Q. I have a Hi8 Sony CCD TR700 with RC time code and a Sony EV-S3000 without RCTC. Can an edit
controller designed to work with RCTC use a tape with time code written on it when it's played back in
A. Sorry Robert, no. You need specific circuitry to read RC time code and the EV-S3000 just doesn't have it. But it's a great deck all the same and should work nicely as a recorder in a basic editing setup. You can use it with an editor that uses RCTC. The editor will simply go to tape counter mode for your recorder while it uses the TR700's time code for the source side (if that's your setup). Many editors incorporate trimming programs to make non-time code recorder units operate more accurately. At least you'll have more accuracy this way than with no time code at all.
Q. In the March 1995 issue, Michael Loehr's audio sweetening article shows a hi-fi loop-back
diagram using a Panasonic AG-1970 VCR with a linear input. He says one feature of the AG-1970 is the
ability to play back the VHS hi-fi tracks and simultaneously record on the linear track. I have two of
these decks and I can't find the linear input. What gives?
Staten Island, New York
A. Your left hi-fi audio input is also your linear mono input. The two different recording circuits share this input. When you want to mix audio using the method described by Michael, you route your audio outputs to your mixer along with any other signals (such as those from a CD player, audio tape player or even audio from another VCR). You then route the output of your mixer to the left audio input (which is again the input for your linear track). You might want to use a mono output from your mixer; if you don't have one, use a Y-adapter to mix your stereo signal into mono. This is so you won't miss anything from the other stereo channel.
Q. My earliest home videos (VHS) are ten years old. I have stored these tapes under ideal conditions, but
I want to preserve them as long as possible. What should I do? Also, won't dubbing an original VHS tape
to Hi8 produce a copy equal to the quality of the original?
A. To answer your second question first; no, the Hi8 dub won't have the quality of the original VHS tape, but it will be very close. Every time you dub an analog signal, it degrades further. In this case, the Hi8 will just record a high-quality version of the further degraded signal.
There are a number of things you can do to extend the life of your tapes. First, buy high-grade tape to begin with. A cheap box, cheap plastic case and cheap price usually mean short tape life. High humidity, and especially heat, loosen the binder between the oxide and plastic backing. Store your tapes at temperatures between 70 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit in a 10-30% humidity environment. Store them in plastic cases with attached lids, and stand them on one end with the wound reel uppermost. Keep tapes away from magnetic sources, such as the top of your TV or hi-fi speakers. Finally, if you're storing them for a long time, take them out every six months or so and fast forward/rewind them to repack the tape. If you follow these few guidelines, your tapes should last longer.
Q. Just how much improvement in picture quality can one reasonably expect from a time base
corrector (TBC) or a frame store? Replacing the sync pulses with new ones might lessen picture sync
problems, but it would do nothing for program information. So how much can it help? Also, are stand-
alone TBCs available?
East Ridge, Tennessee
A. You'll get no picture improvements from a frame store, which simply synchronizes the frame rate of two different signals so you can mix them. Concerning resolution and other picture attributes, it's true that the TBC does very little to help. However, while the TBC adds new sync to the video, it also adjusts each individual scan line, in each field of each frame of video, to a perfectly-timed fit within the new sync. You see, due to tape slippage, tape stretch and mechanical faults in the VCR during playback, the timing of each line can be so off as to cause the picture to break up during playback. The TBC fixes this. After all, the most beautiful tape images in the world aren't worth a plug nickel if they're tearing so bad you can't watch them.
TBCs have long been available to professionals as stand-alone units, but expect professional prices as well.
Q. In the manuals of both my camcorder and VCR (both made by Sony), I have read of a cable that
will attach between a Control-L mini stereo jack and a Control-L mini DIN jack. This will allow me to
unpause both machines from the VCR for editing. Can you help me determine the right pins to use on
A. You can get this cable through Sony's Kansas City Parts Center (1-800-488-SONY). Just ask for cable number VK-810. If you insist on making your own, ask for the book Protocol Control-L/F. It will explain what Control-L is, how it works and what the pin-outs are for each connector. It should also tell you what you can and can't do between two Control-L units.