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ehbowen 01-03-2021 07:42 PM

Which VHS tapes should I throw out?
A while back I bought an assorted lot of blank tapes off eBay for use as test tapes, etc. Some of them have programming although I haven't really looked at them, some are still in factory shrinkwrap. I need to make some room on my shelf, so I thought I would ask which brands don't age well and should be the first to hit the trash bin. Here's the current inventory:
  • Sony Premium Grade T-120 - 16 tapes
  • Scotch Performance High Grade T-160 - 4 tapes
  • Fuji HQ T-120 - 5 tapes
  • Scotch High Standard T-120 - 3 tapes
  • JVC "High Energy" SX-120 - 6 tapes
  • Maxell Standard Grade T-120 - 3 tapes
  • Maxell XL HiFi T-120 - 4 tapes
  • TDK "High Standard" T-120 - 3 tapes
  • Polaroid Supercolor T-120 - 1 tape
  • Panasonic NV-T120ZS - 1 tape
  • Recoton Video Cassette 120 - 1 tape

Which ones are keepers, which aren't worth keeping, and which should only be played in the dirty deck if I'm really curious to see what's on them?

latreche34 01-03-2021 08:49 PM

Play them all and throw them all.

ehbowen 01-03-2021 09:27 PM


Originally Posted by latreche34 (Post 74001)
Play them all and throw them all.

I hope you're trying to be helpful, but I really do want to hang onto a few blank tapes for testing purposes. But I'd like to purge the ones which are most likely to shed particles or otherwise do damage. Besides, some of them (with already recorded content) might prove useful as problem tapes.

Any other opinions?

lordsmurf 01-03-2021 09:44 PM

I can rank those tapes from best to worst, and why, but I can't answer it tonight (or probably tomorrow). But I will in a few days.

cbehr91 01-04-2021 06:06 PM

I'd view them once to make sure there's nothing on there you want to save. If they were stored close to room temperature at reasonable humidity levels there's no reason they won't play fine.

To me, anyway, the good blanks are the Maxell Hi-Fis, the JVCs, and the TDK HSs. While popular, lower grade Maxell and all Fuji and Sony grades were suspect quality. Scotch/3M was somewhere in between those two groups. Not sure about Panasonic, and never heard of Recoton, so it's probably crap. Same for Polaroid.

Dude111 01-10-2021 09:27 PM


Originally Posted by latreche34
Play them all and throw them all.

No not at all!!!!!

What do you have recorded from analogue cable ehbowen??? -- Maybe I can give ya some $$$$ for them buddy!!

I finally found THE GOONIES (1985) recorded off analogue cable (Cinemax (sometime in 1986)) and its beautiful compared to the offical VHS tape which is digitally processed! (It looks flat and disgusting (The audio isnt that good either))

Very sad how many movies were ruined on VHS!!

rocksolid87 01-13-2021 08:21 AM

Sony Premium Grade T-120 - Basic
Scotch Performance High Grade T-160 - Basic Plus (boasts better colors & sound and durability over High Standard)
Fuji HQ T-120 - Basic
Scotch High Standard T-120 - Basic
JVC "High Energy" SX-120 - Basic
Maxell Standard Grade T-120 - Basic
Maxell XL HiFi T-120 - Canada market tape? I'm not sure where this stands in the lineup compared to GX & HGX)
TDK "High Standard" T-120 - Basic
Polaroid Supercolor T-120 - Basic (Korean tape possibly made by SKC)
Panasonic NV-T120ZS - Japan made, should be good, but otherwise I have no clue
Recoton Video Cassette 120 - Made in China likely by Acme. Could also be Swire Magnetics (Laser), but those typically say Hong Kong.

The only one you'd have to worry about would be the Recoton as it would be the bottom barrel of the ones you have. If it is Acme it shouldn't do any shedding or damage as I believe the Walmart VHS tapes from the 90s were also Acme (their cassettes were for sure) and we used a lot of those back then.

Sony, TDK, Maxell, Fuji, and Scotch were all known for high quality tape. Plenty of folks used the Polaroid tapes as a good bargain tape at a good price. Scotch and BASF were the two major suppliers of VHS tape to duplicators back in the day. BASF came out ahead due to less headwear and keeping the heads polished due to their chromium dioxide formula.

lordsmurf 01-13-2021 02:30 PM

I'd written a reply to this, but I guess it was never submitted, was lost when browser crashed (power outage, snowstorm).

I've always wanted to make a detailed guide on VHS tape quality. That way, you know what to expect on conversions, perhaps what changes to make in gear before starting.

The main issues with tapes are dropout, grain, and (oddly) color retention. I've never 100% understood why record-time color was affected by tape grade, and I want to re-read my VCR theory books sometime (free time, what's that?).

TDK best, all grades.
For some reason, the image appeared blurrier and less saturated on the lowest grade TDK.
Kodak was same as lower TDK + dropouts.

Maxell and JVC next best, some dropout, mostly on lower grades.
Maxell Gold/HiFi was top choice of TV/toon collectors (actual collectors, not cheapskate "collectors").

Sony = nonsense marketing, "Premium" was standard. However, usually a good tape, at least until EOL (lots of dropouts in 2000s)

Scotch = meh, neither good nor bad, overall. I see good Scotch, and bad Scotch. At one point, I did like it along with Maxell, before I got into TDK and JVC.

Polaroid = grain, dropouts, avoid

Fuji = the WORST tape, period -- and ironically the Fuji "Pro" was the worst of the worst. We used to joke that "gas station tapes" were better, and even dollar-store no-names (Maxonic) were better,. Lots of grain, lots of dropouts, a truly fugly recording is what you get on these tapes.

Recoton = no-name rebadge, perhaps even 90s BASF. BASF went from one of the best tapes in the 80s, to a B2B tape maker that sold to rebadgers. The early 80s BASF hasn't held up well in the late 10s and into the 20s, it will get worse, transfer those ASAP.

Panasonic was a good tapes in the 70s/80s, one of the only. I still have a 1976 Panasonic that was used to record the Star Wars Holiday Special in SP mode. It's a gorgeous recording of a rare movie, and I've never seen anybody with a better copy than me. (I'm currently working to convert it to HD. The broadcast wasn't great, so I'm actually fixing broadcaster errors, not really tape errors.)

There are lots of other tapes.

Never throw out tapes. At minimum, a bad tape is good for parts to repair other tapes. ;)

rocksolid87 01-13-2021 02:58 PM

@lordsmurf - BASF rebranded Saehan videotape for their "Extra" series ( Your dislike for Fuji is very interesting as I've never heard anyone say anything bad about them. I have some Fuji A/V Pro tapes that are double coated. I've always had excellent results with those. I've also had excellent results with Memorex Pro tapes (made in the USA, not the later Korean stuff). I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on those if you have any.

lordsmurf 01-13-2021 03:44 PM

Fuji was infamous with everybody from local cablecos (back when in-house was still done) to tape traders. The tapes were cheap in bulk, one of only a few bulk brands available in the 90s.

Memorex was awful, but I never used Memorex Pro (don't even recall it existing).

RCA was mentioned in the TapeHeads thread, horrible tapes, the favorite of toon/TV profiteers (a-hole that changed $30/tape in C-/F quality at comic conventions, later eBay and iOffer), using the worst VCR deck that ever existed (Go.Video deal decks). Those were cheap, about $10 for 10/12/15 tapes. Build quality sucked, which led to higher-than-normal tracking issues. Those were worse than "gas station tapes", but also worse than Fuji and Fuji Pro.

S-VHS was different.
- Maxell S-VHS was terrible build quality, led to too many eaten tapes.
- TDK again excellent.
- Fuji was fine, maybe not best.
- Sony was blah, neither good nor bad.

My "hobby days" (90s) had some bleedover into LE (linear editing) and rudimentary NLE (with low-res computer output to S-VHS), duplication, distribution, some local cable companies. So I saw thousands and thousands of tapes, not too different from how I've seen many 10s of thousands (minimum) of blank optical media.

cbehr91 01-13-2021 11:58 PM


Originally Posted by rocksolid87 (Post 74295)
Sony Premium Grade T-120 - Basic

Maxell XL HiFi T-120 - Canada market tape? I'm not sure where this stands in the lineup compared to GX & HGX)

HiFi was above GX-Silver/HGX-Gold. My favorite tapes were the TDKs from the 90s with the grooved cassettes.

lordsmurf 01-14-2021 12:24 AM

Maxell =
Standard/Bronze > Silver > Gold > HiFi/???

I forget the name of the ???
It was purple like HiFi. I forget if the branding HiFi was before or after.
Mostly sold at higher-end stores. You could get a 2-pack of Best Buy for about $10.
The name HiFi was misleading, nothing "HiFi" about it, aside from being better quality tape than Gold (less dropouts, but that's really it, not that Gold had many dropouts).

Gold was 3-packs for $10 at Best Buy, mid/late 90s.
Silver was 5/6-packs for about $12, mid/late 90s.
Bronze/Standard was crap, 12-packs for about $9, early 00s.

Bronze was end of 90s, 00s. Silver was phased out, but phase-out overlapped. After Silver was 100% gone, Bronze became Standard. Gold was still Gold, but quality was barely Silver. The packaging went from artistic to plain colors. Maxell became undesirable in the early 00s.

The 80s had different brandings for Maxell, along the lines of "Avilyn" (TDK, aka TDK EHG).

I just need to pull out all my tapes sometime, index everything in a formal site guide as intended long ago. :)

I may still have some receipts. I kept video/photo receipts so that, one day, years/decades later, I could say "see, this was the cost, not whatever BS you're saying (because that happened in the 90s, referring to 70s/80s). I don't have many 80s receipts, but some! I also have some ads, especially from the back of photo mags.

captainvic 01-14-2021 06:57 PM


Originally Posted by lordsmurf (Post 74325)
Maxell =
Standard/Bronze > Silver > Gold > HiFi/???

I forget the name of the ???

I believe you're thinking of RX Pro. I used to think "RX" was short for "Really eXpensive." :laugh:

lordsmurf 01-15-2021 03:42 AM


Originally Posted by captainvic (Post 74345)
I believe you're thinking of RX Pro.

Nope, also not it. I looked earlier, still no luck. I didn't get loads of the purple tapes, as the expense over Gold was not justified. In fact, even Gold wasn't justified over Silver at one point, both tapes truly acted comparable. I have a LOT of the Silver tapes!

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