I am recording VHS videos (some as long as 4 hours) with a Diamond VC500 using AmaRecTV and the HUFFYuv codec. I am confused as to what a TBC actually does and whether or not I will need to use one. I am also wondering about any suggestions that people could make to make my setup better. I just started recording VHS' just a couple months ago for family presents and have really gotten into it. I am a big believer in optimizing everything to the best that it can be and would love any help along the way.
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Are you dropping frames? Does your Diamond halt during capture? Does the picture bounce up and down or break up? Look wiggly or have ripples? If the answer to all is "no," then you don't need a TBC.
Pretty good looking capture. You do have horizontal jitter, though. If you study the image closely, you'll find that it's wiggling back and forth just a little bit on each line. A VCR with line TBC or a DVD recorder in passthrough mode would stabilize this.
You are picking up some head switch noise in the audio — it's a kind of a fluttering-buzzing sound evident around loud peaks. Go into manual tracking and nudge a couple of notches in either direction until it clears up.
Manual tracking adjustment is on your VCR.
Sometimes, manual tracking control is only on the deck or only on the remote control. Check your manual. While you're at it, I recommend you turn down the sharpening control. It's a matter of taste, but sharpening adds artificial halos that you are stuck with in the capture. It's better to perform sharpening in postproduction.
I am guessing I would need the remote to get to that menu. When I bought the VCR off a guy on craigslist, it did not come with a remote. Probably need to get a universal remotr?
The manual here:
shows tracking controls via the channel up/down buttons on the front panel (as well as on the remote).
Last edited by jagabo; 12th Mar 2017 at 12:21.
You can buy the original VSQS1497 remote for $10-15 on eBay.
At this point in the game, asking for advice on TBCs is asking for trouble. The only one still available brand new at anything resembling reasonable cost is the AVT-8710, or its many similar clones. That TBC has had piss-poor quality control for the past several years, rendering it kind of moot unless you have the patience to buy, test, and exchange one three times over. Their ability to cure dropped frames varies considerably, a defect that may not manifest until your return/exchange period is over. Unfortunately, every other option must be bought used, with sample variation beyond the pale. Finding a good second-hand TBC is like finding a 1986 Jaguar sedan with no electrical problems (i.e., difficult).
Your transfer sample is good by my standards. The only real flaw I see is the horizontal jitter mentioned by others. That defect isn't always cured by a standalone "true" TBC, more often it isn't. So going nuts trying to locate and afford a good TBC may not be necessary. That jitter is more likely to be cured by the type of TBC and noise reduction built into higher-end VCRs. Much like TBCs, high-end VCRs are only available used, and shopping for them is an even dicier proposition than shopping TBCs. If you need such a VCR, but aren't familiar with all the "gotchas" of the various model options, I'd suggest narrowing your search to a mint-condition Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U. These were the last of the high-end VCRs, much more reliable than average, and most likely to be found in great condition between $200-$300. Similar JVCs and Panasonics are usually beat to death and need expensive, hard to find repairs.
Alternatively, a dvd recorder passthru can sometimes fix the horizontal jitter or waviness issue, eliminating the need for a high-end vcr. The Panasonic ES10 is best at this task, but as you've noted opinions vary over how transparent it is. Consensus seems to be it is best suited to really poor tapes, where its signal repair function makes up for any undesirable changes that come along for the ride. Other Panasonics, and most other brands, will be more transparent but somewhat less effective than an ES10. From the looks of your sample, your tapes are decent enough that they shouldn't require the brute force ES10. Any 2006 or later dvd recorder should be sufficient: look for a Magnavox or Toshiba or Panasonic with dead dvd drive under $100. Late model JVC and LG decks were only made as DVD/VHS combos which are sought after at inflated prices. The only Pioneers suitable for passthru are the pricey DVD/HDD models, ditto Sony. Avoid non-HDD Sonys- they're problematic at passthru.
Another renegade option is to just live with the horizontal jitter. People tend to forget: that was fairly common back when we used VCRs for everything. We hardly ever noticed because we got used to it. The digital era has ruined analog tolerance, but it costs significant experimentation time and hardware money to minimize those analog defects. Not every problem is worth solving: depends on the tapes, and how important they are to you (be ruthlessly honest).
Last edited by orsetto; 15th Mar 2017 at 16:28.
I also feel like I always have 'capture regret' when I come back to these conversions as well; where I think "why did I scrub away so much of the grain/possible detail that gives it such a distinctive look to make it look that way?" or "why did I sharpen that so much when it really didn't need it?"
Anymore though I just think -- why did I spend so much time trying to get this perfect? Why did I spend 90% of my time, getting a 5% improvement? It's just OCD, I guess.
There's a thread around here about the ES15 causing some posterization. It was finally narrowed down to the recorders settings. It has settings for input black level and output black level (IRE setup) -- they're just labeled Brighter and Darker. Using the right pair of settings all but eliminated the posterization. Also, be sure to turn off the noise reduction feature -- you can do much better in software. The device may cause slight levels changes but that's hardly an issue with VHS recordings where the levels are typically way off anyway. You'll be fixing that anyway.
Found the thread:
That particular post is about the ES25 but I believe the issue is the same on other models.
Last edited by jagabo; 19th Mar 2017 at 23:09.
Using the right pair of settings all but eliminated the posterization.
The ES10 is the most hotly debated, most controversial Panasonic "passthru" model. It has the strongest VHS correction features, but also a greater percentage of people finding fault in other respects (whether those faults are real, imagined, or the result of user error is the primary source of arguments). The ES-15, ES-20 and later models don't have the brute-force, guaranteed to fix just about anything passthru performance of the ES10, but they also receive fewer reports of complications. If your tapes are fourth generation bootleg Grateful Dead concerts that have been sitting at the bottom of a cat litter box in a hot garage in Tampa, Florida: you probably want the ES10 to cover all possible tape deterioration. If your tapes are at least one step above that in quality, don't obsess over the ES10: any other Panasonic will offer excellent passthru performance. Just be aware of the settings trap jagabo mentioned: also note some Panasonic recorders have been known to have reversed settings (so you may need to make the opposite of the suggested settings).
Non-Panasonic dvd recorders will offer somewhat different passthru performance. Most will correct simple timing errors and dropped frames, but Panasonics seem to be the go-to units if you need correction of horizontal jitter or geometric distortion.
Any minor posterization or levels changes you might get with DVD recorder passthrough will be inconsequential compared to the time base correction it gives you.
Its also worth repeating: nothing is 100% transparent. Before it was widely discovered that many dvd recorders could be re-purposed as makeshift TBC passthrus to a PC, dedicated "true" TBCs like AVT-8710, TVone, CBT100, and DataVideo TBC-1000 were often "necessary evils" for VHS transfers to PC encoders. Those "true" TBCs caused just as many, if not more, secondary issues than dvd recorders (electronic unreliability, heat failures, green shifts, significant softening, occasional worsening of timing errors they were supposed to solve). On the whole, there are less problems (and more consistent performance) with dvd recorder passthru than "true" TBCs.
Has anyone ever heard anything about the Magnavox MDR515H or the Samsung DVR-R155 being used as a TBC in passthrough? Also, what exactly is passthrough? Is it just turning it on with having a VHS plug into input and the DVD recorder plugged ino the capture device and just using it without using the DVD recorder as a recorder?
The Magnavox MDR515 (or any of its many lookalike previous or later models) should make a decent pass thru. Several members here have remarked it works well to prevent dropped frames and put a slight polish on the signal. Only drawback is its "cult" following as the only line of DVD/HDD recorders with built-in widescreen ATSC tuners (which keeps the second hand prices high). If you can find one cheap enough, it should be fine as a pass thru.
Haven't heard anything about the Samsung you mentioned. They weren't big sellers to begin with, and most of the members here gravitated to other brands at the time. If you can get it very cheap, it might be OK for passthru (unless its a very early model).
Also, what exactly is passthrough? Is it just turning it on with having a VHS plug into input and the DVD recorder plugged ino the capture device and just using it without using the DVD recorder as a recorder?
The video looks pretty really good for VHS. I see the issues that others are talking about, but they seem minor to me. However, the Hi-Fi audio has a lot of issues. You hear it most during the loudest audio peaks. It is not overdrive distortion in the usual sense and almost sounds like a buzz, but one that comes and goes depending on the audio level. I've heard this artifact before when video was captured with a Panasonic VHS deck (PV-4990S) whose alignment wasn't perfect. If you have another deck, try capturing a minute from the same tape and compare the audio. I think you'll find that the audio issues are caused by the deck and are not on the tape.
Last edited by johnmeyer; 30th Mar 2017 at 14:53. Reason: found error just after posting
For comparison's sake, heres a rough breakdown of how well various recorders perform at passthru:
Aside from the Panasonic, any recorder made before late 2006 tends to be useless. This includes the Samsung you bought, all random off-brands, early Sonys, early Pioneers, etc. There are always exceptions, but pre-2006 they tend to be pricey cult items like the Toshiba XS series of DVD/HDD recorder or Pioneer 640. So its important to look up the date of mfr (on the back panel label, or check Amazon reviews) before buying.
2006-2009 pretty much any recorder should offer some degree of passthru correction. Panasonic continues to be a good bet, but the newer ones are expensive even broken. Pioneer and Sony DVD/HDD are good, but pricey, tho oddly their DVD-only or DVD/VHS versions are not good for passthru (prolly cause the Sonys are sourced from Samsung). LG, JVC and LiteOn should be OK. Magnavox-Phillips-Toshiba of this era are clones of each other: tunerless dvd-only models are cheapest followed by DVD-VHS and DVD/HDD combos.
After 2009, the pickings in North America got very slim. The cheap dvd-only models were almost all discontinued, along with most DVD/VHS combos. One or two dvd-only Magnavox and Toshiba clones went in and out of production sporadically, until vanishing around 2013. After 2013, we were down to the Magnavox DVD/HDD recorders (pricey) and the Magnavox-Toshiba-Sanyo-Funai variants of the same DVD/VHS combo design (also pricey).
The sweet spot seems to be Magnavox and Toshiba dvd-only models mfd between 2007-2013. These have had consistent positive reports as passthrus from VH members, and can be found relatively cheap with dead dvd burners after a patient search.
Again, the dealbreaker in all this is the overall quality of your VHS collection. The average dvd recorder will take care of dropped frames and other non-visible crap, but if your tapes tend to have really noticeable horizontal jitter or geometric distortions, you'll have to forget everything else and get a Panasonic (they're the only recorders known for curing visible distortion). Often, a top-line SVHS or DVHS vcr with built-in TBC/DNR will be as effective curing distortion as a Panasonic passthru, but such VCRs are hard to find in good condition at good prices.
The audio distortion in your sample is almost certainly HiFi mistracking, which is depressingly common and very difficult to cure. About all you can do is keep trying different VCRs in hopes of finding one that tracks your HiFi better. Even then, if the tapes were originally recorded with input levels set too high, the overload will create some noise despite good tracking. VHS HiFi technology basically sucked: the separate heads caused no end of problems. Betamax had its issues, but Beta HiFi audio (multiplexed with the video) was much less twitchy.
Last edited by orsetto; 30th Mar 2017 at 17:03.
the only one still available brand new at anything resembling reasonable cost is the AVT-8710,
or its many similar clones. That TBC has had piss-poor quality control for the past several years,
Your transfer sample is good by my standards. The only real flaw I see is the horizontal jitter mentioned by others. That defect isn't always cured by a standalone "true" TBC, more often it isn't.
External frame TBC = stabilizes signal, prevents dropped frames and audio sync
A TBC is not a TBC. Different kinds for different tasks.
Another renegade option is to just live with the horizontal jitter. People tend to forget: that was fairly common back when we used VCRs for everything. We hardly ever noticed because we got used to it.
You're too pessimistic in a majority of your posts, to the extent that you're just giving piss-poor advice these days.
I've said it before: you're a pro with high standards, infinite patience, and clients with the same attitude. You bought good examples of all the classic VCRs and TBC accessories long ago when they were still good, and have so many stockpiled you actually sell them off periodically. You are not subjecting yourself day after day to the garbage-condition overpriced TBCs and VCRs currently available on eBay.
Used DataVideos often suck- period. Not BS. There are tales of woe about such purchases every couple weeks, if not always here then elsewhere. Ditto the Cypress units. Ditto the old pizza boxes. It is very very hard to recommend a really good, dependable standalone TBC suitable for VHS. That is why we've got several respected, techie members posting running tests with DVD recorder passthru and other TBC options for some tasks. They wouldn't be doing this if you could buy a good , transparent DataVideo for $300 and just have it work without incident.
If someone makes very clear they don't want to spend several hundred dollars and several weeks buying-testing-returning used TBCs and VCRs, and their video samples aren't absolutely putrid, then yes: they might be better off just "living with it". The context of the poster needs to be considered- a good portion of the new requests for VHS transfer advice is coming from the WalMart crowd, not the "scour Amazon for exotic Chinese accessories packaged with the wrong drivers and instructions printed in Sanskrit" crowd. Vast numbers of people were/are pleased with the transfers they get from a Funai DVD/VCR combo recorder: we may not like their results, and preaching TBCs to them might make us feel smart, but that doesn't do jack to actually help them. Neither does continually pushing half-dead JVC SVHS vcrs, Panasonic AG1980s, or DR-M100 doorstops (when finding a good repair tech is harder than finding a job).
OTOH if someone indicates a willingness to deal with all that expense and bother, because they feel their tapes are worth it, of course I'll try to help them navigate the buying / testing waters. Often, if it isn't that many tapes, I'll tell them to PM you for a project quote over at DigitaFaq. I have your VCR Guide on speed dial, and link people to it almost every day. But I will not sadistically browbeat "Typical Non-Geek Consumer" into the abyss of TBC or VCR shopping on eBay or B&H. Too many of us have been there, done that, got the postcards, and are still paying that pile of junk off with nothing to show for it.
If I had nickel for every person who reported buying a DataVideo or JVC101 or AG1980 on eBay, only to have it perversely fail a few days after their return period was up, perhaps I could afford paying Deter to repair my AG5710.
Or hire somebody that is using it.
This is the truth, I'm not budging on that fact, and they will learn it the hard way eventually.
However, you just throw in the towel, and say pessimistically "well, it's all too expensive and hard to find anyway, so just learn to accept the crappy quality". I don't like that mentality, never have. Pet peeve. Stop it!
You bought good examples of all the classic VCRs and TBC accessories long ago when they were still good, and have so many stockpiled you actually sell them off periodically. You are not subjecting yourself day after day to the garbage-condition overpriced TBCs and VCRs currently available on eBay.
And you're 100% correct about eBay: it's a nightmare for audio/video gear. Photo, too.
FYI: I still try to test new items, because some stuff is simply aging badly. I plan to upgrade my VCR suggestions list in the very near future with warnings on models that are more often bad than not. There are several. The TBC list already has said warning, but I plan to expand it quite a bit with many samples and more models.
Used DataVideos often suck- period.
Ditto the Cypress units.
Pre-2010, no, but you won't find any anyway. Years can go buy, and I won't see one anywhere.
Ditto the old pizza boxes.
They wouldn't be doing this if you could buy a good , transparent DataVideo for $300 and just have it work without incident.
a good portion of the new requests for VHS transfer advice is coming from the WalMart crowd,
Vast numbers of people were/are pleased with the transfers they get from a Funai DVD/VCR combo recorder:
we may not like their results, and preaching TBCs to them might make us feel smart
OTOH if someone indicates a willingness to deal with all that expense and bother, because they feel their tapes are worth it, of course I'll try to help them navigate the buying / testing waters. Often, if it isn't that many tapes, I'll tell them to PM you for a project quote over at DigitaFaq. I have your VCR Guide on speed dial, and link people to it almost every day.
But I will not sadistically browbeat "Typical Non-Geek Consumer" into the abyss of TBC or VCR shopping on eBay or B&H. Too many of us have been there, done that, got the postcards, and are still paying that pile of junk off with nothing to show for it.
If I had nickel for every person who reported buying a DataVideo or JVC101 or AG1980 on eBay, only to have it perversely fail a few days after their return period was up
perhaps I could afford paying Deter to repair my AG5710
I don't want to come down on your hard, argue, etc. I just wish you'd realize how negative your posts have been in the past year or two. It's not as dire as you state.
Just think about it, would you?