I am looking for a capture card for my Windows 10 Pro PC.
I am going to be capturing about 20 old VHS tapes for my in-laws. I told them I would get the capture card and do the work, but they would have to supply the VCR. I'm not sure if the VCR will have composite or S-video out, but I'm going to assume composite. (I know the quality of the VCR and its output makes a big difference, which I will stress to them, but for the sake of this post, I'm not asking about advice on which VCR to get.)
Therefore, I'm looking for a capture card that will work on my PC running Windows 10 Pro. I can use a PCI Express card or USB 2 or 3, although, if all else is equal, USB would be better in case I want to use it on my laptop as well.
I would also like the ability to record HD over-the-air broadcast television from my antenna which comes in as coaxial. It would be nice, although not necessary, if I could get a card that would do both.
I'd like to capture the VHS as lossless so that "my end" is as good as can be. From everything I've read, it sounds like VirtualDub using HuffYUV is the best combination. (I have Adobe Premiere Pro CC, but I think that only captures DV?) Hard drive space is not an issue. For the OTA, I don't care how it's captured, although I'm assuming it's MPEG2.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a card that can do both? If not, how about a card for the VHS? (I was looking at either of these two, although I'm not sure if they're the best options: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2255 for both and Diamond VC500 for VHS only.)
Thanks in advance!
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For VHS, ensuring a stable signal using some sort of line TBC is more important than the particular capture card.
Virtualdub, but there is other software you could try for analog capture in the event that Virtualdub is problematic.
ATSC tuners supply an MPEG-2 video and AC3 audio stream because that is the nature of ATSC broadcasts. The stream is captured as is for nearly all of them , which means the bitrate and resolution for recordings is the same for an individual program recorded at the same time from the same channel. (I know of only one ATSC tuner device which transcodes from MPEG-2 to H.264, the SiliconDust HDHomeRun EXTEND, and it has no analog capability.) The only factor which makes the recording quality better or worse from one card and the next is the sensitivity of the tuners. The WinTV-HVR-2255/2250 and WinTV-HVR-1265/1250 both have good digital tuners. There are a few good PVR programs available, paid and free, so you have more than one option.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 13th Jan 2016 at 17:28.
VirtualDub doesn't work, do you have any other recommendations?
My Hauppauge HVR 1255 can capture lossless analog in Virtualdub, or with MPEG2 if you use the provided WinTV program. The MPEG2 encoder is not awesome even at the 10Mbit level, where macroblocks are still visible during noisy scenes. So I stick with VIrtualdub. In lossless it will capture at 720x480 with 4:2:2 YUY2.
@KarMa -- Awesome, thanks. Sounds like that card is exactly what I'm looking for then. Lossless analog capture in VirtualDub and the ability to record HD broadcast television.
My three questions:
- Is there much difference in the HVR-1265 vs. the HVR-1250 or HVR-1255?
- I might have to get a composite to S-video adapter. Will that result in any quality degradation?
- I'll need a left/right (red/white) audio to 3.5mm adapter. Will that degrade the audio?
Last edited by MrPeanut; 13th Jan 2016 at 20:16.
2. A composite to S-Video adapter is a waste of money, It won't improve the quality of your captures over the original composite connection.
3. The audio adapter won't alter the audio's quality.
The listing at newegg.com lists and shows the composite/s-video adapter:
Last edited by jagabo; 13th Jan 2016 at 23:16.
Looks like I really have the Hauppauge HVR 1250, not the 1255. My computer was telling me 1255, but I still have the box and it says 1250.
1. Probably not much more than the audio jacks that it comes with. My card comes with the inconvenient 3.5mm stereo jack, instead of RCA (red/white) jacks. So I use my RCA composite splinter to convert it from RCA to a 3.5mm style stereo cable.
2. It comes with a small little composite --->S-Video converter in the box, designed for your situation. I've tested with my composite--->S-Video converter and don't see any artifacts, even when watching an animated DVD over composite--->S-Video.
3. I'm forced to use one, and it sounds as clean as HiFi VHS will allow. I don't hear any noise, and the spectrum of my recordings can go above 15khz.
[Edit]Looks like I need to type faster to avoid being redundant
Thanks everyone. Sounds like the HVR-1265 is the best card for me.
Now to shop for an S-VHS player with inline TBC!
I too would recommend capture with VirtualDub and lossless, and I like HuffYUV myself for the codec.
Just as an aside, if it's only for VHS, and for analog SD TV, RCA-composite or S-Video Y/C, you can get just a good USB stick, which is good enough if not better. And inexpensive.
ATI 600 USB (not made any more, and may be problematic on anything newer than Vista, but still very good).
ezcap.tv (the REAL one from that site)
As well, I wouldn't bother with the pains and expenses of a pro-VCR unit. If you have a good branded, black, 4-Head, HiFi, stand-alone clean "ordinary" VCR, with a sharp picture and good tracking, along with an external pass-through line based TBC like a Panasonic ES10/ES15, you're set IMO. (But you'd need something else as well for MacroVision.)
If you learn a bit of post-processing, much can be fixed after.I hate VHS. I always did.
I wanted a card that could capture analog S-Video/composite and also capture HD ATSC broadcast television (which is why I ended up on the HVR-1265). However, it'd be nice to have a USB stick alternative to consider (for just the VHS).
Thanks for the comments on the VCR/TBC.
How do you know whether a device uses hardware encoding or software encoding? It sounds like I want to use software encoding for lossless video. For example, the StarTech.com USB2HDCAP.
If that used software encoding, I could get lossless analog, HD ATSC broadcast television, and be future-proofed some with HDMI, right?
 I see on their site "Built-in H.264 and MPEG-4 hardware encoder" so I'm guessing I don't want to get that.
The latest version of the Diamond VC500 device seems to be well supported. ...but a number of people have come here for help after having difficulty installing a Diamond VC500. They picked up and old version of the device (there are at least two versions) on ebay, or Windows installed the wrong drivers because there is a very different USB device with the same identifier as one version of the VC500, or simply had difficultly finding and following instructions for installation.
If you decide you would like separate devices for capture and TV, two digital tuners are very handy. Besides the Hauppauge HVR 2255, there is the Silicondust HDHomeRun CONNECT. The HDHomeRun CONNECT can be attached to a router (if you have a wired home network) or directly to the LAN port of the PC if you have a wireless network.
Stay away from HD capture devices in general if your main interest is VHS capture. Most do not do a good job with S-Video or composite video input.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 14th Jan 2016 at 17:46.
I have owned and tried over two dozen capture devices (including the ones I've mentioned) but never tried a VC500, but would take usually_quiet's word for it, or that other "knowledgeable member"'s.
I'm not dissing capture cards though. It's just that, for several years now, I've stopped using them because I just lost the appetite to gut my PCs all the time for them. Also, USB sticks are just as good.
As for hardware-based encoders. Over-rated IMO. Yes, they are solid and reliable, and they save you tons of resources, but, from my experience, NOT the best encoders. The video comes off too soft for my liking.
To continue with the VCR/TBC thing, not only is an onboard TBC on a pro unit that has one NOT a substitute for a full TBC solution, they can do much more harm than good to the video. I'm sure if you search some of my posts you will get some details on this. I would personally stick with a good "ordinary" VCR, a good line based external TBC, and a Grex if needing MacroVision removal.
Also forget "future-proofing" with VHS capture and "later HD". That's like trying to get a spare with a split in bowling. VHS capture devices and HD capture devices are each in their own category, and each is optimized better for its task. It is well known that some high-end HD capture devices will truly suck with VHS, and, of course, in reverse - even if they claim to do both (DON'T listen to them).
Since a good USB stick is all you'd need for the VHS part, it's Ok to think separately here when a good USB stick is not some huge thing that will take up space or be expensive where a desire for multi-purpose usage would be more understandable.I hate VHS. I always did.
A related question: what are the best settings in virtualdub to create a lossless .avi file (720x480 with 4:2:2 YUY2?) (after I have the avi file my intention is to de-interlace it)
USB 2.0 provides enough bandwidth for delivering uncompressed digitized SD video to the PC. Most people prefer USB 2.0 devices for convenience, and today they are adequate for VHS capture from a composite or S-video source.
Movie Maker and Diamond VC 500) While a USB 2.0 spec may have enough BW there are other issues that reduce the effectiveness of the resource. PCI and PCIe transfer rates are *much* higher than usb 2.0 and bus management is generally applies very low overhead. While I may not have indepth experience in the video conversion domain, I do have quite a bit in the computer hw and sw architecture domain and know that os and driver overhead for USB is higher than that of PCI which directly affects and lowers the throughput. So while the base BW of the usb spec can accomodate the bit rate, one has to look at the entire signal flow to look at the net effective BW. I prefer to have the potential BW issue avoided by using a card on a bus.
I also know and understand that many of the preferred cards are not currently in production....I have no problem searching for and getting a used card.
virtualdub or other free capture software?
Your hardware background doesn't trump real world results. Most of the members here who do VHS capture use USB 2.0 devices, and don't have issues with them. lordsmurf who is responsible for much of the capture advice at DigitaFAQ often recommends the ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB. He does VHS capture and restoration for a living.
If you were going to do lossless HD capture, you would need a PCI-e card, but your insistence that using that a PCI or PCI-e card will somehow give better results for SD capture makes no sense whatsoever if your USB ports are operating at USB 2.0 speeds. Someone should only need a PCI/PCI-e card because their computer or its case is very old and only has USB 1.0 ports.
[Edit]Now, as to why you are not getting recommendations for older capture cards with PCi or PCI-e interfaces... Many can only supply A/V output from an on-board MPEG-2 encoder chip, which means lossless capture isn't possible.
The well-known ATI/AMD PCI or PCI-e TV Wonder HD (600, 650, 750) cards which do support the use of software encoding are reported to have defective AGC (automatic gain control) that causes the video to flash intermittently. The same problem does not affect the TV Wonder HD 600 USB, which has different video processing hardware. It does not use a Theater 600 chip like the internal versions.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 11th Feb 2016 at 14:15.
I can report, that the ATI 600 USB, after well over half a decade of use and abuse, has had no AGC issues with anything I've captured on it. I also have three of them, and rotated them for testing, and still no AGC issues.
I also can't see an internal card providing any better quality for VHS than a USB 2.0 device, such as those recommended starting with my post #13. Reasons to prefer a card can be several, but none because of better quality all things being equal.
All of us experienced users have fallen back on USB devices for VHS captures these days it seems. In my case, it's just simply convenience, but have not compromised any quality either in doing so.
As for the sync issues, I am not surprised with anything Dazzle/Pinnacle, but have yet to try the VC500. The devices recommended do not have this problem on my end, and work fluidly with VirtualDub and lossless, which should be the way to capture VHS.
If sync issue is linear, say ex: -250ms, or +650ms, etc, throughout, then it's easily corrected. For TV caps my ATI 600 USB+SageTV with MPEG-2 video and MP2 audio, has this shift, and it's always the same, every time, and it's never been a problem to fix.
But you can capture VHS audio and video separately with different applications and mux together as well.
If your sync problem is non-linear, only then you're in trouble. You'd have to look at many things, like your device, your computer, your software, etc. to find the cause.
Last edited by PuzZLeR; 13th Feb 2016 at 10:43.I hate VHS. I always did.
I'm trying to convert my old VHS tapes to mpeg to save on my hard drive. I noticed that when I connect the VHS player to my TV with the coax cable, the picture is rather good for a VCR but still poor compared to a dvd. But when I capture using a card/composite cable or a Hauppauge 955Q TV stick (it converts to mpeg2 or TS files) the video quality is significantly degraded. The captured TS or mpeg2 files from the 955Q also cannot be edited by Studio 16, Movie Maker or Machete.
I'm looking at the 1255 and 1265 cards. Will either one capture video from a coax cable without degrading what little quality there is on the video tape? Is the captured file something I can edit with Movie Maker? I noticed that the 1265 is over double the cost of the 1255; hopefully the 1255 is enough. Thanks.
Capturing VHS over coax is probably the last thing you want to do, as the signal has to be convert through a RF modulator to be compatible with a TV tuner. This usually introduces noise. For example my old Sony VCR from the early 90s was recently causing so much interference that it was causing the composite video to be full of noise, for no real reason. It was not until I completely removed the RF modulator that my VCR became noise free. This is an extreme example of this component going bad but it's worth noting.
Ripping over the composite RCA cables gives your capture device the signal straight from the tape, more or less. My more expensive VCR does not even have an RF output.
You might be interpreting better brightness/contrast/hue for a better signal, but you can change these settings on your card or change them after the fact in avisynth. Things like brightness/contrast/hue may be different between the Coax and the Composite output. Could also just be a bad card or a problem with your VCR, idk.
Thanks for the replies. I think the tape as played on the VCR and displayed on the TV (24" LG HD) looks sharper than the image I get when it is captured on the computer, converted to mpeg2 then played back on the TV. I thought that the difference was caused by use of the coax cable. I was also under the impression that the red/white/yellow composite cables were capable of the lowest rez compared to other methods.
I will give the composite cables another try.
I got a VC500 capture stick and am capturing in AVI then converting to MP4 with good results. It seems my old capture card was just not up to the task. Thanks for the help.