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  • Highest quality VHS to digital converter?

    Posted by Noam Osband on February 4, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    I’m digitizing some old VHS tapes for a documentary film, so quality makes a big difference here. What’s the highest quality VHS to digital converter I can buy?

    (Bonus points if it’s portable and something I can hook up to a VHS and my computer)

    Paul Thurston replied 7 months ago 6 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Paul Thurston

    February 7, 2022 at 1:00 am

    This is one way of doing what you seek. You would connect the video signals to an AJA FS1 converter and you would get a standard definition or HD video interlace SDI video out. You would then capture that stable video signal with an AJA SDI capture device such as an AJA Io X3 or you would record those sequences to an AJA Ki Pro Ultra 12G video recorder (which you would then use to file transfer later your video to your computer.) The audio requires an audio cable adapter that connects the RCA audio outs of the VHS player to connect to the audio in of either the FS1 or the other AJA items.

    That’s as portable as I can think of right now.

    (This of course would be for an NTSC frame rate endeavor.)

    Please remember that 50 Ohm BNC cables / RCA cables should not be used, but instead true 75 Ohm BNC video cables. By all means, do not use a regular RCA video cable between the VHS player and your video capture devices. RCA cables are all 50 Ohm cables and really do not have proper shielding for what you want to do. (RCA cables cannot protect you against RF interference generated by other devices nearby.)

    I use a video switcher that has a composite in and outputs Serial Digital Component interlace SDI out. The switcher allows me to see a waveform monitor and Vectorscope of the incoming video which I use to correct the black level (usually sits around 7.5 IRE instead of 0 IRE,) Luma levels (usually sit around 107 IRE instead of under 100 IRE), and Hue. VHS pretty much all the time has the Hue off (usually takes on a purple toned shade). I color correct those in the switcher color corrector before I capture the video using an AJA capture device.

    Hope that helps

  • Chris Wright

    February 7, 2022 at 3:37 am

    TBC(time base corrector) crystal sync (vertical and horizontal sync) VHS 4 head channel player with component out. best one is Panasonic AG-1980.

    the recorder should be able to input component as composite/s-video are inferior like a Magewell Pro Capture HDMI. the recording format is important as well. something with 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 intraframe like prores, not interframe as interframe that isn’t recommended for fast motion. make sure you have interlacing fields setup correctly.

  • Paul Carlin

    March 8, 2022 at 2:36 pm

    Just to add to what everyone else suggested… keep the video heads clean. Get a high quality video head cleaner and some Texwipes. Good head cleaners are highly toxic, so perhaps some gloves as well. The old tapes shed very easily and will clog the heads quickly. Also, be sure to capture the video as native interlaced NTSC (720×486). Then deinterlace and upscale it using something like Topaz Video Enhance AI (highly recommend).

  • Jack Jack

    March 15, 2022 at 8:58 pm

    The attached pic VHS player outputs in HDMi 1080p at 12-bit color.
    The attached pic 4K60 Card can capture 1080p 12-bit signals using the latest firmware.
    Tested to work via OBS.
    You must have a device between them that breaks HDMi copy protection, like an HDMi splitter or an HDFury device. I’ve used a few different splitters, but not all of them work. If you use and HDfury device, join their discord and contact their support team for custom firmwares.

  • Jack Jack

    March 23, 2022 at 1:21 am

    After some research, I noticed the unit I mentioned does not play S-VHS in native S-VHS format, it plays them in VHS format, 240 lines instead of 400. If you use a native S-VHS unit with a S-video capture card, or s-video to hdmi, you should get the full 400 lines. I don’t know if any output hdmi though.

  • Charles Sneddon

    October 16, 2023 at 12:34 am

    Hi Paul, Thank you for your great comments. I am a newbie, just getting started.

    I have an AJA FS1 and an AJA Ki Pro HD/SD Video Recorder.

    So my plan was the following:


    S VIDEO IN (FS1) – SDI OUT to

    (AJA Ki Pro HD/SD Video Recorder) and export the Apple ProRes to a PC.

    I was wondering: can you use the AJA Ki Pro as a pass-through and export through the HDMI output? I have an AverMedia EzRecorder 310, which is quite an impressive recorder through HDMI (H264), but the audio is only 256 kbps. I do have a H.264 Pro Recorder BM; could you use the AJA Ki Pro SDI to BM H.264 Pro Recorder and then output to HDMI? Reading a lot of stories and H264 (progressive) is probably not the way forward for analogue, and the PC is the best way.

    I am totally lost with leads and the best ones to use; the fact that you have mentioned 75-ohm BNC video cables and switcher colour correctors has thrown me off. Are these what you mean?

  • Charles Sneddon

    October 16, 2023 at 12:34 pm

    Also Paul Thurston and all, should i use the XLR method with this:

    I wouldn’t even know where to start with a video switcher that has a composite in and outputs Serial Digital Component interlace SDI out!!!!! I seen this but that would just be a pipe dream at those costs.

    Much appreciated for any assistance.

  • Paul Thurston

    October 26, 2023 at 5:24 am

    Hello Charles,

    You asked: “can you use the AJA Ki Pro as a pass-through and export through the HDMI output?”

    Answer: You would have to test that to see if that is possible, but the answer is, probably yes.

    Since the AJA FS1 has a S-VHS connector, all you need a fine S-VHS cable between the FS1 and the JVC SR-S388E, like this one:

    For the FS1 analog audio in, the TASCAM type DB25 connector adapter cable is the correct one:

    And between the DB25 cable and JVC video machine audio out, the RCA to XLR male analog audio adapter is the correct one:

    The FS1 SDI video out imbeds the audio into the SDI digital video signal so all you need is a fine 75 Ohm BNC cable between the FS1 and the Ki Pro recorder:

    Hope that helps.

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