Quantcast Cause of buzzy audio on old 8mm tapes? - digitalFAQ Forum
09-11-2019, 02:50 PM
justinw_ justinw_ is offline
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I've got a whole bunch of 8mm tapes of home movies from the 80s and 90s I'm starting to digitize for my mom. I'm running them off of a Sony Handycam CCD-TR9 to my computer through this TOTMC Video Capture Adapter (shows up as "ezcap Video Grabber" in the computer).

The problem I'm running into is buzzy audio on every tape, regardless of which audio input I use. I've tried it with RCA cables from the camera to both TV and computer, and also straight through the headphone jack on the camera. The issues are identical each time: a low background buzz that spikes along with the audio track. Any time someone talks, the buzz rises to meet their volume.

Example of the audio here, featuring an adorable puppy.

Since it's happening with every tape and different inputs, it leads me to believe it's an issue with the camera. Is this something that could be caused by a dirty tape head inside the camcorder? Any other, better educated theories?

Also, one add-on question. The video capture adapter has inputs for the standard Red/Yellow/White RCA cables, but the camcorder has Yellow for video and a single Black input for audio. Audio still comes through fine, but is there a recommended setup for this? (Red vs White into the black? An adapter to hook up both?)

Thanks in advance from me and my mom.
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09-11-2019, 03:56 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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Is this the camera the tapes were recorded with? Judging by the video, either the camera you are capturing with, or the original camera was out of alignment. In 8mm video (unlike say VHS) the audio is read by the same heads as the video so if one is bad, the other one is usually bad too.

Either you would need a different camera, or you would have to adjust tape alignment on the existing one. If the alignment was bad when the tapes when recorded the playback device will have to be adjusted to compensate, if the problem is the camera you're using now being badly aligned, a new camera may be a better/easier way of doing things (and will give you better quality video in any case). Adjusting tape alignment requires some disassembly so it can be a bit daunting, another alternative is to find a transfer service (provided you find a good one that can deal with misaligned tapes).

There's only one audio output as the camera is mono, while the capture device can capture in stereo. It can be fixed by mergin the audio channels after capturing, or by using a splitter to capture the same audio with both inputs.
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09-11-2019, 06:23 PM
justinw_ justinw_ is offline
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Thanks for the response. It is the same camera that was used to record the videos originally, but it hasn't been used in years, and I can't say how much knocking around it's taken in the meantime. I'm asking around to see if anyone I know has a camera that can play 8mm tapes so I can do a little testing, but it's looking like handing them off to a transfer service might be becoming the more economical option.
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09-12-2019, 12:14 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Concur, either camera or misrecorded tapes.

First step in process of elimination is to procure another camera.

Video8/Hi8 is actually slightly susceptible to dirty heads, but the "cleaning" method is to FF/REW a good tape multiple times. Merely wiping it with non-cotton swabs, like with VHS decks, is not adequate. (Note that people over-suggest cleaning VHS heads, and often with bad methods, so the VHS decks get ruined.)

From an old VH post:
While misaligned heads can cause that, an equal culprit is simply dirty heads. Video8/Hi8 was designed for an all automatic tracking system; although it's analogue, there is no dedicated linear control track like in VHS. Tracking is done by recorded tones on the helical video itself: the capstan motor adjusts such that there is maximum output of such tones then it's deemed tracking is optimum. When one head gets clogged (by a dirty tape or not), often video is still recognizable because the VTR will have line or field storage to repeat previous line, except for the beginning (or ends) of a field which will show noise. But, since audio is also picked up by the same heads for video, when one is clogged this can't be corrected on playback so a motorboating sound is produced.
Most transfer services, even more advanced ones such as ours, will not "break" (misalign) Video8/Hi8/Digital8 cameras/decks to match the tapes. We will do that only for VHS and S-VHS, because it is "easier" (relative term, I assure you!). The Video8/Hi8 tracking data is actually recorded to the tape, unlike VHS-based, and you can really screw up the deck irreparably quite easily without scopes/etc to the fine adjustment tolerances. Those tiny formats are far more tedious to align.

There may be some specialty restoration services for this exact issue, but it will not be cheap.

If you want to send out a tape, for a 2nd opinion, PM me.

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