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  1. Member
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    Hi everyone,

    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.
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    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.
    I don't believe that I am dropping frames. But here is a sample of one of my most recent captures.
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    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.
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    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.
    How exactly do I go about picking out a TBC? Where would I edit the manual tracking at? Like I said, I am still pretty new.
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  6. Manual tracking adjustment is on your VCR.
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    Originally Posted by creaper View Post
    How exactly do I go about picking out a TBC? Where would I edit the manual tracking at? Like I said, I am still pretty new.
    Search this forum for "DVD passthrough" and you'll find all kinds of suggestions for models that work. Keep the cost down by looking for one that has a broken disc drive but working electronics. You're just going to route the signal through the recorder to your converter.

    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.
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    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?
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  9. The manual here:

    http://manualmachine.com/panasonic/pv-s7670/1134355-user-manual/

    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 11:21.
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    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    The manual here:

    http://manualmachine.com/panasonic/pv-s7670/1134355-user-manual/

    shows tracking controls via the channel up/down buttons on the front panel (as well as on the remote).
    Thank you for that. Regarding the sharpening, without the remote, I am not seeing a way to turn down the sharpening setting. I may do a manual reset of the VCR to see if that helps. If not, I will just break down and buy a universal remote.
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    You can buy the original VSQS1497 remote for $10-15 on eBay.
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    You can buy the original VSQS1497 remote for $10-15 on eBay.
    That's a good idea. I put an offer in for one. It's hard skimming through all of the purists for each type of TBC. Some love the ES10 and some hate it. The same goes for just about every other one that is brought up here. It is hard to weed through the good and bad. Any suggestions from experience?
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  13. 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 15:28.
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    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    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).
    So true. It's so funny pulling out tapes I recall being of excellent quality and being surprised at how soft, noisy and unsteady they seem. It's really apparent when you take a little break from this hobby and get used to watching perfect HD sources day in and day out.

    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.
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    Originally Posted by creaper View Post
    Some love the ES10 and some hate it. The same goes for just about every other one that is brought up here. It is hard to weed through the good and bad. Any suggestions from experience?
    I'm using a DMR-ES15 that I picked up for $50 last year. If my JVC's built-in TBC looks like crap, I turn it off and use the ES15 instead. It does a good job stabilizing the picture and I don't notice a lot of softness, though it does pump up the black level, which I can bring back down with the proc amp in my capture card.

    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    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.
    That's a very good point. My philosophy about little flaws is that, while the casual viewer may not single them out, they can add up to an impression of "not so good." VHS is already so far behind the 8-ball that I do my best to improve it in the analog domain before it hits the sampler.
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  16. Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    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.
    That's a very good point. My philosophy about little flaws is that, while the casual viewer may not single them out, they can add up to an impression of "not so good." VHS is already so far behind the 8-ball that I do my best to improve it in the analog domain before it hits the sampler.
    All that horizontal jitter also sucks up bitrate. I once compared constant quantizer MPEG 2 encodings (for DVD) of the same video captured with ES-15 passthrough and without. The video without the line TBC used twice as much bitrate. Of course, the amount varies depending on the nature of the particular video. But I don't think 2x is unusual.

    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:
    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/380285-Where-did-I-go-wrong-What-am-I-missing#post2460874
    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 22:09.
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  17. Using the right pair of settings all but eliminated the posterization.
    Does that mean it didn't eliminate the posterization?
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  18. Originally Posted by Hypersonic1 View Post
    Using the right pair of settings all but eliminated the posterization.
    Does that mean it didn't eliminate the posterization?
    Opinions of whether the Panasonic ES10-ES15-ES20 cause issues like posterization are so polarized, and so subject to sample variation, PAL/NTSC versions, specific models, or user error, that most sane contributors like jagabo might feel it prudent to hedge their bets with a qualifying phrase like "all but eliminated" rather than claim 100% that there is no negative effect whatsoever (even if that reflects their verified personal experience). In this context, "all but eliminated" can be interpreted to mean "most likely you won't notice any serious degradation if you make the suggested settings changes." Some subtle shifts in levels are inevitable, but as jagabo notes with VHS this will often be masked by the source material.

    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.
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    Originally Posted by Hypersonic1 View Post
    Does that mean it didn't eliminate the posterization?
    I forget which pair of settings I'm using (I tested them both ways), but I don't see that kind of artifact.
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  20. 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.
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  21. Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    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.
    Yep.

    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.
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    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?
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  23. 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?
    Yes, thats exactly it: you're just passing the VHS line output thru the DVD recorder circuits and into the capture device (as if the recorder were a simple black box like a TBC). The recorder just needs to be powered on in standby mode. No need to engage record mode or even have a blank dvd in it. So the dvd drive can be dead, and it will still work for pass thru (saving you some money over a fully operational recorder).
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    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    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?
    Yes, thats exactly it: you're just passing the VHS line output thru the DVD recorder circuits and into the capture device (as if the recorder were a simple black box like a TBC). The recorder just needs to be powered on in standby mode. No need to engage record mode or even have a blank dvd in it. So the dvd drive can be dead, and it will still work for pass thru (saving you some money over a fully operational recorder).
    I bought the Samsung for cheap with a broken drive on eBay, but have found it to be very wavy and just about worthless. That's where I was wondering if I was doing it wrong.
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  25. 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 13:53. Reason: found error just after posting
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  26. Originally Posted by creaper View Post
    I bought the Samsung for cheap with a broken drive on eBay, but have found it to be very wavy and just about worthless. That's where I was wondering if I was doing it wrong.
    I understand wanting to experiment on the cheap, but the money adds up quickly if you go thru more than a couple of recorders trying to find one that works for you. The Samsungs of that vintage were not good with VHS, but you may have more going on with that "waviness" than a defective Samsung. That horizontal jitter in your original sample might be one of those random, difficult issues that sometimes outwit many dvd recorders and TBCs. I'd suggest you stop bargain hunting, and concentrate on finding a Panasonic ES15, ES20 or ES25: any of them should handle that waviness better than other passthru recorders.The ES10 would also work, but they're overpriced cult items now, and your tapes don't look poor enough to require the extra-strength ES10.

    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 16:03.
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