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VHS HiFi Audio

Longchops

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Oct 15, 2020
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Started a thread about cassette tapes a while ago and a couple of people mentioned that they used to use VHS tapes to record audio off the telly and this really fascinated me, I never knew it was possible and had never even heard of that before

Can anyone give any more information about this format? Literally any information at all. Recommendations, observations, anything. I think I'm going to try and get hold of one to have a play around with. The picture below shows a machine which is fetching about £350 on the bay at the moment (which looks like an absolute beast) but I believe there are others that are much more reasonably priced with multiple recording heads available for say £50

I'm guessing at the time they were used for recording from vinyl. Did anyone do this back in the day? How would one connect a record player to the back though? What would do you do with the earth connections? Would you need an amp or a pre amp for that?

Cheers,

s-l1600.jpgVHS HiFi


s-l1600.jpg
 

Gray

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As nice as they look, what you'd effectively be getting, as far as audio is concerned, is not much more than a glorified cassette deck.

To record the bandwidths necessary for video, they needed a lot of tape to go past the head. Rather than run the tape past a head at a million m.p.h.....they ran the tape more slowly and used heads on a fast-spinning drum, across the width of the tape.
Once able to record bandwidths high enough for video, it was an easy job to bung some extra heads on the spinning drum, to stripe full-frequency audio on the tape too.
Still analogue though, not digital recording.

For audio only, you just connect stereo line in / out in the same way you do with a cassette deck (so vinyl recording would require a phono preamp).

You'll find that hi-fi decks are available in VHS and S-VHS variants.
For audio only, there's no advantage in getting an S-VHS type.

Though a hi-fi deck might (just) be better than your Nakamichi cassette deck, I'd stick with that if I were you.

If you want CD quality (analogue and digital) audio recording, see if you can find a Philips CDR-870 CD recorder.......then I'll tell you a handy trick for using the cheapest recordable blank discs. (domestic CD recorders, including that one, were designed to use only the much more expensive 'For Audio' blank discs).
It has to be that specific 870 model - as Philips heard about the trick and prevented it on later models.
 
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nads

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Nov 29, 2007
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I had a VHS. Recorder that could also do audio only as, seem to remember, on a different part/depth of the tape. This was back in the late 80 so can’t remember much about it. But it was a thing.
 
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iMark

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You might find the thread https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=119664 interesting.

I used to own a VHS HiFi recorder back in the 80s. It was a Hitachi. Very interesting machine. It could do all sorts of tricks. It could record just audio from external inputs but it also could do a trick called simulcast. Record video from the tuner while recording FM stereo radio. That worked great when a concert was broadcast with poor TV audio and simultaneously through the radio.

I would often record radio shows when I was working at night. Terrific sound. If I really liked the recording I would transfer the recording to cassette and later to minidisc.
I never recorded records to the video recorder. I would record those straight to cassette and later minidisc.

The best thing about the VHS Hifi recorder was the fact that I could record a couple of up to 4 hours of FM radio. I would set my Yamaha stereo receiver to the desired station, set the rec out selector to tuner and set the Hitachi to record the external source to VHS tape at the desired time. The timer function of the VHS recorder was great for that purpose.

The interesting thing was that people very much liked the sound quality of VHS HiFi but it never became very widespread. People. just didn't think of using a video recorder for just audio purposes.

The funny thing is that I still make the occasional radio broadcast recording on a Humax DVR. Our cable tv company also distributes an incredible number of radio stations in excellent digital quality. With the Humax I can switch to DVB-C radio and set a timer recording.
 
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Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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You might find the thread https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=119664 interesting.

I used to own a VHS HiFi recorder back in the 80s. It was a Hitachi. Very interesting machine. It could do all sorts of tricks. It could record just audio from external inputs but it also could do a trick called simulcast. Record video from the tuner while recording FM stereo radio. That worked great when a concert was broadcast with poor TV audio and simultaneously through the radio.

I would often record radio shows when I was working at night. Terrific sound. If I really liked the recording I would transfer the recording to cassette and later to minidisc.
I never recorded records to the video recorder. I would record those straight to cassette and later minidisc.

The best thing about the VHS Hifi recorder was the fact that I could record a couple of up to 4 hours of FM radio. I would set my Yamaha stereo receiver to the desired station, set the rec out selector to tuner and set the Hitachi to record the external source to VHS tape at the desired time. The timer function of the VHS recorder was great for that purpose.

The interesting thing was that people very much liked the sound quality of VHS HiFi but it never became very widespread. People. just didn't think of using a video recorder for just audio purposes.

The funny thing is that I still make the occasional radio broadcast recording on a Humax DVR. Our cable tv company also distributes an incredible number of radio stations in excellent digital quality. With the Humax I can switch to DVB-C radio and set a timer recording.
Yes, on my Panasonic I remember recording a TV programme with its audio on the (ropey) linear tracks - whilst simultaneously recording FM radio on the hi-tracks on the same tape . On playback, you could take your choice.
 

slunky

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Jul 19, 2020
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Back in the 80s i used to have svhs for hifi recordings. I had about 100 tapes and used to keep each artist per tape. I could get about maybe 4 or 5 albums per tape. Great sound quality. The only draw back was if you wanted to play an album that was located in the middle of the tape, used to take a fair while to locate it. Was fine if you played the tape from start to finish.
 
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Longchops

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Oct 15, 2020
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As nice as they look, what you'd effectively be getting, as far as audio is concerned, is not much more than a glorified cassette deck.

Though a hi-fi deck might (just) be better than your Nakamichi cassette deck, I'd stick with that if I were you.
Very interesting post!

Actually, I very much enjoy collecting and playing around with old machines, even stuff that isn't necessarily any good by today's standards. Plus I think such things are a great investment too, and a quick scan of the values for these VHS decks suggests the values have completely bottomed out. I think this is therefore a great thing to buy now, have a play with it and just shove in a rack for 5-10 years to mature. The trick is going to be finding the best one, because that will go up in value the most....
 
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iMark

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I forgot about another interesting feature of those early HiFi recorders. When I recorded movies on German TV it was often possible to change the audio track between dubbed German and the original language. When stereo sound became the norm this option went and there was dubbed German in stereo only.
There was a great German word for this: Zweikanalton
Obviously you needed a TV with stereo sound for this feature.
 
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Gray

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VHS HiFi was vastly superior to cassette and didn't have the issues with dolby, bias, or azimuth. No comparison.
All true.
And, importantly, no wow & flutter.
My Panasonic does a few seconds of servo-controlled lock-on as the tape starts, and that's it - no drift.
Think they call it digital tracking.
Way ahead of its time, the more you think about it, the more you realise just how superior VHS Hi-Fi was.
 
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record_spot

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Hugely impractical once you get beyond the novelty, with the space a collection of video tapes takes up. The sound quality on phones outstrips these.

Fun for the novelty aspect I'd say, but not a serious proposition ultimately. Certainly not for me at £350.
 

iMark

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May 16, 2008
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Back in the 1980s it was the best recording system for home users if you just take sound quality into account. VHS tape isn't the most practical of storage mediums to say the least. I used it mainly to record radio broadcasts using the timer. The best broadcasts I would then record to a cassette deck and later minidisc.
 

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