Back in the days of my musicstudio, I recorded audio onto VHS. It seemed a good alternative to DAT-recorders.
I'm talking about the early 90's.
I finally have time to digitize those recordings, but the big question here is: what hifi-recorder should I use to get the best results?
I currently have a Philips VR720, but when playing back tapes I hear a kind of rumble when there is only a low level of audio (like at the start or end of a song).
I think it might be due to bad tracking.
At vcrshop.com I found 3 JVC decks; SR-S388, HR-S9500 and HR-S9600.
If you had to choose between those 3, which one would be your best pick?
Again, it's not about the video quality, only High Fidelity Stereo Audio!
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Try "denoising" or messing with any other setting in your daw software before concluding a new deck is needed
s-mp, I rather optimise the source than "fixing" the "destination".
I do not record in a DAW but a regular audio-recording app. In my case Sound Studio on my Mac Mini M1 through Presonus StudioLive 16R.
The audio path is very clean, so no apparent additional quirks.
You need a VCR known for much better than average HiFi performance. There aren't as many as you'd think, and most of those are expensive and/or unobtainable/unrepairable. Most of the JVCs aren't too great with HiFi tracking, but ironically their Japan-market WVHS (analog HDTV) models were the ultimate best HiFi players. These completely eliminated the common rumble or buzzing issue, but they're rare, fragile, and pricey. The first thing that tends to irretrievably break in these WVHS decks is their audio circuit board, so not really a good risk. A couple of very late model JVC studio SVHS in the BR-S series also had this HiFi circuit, but again hard to find, typically defective, and unfixable.
So unless you're unusually lucky, chances are you won't find a deck that completely suppresses the rumble-buzz inherent in the HiFi audio system. The next best thing is to locate a VCR known for flexible wide range tracking lock with HiFi audio: such VCRs "mechanically" minimize the rumble-buzz by having a more consistent steady tracking lock when playing the HiFi. Best among these are the late-model Mitsubishi HS-U448, 449, 748 and 749 (identical HiFi, some video feature and cosmetic differences). All four have an excellent reliability rep, and usually survive shipping well. Nearly as good at HiFi tracking are the Panasonic AG-1980 and AG-1970 (NV-SF100 and 200 in Europe), but those are much older (and the 1980/200 is notorious as the most trouble-prone, expensive to repair VCR still popular for digital transfer).
Note only the few exotic scarce JVCs noted above included the (proprietary) circuit that cancels out rumble-buzz completely. That intermittent buzz that becomes esp apparent during loud passages or silent moments is otherwise an unavoidable artifact inherent in the way HiFi is recorded/played on the tape. While a VCR known for excellent, steady HiFi tracking will be much better at minimizing this than average, don't expect perfection: that buzz will still break thru occasionally. But it will be less frequent and probably less intrusive than the rumble-buzz you'll get from other VCRs.
Last edited by orsetto; 6th Sep 2021 at 12:59.
Thank you Orsetto. Your reputation of the "know-it-all"-wizard preceeds you
I think this also means that TBC isn't that important to audio tracking or is it?
I found an Mitsubishi HS-M1000 (499 euro), JVC BR-S600e (450 euro) and JVC BR-S800e (700 euro) in vcrshop.com
Mitsubishi HS-U748 ($130, incl. shipping to the Netherlands) on Ebay.
Please advise me on this.
Edit: Also found JVC BR-S605EB on Ebay (200 euro)
Last edited by AstrAir; 6th Sep 2021 at 10:51.
Correct: you do NOT need to pay extra to get the TBC/DNR feature if all you want to do is make audio transfers. The TBC/DNR is only critical for the video signal.
Of the models you listed above: for audio-only VHS HiFi dubbing, the two I would select are the Mitsubishi HS-U748 (affordable, reliable, excellent HiFi tracking) or the JVC BR-S600e (expensive, risky, but has a dedicated HiFi buzz elimination circuit similar to the JVC WVHS models). The other models you're considering are not known for amazing HiFi performance: they might be OK, but not worth the asking price for your specific task. My personal choice for HiFi-only use would be the Mitsu 748: the JVC BR-S600e is far too expensive and far more likely to be defective. The only way I would buy the JVC 600 would be if I could visit the owner and test it first, then take it home in my car. The large heavy professional VCRs do not survive shipping very well.
Last edited by orsetto; 6th Sep 2021 at 11:30.
Thank you so much. I will proceed with the Mitsu ...
If that one isn't delivering what is "promised", I can go for the JVC anytime.
Even without video, wouldn't your tapes be incompatible with the US Mitsu due to differing playback speed?(Formerly vaporeon800)
AstrAir, I do hope you see Brad's warning in time to avoid making a mistake: please be certain the Mitsubishi HS-U748 from that export seller is a PAL format VCR compatible with your tapes! If the seller is in North America or Asia, that 748 will be an NTSC version that won't work for you. If the seller is somewhere in Europe, you should be OK.
Damn, forgot to ask about that. I'm afraid it's too late now ... It's already shipped.
I contacted the seller about this just now.
Hello, According to the information found in Google with the model of this product is NTSC.
Tape Format: S-VHS / VHS 1/2 "high-density
Power Source: 120V AC; 60 Hz
Power Consumption: Approx. 25 W
Video Signal System: EIA standard; NTSC color
In all, I'm sc@wed
Found another interesting article on the dutch wikipedia:
Issues with Hi-Fi audio
Due to the path followed by the video and Hi-Fi audio heads being striped and discontinuous—unlike that of the linear audio track—head-switching is required to provide a continuous audio signal. While the video signal can easily hide the head-switching point in the invisible vertical retrace section of the signal, so that the exact switching point is not very important, the same is obviously not possible with a continuous audio signal that has no inaudible sections. Hi-Fi audio is thus dependent on a much more exact alignment of the head switching point than is required for non-HiFi VHS machines. Misalignments may lead to imperfect joining of the signal, resulting in low-pitched buzzing. The problem is known as "head chatter", and tends to increase as the audio heads wear down.
Another issue that made VHS Hi-Fi imperfect for music is the inaccurate reproduction of levels (softer and louder) which are not re-created as the original source.
"low-pitched buzzing" is what I experience with my current VCR
Last edited by AstrAir; 12th Sep 2021 at 01:45.
A reference from that article (#49): https://stason.org/TULARC/entertainment/audio/general/14-18-Is-VHS-Hi-Fi-sound-perfect...nd-perfec.html
Says it all about HiFi audio on VCRs.
Now I know it's not a good alternative to DAT ... in the long run.
At the time Beta HiFi and VHS HiFi were introduced, they were about the best you could get in terms of price/performance. So its a bit unfair to the formats (and yourself) to regret using them as part of your audio archives back then. It was a few years before anyone fully realized JVC had come up with a funkier-than-expected knockoff of BetaHiFi with added potential for mistracking noise artifacts. BetaHiFi works somewhat cleaner with less buzz because the audio is multiplexed directly into the video signal, greatly reducing the tracking disparity between audio and video. VHS format could not handle this method, so JVC was forced into an elaborate system of additional spinning audio heads and multi-level signal embedding in the tape. While in theory it should have worked perfectly, in practice most VHS HiFi VCRs could not track HiFi without dropouts and buzz. Some models were better than others, but they were difficult to identify prior to web forums and even now aren't that common.
Between the 600 and 800, the 600 lacks the video editing features you don't need but does apparently include the very hard to find JVC-exclusive "HiFi switching noise reduction circuit", which was developed to address the exact problem you linked to and are experiencing. This was only available in a handful of JVC decks: very desirable for audio-centric projects. The 800 is from a different model year and does not have the unique audio circuit. Of course, if your specific HiFi tapes were originally recorded on a VCR with significant tracking errors, the 600 HiFi buzz reduction circuit may not be able to fully compensate for mistracking. But it is likely your best possible chance at reducing/eliminating the buzz.
In all, I'm sc@wed
What website did you use to purchase the 748? If eBay, you may still be able to cancel the purchase and return it. It was not unreasonable to expect a seller to confirm usability with you before shipping to a foreign country. You might be able to get at least a partial refund and pay only the shipping.
is the reseller. I just sent a message asking for a compensation if I return the VCR. Mostlikely not, but have to try.
About the '600' and '800'; thanks for elaborating on the differences between the 2, and the history of HiFi on VCR's.
As the rental price is lower, it saves me even more money (besides the money already spend on 2 decks).
I don't blame anyone but myself for not noticing the 748 is NTSC.
Never too old to learn new things/acquire more knowledge.
"If you are not happy with the product you bought you can return it, just make sure to return it in the same condition that you received it please.
I would have loved to answer your questions before you buy it.
That product is very rare to find, do not worry, return it.
Now considering the item price($51), shipping cost($53) and import duties($27). If I calculate the extra cost: the return-cost - moneyback ; it's not worth to do so.
"I can tell you that you can sell it, if you look at Ebay they sell it for $ 80, you could even get a profit if you resell it."
So that is what I shall do.
Appoloh, please keep an eye on this post.
"such a VCR". Which brand/type you refer to?
I might ask you to lend or sell that VCR to me in case the rental isn't working.
So unless you're unusually lucky, chances are you won't find a deck that completely suppresses the rumble-buzz inherent in the HiFi audio system. The next best thing is to locate a VCR known for flexible wide range tracking lock with HiFi audio:
And very often, with tapes like this, you must capture twice. Adjusted deck for the audio, a completely different deck for video (and that one has the TBC). Sometimes to get audio perfect, you won't get anything but snow on screen, it's that far out of alignment.
I don't necessarily "suggest" this to others, but merely want to mention that recovery of the signal is possible. It'll take some funds, work, and patience to make it happen.
The muddy virtually unusable linear audio track playback was an inexplicable regression in later model JVCs, which unfortunately includes 90% of surviving desirable-for-capture DigiPure models. Earlier JVC HiFi models I owned from the 80s thru early 90s had perfectly normal linear audio playback no different from comparable Panasonics of the era. Recent VH posters researching that topic discovered the poor linear playback in later JVCs is caused by factory-incorrect stationary head alignment: apparently linear performance can be significantly improved by adjusting the height and pitch of the stationary audio head. This is a bit tricky to do, as mounting of the linear audio head varies between model years (some are more easily adjusted by ear than others which require more precise tools).
I only go back to about 1996, the 7600+ and 9600+ decks (with honorable mentions to the 75/9500), when I adopted S-VHS players. My hobby years saw tapes that were way worse than what most people would see in a lifetime. But I didn't need a Panasonic deck for years. I'd set aside truly awful tapes, borrow Panasonics when needed, but it wasn't until about 2006, a full decade later, that I actually broke down and bought my own. At that point in time, everything was used, the decks were no longer $2k anymore, not even $1k from EOL. About $500 got a "good" decks (caps not yet replaced), or $100-200 got you a deck needing caps work for about $350. but that was 15 years ago, things changed, for the worse. With JVCs, it's about condition, and exact model. With multiple decks, I never had HiFi issues as you describe, only mono/linear problems with tapes made on cheap cameras/VCRs.
Yes, those MV decks can be nice, and sometimes as nice as AG-1980 as you state (SOMETIMES! not always, not even half the time), but finding one that's not abused (internally, not just outward appearance) is hard. Those were made for education and government, sold at places like CDW, and hamfisted handled by low-knowledge users: students/interns, underpaid schoolteachers, gym/sports coaches, etc. The kind that beat it with a book when it didn't do what they wanted, such as record on their cheap office store DVD+R (and it only took DVD-R). Even so-called "new" decks (NOS) are often screwed. I'm dealing with somebody right now that bought a "refurbished new never used in original box" (a contradictory statement right there) unit off eBay. It's looks new, but the internals are shot, it eats tapes.
It's amazing how much we start to disagree, but then are not disagreeing whatsoever.
- Funds/budget rarely has anything to do with this exact issue (assuming we're talking about S-VHS decks).
- It usually is the tapes simply badly misaligned.
I'd wager most of us would rather just pick up a VCR model with highly-compatible HiFi tracking and decent video performance (very late-model JVCs, or AG-1980).
JVC WVHS and a handful of select JVC BR-S
The Mitsubishi 448/449/748/749 are a good low-budget option for those who need to capture HiFi audio-only:
Today the BR-S600E was delivered at my house. When I play a tape I still hear that low rumble sound so now and then (in low level passages), but even worse are the drop out gaps and sometimes crackling. Varying from +/- 150 ms to +/- 600 ms or so. Sometimes the number of dropsout in a song is manageable, as I could copy/paste certain parts from other places onto the gaps. That's a lot of extra work, maybe not willing to do.
The overall sound quality seems better (transients).
It seems to get worse after each rewind/skip back.
Last edited by AstrAir; 17th Sep 2021 at 17:39.