Originally Posted by Super Eye
Don’t get me wrong CitiBear, I am not arguing with you, I’m just throwing out another point of view.
I know, Super Eye, I'm not really arguing with you, either: we're old forum pals!
And the more points of view the merrier, when I average out multiple responses on any particular thread its much
more useful than if just one person replied to a question I'm interested in. The reason I'm so excitable on this topic (okay, I'm always
excitable, set that aside for now
) is that the answers lately are drifting to extremes with no middle ground. It is no more true that you MUST use a high-end VCR than it is to say you NEVER need a high end VCR: most people will get a decent result either way, but many will not, and I myself have been aggravated no end that I can't just use one VCR for all my hundreds of tapes. It has slowed my transfer task dramatically having to switch among multiple AG1980s, a JVC 9911, two Mitsu DVHS, two old Quasars, four old Panasonics, and a two-head GoldStar. Out of all these, the AG1980 has proven the most overall useful. The JVC and the Mitsus do not track as well, but have better color with the TBC on. The 1980 tracks better, especially EP tapes when TBC/DNR is needed.
The fancier VCRs clean up a lot of ills, but figuring out which deck to use and which of its settings should be active for each tape gets real tedious real quick. Each tape reacts differently to being "processed" or "improved", and I do agree
with you Super Eye that the processed look is often less desirable than the noisy-but-natural look of ordinary VCRs. After the first year, I began re-evaluating the absolute importance of each transfer, and forced myself to admit if I haven't watched a movie or TV show since 1988 I'm not likely to do so anytime soon, and when I do will I really
care if it looks "blah" compared to "a bit better than blah, but not much"? If the answer is "no", and the tape has no significant issues, it goes straight to one of my cheap-but-good VCRs. No settings, no fussing, no babysitting.
BUT, I do have a lot of scary-noisy tapes made on very early VHS decks like 1980-82 Magnavox and RCA. Early VHS performance, to put it charitably, sucked (VHS did not get acceptable to my eye until the "HQ" video enhancements became standard at the end of the '80s). Very early off-air VHS has more luma and chroma noise than actual picture information, with these tapes the somewhat fake "processed" look added by the high-end VCRs is less obvious than the huge improvement in color smoothness and absence of snow. The high-end VCRs also help with camcorder sourced material, which is always a trial for some reason, and the 1980 is helpful with some second-generation dub tapes and stabilizing the ones I foolishly made with consumer "enhancer boxes" in the 80s.
Cards on the table: lets be real about "concert tapes". These are almost always bootlegs, and their quality ranges from surprisingly good to just awful. There is no consistency in how best to handle them, either: I have some Dylan material that was tenth generation to begin with, its barely watchable, but surprisingly is NOT improved at all by my better-grade VCRs- it plays better in the ordinary cheap VCRs. While many of the really good-quality concert stuff I have plays better
on the fancy VCRs. I always have to experiment. I think with the better concert tapes, the contrast between dark stage and well-lit performers is more clear, which perversely gives digital encoders a harder time than the cruddier tapes which have a more consistent noise pattern. The TBC/DNR in the higher-end VCRs smooths out the noise in the dark stage areas, allowing the PC or DVD encoder to concentrate more on the well-lit action we really want to see.
why I recommend PeteMI try one of the upmarket VCRs. They might be able to solve the image issue that bothers him, in some cases
. In others, not so much. Its a roll of the dice each time.
Originally Posted by Super Eye
I think if they made the exact same deck today it would cost around $399 tops. Today technology is a lot cheaper – for instance, that digital noise reduction used in the AG1980 today would add no more than $25 to total cost, really think about it. Back when the AG1980 came out, I bet that digital filtering/caching cost hundreds of dollars. Back then a high Mhz SVHS chip must of cost a few hundred easily, by the time I bought my $169 SVHS deck, I bet the SVHS chip and the SVHS heads combined didn’t bring the cost up over a normal VHS deck by more than $30.
Agreed, but my point wasn't about the cost per se. Even at the time the AG1980 was still being sold, most VCRs at the consumer and "semi-pro" level had already
moved to all-plastic chassis, stamped-tin transports, and their entire electronics being reduced to the size of a CD jewelcase. Both Panasonic and JVC were already
selling "consumer-grade" SVHS decks with similar TBC/DNR features, at half or less than half the cost of an AG1980. Much of the cost involved in the 1980 was due to its heavy-duty mechanical construction, cast aluminum transport, and multiple modular circuit boards that are repairable at the component level
(not to mention its exclusive full-frame internal TBC which was never
matched by any other VHS vcr below the multi-thousand-dollar studio models). Aside from its TBC and DNR features, the key advantage of the AG1980 over all competitors, then and now, was its eminent repairability
. The equivalent TBC/DNR equipped consumer models from Panasonic and JVC were not
easily serviced: the JVCs were and are a nightmare to adjust, especially the tracking and transports, and the similar Panasonics were actually disposable
, even the $700 models: I know, I had them, and when they broke down right after their warranties expired Panasonic's advice was "we can't fix 'em, throw 'em out and buy new ones".
OTOH, the AG1980 will be repairable for as long as there are techs who remember what a VCR is. The tracking and transport are easily adjusted back to perfect spec, the huge circuit boards can usually be repaired if a cap or transistor blows, spare heads are still available, thorough service documentation is available, and the thing was so popular you can easily find a "junker" for spare parts for $30. So the AG 1980 is one of the safest
bets in a used VCR land, as long as you plan accordingly and budget for a possible tuneup. Most of mine required no service at all, two needed just minor adjusting to the loading mechanics, and one needed a new power supply (that one only cost me $50, I decided not to bother fixing it and traded it to my tech against the service cost of the other two).
If you don't want to deal with the posibility of repairs, but still want the noise filters and TBC, don't buy an AG1980
. Don't buy an old JVC svhs, either: they're far more likely to need repairs and be harder to get service for. Look instead for a JVC or Mitsubishi DVHS, most of these were made between 2000-2004 and JVC kept making a few until recently. With a bit of effort you can still find new ones leftover at dealers. And second-hand DVHS decks are almost always mint condition: Joe consumer never bought these for the kids room, they were owned by home theater buffs and rich folk.