I get close to the same readings for "Bloody Pearls" and "Love me Again" in Bitrate Viewer as you do, with "Love Me Again" coming in consistently lower (a little lower than your graph capture indicates). In the tests I ran a few hours ago, Bitrate Viewer showed 4300-4600 average for my own MN21 (SP mode) dvds with maximum peaks at 9500. All the MN settings better than MN19 peak regularly at 9500, so I don't consider the peaks a significant factor of comparison.
That old VH thread you referenced came up when I searched my bookmarks and archives earlier today: its what prompted me to run a personal test of my 460. The bitrate data in that thread specifically applied to the 2004 model year x20 series, which was "genuine old-school Pioneer". I suspected the newer Pioneer/Sony cooperative models to have updated encoders, and my testing today proved this correct: the bitrate compromise at MN32 has been removed in the newer units. Pioneer models in the x40, x50, x60 series and Sonys of the x50 series and later will give full 9300 bitrate at MN32. The PCM audio feature has been separated from MN32 in these newer units, combined with a lower video bitrate in an additional separate "LPCM" MN mode. Note Sony models ending in x25 or earlier do not have MN modes at all: they only have nine fixed standard recording modes.
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The chart for one of my Pioneer 460 MN21 recordings of a full anamorphic 16:9 movie that runs 120 mins:
Last edited by orsetto; 15th Jun 2020 at 04:22.
And here is a chart for an MN21 recording of a 4:3 letterboxed (black bars top/bottom) movie that runs 121 mins:
There is no difference in hardware between the models in any year lineup: they are simply good-better-best feature marketing at different price points. 450-550-650 came out in 2007, all at the same time, ditto 460-560-660 in 2008.
Nothing significant to VHS capture differentiates these units. All six employ the improved 12-bit encoder vs the 10-bit of the previous 540/640 and most similar Sonys. The 450 and 460 are "special" variants made for chain discount stores like CostCo: slightly feature-stripped versions of the popular 550 and 560. The 450 drops the USB and DV camera inputs, the 460 doesn't even bother with that: the 460/560 are exactly the same unit aside from a minor omission in the 460 "multi media jukebox" system that literally no owner has ever used. The 650 is a 550 with larger 250GB HDD, the 660 is a 560 with 250GB HDD and an utterly useless ethernet port (all it can do is update the music title database in the jukebox).
It is probably not useful to compare my bitrate charts to yours. I didn't have any MN21 VHS dubs easily accessible last night, so my charts are based on recordings from a cable TV tuner, not VHS, which may trigger a lower average VBR due to less random noise being encoded. Esp the second chart you are referring, which I included as an additional data point: since that is a letterboxed recording with 33% of the frame consisting of static black bars, the auto variable bitrate would be reduced automatically.
Its also possible your Dad's friend did not use the later Pioneers: the earlier 520 and 530 skewed to a slightly higher bitrate in the most-popular midrange MN speeds like MN20-MN21 at the expense of slightly lower rates at higher/lower MN modes. OTOH, the encoder chip and filters of the newer x50/x60 units are better designed for uniform operation at more consistently graduated bitrates among the MN speeds. Of course all of these units record dramatically better at MN32/HQ/XP than they do at more practical speeds with higher disc capacity. None will look as good at MN21 as they do at MN32, but MN32 is very constraining at only 60 mins per disc.
Last edited by orsetto; 15th Jun 2020 at 09:27.