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Discussion Starter #1
I have the Pioneer 520 DVD recorder (only a few weeks now) which I purchased to archive video tapes. I also have the Panasonic E85 which I'm pretty happy with.


Anyway, I'm suddenly noticing some strange behavior on the Pioneer 520. My tapes are all in excellent condition but when transferring some of my video tapes it would suddenly black out on certain scenes. This recorder gets much praise so I was completely shocked to see this happening. I have never seen anyone mention this before, has this happened to anyone else or is this some sort of defect on my recorder?


I also just saw a post from someone on here saying they get a jerky scene sometimes when dubbing tapes on the Pioneer 520. I have had this happen to me as well. Anyone know anything about these problems? As it stands right now I think I'm going to be returning the 520. A shame as I was initially very happy with it. :( Anyone else experience these troubles when transferring video tapes on the Pioneer 520?
 

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The Black Out bug on the Pioneer recorders was quite a problem with earlier recorders. While the 520, 420, 220, etc. seem to be a bit better, they still will tend to produce a black screen (for about four frames) when the source has poor video sync, as might occur if a video tape loses tracking or is badly wrinkled.

I have experienced this on my 510, but also on my 420:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=503079


This is one area in which the Panasonic recorders excel.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your response and the link. I had no idea this was a common bug, I've read such high praise for this machine in all other areas. I have the Pioneer 520 and I can't see why this should be happening as all my tapes are in excellent condition and all recorded in SP mode. It's pretty distressing as it completely blocks out certain scenes. I'll have to stick with my Panny E85 for dubs, I'm perfectly happy with it but I wanted the Pioneer for other features the Panny lacks. However, since this is a known problem and not a defect of my recorder I may just return the Pioneer. :( Thanks again for your reply.
 

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luckylisp - you are considering this blackout situation to be "a known problem and not a defect of your recorder". It seems to be a problem that different people have experienced to various degrees, based on the posts that I have read so far. Until your post , I had assumed that the only variable was the condition of the VHS tapes. However, since you say your tapes are in excellent condition and recorded in SP mode - that suggests that different machines may be susceptible to this problem to different degrees. Certainly in regards to your machine.


One thing I am curious about. Did you buy your 520 from an authorized dealer?? Pioneer is adamant about not honoring warranties on machines purchased from NON authorized internet dealers. What bothers me about that is that they are able to sell a lot of machines that do not have warranty protection because they are sold to the end user by non authorized internet dealers. How convenient for PIONEER.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Quote:
Originally posted by longplay

One thing I am curious about. Did you buy your 520 from an authorized dealer?? Pioneer is adamant about not honoring warranties on machines purchased from NON authorized internet dealers. What bothers me about that is that they are able to sell a lot of machines that do not have warranty protection because they are sold to the end user by non authorized internet dealers. How convenient for PIONEER. [/b]
I did buy my machine from an authorized dealer, yes. There was only 2 in my area which made it pretty inconvenient for me and involved a rather long drive. I've decided to return the Pioneer. I've been reading more about the problem and it seems others with tapes that were in good condition have encountered it as well. This is such a shame because other than this problem this is a great recorder. It's damn awful to record a two hour tape and see these 2 second black-outs. Even one quick one second blackout on a dvdr is not acceptable to me especially when nothing at all shows on my original tapes.


One thing I will say is if your tapes are not in good condition, forget making dubs of them on the Pioneer 520. Don't waste your time. A friend of mine had some old video tapes (10 years recorded in SP mode but with little blips on them and one with a crinkled spot) and as a test I recorded a couple of them. Black outs ahoy. I then recorded those same tapes on my Panasonic E85 and it accepted them perfectly fine and recorded exactly as it saw. So if there was a little white line rolling up the screen that is what the Panasonic recorded. The Pioneer blacked the entire scene out - a good 3 seconds or more in some cases. I wonder if this is a defect or something Pioneer actually created intentionally thinking a blacked out scene was better than the blip, I don't know. But it's not better it's far worse, of course.


Now all of my tapes are in excellent condition so I've had less problems, but so far even on my good condition SP recorded tapes it's still happened a few times. It feels like a crap shoot when I dub from VHS now and I can't deal with that. Hopefully this is something Pioneer will correct in their new machines, but somehow I think it will take more time than that.
 

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Thanks, luckylisp, for the warning / info. I wasn't aware that the Pioneer "Blackout" bug was as bad as that. I could understand if the problem was with iLo or Liteon or something. But Pioneer? Hard to imagine why a high-end manufacturer would allow such a defect to get into their products. (Unless of course, as you suggested, it was actually "designed in" to their machines -- either way, how stupid can they be???)


Pioneer's new models are coming out in April. I wonder if they've fixed the problem? Or are they going to pull a "Toshiba" and wait a whole 'nother product generation before they correct it?
 

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I can understand Pioneer doing that for really bad tapes, similar to the way the blue screen thing works, but when it's just a little noise/blip then they should give the user a choice. Though I'm not sure why anyone would want the black screen instead of a little video noise unless they think people might want to edit those areas out.


I've been very pleased with the results I get on my Panasonic E75. And the TBC actually makes some poor quality tapes look better.
 

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luckylisp - it is too bad you have to make a long drive to buy and return your 520. It would be good if you could get another unit to see if you had the same problem with the same tapes. I don't think you would, because most, if not all, of the posts (except yours, of course) have reported the blackouts only on poor tapes.


I was planning on buying a 520 from CRUTCHFIELD.COM. They are one of the few authorized internet dealers, have good pricing, free shipping, and I think a money back complete satisfaction guarantee that includes free return shipping. Maybe you could give them a try.


As for me, if you saw the "PIO 533 vs. Tosh XS34 vs. PAN e50" thread that I started, I am waiting for the 533 to be released and to see the 520 price at that time - before I even begin to squeeze the trigger.
 

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It may not be just the condition of the tapes, but such things as differences between the VCR that recorded the tape and the VCR that is playing them back (if they are not the same machine). The video head sizes are slightly different between different machines, as are tape path and tracking. Even a single machine may change as it ages due to head wear (as well as wear of belts, capstan, gears, pulleys, etc.).


I've been copying VHS tapes for several hours today. I've discovered that tapes made on my year 2002 vintage S-VHS machine come out just fine when dubbed to my Pioneer 420. So far, no black outs. I'm using the same (2002) machine to play them back as they were recorded with.


Unfortunately, I have some recordings (of the same series) that are a bit older and were made on a 1988 vintage S-VHS machine. I am playing these back in another 2002-era VCR. These tapes have tracking problems and "flipping" (loss of horizontal stability). The Pio. 420 choked on one of them, so I am using my Panasonic E80 for the older tapes.


Regarding the Panasonic TBC:

On one of the tapes I was dubbing with the E80, I watched the monitor feed of the source and saw some flipping. I then immediately switched to watch the E80's hard drive recording, and the E80 actually inserted the missing sync pulse--the recording did not show the flipping in the same scene!! In addition, the video noise was drastically reduced.


One other observation that I made during this operation...

In terms of picture detail and noise, EP recordings made on the 2002 S-VHS recorder looked as good or better than SP recordings made on the 1998 recorder. This was even true of recordings that were made on the older machine after I got the new one (so age of the tape and the recording itself was not an issue). I'm not sure whether it was simply the age of the machine or the technology/curcuitry. Anyway, I found myself wishing I had replaced the old fellow sooner (and had stopped using it altogether after the new machine was acquired).


Maybe there's a lesson for how fast we should be adopting newer DVD recorders as they improve them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank for the replies, everyone. Longplay, I think Crutchfield is an awesome place to deal with, I have bought from them more than a few times and been very pleased. They have an excellent return policy. However, I'm too leery to try another Pioneer 520. I paid 399.00 for my Panasonic E85 at Circuit City and I'm pretty happy with it.


See, initially I bought the Pioneer with the intention of returning the Panasonic E85. Simply because I liked some of the features on the Pioneer over the Panasonic. The high speed dubbing to backup DVD-r discs for one, great feature because I don't have a PC writer. Also, the ability to use DVD-RW discs, another major plus. The downside was the Pioneer cost me 100.00 more than the Panny. I was willing to overlook the 100.00 difference because of the Pioneer features, plus it's an overall excellent recorder. But now seeing the blackout problem, I can't risk it. This is the main reason I bought a DVD recorder to convert old tapes of which I have about 100 or more. I'm sure most times it would convert them fine, but even one DVD-r with a blackout is gonna drive me mad. So I figure I'm better off to stick with the Panasonic.


Also, in my mind all the recorders on the market now have their problems. I have yet to find a recorder that I'm pleased with 100% and I've tried a few of them now. (JVC, Pioneer, Panasonic, and Lite On) I think it's going to be a few years before we see recorders that are feature rich without all the bugs. So I'm gonna stick with the Panasonic. I know the Panasonic E85 has received some flak but the truth is the dubs I've made with it are excellent to my eyes.
 

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I had pretty much the same problem with my 310, but found a way around it. I run the analog signal out of my VCR, in to my Sony Digital 8 (TRV460) camcorder, then out from my camcorder via firewire to the DVDR. With the noise reduction and TBC turned ON on the camcorder.... this works like a dream.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Quote:
Originally posted by doxtorRay

Unfortunately, I have some recordings (of the same series) that are a bit older and were made on a 1988 vintage S-VHS machine. I am playing these back in another 2002-era VCR. These tapes have tracking problems and "flipping" (loss of horizontal stability). The Pio. 420 choked on one of them, so I am using my Panasonic E80 for the older tapes.

[/b]
doxtorRay - I am curious as to how you find the picture compares (when making video dubs in particular) between the Pio 420 and the Panny E80?
 
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