VHS Video Player For Music Playback: Does Anyone Do It?

OscarZ

Suspended
My mate agreed with me many years ago that CD recorded onto cassette tape sounded really good. And music playback from my decent Sharp VHS was pretty good too. And a recording studio engineer told me they had the VHS there for some kind of quick mastering type of thing.

So does anyone actually use a VHS for serious music listening or recording? Are they known to be good at playing music on a technical level? Wouldn't a VHS player (hi-fi quality) be a good compromise between cassette and open reel? The search facility on the Sharp plus lots if inputs and outputs made it practical.

Good VHS players are now high priced and I don't really want one, but I'm interested to know if other members have explored the HI Fi possibilities.
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
I did some 20+ years ago and the sound quality was good. But who has (or even wants) a working video player now?
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Hifi sound on VHS is encoded as an analogue FM signal, much like FM radio. Bandwidth was about on a par with radio as well, but dynamic range is below reel to reel, as is channel separation.

There was a mastering standard developed by Sony called PCM P1 that used Betamax players and tapes to record uncompressed 16 bit PCM onto the video track. Not seen one in use since about 2001 - and that was actually transferring tapes onto new media to extend their life!!

I personally don't buy the whole "Analogue sounds better" debate - unless your entire signal chain from microphone to speaker is analogue. What sets analogue apart is micro-timing - the ability to capture and reproduce the entire analogue waveform, including the bits between the digital samples.

Recording digitally sourced material onto analogue media just reduces the dynamic range and frequency response, probably adding some warmth along the way. All a bit pointless really!!
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
I did it (S-VHS) a couple of decades ago; it was better than cassette and simpler than the open reel my parents used when I was young. Recordable DVD and hard disk recorders put an end to all that, and not even nostalgia would have me return to those days.
 

Daniel 70

Active Member
Hifi sound on VHS is encoded as an analogue FM signal, much like FM radio. Bandwidth was about on a par with radio as well, but dynamic range is below reel to reel, as is channel separation.

There was a mastering standard developed by Sony called PCM P1 that used Betamax players and tapes to record uncompressed 16 bit PCM onto the video track. Not seen one in use since about 2001 - and that was actually transferring tapes onto new media to extend their life!!

I personally don't buy the whole "Analogue sounds better" debate - unless your entire signal chain from microphone to speaker is analogue. What sets analogue apart is micro-timing - the ability to capture and reproduce the entire analogue waveform, including the bits between the digital samples.

Recording digitally sourced material onto analogue media just reduces the dynamic range and frequency response, probably adding some warmth along the way. All a bit pointless really!!
At this stage, I am not keen on going back over old ground, but I have a recollection that they would have used miscellaneous noise reduction methods .. NICAM and of course the bandwidth was never a problem. So sound quality would have potentially been as good as Reel to Reel.
 

OscarZ

Suspended
At this stage, I am not keen on going back over old ground, but I have a recollection that they would have used miscellaneous noise reduction methods .. NICAM and of course the bandwidth was never a problem. So sound quality would have potentially been as good as Reel to Reel.

Interesting. I assumed the recorder in the studio was VHS but not 100% sure on that. You say the sound quality would have been potentially as good as reel to reel, which is kind of the idea I got from the engineer. Convenience and cost was possibly a factor. But I guess the quality of recording must have been at least very acceptable for playback, if not for final mastering.

Thinking about ever needing a VHS player: 80s/90s music videos would be collectable, and if I ever did come across a nice collection I'd have need for one.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
At this stage, I am not keen on going back over old ground, but I have a recollection that they would have used miscellaneous noise reduction methods .. NICAM and of course the bandwidth was never a problem. So sound quality would have potentially been as good as Reel to Reel.
NICAM was the transmission method the BBC developed for distribution of audio between transmitters, but then subsequently rolled out as a high quality stereo audio soundtrack for domestic use as well. Amazingly, it was "only" 14 bit, but still sounded very good and Radio 3 listeners were none the wiser that the broadcasts to their £1500 NAIM FM receivers had been funnelled down a digital pipe!!

Alesis ADAT 8 channel digital recorders used VHS sized tapes. A bit later in the development cycle than the Sony PCM 2 channel offering, but they were popular in demo studios, as they could be daisy chained to give an unlimited number of digital tracks. Tascam DA88 used Hi8 tapes for 8 channels and was not quite as reliable, due to the smaller tape mechanisms and heads - which were prone to clogging. I think I last used one in 2001 at a fireworks show, where we had 4 channel audio, fireworks cue tracks, laser cues and time code to sync. Easy with today's tech, but a bit squeaky bum time back then!

As I say, VHS "Hi Fi" was a good quality analogue format and had nothing in common with the subsequent use of the tape formats for digital studio use. It offered similar quality to reel to reel on a good day, but good be flaky, as it was essentially superimposed on the same physical part of the tape as the video signal, but at a different magnetic depth. Therefore, any dropout on the tape would result in quite nasty audio dropouts - or switches to the linear sound track - which was much inferior due to the relatively low tape speed.
 

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