Quantcast Best chain to capture VHS tapes to PC - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
01-28-2018, 10:30 AM
pipperone pipperone is offline
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Hi,
first of all, thank you for this forum, it is very useful for who wants to save old analog contents to digital before it is too late.

I started 2 years ago to transfer PAL VHS tapes to digital and at the beginning I used what I already have from my older computers.

Tapes before mid 2001 were recorded with a Hitachi mono 2 heads machine built on 1988, newer with my current machine at that time, a superb Super VHS deck, JVC HR-S8600EU, a very few of these on Super VHS tapes.

First attempt: Hauppauge HVR 1300 PCI, Windows 7 Professional, capture on MPEG-2.

Results were good, but not so good I expected, probably Hauppauge has not a good A-D converter or hardware MPEG-2 encoder through S-Video input, motion ghost is present on many recordings and chroma was not spectacular.

In the meantime, audio problems appear on JVC deck, buzzing sounds became more and more common on playback, I sent it to check to a technician what was wrong, but he told me that this could be solved only with head drum change and these one are very rare to find now.

So I followed many threads onto this forum to create a better hardware chain to work.

PC was the simplest part, thanks to eBay:
Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz;
1 GB RAM;
Windows XP Professional SP3;
ATI All-in-Wonder 9600 XT PCI video capture card with purple box and all cables;
M-Audio Audiophile 2496 audio card;
80 GB PATA drive dedicated to OS, 320 GB SATA drive linked to controller card dedicated to recordings.

Now the interesting part.

As VHS deck, I bought many offers from eBay, always at lower price than usual ones I found on Internet (around 100-120 Euros), I know this seems like a gamble.

Some were very crap (e.g, a JVC HM-DR10000 with spectacular playback images but no audio at all and random behaviour from commands), but some were successful.

Now I can count on these working machines:

Philips VR1000 (JVC HR-S7600EU clone, I guess)
Panasonic NV-HS950 (a little grainy video output and when audio have some distortions it mutes)
Metz 9877 (Panasonic NV-HS1000 clone)

I also bought new from Germany Cypress CTB-100 external TBC and then a new DC adapter with more stabilized power to avoid possible potential problems.

Few weeks ago I founded at a low price also a JVC DR-M10S Region 2 DVD recorder, unfortunately optical part is broken, every disc I used (blank or pre-recorder) I receive "Disk error", I also manually cleaned lens but no change.

So, the questions are:

1) Is it best choice to create a video signal chain like this: S-VHS deck (S-Video) -> Cypress TBC (S-Video) -> ATI AIW (S-Video)? I will start using MPEG-2 and then try to see how huffYUV is good
2) Can JVC DVD recorder be useful as passthrough device to clean signal? In which part of chain is it better to position it?
3) Do I need to disable some options from S-VHS decks (e.g. TBC, DNR, Digital 3D, BEST) or DVD recorder on this chain so they do not interfere each others?

Thank in advance and sorry if you found this post too long, it was unintentional.

Last edited by pipperone; 01-28-2018 at 10:34 AM. Reason: Corrections
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  #2  
01-29-2018, 12:17 AM
jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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Your post is like a lot of new posts that appear here and on other forums.

LordSmurf and a few others here can provide very good information.. be patient and (really) take what they say to heart.

As a next to newbie myself..

1. get your goals in focus, how many tapes, figure out how they were recorded, VHS or S-VHS, SP/EP/SLP

2. don't assume you need a top of the line VCR, most are trash these days even if they are cheap on eBay, but if you have a lot of tapes.. you probably need more than one of different brands (if you can afford them). I see your PAL or EU based.. you will get excellent advise here.. even if its simply that they (don't know) about your devices.

3. make sure you know what tracking is, and find a VCR with excellent tracking for your tape type and speed

4. decide on your target result, raw AVI or MPEG (i.e.) plan to playback as computer files? or on a DVD player on a TV?

5. the best gear for capture is old gear from 2003-2005, on XP.. and its hard to come by now.. keep your mind open to USB devices.. a general purpose XP system is probably too fragile for this work, it should be completely stripped down and used only for capture.. or use a different box

S-Video is nice if you can use that all the way through.. but sometimes Composite is all you have, or it can be better for weird reasons.. be willing to experiment, same with DNR and TBC.. be willing to flip them off and on.. if you can to try different things out

There is no cookbook formula.. you have to sit there and watch the tape on a tv or monitor and build up your own experience.. its a tiring hobby

(pass thru hardware: is hit or miss, and in general a rare item to rely on, the ES10, Polaroid, Toshiba XS ect.. are a lot of trouble to go to unless you already happen to have that or it landed on your doorstep at no cost.. if you can find that gear its expensive to buy even on eBay and often broken and unrepairable - and if you have a VCR with DNR/TBC you don't need a pass-thru.. its basically the same thing.. doing signal processing "twice" doesn't make it better)

On the topic of HDD/DVR (which is where pass thru came from I think).. they are mostly all gone now.. stopped manufacture at least 3 years ago and go for hundreds on eBay when they come up. Best avoided unless you understand the choice and control you give up by pursuing that workflow.. some people like it.. but its got downside.

Last edited by jwillis84; 01-29-2018 at 12:29 AM.
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  #3  
01-29-2018, 01:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
2. don't assume you need a top of the line VCR
Grrr... this is something that aggravates me.

The term "top of the line" is meaningless, 4 words strewn together. Furthermore, it's often taken to mean "any VCR is fine" (which is WRONG!!!), as oppose to more nuanced understanding of S-VHS VCR model lines.

Fact: You need a S-VHS VCR with built-in line/field TBC for quality transfers. The end.

Noting that in some obscure/rare instances, where the tapes is really messed up, either the original recording deck, or a "dumber" VHS VCR will yield better quality. And I mean "better" mostly in that is has less errors, not error-free, and not really high quality. Again, generally a seriously messed up tape, nth gen or bad recording.

Quote:
most are trash these days even if they are cheap on eBay
So true!

Even those "tested" decks have issues. The important aspect of testing is how it was tested. Most eBay'ers simply see power lights, or at best a picture on-screen. Any picture, good or not. To truly test a VCR, you need to give it a battery of varied tapes, preferably from a testing bed, and judge performance on noise, chroma, ingest, etc. Few resellers on eBay actually have any knowledge of video, often electronics/AV recyclers, and are just hawking things.

Quote:
but if you have a lot of tapes.. you probably need more than one of different brands (if you can afford them).
To clarify here: JVC + Panasonic S-VHS deck. And "a lot" means more than 100. On average, any given VCR works with 90% of tapes at best. Two non-same decks generally makes it 99%+.

Quote:
I see your PAL or EU based.. you will get excellent advise here.. even if its simply that they (don't know) about your devices.
I don't want PAL-land members thinking this is NTSC-only site or even NTSC-primarily site. It's not. For example, my PAL and NTSC knowledge is pretty equal after 25 years of video. I have 2 PAL decks myself (one JVC, one lower-end VHS Panasonic), and can also do some JVC repairs on both PAL and NTSC. We also have several EU and UK members here.

Next post as reply to OP.

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  #4  
01-29-2018, 01:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
S-Video is nice if you can use that all the way through.. but sometimes Composite is all you have, or it can be better for weird reasons..
Besides poor eyesight I can't think of any reasons one would prefer composite...
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  #5  
01-29-2018, 01:39 AM
jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Grrr... this is something that aggravates me.

The term "top of the line" is meaningless, 4 words strewn together. Furthermore, it's often taken to mean "any VCR is fine" (which is WRONG!!!), as oppose to more nuanced understanding of S-VHS VCR model lines.

Fact: You need a S-VHS VCR with built-in line/field TBC for quality transfers. The end.
You are correct.. I should choose my words more carefully.. I was thinking more along the lines of a D-VHS type deck. For a VHS or S-VHS only conversion they might be a lot of money and risk for little gain over a better lower cost model.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post

I don't want PAL-land members thinking this is NTSC-only site or even NTSC-primarily site. It's not. For example, my PAL and NTSC knowledge is pretty equal after 25 years of video. I have 2 PAL decks myself (one JVC, one lower-end VHS Panasonic), and can also do some JVC repairs on both PAL and NTSC. We also have several EU and UK members here.

Next post as reply to OP.
My sincere apologies.. it can certainly be read that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dinkleberg View Post
Besides poor eyesight I can't think of any reasons one would prefer composite...
LordSmurf pointed out I was being very loose with my language.

I didn't mean to insist that Composite would ever be "preferred" as a general rule.. only that it shouldn't be discarded as an option to explore if the signal can't be fixed any other way.
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  #6  
01-29-2018, 03:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
You are correct.. I should choose my words more carefully..
My sincere apologies..
No harm done, I'm just a stickler for accuracy and details.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
LordSmurf pointed out I was being very loose with my language.
I didn't mean to insist that Composite would ever be "preferred" as a general rule.. only that it shouldn't be discarded as an option to explore if the signal can't be fixed any other way.
Yep, that is correct.

Sometimes nth gen tapes are so compounded that s-video actually makes it worse. This is rare, but can happen. I see that every few years on a tape, or a group of identically-made tapes.

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  #7  
01-29-2018, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pipperone View Post
Hi,first of all, thank you for this forum, it is very useful for who wants to save old analog contents to digital before it is too late.
Welcome.

Quote:
First attempt: Hauppauge HVR 1300 PCI, Windows 7 Professional, capture on MPEG-2.
Results were good, but not so good I expected, probably Hauppauge has not a good A-D converter or hardware MPEG-2 encoder through S-Video input, motion ghost is present on many recordings and chroma was not spectacular.
That's just not a very good card for analog SD capture. It's from the early HD era, and had PVR/timeshifting as the main focus. And although MPEG 4:2:0 (or even DV 4:2:0) is quite adequate, it still depends on the quality of the card, and how it handles the chroma.

Quote:
In the meantime, audio problems appear on JVC deck, buzzing sounds became more and more common on playback, I sent it to check to a technician what was wrong, but he told me that this could be solved only with head drum change and these one are very rare to find now.
For a JVC to develop head issues is rare, but happens. I'm not 100% positive your audio is a head issue, however. It may be a simple head adjustment, but hopefully the tech already checked for that.

Quote:
So I followed many threads onto this forum to create a better hardware chain to work.
PC was the simplest part, thanks to eBay:
Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz;
1 GB RAM;
Windows XP Professional SP3;
ATI All-in-Wonder 9600 XT PCI video capture card with purple box and all cables;
M-Audio Audiophile 2496 audio card;
80 GB PATA drive dedicated to OS, 320 GB SATA drive linked to controller card dedicated to recordings.
Should be a good build. The only item that may give issues is that audio card. The fanciest audio cards often make for the worst video capture systems.

Quote:
Now the interesting part.
You've gone through a lot of good hardware there.

Quote:
1) Is it best choice to create a video signal chain like this: S-VHS deck (S-Video) -> Cypress TBC (S-Video) -> ATI AIW (S-Video)? I will start using MPEG-2 and then try to see how huffYUV is good
Ideal VHS workflow = S-VHS VCR with TBC > external TBC > capture card

Huffyuv vs MPEG-2 depends on end goals and source quality.
- For archiving as is, MPEG-2 15mbps is excellent when captured with ATI AIW card.
- For projects where editing/restoration needed, you want lossless.
- Sometimes I take long way around, capture Huffyuv, and then MPEG-2 15mbps 422 profile (to keep all color in 4:2:2 space).

Quote:
2) Can JVC DVD recorder be useful as passthrough device to clean signal? In which part of chain is it better to position it?
JVC recorder has no passthrough. It's the DVD MPEG spec alternative to capture card, nothing more. It is, of course, probably the best recorder for VHS ever made, due to the LSI chipset.

Quote:
3) Do I need to disable some options from S-VHS decks (e.g. TBC, DNR, Digital 3D, BEST) or DVD recorder on this chain so they do not interfere each others?
Since passthrough not possible, no effecting one another. DVD rec has no TBC, DNR inside chipset and not effected by earlier chain hardware. BEST is rarely best, depends on player. Some decent, some terrible.

Quote:
Thank in advance and sorry if you found this post too long, it was unintentional.
All posts are long.

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  #8  
01-29-2018, 03:02 PM
pipperone pipperone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post

For a JVC to develop head issues is rare, but happens. I'm not 100% positive your audio is a head issue, however. It may be a simple head adjustment, but hopefully the tech already checked for that.
It is a great shame because it was a good recorder and a good player, JVC video settings are very incisive.
Further on I will try to send to another tech.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post

Should be a good build. The only item that may give issues is that audio card. The fanciest audio cards often make for the worst video capture systems.
I added because AC97 audio chip embedded on motherboard passed with warnings ATI hardware tests (loss of synchronization).
Do you suggest to add instead a Sound Blaster one (not X-Fi or Audigy)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post

Huffyuv vs MPEG-2 depends on end goals and source quality.
- For archiving as is, MPEG-2 15mbps is excellent when captured with ATI AIW card.
- For projects where editing/restoration needed, you want lossless.
- Sometimes I take long way around, capture Huffyuv, and then MPEG-2 15mbps 422 profile (to keep all color in 4:2:2 space).
Many of these recordings will be for archiving so MPEG-2, but I would like to try HuffYUV capture.
Only my worry is space needed.
On a modern 3-4 TB S-ATA III drive it is not a problem but on a 320 GB one it could be.
Maybe I will need simply to lower capture resolution to 352x576 to solve it.
Interesting to know that it can capture on 4:2:2 profile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post

JVC recorder has no passthrough. It's the DVD MPEG spec alternative to capture card, nothing more. It is, of course, probably the best recorder for VHS ever made, due to the LSI chipset.
Then I will try a spare optical drive (GDA-4040B is onto model) and ... Open a new thread if necessary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post

Since passthrough not possible, no effecting one another. DVD rec has no TBC, DNR inside chipset and not effected by earlier chain hardware. BEST is rarely best, depends on player. Some decent, some terrible.
Good to know.

Thank you for all your answers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
Your post is like a lot of new posts that appear here and on other forums.

LordSmurf and a few others here can provide very good information.. be patient and (really) take what they say to heart.

As a next to newbie myself..

1. get your goals in focus, how many tapes, figure out how they were recorded, VHS or S-VHS, SP/EP/SLP

2. don't assume you need a top of the line VCR, most are trash these days even if they are cheap on eBay, but if you have a lot of tapes.. you probably need more than one of different brands (if you can afford them). I see your PAL or EU based.. you will get excellent advise here.. even if its simply that they (don't know) about your devices.

3. make sure you know what tracking is, and find a VCR with excellent tracking for your tape type and speed

4. decide on your target result, raw AVI or MPEG (i.e.) plan to playback as computer files? or on a DVD player on a TV?

5. the best gear for capture is old gear from 2003-2005, on XP.. and its hard to come by now.. keep your mind open to USB devices.. a general purpose XP system is probably too fragile for this work, it should be completely stripped down and used only for capture.. or use a different box

S-Video is nice if you can use that all the way through.. but sometimes Composite is all you have, or it can be better for weird reasons.. be willing to experiment, same with DNR and TBC.. be willing to flip them off and on.. if you can to try different things out

There is no cookbook formula.. you have to sit there and watch the tape on a tv or monitor and build up your own experience.. its a tiring hobby
Thanks for your common sense words.
Only notation is for top of the line VCR.
Every VCR I had I sent to tech to checks, I an not very good at working with electronic plates and machineries.
I know that in real world, both good and bad techs exist so results can be varied, but with these decks I saw a giant difference on playback to cheap ones I briefly tested.
How many tapes? At the beginning, I considered less than 50, but when I saw that many of these are way better than I remember and then shown to some friends, they also ask for these of that, then I have already passed 120-130 captures ... And still counting.
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