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  1. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    My new Panasonic DMR ea-18 recorder has been working pretty well so far. For reference, I decided to purchase it to replace the ES-20 based on advice here.
    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/375860-So-I-think-my-Panasonic-DMR-ES20-is-dying?p=2431351

    But sometimes it won't let me record from a regular home recorded vhs tape, giving me the copy protection notice.

    The weird thing this only seems to happen when I play a tape on my Panasonic AG-5700 S-vhs deck. The same tape has worked fine on a JVC HR-S59900U S-vhs.

    I don't know if these are settings that can be changed but the JVC currently displays a blue screen signal when it's on but a tape isn't playing. The Panasonic is completely black, making me wonder if the DVD recorder won't record the lack of a video signal outputted. Because on the tapes that the recorder won't record, it usually works if I press record while the tape is already playing. But I don't want any frame cut off and would rather record some blank part at the beginning to ensure I get the whole vhs tape. And even that doesn't really work, I've noticed that the dvd recorder has mysteriously turned off or stopped recording about 30 minutes into a tape that it had displayed the copy protection message. So it suddenly thinks a tape is copyprotected 30 minutes in but not before?

    For the record these are different brands of VHS tapes but all were recorded directly in the same vhs camcorder. And the Panasonic S-vhs has a "For Professional Use Only" sticker on it. Wouldn't it make more sense for it to not set off a macrovision signal on a commercial tape rather than wrongly flag it on vhs tapes that never had macrovision?

    If there's any settings on either S-vhs deck I should be aware of that maximize picture quality on playback, feel free to mention those too.
    Last edited by Knightmessenger; 24th Feb 2016 at 16:53.
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    Sounds like wonky sync on marginal tapes that the AG-5700 doesn't clean up and the DMR-EA18 interprets as Macrovision. You need an external frame sync such as the AVT-8710 or TBC-1000.
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    Thats kind of bad, Panasonics are generally not one of the brands that are subject to false CP. Now if you had said later Sonys or even LGs I wouldn't have been surprised but Panasonic
    While JVRaines's suggestion of using a TBC should fix your problem, it might also degrade your picture, something that I'm sure you'd want to avoid. I'm not guaranteeing it will but almost all outboard devices I've used effect the picture in some way, and generally not in a good way. They also aren't exactly what I'd call cheap. I guess if I were you and I still had your ES-20 still lying around, even if it didn't record, as long as it could power up and pass a signal without degrading the picture, I'd try it as a pre-filter to your EA-18. That is feed the output of your VCR into the line input of your ES-20 and then feed the output of your ES-20 to your EA-18, of course with your ES-20 ON and line input selected. I'd give that a shot first before purchasing a TBC, which you may end up having to use in the end....
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  4. Originally Posted by Knightmessenger View Post
    The weird thing this only seems to happen when I play a tape on my Panasonic AG-5700 S-vhs deck. The same tape has worked fine on a JVC HR-S59900U S-vhs.
    Its your AG5700, period.

    I've said before, many times: second-hand "pro" vcrs like the the AG-5700 stink on ice at playing tapes recorded on consumer vcrs or camcorders, esp for digitizing tasks. The only thing "pro" decks have in common with consumer decks is loading the same physical type of tape cassette. But that's a mere technicality, comparable to a Ford Mustang and a Harley-Davidson both running on gasoline: they don't serve the same purpose in the same way.

    I've noticed that the dvd recorder has mysteriously turned off or stopped recording about 30 minutes into a tape that it had displayed the copy protection message. So it suddenly thinks a tape is copyprotected 30 minutes in but not before?
    This is normal behavior for some recorders/capture devices connected to some vcrs with some tapes. A lot of variables come into play. Depending what exactly is recorded on your VHS tapes, and how those various segments are processed by the AG-5700, you're gonna get false "cannot record" reactions from your EA-18. If you wind those tapes to the exact counter location where the EA-18 shuts down, you will more than likely find either a dead air break between segments (blank, no signal) or a glitchy edit point where the camera was stopped/started again. These will be read and output by the AG5700 with no compensation or correction, and possibly with added instability due to transport mismatch, triggering the EA-18 to shut down. (Note it is also common for many dvd recorders to stop recording if you activate reverse speed search on a connected VCR: it falsely triggers the anti-record detector.) Your JVC has the typical consumer blue screen overlay for missing or bad signals, which often (but not always) permits continuous encoding by a dvd recorder or capture device. If you have the JVC TBC/DNR feature engaged, that would almost certainly patch the signal enough to permit continuous encoding.

    the Panasonic S-vhs has a "For Professional Use Only" sticker on it. Wouldn't it make more sense for it to not set off a macrovision signal on a commercial tape rather than wrongly flag it on vhs tapes that never had macrovision?
    You have it backwards: your AG5700 is not generating or transmitting any sort of Macrovision signal, false or otherwise. It is simply playing your tapes in absolutely unvarnished, raw form- warts and all. Those "warts" are being misinterpreted by your EA-18 as copy protection. Your AG5700 is working fine, its just the wrong tool to play these particular tapes (it is optimized to be an accessory for medical equipment, recording a live signal then playing it back: not playback of typical consumer camcorder videos). With very few exceptions, the "pro" vcrs from Panasonic, JVC and Sony make poor source decks for a VHS>Digital transfer setup. You are much better off investing your money in a single, mint-condition consumer JVC with TBC/DNR, then adding two or three inexpensive "consumer" VCRs of assorted brands as alternatives for playing tapes the JVC doesn't like.

    As a general rule, besides a top JVC, many of us keep a Sharp (almost any model) and any pre-1999 Panasonic, plain vanilla consumer 4-head hifi vcrs. Panasonic also made some useful "prosumer" models like AG-2560 which had exceptionally good tape mechanics housed in an otherwise-ordinary vcr (worth seeking out if you can afford $40-$60). Really problematic tapes, esp LP/SLP/EP, sometimes play better on an older two-head monophonic vcr (there are tons of these from Panasonic alone, any model from any year will do fine as long as its clean and functional).

    Originally Posted by jjeff View Post
    While JVRaines's suggestion of using a TBC should fix your problem, it might also degrade your picture, something that I'm sure you'd want to avoid.
    Totally agree. Dedicated TBCs are sometimes a necessary evil, with the emphasis is on evil: they solve one problem while adding three others (esp the DataVideo TBC-1000 and AVT-8710, which are sadly the only practical options). Using another dvd recorder with strong signal sync as a pass-thru "faux TBC" eliminates the need for external TBC in a surprising number of cases. I would certainly try this trick, and/or audition ANY other VCR than the AG5700, before investing money in a TBC that may cause even more headaches. I avoid my TBC-1000 whenever possible, I'd sell it off but one in a hundred tapes still need it for capture.
    Last edited by orsetto; 25th Feb 2016 at 12:46.
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  5. Member Knightmessenger's Avatar
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    With very few exceptions, the "pro" vcrs from Panasonic, JVC and Sony make poor source decks for a VHS>Digital transfer setup. You are much better off investing your money in a single, mint-condition consumer JVC with TBC/DNR, then adding two or three inexpensive "consumer" VCRs of assorted brands as alternatives for playing tapes the JVC doesn't like.

    As a general rule, besides a top JVC, many of us keep a Sharp (almost any model) and any pre-1999 Panasonic, plain vanilla consumer 4-head hifi vcrs.
    Well, I do feel the Panasonic has the best playback quality of any vcr I have so I want to use that for any archival tasks. And I feel like the S-vhs JVC I have is a good backup, or do I not have a good model?

    I also have a regular vhs Panasonic from 2002 that has pretty clear playback. I think the model is 9662 but I use that mostly for testing tapes or playing stuff I'm not recording or capturing from at the moment.

    I do notice the Panasonic s-vhs doesn't seem to have the time base corrector turned on, did it not come with one at all?

    Also, an external tbc that will get around macrovision yet lower the quality. Is that the only way I could make a dvd of a commercial tape using the dvd recorder, such as The Breakfast Club?
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  6. Originally Posted by Knightmessenger View Post
    Well, I do feel the Panasonic has the best playback quality of any vcr I have so I want to use that for any archival tasks. And I feel like the S-vhs JVC I have is a good backup, or do I not have a good model?
    Your JVC is fine. As long as it is not chewing up your tapes, it shouldn't be a problem. High-end JVCs can be mechanically high-strung: when they break down they're a bear to tune back up, but when working well they're great. You might run into tapes here and there that do not play well in it, this is common with every brand of VCR. There's no single VCR that will perform 100% with all tapes. Thats why its good to have at least two completely different brand VCRs on hand. If you get color flashing, poor video tracking or noisy hifi audio with your favorite VCR, try your backup VCR. Unless, as in your case, the backup VCR has its own unique issues.

    You may prefer the Panasonic 5700 playback with your eyeballs, but if your capture devices gag on it with certain tapes, it is of little to no use for digitizing those tapes. Keep it for viewing purposes, and perhaps for digitizing tapes that don't shut down your EA-18. But it simply is not going to work for you as a capture source if the majority of your tapes choke with it. Since you are fortunate to have a decent JVC to cross-reference with, and the JVC cooperates just fine with your EA-18 and the same tapes, the problem is clearly with your 5700. As I noted earlier, the 5700 chassis was primarily sold packaged with medical imaging devices and is not optimized for playing random consumer tapes or Hollywood movies.

    I also have a regular vhs Panasonic from 2002 that has pretty clear playback. I think the model is 9662 but I use that mostly for testing tapes or playing stuff I'm not recording or capturing from at the moment.
    The PV-9662 dates from the iffy twilight era in Panasonic's timeline. Between 1998-2002, Panasonic still made a few excellent midrange models but mostly a whole fleet of junky models. Classifying these based on model numbers gets tricky. The 9662 seems from the better group, but may not be quite as good with tracking as some older models, and may have noticeably different overall picture qualities.

    I do notice the Panasonic s-vhs doesn't seem to have the time base corrector turned on, did it not come with one at all?
    The AG-5700 and PV-9662 do not have any TBC or DNR features at all. Unlike JVC, Panasonic did not feel TBC/DNR was a sellable feature to consumers, so only three Panasonics ever had it. These were the rare consumer PV-S4580, its companion semi-pro AG-1970, and the revised AG-1980/AG-5710 twins.

    The PV-S4580 was a nightmare brew of flimsy mechanics, miscalibrated color decoding, and dismal audio/video tracking performance. Unusual for Panasonic, it was held over as top of the consumer line for several years, despite every other model with its abysmal chassis (wisely) being discontinued within months of introduction. Few functional examples of the 4580 survive, asking prices are ridiculous: it should be avoided at any price. Its only distinctive feature is the TBC, but even that is so poorly implemented as to be useless.

    The AG-1970, by contrast, could be considered a ruggedized, bulletproof version of the PV-S4580. Fantastically reliable mechanics and electronics: about all that ever goes wrong with it is loading slot breakdown (easily repaired). Also the front panel clock/counter fluorescent display is almost always dim or barely visible from age nowadays. The AG-1970 is great tracker, esp for tapes originally recorded in wonky old VCRs or camcorders. It has the same weak, nearly useless TBC as the PV-S4580: comes in handy healing some very rare cases of blown-out, over-exposed camcorder tapes, but otherwise doesn't do much of anything. The 1970 DNR is so imperceptible it might as well not be there at all. If acquired locally at a reasonable cost (under $75), the 1970 makes an excellent "if all else fails, this VCR plays anything" backup unit. Picture quality is just average, and can border on murky depending on the tape. Despite this, these are my most-used VCRs: image quality may not be the best, but its steady and free from the DNR artifacts that can plague the fancier JVCs and Panasonics.

    The AG-1980 was an update to the popular 1970. Same outer case and controls, but completely different inside: and not all the differences were good. Only reason to opt for an AG-1980 is its unique, powerful TBC/DNR which can outperform the many similar JVC models with some tapes. Unfortunately that amazing TBC/DNR circuit is bolted to one of the flakiest, least-reliable bucket of electronics ever sold. If you absolutely require its exclusive version of TBC/DNR, and can afford the repairs/upkeep, it is one heckuva VCR. But not for the faint of heart or light of wallet. A lesser-known twin model AG-5710 was the AG-1980 minus the tuner, with an added connection for TV studio control rooms.

    Also, an external tbc that will get around macrovision yet lower the quality. Is that the only way I could make a dvd of a commercial tape using the dvd recorder, such as The Breakfast Club?
    Unless you plan on migrating to PC capture, avoid external TBCs. It is very difficult now to find a used one that works well, and new ones have troblesome quality control. If your primary capture device will be a DVD recorder, you'd be better off with "The Grex" (approx $89 on Amazon). Image quality with the Grex is more consistent than any TBC, and you don't need the TBC to clear MV. Heck, you don't even need the Grex: you could do as well with any of the millions of VHS "stabilizers" that were sold for years and years. Most were generic black plastic boxes the size of a cigarette pack running off a 9v battery. Being newer and computerized, the Grex device is a more solid performer, and may also better fix the "false protection" problem between your 5700 and EA-18. The Grex also solves recording problems with cable/satellite boxes: VHS stabilizers only fix VHS MV.
    Last edited by orsetto; 6th Mar 2016 at 12:11.
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