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Andyroo 11-04-2018 07:55 PM

Do old VHS camcorders capture stereo sound?
Hi there,

First time posting so apologies if I'm in the wrong area or if this question has already been answered.
I've had a decent google and search through this site but haven't had any luck as of yet.

The quick question is, did old camcorders (Panasonic VX27) capture stereo sound?

The reason I ask is that I've hooked up my parents old camcorder to my PC and can capture fine but the output from the camera itself only supports mono. Just white and yellow plug, not the red one too. After capturing and then converting the captured digital file I can send the one channel across 2 so it creates a stereo output. However I'm worried that the original recording may have been stereo and by doing the process above I'll be essentially losing one of the channels, only to duplicate the one that I managed to capture.

Thanks for any advice you'd be able to give.


hodgey 11-05-2018 09:34 AM

VHSC camcorders usually only had linear mono audio, including the model you mentioned. Hi-FI stereo was mostly reserved for high-end SVHS and professional cameras.

The VHS format had two types of audio tracks that could be recorded to the tape. Normal/Linear audio, which basicaly worked similarly to an audio cassette tape which was recorded on the upper edge of the tape, and Hi-Fi audio which was frequency modulated and recorded "underneath" the video track. The linear audio track was the original way audio was recorded to VHS, and was normally mono (linear stereo did exist on a handful of consumer and broadcast VCRs, but was very rare and quicky surpassed by Hi-Fi.), and pretty much all VHS tapes would have a linear audio track. Hi-Fi stereo came later as a backwads-compatible addition, and the audio quality was much better, but it required the playback device and recorder to have additional hi-fi audio heads which added extra cost and complexity. It was also very sensitive to tracking issues. It was relatively common on slightly more expensive home VCRs, as commercial tapes would commonly have Hi-Fi audio in addition to the normal audio track, but not all that common on consumer camcorders.

VHS Audio

Andyroo 11-05-2018 03:42 PM

Hi Hodgey,

Thanks so much for the info and fast response!

I thought that might be the case but couldn't find it confirmed anywhere. At least the part that it would have been the higher end models with stereo, if at all. Rest was above my understanding of how these things worked haha.

I'll continue with my project, without fearing any loss of sound! Thanks again!


lordsmurf 11-06-2018 04:27 AM


Stereo is two discrete recording device and locations. Any "stereo" camcorder will be fake, as the audio is still recorded from a single location from a single microphone. Only if the VHS was professional recorded, or serious recording hobbyists, will actual stereo exist.

But you want to capture as stereo 48kHz regardless, at the capture card. Never capture mono, never less that 48kHz.

NJRoadfan 11-07-2018 01:08 PM

To add to the above, there were a handful of 1990s camcorders that did record in stereo, but they were expensive and almost always SVHS units. JVC sold a few SVHS-C camcorders with stereo Hi-Fi audio recording, and almost all Sony Hi-8 Handycams had stereo too. They used a built in "split" mic that recorded true stereo sound and most all of them came with an active mic shoe and/or a 3.5mm stereo microphone input.

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