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bgalakazam 08-16-2019 06:37 PM

Capture with AVR+HDMI vs. analog capture device?
Hi guys, been doing extensive reading over the past week and want to get your opinion. I want to digitize some old VHS family tapes. One is for sure PAL the other is 99% NTSC. There may be up to 5-10 more of which maybe one more PAL.

This being said, I want to spend as little money as possible and am not chasing the best quality. I have a PAL VCR and want to focus on that tape (or tapes if I find the other one) first. A lot of other places just suggest Elgato and be done with it. This forum is more technical and I like this. I have a MacBook Pro as my main computer. I also have an older desktop which I don't use (gen 2 i series with PCI-e).

I understand the appeal of ATI cards but I am really trying to stay around $50. I have two AVR - Denon X2100W and Onkyo TX-RZ830. Both of which accept composite input and output to HDMI. I did not find the internal chip specification or test the picture (don't have the tapes yet). I also have a LG C8 OLED which has an excellent upscaler so I don't care to rip the VHS upscaled.

No matter how I do the math, it comes out to about $100 regardless of method. HDMI capture seems to be cheapest and if the quality will be decent, should I go for it? My options are:

1) VCR -> composite -> AVR -> HDMI -> HDMI capture
2) VCR -> composite -> USB capture a-la-elgato -> USB -> Mac
3) VCR -> composite -> ATI -> USB/PCI -> PC (which will need Windows install)

If the quality of the HDMI capture will be better than Elgato, I will probably go that route. I want something cheap and easy. For the amount of tapes I am doing I would have settled on Elgato if it weren't so expensive.

hodgey 08-16-2019 07:36 PM

I've done a bit of HDMI capture using DVD-Recorders, which can give decent results. Never tested any AVRs though, I'm curious how they perform.

Denon has an ADV7850, which according to the specs has a full-frame TBC (if set up with extra memory) + the line-TBC function many of the ADV chips have. How it's set up and how well they handle unstable VHS video I don't know. Can't service manual of the onkyo, I see some panasonic chips on images. Both are composite input only (no S-video) though.

You may or may not need a HDMI splitter capable of stripping HDCP copy protection. DVD/HDD recorders often require this, but I don't know if AVRs commonly require HDCP capable equipment on their hdmi outputs. Also make sure you get something that can capture lossless/uncompressed, many of the Gamer HDMI grabbers can only capture directly to compressed h264.

Not sure what elgato device you've been suggested, only new one they sell with analog capability is the Elgato Video capture, which judging by the driver is some standard conexant or empia dongle (has drivers for both). There are cheaper versions of those around, not really ideal for grabbing directly from a VCR though, they don't deal with unstable VHS video very well (despite what the manufacturers like to claim). They need a TBC or DVD-Recorder in the chain to stabilize the video.

Another thing is NTSC tapes, newer PAL decks can usually play back NTSC tapes with PAL60, but it's not well supported by capture devices. No idea whether the AVRs support this.

I suppose since you have the AVRs, you can get an idea about how well they perform dealing with VHS signals (and video standards) by seeing how the output is on a TV (though the TV will de-interlace and scale).

bgalakazam 10-31-2019 04:19 PM

Figured out a working solution. Spent very little money and got great results. Tapes ended up being NTSC, except for one.

ATI TV Wonder USB 2 (Theater 200 chip) - $20
Sony HandyCam CCD-TRV82 (for Hi8) - $70
JVC GR-SXM920 (for VHS-C) - $45
S-Video cable - $3
TOTAL: $138

The cameras had the internal TBC. I didn't drop frames while capturing. Used 15Mbit MPEG-2 through the ATI software. The results are very good for me considering the resolution and video quality limitations of analog tape. I am the kind of guy that watches UHD blurays and listens to CD quality music and doesn't bother with Netflix and Spotify. And that man says you don't need $1000 equipment to get 95%+ of the result I got with spending what I did. I am thankful for all the information on this forum, but most advice here is overkill for most people.

keaton 10-31-2019 04:39 PM

Thanks for sharing a success story on a budget! We all wish we could get it done this way! I would suppose the biggest reason you had this success is the tapes themselves have been stored properly and have aged well. So, the morale would seem to be one can always try taking a route similar to yours at first, and only go for an external TBC, DVD recorder pass-thru, etc. once the potential risk of bad tape(s) has become a reality.

Cool! Glad you got through this so smoothly! :congrats:

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