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Firewire from D-VHS to DVD recorder?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I have a bunch of old VHS tapes, along with S-VHS-C compact cassettes, that I need to get on DVD sooner or later. I have my sights set on a Sony VRD-MC6 DVD recorder and after looking at Sony's site it only has 2 inputs: composite and firewire.

I have an old JVC HM-DH400U D-VHS unit which has component, s-video, and firewire outputs. I am wondering if I can get a better looking transfer if I buy a firewire cable and use this to record to the Sony instead of composite. Has anyone tried anything like this before (using firewire) and do you think it would work successfully? I notice Sony states their firewire connection as "camcorder use only."

Thanks for your help!
post #2 of 6
If you did buy that Sony I'd make sure to purchase it locally and from a place that has a good return policy, also keep all packaging. Everything I've read about the little Sonys have not been too favorable but I don't think I've ever read from anyone proposing to do what you are, that is record from the firewire. As you said it's labeled as "camcorder" use only so I don't know what they are trying to get at with that statement.
Unless you get a response from a actual user saying it wouldn't work, I guess personally I'd give it a try. AVS also has a camcorder section with occasional talk about the little Sonys but then I doubt anyone their would have experience with one and a DVHS w/firewire output. Good luck!
post #3 of 6
I am not familiar with the units you are talking about but over the past 10 years I have had 4 Sony D8 camcorders with firewire outputs an 2 Panasonic DVD/HDD recorders with firewire inputs. You can take it to the bank that the firewire inputs will only input video from a camcorder and not from anything else. My DMR-E95 and DMR-E100 took video from my Sony D8 camcorders but wouldn't take video from my computer. There must be some handshaking going on with the firewire ports because the movie industry required that DVD recorders only take video from camcorders and somehow Panasonic complied. Since Sony is part of the movie industry you can bet that Sony DVD recorders will only take firewire video from camcorders.

I ran my own tests on my Panasonic recorders on their (firewire, S-video & composite) inputs and the best looking sharpest video with the least amount of noise came from the composite inputs. That really surprised me. But if I were you I wouldn't mess around with the firewire input. The composite is better at least on my Panasonic.

post #4 of 6
DaveC E100, the DVD recorders you mentioned are all standard machines designed primarily to record TV. You are of course correct that almost none of these will recognize a FireWire signal unless it comes from a camcorder. (There were a couple of early Pioneers, models 310, 510 and 520, that could often be tricked into accepting other FW sources).

The Sony VRD-MC6 is a tiny little recorder with no tuner, not much bigger than an old CD DiscMan player. It is dedicated specifically to making digitally transferred DVD backup copies of videos stored on modern Sony HiDef and SD camcorders, or JPEGs from compatible camera cards. The biggest difference between the VRD-MC6 and "regular" DVD recorders is that the Sony is capable of receiving a digital HiDef camcorder feed and preserving the HiDef as an AVCHD-format DVD playable on any BluRay hardware. AVCHD will not play on DVD hardware at all, so if desired the VRD-MC6 can optionally convert the HiDef to a standard-def DVD.

All of this sounds peachy and convenient, but in practice these little Sony DVD accessories are known to be very buggy and picayune. They generally work OK with Sony cameras and Sony memory cards, but with anything else you're SOL. The VRD-MC6 balks at many non-Sony memory cards, will not accept an external reader on its USB port, and rarely recognizes a non-Sony camcorder via USB or FW. You can connect non-Sony gear via traditional analog inputs, but this kinda defeats the purpose and offers no advantage over an ordinary household DVD/VHS combo recorder. The VRD-MC6 also has the most hypersensitive copyright protection imaginable: it will flatly refuse to record more than 50% of normal analog camcorder videos, incorrectly identifying them as copy-protected.

I would not recommend a VRD-MC6 unless you specifically own compatible Sony devices. Now that I think more about it, ThumbtackJack, it almost certainly WILL NOT work via FireWire with your JVC HM-DH400U. There's a small chance it might, since your JVC would likely identify itself over FW as a "digital tape," but be sure you buy from Amazon or WalMart or someplace else with a no-questions-asked refund policy it it fails to work. Sony never marketed DVHS itself, so VRD-MC6 may not recognize the protocol in any case. You may want to investigate PC video add-ons like Hauppage or Black Magic Intensity instead of the VRD-MC6, they're not as convenient to use but offer more compatibility and video format options.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
I really appreciate the replies; thanks everyone. Yup, I do have a Sony camcorder; the HDR-XR200. This is how I became interested in the VRD-MC6 and figured that if the Firewire could also work in transferring my tapes, I'd be a pretty happy camper.

I was looking for a DVD recorder with a component input but AFAIK they're very rare. I know composite is regarded as the lowest quality connection, so I figured maybe the firewire may work. As I read the replies and search online it looks that the chance of this working isn't that good. I just saw a Toshiba DR430 DVD player/recorder for $119 on B&H Photo which states the following, "Simply hook your satellite box up to the DR430's component-video or S-video inputs, set the timer, and you're ready to record. If you're looking to preserve home videos, you can either use the same video inputs to connect your VHS player, or the front DV input to connect your video camera directly to the DR430." Do you think would be a safer bet than the VRD-MC6? I'll also look into those computer programs, too.
post #6 of 6
That Toshiba does NOT have component inputs. Only a few old oddball DVDRs had component inputs and most that did were quite low quality so they didn't look any better than a quality DVDR using S-video. Lots of times companies(and people too) mix up composite(yellow) and component(3 video wires). Your best bet for component would be a PC and something like a Hauppauge 1212 PC capture device(which can accept SD and also HD over component).
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