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  #1  
05-23-2011, 04:44 PM
Kedoch Kedoch is offline
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I'd like to start out by saying a big thank you to everyone here on the site, the information just sitting in the open has been hugely helpful and enlightening.

I'm beginning the process of looking at and backing up all of my family's old VHS tapes of which there are many. The end goals are to have DVD backups, with the possibility of being able to edit together parts from multiple sources (for reunions and such).

The equipment I currently have on hand is:

1 PC running WinXP (AMD Athlon X2 Dual Core Slot 939, 2GB Ram, No AGP Slot)
1 Toshiba DKVR60KU VCR/DVD Combo player
I have various computer hardware including old AGP motherboards (all AMD based) some of which was working when it became backup equipment. I would need to confirm it still works but I should have at least one working AGP enabled rig available.

Equipment I don't yet own (or do own but is in transit):
An AIW 7500 PCI card (crap shoot I know)
An Audigy PCI card (audio)
A CTB-100 (as it seems there is some possible recent issues with B&H versions of the 8710)

I plan to do my editing/authoring on a macbook pro. I have plenty of internal storage on the WinXP machine (and a 1TB ESATA drive for transfers/storage).

Finally, I have my eye on this:
JVC SR-V10U
- From Seller: "We Only know that this was recently removed from a working Environment in good working condition. We can ship this item to you for $18.86 + $8.00 Packaging costs. "

The Media:
A mix of different tape brands, most of it is family related. A guess puts perhaps half of the material at SP and the other half at SLP/EP (based partially on the records with the tapes). This is just on the first set of tapes I have available at the moment (from my grandmother). My father and grandfather have the majority of material still.

I'm looking for confirmation that I'm headed in the right direction. Is that VCR worth taking a risk on? I've got my eye on a few other VCR's in the 6800/6900U models that are much cheaper as well, but I don't want to really end up with a pile of VCR's laying around at this point that don't work.

I've seen mention of UPS (uninterrupted power supply) equipment from time to time in passing here and elsewhere. I'm curious if this is something that is recommended or not, and if so what sort of UPS would you recommend?

Finally, does knowing the source recording equipment help during the process? (As in, if I have access to the original video recorder that the VHS's were recorded with?)

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the great website/forums.

Last edited by Kedoch; 05-23-2011 at 05:01 PM.
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  #2  
05-23-2011, 08:12 PM
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Lots to cover here. Yes, you're headed in the right direction.

Let me start small, and number off some points.

1. VHS is a somewhat crummy format -- it's full of noise, has chaotic signal integrity, and uses lousy color recording methods. Consumer recorders and players make it look even worse, so homemade tapes and consumer VCRs can make VHS terrible quality.

2. Step 1: Get a professional (or "prosumer") high end VCR, to half fix the signal integrity, to fight the color problems, and to reduce the noise. The SR-V10 is one of those good, most-suggested VCRs.

3. A bad pro VCR can be as bad as (or worse than) a cheap consumer VCR. I would run away from a seller than doesn't seem to know the condition of a VCR, as it could be a money pit plagued with worn heads, power problems (which cause video noise patterns and audio noise), mechanical issues (damaged transports), and electrical issues (damaged circuits, like the TBC). Plugging it in and seeing a power light is NOT a test to know if it works.

4. "Toshiba DKVR60KU VCR/DVD Combo player" -- This honestly won't be very useful to you. Use it as a DVD player, or to record some TV shows in SP mode, maybe play old VHS retail tapes (NOT the family homemade tapes!). For a VHS-to-DVD project, it's fairly useless.

5. "An AIW 7500 PCI card" -- if it works, great! This is one of the best cards, able to capture MPEG, uncompressed AVI or lossless AVI, both PAL and NTSC. A "good copy" will have no noise patterns, no input issues, or will not overheat. Some of the earlier fan cards, like the PCI 7500 VE, will have buzzy/noisy little fans, and you may want to custom mod that with some RAM heatsinks instead.

6. Editing on a Macbook will be fine. I've edited on Mac G3, G4, Macbook and a 2010 Intel mini. You'll want to use Huffyuv as the capture codec, and install Perian on the Mac, in order to edit in something like Final Cut Pro. For MPEG editing, MPEG Streamclip would work, as would several Windows MPEG editors via WineBottler.

7. The JVC 6800/6900U models are not suggested models for best quality, or the best overall video conversion experience. A with-TBC JVC S-VHS professional deck is suggested. Be sure to read the VCR Buying Guide (S-VHS, D-VHS, Professional) for capturing/restoring video

8. Yes, a UPS is always recommended for any and all electronics in the house, including computers, video gear, and televisions (especially HDTVs). It protects your equipment from power surge/loss, and helps to regulate the power voltage sent to the devices. Get an APC UPS (available from Amazon.com for good prices), never Cyberpower, as big as you can afford, at every outlet where you plan to power computers/electronics. Consider it $50-100 insurance for your big expensive, $2K HDTV or $1K computer. People routinely call me asking for advice on buying a new HDTV because their old one "died" during a thunderstorm. When questioned, they had the equipment plugged directly into a wall outlet, which is quite honestly insane.

9. I'm not yet 100% fully convinced the AVT-8710 batch currently stocked by B&H is damaged. We're trying to work with some of those buyers here, in recent posts. It's still TBD, in terms of what is going on, accuracy of observations, expectations, etc. I think there are some secondary issues at play here, which are being overlooked. We'll see.

10. Last one for now...

Quote:
Finally, does knowing the source recording equipment help during the process? (As in, if I have access to the original video recorder that the VHS's were recorded with?)
I had to quote this, because it's a loaded question.

Yes, knowing the equipment helps. It can reveal issues and things to lookout for, that are known about specific recording cameras and VCRs. The same is even true of the tape brands themselves, and different tape stock has different problems to watch out for. For example, Fuji Pro tapes are grainy as hell, while RCA tapes are smeary color quality.

No, using the same equipment may not necessarily help. In my experience, the original gear will play the tape better -- HOWEVER, the issue is always the condition of those old consumer VCRs. I've ruined a few of my personal tapes (TV recordings, unreleased content!) in their original VCRs because the decks had not aged well. If this VCR has been stuck in a closet for the past decade, and you stick a tape into it, it may act less like a VCR, or more like the Cookie Monster --- "nom nom nom" and there goes your tape, wrapped around the guts of a malfunctioning unit.

~~~

Again, I think you're headed in the right direction.

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  #3  
05-23-2011, 10:08 PM
Kedoch Kedoch is offline
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Thanks for getting back to me Lordsmurf.

First I want to point out real quick that the link to amazon for UPS's seems to search for cyberpower instead of APC.

I guess I'll keep looking for a VCR that has a better known pedigree. I did however notice on the VCR guide that the 6800/6900 models were decent for some tapes, particularly the EP/SLP variety. Would you recommend a particular model (out of those listed or not listed) based on the type of tapes I'm going to be working with? They are quite a mix of brands.
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05-23-2011, 10:35 PM
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Amazon link fixed: http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.ht...reative=390957
It should have been "APC UPS -Cyberpower"

For your project, I'd shoot for these two VCRs:
- For the SP and some/half/all of the SLP/EP tapes: JVC SR-V10U, JVC HR-S9600, HR-S9800, HR-S9911, HR-S7600, HR-S7800. HR-S7900
- For the rest of the SLP/EP tapes: Panasonic AG-1980P

The 6800/6900 MIGHT work -- the ones above WILL work. That's really the difference.

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  #5  
05-23-2011, 10:58 PM
Kedoch Kedoch is offline
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Some really weird behavior on my end with those links, your link (Admin) also searches for cyberpower UPS instead of as you suggested "APC UPS -cyberpower" (which is what I ended up manually searching). Not sure why that's happening just yet (happens in both firefox and safari on my mac).

Thanks for the specific list, I'll keep searching for those particular models then.

Last edited by Kedoch; 05-23-2011 at 11:11 PM.
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05-23-2011, 11:23 PM
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It did the same here, too! Weird, indeed. It is fixed now. (Changed all above links.)
Again: http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.ht...reative=390957

You're about a week too late for the SR-V10 VCRs that were all over eBay in early May. Several forum members bought 1-2 of them at great prices (under $100, which is HIGHLY unusual). Just somebody selling them off cheap, all Buy It Now prices. They either did not care, or did not know the real value. Going rate on a good SR-V10U is at least $150 in okay condition, closer to $200-250 in mint condition.

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05-23-2011, 11:58 PM
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I noticed, if only school hadn't been more important than this project! Hopefully some more will crop up soonish that I can either afford to take the risk on or know are in better working order.

Any tips to watch out for when searching ebay? I've picked up some things reading other post, the most important seems to be the amount of usage and environment (TV studio vs home use, stored in garage vs closest and such). Any key questions to ask (been coming up with my own based on what I know).
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05-24-2011, 12:22 AM
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Smoking vs non-smoking. If it came from the home/office of a smoker, it may as well have been dropped in the Mississippi River (sewage and all). Smoke tar completely destroys the innards of a VCR. If you cannot verify non-smoking lineage, don't buy it.

Another thing I've noticed is if the VCR was primarily used by a female, it can be greasy from all those lady lotions and ointments that women love to rub into their hands. So if the auction looks to have been setup by a female (pink flowers graphics, silly cursive fonts, the eBay username "hottieprincess66", etc) -- run. Yeah, that sounds sexist, but nobody likes having to fully wipe down and scrub a VCR exterior because it's slimy and smells like a rose garden farted. I dealt with that last month for something, and to be quite blunt about it, I was somewhat pissed off.

On the SR-V10U especially, be sure all the buttons work. I don't think the Stop/Eject button is well made on that particular model. And that makes it hard to eject a tape, if it has issues. I would not avoid this model, solely for that reason, but it's something to check on before buying. On older JVC models with the the same button layout, that was the Pause button, which nobody really uses. And as long as you're not a brute, pounding on buttons instead of pressing them, then the button should hold up fine over time. Generally speaking, use the remote as much as possible -- avoid touching the deck buttons on any VCR.

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05-24-2011, 12:39 AM
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Going back to my post, I seem to have gotten sidetracked earlier.
So let this be part review, part addendum:

Step 1. Good VCR (with internal TBC) to half fix the signal integrity, to fight the color problems, and to reduce the noise.
Step 2. External TBC to half fix the signal integrity (two halves now equals whole).
Step 3. Good digital capture device, to not make quality worse.

Another optional item to consider is a mixing board, to process the audio, with some EQ and to boost/reduce gain to proper levels. The Behringer Xenyx 802 is a good option, only $55 new + free shipping from Amazon. Other good options are made by Tapco and Mackie, and those are what I use -- not by choice, but simply because that was what was available at the time. (Tapco is part of Mackie.) I'd just as easily buy the Behringer. You'll find a lot of "Tapco vs Mackie vs Behringer" discussions on audio sites like Gearslutz, and it's similar to "Nikon vs Canon" or "Mac vs Windows vs Linux" type discussions. They're all basically the same, with slight differences in how certain criteria are addressed in the process. I'd say that with the mixers, it's even less differences.

Proc amps are optional, too, for color adjustments.


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  #10  
05-24-2011, 05:24 PM
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Thanks once again both of you for the wonderful information.

Ebay has a few AG-1980's available in the 325-425 range, and I'm curious if these are worth pursuing or if they are perhaps not the best option to get started with (Hold out for JVC). The seller has confirmed that the internal mechanisms are clean, and that some of the capacitors have been replaced (those that are known bad, likely to be bad, or were wrong spec). If there is an option between the AG-1980 and AG-5710, the 1980 is the preferred model correct?

Unit 1 (Boxed! Wow)
Unit 2
Unit 3

Thanks for the advice regarding the audio processor, that could come in handy knowing how family videos can be. Certainly a decent looking price!

I've seen Proc Amps talked about on the forums here but I haven't seen a post that describes them other than for color adjustment. Is Proc Amp the full term (Or is it short for something like processor amplification or pro color amp). I've seen the BVP-4+ mentioned a lot, but not many others. I'm not sure the proc amp is worth an getting initially for this project, but perhaps down the road.
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05-24-2011, 06:51 PM
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"Proc amp" = color processor/amplifier

Good models includes:
  • Elite Video BVP-4
  • Elite Video BVP-4 Plus
  • SignVideo PA-100
  • SignVideo PA-200
  • Vidicraft Proc Amp (composite only, no s-video)
There really are not a lot of options for proc amps.

Those VCRs all look fine, though I prefer to hold out for JVC gear for a primary deck. If you can afford it, get the Panasonic that is available in good condition, and then get the JVC second. You won't regret it. Even if you do, you can easily resell it and get most/all of your money back. (In some cases, I've even seen a person sell for more than was paid, on a really nice S-VHS VCR in known-good condition, sold by somebody that is honest and can demonstrate some knowledge of video.)

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05-27-2011, 10:39 PM
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Greetings once again!

This week has been an interesting week as packages have rolled in with equipment and cards. While I'm still looking for a VCR to take a chance on I'm going to get the rest of the work flow setup and in place.

The ATI AIW 7500 PCI card I bought arrived and looks shiny (and included the purple dongle/thing which was unexpected!). Also no little fan that needs modding, just a heatsink on the main chip. If these cards are known to overheat I may look at adding some directed airflow and adding some heatsinks to the other chips.

I'll be plugging that in over the weekend and hopefully testing it out with a cable box or DVD player.

A driver CD was packaged with it but seems to be a compilation that was put together by someone other than ATI, and I don't see install packages for anything like MMC.

To get to the actual question, which version of the drivers/MMC available here would you recommend for this particular card in combination with WinXP SP3? I think I walked away from the ATI AIW thread believing that MMC in the 8.X version range is ideal, and should work on the 7500 with no additional hacks (I understand a TBC like the AVT-8710 should avoid issues with macrovision crud).

Thanks as always!

Edit: I'd like to confirm that this advice stands regarding the use of a mixer like the one linked above (and in this post).

-- merged --

Quick addition to the above question, as I was poking around and looking at which cables I need to pick up to connect everything. Going from a VCR -> Mixing Board is RCA -> 1/4" Jack. Mixing Board -> PC Audio is 1/4" Y Cable to Mini? Is this a potential for decreased audio fidelity? Looking at Something like this (Only an example, not planning to buy that brand).

-- merged --

Been a busy weekend and haven't heard back regarding the above, but have a new question regarding the AVT-8710 and the best way to test it. The package it came in arrived rather ruffed up on the exterior, some of the bubbles popped in the interior padding (the large packaging variety that has become popular). A touch concerned it had a rather bumpy ride on it's way from B&H.

I'd like to make sure the unit is functioning as it should be, and I realize my equipment selection is lacking at this point. I have a few options, using what I have available (which now includes a JVC 6800U). I also possibly have access to equipment at the local college (Which I believe is a 4800U, not sure if they have other units). As far as tapes, I have old family tapes and picked up some used recordings at a local used media store (4 tapes in total, as recent as the new LOTR movies, as old as Armageddon and Batman from the 90's).

Suggestions?
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06-02-2011, 02:04 AM
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Quote:
Is this a potential for decreased audio fidelity?
If the wires are lousy, yes.

While a few dollars higher priced, this cable from B&H would probably work very well.

You have three options, using the ATI AIW cards:

1. RCA audio out of analog hardware > into purple dongle > ATI card internally connected to soundcard > capture
2. RCA audio out of analog hardware > into purple dongle > ATI card externally connected to soundcard (using black loopback cable) > capture
3. RCA audio out of analog video hardware (into mixer, optional) converted to stereo mini > 2.5mm mini into soundcard > capture

Mixers give several options. RCA inputs don't generally have the EQ, so the 3.5mm are best. But that leaves the obvious dilemma of mixer output to digital conversion input, as you've noticed.

I had some 3.5mm to RCA wires from Best Buy, and those were awful. Good shielding, terrible wire.

Watch for video noise, caused by audio wires inducing FM or power noise along the lines. That's an easy well to see a bad cable.

Quote:
I also possibly have access to equipment at the local college (Which I believe is a 4800U, not sure if they have other units)
Just wanted to add that the HR-S4800 S-VHS VCR is fairly lousy. It's a low end modeled VCR, and it's biggest feature is the inclusion of flying erase heads -- something that's missing on the HR-S3800 VCRs. Of course, that was only really important if re-using tapes for recording. It did not affect first-time writes or playback at all.

It lacks TBC, meaning it's closer to a consumer VCR with a few filters to help smear out noise.

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  #14  
06-16-2011, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
In the mean time I am preparing a post with some questions, as I'm assembling an idea of how the process works, so far I've found a few deals I'm willing to take the risk on for hardware (AIW PCI card), as well as getting a dedicated audio card and picking up cat6 for gigabit transfers to my laptop (straight through desktop -> laptop transfers). I am debating the purchase of a JCV SR-V10/V101 found on ebay (sent sellers a few questions). Also looking at a TBC-1000 that is currently around $225 on ebay but not sure of the risk there either yet. Anyway, appreciate the response! If you have any advice on the above that would be awesome, however I know the best way is via a post on the forums (and I'll be making one hopefully within a few hours after a little more investigation). Have a great weekend, and thanks for the quick response regarding the sales.
I noticed your final post and the original PM had some differences. I thought I'd hit a few things real quick:

1. Don't get any ATI "All In Wonder" PCI capture card. Only the ATI AIW 7500 VE is good. The others are ancient, not desired.

2. TBC-1000 for $225 is a great price. Be careful that it comes with a good power supply and is tested. Not the old "it turned on" type of test, but a test that looks for video noise. I've seen TBCs doo all sorts of weird things, from stray pixels on screen, to losing color/contrast/IRE, to blurring video, to adding herringbone and power-related noise interference. You don't want any of those problems, as these cannot be fixed. (Well, excluding the distribution amp bypass, as discussed elsewhere on this forum. Search for it, if needed.)

3. SR-V10 is great, SR-V101US is really not the exact same VCR. Very good, professional series, but a lesser machine than the SR-V10U.

Yes, posting via forums gets the quickest and best answers, and from more than one person.


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