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View Poll Results: Which VCR is the best option?
Sharp VC-S2000 (new) 1 33.33%
JVC HR-S8850EU 1 33.33%
Panasonic NV-HS1000 1 33.33%
Panasonic NV-HS960 1 33.33%
Panasonic NV-HS950 1 33.33%
JVC HR-DVS1 1 33.33%
JVC HR-S7950 (without remote control) 2 66.67%
JVC HRS 9500 (with replacement, basic functions remote control) 2 66.67%
Other 0 0%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 3. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
09-01-2022, 03:27 PM
lukasz lukasz is offline
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Hi,
this is my first post here. I thought I'd write a little more. I hope that I gave the right title and put this topic in the right place in the forum. If necessary, please correct or give some tips.

I want to digitalize old recordings like parents wedding and so on. A few years ago I learned a lot of things about low-level video editing. Why? I tested software for digitalizing old recordings and they weren't good enough. So I went deeper and got raw video from the source. I even tested my TV USB card with some video grabbers (my TV card is the best so far but I am looking for something better as well). Now I know a lot of things like e.g. deinterlacing, denoising, crop video, converting, and so on, even how to cut video without reconverting. All from the CLI.

Unfortunately, VCR broke again (it was broken before from what my parents said but they fixed it, and now suddenly, even without using it last time it's broken again). It’s dad’s old Samsung VCR. I am now amazed at how advanced it was for those years (many options, large remote control with a display, and of course display on the VCR). I remember when I was a child, I was programming the recording of TV programs without a manual (!). I borrowed VCR from my aunt but I thought to buy VCR with TBC to make the quality of digitalized VHSs even better.

When looking for good VCRs with TBC, I came across this forum and a prepared list of suggested models. I think this is a really good beginner's FAQ which models are worth paying attention to.

I looked for which models from TBC are available for purchase. It turns out that quite a few ads are very close to me, and as long as they are up-to-date, I assume that I could check the VCR before buying it.

I would like to ask for advice in choosing the best model from those listed, preferably a ranking list with a description of why this order.

What do I mean by the best model?

I am mainly interested in the best possible image quality of playing recorded VHS tapes. I want to digitalize old, family recordings. I would also like the VCR to be durable, and not need repairs (I know that everything may break but I think you know what I mean). I'm only looking for VCRs with TBC, PAL.

VCRs near me:
  • Panasonic NV-HS950
  • Panasonic NV-HS960
  • JVC HR-DVS1 (more expensive, with MiniDV which I don’t need but maybe it’s good)
  • JVC HR-S8850EU
  • Panasonic NV-HS1000
VCRs in my country:
  • JVC HR-S7950 (without remote control)
  • JVC HRS 9500 (with replacement, basic functions remote control)
  • Sharp VC-S2000 (apparently new, "practically not used, only checked")
What do I think about these?

Looking at the FAQ, it looks like you mainly recommend JVC as offering the best image quality, then Panasonic as offering nice picture quality as well, but slightly worse than JVC.

Unfortunately, you can find a lot of opinions that the top JVC and Panasonic liked to break. A common problem with JVC was reportedly a Dynamic Drum, and the top Panasonics were not "indestructible" either.

I found this opinion on a local forum (translated below):

Quote:
Some of my thoughts based on almost 20 years of practice.

There is no "best" VCR. It's basically chasing the bunny like trying to reveal the identity of the Phantom

Great mechanical VCR designs date back to the early 1980s. For me, the best consumer mechanical design was the JVC-4 chassis (probably) used in the JVC HR-7200,7300 etc. toploaders. Apart from the capstain which was quite primitive, as it was a simple brush motor driving a flywheel, these mechanics are fabulously easy to repair and extremely durable.

Unfortunately, VCRs from the early 1980s were also fatal and very backward signal paths, even in pro-sumer class devices of that period these solutions did not provide good picture quality. Their main problem was the primitive DOC fade compensator tracks. The solutions used there, based on a fade detection loop without FM signal amplification automation with a piezoceramic delay line, gave only as-is results in the case of very good quality tapes (SHG/XHG) and recordings realized on the same device as playback.

On the other hand, the last mass-produced VCRs (center deck) are rather primitives with plastic mechanics that can break from a slightly jammed cassette, but with quite good quality signal paths, comb filters, etc.

In fact, today, in retrospect, it is safe to say that the perfect VCR has never been made. Each one has certain ills. Even the prosumer class JVC HR-S9xxxx is shoddy mechanics, full of fragile plastics. So what if the electronics are great, the DNR and TBC work perfectly in these decks, as the mechanics spoil everything. On the other hand, the similar-class Panasonic NV-HS1000 or its slightly better studio counterpart AG-4700 are also great electronics, in the case of S-VHS reading even better than JVC, but the Pana-K mechanism is one of the more ghastly mechanisms to service.

Of the unsolved puzzles for me remains the SONY SO series, S-VHS studio decks in 19' racks. I'm not familiar with them and would love to get a glimpse into their design solutions, because while Sony's consumer VCR series can be skipped with a merciful silence, the SO pro series were pretty ok.
Taking all this into account, I am inclined to buy the supposedly new Sharp VC-S2000. It's apparently new and someone from this forum wrote that TBC is the same or even better than this in the Panasonic NV-HS1000. Except his Panasonic broke and Sharp is working. I've also heard that the Sharps are pretty durable as well, but they're not as popular as JVC and Panasonic, so it's hard to get more feedback.

If not Sharp, I would probably choose the JVC HR-S8850EU (there is not much info about it too) or one of the Panasonic (NV-HS1000 or NV-HS960 or NV-HS950; what is the difference between them?).

My ranking list for now:
1. Sharp VC-S2000 (new)
2. JVC HR-S8850EU
3. Panasonic NV-HS1000
4. Panasonic NV-HS960
5. Panasonic NV-HS950
6. JVC HRS 9500 (with replacement, basic functions remote control)
7. JVC HR-DVS1
8. JVC HR-S7950 (without remote control)

What do you think? What are your thoughts?

Thank you in advance for your quick reply

Additional questions regarding FAQ:

Quote:
Though not important, the 7000 series has 2mb TBC memory, and while the 9000 series has 4mb.
How much TBC memory have JVC HR-S8850EU? 2MB? It's probably something between 7000 and 9000 series.

Quote:
PAL professional editing decks, with full-field (multi-line) TBCs instead of a standard line TBC.
I guess full-field (multi-line) is better than standard line TBC, right?

Last edited by lukasz; 09-01-2022 at 04:11 PM.
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  #2  
09-01-2022, 04:10 PM
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For PAL deck, I'd just get a refurb deck from VCRshop.nl, and not mess with random junk off eBay/Craigslist/etc. Due to a current oversupply, PAL decks tend to be very fairly priced. Time and fuel simply is not worth running around, only to find out for yourself what most of us know -- ie crap decks, abused, out of spec, misaligned, out of maintenance, etc. We've gotten several PAL decks from Branko, and even sent a few PAL decks there for repair (due to local lack of parts needed, time considerations at the time).

Those old consumer VHS VCRs breaking was a good thing. It would have been a mistake to use those. 99% of combo decks are garbage, and old VCRs have horrid stability and image quality.

Panasonic decks are mostly good at tracking. But if you have SP only tapes, which most PAL users did, then the JVC is often better. Specifically the 77xx line, but 7950 to 7965 are nice. I have multiples in that series, for a reason. It was NTSC that was "gifted" EP, which many of us used, only to realize the problems years or decades later. Oops.

RAM in TBCs isn't just a matter of the # (2,4,etc) but also SD vs DDR SD. The latter 2mb generally had faster DDR, and it was somewhat of a wash.

Field TBC is not better than line, just slightly different. It generally doesn't matter, unless the tape has some excessive timing issues. Field line correct, then releases whole field, with some apparent sanity checking so that lines are not skewed. Line aligns, then releases immediately, and skew can happen. (Frame doesn't line correct at all. ES10/15 has just line TBC, and also some other functionality that acts to create strong line with rare skew.)

JVC LP20303 remotes are easy to get.

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  #3  
09-01-2022, 04:32 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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The PAL JVCs all have 2mb TBC/DNR afaik (I don't think the extra memory is used for normal playback but rather for trick play stuff but not entirely sure.)

The Sharp uses the video and tbc/dnr circuitry from the HR-Sx600 JVCs it looks like. One would think the TBC/DNR in it work similarly to the JVCs but they could have configured things differently, not sure as I haven't used one. It's not a JVC clone/collaboration thing with the same mech/guts like the Philips VR1xxx decks though, using sharps own setup otherwise.

Using a replacement remote shouldn't be an issue - either use something like a Superior Freedom universal remote, or alternatively most JVC VCR remotes will work (other than the ones for the later combo units, and the very old ones won't have a menu button which is the most important thing).

Of the TBC/DNR JVCs I prefer the earlier HR-Sx500 and HR-Sx600 series, haven't had good luck with the later variants. Either they've have this janky dropout compensation issue or on the very late ones with the different mech linear audio issues. Maybe I've just been unlucky but that's my experience so far.

I'm not sure where the "full-field" TBC statement is from, but at least the NV-HS1000 does not have a full field tbc. The HS950 and 860/960 I don't know as they have a complicated digital decoding circuitry though since they have 3D DNR the presumably have to have enough memory to buffer more than a single field, same with the JVCs. I've found the TBC in the NV-HS1000 to be more reliable than the JVC one, which has a tendency to cause vertical jitter on some tapes (e.g jumpy camcorder recordings) so I don't really like using it other than on stable commercial tapes or of air recordings. (NV-HS1000 TBC can "wave" left/right a tad in those cases instead though).
Don't know how the TBC later panasonics compare

The NV-HS1000 is the older of the panas you listed (originally from 1994 I think), the HS950 is a bit newer 96/97ish, shares the same mechanism (K Mechanism) but has more advanced digital processing. The HS960 (and 860), 2000? uses the later more cost reduced Z mechanism, with some updated digital circuitry. (The even later panas are a bit simpler again).

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  #4  
09-01-2022, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
and HR-Sx600 series
Yes, the 7600 and 7611 are also great, essentially identical to 7700/7711/7722.

Quote:
I'm not sure where the "full-field" TBC statement is from,
It probably got mixed in from the AG-1980P (or at least a production run/variant when I learned about those). The "line TBC" is actually field. When I wrote that, I was thinking of 1980, not PAL decks. Many of those PAL decks seem more like AG-1970, which has line. I've never had the ability to buy, test, and teardown all the PAL decks like I've done with NTSC.

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  #5  
09-02-2022, 01:09 PM
lukasz lukasz is offline
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Thank you very much for the quick and comprehensive replies with many new infos! I read them before and I think it's time to reply

Quote:
For PAL deck, I'd just get a refurb deck from VCRshop.nl, and not mess with random junk off eBay/Craigslist/etc. Due to a current oversupply, PAL decks tend to be very fairly priced. Time and fuel simply is not worth running around, only to find out for yourself what most of us know -- ie crap decks, abused, out of spec, misaligned, out of maintenance, etc. We've gotten several PAL decks from Branko, and even sent a few PAL decks there for repair (due to local lack of parts needed, time considerations at the time).
It just so happened that I didn't know this store. Thanks for the recommendation. From what I see, it is also possible to rent equipment from them. Maybe I'll use this one day to satisfy my curiosity and see how another VCR performs to the one I bought. I don't know, maybe

Quote:
Those old consumer VHS VCRs breaking was a good thing. It would have been a mistake to use those. 99% of combo decks are garbage, and old VCRs have horrid stability and image quality.
This Samsung is not a combo. It was apparently very good, but I honestly don't remember. I think it doesn't have TBC.

Quote:
The Sharp uses the video and tbc/dnr circuitry from the HR-Sx600 JVCs it looks like. One would think the TBC/DNR in it work similarly to the JVCs but they could have configured things differently, not sure as I haven't used one. It's not a JVC clone/collaboration thing with the same mech/guts like the Philips VR1xxx decks though, using sharps own setup otherwise.
Good to know! It looks like Sharp has borrowed good things and put them together into one. Assuming the mechanism is indeed good, that bodes well.

Quote:
Of the TBC/DNR JVCs I prefer the earlier HR-Sx500 and HR-Sx600 series, haven't had good luck with the later variants. Either they've have this janky dropout compensation issue or on the very late ones with the different mech linear audio issues. Maybe I've just been unlucky but that's my experience so far.

I'm not sure where the "full-field" TBC statement is from, but at least the NV-HS1000 does not have a full field tbc. The HS950 and 860/960 I don't know as they have a complicated digital decoding circuitry though since they have 3D DNR the presumably have to have enough memory to buffer more than a single field, same with the JVCs. I've found the TBC in the NV-HS1000 to be more reliable than the JVC one, which has a tendency to cause vertical jitter on some tapes (e.g jumpy camcorder recordings) so I don't really like using it other than on stable commercial tapes or of air recordings. (NV-HS1000 TBC can "wave" left/right a tad in those cases instead though).
Don't know how the TBC later panasonics compare

The NV-HS1000 is the older of the panas you listed (originally from 1994 I think), the HS950 is a bit newer 96/97ish, shares the same mechanism (K Mechanism) but has more advanced digital processing. The HS960 (and 860), 2000? uses the later more cost reduced Z mechanism, with some updated digital circuitry. (The even later panas are a bit simpler again).
Also interesting information. I assumed a little naively that the higher the number, the better the construction. Anyway, they were all on the recommended models list. In general, I like such technical curiosities

Thank you very much again for a lot of interesting information.

Today I wrote about this supposedly new Sharp VC-S2000. I got a lot of photos and videos and... I ordered this VCR I should have it on Monday. Maybe a bit of a risk, but I'm very curious if it will actually be that good. Maybe I just like less popular, but interesting solutions? In addition, it is said to be new, practically not used, which convinces me quite strongly (if it really is).
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09-02-2022, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukasz View Post
I assumed a little naively that the higher the number, the better the construction.
Newer is often better.
Newer is often higher number.
But newer can be better, or worse.
But not always.

Clear as mud, right?

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  #7  
09-02-2022, 01:28 PM
lukasz lukasz is offline
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Yes
Just reading the comment that generally JVC models with 9 at the beginning are better, I assumed that it really is

Quote:
There's two main reason to get a prosumer/professional JVC S-VHS VCR: the TBC, and the image "picture mode" filters (Auto/Norm/Soft/Sharp), which drastically improve the quality of VHS tapes. Most of the 9000-series decks also have the Dynamic Drum, which can be very helpful for tracking. Though not important, the 7000 series has 2mb TBC memory, and while the 9000 series has 4mb.
From FAQ with recommended models
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09-02-2022, 01:59 PM
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Yeah the first number on the JVC models was generally an indication of where a model was in a lineup, second one indicated what lineup it was from but they changed stuff around several times so it can be confusing, and other manufacturers usually weren't any better with their naming either.

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09-05-2022, 05:09 PM
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I received this Sharp VCR on Monday. I thought that I would upload some photos of what it looks like inside and describe my first impressions.

Fortunately, the VCR was packed quite well. It has quite big scratches on the metal at the top, it was also a bit dirty (remote control too). Of course, I cleaned it thoroughly few times. I tried the first two tapes. At first I found the VCR's response quite slow and a bit strange. Sharp has some kind of adaptive scrolling. At the beginning and end of the cassette, it tries to slow down, it rewinds very slowly, and in the meantime it rewinds very quickly or quickly (it is also probably adaptive in some way too). Stopping, on the other hand, is not adaptive at all. It can brake from high speeds very hard, that sometimes I have a bit of concern about the cassette, similarly with very fast rewinding.

After a while I decided to open it. I wanted to see how everything looks inside, what moves inside, clean the head prophylactically, and share photos with you. Maybe it will be useful to someone

This paper was inside. I hope it didn't made anything work worse:
6.jpg

The inside feels clean, I can see grease in many places and the rollers are very clean too (like new one). I can see some dirt, but not in key elements, at the corners, and not much of it. Standard thing, I think. One of the gray wires on top was not well placed. It looks like it's pressed down, so I arranged it differently.

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1.jpg

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2.jpg

Here I do not know what it is for and whether this transparent-white plastic should stand out like that, but maybe it should be so (anyone can comment this?):

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Then I put the case back and went to compare with my aunt's VCR (LG LV4961). Let's stop at this LG for a moment. Overall, it's probably nothing special. There is no mention of having a TBC, but there is info about 6HD, Hi-Fi, Nicam and Crystal Live Picture on the housing. A typical consumer video recorder, maybe a bit better. When I brought it, it immediately shouted that the head was dirty (it has Video Doctor; special screen). After many rewinding the cassette, the message was displayed less often, but I opened and cleaned the head anyway. After this operation, the picture became much better. As for the shortcomings, the VCR display does not show whether it is currently playing the cassette (!). Fortunately, when it finishes playing, it rewinds to the beginning and takes out the cassette.

How did the comparisons come out?

I tested three cassettes (the previous two again and added one extra). The VCRs were connected exactly the same to the USB TV card (via Scart -> component). It looks a bit like a Chinese toy, but compared to popular USB grabbers, it features a high minimization of image vibrations (top and bottom; tested on a recording from the Video8 camera). Still looking for something better, but maybe this is a topic for another post.

Note: LG did not have the head cleaned again.

1. First cassette [recorded at the factory]

Sharp offers noticeably better quality. The image is cleaner, no noise artifacts are visible, Sharp Super Picture additionally sharpens and improves the image.

Winner: Sharp

2. Second cassette [cassette in a bad condition (the tape can slide sideways; squeaks when scrolling) with a camcorder recording (all very amateurish overall)]

Video looks worse with Sharp Super Picture turned on. It seems the VCR is trying to sharpen even the noise which of course does not look good (adding more noise). With this turned off, the picture is similar to LG's except that LG seems to better manage the poor condition of the cassette. Perhaps it is a collaboration of a VCR with a TV card, where I know that this TV card can reduce jumps up and down well. In the case of Sharp, in addition to the stripes up and down, there are also more serious image flickering (seems like one of the previous frame, video and this frame again) in places where the cassette is bad (stripes from up to down). It is possible that this is the result of enabled 3D-DNR/TBC. In LG it is not visible, in addition, the stripes up and down seem to disappear faster and it is less tiring to see. Probably the top and bottom stripes themselves, as they are quite typical in LG, are better eliminated by the TV card. Additionally, in the case of Sharp, I can see a distinctive noise stripe at the bottom. In this case, LG seems to play this cassette better. The colors in LG are more saturated, while in Sharp seems to be more natural.

Winner: LG

3. Third cassette [An ordered recording. Recording on a regular cassette, not in the factory, but a good quality cassette (Maxell from the professional line) and the recording itself made professionally.]

LG after automatic tracking tuning offers a similar quality to Sharp. Sharp's 3D-DNR/TBC stabilizes the image further (left-right). In Sharp, I can still see a distinctive bar of noise at the bottom of the screen. Excluding this, image from Sharp is better.

Winner: Sharp

So far, such impressions. I expected better result with cassette 2 but it's probably very hard (or impossible) to find VCR that can play all cassettes very good.



Last edited by lukasz; 09-05-2022 at 05:43 PM.
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  #10  
09-06-2022, 09:58 AM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukasz View Post
It is possible that this is the result of enabled 3D-DNR/TBC. In LG it is not visible, in addition, the stripes up and down seem to disappear faster and it is less tiring to see. Probably the top and bottom stripes themselves, as they are quite typical in LG, are better eliminated by the TV card. Additionally, in the case of Sharp, I can see a distinctive noise stripe at the bottom. In this case, LG seems to play this cassette better. The colors in LG are more saturated, while in Sharp seems to be more natural.
I know at least on the TBC/DNR on the JVC decks (and for that matter other vcrs) can struggle on very bad tapes like this and cause more distortion than they help for, so for this sort of tape I find it better to use a panasonic dvd-recorder for stabilization, and a deck with good dropout compensation that holds active for a bit if there is a lot of dropouts. (Often older vcrs, especially panasonics like the NV-HS1000 go to noise after like 2-3 lines, which leads to a lot of white noise instead, though that's a bit up to preference. Most JVCs, and these sanyo video IC based LG/Samsung/etc decks do a good job at that, with some exceptions for certain JVCs as noted earlier which I don't know the cause of.)
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