[IMC-Audio] VCR as audio recorder
paul at mediageek.org
Wed Aug 25 20:36:07 PDT 2004
I used a Hi-Fi VCR to do all my airchecks from '92 to around 1999 or so.
The quality can be pretty good, but I think the earlier units were
better than most of the cheap plastic VCRs available today.
Earlier units were better at recording the audio with no video input,
but this ability really varied from unit to unit. I had a laserdisc
player that generated a plain blue screen when it was on, and it never
shut itself off. So I used that as my "dummy video." Having a video
signal on the tape seems to make a big difference if you want to use the
tape on a different VCR than you recorded it on.
Theoretically, Hi-Fi VHS can be very high quality, however the devil is
in the implementation. Most VCRs don't have manual level control these
days, so you rely on an auto-gain circuit, which can flatten out
dynamics or be fooled into recording audio too hot or too low. Also,
tracking can be a big issue on the slower speeds that give you 6 to 8 hours.
That said, if you can find a good deck that works for you, it should be
pretty trouble free for a long time. My VCR gave great service from '91
until 2002 when it finally gave up the ghost.
parallax at riseup.net wrote:
>When I was at Radio for Peace International, we used to use a VCR all the
>time, since it was able to record longer than any other other medium
>(aside from a computer, of course). We would record 8 hours of
>programming onto a videotape as we were broadcasting it live every day.
>Then at the end of the broadcast day, we would play a few promos or a Jim
>Hightower commentary or something while we rewound the tape to play for
>the next 8 hours. We went home and went to bed, and we had a guard who
>would keep an eye on the place and also monitor the tape to make nothing
>went wrong while it played overnight. Sometime in the middle of the
>night, when the tape got to the end, he would play a few more promos and
>rewind it to play back a second time, until we came in later in the
>morning (completing the 24 hour cycle)and began a new broadcast day,
>recording another 8 hours of new material on a second video tape. As I
>recall, we just alternated between 2 videotapes for months on end, bulk
>erasing them and re-recording over them every day.
>For such a low-tech solution, I was amazed at how decent the audio sounded
>and how many times we could re-use the tapes before the quality started to
>dissipate (not that it would have been terribly important for the audio to
>sound crystal clear, since this was shortwave radio, after all). I don't
>think it was any particularly special or expensive type of VCR-- just a
>standard, consumer-grade VHS deck. I don't know if they could have gotten
>anything much fancier there in Costa Rica. The only occasional problem
>was that some of the cheaper VCRs they purchased would sometimes only last
>for a few months, since we were using them 24/7. Otherwise, it worked
>like a charm.
>If you have any further questions, you should contact James Latham of RFPI
>at jiver1952 at yahoo.com
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