Digitised VHS Tape Problems

Your video conversion quality can be improved using the right equipment. That’s why I recommend a quality A/D converter. They are harder to find these days. The Canopus/Grass Valley ADVC-300 is the “Cadillac” consumer device but listed as obsolete although they still have a few in the supply chain. The less expensive ADVC-110 is no longer listed anywhere. The ADS Pyro A/V Link that I use is still available but the price has gone up. Just about everything I was aware of is now gone from the market.

There are some newer devices which you will have to investigate. The elgato DG60 and DG60 Pro are interesting newer devices. They have on-board processing which converts to mp4. Mainly intended for games, I just don’t know how well they would do for VHS conversion.

The things to watch out for is that game codecs often use variable bit rates AND variable frame rates. A video editor will need to decompress the source video to successfully edit. Shotcut can handle variable bit rates but as Brian said it cannot handle variable frame rates. Game video is not usually edited AFAIK.

Shotcut actually supports the Black Magic DeckLink series of video cards, which is a very significant capability - if you can afford the cost.

Amazon has DIGITNOW device which looks interesting and at a more reasonable price. The HDMI support is unique. https://www.amazon.com/DIGITNOW-Recorder-1920x1080-Resolution-Recording/dp/B0747R2VMZ/ref=pd_sbs_147_4?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0747R2VMZ&pd_rd_r=596P3PN6HJF3MMNCDBBH&pd_rd_w=0CVyp&pd_rd_wg=rGq7P&psc=1&refRID=596P3PN6HJF3MMNCDBBH&dpID=41tRTCtHQDL&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=detail

There is actually tons of discussion over the last 20 years about analog to digital video conversion. If you have the time and the inclination here are some of the sources:

Incidentally, a Super-VHS VCR with digital tracking circuitry like the better JVC units will work much better than a garden-variety VCR. They are kind of hard to find now.


I have been coveting a Panasonic AG-1980P for years. The TBC feature can make a large quality difference for some tapes. They can be found on ebay if you are willing to pay.

I agree - I wouldn’t capture VHS with any machine less than 4-head S-VHS using the svideo cable. I understand that you don’t get the full benefit of SVHS unless the tape was recorded with it. But the fact that the machine has the capability also means that it is a “higher end” machine and will probably generally perform better.

Yes indeed, Brian. The high-end VCRs with digital TBC, digital tracking, noise reduction and S-Video - separate processing of the luminance/chrominance, can make a difference in recovery of analog information even from VHS tapes. If the budget allows, then there are ways to improve the end product.


I found my JVC HR-S3600U at a thrift store for $10. They didn’t know what they had. Another way to improve quality on a budget is to try multiple machines. I keep three different (low end) machines and try each tape in all three. Usually the S3600U has the best quality - but not always. Sometimes a particular tape just plays better in a particular machine.

Good point about trying various machines. Mechanical tolerances are often a factor in analog systems.

YES! I found a low-end JVC S-VHS machine several years ago at a Good Will thrift store for $25 dollars complete with an original working remote… You are right, they really don’t know what they have sometimes. Several years ago I found two, Tri-mode VCRs there. NTSC/PAL/SECAM much to my astonishment. Alas, I had no need for them and passed them up. I am keeping my JVC HR-S7800U forever!

For budget home conversion of VHS and S-VHS it is an excellent idea to check the thrift stores periodically. You never know.