Sony SVO-1500 - Should I Refurbish It?

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Don Crabtree

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Sony SVO-1500 - Should I Refurbish It?

PostWed Mar 15, 2017 5:31 pm

I picked up a Sony SVO-1500 VHS player for free from a company that used it for small in-house production work. It appears to have been well cared for and it is working OK. I did some research and it turns out that Sony will still service/refurb the unit at $135/hr (US). I'm going to be digitizing about 100 old personal (not commercial) VHS tapes and I'm wondering if it's worth putting a few hundred dollars into this deck vs. purchasing something of unknown quality from eBay or purchasing a new consumer grade deck.

My signal chain is the SVO-1500 > tvONE 1T-TBC > Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt > iMac. From there I'll be working working in FCPX.

My test setup seems to work well with no dropped frames but I am looking for a better TBC just in case (more likely when) I run into tapes that are really bad. Once I've got everything rock solid, the fun begins.

I'm a newbie and truly appreciate the feedback. Thanks.
Hobbyist: Mostly digitizing old family/friends VHS tapes.
SVO-1500 (VTR)> tvONE 1T-TBC > Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt > iMac and then FCPX.
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Colin Barrett

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Re: Sony SVO-1500 - Should I Refurbish It?

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 10:07 am

I buy a lot of "legacy" videotape machines for use in my business and I wouldn't get them serviced unless a machine displays a very distinct need for it. Hook it up, put in a test tape (i.e.: one whose content you're very familiar) and then get it working within your system. If you can, record onto a new tape a few minutes of bars and tone (Blackmagic supply these in their Desktop Video setup package) and then compare playback with source (you might need to clean the heads etc first).

If playback is slightly noisy or you have white flashes on the playback picture, or if the meter that displays the video playback strength ("RF Level") displays a low level, it could be that the heads are worn and need replacing. This is a very expensive job and isn't worth the bother or expense these days. However, if the playback is good then you're good to go.

One word of advice - a few years back I had exactly the same configuration as your proposed set-up - I used a TV-One 1T TBC feeding a Shuttle Thunderbolt into MacOSX. However, the TV-One 1T isn't really a timebase corrector as your recording will drop out when there dropped frames in the VHS playback. The version that has a Gunlock input is slightly better and more tolerant because the device is referencing an external sync source to which it can then lock, but it still isn't perfect. However, if the recordings are continuous without any breaks then it should be OK.
Blackmagic Teranex 2D, Ultrastudio Express, Intensity Shuttle (Thunderbolt), H.264 Pro Recorder (all Mac OSX) & lots of old VTRs used for digital archiving of legacy video formats for major libraries, broadcasters, universities and public archives.
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Don Crabtree

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Re: Sony SVO-1500 - Should I Refurbish It?

PostThu Mar 16, 2017 3:28 pm

Thank you Colin. Your input is very helpful. I am on the lookout for something better than the 1T-TBC on eBay. I tested my setup with what I consider my "best" VHS tape and the 1T-TBC worked well. When I tried what I consider my "worst" tape, well, it didn't do the job.

I have a question concerning cleaning the tape heads. Do you favor cleaning with a wet or dry tape or do you remove the cover and clean the heads and tape path manually?

Thanks again for your input.
Hobbyist: Mostly digitizing old family/friends VHS tapes.
SVO-1500 (VTR)> tvONE 1T-TBC > Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt > iMac and then FCPX.
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Colin Barrett

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Re: Sony SVO-1500 - Should I Refurbish It?

PostFri Mar 17, 2017 10:28 am

Don Crabtree wrote:I have a question concerning cleaning the tape heads. Do you favor cleaning with a wet or dry tape or do you remove the cover and clean the heads and tape path manually?


I use both techniques, to be honest. Sometimes it's much easier to pop in a cleaning cassette (into which I've squirted some IPA - Isopropyl Alcohol - fluid), especially if the VCR is rack-mounted but where possible I take the top off the machine and clean it manually. The latter is certainly more effective but it does depend on time available! A couple of service engineers I use don't like cleaning tapes at all and I hope they're not reading this!!

Don Crabtree wrote:Thanks again for your input.


No problem. That's what forums like this are for and I've often found solutions to nagging problems here myself.
Blackmagic Teranex 2D, Ultrastudio Express, Intensity Shuttle (Thunderbolt), H.264 Pro Recorder (all Mac OSX) & lots of old VTRs used for digital archiving of legacy video formats for major libraries, broadcasters, universities and public archives.
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Don Crabtree

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Re: Sony SVO-1500 - Should I Refurbish It?

PostFri Mar 17, 2017 2:49 pm

Thanks.
Hobbyist: Mostly digitizing old family/friends VHS tapes.
SVO-1500 (VTR)> tvONE 1T-TBC > Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt > iMac and then FCPX.

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