Stereo VCRs

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ken Garrison, Jun 5, 2002.

  1. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

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    This is one thing that annoys me about VHS. The way it handles a stereo signal. WHY, when it reaches a bad part of the tape, does the stereo switch to mono? I find that very annoying. Why does a VCR do that crap when audio tapes don't. There's no reason why it should do that. I'm watching a movie when their a part where there's music filling the whole room, then all of a sudden, it all collapses to the front. I'm glad DVD players were invented to solve this problem.
     
  2. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

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    Also, I wanna know if their anyway to Override a VCR so it doesn't do this crap and keeps it's stereo sound no matter HOW bad the tape is.
     
  3. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    It would have to be a function of the player, and I don't know of any that do that.

    It's also not that odd: the same thing happens with digital audio (Dolby Digital, DTS, SDDS) in movie theaters. When there's a glitch in the digital audio, it falls back to the plain old optical stereo track on the film, which is analogous to the linear non-hi-fi audio on VHS, and it can be very noticeable. The idea is that you'd rather hear something than nothing (especially when you're paying $8 and can't rewind).

    DVDs don't solve this problem per se; digital audio is more resistant to glitches, but once it goes bad, you get nothing.

    Also note that the linear audio can be in stereo. Before Hi-Fi VCRs, high end units did stereo in the linear audio tracks. But since Hi-Fi, most VCRs don't bother.

    Those linear audio tracks are on the edge of the tape, while Hi-Fi is recorded diagonally "over" the main part of the tape. Which may mean that when there's a glitch in the Hi-Fi, there's nothing to hear; unlike audio cassette, in which (a) there's nothing to fall back on, and (b) the glitches aren't as bad. I vaguely recall that audio cassette uses a pair of linear audio tracks (while reel-to-reel recorded diagonally), but I may be wrong about that.

    //Ken
     
  4. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    What is happening is it is switching to the "Normal" soundtrack, recorded along the edge of the tape, when the "Hi-Fi" track, recorded in the same space as the picture, becomes unreadable. I have an older JVC that controls this manually, so if you leave the switch in Hi-Fi it will just go silent if it drops out, which I prefer to having it go to the linear track.
    The REAL problem with all this is that the linear tracks ARE recorded in stereo, it's just that today's (and most of yesterday's) Hi-Fi VCRs can only play them in mono. I've been annoyed with this for 17 years ever since we first got a Hi-fi machine. Back then most of the tapes available for rent didn't even HAVE Hi-Fi tracks since they were made before VHS Hi-Fi had come out, so even though they were recorded in stereo we could only play them in mono!
    I have an NEC VCR that has both Hi-Fi and linear stereo, so if I get a tape with bad Hi-Fi tracks I can at least use the linear track, which has about the same quality as a cassette tape. I have a few old tapes, mostly music videos, that only have linear stereo tracks and were never reissued with Hi-Fi, so as far as I'm concerned they're unplayable on current machines. Although I've moved on to laserdisc and DVD, there's some stuff that's still only obtainable on VHS and I REALLY wish someone would make a definitive "archival" VHS machine that could play all existing variations of the format. Right now only "industrial" models, made for professional use, have linear stereo.
    BTW I don't know of any audio reel-to-reel recorders that used rotating heads.
     
  5. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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  6. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

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    I own a Reel to Reel deck. It does NOT use rotating heads. The tapes flies past the heads at 7 and a 1/2 inches per second. When recording analog, Reel 2 Reel is the best format out there. In fact, I just recorded a band and choir performance tonight. I guess when a DVD gets errors, it does the same like the DSS does when it rains real hard. Kinda like blip ^*^@^!!%^@&* blip blip $%@@%!^@&!.
     
  7. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Ken G., I got fed up with that and bad pic too in 1986 and bought an LD player! Ken C's explanation is pretty good. The stereo track is underneath the video signal, recorded at an angle basically underneath it. It's a fundamental design flaw of the format as we know it, as Jessee so eloquently points out, it could'a, should'a been done better. The "buried" track is just a bad idea. It doesn't read back consistently enough. Best wishes!
     
  8. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

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    Also, that explains why the sound also gets very hissey and dull when it switches to mono. The mono sound it going past its head at a very very slow speed while the stereo track is being read by that flying rotating head. I get it now. I was wondering why the sound would get so muffled and hissey when it turned to mono.

    BTW, I was too young to remember laser discs, but were they as popular back then as DVD is today? Seems like they came on gone real fast.
     
  9. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Ken, LD was around a long time, since 1978. I think I proably became aware of the format in '83 or '84. I got a JVC HRS-970U, their best VHS model back in 1986. By 1987 I had decided to break out to LD! Not only did the bleedin' JVC flip-flop the sound constantly but it broke down to the tune of $250 to fix after 11 months of hard use by me. I said bring on LD! LD was like a 2% minority format. It had pockets of a higher minority here and there, particularly Kalafornie. It's a shame that LD didn't go more mass-market like DVD. Other than side breaks it's better in every possible way, including player reliability. I pretty much skiped the VHS era. Best wishes from Laserland!
     
  10. Scott Strang

    Scott Strang Screenwriter

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    The only open reel machine that records audio across the tape is a Nagra digital machine that uses a scanner (looks a lot like a VHS drum) and records digital audio on 1/4" open reel digital tape.

    They're beautiful but really expensive. Something like $30k.
     
  11. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    Again, this wouldn't be as much of an annoyance to most people who notice it if the VCR could just play the damn linear track in STEREO! No, it doesn't sound as good as the Hi-Fi track (when it works) but serves adequately as a backup, and of course there are old tapes out there that don't even have Hi-Fi tracks. Although I don't use VHS often anymore, I have some rare stuff that I'll have to be able to play at least until I can transfer it all to recordable DVD.
     
  12. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

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    Yeah, it'd be nice if all VCRs had a stereo linear track as well in case the HI FI track goes bad, so the sound doesn't collapse to the front of the room when you have a surround sound system.
     

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