Originally Posted by DaveC E100
I only used the SP speed. I used my 2 AG-1960 SVHS HiFi VCR's to record our Church services and some weddings. The Church services I edited down to 59 minutes for showing on the local cable public access channel. Sometimes I used the cable companies Panasonic S-VHS editing VCR's and sometimes I used my JVC Edit Desk which consisted of a BR-S500U SVHS player and a BR-S800U SVHS VCR, both controlled by the companion JVC RM-G800 edit controller. When ever there was music I could never hear any helicopter buzz but when the preacher spoke, there was the helicopter again. Tracking never had any effect on the buzz except when it was turned too far and the machines reverted to the linear audio track.
I'm annoyed with myself for not thinking of this sooner, but what we're all calling "helicopter noise" can come from several causes. Sometimes it can be dialed out with tracking, but sometimes it cannot: it is actually a permanent part of the recording. A perfect example would be your tapes made on the Panasonic AG1960s, DaveC E100: the AG1960 was a really annoying VCR due to its then-innovative design specs which didn't really quite work. It used a totally-new transport mechanism that Panasonic spent a small fortune developing, to help pay for it they conned Canon into letting them OEM some HiFi VCRs for them based on a de-featured AG1960 chassis. Other than the AG1960 and a couple of rare companion models with the Canon name, this design did not survive more than one generation. Why? Because it had terrible problems with tape interchange: the AG1960 (and similar Canons) record tapes that don't play well on other VCRs. Video tracking is often tricky and the HiFi tracks are about as bad as the horrible JVC/TEAC MV900 (all time champ of HiFi atrocity).
These machines combine faulty HiFi audio circuits with poor stability of original track pitch to create a perfect storm of audio noise in the HiFi. And as you've noted, it is esp obvious during quiet scenes with only dialog: every word is accompanied by a bursts of burbling helicopter noise (which can also sound like a horsefly wedged in your ear furiously flapping its wings). As a rough rule of thumb, I divide my problem HiFi tapes into two groups: those that have a continual buzz or noise in the HiFi track, and those that have this horrible staccato helicopter breathing effect that rises and falls with each word of dialog. The former can be dialed almost completely down with a compatible VCR, the latter never goes away unless you use computer software to filter it out of the digitized video file (which can get real tedious real fast).
BTW the worst possible editing system for AG1960 tapes would have been the pro JVC system you used, or the similar Panasonic version. The AG1960 made funky tapes that had issues on other consumer-ish VCRs, but the issues got worse when played in "pro" VCRs. So its no surprise the JVC BR system did nothing to help back in the day. If you ever wondered why the sleek, expensive-looking AG1960 was replaced by the fat, dull, boring-looking AG1970 and AG1980, it was because the AG1960 design was a big fail. The later 1970 and 1980 are ugly stepsisters on the outside, but inside have old-school, larger, more accurate tape mechanics (esp the 1970 which was the single most durable VCR of the 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980 series).
Originally Posted by Super Eye
I always compare VHS-SP to Beta-ll as these were the standard consumer speeds. Were VHS HF in SP levels the playing field (somewhat) is with VHS higher linear speed and wider track pitch. VHS-SP will have a wider tolerance due to this spec and in my opinion this kind of levels the playing field. Somewhat. What I meant by that is that over the years JVC perfected the VHS format to the point were it matched or beat the old not updated since the 80s Beta format in every aspect except chroma noise.
It depends on the specific VCR. VHS SP could be nicer in some respects than Beta II, or it could be noticeably worse. In theory the wider track pitch and faster linear speed should have brought the two formats closer to parity, In reality JVC ( and esp Matsushita) tended to screw up a few things under the VHS hood that left Beta holding a lead in some video specs. Whether or not you cared back then depended on your TV monitor and what types of material you recorded. I was making compilation tapes from day one, and at first Beta just buried VHS when it came to second-generation dub quality. Later in the mid to late 80s a handful of superbly-engineered VHS models matched or exceeded the Beta dubbing advantage (I think of this fondly as my personal VHS "Golden Age"). By the 90s Beta was dead so I rarely used it, and VHS had retreated back to its original so-so PQ unless you opted for SVHS which I couldn't be bothered with due to high tape costs and limited trading ability with other people.
As for old VHS recordings holding up better than old Beta recordings – in my case this is sort of true but my VHS tapes are holding up only “slightly” better than my Beta tapes. I always credited this due to the fact that I use 2002, 2003 VHS decks for playback and 1984, 1985 Beta decks for playback and the newer technology compensates for small glitches and drop-outs better. I still think that this is true to a point (My 2002/2003 VHS decks being able to compensate better than my 1984/1985 Beta decks) I need to say that all my tapes VHS nd Beta are holding up remarkably well - it's just that my beta tapes have slightly more drop-outs and tiny glitches.[...] I know we talked about this before. The strange thing is that my Sony VHS tapes exhibit drop-outs and are among the worst out of my VHS collection while my Sony Beta tapes are holding up pretty good and are among the best out of my Beta collection. My TDKs are great in both formats.
I think the problem is Sony had wildly varying quality control from tape batch to tape batch. Do you remember the endless bickering over whether the "charcoal-box" L750s were better or worse than the "color-striped-box" L750s? Not to mention the "gold-box" high grade Sonys mostly being a sick joke: my most dropout-riddled tapes in either format are Sony Gold. Any Beta tape I have made by TDK, Maxell or Fuji is in dramatically better condition than the Sonys: night and day. In VHS I used mostly TDK and Maxell, then later Fuji and some BASF. Most of these have held up extremely well with no dropouts or glitches, while the Sony beta tapes are a quagmire of screen-wide rolling dark stripes and white dropout bursts. Surprisingly the worst offenders are Sony L750s bought new in around 1994-1996 and recorded on a low-end monophonic SuperBetamax: these are now all but unwatchable, with a couple having lost their video entirely.
As far as older Beta VCRs vs newer VHS, I see your point how that might give an unfair advantage to VHS, but its a bit more complicated than that. Sony had a schizophrenic development cycle with Betamax: the "typical consumer " models actually got worse and worse after 1985 while the pricier, now impossible to find "high end" Betamax models did get better in terms of playback quality. But just like Sony SVHS, the higher-end Sony Beta decks would crap out after a few years and quickly fall into the unrepairable category. Meanwhile the clunky, heavy, simple low-end BetaHiFi models like SL-HF500 just go on and on and on, they need a repair now and then but at least CAN be repaired. Also the older models have the big tracking knobs with finer control: the SL-HF500 I picked up for $100 years ago has more stable tracking and actually a better picture in some ways than the tech-restored SL-HF360 SuperBetaHiFi that just cost me $300. So its difficult to directly compare old Beta vs old VHS or new VHS: few VHS decks from 1985 are still in service, yet the BetaMax from 1985 can still often go toe-to-toe with a good late 90s VHS (if not SVHS using SVHS tape). In my case, I fault the tapes and not the Betamax decks used for playback: my Sony beta tapes are consistently poor while TDK, Fuji and Maxell beta tapes of the same era play fine.
I never get tired talking VCR talk with you.
, despite everyone else thinking we're a tad nuts