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03-18-2013, 04:30 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Is anyone interested in this idea?
  1. Decide on a big commercial VHS release
  2. Each of us acquires that tape, plays it in our VCRs and through our capture chains
  3. We share lossless videos and images of particular chosen segments to compare how each VCR model fares with particular settings enabled/disabled
The gigantic blockbuster releases of the late '90s or early '00s are good candidates:
  • very, very plentiful
  • therefore cheap
  • even given away for free on Craigslist, at yard sales, etc.
  • digitally mastered -- resulting in hopefully the highest quality VHS sources to be had
  • a known quantity (unlike home recordings of test patterns created on different equipment)
I would propose Titanic simply because of gshelley61's JVC SR-W5U screenshots that wowed many of us, years ago. Unless someone around here has a SR-W5U to play a different movie on just for our comparison purposes. For Titanic, only Cassette Two is needed to grab the 4 frames there, I believe.

What say you all?
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  #2  
03-18-2013, 04:50 AM
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Me, me -- I do, I do!
There's at least 8 VCRs here. Right now two of four are in use. The other four are spares.

I don't have Titanic, however. More like Ninja Turtles, X-MEN, things like that. Guy flicks, not gushy chick flicks.

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  #3  
03-18-2013, 05:04 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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X-Men is a penny + $3 shipping on Amazon for a sealed copy, so that wouldn't be bad. I also see a local sealed copy on Craigslist among a big list someone has.

The Matrix may be another contender?
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03-18-2013, 10:32 PM
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I need time for this -- later this week. I want to dig out some tapes. I'm in pain today. The more muscles come back, the more they hurt. It's both good and bad. Had to lay in bed and a chair all day long.

This morning, both pain set in, I dug out X-MEN, and it is not a good test tape. The contrast values are wonky.

I kind of think Ninja Turtles is good.
Stars Wars is here too, of course!
Indiana Jones, maybe?

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  #5  
03-19-2013, 12:40 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Isn't Star Wars (the THX sets) plagued with the "DVNR" artifacts seen on the 2006 DVD? I'd prefer not to do a Panavision film, anyhow. Open-matte like Titanic or native 4:3.

Now that I think of it, maybe we should pick a non-Macrovision tape in addition to a recent tape. I don't currently have access to my equipment that ignores copy protection, and the ATI 600 creates frames with varying brightness when it encounters Macrovision (in addition to the induced chopped/diagonals/like/this effect).
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  #6  
03-19-2013, 03:04 AM
ErikCalifornia ErikCalifornia is offline
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I would play along. I think this would be a great way to see how much better my VCR's are compared to yours. I'm sure mine is better than yours Want to bet if I can outperform you?

But if we were to do this, we need to come up with a clear data set. So if it's Titanic, be specific that it is. We all have to have a professional copy of the same tape to make this a good comparison right? Perhaps more than one data set? Titanic and X-Men? Or what? We need to also make sure that we have a data set that others can easily acquire. Otherwise, what's the point if no one else can acquire the same similar master tape?

For example, scout where we would obtain the tapes of Titanic or X-Men or otherwise? I'm willing right now to order a few tapes anywhere. But which ones? Where would I get that master tape?

For me personally, I want to transfer my home movies with the highest quality possible. This would be a fun way to push my equipment to the limit to see how much better my equipment it is than everyone elses . Or, where I can make improvements in my capture methods. So I am up for it!

To not be selfish though, I think comparing capture methods would help to show "which" VCR's really outperform the others. For example if the JVC SR-W5U is the king on the block, how much better is it say compared to another JVC VCR like those with the dynamic drum? Night and day difference? Or, only slightly better? Or perhaps, we would find another VCR that destroys the JVC SR-W5U!

I can certainly afford to pay for a SR-W5U. Besides being hard to find, that's not the point. The point is if it's "worth" paying more for such a VCR over one that you only pay $200 for to accomplish the same thing.

Lay a game plan out, and I'll help to pursue it with you! I'll order the tapes or try to buy them if they are attainable and play them back through my setup. So count me in!

- Erik -
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  #7  
03-19-2013, 03:37 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Well I thought I did lay it out. Though I've altered it slightly now.

Two widely-distributed and sales chart-topping VHS releases:
  • Tape A: From the late 90s/early 00s, with optimal AV quality.
  • Tape B: No requirements beyond "no Macrovision". Could be as old as 1980 if we wanna get crazy, but I doubt those were produced in huge quantity.
Do you have any suggestions? Titanic has the disadvantage of being bulkier to ship than a normal tape, unless you convince the seller to just send you Cassette Two. This isn't a problem for those of us in North America who can buy locally, but perhaps others will want to participate.
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  #8  
03-19-2013, 08:32 AM
volksjager volksjager is offline
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im in the midst of building a new capture pc with an ATI AIW 9200 card.
hopefully will have it done soon.
but i have a mint AG-1980, a mint HR-S9600U and a SR-W7U.
i also have an SR-W5U, but alas the power supply is bad and i cant find a replacement.
i have a copy of "The Crow" here

does anyone have a Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U?
i have sold several of those and think they are among the best too.
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  #9  
03-19-2013, 08:54 PM
robjv1 robjv1 is offline
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I'm up for it! I don't suppose that they really lead to generalizable conclusions about specific models, but they are fun. It'd be a good idea too to compare different decks of the same model I think if we all have them, to at least get a vague idea of the range of issues. The one confounding factor to keep in mind is that the actual capture card used will also influence the results. I have a Diamond HD750 USB right now.

I could contribute results for the JVC SR-W5U, SR-V101US, HR-7800U, Panasonic AG-5710, and a couple of run of the mill Panasonic decks.

Let me know when we decide on which tape -- Titanic is probably not a good example, because while I do have a copy of it lying around I bought GShelly's SR-W5U deck from him, so that wouldn't be much of a contribution lol

Last edited by robjv1; 03-19-2013 at 09:07 PM.
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  #10  
03-19-2013, 10:18 PM
Jarvis Jarvis is offline
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I'd be up for this too, but I'd be a PAL guy in an NTSC crowd. Unless someone wants to compare PAL stuff? I'm interested in seeing the results regardless though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robjv1 View Post
I have a Diamond HD750 USB right now.
Sorry to go off topic, but just briefly, does that USB stick really have the AGC pumping issues I've read about? Or does a TBC in the chain nullify the AGC pumping? It's got a fantastic comb filter, apparently, so I'm tempted to try it.
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  #11  
03-19-2013, 10:29 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Does the SR-W5U have adjustable DNR?

Someone please suggest a plentiful Macrovision-free tape... I'm no VHS historian so I dunno what from the early 80s would still be floating around a lot now.
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  #12  
03-19-2013, 10:42 PM
robjv1 robjv1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarvis View Post
I'd be up for this too, but I'd be a PAL guy in an NTSC crowd. Unless someone wants to compare PAL stuff? I'm interested in seeing the results regardless though.
I say the more the merrier! We'll just specify which is which.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarvis View Post
Sorry to go off topic, but just briefly, does that USB stick really have the AGC pumping issues I've read about? Or does a TBC in the chain nullify the AGC pumping? It's got a fantastic comb filter, apparently, so I'm tempted to try it.
The problem with the 750HD USB does not seem to be universal to all versions of the device. I'm guessing it's either an equipment interaction issue or a bad run of the devices. I purchased mine in June 2012 from Newegg which seems to post-date most of the complaints about it. For those that do have the issue, a TBC is not a fix-all, nor is the use of other external equipment (signal clarifies and such), but for some people it does seem to lessen the impact of the issues.

I will say however, mine has never once displayed the issue and it's been a fantastic device. I was extremely paranoid about it, so for many months I only used it for captures that have been extensively monitored, mostly trouble tapes where I watch the resulting recording end to end and take notes of issues with the footage. In the process of documenting the performance of the card, I've had a few false positives, but each of those AGC-like problems were inherent to the original recording and could be duplicated when used with another capture card, my JVC DR-M100S DVD recorder, the Panasonic ES-10 recorder, and several different VCRs and equipment chains. So I'd say assuming the kinks have been worked out, it's worth a shot.
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  #13  
03-19-2013, 10:44 PM
robjv1 robjv1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post
Does the SR-W5U have adjustable DNR?
No, the DNR is not adjustable and in fact, it is less adjustable than any of the other JVC decks -- the TBC and DNR are either both on or both off, without any customizable picture modes to speak of (i.e. there is no sharp, soft, norm).
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  #14  
03-19-2013, 11:04 PM
robjv1 robjv1 is offline
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Also, we should have some video comparisons too, short clips, because a lot of the stuff not apparent in a single frame is more apparent in a few seconds of video. It'll give people a better impression of the actual look of the video "in action" rather than some cherry picked frames.

It might not be a bad idea (down the line if not in the first run here) to do comparisons using EP and LP footage too, since that might be more useful for many of us working with non-commercial footage. While Titanic makes a good baseline because it's mass produced and a great looking print, how many of us are really doing VHS to DVD conversions with such stellar footage? I think we should also choose a mix of shots too -- a few close-up shots (faces with some finer details, hair, wrinkles, etc) as well as some wider shots. Just something that will really show the different characteristics of the deck and some of the flaws as well, such as the edge-enhancement of some decks (the SR-W5U is guilty in this regard, something I freely acknowledge that LS has picked apart in previous screenshots).

Not to pick on ErikCalifornia, but the tone of some of your post concerns me a little bit for the purpose of this experiment. I think you're probably kidding, but it raises the issue and I'd like to say my piece about it. In my own opinion, I think that this thread will be supremely more useful to readers if it is not done in the spirit of competition or for bragging rights -- nobody should come into this with a vested interest in their particular setup or feel like they have to 'defend' it or convince others at the risk of their ego being bruised if not everyone favors their conclusions. Obviously people are going to have their opinions and that's fine. Everyone will learn something from it about decks they don't own, which is great. However I think we should go into this as a group with the goal of giving a given member on the forum an objective sample to make a more informed choice about which deck to buy for their particular set of tapes. Sorry if all of this comes off as holier than thou or something along those lines -- I guess my point is just that I don't want this to turn into a contest about whose setup is better, it should be just about the decks themselves, strengths/weaknesses and all.
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  #15  
03-19-2013, 11:27 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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These are my suggestions for non-Macrovision:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listi...condition=used
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listi...condition=used
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listi...condition=used

I was also considering 1984 Empire Strikes Back, but that's a bit more expensive (I also don't know whether it is protected or not). If no one has a preference then I will unilaterally declare Flashdance.
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  #16  
03-20-2013, 12:27 AM
robjv1 robjv1 is offline
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^^ Keep in mind, you may also have the issue with really big movies having multiple versions released over the years and possibly different prints, so you wanna make sure the barcodes match between the versions we're using. I once ordered a used copy of the standup Bill Cosby "Himself" from the used Amazon section based on the specific version I was looking for and got a later 1990s re-release of it instead of the early 1980s release.

Otherwise, I am all for the "used for $0.01" stuff on Amazon haha.

Not sure if they fit the bill, but for 1980s tapes I've found very few concert/music video tapes have macrovision protection. It's fairly common for the second tape in a two tape set to not have macrovision as well, while the first tape does.
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  #17  
03-20-2013, 03:03 AM
ErikCalifornia ErikCalifornia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robjv1 View Post
Not to pick on ErikCalifornia, but the tone of some of your post concerns me a little bit for the purpose of this experiment. I think you're probably kidding, but it raises the issue and I'd like to say my piece about it.
I appreciate that you admit you are not trying to pick on me. More than likely, I think you are probably gathering my 'tone' from these two statements made in my prior post:

"I would play along. I think this would be a great way to see how much better my VCR's are compared to yours. I'm sure mine is better than yours Want to bet if I can outperform you? "

Really, it was purposefully made to be childish or maybe playful is perhaps a better word? Does that clear it up for you? Like two good friends challenging each other to something fun. Ever play chess with a friend? Ever play sports? I do still play a variety of sports and outdoor activities with others. I enjoy when my friends challenge me and I challenge them. But, we do it in the spirit of fun. We do it to grow and learn. I'm a better guy for it!

"This would be a fun way to push my equipment to the limit to see how much better my equipment it is than everyone elses . Or, where I can make improvements in my capture methods. So I am up for it! "

You do notice the winks, the two guys bashing their mugs together (team effort), and the playful karate smiley ready to do battle? I think if you re-read my entire post, I'm enthused about comparing VCR's and jumped into the thread and wanted to have fun! Looks like a little playful yoda to me; the smiles here always crack me up and that's why they are there! Let me emphasize the word fun!

And what equipment do I have? I already admitted in the very same post I don't have the highly regarded SR-W5U while realizing others do (like yourself). So if anything, I already know I'd be lucky if I had a VCR that was considered on par with someone else's VCR that performs well. Do you see my crying about it? But still, you see me throwing out my , giving my VCR's a run, and having fun! We are comparing VCR's! Some will be better then others. Most will perhaps be better than mine! But so what?

I used the phrase, "king on the block" which perhaps may have been taken too strongly too. Yet the reality is, there are VCR's that are truly considered king over other VCR's. They are the Ferrari's or Lambo's of the VCR kingdom and have gained respect by enthusiasts. And why is that? Because they really perform well! And, they have a high price tag too go along with it. Look on eBay right now and you'll find the SR-W5U going for nearly $1000. So there is contrast: there are really good VCR's and VCR's that are not as good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robjv1 View Post
In my own opinion, I think that this thread will be supremely more useful to readers if it is not done in the spirit of competition or for bragging rights -- nobody should come into this with a vested interest in their particular setup or feel like they have to 'defend' it or convince others at the risk of their ego being bruised if not everyone favors their conclusions. Obviously people are going to have their opinions and that's fine. Everyone will learn something from it about decks they don't own, which is great. However I think we should go into this as a group with the goal of giving a given member on the forum an objective sample to make a more informed choice about which deck to buy for their particular set of tapes. Sorry if all of this comes off as holier than thou or something along those lines -- I guess my point is just that I don't want this to turn into a contest about whose setup is better, it should be just about the decks themselves, strengths/weaknesses and all.
I'd say, don't tell others how to think (that's why we have moderators), nor be overly sensitive, and let the thread be the thread. If anything, it's a VCR! There is no ego I could care less if someone's VCR is better than mine. So everyone, let's take our ego's out of this. See, no ego's here!

And, I'm sure others could care less if mine is better than theirs or there's is better than mine. As if I have a VCR that is so unique that no one else could not have the same! The point of the comparison is to perhaps better understand what makes a VCR good and what makes a VCR bad? Is the image much better? By how much is the image better? How could we all improve our setups to come closer to the ideal VCR? What is an ideal VCR anyway? Does it still exists among those that can be attained today?

Just to be clear, I didn't mention anything at all about ego, or bruising anyone else's ego, or am pushing anyone to try to defend their VCR; those were your words and creative imagination and not mine. Have you seen me put anyone down? Have I bragged? I think that's perhaps how you may have chosen to look at things. If you look at my post, it's all smiles my friend! Fun...smiles....and a go go go let's do it attitude! I saw this thread, and thought "Great, it would be fun to compare VCR's", was enthusiastic about msgohan idea to compare VCR's, and wrote my post (perfect or not in your eyes). That's all! No big deal! No ego's here! I have other more important things in life than having an ego over my or someones VCR. So I expect you to not have an ego over your VCR and everyone else to not have an ego over their VCR; this includes me. It's a VCR! Let's instead have fun! And make this a good comparison.

I'm happy to work with everyone in this experiment and I was simply being supportive and playful. We should all put our best VCR's in and see how they do. Yet, it is a challenge; not for us personally but instead for our VCR's! We certainly do not have to try to attach an ego to the VCR! Again, it's a VCR. It's not YOU and it's not ME. It's not personal! Instead, I'm interested in the performance and how well a good one does and why? We all just want to improve our setups and help each other figure out the idiosyncrasies that we may have with our own or to better help someone else out. So robjv1, maybe I'll get a chance to help you with your setup. And maybe you'll get a chance to help me with my setup. That's how it should be! But let me repeat, there is no ego! It's a VCR. Hopefully that is clear now

Hopefully through the experiments, others will gain from it. Maybe it will help to differentiate which VCR would be more suited to their needs. Like I was emphasizing, I'm interested in transferring home movies. So, I'm eager to find a setup that is ideal for that. My interest is mostly high quality and at a SP speed. I don't need one that excels at EP. But that's me. Others, may want to find the best EP player. So, others here can post captures dealing with EP. And, I can certainly do a combination of both EP and SP with my hardware.

I hope that clears things up for you. Hopefully we can get past this as to not distract from the OP's original intent which I share...to compare VCR's and have fun!

Your are also more than welcome to PM me if that should help you with any of your further concerns.

- Erik -
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  #18  
03-20-2013, 03:13 AM
ErikCalifornia ErikCalifornia is offline
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Yeah!!!

I've purchased both Titanic and Flashdance. It's been awhile since I've had fresh VHS tapes. So, even if we don't use this for the comparison, it'll be fun for me to play around with. So, it's now on order.

Great suggestions!

I think we just need to work and lock down on a few VHS tapes tapes that we all would want to use for comparison purposes. Some with macrovision and some without?

- Erik -
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  #19  
03-20-2013, 03:25 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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No one else is putting forth suggestions...

I don't know about commercial tapes that are EP and LP, except for some kids' TV shows.
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03-20-2013, 03:49 AM
robjv1 robjv1 is offline
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No worries, that all sounds pretty good to me. I may have been a little bit presumptive with my post to begin with, it was just that a few phrases here and there reminded me of the way these comparison threads sometimes go. People (and not necessarily you) can develop and almost religious fervor for their particular brand of doing things and make the dialogue about proving they are doing things the right way. I certainly don't want to give you the impression that my post was intended as a rebuttal to the type of person I'm assuming you to be, as I figured most of what you said was in jest anyway. I just thought I'd call attention to the concept since I thought of it. I don't necessarily think my viewpoint is the "right one" here, I just thought I'd put in my own two cents for the type of thread I'd like to see and the direction I'd like it to go in / not go in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErikCalifornia View Post
They are the Ferrari's or Lambo's of the VCR kingdom and have gained respect by enthusiasts. And why is that? Because they really perform well! And, they have a high price tag too go along with it. Look on eBay right now and you'll find the SR-W5U going for nearly $1000. So there is contrast: there are really good VCR's and VCR's that are not as good.
Yeah, I agree with that as a general principle, they are certainly high performing decks and those that aren't. It's interesting though how different opinions can be once you get into making distinctions among the better decks and I'll be interested to see where the conversation goes. It becomes rather subjective in some areas -- for example you have the whole detail vs noise debate, how much sharpness is enough and how much is too much.

One person's "just enough" sharp is another person's way too sharp (and vice versa). Even when looking at it from an objective viewpoint (halos caused by oversharpening and edge enhancement, grain patterns appearing in the video) you'll still have a good deal of people that prefer the technically "wrong" picture from an aesthetic point of view. There is of course nothing wrong with that if that's your preference, so it'll be interesting to see where the discussion goes in areas somewhat open for interpretation. So from that perspective, I suppose there is no 'ideal' VCR for everyone, but certainly there is an ideal VCR (or set of VCRs) ideal for one particular person's tastes and mix of tapes.

The SR-W5U/W7U are really good VCRs when you consider all of the reasons to use them and what they excel at, but I'd personally say that in terms of their performance, the price is probably out of line with the advantage it holds over other decks -- but I suppose that's attributed to a combination of their performance, the "legend" sort of created about them, and their relative rarity. Full disclosure too, I believe GShelly is in the advertising profession lol.

Anyhow, looking forward to your contributions, among others!

Last edited by robjv1; 03-20-2013 at 04:00 AM.
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