Odd behavior in VHS recordings of broadcast TV from 2002 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 47 Old 01-26-2013, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
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I am in the process of going through my old VHS tapes and trying to put them in digital format. I recorded some broadcast TV from 2002 like the gold medal hockey game from the 2002 winter Olympics along with other broadcast television from ESPN classics.

When trying to play these back to capture, I see a bunch of interference (what looks like it needs tracking adjustment) on the recorded broadcast. Was there a signal added to broadcasts to interfere with recording programs?

When I play VHS videos that I bought, I don't see this interference. I've ensured that the heads on the VCR I'm using are clean.

If a signal was added to the broadcast signal, is there a signal processor or way that it can be removed? Thanks.

V/r,
Kurt
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post #2 of 47 Old 01-26-2013, 06:16 PM
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It does sound like a tracking problem.

Since your commercial recorded tapes seems to work properly it sounds like your current VCR is tracking tapes (recorded within spec) just fine. Sounds like your 2002 tapes were recorded with a VCR out of alignment. Were your 2002 tapes recorded in EP (the 6hr mode)? VCRs have a lot less tolerance to track EP tapes because of the narrow tracks. Were the 2002 tapes recorded with the same machine that you’re trying to play them back with? Did you try manually adjusting the tracking?

Please delete your duplicate post.smile.gif
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post #3 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply.

Unfortunately, I don't have the VCR that I did the recordings with and I do believe they were recorded using EP settings. Is there anyway to remedy this situation that you can suggest? Would some kind of signal processor or video processor help? I'm pretty illiterate in how to fix them but would be willing to try a repair service of some sort if you could suggest a reputable one. Thanks.

V/r,
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post #4 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 03:08 PM
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The first thing I suggest is that you try manually tracking the tapes. What kind of a VCR do you have? The VCR manual should tell you how to manually track. For instance with my VCRs on the remote you press the EP/SP button while playing a tape –that puts the VCR in manual tracking mode – the default center position. Then you press the channel up/down buttons to adjust the tracking. Your VCR may have a different method.

If that doesn’t work I suggest that you try a different VCR (perhaps a $10 thrift shop or craiglist VCR or borrow one from a friend) I have to say though, since your store bought commercially recorded tapes track good on your current VCR – that VCR probably has good alignment and its probably your home made tapes that were recorded on a VCR out of alignment. So if you get lucky, another VCR may be similarly out of alignment and may track those tapes. Remember though EP recordings have a lot less tolerance than SP recorded tapes.

A time base corrector may help with your situation but first I would try tracking the EP tapes manually on your current VCR and if that doesn’t help with another VCR.
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post #5 of 47 Old 01-27-2013, 08:39 PM
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Cheap solution: just try to get the same/similar VCR model in which you record the tapes. frown.gif
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post #6 of 47 Old 01-28-2013, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
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I don't recall that model of VCR (that I used). Can someone recommend a good VCR? I'm very new to the understanding that all VCR's aren't created equal (I was aware, but I never knew the very large disparity between models). Something that provides for what I need mentioned in the previous paragraphs?

Or, could you recommend a brand/model that I should look for? THanks for your help!

V/r,
Kurt
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post #7 of 47 Old 01-28-2013, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frnorke View Post

Or, could you recommend a brand/model that I should look for? THanks for your help!

A good old Panasonic (with 6 heads and tracking control) will do the trick. Unless your original VHS recorder was a Sony one.
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post #8 of 47 Old 01-28-2013, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frnorke View Post

Can someone recommend a good VCR? I'm very new to the understanding that all VCR's aren't created equal (I was aware, but I never knew the very large disparity between models). Something that provides for what I need mentioned in the previous paragraphs?

The disparity between most VCRs at the SP ("two hour") speed isn't tremendous, the most common issue being iffy tracking of HiFi audio even if the video looks good on screen.

SLP/EP tapes are a whole other batch of nasty. The slow speeds were a PITA back in the days when we had only VCRs, and they're an even bigger PITA today when you try to make digital copies of them. The key point that went over most consumers' heads was that EP/SLP was never intended for anything but disposable recordings (time-shifted soap operas, etc). VCR mfrs didn't expect consumers would latch on to the EP speed as a way to cheap out on blank tape and do all their recordings at that speed, which in retrospect was incredibly naive: if there's a way to cheap out, people can and will make it the standard, and thats what happened. So you have a trillion six-hour tapes sitting around that need to be digitized, but virtually no VCRs whatsoever that can be relied on to play them perfectly. Six-hour tapes play passably well on the VCR that recorded them, but rarely play well on any other VCR: even another of the exact same model. Even if you still had your original VCR, the tapes might play poorly: VCR alignment can drift a bit over the years.

Choosing a second-hand VCR specifically to play EP/SLP tapes is not simple, and odds are you will need to buy and try more than one. We can give you better advice if you tell us what brand VCR you have now that is disappointing you: if its a Panasonic, replacing it with another Panasonic is unlikely to help, etc. Also, if we know what VCR you have, perhaps we can tell you what adjustments you can make on it that may help.

Starting with a good used four-head Panasonic is the path most of us take, since Panasonic (and its "shell" brands) were the most popular back in the VCR era. Just be sure to get a pre-2001 model of Panasonic, as after 2001 Panasonics were tiny crappy generic VCRs dumped out of random Chinese factories with no consistency. All good Panasonics have a date stamped on the back panel label: look for one made between 1995-2000. Sony, JVC and Hitachi probably made the most incompatible EP recordings, so if you don't get good luck using a more-generic Panasonic you'll want to prioritize those other brands in your followup VCR search. There are some exceptions here and there, with careful shopping and some good luck it is possible to find a single VCR with a wide enough tracking range to accommodate EP recordings from several different brands. Sharp brand VCRs were known to be good at EP tape playback, the final Mitsubishi/MGA models like HS-U448 etc had very wide tracking adjustment, and the older semi-pro Panasonic AG1970 will track just about any tape you put in it. Some older LG vcrs with the original "GoldStar" brand can be excellent EP tape players, along with some Emersons. JVC even managed to make their 3900 and 5900 series much better at tracking than usual.

Your best bet is to bug every person you know to find out what brand VCR they have collecting dust, and ask if you can borrow it to see if it works better than yours. If you find one thats stellar, offer to buy it. If you don't know anyone who still has a VCR you could borrow, comb thru Craigs List ads in your neighborhood: lots of people will give you their VCR for $15 if you'll just drive to their house and pick it up. You can find tons of good VCRs on eBay, but the prices asked are double what you see on Craigs List and with eBay you often have to add $20 or more for shipping (plus you can't examine the VCR before it arrives).
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post #9 of 47 Old 01-28-2013, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by profhat View Post

A good old Panasonic (with 6 heads and tracking control) will do the trick. Unless your original VHS recorder was a Sony one.
Panasonic made 6-head units?
I was under the impression they did not, but they DID always keep the LP
Speed (a godsend for us football archivers)
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post #10 of 47 Old 01-28-2013, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by profhat View Post

A good old Panasonic (with 6 heads and tracking control) will do the trick. Unless your original VHS recorder was a Sony one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by billmich View Post

Panasonic made 6-head units?
I was under the impression they did not, but they DID always keep the LP
Speed (a godsend for us football archivers)

profhat, can we assume you were counting the Panasonic heads as 4 video heads + 2 audio hifi heads?

AFAIK, Panasonic did not make any consumer VCRs that went beyond this standard.

(All brands of editing models usually added a single flying erase head, but erase heads are not traditionally included in the total cylinder count.)

For a brief period, Hitachi and Toshiba did market top-line VCRs with 7 or 9 heads total. In each case, two of the heads were hifi audio while the extra video heads were dedicated to smoother slow motion and speed search playback. These are extremely rare VCRs nowadays, their "medusa" head cylinders were fragile and cost a fortune to replace when they inevitably got damaged by amateur head cleaning.
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post #11 of 47 Old 01-28-2013, 04:00 PM
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RE 6-head VCRs.
Note – when I say 6-head, I mean 6-heads dedicated for recording / playing back video. I don’t mean an extra pair of heads for Hi FI sound nor do I mean an extra pair of heads for special effects.

In 1994 Toshiba and Sharp both introduced VCRs with 6-video record/playback heads.

Sharp VC-H98U
Toshiba M-760
I know of no Panasonic or any other manufacture offering a true 6-head VCR.

These Sharp and Toshiba VCRS had the following record/playing back heads:

2-SP heads
(Head-1 58-micron Head-2 46-micron giving a slight guardrail between the head switch)

4-EP heads
Pair one (26-micron)
Pair two (19-micron)
Only one EP pair at a time was used.

Prior to 1994 VHS VCRs used 26-micron heads for EP recordings. Whether you used a 2-head multi-speed recorder or a 4-head multi speed recorder -- EP recordings were laid using 26-micron heads. This is not ideal for EP recordings as the EP track width is only 19-micron and 26-micron heads will “overlap” and cause unnecessary video noise.

In 1994 the technology became available to cheaply precision-cut video heads all the way down to 19-microns. Since this was a new thing – Toshiba and Sharp kept the old 26-micron EP heads on the drum for best backward compatibility with EP tapes recorded on older VCRs using 26-micron EP heads. Of course the 58-m SP heads are kept on the drum thus the birth of the “TRUE” 6-head VCR.

By 1996 most manufactures started dropping the older 26-micron EP heads in favour of the superior 19-micron EP heads but kept a 4-head system having 58/46 SP and 19/19 EP heads. Most if not all of the last Toshiba and Sharp VCRs used the 4-head system droping the 26-micron heads. Although some manufactures use slightly wider EP heads, around 21-microns.

Note- 2-head SP only recorders and 4-head multi-speed recorders used and still use standard 58-micron heads for SP recordings(head 2 is slightly narrower to allow a slight guardrail). But multi-speed 2 head recorders used and still use 26 to 31-micron heads for SP and underlay the tracks wasting space and producing a poorer S/N ratio.

Getting back to the 6-head (4-EP- the dual off spec 26-micron and on spec 19-micron heads+ 58 micron SP heads) system – many folks with tons of EP recordings will favour a Sharp or Toshiba true-6-head machine for this reason. They have EP tapes recorded on various decks – some EP recordings recorded with 26-m EP heads and some EP recordings recorded with proper 19-micron heads.

Do note- most VCRs have more than 4-heads when all heads are counted. You can add 2-Hi Fi heads to most modern VCRs. The more advanced VCRs also have a flying erase head. And ALL VCRS have a stationary audio head and a stationary erase/control track head.

Lastly, for good tracking performance – I personally like and highly recommend JVC as they invented VHS, SVHS, Hi FI, HQ and just about everything VHS. Other manufactures started doing uhm ah “of spec crap” I never, never ever used a VCR that tracks better than my JVC SVHS decks. Believe me I used many brands.

From the Toshiba 1994 manual"
Manually switching on the new 19-micron EP heads.


Toshiba 6-head manual


Toshiba 6-head front panel


Toshiba 6-head Remote
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post #12 of 47 Old 01-28-2013, 06:44 PM
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I have a 6-head 19 micron head s-VHS VCR

Toshiba w-808
Actually have 2 of them
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post #13 of 47 Old 01-28-2013, 07:05 PM
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Thanks for that info billmich. I’m going to put that model as a true 6-head model into my database. I did not know that there was a SVHS true 6-head. I did know that Toshiba made a SQPB (SVHS heads only) 6-head. That manual I displayed comes from a W704 SQPB. I also know that Toshiba made a W701 and W708 SQPB 6-head.

How do you like your Toshibas? Does the w-808 have the manual 19-m head switch? Can please tell me what year the Toshiba 6-head W-808 is from?
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post #14 of 47 Old 01-28-2013, 07:12 PM
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So what are the expert opinions here of what happened to LP speed,
Big gap between 2 and 6 hours IMO
thank got for Panasonic
And why was there never an LP speed in Super VHS?
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post #15 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 05:24 AM
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I will provide all info later tonight when I get home
There was also a w-804 which was identical except for lacking a DNR function, there was NO switch in turning on/off the heads like the manual you showed above

This unit became my primary recorder and playback device, I used a panny 4261 (I think that's the model) s-VHS as my recorder for dubbing tapes for the little sports trading hobby I was into, again, really wanting an LP speed option
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post #16 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 06:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitiBear View Post


profhat, can we assume you were counting the Panasonic heads as 4 video heads + 2 audio hifi heads?

Yes 4+2, anyway thanks for all the professional options suggested by you, guys.
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post #17 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billmich View Post

So what are the expert opinions here of what happened to LP speed,
Big gap between 2 and 6 hours IMO
thank got for Panasonic
And why was there never an LP speed in Super VHS?

Most people were either recording on SP or EP, so most brands didn't feel the need to manufacture LP VCRs. They can still play in LP, but can't record at that speed.

Regardiing tracking issues on EP.... I find it odd how all my VHS tapes that were recorded using EP on older non-hi-fi VCRs, they play on any VCR without any tracking problems. But on videos recorded using EP on newer hi-fi VCRs, there are tracking issues when playing on other VCRs. Very odd, but that has been my experience.
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post #18 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 10:07 AM
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People here are not "most people"
That's for sure.....
I thought I once heard that Panasonic never tried to get fancy by upgrading EP stuff precisely because THEY always kept the LP OPTION

Why is is SLP With some models, and EP with others?
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post #19 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
From the Toshiba 1994 manual"
Manually switching on the new 19-micron EP heads.

Wow, learn something new everyday. I had that exact same "marred by dots" problem with a JVC "19-micron heads" VCR when playing older tapes. I just chalked it up to a cheap model. I don't know if it had an option to turn off the 19u head, however.
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post #20 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billmich View Post

I thought I once heard that Panasonic never tried to get fancy by upgrading EP stuff precisely because THEY always kept the LP OPTION

Why is is SLP With some models, and EP with others?
RCA(a big brand at the time) wanted a speed that was 2x SP(to compete with Beta's longer recording time) but JVC(the originator of VHS) would not produce it for them because they felt the SP quality would suffer(using just two heads they would have to be optimized for LP and not SP). RCA went to Matsushita who produced a SP LP machine, IMO these early SP LP machines had awful SP picture quality but quite good LP quality. Not to be outdone JVC came out with a 6hr 4 head VCR(2 heads optimized for SP two for EP) using 4 heads JVC could retain the high quality SP and also have narrower heads optimized for EP. I don't believe JVC ever produced a machine that would record in LP(a speed they never wanted) but they would all playback LP(albeit generally no special effects and EP like quality).
Shortly after JVC came out with the 6 hr speed Matsushita countered but they called it SLP, an extension of LP. AFAIK all Matsushita machines continued to recorded in LP as well as SP and SLP.
My first VHS was a very early Matsushita built RCA(same as Panasonic) which had 4 heads, two optimized for SP and two for SLP. This machine would play and record in LP but lacked all special effects except a very noisy visual search, because of this I used SP exclusively(I tried SLP very early on but couldn't stomach the low quality).
All my head counts are video heads, hi fi was several years off.
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post #21 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 01:03 PM
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My first VCR (after moving out from parents) was a jvc unit in 1994, and I remember not being able to ff/rew scan my LP tapes....
In my years of taping, I always noticed a bigger quality difference between LP/EP than I did with sp/LP, as if the quality drop off was more steep the slower the speeds went
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post #22 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Super Eye View Post


How do you like your Toshibas? Does the w-808 have the manual 19-m head switch? Can please tell me what year the Toshiba 6-head W-808 is from?

Best I can do is say that the first review on audio review.com is from December 2000
I purchased mine in November 2001
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post #23 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billmich View Post

So what are the expert opinions here of what happened to LP speed,
Big gap between 2 and 6 hours IMO
thank got for Panasonic
And why was there never an LP speed in Super VHS?
There were a Couple of S-VHS vcr`s that DID record in the 4 hour mode as well as the 2 hour and 6 hour mode.
These were put out by Panasonic.
They were the S4880 And S4990 units.
These units were good until something broke on them, then they went to crap.
The S4990 unit also, has the TBC on it as well as the Detail button as well.
But for some reason these units were not built well at all, and MOST exploded internally. eek.gif
My ORIGINAL Mitsubishi MONO vcr recorded ALL 3 modes, from 1984. And so did my MONO Emerson from 1986.
Those units lasted me until about 1992 when I got my JVC S-VHS unit.
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post #24 of 47 Old 01-29-2013, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billmich View Post

There was also a w-804 which was identical except for lacking a DNR function, there was NO switch in turning on/off the heads like the manual you showed above

I’m guessing that by the time the W-808 came out they must have perfected the “auto sensing” to automatically switch to the right EP heads for most tapes. In doing so they must of cut down on costs by getting rid of the 19-u switch. After all Hi Fi is auto sensing and will switch off/on the Hi Fi heads – of course real bad tracking tapes can fool the circuitry and cut the HF heads on/off on/off and one must manually shut off the Hi Fi heads. But 99.999 percent of the time I can manually track good enough not having to do that.

Here are two Toshiba remote controls with the 19-micron head switch.


Speaking of auto sensing SVHS ET VCRs can auto sense between VHS and SVHS. After all my SVHS ET recordings are laid on the exact same tape and tape shells as normal VHS recordings and my deck will have to auto sense the SVHS signal.

More auto sensing info –a while back I asked one of my work related engineers why a tape recorded on a multi-speed narrow head VCR will play back without picking up the extra blank-tape noise on my consumer 4-head VCR that has wide SP heads. He said there are two possibilities. He said one unlikely possibility is that the head-amp will sense the “no signal” part of the tape and mute it, he said that is very unlikely. But he said most likely the head-amp will sense the narrow SP tracks and switch to using the narrow EP heads while staying in the fast SP linear speed. I agree that that is the better explanation.

SP/LP/EP linear speed is sensed by the pulses from the stationary Control Track head.

Some folks think I’m crazy but I love finding out / learning how these things possibly work.redface.gif
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post #25 of 47 Old 01-30-2013, 05:22 AM
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S VHS ET never worked for me, believe me, I tried vigorously.... So I stuck to all or nothing in the S-VHS realm

My panny S-VHS unit could record in LP speed, but only regular mode
I was told that S-VHS recording did NOT support LP speed. It was SP/EP only...
And this was from Panasonic who was a always the biggest LP supporter.
But the increase in EP quality made that point moot in my eyes...
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post #26 of 47 Old 01-30-2013, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billmich View Post

And this was from Panasonic who was a always the biggest LP supporter.

I remember shopping for a VCR in the late 90s. The store I went to had a big selection of VCRs and I had a hard time finding a VCR that supported LP. So, I asked the salesman if they carried any and he replied, "I'm sorry, but they don't make anymore VCRs that record in LP." I was shocked to hear what he said, but nevertheless, I kept on looking and finally saw a Panasonic VCR that supported LP! The salesman was speechless. But that was the only VCR in the store that was capable of recording in LP.
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post #27 of 47 Old 01-30-2013, 07:35 AM
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Clueless sales persons have been Round for a LONG time
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post #28 of 47 Old 01-30-2013, 04:49 PM
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S VHS ET never worked for me, believe me, I tried vigorously.... So I stuck to all or nothing in the S-VHS realm

SVHS ET works for me but only if using decent HG tapes and SP speed and having my deck bias the heads to the tape prior to recording. I’m pretty sensitive to video quality, after all with VHS I used SP to archive and with DVD I use the highest possible bit-rate, XP for 1hr programs and I use the Pioneer MN system for longer programs never exceeding 2 hrs 40 minutes and I would never use LP or lower DVD bit rates.

Before I got a DVD recorder I archived some DVDs to SVHS ET. I could play you one of those tapes and play you a store bought tape of the same program on regular VHS SP speed and ask you to pick the better one. I guarantee that you would pick the SVHS ET recording.

Typical VHS coercivity readings range from about 680 to over 750 Oe. Super VHS tapes have higher readings (800-1000 Oe). So a good HG VHS tape is almost as good as a low end SVHS tape. (750Oe good VHS versus 800 Oe cheap SVHS) I would be willing to bet that a SVHS ET SP recording would be way better quality than a true SVHS recording in EP.

Again I only get good ET results if using a HG tape in SP speed and letting the deck calibrate the bias for said tape.
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post #29 of 47 Old 01-30-2013, 06:53 PM
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And since I was recording football games that I was attending, SP speed wasn't an option for me
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post #30 of 47 Old 01-31-2013, 06:25 AM
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I can see your dilemma then, with football games coming in ~3hrs and even though 3hr SP tapes were available towards the end they were always expensive and on the fragile side frown.gif 2hrs 40 minutes was about the maximum SP tapes that retained quality and durability.
You would have been a good candidate for Beta then, using standard tapes and the BII speed(best consumer speed similar to VHS SP), you could easily get in excess of 3hrs and using a gizmo I have for my Sony SL-5800(a beta stacker). I could stack I believe 5 tapes that would automatically load the tapes, well over 15hrs in the best quality speed, those were the days biggrin.gif Of course with our HDD DVDRs we have that beat but not so with a standard HDD-less DVDR.
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