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In our opinion "real time" direct transfers of your VHS tape to digital is the easiest and most expedient option. It's a one step process that happens directly as you watch and dub over your tape to DVD!  If you add the right processing equipment, results can be just as good as using a computer capture card. The great advantage is that your tapes transfer in "real time" plus a few extra minutes to finalize the burned DVD.

To set this up you need a high quality DVD recorder such as the Magnavox ZC320MW8B, or the Magnavox HDD/DVD recorder H2160MW91  These feature video line inputs (both S-Video and RCA composite) and have the ability to record directly to DVD as you play back your VHS tape. The H2160MW9's also has an internal hard drive. This allows you to do some very basic editing, such as clipping off the end of a recording, or editing out commercials. Then, when you're ready, you burn from the Maganavox's internal hard drive to a blank DVD.

Here's how it works:

Using s-video cables only (for best video quality) interconnect devices as follows:

1. Playback VCR - hopefully a VCR with built in time base corrector. We highly recommend the Panasonic AG-1980 or the Panasonic AG-5710. These playback tapes with amazing quality, clarity and stability.

2. (optional) From the Playback VCR run the video output cable into an external TBC (time base corrector). Although your VCR may have a built-in TBC, an external TBC will enhance and purify wiggling elements in the picture.

3. Connect video output of the TBC to the input of a Video Processor (we highly recommend Studio 1 or Sign Video Process Amps, or a BVP-4 of BVP-4+) The Video Processor allows you to boost colors and adjust the hue.

4. (optional) connect the output of the Video Processor to the input of a Detailer/Sharpener (such as the SignVideo DR-1000) note the BVP-4 already has "resolution boost" which helps sharpen in a similar fashion. It's important to note that a sharpener won't create HD quality videos, but it will bring out more detail in the edges of the video images.

5. Finally run the output of the Detailer/Sharpener to the input of your DVD or DVD-HDD recorder (we highly recommend the Magnavox series of DVD recorders, such as the H2160MW9 or the ZC320MW8B)

6. For best results record in the SP mode, or whatever speed will allow you to fit the entire running time of the VHS tape onto a 4.35GB DVD-R or DVD+R

Audio: to handle the audio you can run a pair of RCA audio cables directly from the playback VCR into the input of the DVD recorder. In most cases this works well, however if you need to make adjustments to the audio, you can route it through an audio processor or mixer.

Happy Dubbing!

~ Tom Grant


1 Update: Magnavox now offers updated versions of this HDD recorder, such as the MDR557H/F7 with a 1TB hard drive.


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