Quality of recorded material on a DVD Recorder?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Travis Hedger, Jan 24, 2002.

  1. Travis Hedger

    Travis Hedger Supporting Actor

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    I have seen a number of these in Best Buy, Ultimate Electronics and Circuit City, yet they never have it hooked up to a monitor in order to demonstrate the quality of recorded material.

    Anyone seen these in action?

    I basically want to know if the recorded material will at least look as good if not identical to the source material recorded whether it is a cable or over the air signal.

    I can tell a difference when recording something and watching it on its original run on cable then switching back to the VHS tape. Washed out fuzziness is my best description for seeing recorded material on video tape.

    Any info?
     
  2. John Graves

    John Graves Agent

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    The DVD recorders are essentially a VCR except that instead of tape, the recording media is a DVD.

    I can only speak to the quality of the DVD recorder that I own, the Pioneer PRV-9000. Picture quality is excellent in the V1 (1 hour) and V2 (2 hour) modes. Though the unit has progressive outputs, I've only viewed it using the Component, and S-Video outputs. The Very Best recordings are those using the IEEE1394 (i.e. 'firewire') input.

    In addition, the Pioneer has a number of advanced noise reduction and picture enhancement circuits which can be activated independently for both Record and Playback modes. You can also memorize multiple settings. Pioneer claims that copies made from VHS and S-VHS tapes can actually look better than the original source. I'd agree with that claim after copying a number of recordings originally made in S-VHS.

    The recordings are not true 'clones' because we're capturing an analog signal (via S-video anyway), but the result is far and away better than any s-video VCR I've ever seen.

    I hope this helps.

    Good Viewing,

    John G
     
  3. Jim A. Banville

    Jim A. Banville Supporting Actor

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    I'm using the Panasonic MDR-E20 to archive my Star Wars SE laserdisc boxset and the copies look IDENTICAL to the LD, if not better!
     
  4. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Screenwriter

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    I'm with Jim, I just backed up Star Wars SE too and I have NEVER seen it look so good!
     
  5. Jay Blair

    Jay Blair Second Unit

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    Jim

    I'm interested in knowing what recording length (and media--DVD-R or DVD-RAM) you are using to back up your laserdiscs and what laserdisc player you are using that you feel makes identical or even better copies. I'm also looking to back up my shrinking but still ample (just under 100 discs) laserdisc collection along with a few VHS and SVHS tapes. Since the Panasonic is the most affordable player out there right now, this is the unit I'm looking at. I'd like also to back everything up in the 2 hour mode using DVD-R but only if the quality is at least within a nose hair of the original. I have the CLD704 Pioneer laserdisc player running through a Crystal Vision comb filter.

    I have a friend with the Pioneer A03 computer DVD-burner who made a copy of a CAV laserdisc for me in the highest one hour mode using a DVD-R and it looks far inferior to my original disc.

    Thanks for any further details you can give.
     
  6. John Graves

    John Graves Agent

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    Jay,
    One reason why Jim feels his copies to DVD look "better" is the image adjustment circuitry available in some of the stand alone DVD recorders. These circuits are like a mini-"proc-amp" and can potentially do wonders, particularly for marginal source material.
    While I don't recall all of the options in the Panasonic machine, on the Pioneer (in my case the PRV-9000), you've got a LOT of adjustments including noise reduction. Pioneer actually states in their owners manual that copies from VHS can look better than the original.
    Of course, it should also be noted that the definition of "better" can be very subjective, and what looks "better" on a 32" monitor might not look as good on an 8-foot wide front projection system.
    Using the adjustments circuits, my copies from VHS & S-VHS do look "better" than the original viewed on a 40" monitor (but I'm not going to project them on the Big Screen![​IMG]
    A computer-based burner like the A-03 does not have these circuits. Those machines depend upon the quality of your MPEG encoding, and is a big reason why commercially produced DVD's generally look superior to what you and I can do with a stand-alone burner or A-03/Superdrive.
    I hope this helps.
    Good Viewing,
    John G
     
  7. Mike Brantley

    Mike Brantley Stunt Coordinator

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    Jay, I have the Panasonic DMR-E20, and I have made a dub to DVD-R of my Criterion CLV edition of "Blade Runner," and the copy looks to my eye the same as the original. I have not done careful A-B comparisons, but playing a bit of one and then looking at the other does not produce any obvious differences. I used the two-hour recording mode. Pausing the record deck at 59:23 just before the side change resulted in a seamless edit for this particular movie. I'd suggest you scan ahead and write down the exact point of side changes and be quick with the pause button. With the E20, you can edit DVD-RAM discs to remove unwanted material (commercials, side changes, etc.), but you don't have this luxry with DVD-R media.

    I am using a Pioneer CLD-503 LD player, which is inferior to your 704. The slight noise I see on screen from the LD player is still visible on the copy. My wife doesn't see it, but it bugs me. I'm certain your 704 player will produce cleaner results in this regard.

    I am told that the PCM tracks on a LD should sound better than the Dolby Digital 2.0 on the E20. Maybe so, but the DVD I made sounds great to me. I know someone with a new high-end LD-S9 LD player, so I'm hoping to mate his LD player with my DVD recorder to make some really stellar recordings. If you want to record two tracks, like one with the movie soundtrack and one with a commentary if available, you'll have to make two discs.

    Sounds like both Panasonic or the Pioneer would do the job for you. Good luck!

    Panasonic DMR-E20 was $778 at Profeel.com. They went out of stock, but maybe they have some more now.
     
  8. Jay Blair

    Jay Blair Second Unit

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    John and Mike, thanks for the info. That Panasonic unit is very tempting even though I keep telling myself I'd be foolish not to wait for at least one more generation before getting a DVD recorder.

    Mike, before I got my 704 I owned the 503 for I think three weeks before it was stolen. Hadn't even gotten the credit card bill yet. I may even still have the remote somewhere. I later sold off the free Beauty and the Beast disc that came with it, meaning I only paid about $400 for those three weeks of use.
     
  9. John Graves

    John Graves Agent

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    Hello Jay,

    Although the DMR-E20 is Panasonic's first stand alone DVD recorder, the PRV-7000 and 9000 are the Third Generation for Pioneer. That's an important consideration when looking at the technology in general.

    When I was a "Home Theater" installer, I had a rule that I'd wait to buy until the 3rd generation of new technology. The 1st Generation cost an arm and a leg, and often had bugs. The 2nd Generation had gotten rid of most of the bugs, but was still costly. By the 3rd Generation, the major bugs were fixed and the cost had begun to drop because the manufacturer has paid off the initial R&D costs.

    As recently as 18 months ago, Pioneer's DVD recorders ran around $5,000 US. Today's 3rd generation decks are $1800. Pioneer's first computer-based DVD-burner, the 201, was also around $5K, while the current A-03/Superdrive burners (albeit without the Authoring capability) are under $500.

    Now that Panasonic and HP have introduced stand alone DVD recorders, its reasonable to expect prices to drop even further. When you look at these machines, its apparent that the manufacturer's envision them as replacements for VCR's. We all know how pricing has gone for that technology.

    If you've got the cash, go for it. You won't regret it.

    John G
     
  10. Mike Brantley

    Mike Brantley Stunt Coordinator

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    Jay, I'm so sorry to hear your old 503 was stolen! That kind of thing always makes me mad. I hope you had insurance coverage for it. Hey, I didn't get a "Beauty and the Beast" disc with mine! (And when I bought my 503 I was in a rental house with no renter's insurance, so I would have been up a creek had mine been stolen, too.)
    John, you give good all-around advice. I agree with everything you've written. I just want to point out that the Panasonic DMR-E20 is a little farther along on the timetable than you think. It's actually a second-generation model, having replaced the more expensive and less capable E10. No doubt next year's model will be cheaper and even more capable, but the E20 is so remarkable that I couldn't wait another month to buy into this technology. As soon as the price fell just inside my range (well, a little outside, but I splurged), I jumped on it.
    It'll be great when prices fall even more -- especially with blank media. [​IMG]
     
  11. John Graves

    John Graves Agent

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    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the correction. I'd completely forgotten about the E-10. I recall reading somewhere that the European version of Panasonic recorder also features 'firewire'.

    Also, FYI, my pro-gear supplier informs me that E-20's have been flying out the door of his retail business. They are being purchased by professional event videographers (weddings, etc) who rave about the machine. In this application, the use is for DVD-R's for use in the widest number of players.

    For those of you seeking to archive those irreplacable LV's, this might be a good time to look at the 'used' market for LV players. You can likely get into a pretty high end machine (i.e. Pioneer Elite series) for a modest sum.

    Good Recording!

    John
     
  12. Mike Brantley

    Mike Brantley Stunt Coordinator

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    John, yeah, before I bought the American version of the E20 I downloaded a PDF of the manual for the European version. I was excited to see the Firewire port in the manual, because I have a Canon GL1 camcorder. Later, I realized we don't get the Firewire connection on this side of the pond. That was a bummer, I must say. I wonder why they felt we wouldn't want/need the connection in the U.S.
     
  13. Jay Blair

    Jay Blair Second Unit

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    Mike

    Nope, no insurance at that time. Lost $1,500 worth of equipment, including a 2nd Pioneer single-sided laserdisc player. Yeah, I cried. Until I purchased replacements for everything, including the CLD-704 and my first Pro-logic receiver and first S-VHS VCR. Fortunately they didn't take any of the laserdiscs and didn't harm my new Sony 53" RPTV that had been purchased not long before the CLD-503.

    John

    The Pioneer PRV-7000 would be my first choice, especially with the built-in recording mode designed for laserdiscs, and though I have the cash on hand to buy one, I know the prices on these things will be falling fairly rapidly and getting better. This is also why the cheaper Panasonic unit though not my first choice is likely what I will end up getting if the bug doesn't stop biting.
     
  14. Lee Bombard

    Lee Bombard Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Jay-

    That "bug" got me a couple of weeks ago and I caved. I found a pretty good deal on a black E20 in a local A/V store and went for it. I had all the same questions/concerns you do.

    Several years ago I had a sizable LD collection and sold all of it off once I got heavy into DVD. No regrets...at that time. However, recently I got to thinking about all those great titles I let slip away and how they weren't yet on DVD. Long story short...I bought a fairly cheap Pioneer LD player off a friend and have been haunting e-bay night and day picking up all the terrific titles...again.

    I'm very pleased with the E20 and agree that the 1 hour and the 2 hour modes produce the best recordings. I've used the 4 hour mode only on source material that looks somewhat rough to begin with. The 6 hour mode is scary looking. I have also tried some tests on a variety of home video tapes, both old and new. They turned out great. Once I get my LD's backed up I'll tackle the home videos.

    I looked seriously at the Pioneer and it seems like a great unit but would have been twice the cost.

    I was very hesitant to jump but have not regreted it one bit.

    Regards,

    Lee
     
  15. Mark F Hall

    Mark F Hall Agent

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    We got the Philips 1000 and it is great. It uses DVD+RW format discs. They play on all my Sony dvd players. When I tried to back up my Original Star Wars VHS tapes I get a "Copywritten Material" flag and it won't record. I have backed up South Park episodes from my DirecTivo.
     
  16. GregK

    GregK Screenwriter

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    Here's my second hand impressions of some DVD-Rs a friend
    of mine burned for me using his Panasonic outboard DVD
    burner:
    The 2-hour SP mode is very nice, and if the variable
    bit rate mode is used, the bitrates varies between 4mg/s
    to 6 mg/s, but occasional artifacts are apparent if one
    knows where to look. Various shades of gray and slow fades
    to black can show a bit of micro-blocking. Even with these
    occasional glitches, the SP mode still produced an excellent
    looking picture.
    The 1 hour XP mode has so far seemed transparent. Noisy
    video ..which is torture on MPEG, could cause a nasty
    background pattern in SP, and is why filtering is a big
    feature on many of these units. Well the XP mode (in the
    variable bit rate mode varies between 7.5mb/s to 10mb/s
    .. a Superbit DVD if you will [​IMG] ) allowed for original
    video disc noise to pass through intact ..with NO MPEG
    artifacting I could detect. No filtering, and still no
    artifacts!.. Yes!! Fade to black and shades of gray also
    passed with flying colors.
    DD 2.0 audio was encoded at 256kb/s, with the Dolby
    Surround recognition flag turned off. (A minor inconvenience)
    The 256kb/s was used for both the SP and XP speeds.
    My rough conclusions so far indicate a high bitrate over
    comes most of the shortcoming of consumer MPEG-2 encoder
    vs a $$$$$ studio MPEG-2 encoder with multi-pass encode
    settings and DVD compressionist who do further tweaks
    after that.
    I would be curious to hear what others think of their
    different record modes, and where the latest MPEG-2
    encoding software might be located. I'm sure encode
    technology will only get better.
     
  17. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings

    Just a general question about the E20. I have the E10 so does the E20 convert everthing it sees and plays back to 480P like the E10?

    I use my E10 as a video processor as well as a recording unit. It actually makes satellite look a little better.

    Regards
     
  18. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Screenwriter

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    No, the E20 is NOT progressive scan like the E10 was. Probably most of the reason why its half the price.
     
  19. DEAN DE FURIA

    DEAN DE FURIA Stunt Coordinator

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    Can any of these recorders record a DD or DTS bitstream onto the disc? It would be great to archive my DTS lasers.
     
  20. John Graves

    John Graves Agent

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    Hello Dean,

    Nope. The Panasonic 20 only has analog inputs. While the Pioneer's also have an IEEE1394 (firewire) in/out, that is not the same as either DD or DTS. I think the Philips has firewire in only.

    To the best of my knowledge, no consumer recording equipment is capable of "capturing" 5.1 (or greater) audio.

    Good Viewing,

    John G
     

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