Are VCRs the World's Cheapest Hi-Fi Reel-to-Reel?

Smithers XKR

Active member
Are VCRs the World's Cheapest Hi-Fi Reel-to-Reel?

This may sound like a clickbait title to some, but how far off from the truth is it? You may say I am stretching the definition of what defines a "Reel to Reel", but think about it for a second. How different is a VHS tape being "spun" in your VCR than your tapes on your Tascam Half Track? I guess by that logic you can also call a cassette player a Reel to Reel....

OKAY FINE, I will admit I don't consider a cassette player a Reel to Reel. But still, a VCR capable of Hi-Fi audio is sonically superior to a cassette. This may come to a surprise to most, but some old tape heads out there know this too be true. When this Hi-Fi audio technology hit the market, many home recordists took full advantage of the full range frequency (20Hz - 20KHz) and the dynamic range of 90db!! There's a little more nuisance to the audio quality, but hopefully I can get a conversation going and get some input from people who have used VCRs for mixdowns and bouncedowns in the past.

I made a video on the topic where I go into more details. I also do some tests where I compare several mixdowns that were done on my VCR (I go through the Hi-Fi audio system as well as the "Lo-Fi"). It's a fun one for sure and I hope you all can enjoy it.

VCR Mixdown Video

Cheers,
Mario
Interesting. Got 2 ADATs.... they use SVHS tapes so does that qualify?
 

Smithers XKR

Active member
Yes Rob early analogue VHS/BETA audio was pretty dire and Beta slightly worse because the liear tape speed was slower than VHS, even the slower even than cassette IIRC but 'tis SO long ago! Audio was further disadvantaged because video tape is not 'grain oriented' along the tape as is audio tape.

The VHS/BETA battle was interesting for me as my works retail outlet kept a double inventry of films and we had both machines out for rental and sales. Beta WAS better videowise because the big, heavy Sony machines were very well made. Vhs was a bit cheaper to make but when some really poor Beta machines came out VHS one out. Plus, THE biggets telly rentals firm Radio Rentals plumped for VHS and that pretty much killed off Beta. The Philips 2000 'flip over challenge lasted barely two years but was an excellent system. I still have a stereo power amp that uses one of the chunky power traffs!

Dave.
Betamax was better quality but VHS won. The BBC used Beta format until digital came in
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Betamax was better quality but VHS won. The BBC used Beta format until digital came in
I agree but as I said, the early domestic machines were big, heavy and expensive but as is often the case some firms made them a little cheaper and a little worse and then there was not much in it. Then, if you wanted better VHS quality there was SVHS. My late best make found that if you drilled a 3mm hole in JEEUST the right place in a standard VHS cassette they would run as SVHS and there seemed to be no quality drop.

I thought the BBC etc used Umatics? A whole other world of size and expense.

Dave.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
tut tut. The BBC and many other broadcasters used Sony Betacam when the old u-matics were outdated. However, Betamax's substantially different from Betacam. Tye cassettes and the tape width were very, very similar, but they were not interchangeable in any sense. Betacam was superseded by Beta-SP, as in superior performance. They BBC did not use betamax, not even as far as I ever saw, for dupes and sharing - there were a few VHS machines. Oddly, we had Panasonic MII at Anglia TV - virtually all the rest did use Beta-SP, but Anglian liked the MII - which was to my mind a bit easier to keep clean!
 
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ecc83

Well-known member
"but Anglian liked the MII - which was to my mind a bit easier to keep clean!" A perennial problem with punters!
Many of our rental customers were tight arsed in the extreme and rarley bought more than two spare cassettes. These were left to gather dust and unspeakable **** from kids fingers. We were at the same homes twice a week sometimes cleaning heads.
Yes, you could buy cleaning tapes but, A) some mechs could NOT handle them and B) They had to keep the fekkers CLEAN!

I saw a small VCR for AV purposes, no bigger than a CD player and you cleaned the head by shoving in the corner of a clean piece of A4 paper!

I also recall changing the heads on a Betamax was a long winded PITA where as VHS was two screws, four wires, Bob's yer whatsit.

Dave.
 

dmcknight

New member
I mastered / transferred a bunch of stuff onto VHS HiFi in the late 80s and occasionally referred to it here and there up until probably 1992.
Tried to play the tape last year to digitize it and it was completely unplayable. Nothing but clicks and pops as I recall. Adjusting the tracking didn't help. The tape had been stored in a tote that went from closet to garage to who knows where. I did have other live band mixer recordings from the early 90s that were basically fine so it was just that one tape that didn't make it sadly.
 
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