay. In lieu of the Panny, a Sharp is also a good idea, but it does not have the TBC and picture quality of the AG-1980, so I would advise that as a second choice if the Pan doesn't work for you. (That said--recently I had an EP tape that jittered all over the place on my Panny but locked down fine on the JVC--so you just never know!) You could also look for another unit of the Zenith model you like on eBay. Good luck!
Sometimes even if you do find the same exact deck it was recorded on it dosen't mean that one of the decks wasn't "off". I find that the Panny 1980 has been able to track some tapes that looked absolutely horrible on my JVC Decks. Many of the tapes I just recently transfered for someone were recorded on a VCR from 1982-1985, and on a Video Camera from 1982-1984. Many of the tapes had both SP and LP recordings, and tetered back and forth. My JVC was unable to handle the task, the other problem with the JVC Decks and SP/EP tapes with tracking issues is that when the tracking teters around a bit the JVC VCR's will try to correct the problem and will flash "Video Calibration" over and over on the screen. Which in my opinion kind of ruins alot of tapes I transfer for some of my colleagues.
The AG-1980 works like a professional deck and does not display menus, or information on the screen when tapes are playing... just another thing to keep in mind when you are looking for the right deck.
If the tapes are valuable enough I recomend buying a AG-1980 on ebay. If you come across a broken, or beat up AG1980 I reccomend sending it to Southern Advantage to get worked on. They seem to specialize in fixing these decks. They have done some decent work for me at a decent price.
Yeah, I had similar troubles with certain LP/EP tapes on my used JVC HR-7600U and brand new JVC SR-V101US, although for most tapes it was fine. Many tapes, particularly EP tapes played just fine in both decks. LP seems to be more troublesome though for whatever reason. But if your tapes have issues with your decks, then so be it.
I like edDV's suggestion the best -- being able to adjust your own equipment to fit your needs is awfully hard to beat! I need to find myself one of these courses.
If you prefer the playback look of the JVC decks over the Panasonic -- The JVC SR-W5U deck performs better than the other two decks I mentioned -- it plays almost all of my LP/EP tapes like a champ, likely because of the better transport design. So if you are looking for another JVC VCR that can play a wide variety of tapes with a TBC and have some money to burn, it's a good deck for this purpose. I notice they have been popping up more frequently lately on eBay for whatever reason, after a couple year drought.
The other problem with the SR-W5U is that it is very rare and the parts are extremely hard to find, repair on the deck can cost as much as 3 to 4 times what a repair on a JVC 9000 deck is (that is if you can find the part), and 5 to 6 times what a repair on a AG-1980 would cost (the AG1980 are easier to repair).
I just wouldn't reccomend to anyone but a very serious hobbyist that has a long term interest in VHS transfer to buy a SR-W5U.
On the JVC, turn off calibration, too. That makes it worse, not better.
This will be edited in depth to reflect that: http://www.digitalFAQ.com/guides/video/capture-playback-hardware.htm
I've already submitted updates for it.
Yep--I agree with you. I reiterate that the original poster should try an AG-1980 first. In all likelihood, that will do the job for him.
Ha-- I have a few W5Us and W7Us, most of which need repair work of one sort or another. I have been procrastinating on sending them to JVC because I'm afraid of bankrupting myself. But I admit that that the one I work with often does a great job and is easily equal to my 9911. It was also able to improve tracking on an EP tape a few weeks ago that the 1980 choked on. But you're right--they're too expensive on eBay. The best machine to try first for EP and LP tapes is the Panny AG-1980, not the W5U.
Yeah, I was just throwing it out there as a suggestion, especially if they had a preference for the JVC look. They are certainly not a deck for a risk aversive person though -- they are rare decks and are thus not easy to repair.
They do hold up very well though if you treat them well and they come in good shape, the biggest thing is to avoid putting too tight of audio/video connector cables on the inputs, as you can separate them from the board with one swift tug. That particular issue is fixed on the SR-W7U.
You can sometimes snag a good deal on them though, I've been tracking them on eBay for a couple of years now and they will go anywhere from $250 on up to about $800, but lately they have averaged around $300 I'd say. There have been a few Buy-It-Now auctions listed around $1000, but I haven't seen one of those sell at that price since 2008.
Moxiecat -- what issues are you having on the decks you have?
Last edited by robjv1; 1st Apr 2013 at 01:25.
I just took the plunge and bought the Panasonic AG-1980. Even if it won't help with these particular tapes, I've been wanting to buy a new quality VCR for awhile. I also found someone who has an old Sharp (though not SVHS) with the Super Picture feature.
Thanks for the suggestions.
P.S. - I'm intrigued about the idea of taking a VCR tech course. Are they still offered? If so, where would I look? Is this something the local junior college might offer, or should I look elsewhere? I'm in West Palm Beach, Florida, for what it's worth.