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Readers Respond to VHS Article

I just wanted to let you know that the advice you gave in mixing down to a Hi-Fi VCR was great advice! I just recently received a 4 track recorder for my birthday, and while the sound from the 4 track sounded great, I thought it sounded like crap when I mixed it down to a stereo cassette (real muddy and cluttered)...I was very discouraged until I happened upon the...website and found the information about the VCR...I ran right home and tried it and was totally jazzed! Thanks for the info and this (Mixmasters) list...It's great!
-- Mark Whetstine

Hi, Dragon!

I love your web-site. I've learned quite a bit from your extremely useful information. The recordings I've done since reading your tips are much better than my previous work. I currently use a Yamaha MT-120 4-track recorder. One of the greatest suggestions you've given is mixing down to Hi-Fi VCR. I recently did it with my Toshiba Hi-Fi and I cannot believe the sound quality of the playback! The VHS playback through my Kenwood stereo sounds even better to me than when I play my Yamaha 4-track directly into the same Kenwood stereo! I don't know if it's the VCR's compression, or what? Is it possible that a VHS copy could sound better than the original source? To my ears, it's at least as good! Anyway, thank you so much for all the great tips. Keep up the good work!

Ben Rowlett (Cranston, Rhode Island - USA)

Folks, thanks for writing! It really makes me feel good when I hear that something here has helped you. And yes, I believe that what you're hearing is the compression built into the VCR's circuits...a lot depends on your individual recorder, sounds like you got lucky!
-- Dragon

A Reader Warning

Hi Dragon,

Wanted to make a note about VCR mastering, and that is that the main problem with mastering to a VCR tape is that if you do not have a frame accurate relay jogging control, you are sunk.

On a VCR without FAR, everytime you finish mixing down a song to the VCR and you disengage the recording heads from the tape, the heads pull back, and the tape is automatically rewound several centimeters, and that amount of space is never frame accurate.

This will cause the next track you lay down to overlap or underlap the previous track, erasing or overshooting your previous track, putting unwanted space between tracks, and also creating a nasty audio pop between each track.

Frame accurate relay is the only way I know to avoid this.


Mark W. Curran
Awesome Records

P.S. I recently destroyed my VCR with a #9 carpenter's hammer because of this, and derived great satisfaction from its destruction.

Dear Mark,

Sorry about your loss (of the tracks, mostly, since it sounds like you emotionally got over the VCR pretty quick :-), and I must admit that I also have been using a high-end VCR for mastering. However, I didn't try to keep my tracks as closely as you did. I suspect you might have been trying for that semi-mythical 2 seconds between tracks, which is done by software during CD making and totally unnecessary if you are simply trying to record your best mix to VHS tape. Anyway, I lost a track or two myself, so you might want to check out these tips before you have a close violent encounter with your super-whizzy new VCR also...
-- Dragon

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