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Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder

 
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Mike Zee



Joined: 20 Mar 2001
Posts: 766
Location: NY, USA

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2003 10:53 pm    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

well, for many of you guys this isn't a big deal new thing :), but in case somebody here never thought of it.
Actually Solomon Jabby mentioned this idea for me for the first time, when I was asking some question regarding to ree-to-reel analog tape recorders.
So this is an idea, in case any of you (recording dub-artists/producers) do not have analog reel-to-reel tape recorder but wish to get that special analog-tape 'taste' of recording instrument (or even maybe to try to use it as mix-down two track recorder) and take a 'piece of mind' which only can come from analog tape 'compression' effect.
Or as well for what ever other creative recording needs in DUB.
So if you have a consummer Hi-Fi Stereo VCR, then you've got a pretty good analog audio-recording machine, while maybe never thought of it :)
I've found a short but right to the point and well put page at mastersonaudio.com, please check it out, it gives you a good idea why VCR is a good audio-recorder.
Here's the link: Hi-Fi VCR's Hidden Audio Capabilities

/regards, 'n respects
/Mike Zee, aka Dr ZEE
zee dub lab

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interruptor



Joined: 04 Sep 2005
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Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 1:29 am    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

mike, i am really not sure whether this will give "that special analog-tape taste". the sound on hi-fi video is recorded in the AFM or "audio frequency modulation" format which is not the same as what is used in normal tape recording.
in my understanding AFM works as follows: You are increasing and decreasing the frequency of a carrier signal in order to memorize the ups and downs of your audio signals amplitude.
this means that the tape saturation which is the key factor to "that special analog-tape taste" does not exist in an AFM recording in the same way as on a normal tape recording.
In fact I would expect the characteristics of such a recoding to be very different. (also AM and FM radio sound very different.) i tried to find detailed info on this on the web but was not successful. so if anybody knows more i would really like to know.

even if tape saturation did exist on VHS recordings you could hardly control it properly since consumer grade video recorders have a special circuit which automatically sets the recording gain for you
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interruptor



Joined: 04 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 1:34 am    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

it might be a better alternative than using a cheap cassette tape deck though..
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Mike Zee



Joined: 20 Mar 2001
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Location: NY, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 4:19 am    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

Daniel, grrrrrrrrrrrrrr heh heh :)...I mean :(

I have not try to actually record anything myself yet...but just audio from CD - so it sounds pretty good ....that's all my "experience" is on this..
Now about saturation. hmmmmmmmmmmmmm?????
You maybe right. But I am not sure. Also isn't ac bias the same (sort of) as high frequency signal in AFM?
But you are sure right about 'no record level control'/auto-level in consummer vcrs.

Well, so where do we go from here? I don't know. Looks like nowhere. Still sort of useful. ??? Not sure what for ...thou. For good quality analog recording? Big deal HAH HAH...lol :)

I've found a few extra things on this page: FAQ on audiorec, scroll down to 14.18-14.21 there... couple of extra points on VCR audio. Also there are bunch of other q.-a. related to recording in general.

later, respects,
/Mike Zee, aka Dr. ZEE

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KoCha



Joined: 25 Jan 2002
Posts: 259
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 7:04 am    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

Very interesant thread guys!!

Go try, this week end if i have time. And it's very cheap... 80 or 120 min.. for very low price lol!!

See you dubsters,

KoCha
www.Almighty-Dub.com

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Mike Zee



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Location: NY, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 3:11 pm    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

Yeah, KoCha, try it if you get a minute to play around. post back - tell what you've got...what do you think.
******
I've just made some more from CD to a sheap $89.99 JVC HiFi vcr, which I have for a couple of years.... Well, there's no way to control record level.... it's automatic and maybe also have some 'auto-compressor' ... I have no idea.
OK, the result is: It sounds very good. Way much better than any cassette deck (I have about 5 consummer cassette decks), well, I also have DENNON 770 pro-deck, which is the best sounding deck I've heard (not to say that it's the top of the top, but just from my experience), and still the result on HiFi VHS sounds somewhat better than on DENNON 770... BUT - well, it's kind of hard to say really, but Hi(s) are brighter and sounds like less hiss noise on VHS.

As for saturation/tape-compression effect - nah...oh well, I don't know, but it does not look like it's an issue here :(. If anybody here, guys, who are real TECH-heads in the field, drop a note, pls... IS ANY SATURATION 'possible' on VHS-tape using vcr?

One thing also, I have to say, that VHS/vcr-audio does not look like a STABLE recording media. So to use it for 'important' project mixdown as master...hmmmmmmm - not a good idea.
Here, I've found another note on the subject, somewhat sceptical, which makes sense. I am going just to copy-paste the quote, instead of linking. Here it is:
Question: Hey Dragon, I just bought a Tascam 424 and I love it. But sometimes I get more noise than I want. I saw where you record onto a Hi-Fi VHS and it cuts down on the noise. In a few quick steps can you tell me how this is done. I would appreciate it greatly.

Answer: OK, here we go. Basically the sole reason for doing this is that you're using the VHS as a "poor man's DAT". If you mix down onto a higher-quality medium than cassette, you can then make higher-quality stereo cassette copies. So if you have a DAT, a good hard-disk recorder, a CD burner, a MiniDisc recorder, or anything like that, don't waste your time with VHS...use them instead! And the other thing...don't run out and buy a VCR just for this...it's not that great and you're better off saving up for a DAT or an audio card. But if you happen to have one around already...

This technique only works with HiFi VHS VCR, not with a regular VCR. HiFi VHS has excellent signal-to-noise ratio and amazing wow and flutter characteristics (for analog tape, anyway). That's because it's clocked by the video signal, and recorded with the video at the same time (it's not digital, though). The ordinary "linear" tracks are recorded separately using Dolby, but aren't much better than a regular cassette.

The only problem is that if you have a dropout, you're sunk...ever watch a rental movie and have it switch from the HiFi audio track to the linear audio track? That's a dropout and there's no way to recover from it, other than the fact that the linear tracks are still there, so you can always get your mix back from them.

Also, many inexpensive HiFi VCRs have automatic compression on the audio tracks, which means you don't set the level, it's automatic. This might be actually a good thing if you don't own a compressor, but people have reported "pumping" and other weird artifacts, so the best kind is one with an actual level control.

Anyway, the whole idea is that you do your stereo mixdown to the VCR directly. On some VCRs you have to record a video signal simultaneously or nothing will happen (just keep your antenna hooked up), and you usually have to set your VCR to "aux" or "ext" input to get the audio from your 4-track rather than from TV.

Then when you've gotten your great mix (and it sounds good played back from the VCR!), all you have to do is make your cassette copies using the VCR as an audio source. They will sound lots better than if you recorded to cassette and duped the cassettes directly...I have a high-end Sony Dolby S deck and the VCR is tons better.
-- Dragon

this was from homerecording.com

later,
/Mike Zee

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Sata Weeva



Joined: 18 Oct 2002
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 4:07 pm    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

Hey doc, how do I get a analog tape sound out of my digital vcr? :)

Seriously, I used it a month ago during a recording seesion as a backup in case something happened when I wasn't recording. I used Cubase for proper recording with the soundcard output to the vcr then to a small hi-fi unit (I'm house-sitting so don't have me full setup.) I haven't listened to the tape yet, so cyaan say how good the sound is. But is good to have a backup.

Respect.
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munky lee



Joined: 22 Jul 2001
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 4:29 pm    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

yes, homeVCR is not a good idea to produce serious music.
it is not real analog recording, and the auto-gain leveler is the badest thing you can have!!!

personnaly, I only use it to record radio programs.
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Mike Zee



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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2003 1:19 am    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

Sata Weeva, :), - now , heh heh, you can't get it "back"...since you've got something 'digitized' - it's outa'this real world forever - "one way ticket" ..lol You only can get a 'photo-picture' memory of something, using D-A converter - the result is fooling our mind with a great success, creating an illusion of 'resurrection'... but it's never the same. It's only a realistic 3-d fiction, but it does not have any taste...:)
Seriously, thou.... (in case you actually talking about digital camcorder/vcr). digi-videocam is a good thing to have. I used one as a portable audio-hunter... just to record some sounds outdoors. BTW, the same pretty good result I had when recording outdoors sounds to a analog 8mm SONY videocam. This camera actually has 1/8inch input for external mic, so I could 'separate' mic and put it away from camera, instead of using built in mic.
*********8
MunkyLee, Hi. Thanx for droppin a word.

btw, in addition to another topic i've posted here, which links to the same source, here is a direct link to some good tech info on Video/Audio-Recording (it's about video-recording systems in general, but it's pdf file, so you need Acrobat to view it):
video tape recording chapter 8.4

/later guys,
/Mike Zee, aka DrZEE

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Mike Zee



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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2003 2:02 am    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

Daniel, here...finally:), I've found a page which in short terms gives an idea about 'direct' analog recording and AFM. Good stuff to check out for everybody who may have some 'confusion' (as I had) between frequency modulation and adding bias signal.
Here's the link: Magnetic tape recorder record and reproduce electronics

later,
/Mike Zee, aka DrZEE

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Sata Weeva



Joined: 18 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 9:14 am    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

So wah ya say Doc is to make out-if-this-world music I & I mus go digital!? Bout time you got off that retro analog ongle tip. :)

I vcr is mostly analog but claim seh it record sound digitally. To be honest, they could be bullshitting I. But the sound is usable if the tape is new enuff. Not for hi quality mastering tho.

Talking of cameras: I've had the idea of setting one over di mixing desk to record knob movements during mixing session. Might help to "remember" those accidental acts of genius.

One Love.
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Mike Zee



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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 3:49 pm    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

...to make out-if-this-world music I & I mus go digital!? - I like it :)
Great LOGICAL twist, man !
SataWeeva, !,hah ha - visual automation!. lol. It IS pretty genius :), this way you memorize not just sliders/knob position but actual hand/finger moves, amount of leftover of beer/coffe in the mug/can/bottle at the conner of the desk (what ever may apply) and much much more ...:) I had similar idea...but using still digital shots of mixing desk and store the 'image file' together with sequencing midi/audio file as a part of the whole project backup... this was an idea to have an image of the desk instead of text-notes within the midi/audio - typing every position of every knob and slider on the desk. But this didn't do much better.... still had to write down what mixer's chnl has what..., some effect send/return setting ..etc... At the end I kind of stop wasting time on this... I just sort of accepted the fact that the mixing session is one of a kind act and can not nor ment to be reproduced :) It's like a performance. Well, you can video-tape the performance for later enjoyment ..heh heh - that's for sure.

As for VCR being 'analog'. Yeah - it's a sort of nowhere area. I'd put it as: It is analog, but there is Analog-To_Analog converter on the way to tape and then back. When you 'convert' - it is not what it was. Well, technocally speaking, what I am saying isn't valid.
Again, as I see it, the biggest problem with VCR for Audio (especially for mixdown) is that it is not stable. The signal is analog, but it is 'coded', and if something happens to the tape you lose a small portion of the 'code' and you get a real bad result - similar to digital (losing a portion of data).
So the bottom like is - there's not much into it :(

respects,
/Mike Zee, aka Dr. ZEE

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interruptor



Joined: 04 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 3:58 pm    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

yes mike,
a very interesting article indeed.. i also checked the other pages and found the first one particularly helpful, as I didn't know what the "bias signal" is about. on that page you can also see a pic of the magnetism curve which shows how tape saturation can limit the large amplitudes of your signal and thus generate the tape compression effect which is typical for analog AM recording, but not for AFM style tape recording as done on video recorders.

peace & love
daniel
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Sata Weeva



Joined: 18 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2003 5:04 pm    Post subject: Using Hi-Fi STEREO VCR as analog tape audio-recorder Reply with quote

Analog audio tape is imperfect but some ppl love the wow and flutter. Digital is imperfect but some ppl prefer its sound. Maybe there are folks out deh who love that vcr sound. After all vid makers have been putting out tunes on it for years.
Will we have ppl saying "I don't like DVD. I prefer the good ol' VHS (or BETA.)"
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