I have been researching this topic for several days, and I was hoping for some final advice.
My Goal: I am looking to restore a few hundred old VHS tapes (1995-1997), recorded in EP . Each tape has several class lectures. I would like to separate them, produce a DVD containing 3-5 lectures per disc, and an x264 file for each lecture for web-sharing. I do not plan to really edit the video, except to break up the 6-hour tape into the 45-min lectures. I also plan to add an intro title overlay, as well as a basic fade-in and fade-out for a little polish and to mask VHS start-up noise.
My Current Resources: Old Emerson 4-head VHS player with MONO and Composite out. A Canon ZR-40 mini-DV with passthru. Adobe Premiere Elements 7.0, vdub, avi-synth, etc.
My HW Budget: Roughly $500, preferably less.
Based on reading these posts:
I was leaning towards the AVT-8710; however, some of the posts are starting to get a little long in the tooth. Plus, the ADVC-300 was not discussed too much. And, the AVTool company now has the TV-one line, which is a little nicer, I think. Has anyone had any experience with those products? How do the compare to the AVT-8710?
TV1-TBC - http://www.avtoolbox.com/1t-tbc.shtml - $370+S/H
TV1-TBC-GL - http://www.avtoolbox.com/1t-tbc.shtml - $460+S/H
So, if you were me, and you were trying to obtain the best overall picture on a $500 budget, how would you spend it?
I think all I need in a VCR is S-Video out, because I understand that the external TBC's are generally better, although I am not sure of the trade-off between better TBC and better NR in the VHS (or in an external unit, like the ADVC-300). If you would recommend a better VHS player, which one would you recommend today?
- AVT-8710 ($150) + nicer VCR with S-Video out and other features ($100-$350)
- AVT-8710 ($150) + ADVC-300 ($375) - no VCR upgrade
- TV1-TBC ($375) + nicer VCR upgrade ($125)
- TV1-TBC-GL ($475) + cheaper, nicer VCR upgrade ($50-$75)
- some other option that involves a decent MPEG-2 capture card (to avoid DV)
- What about the DataVideo TBC-100? It fits in a PCI slot, but it is $150 cheaper at $352.
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Since the tapes are all EP speed, things get a bit trickier. The better-grade VCRs with TBC/DNR we usually recommend for SP often do not do so well with EP tapes: if anything they make them worse. On the other hand, your tapes were recorded "live" and are original material, which tends to be slightly better than old EP tapes recorded off TV. Hard to say if you would benefit from upgrading your VCR, assuming it works properly (as I remember, Emerson actually wasn't bad for a bargain brand, I have some nice recordings made on similar decks.)
There is a point of diminishing returns with TBCs and more expensive does not always mean better. While TBCs are of course useful for VHS encoding, one of their primary functions was to sync your (presumably decent to begin with) video with other hardware for special effects editing and so forth. Their design priority is not necessarily to improve crappy VHS originals, and there's only so much they can do. If your tapes fall into the range of what can be improved, great, if not you may not see much of a difference. The AVT-8710 has several pictorial adjustments which can be helpful, and its the only modern-design external TBC at an affordable price with those features. The external DataVideo TBC-1000 doesn't do all that much for EP tapes, its functionality is contained in the cheaper TBC-100 PCI card you mentioned. If capturing to the PC, you can go either internal or external with the TBC. Internal has the advantage of less clutter and perhaps more controls via software, but can create issues with the PC on occasion. External TBCs do not interact with the computer at all and can be easier to use. Its relative.
Within the budget you set, you might be able to pick up both a separate TBC and a higher-end used VCR with its own TBC/DNR built in. The TBC in the VCR works differently than outboard TBCs, they correct different flaws. Sometimes you need both, sometimes only one, sometimes neither. The usual VCR recommendations are the JVC 8000 and 9000 series SVHS machines, and the Panasonic AG1980 or its twin the AG5710 (avoid the older Panasonic AG1970, it is a great machine but not for EP tapes, its circuits work better with SP). With the economy depressed, prices on these have dropped a bit lately on eBay and they can be had from $100-250 depending on the model. (All the better VCRs were discontinued long ago, so used is the only option.) If you're very lucky, you might spot a newer Mitsubishi or JVC DVHS at a good price, these are similar to high-end SVHS but are much newer recorders with generally less mileage on them used. Since your situation is specific to camcorder tapes recorded at EP, you should start with a TBC and your old VCR and see how that works first. Don't plunge into the confusing world of second-hand SVHS decks unless tests made with your existing VCR are really dismal. The fancier VCRs give with one hand and take with the other: they clean up noise at the expense of some detail. This is much more noticeable on EP tapes than SP. When encoding my own EP tapes, I use a "normal" VCR, my "high-end" VCRs are for SP playback.
As far as the VCR you purchase -- It really does depend on the tapes. I have hundreds of EP tapes that track with no problems in my JVC VCRs and look a lot better with it then without it. As Osetto said, try using the regular VCR first and see what you think of the quality. I currently have three JVC models and each of them tracks EP tapes about as good as the next. Certain tapes recorded on older VCRs don't track well at ALL on these machines and have other visual issues when you engage the filters, but in some cases can only be margially improved upon by the original VCR or a VCR with a wider tracking range. Since it sounds like all of your tapes were recorded on the same machine, it might be worth it given your budget to try and pick up a JVC vcr and give it a shot if you aren't satisified with your captures with the original VCR.
Do you have any recommendations of between a JVC HR-S9500U and a PAN AG-1980 SVHS machine?
All else being equal (not counting price or mileage), are any of the newer DVHS machines better than these?
Based on your advice, I am leaning towards an ATV-8710 and a JVC HR-S9500U, but I was really hoping for a better JVC in the 9000 series. Any suggestions on locating one? eBay seems to be fairly empty right now.
I guess the difference between AVT's 8710 and their TV1-TBC is not worth the $100-$150 difference?
I have not personally used one of the AG-1970/AG-1980 models but they have certainly earned a lot of high praise around here. I do get the impression that finding one without a ton of mileage on it can be difficult though, and given your budget and the number of tapes you are staring at, you might be better off with a JVC since there are newer models with less use to be had and they tend to be more ubiquitous.
I would also give this thread a look if you haven't already: https://forum.videohelp.com/topic347374.html
As far as the digital decks -- I've heard good things about the HM-DH40000U, but read enough bad reviews on the 30000U model to make me back out of a plan to purchase one on eBay, but perhaps someone with more experience with that particular deck can lay those fears to rest, because they tend to pop up on eBay a lot. I've tried to snag that Mitsubishi model a few times, but it tends to go for very high prices ($400-$500) the last time I checked, but you should always be on the lookout.
There are many VCRs that you can snag on eBay for a good deal if you look often. The 9500U is a good model, although I think it's missing some of the filtering abilities of the other models. I have a JVC 7600 and a JVC SR-V101US (which I think was one if not the last straight up SVHS deck with all the filters that JVC made) and I would say they operate just about the same and handle the same tapes about as well, although I think the build quality is probably better with the former, although I feel the image quality is better with the SR-V101US by a bit. They perform basically the same though, as do most of the JVC VCRs that have all the fancy filters.
Assuming identical prices and mileage, no, you wouldn't see any performance benefit of a DVHS over the older SVHS units. The primary advantage of the DVHS is they are MUCH newer, and because the format failed spectacularly second-hand machines tend to have had very little use. For arguments sake, if the choice is between a JVC 9500 SVHS or a JVC SR-VD400 DVHS at the same price, I'd opt for the DVHS just for the newer, better mechanics and less wear. The Panasonic AG1980 has become much more attractive than it was a couple years ago, when clean ones averaged $500 and beaters ran $300. The past few months have seen an average close price of under $200 for decent-condition AG1980s, slow weeks sometimes see them drop as low as $129. At that price, they're a steal. When shopping these machines, note that a nasty-looking JVC is likely to be nasty on the inside as well- with JVCs the prettier the better. Panasonics have a wider range: many of them were mounted in pro hardware racks which causes all sorts of cabinet scratching, ugly outside can conceal a very good machine on the inside. Check the seller description to be sure any VCR was fully tested for play, eject, record, ff, rew. Use your common sense: if the seller gives a sense of knowing what they're talking about, and backs up the sale, its a better bet than a "I have no idea if this works I'm just selling it" listing. (Although I have gotten a couple dirt cheap bargain VCRs from such ads: again, depends on your risk tolerance and the price).
@orsetto, do you still like the Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U? I saw in another post where you favored it over JVC's.
Yes, the MGA HS-HD2000U is a great unit, its performance equals any of the JVC SVHS or DVHS machines because it uses the same TBC/DNR circuitry. I prefer the MGA for its much more reliable transport. Unfortunately its price shot thru the roof about a year ago, when a sudden resurgence of interest in HiDef recording on DVHS spiked the prices of all the better DVHS machines. (The most reliable DVHS units were the MGA 2000 and the JVC SR-VD400US, the many other JVC D-models were "works in progress" prone to overheating and breakdowns.) I was lucky that I bought my Mitsubishi 2000 for $150 a few months before the boom began, believe it or not in 2006 eBay sellers couldn't give them away! Nobody even knew what they were! I was able negotiate my seller down to $129 for second unit, since he was stuck with 100 at the time. Six months later, he sold out of them at $499 each. Go figure.
The Mitsu 2000 is a good buy at $250 or less, occasionally a mint used one without the box sells for $170 or so. At this point I would not pay more unless you REALLY need it for a LOT of tapes, and you can afford it, and you prefer a new-old-stock unit to someone's hand-me-down. (Note again, like the JVCs, they improve SP tapes far more than they improve EP tapes.) The going rate for a new one is $375-450, worthwhile if you have a definite need but a bit pricey otherwise. Although to put that in perspective, three years ago at the height of the VHS to DVD transfer craze, beat-to-death dysfunctional Panasonic 1980s typically fetched $500 and new ones often shot past $950. Supply and demand.
Thanks, orsetto! That's what I needed!!!
Thanks for the link, robjv1. I had looked at it previously, but I did not realize it was such a treasure trove of info until now! Thanks!!!
Back to the TBC issue, does anyone have any experience with both of these to recommend one over the other:
AVTools 8710 - http://www.avtoolbox.com/avt8710.shtml
AVTools TV1-TBC - http://www.avtoolbox.com/1t-tbc.shtml
As far as I can tell, the TV-one version is just the 8710 in a newer (better?) package, and it appears to have a nicer composite connector. But, the controls are identical, as far as I can tell. And, I don't see anything in the listing to suggest that it has updated electronics or additional features.
Can anyone verify? Also, I would be curious if the internals are any different. Maybe the the TV1-TBC has newer, cooler electronics, so it does not overheat as easily.
And just to be sure, no one would recommend the ADVC-300 for this case? When would you recommend it? For what application?
Lastly, I stumbled on some references to some other VHS image enhancers, the VidiCraft Detailer and the updated SignVideo DR-1000. If I could find one, would you recommend one of those over the AVT-8710 for my case?
Just a quick note on this. I've found that the ext. TBC's I've bought and used are good they do something but the int.TBC on the JVC and Panasonic VCR VHS decks do the best job.
The Pan one is my preference as it does the most and makes the ext. ones redundant, if the Pan doesn't help and the JVC (last ditch attempt!) doesn't help my ext. TBC won't either. These are all UK models. Pan US models are slightly different but people seem to like models like the 1970/1980.
Neither VCR's wipe copy protection an ext. TBC/Sync is needed for that but I find alot of later videos don't even bother with Macrovison, probably to save the makers the MV percentage costs.
AVT-8710 is my TBC of choice these days. This does not do anything for the image quality, but it provides a perfectly clean signal to the digital capture device, which is important.
The DR-1000 is for adding "detail" to a signal, image sharpness. (All done via optical illusion, but effective nonetheless.) I find myself using the built-in AG-1980P sharpen slider, when needed, and the resolution boost on the BVP-4 Plus proc amp. But I've got a DR-1000 that works well when needed!
Most of my tapes are pushed through a JVC 9800 or SR-V10U.
Thanks to all for all great suggestions and advice!
I have one last question related to this set-up: What do you recommend for capturing? Do you have a favorite capture card that you would recommend? I know most of the PVR folks like the Hauppage line, but their products may not be the best solution for this type of setup...
My apologies if there is an updated thread on this subject already. I am sure I overlooked a good page on this topic somewhere.
Life is better when you focus on the signals instead of the noise.
Ahh, that was very helpful. Thanks, David!
I did not see any comparisons using the AVT-8710. Has anybody been able to compare it in a similar way? I am curious if it softens the image, like the TBC-1000.
FWIW, my goal is to try the enhance my video as much as possible, so maybe someone can read projected overheads and writing on the marker-board. (My videos are recordings of classroom lectures.)
I've had two different TBC-1000s, one brand new and one used but mint, bought three years apart. Both noticeably softened the image upon insertion into my hardware chain. Both let Macrovision slip through the cracks occasionally, wrecking a tape transfer. Both let DirectTV protection slip thru in spots, ruining those recordings. In my opinion the TBC-1000 is an overpriced, next-to-useless device for anyone using a contemporary standalone recorder or capture card. Its only reliable function is to stabilize the basic sync signal from VHS when dubbing to the older, super-sensitive recorders and capture cards. For "difficult" tapes, a JVC, Mitsubishi or Panasonic VCR with built in field TBC and DNR is much more effective. For CP removal, the AVT-8710 is much better than the TBC-1000 but still not 100%. If your primary interest is CP suppression, only a dedicated clarifier like Sima CT-200 will do (albeit at the possible expense of minor image degradation).
I have been using the Dimax Grex product to backup copy-protected VHS tapes to DVD-R using a Panasonic DMR-ES15S consumer DVD burner. While the Grex unit successfully strips the copy protection out of the signal, the resulting image quality is significantly degraded. I am therefore considering replacing the Grex with a AVT-8710, based on what I have been reading on this and other forums. I might also replace my cheap-o VCR with a Panasonic AG-1980 S-VHS deck just to have a top-of-the-line setup.
Last edited by forwardho; 24th Mar 2010 at 03:53.