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Odd behavior in VHS recordings of broadcast TV from 2002 - Page 2

post #31 of 47
College football games are allotted 3:30,
And then the possibility of overtime........
post #32 of 47
Originally Posted by Super Eye View Post

I would be willing to bet that a SVHS ET SP recording would be way better quality than a true SVHS recording in EP.

That is my experience. Before SVHS-ET was available, I was buying the highest quality VHS tapes, like Maxell XL, and making the SVHS sensing hole in the cassette, using a soldering pencil, to make SVHS recordings on VHS tapes. They looked quite good.
post #33 of 47
resurrecting a very old thread, but I know that people in this forum are a wealth of knowledge that I want to reach out to.

As stated before in this thread, I have 2 Toshiba W-808 S-VHS decks. I have begun a task of converting some older (95-02ish) sports highlight tapes to DVD. I have noticed that on BOTH of these units, with all tapes involved, that they are no longer able to track the Stereo HI-FI tracks accurately. The little "L" /"R" audio icons on the display look like they are "fluttering" and the sound is definitely not pristine at all, it too has a "fluttering " quality.

If I manually change the audio track to "normal" that anomaly goes away, but I am stuck with mono audio.
The tapes I have tested with are definitely in Stereo and on other units that I have, the "HI-FI" icon is displayed and you can clearly hear the audio is in stereo. Panny V4820 ( I think is the model number)

I really don't want to pitch these (2!) machines as the video quality is still excellent (6-heads..etc) but I don't want to resign myself to less than the hi-fi audio quality that was originally recorded.

I have run all the standard cleaning mechanisms through both machines.Should I try and contact Toshiba and find a qualified VCR dealer in my area (Metro Detroit), hunt someone out on the internet?

Anyone here with any theories and/or suggestions? Thank you for your time and consideration

Edited by billmich - 4/3/14 at 7:18am
post #34 of 47
Some VCRs just don't track HiFi very well as the years go by. There's usually not much you can do about this other than keep several VCRs for different purposes (some will latch onto those HiFi tracks perfectly, although you might have to trade off lesser PQ). Its a "Murphy's Law-Catch 22" with VCRs: it is rare to find one that still offers both stunning video quality and perfect tracking of HiFi for every tape in your collection. Some advanced geeks use two VCRs for troublesome tapes: one to digitize the HifI audio, another to digitize the video, as separate files they then mux into one "perfect" MP4 on their PC.

You won't get anywhere calling Toshiba: they haven't had anything to do with mfrg or repairing their consumer electronics since 2006. Funai and other subcontractors have been using the Toshiba brand while Toshiba itself concentrates on other, more profitable industrial products. If you call them about an old luxury VCR from their heyday, all they'll do is refer you to a Funai service station (if you even get that far on the phone).

The only chance you have of getting the HiFi tracking improved is if you ship your old Toshiba to a specialist repair tech like JOTS Electronics in Texas. JOTS is a pricey firm whose VCR repair concentrates on obscure issues like this. But unless you have money to burn, think twice: reliable wide-range HiFi tracking in an old high-end VCR is an innate talent that often can't be retrofitted or "fixed." The unit either has it, or it doesn't. Shipping cost to a repair specialist + service fees can easily top $250 with no guarantee they'll accomplish any improvement.

You could waste a lot of money chasing a dream, like those folk who still think in 2014 they can obtain a Panasonic AG-1980 or JVC 9500 that works as well as it did in 2001. Possible, yes, likely, no: the higher the original performance of the VCR model, the less chance you will get that performance from it today. The mainstream "ordinary" VCRs with average, unremarkable specs still work flawlessly, tracking HiFi and video with ease. While the hotshot JVCs, Panasonics, Toshibas and Sonys that everyone on AVS went crazy for a decade ago are all problematic now (at best).

Rule of thumb is, if an old VCR includes any kind of fancy signal processing feature (JVC DigiPure High Bit, Panasonic full-field TBC, Toshiba Advanced DNR), it will bite you with some dealbreaker issue that cannot be fixed anymore.
Edited by CitiBear - 4/2/14 at 8:04am
post #35 of 47
Thank you for the detailed response.

I was wondering if perhaps there may be a part that could be swiped out or maybe something got out of alignment and .....etc
As I said, I thoroughly cleaned both decks and they BOTH exhibit the same malfunction, which my other machines seem to play them perfectly.

any other last ditch ideas?
Edited by billmich - 4/2/14 at 12:53pm
post #36 of 47
Since both your identical Toshibas are having the same difficulty with HiFi audio tracking on these specific tapes, you're probably dealing with a worst-case incompatibility scenario. Your Toshibas are aligned to mostly track HiFi on one end of the spectrum, while your sports tapes were recorded on machines that laid down HiFi tracks on the opposite end of the tracking spectrum. This HiFi incompatibility is unfortunately quite common, and one of the most difficult issues to resolve when archiving old VHS to digital. The VHS HiFi audio standard was a lousy kluge, all but guaranteed to cause massive tracking issues from VCR to VCR, so there's little recourse in trying to make any particular VCR more compatible with the hifi tracks of any particular tapes.

In the old days, a few extremely skilled techs were able to skew a VCRs HiFi tracking alignment to favor specific tapes, without messing up the video tracking, which is what you basically want done. But this compromise alignment was rarely successful, and rarely held for very long. If you are quite sure all of your sports tapes were made on the same VCR and all have the same HiFi alignment, you could bring one of your Toshibas and one of those tapes to a tech and ask them to calibrate the Toshiba's HiFi alignment for optimal tracking of only those tapes. But finding such a tech locally isn't easy, and shipping the VCR to a distant tech can be pricey. Plus, no guarantee for how long the new alignment would hold, and that Toshiba would then be incompatible with all your other tapes. Skewing the HiFi may not be possible without messing up the video tracking, which might in turn conflict with the Toshibas noise reduction system, which would defeat the whole point of using this upscale Toshiba in the first place. You see how tricky things can get once you start tampering.

What is it about the Toshiba 808 playback that you prize so highly? The DNR? Rather than spend a fortune chasing down an elusive realignment, you might be better off trying a couple of other VCR brands with DNR that could be a better HiFi tracking match for your sports tapes. Perhaps a JVC DVHS, which you could easily resell at little to no loss if it doesn't give results you want. Also check Craigs List for standard Sharp, JVC, Mitsubishi and Panasonic 4-head HiFi VCRs: some of these perform remarkably well with hifi tracking, don't compromise much on the video, and cost only $20. Worth a try: if nothing else, testing these sports tapes on other VCR brands will quickly reveal whether the bigger problem is your Toshiba VCRs or the tapes themselves. If the tapes exhibit HiFi audio problems on most other VCRs, they were likely recorded on a poorly-aligned VCR to begin with, and might be impossible to track perfectly on anything but that original VCR. Meaning you should set your Toshibas to linear audio playback, and tolerate the drop in quality from HiFi (those HiFi tracks are substandard and will never play correctly).

At this point, with the best classic VCRs aging rapidly and qualified techs scarcer than heart surgeons, we kind of need to compromise and "settle" when it comes to VHS archiving. Sometimes you have to choose whats more important on specific tapes, their audio or their video, and use a VCR that will give the best playback for that aspect. For a music video, you might prioritize the audio, for sports the video action is probably more critical. Unless you can find a tech who can successfully modify one of your Toshibas, I think you might want to adopt a "glass half full" attitude (i.e., things could be worse: the audio track for sports is usually not that critical, while a collection of movies or concert videos would be a huge problem).
Edited by CitiBear - 4/2/14 at 1:33pm
post #37 of 47
are these units worth any type of money on ebay?


or should they go to the dumpster?
post #38 of 47
Originally Posted by billmich View Post

I was wondering if perhaps there may be a part that could be swiped out or maybe something got out of alignment and .....etc
As I said, I thoroughly cleaned both decks and they BOTH exhibit the same malfunction, which my other machines seem to play them perfectly.

any other last ditch ideas?


I once had a guide-pin stick on my HR-S3911U. On auto-tracking the picture and Hi Fi sound would hunt and on manual tracking the best you could do is get the picture at 90% and the Hi Fi sound would slightly buzz on low passages and/or slightly flutter on any sound level. I popped the top cover and looked for abnormal loading and I could tell that the right guide pin may not be loading the tape all the way. (we are talking less than an inch, probably a few microns).

Upon inserting a tape I gently guided the guide pin into the lock position let it run for a while and ejected the tape. The second time I inserted a tape the guide-pin locked into position on its own and I never had that problem again. Even today – all guide pins engage on their own and the deck tracks perfectly.

It is unlikely but there is a slight chance if you haven’t used either of your Toshibas in a long time that both your decks aren’t engaging everything all the way. Pop the top cover off and observe while a tape is inserted. Observe while a tape is ejected – look for anything that might not be engaging all the way. Remember you’re looking for something that’s not engaging less than an inch from normal position.

On the bright side even if your deck is internally out of alignment and you can’t apply a simple fix – consider yourself lucky that your tapes track on your other VCRs.

Getting back to my HR-S3911U. After I fixed my 3911, I posted my guide pin problem and fix on this forum and also on a repair type forum and I heard from a tech on the repair type forum that he had a few VCRs come in with a sticking guide pin. He traced it back to a few possible causes. 1) Long term deck inactivity 2) Stacking stuff on top of deck. I told him I never stack stuff on top and I use my decks regularly. He said it can happen in any case.
post #39 of 47
One other reason for the "odd behavior" you mention could be the VHS tapes you used were junk. If the VHS tapes were TDK tapes, my experience is that you are more likely to have playback problems. TDK HiFi tapes had bad audio, sometimes missing one audio track, thanks top poor quality control when the tapes were cut. My impression is that TDK HS tapes were rebadged tapes that TDK bought from other manufacturers. TDK had a higher end VHS tape they called SVHS, as I recall, which was junk. About the only thing where TDK put an effort into were its stick on labels. Once you affixed the long label to the side of the tape shell, that label was on for good, like attached with superglue.

On the other hand, Fuji SHG vhs tapes recorded great, in my experience. Unlike TDK, I never had a Fuji tape whose tape detached from the hub at the end of high speed rewind.
post #40 of 47
Originally Posted by billmich View Post

are these units worth any type of money on ebay?

The Toshiba W-808 is a scarce "cult" VCR, so fetches $100 to $150 in good working condition with remote.
Yours work, they just have trouble tracking HiFi on a subset of your tapes, so you would get a good price for them.

Unless I've misunderstood, and you meant to say they mistrack the HiFi on ALL your tapes: in that case, you'd need to mention it in your listing, and price them lower (otherwise you risk some crank returning them for "hidden defects" and giving you negative seller feedback).
post #41 of 47
My unit mis-tracks the hi-fi audio on everything from pre-recorded to hi quality FUJI S-vhs tapes
Edited by billmich - 4/3/14 at 7:15am
post #42 of 47
Then it really becomes hard to decide what to do with them. You have two Toshiba W-808 vcrs: both being totally out of hifi alignment is unusual. Were they always this way? If they worked OK when first acquired years ago, they may have simply drifted (like some old Hitachis and JVCs tend to do). HiFi tracking is a complex PITA combo of electrical and mechanical precision that needs to be in a sweet spot of alignment to function even close to normally. Since both VCRs are out of whack, they've most likely drifted with age (electronics decay, mechanical bits get sticky). If you can find a local tech, you might have a shot at a fairly cheap alignment (local VCR guys still in business are hungry, he might do it for $70). The W-808 is worth a repair attempt if the problem is simple drifting from age.

If you can't find a local tech, or don't want to risk the money on an iffy repair, just put your Toshibas on eBay and sell them (sell one first, then the other). Take nice pictures of 'em, list a starting price of $69 or so, and mention that they're finicky with hifi audio tracking. The W-808 is rare enough and culty enough that some buyers will still want them for the video performance even if the hifi tracking is twitchy (like I said earlier, advanced VHS restorers often merge separate dubs of video and audio from different VCRs into one perfected digital file).

There's a W-808 on eBay right now, mint in original box. If you really love this model of VCR, another tactic might be to buy this one and see if the hifi is any better. If it is, you scored, if its as bad as your two Toshibas, then you have proof positive this model cannot be relied on for hifi tracking due to alignment drift with age. It sounds crazy to buy another vcr identical to one you have problems with, but sometimes it helps to have a random sample for comparison. It either proves yours are defective or that the model series has an overall issue. Doing this certainly helped me overcome my attachment to Panasonic AG1980 vcrs (I've been thru nine of 'em, and every one was or soon became a trainwreck).
post #43 of 47
I live in a large metro area with a few options for repair; I am partial to this recorder because of the 19 micron head, the super fast rewind and FF, and the fact that there is a timer displayed on the front panel, my 2 panny S-VHS units (4820??) does not have these features, they do however have other things I find desirable. I had 2 of each for early 2000's dubbing purposes, w-808 was my original source recorder for items, and was the payback unit while the panny was my Duplication recording unit, often times utilizing the LP speed function. And I could duplicate 2 events simultaneously.....

If I could get both "fixed" for about $200 total, I would entertain that Idea; but good to know that I still have the panny's as a backup just in case.
I will also attempt the user's above idea (CAREFULLY!!!) of removing the cover and seeing if non-use has caused some things to not fully engage.

I currently have a Nackamichi CR-7A cassette deck in the shop basically because I wasn't using it enough and things need to be run once a month to keep everything going smooth

Thanks again for the heads up guys
post #44 of 47
Originally Posted by billmich View Post
I currently have a Nackamichi CR-7A cassette deck in the shop basically because I wasn't using it enough and things need to be run once a month to keep everything going smooth

I haven't plugged my 700ZXL in for probably 15 years :eek: Wonder if it would even fire up.........great cassette deck in it's day though, made recordings on a variety of tapes that rivaled the vinyl they came from :)

post #45 of 47
I recall seeing a w-808 at a local salvation army thrift store a while back, maybe I pick one up cheap there (bring as tape/remote to verify that it works) and save myself the aggravation and a LOT of money. The local repair shop I stopped by at lunch yesterday said that the cause may be that I need new video heads and it would be about $200 each to do that. (prolly too much to drop considering I have suitable backups)

I still may try the above item when I take the cover off and see if everything is fully engaging, What I find most peculiar is that both machines are doing the exact same thing with all tapes.....
Edited by billmich - 4/4/14 at 8:28am
post #46 of 47
It is extremely unlikely that you'd need new heads for two identical VCRs at the same time. Also, if you needed new heads you'd almost certainly be seeing a huge decline in video playback quality. That tech is either not well versed in VCRs or he's pulling your leg: the most likely issue is electromechanical alignment drift. Replacing the heads is relatively easy and quick and he can charge a sky-high fee, doing an alignment is tedious, time-consuming, and unprofitable. He probably hopes the new heads would solve the audio tracking quickly, but the joke would be on him if it failed and you refused to pay. Plus, good luck finding a new old stock Toshiba head drum for a W-808: is this guy delusional? You can't even source head drums for a common Panasonic AG-1980 anymore.

I would totally try the W-808 at that Salvation Army store: thats a great idea. It will either be a cheap solution to your problem, or prove that all W-808s drift badly and you should just move on to a different VCR.

Re Nakamichi: they made some amazing hifi gear back in the day. It was also incredibly finicky and prone to breakdowns if left unused or used too much. Their cassette decks were the decks everyone loved to hate: best audio performance possible, highest (breathtaking) price possible, lowest reliability possible- all rolled into an elegant package. The auto-reverse deck that worked by actually flipping the tape over was a hoot, the insanely complicated self-aligning Dragon... wowsa. I could never afford the initial outlay or upkeep for one of their cassette decks, but I did spend two paychecks to buy one of their CD players in 1987 (OMS4A for $999). Still sounds incredible, but it sat for years in mothballs until I discovered the secret of how to DIY replace the CD loading belt. Like clockwork every winter, it would refuse to load, and I'd have to pay Nakamichi to service it for $150 + shipping. After doing that three years in a row, I put the thing in storage. A decade later, Nakamichi fan websites arose explaining common repairs, and I learned how to pop the hood, remove the disc drive and replace the buried 30-cent belt that wears out every winter. Only Nakamichi would blithely sell a high-end CD player with seasonal affective disorder.
Edited by CitiBear - 4/4/14 at 11:11am
post #47 of 47
Well guys I have tried everything and I am quite embarrassed to admit but I have solved my issue

I actually used one of those clean Dr. wet cassette head cleaning tape thingies. And everything is back into hi-fi bliss

I had cleaned the tape heads before my recent conversion push but I bet those prerecorded cassettes were just shedding oxides or something else making it really dirty

Since I was using both units equally in my conversion process I have two Panasonic EH 55's, that would explain why both machines exhibited the exact same behavior at about the same time

In the one unit I actually opened up I also blew some compressed air because after 12 years no matter what there was a fair amount of Dust in there

I thought before my last taping to conversion to DVD I had cleaned all the tape heads but maybe six or seven hours was just enough to put stuff on there to lose the hi-fi tracking

I actually have learned or relearned a fair amount of information because I did some hard-core research over the last couple of days

A big thank you to all in regards to assisting me with this
Edited by billmich - 4/4/14 at 4:36pm
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