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  #1  
05-22-2019, 08:37 PM
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I've a fondness for XP and ATI, but dabble with DVRs and the occasional Firewire capture box.

Someone was letting go an AJA IoLA for $11.

This is a Firewire box for OSX 10.6 "Snow Leopard" maximum.. so the equivalent of Windows XP. It captures SD in Uncompressed 422 at 10 or 8 bit.

I've a Mac mini 10.6.8 Core duo running Final Cut Pro 7

The combo of my Mac and FCP7 or Quicktime7 seem to capture well.. but I'm clueless where AJA and Mac capture is concerned. I'd upload a clip but 60 sec is 1.79 GB

I guess beyond comparing it to a typical Hauppauge or Blackmagic HD capture device I'd like to learn what to watch out for.. or whether its something that really isn't viable for VHS capture.

Has anyone experience with the Apple / AJA ProIO line of products?

Thanks

-- update --

I had a fun evening sorting out the minor issues with the IoLA on my mac mini.

End result is rather amazing for capture on a Mac, it looks very good.

I found Final Cut Pro 7 and Quicktime 7 had no problems with it. The AJA drivers installed and offered up the encoder via those two programs as a specific type of hardware device.. its not treated as a Firewire camera.. its its own thing, but works very well at video capture.

In the end though I found their AJA VTR Exchange application was best.. snappy, light weight and just enough app to get the job done. They have mostly the s-video, component, composite capture presets for Uncompressed 10 and 8 bit at several frame rates. Or they have presets for DVPRO and DVPRO50 encoded files.

The only problems I ran into was confusing the drivers and firmware for the other products (Io, IoLD, IoHD) with the drivers and firmware for the IoLA. The installers don't stop you from installing the wrong ones, they simply don't work.

Once I stopped trying to the apply the wrong firmware or drivers.. it was rock solid.


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  #2  
05-24-2019, 07:15 AM
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I tried to upgrade my Mac Mini some months ago, but it balked. I had cloned the HDD to a new SSD, did the upgrade there. But it doesn't work. I may leave it as 10.6.8, or at least leave that HDD untouched, and try some of these capturing methods later this year.

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  #3  
05-24-2019, 11:09 AM
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I think you'll be pleased.

If your not I'd really be interested in the critique.
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  #4  
05-25-2019, 12:39 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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I bought the AJA IoLA few weeks ago hoping I could get it to capture under a generic firewire driver on Windows XP or 7 but I was wrong, It was detected as an unknown device. I will put it up for auction if anyone interested.

Edit:
I saw your review of the device over at TH, Very impressive, It is indeed as stable as the BE75, very solid performance.
Maybe we can do side by side comparison, Capture one minute 8bit 4:2:2 file and send me the tape to do the same with the BE75 and will send the tape back to you, What do you think?

Last edited by latreche34; 05-25-2019 at 01:18 AM.
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  #5  
05-25-2019, 02:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
I bought the AJA IoLA few weeks ago hoping I could get it to capture under a generic firewire driver on Windows XP or 7 but I was wrong, It was detected as an unknown device. I will put it up for auction if anyone interested.

Edit:
I saw your review of the device over at TH, Very impressive, It is indeed as stable as the BE75, very solid performance.
Maybe we can do side by side comparison, Capture one minute 8bit 4:2:2 file and send me the tape to do the same with the BE75 and will send the tape back to you, What do you think?
Sure.. but I'll have to get back to you on Sunday. I need to do yard work for my Mom today.

I left out a lot of info on the AJA Io LA.. that review was getting long enough.

AJA is a company in the US started by a Television engineer and his wife in Grass Valley, CA.

Their Mac OS X line of products is particularly nice.. but you have to be willing to stop at OS X 10.6.8 and ditch the whole windows angle for capture. Once its a file though.. windows can handle it no problem.

I'd love to offer you something for your Io LA.. but it might not be very much since you can pickup the Io LA very cheap on eBay. - The hard part is finding OS X 10.6.8 gear.

I'm really curious about LordSmurfs opinion about this gear.

Last edited by jwillis84; 05-25-2019 at 03:16 AM.
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  #6  
05-25-2019, 06:17 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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It may not be a good idea though since we may not have the same model VCR, That will defeat the purpose of the comparison between the BE and the Aja. I have a basic Sony VHS VCR and a S-VHS JVC HR-S7600AM.
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  #7  
05-25-2019, 08:40 PM
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JVC VCRs don't vary that much. My 7965EK (PAL) is probably comparable to the 7600-AM. Or the 7800U.

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  #8  
05-26-2019, 01:18 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Jwillis I will capture one minute of a NTSC commercial tape and I will send it over afterwards, You don't have to send it back:
I will do one cap VCR TBC/DNR ON and another cap TBC/DNR OFF, I will leave TBC/Frame sync ON on the capture device assuming your Aja is built in some kind of image stabilization too. Lets do 10bit 4:2:2 and use the same script to convert to mp4. Whenever you're ready PM me a valid address.
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  #9  
05-26-2019, 07:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
Jwillis I will capture one minute of a NTSC commercial tape and I will send it over afterwards, You don't have to send it back:
I will do one cap VCR TBC/DNR ON and another cap TBC/DNR OFF, I will leave TBC/Frame sync ON on the capture device assuming your Aja is built in some kind of image stabilization too. Lets do 10bit 4:2:2 and use the same script to convert to mp4. Whenever you're ready PM me a valid address.
The AJA had what John Abt called a TBC built-in from the start, but didn't fully enable it until a later firmware release. As far as I know its fully enabled in the 10.6.8 version of the firmware. There are no obvious checkboxes or sliders for reducing or disabling it.

As for VCRs.. I do have a working JVC HR-S7600U with the dynamic drum. I think I picked it up at a garage sale and it wasn't used much. The drum gears do work.. If LordSmurf is correct and they don't vary that much perhaps we have similar gear?

I don't have any commercial grade tape however, best I can do is low grade consumer stuff.. I was just a young boy when all of this was in its prime.

I have a SONY SLV-393 but I don't think its in the same League as the gear we're talking about.
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  #10  
05-26-2019, 01:46 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Yes the HR-S7600U is an identical model to the HR-S7600AM, The only difference is the later has an additional circuit boards for playing back and recording native PAL. I have a good tape, It's a demonstration tape with testing patterns and short clips, I also have a good quality Tom & Jerry VHS tape, Which ever you like.
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  #11  
05-26-2019, 01:53 PM
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Either is fine.. it will be interesting to see the quality of the transfer to digital.
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  #12  
05-27-2019, 03:31 AM
traal traal is offline
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I'd be curious to see if the hard drive in the Mac Mini can keep up with 10 bit uncompressed SD video. Is it the stock drive or did you replace it with a SSD? Also, how good are the AJA Io LA's built-in comb filter and TBC?
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  #13  
05-27-2019, 04:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traal View Post
I'd be curious to see if the hard drive in the Mac Mini can keep up with 10 bit uncompressed SD video. Is it the stock drive or did you replace it with a SSD? Also, how good are the AJA Io LA's built-in comb filter and TBC?
I used a 7200 rpm Hitachi drive.

Hitachi HTS727575A9E364

Which was an upgrade from the 5400 rpm drive it originally came with and has 16 MB of buffer.

The operating system and the capture drive were one and the same.

But I have a few options.

I also have a mac mini server 2010 which has two drives that can be addressed as separate drives, or combined into a striped set.. if I need more speed. And there are legions of examples online where people simply extended a cable from one of the internal SATA drive ports out the back of the fan slot to connect an external drive or external RAID drive array.

On my mac mini 2010 desktop, the wifi/bluetooth slot can be re-purposed as a SATA slot without removing the super drive.. but I don't think I'm going to go that route. I'm more inclined to permanently use the mac mini server and bring out an eSATA connection and hook up an external drive, or trayless drive enclosure.. then treat those external drives as bricks to plug into a PC or a drive dock for duplication.

The thing is with these Io devices is they are totally geared for "Uncompressed Capture" so they are a tool. After you snap the capture, then you have to either store the raw footage, or get it to another more powerful computer to "encode" it for your purpose either for smaller storage, or polishing as a distribution format.

If you aren't planning on spending time with it, or need color correction or "more than" cutting out commercials.. then might as well get a DVD/HDD recorder and encode direct to MPEG-2 in one step and by-pass all of this.

I really don't think you want to do this for every tape.. unless you have a priceless collection.. but only for problem tapes.. or special tapes like weddings and graduations. Unless.. that is.. you have a lot more money and time than me.

On the other hand.. simply capturing to one of the mac mini server drivers dedicated to the task of capture footage may be enough.. even for Uncompressed 10 bit. The guidelines for RAID for Uncompressed 10 and single drive for Uncompressed 8 were written at a time when 5400 rpm was practically all that was available. A few years later 7200 rpm would be available. A single 7200 rpm might be all that is needed for Uncompressed 10 bit. Offloading that over USB 2.0 could then take as long as it needed.

And then your right.. an SSD is a possibility.. very large SSD are inexpensive today.. but prohibitively expensive back then.

Comb filters are only for CVBS or Composite.. I haven't tested that.. because these Io devices all have S-Video din connection ports. But its a legitimate concern if your 4 Head VCR only has composite out. The TBC was built into the design from the start, but only activated or fully brought online with a firmware update that came almost a year later. There does not appear to be any way to turn it on or shut it off.. other than downgrading or upgrading the firmware.

-- merged --

An excellent OWC article on 5400 rpm vs 7500 rpm vs 5400 after the advent of PMR in 2011

When Slower is Actually Faster

4200 rpm 38 MB/s
7500 rpm 48 MB/s
5400 rpm 115 MB/s

The AJA ProIo line (Io, IoLA, IoLD) ended their support run in 2010

Which means normal disk speeds for the Io user guides printed in 2004 was quite a bit different from what was available in 2010.

Combining PMR with average improvements in drive technology, for a single drive, no RAID striping:

The user reported sustained write transfer speed for my HITACHI HTS727575A9E364 is 118 MB/s

So probably around triple what an Io would expect to see back in its day. That I captured to the operating system drive probably explains why Uncompressed 10 bit was dropping a few frames. I only had 3 GB of memory on the mac mini I was testing with so it was no doubt swapping out to disk.

I also "cheated" just a bit.. Final Cut Pro 7 isn't supposed to work on embedded Intel video processors with no VRAM. But changing a few plist values in the installer by passed the lock out and let me do that.. but the limitations of the mac mini for running Final Cut Pro show up as more swapping out to disk. But otherwise FCP runs fine on a mac mini.

I do prefer the "AJA VTR Exchange" capture application however.

Its much smaller, cleaner start up and intuitive than even creating a new movie with Quicktime Pro 7.

And it just "feels" better designed for the AJA product.
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  #14  
05-27-2019, 08:44 AM
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A little more perspective.

The Apple online museum indicated that the Xserver RAID array with 4 drives just broke the 100 MB/s barrier and only with 7 drives or better approached 150 MB/s.

Since Apple was fond of marketing these as capable of multiple streams, and 7 drives fully monopolized one half the array its unlikely 150 MB/s was the norm back in 2003. In fact I think its more likely the 118 MB/s of a single modern 7200 rpm drive will capture Uncompressed 10 bit just fine. I don't think I'll need to make any modifications to either of my mac mini's.

The prime limitation is the 10.6.8 limit of driver support.

You cannot installed 10.6.8 on anything after 2011 Sandy Bridge architecture.. Apple recompiled the OS X kernel to make it impossible. So that limits you effectively to Core 2 Duo, or C2D machines. Some Hackintoshes tried to do this recompiling the Darwin kernel.. but that's a horror show I really don't want to watch.

So its like making a choice between XP or Windows 7.. Snow Leopard or Mountain Lion. This hardware works up to and for Snow Leopard quite well.. but never shall the Ivy Bridge cross.
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05-27-2019, 08:39 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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The all in one computer that I do USB 3.0 capture on was fine with 7200 rpm HDD @ 10 bit SD out of my BE75, I ended up putting in a SSD drive just in case I capture component 1080i/720p materials, I re-purposed the HDD taken out to be used as external storage for the captures.
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05-29-2019, 07:25 PM
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Ugh..

Just found out what the deal with the Sound Capture with the Io LA was..

Turns out the AJA Io products are all "XLR Professional Level" and consumer is a different "Line Level"

The best description of it with a colorful chart of the relative scales is here

The difference is about 1.1 volts lower for consumer "Line levels" and the XLR Professional levels are expecting a much higher voltage.

The result was I kept capturing really low sound levels.. I thought for a long time something was wrong and finally found that article and went duh.. it needs a pre-stage amplifier or some sort of level converter.

That means using any of the AJA Io gear is going to cost more money than most people are willing to spend to adapter the gear to consumer usage.

Its amazing gear.. but really only for professionals.
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  #17  
05-29-2019, 08:45 PM
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Use a mixer from Tapco/Mackie/Behringer.

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  #18  
05-29-2019, 11:58 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
Ugh..

Just found out what the deal with the Sound Capture with the Io LA was..

Turns out the AJA Io products are all "XLR Professional Level" and consumer is a different "Line Level"

The best description of it with a colorful chart of the relative scales is here

The difference is about 1.1 volts lower for consumer "Line levels" and the XLR Professional levels are expecting a much higher voltage.

The result was I kept capturing really low sound levels.. I thought for a long time something was wrong and finally found that article and went duh.. it needs a pre-stage amplifier or some sort of level converter.

That means using any of the AJA Io gear is going to cost more money than most people are willing to spend to adapter the gear to consumer usage.

Its amazing gear.. but really only for professionals.
I've already talked about this in the VH thread you posted in and I posted a diagram there, I'm attaching here. If you have basic soldering skills you can convert to 3.5mm jacks by shorting the cold pin to the ground and you will gain your level back, You can use those jacks with mounting ring like this and run the wires to the board after removing the DB connector.

You can also use RCA to XLR passive adapters where the cold and ground are shorted together, Another way is cutt off the XLR connectors and convert to RCA.



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  #19  
05-30-2019, 07:02 AM
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I'm not so sure a Voltage level can be corrected with a passive approach, but I will look into it.

I'll revisit the VH thread too.. but I do tend to get lost over there.

I have some pseudo cables I am using to capture the audio I am getting.. but they are appropriately low for the situation of trying to capture from consumer line levels while expecting XLR line levels.

That the AES/EBU connector might simultaneously support consumer levels seems a bit far fetched to me.
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05-30-2019, 08:18 AM
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(please merge)

I found the VH thread, and took a look at the options.

The problem seems fairly common even today. Rolls makes a device explicitly for this purpose the Rolls MB15b

Its a little overkill in that it is self powered, has line level adjustment for both consumer to pro and pro to consumer.. and it has dual pairs of XLR and RCA as well as 3.5 mm jacks.. so its a "do all" and "all in one" box.

I've had a Rolls mixer for my computer for many years (also bought at BHPhoto) and its never failed me. Their products are all made in the US.. so I think I'll go that way.

They also have Pearson XLR male to female cables in one foot lengths.. which I think Sanlyn or Lordsmurf used to recommend.. so (sigh) .. more money.. but I hope this will put a cap on my adventures through Mac firewire capture land.

If my experience brightens the path for someone else.. that this way comes.. then ok then.

I also recently acquired an AJA IoHD for very little.. seems it rains one type of gear or another when you talk about it.

Its a very sweet box.. but has the same issues with low audio levels.. but works up through OSX Mountain Lion, but also works nicely on Snow Leopard.

I am thinking the same fix with the level shifter/driver will work for it too.. the cable arrangements are identical. (That is XLR for input). But the IoHD has Analog, SDI and HDMI capture with analog or digital audio capture. (Built like a tank however.. and weighs about as much!)

I think I'd summarize for anyone else watching however that AJA IoLA/LD/HD while cheap today, is pro-equipment with pro-results.. but probably beyond most hobbysts means or tolerance to use. A real professional like Lordsmurf or Sanlyn might be able to navigate using it.. but for mere mortals.. there are easier options.. not equivalent.. but easier.

I'm very happy with the AJA Io results when its needed.. but I'm much more inclined to use an MPEG2 based DVD recorder direct to hard drive and offload that on to a PC now that there is software that makes that easy. Its just a better option for dealing with lots and lots of tapes.

Last edited by jwillis84; 05-30-2019 at 08:32 AM.
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