VideoHelp Forum

Try DVDFab and copy Ultra HD Blu-rays and DVDs! Or rip iTunes movies and music! Download free trial !
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 12 of 12
Thread
  1. Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    United States
    Search PM
    I have some TV recorded VHS tapes I have been capturing with a Sony SLV-N81 (& DMR-ES15 passthrough). The motor is dying on the VCR.

    The picture quality is great on the Sony VCR, and I don't think It would be worth it to buy a S-VHS VCR with a TBC because the tapes I am capturing don't seem be the type that need it most. They play extremely stable and clear, even most EP tapes play perfectly. And the TBC models are just too expensive for the # of tapes I have

    But would there be any point to buy a "regular" S-VHS VCR or just buy another standard VCR like I already have? Would there be any real quality improvement going to a S-VHS model without a TBC? (like the JVC HR-S3800/4500/5900). Is there any other kind of regular VHS machine I should buy instead of the Sony N81 again?

    Thanks!
    Quote Quote  
  2. Given the background info you've provided, I'm going to say "yes" to the idea your replacement VCR should be a midrange (i.e. affordable) SVHS model. While of course it is almost always preferable to use TBC/DNR models if possible, many people certainly "make do" with decent standard VHS and SVHS models.

    You describe a somewhat unique prior situation which isn't reported that often: apparently your "ordinary" Sony VHS VCR was an exceptionally good example, and played your tapes very well via the ES-15 passthru. Having owned a similar exceptionally good standard VHS model myself for several years, I've experienced the disappointment of it being virtually impossible to replace (chances of finding another "perfect" example thats fully functional are slim to none).

    In such cases, you up the odds of the replacement VCR being satisfactory if you spend a bit more to get the SVHS version: the special S-Video connections that come along for the ride can significantly improve the output of standard VHS playback. Maybe not a night and day difference from when your Sony was working well thru its standard composite video output jack, but SVHS connection will likely be noticeably better than any random non-SVHS VCR you could pick up today.

    Each brand and model series has different strengths and weaknesses, so generally you would pick a compromise design that best suits the majority of your tapes. If you mostly have SP tapes left to transfer, the JVC 5900 series can be very nice. If you still have a significant number of EP tapes left, esp if they're HiFi, look for the Mitsubishi HS-U748 or 749 instead. The Mitsu isn't quite as clean at SP as the JVCs, but has much more reliable and flexible EP tracking.

    Various Toshiba models could rate about the same as your better-than-average example of Sony, but Toshibas were fairly rare in USA/Canada so you don't often see them now at reasonable prices (if at all).

    Midrange Panasonic SVHS can be problematic. Models made before 1996 can be a bit flaky and unreliable today, models made after 1996 tend to have really bad picture quality (oversharpened with a lot of ugly grain). If you can afford the asking prices and (most importantly) find an example in excellent working condition, the semi-pro Panasonic AG-1970 is excellent with EP tapes and about average with SP playback (certainly much better than consumer Panasonic SVHS models, plus it has a weak TBC that can be helpful and adjustable sharpness controls). Panasonic AG-2560 has excellent EP playback picture but just average at SP, very reliable SuperDrive mechanism, but not SVHS. Panasonic AG-1980 is gold standard for SVHS tape transfers, but is very expensive to purchase and maintain, so not for the budget conscious.

    Sony "consumer" SVHS models were almost all unreliable with serious design defects: avoid these today unless you get a VERY good price and can personally test the VCR before purchase.

    If it were me I would go with the Mitsu 748 or 749: these were recent models compared to many others, reasonably priced compared to many others, very rugged and reliable compared to many others, and with much better tracking range than many others. The compromise you make with Mitsu is you aren't going to get truly stunning standard VHS playback, but it will be very good (about the same as a twice-as-expensive, older Panasonic AG-1970). A JVC 5900 etc will arguably be a little less grainy at SP, but will struggle with EP tracking and be less forgiving of HiFi audio tracking errors than the Mitsu 748 or 749. BTW, avoid all other Mitsubishis aside from the 448/449 (VHS) or 748/749 (SVHS): for whatever reason, these particular Mitsu chassis are dramatically more reliable and better at tracking. Be careful also with JVC: 5900 series were decent but some older or newer midrange JVC can be more flakey from a reliability standpoint. Panasonic and Sony "consumer" SVHS tend to be a shot in the dark, not worth the gamble.
    Last edited by orsetto; 23rd Oct 2020 at 19:58.
    Quote Quote  
  3. Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    United States
    Search PM
    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Given the background info you've provided, I'm going to say "yes" to the idea your replacement VCR should be a midrange (i.e. affordable) SVHS model. While of course it is almost always preferable to use TBC/DNR models if possible, many people certainly "make do" with decent standard VHS and SVHS models.
    The Sony VCR I could buy another identical one on eBay for between $25-65 and there is tons available in good condition. I'm thinking to go with the JVC. I have a good mix of SP & EP, about 50/50.

    I'm only hesitant to switch models because the Sony I already know how it plays back, the JVC I don't know, I guess I'm just concerned It could be somehow be worse but that probably doesn't make any sense.
    Quote Quote  
  4. Originally Posted by BillyJeanB View Post
    The Sony VCR I could buy another identical one on eBay for between $25-65 and there is tons available in good condition. I'm thinking to go with the JVC. I have a good mix of SP & EP, about 50/50.
    You may have mis-read my point: I wasn't saying you couldn't easily buy an exact replacement model for your Sony SL-VN81, more that you describe your specific example of SLVN81 as working unusually well. This Sony model wasn't particularly known for good picture quality and especially not known for a good range of EP tracking ability: yours may be an outlier, really well-made example. This happened with many models of ordinary, commodity, plain-jane VCR: most of the production run was mediocre with similar performance, but 1 out of 10 would be way better than average. If you lucked out with one of those, and it later broke, chances were you could neither get it repaired back to its original performance level nor find another example that performed as well.

    Current asking prices for the SLVN81 reflect this: it isn't in high demand, so its easy to buy. There's nothing wrong with trying another copy of the same model, you might get lucky and get one close enough in performance to yours that theres no material difference. Just remember, you don't know the history of any VCR on eBay and every VCR wears out in different ways. A replacement SLVN81 might match your SP performance but not EP, or have issues tracking HiFi, or it might be 100% perfectly operational but not have quite as good a picture as your SLVN81 at any tape speed. If you go this route, buy from a seller with no-questions-asked return policy in case you're disappointed.

    I'm only hesitant to switch models because the Sony I already know how it plays back, the JVC I don't know, I guess I'm just concerned It could be somehow be worse but that probably doesn't make any sense.
    JVCs tend to be very good at SP, less so at EP (mostly because the majority of JVC models simply don't track EP tapes made on other VCRs that well). JVC's corporate "flavor" tends more toward smooth, noiseless picture at the occasional expense of some fine detail, midrange Panasonic tends toward more "apparent" detail at the expense of grain and noise (sometimes obnoxiously so), Mitsubishi splits the difference, Toshiba skews closer to JVC.

    You seem very attached to your SLVN81 picture quality: you may never be comfortable with another brand/model until you try another SLVN81 first. If it works perfect for you, great: you won't have to adjust your expectations at all. But if another SLVN81 proves way off in performance from yours, opt for something entirely different. As mentioned, midrange JVCs do not generally do great with EP tapes recorded on Panasonic or Sony VCRs: since you have a 50/50 mix of SP and EP tapes, you may eventually need to switch from JVC to Mitsubishi or Panasonic just to get steady EP tracking with no static lines. Opting for a model with S-Video connection instead of composite RCA connection typically boosts ability to capture fine details (if the tape has any).

    Sony standard VHS models were much less troublesome than their SVHS models, full stop. You could try a couple different standard VHS Sonys if you feel thats your best bet to match your old Sony, but if you decide to experiment with an SVHS model, avoid Sony. All of their consumer-level SVHS models tended to self destruct at quadruple the rate of their standard VHS models like SLVN81.
    Last edited by orsetto; 23rd Oct 2020 at 21:18.
    Quote Quote  
  5. Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    United States
    Search PM
    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post

    JVCs tend to be very good at SP, less so at EP (mostly because the majority of JVC models simply don't track EP tapes made on other VCRs that well). JVC's corporate "flavor" tends more toward smooth, noiseless picture at the occasional expense of some fine detail, midrange Panasonic tends toward more "apparent" detail at the expense of grain and noise (sometimes obnoxiously so), Mitsubishi splits the difference, Toshiba skews closer to JVC.
    That's very useful information. Well I'll probably just go for the JVC and see how it is. The Sony like you said is a fairly common and standard model so I may just be lucky with the tapes I have, that they play good on it. Or it could be a good example unit.

    Worst case scenario I could return or resell a JVC if its not as good, and then see about finding another good condition Sony one which seems like it won't be too difficult. Thanks for all the useful info. It was hard to find an answer to this from reading other threads because most just recommend going right to the top of the line model, not much discussion I could find about what is the best alternatives to those.
    Quote Quote  
  6. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    dFAQ.us/lordsmurf
    Search Comp PM
    When discussing units that lack TBC, the ES10/15 is a must.

    I still have some JVC 3800 deck, my workhorse recorders from the 90s.

    Remember, eBay isn't buying, eBay is gambling, when it comes to video gear. Most sellers are clueless, some outright lie. To them, "tested" and "working" means they saw lights on the unit, maybe any sort of on-screen image using a portable TV. It's a pathetic non-test. You must be careful if buying a deck from eBay.
    Quote Quote  
  7. Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    United States
    Search PM
    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    When discussing units that lack TBC, the ES10/15 is a must.
    That is for sure! They do a great job for the price.
    Quote Quote  
  8. Member dellsam34's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Paris Ca, 92345 Mexico
    Search PM
    Originally Posted by BillyJeanB View Post
    The picture quality is great on the Sony VCR, and I don't think It would be worth it to buy a S-VHS VCR with a TBC because the tapes I am capturing don't seem be the type that need it most. They play extremely stable and clear, even most EP tapes play perfectly. And the TBC models are just too expensive for the # of tapes I have
    You are mixing up line TBC and frame TBC, While in most cases you don't need a frame TBC unless the tape is crappy, the capture device is crappy, the VCR/camcorder is crappy or a combination of the above, A line TBC in the VCR/camcorder is a must have. Line TBC doesn't correct for tape mistakes, it corrects the playback mechanism mistakes, transporting a tape using wheels and motors is never perfect and causes line jitter, to correct for that the line TBC stores the lines in a buffer (digital memory) and release them in a perfectly timed manner so they all start and end at the same position in the picture raster. An ES15 may correct some of the tape imperfections but will never correct for the tape transport imperfections, It is just impossible.

    As to why S-VHS? Well, it has a better chroma to luma separation, Using S-Video output instead of composite yields better overall picture quality in a form of slightly vivid chroma and slightly sharper luma since there is less interference between the two. While most people don't notice the difference between them, a side by side comparison if provided anyone can see night and day difference.
    Quote Quote  
  9. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    dFAQ.us/lordsmurf
    Search Comp PM
    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    [ in most cases you don't need a frame TBC unless the tape is crappy, the capture device is crappy, the VCR/camcorder is crappy or a combination of the above,
    I don't agree with that. Frame TBC is still a must. Trying to get by with mere frame sync (not frame sync TBC, aka frame TBC) is dodgy, and will have a fail rate.
    Quote Quote  
  10. Member dellsam34's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Paris Ca, 92345 Mexico
    Search PM
    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    I don't agree with that. Frame TBC is still a must. Trying to get by with mere frame sync (not frame sync TBC, aka frame TBC) is dodgy, and will have a fail rate.
    I've had very successful captures using the Pinnacle 500-USB with a good VCR and didn't need frame TBC, because there was no V-sync problems with the tape to begin with (If aint broken, don't fix it), Remember while frame TBC corrects only timing it has an effect on the overall picture quality in terms of levels and brightness because of the two process of ADC and DAC it has to go through, I wouldn't want a frame TBC in my workflow unless I have to, or if if it is a lossless process that happens after the signal being digitized and never converts back to analog, which is one of the reasons I no longer use consumer capture cards.
    Quote Quote  
  11. This is a video enthusiast site: the highest standards are a given, and its almost religion with us to recommend the best possible hardware, software and workflows conducive to top quality results.

    But.

    Read the room. If the OP specifically and deliberately states upfront they are using what many consider a "low end" setup, and they are totally happy with the results they're getting from that setup, but a part of it is breaking down and they want suggestions on how to replace it: not the time to go into our canned spiels about the utter necessity of owning a JVC 9900, Panasonic AG1980, DataVideo TBC-1000, SignVideo, and a piece of Stonehenge "or don't bother".

    The line TBC in the high-end VCRs is almost always joined at the hip to DNR: this combo may or may not be beneficial with every tape and every capture input system. Its ideal to have the feature if you can afford it, sure, but it isn't a panacea: its a tool to be deployed wisely. There will be tape collections that 100% benefit from line TBC, tape collections where each tape is wildly different, and tape collections where none of the tapes are compatible with line TBC and it makes things worse (tearing, distortion). And lest we forget, no "premium" VCR is an island unto itself: many stink at EP tracking, some have overly aggressive line TBCs that cause conflicts with second-gen tapes, etc. There is no magic bullet, just time proven premium VCRs known for the best results in most circumstances. Exceptions abound, and must be dealt with. Budgets intrude, and must be dealt with.

    Same with the external TBC. Vital for some workflows, yet countless laymen never heard of external TBCs, have no idea what they are, and remain perfectly content with their "unstable, crappy" captures. It depends how you're capturing and what your personal standards are: some capture devices are far more tolerant of VHS input than others, to where a makeshift ES15 passthru (or no passthru) may seem adequate to untrained eyes. The results would not fly for professional archival use or commercial work for clients, but if they satisfy the individual and his family who are we to argue.

    And as I've recently discovered after repairing my defunct DataVideo TBC-1000: like attracts like, and mismatches repel each other. The DataVideo TBC needs a certain floor level of signal stability to start with: a reasonably solid midrange to high end tape transport mechanism. If you connect a bottom-feeder consumer grade VHS to a DataVideo, with some tapes the TBC will actually destroy the the video signal instead of improving it (the instability of the VCR overwhelms the TBC circuit). So it isn't necessarily true that simply adding a TBC to an otherwise low-end setup that is currently working satisfactorily will be a massive improvement: half-assing it with random hardware pair-ups can make matters worse.

    And thats just with SP speed tapes: for EP, all bets are off. You may desperately want the benefits of line TBC and DNR for EP tapes, but the Capture Gods may laugh in your face to prevent it. Often, a lower-end VCR will offer noticeably better playback of some EP tapes and you will have to sacrifice that line TBC . Depending on the low end VCR, it might also have a bad interaction with an external TBC, at which point you may need to use an alternate capture device that is far less persnickety and can function without TBC mediation. The tape will always dictate what capture method will succeed with it (whether that method meets our technical standards or not). The default recommended workflows for best quality work great, until they don't.

    Starting from scratch with no capture gear at all yet? Got the means to afford a fairly significant temporary investment in gear you can later re-sell for about 70% of what you paid? Then absolutely: go with the standard, default recommendations here as far as hardware and software workflow. These recommendations have been tested and proven to give repeatable, reliable (if not always 100% consistent) results over many years. Depending on your tapes, compromises and exceptions to the "rules" may occur, requiring counterintuitive workarounds. But by and large the default recommendations became defaults because they work best most of the time.

    OTOH, if you've been using a simple low-end capture system that has been working fine for you, you haven't encountered any major glitches, your family/friends don't complain about the quality: perhaps stay the course and don't rock the boat. If something breaks down, replace it exactly and keep going. There really isn't a middle ground in VHS capture: you're either satisfied with the results from a lower end, less sophisticated system, or you're not. If you're not, prepare to dive whole hog into a much more expensive, more complicated way of working. Proper research and careful, educated buying of often-pricey used gear will be required. A piecemeal, random approach often fails or disappoints: pull together the recommended components as a complete setup to deliver the expected performance.
    Last edited by orsetto; 24th Oct 2020 at 12:54.
    Quote Quote  
  12. Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    United States
    Search PM
    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post

    Read the room. If the OP specifically and deliberately states upfront they are using what many consider a "low end" setup, and they are totally happy with the results they're getting from that setup, but a part of it is breaking down and they want suggestions on how to replace it: not the time to go into our canned spiels about the utter necessity of owning a JVC 9900, Panasonic AG1980, DataVideo TBC-1000, SignVideo, and a piece of Stonehenge "or don't bother".
    I think that's a good point. It's not all or nothing.

    The main reason I don't want to spend the extra for the higher end models is because the playback of the tapes I have don't seem like they would benefit hugely. I have certainly seen tapes that would it seems benefit from a line TBC more, but the ones I need to capture, the ES-15 makes them very stable with little noise or horizontal movement of the details. Even EP tapes. Then with QTGMC and other processing they come out as excellent clear files.

    If I had worse tapes I would buy a TBC model, but I think for my tapes specifically it would be a lot of money for a very small improvement. Plus it is risky buying a $300-500 VCR, if it breaks that's a lot more of a loss than a $50 or $100 model.
    Quote Quote  



Similar Threads