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Info Wanted: Good Hi-Fi VHS vs. 192kbps AC3? Which is better?

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 (Edited)

Hey there guys,

I’m working on a restoration where the original master tape is unavailable.

What exists for the audio of this movie are two things: A VHS release from 1999, and a similar DVD release a few years later that has the audio encoded at 192kbps. (Sadly for me, no Laserdisc exists.) Either can be easily synced to the new video source (which is pristine) and be presented uncompressed.

Both VHS and DVD were mastered from the exact same source, and honestly, sound really good. Since I’m more of a videophile than an audiophile, my question is this; which is technically better? 192 is average but lowish in bitrate in my opinion, but in theory does that still trump an uncompressed analogue VHS recording of the movie?

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May I ask what the film is?

I think the 192 kpbs would probably be better, if only because the VHS tape probably has lots of noise and has probably degraded over time.

“You don’t really mean you’ll kill me, do you?” - Juror 8
“Silence, Earthling! My name is Darth Vader. I am an extra-terrestrial from the planet Vulcan!” - Calvin “Marty” Klein

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The VHS could offer a nice stereo option as long as the audio itself is handled properly. The less done to the audio of course is the best route.

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Hey guys,

The copy of the VHS I found was brand new and it seems like the hi-fi track is in good condition. I made a capture of it using my time base correcting VCR/Blackmagic. I could technically post the audio if someone wants to review it?

The movie in question is Fatal Fury the Motion Picture.

Just FYI, there is a mastering issue where in the left channel there’s a pulse in the left channel for some reason, but otherwise the stereo mix seems to have some really nice directionality. The mastering issue is in both the VHS and DVD, so it had to happen at the mixing stage.

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If the tape hasn’t degraded, then it is definitely possible for it to sound better than 192 kbps AC3 due to the compression on the latter. I’ve transferred plenty of tapes that have excellent quality audio.

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Kushami said:

Colson said:

Is it possible that the 2014 DVD might have better audio? https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L1WJJXU/ref=pd_sbs_74_t_0?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=93E3CQW3HV5RAM71EZW9

No, it’s encoded at 192kbps as well, and would not be surprised if the audio was pulled from the old DVD release.

That makes sense.

“You don’t really mean you’ll kill me, do you?” - Juror 8
“Silence, Earthling! My name is Darth Vader. I am an extra-terrestrial from the planet Vulcan!” - Calvin “Marty” Klein

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I’d just have both in a multitrack MKV. That may just be me…

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Kushami said:

What exists for the audio of this movie are two things: A VHS release from 1999, and a similar DVD release a few years later that has the audio encoded at 192kbps. (Sadly for me, no Laserdisc exists.)

There was an LD in Japan: http://page24.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/q121326072

I assume you’re working on the English dub based on your samples, though, and I’m pretty sure the JP LD doesn’t have that.

A Blu-ray was also announced by Discotek but if they just ripped the old DVD for their 2014 DVD, they probably don’t have the masters.

I’d personally use the VHS, as I’ve noticed compression artifacts in high frequencies on 192kbps AC3 when using headphones (even cheap ones). VHS Hi-Fi is pretty good quality as long as the tape is undamaged. While it has some minor faults, you can find plenty of audiophiles praising it on the internet.

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IIRC, VHS hi-fi audio is 48 kHz. I’d choose VHS hi-fi over AC-3 192kbps as there’s a hard cut-off of higher frequencies.

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VHS Hi-fi audio is probably about 6-8 bit depth quality and that’s your limiting factor.
That said, if I was archiving, I’d encode to PCM audio, because the source is high quality analog and PCM is lossless. You would get everything you could out of it.

If space is a concern, you won’t be disappointed by 256-320kbps AC3.
I rarely would consider 192kbps for high quality digital sources.

Dr. M

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I worked with hardware samplers, and 8bit samples are really rough, and don’t retain original quality… 12bit is almost acceptable, but 16bit is the “minimum” limit IMHO… VHS Hi-fi audio has a great quality, and used at the time as archival medium, because its quality was far greater than audio tapes.
Said that, if you have space, I agree that PCM is the way to go; alternative is to use a 384kbps AC3 stereo track - that is supposed to be transparent for everyone.

The ResolveR ultimate restoration workstation | [Fundamental Collection] thread | blog.spoRv.com | fan preservation forum: fanres.com |

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Analog audio doesn’t have a sample rate or a bit depth… it does have a noise floor and an usable frequency response range, but these are not hard limits and the distortion caused by moving beyond them is not as harsh or destructive as it is with digital audio.

When digitizing analog audio, you should record it as PCM with a bit depth of at least 16 at the absolute minimum; but using 24-bit is much better because the digital noise floor is well below anything a human could ever hear, and you have more breathing room in setting your recording levels without worrying about pushing the signal into clipping. With good quality converters, 48 kHz is quite acceptable as a choice of sample rate; with bad converters, a higher rate such as 96 kHz may be helpful since the converter artifacts will be pushed farther up into the ultrasonic range, where we can’t hear them. It can then be converted down to 48 with high quality software later on in order to fit with video standards.

If the bit depth is reduced to 16 on the final released copy to save space, dither must be used to preserve sound quality and avoid adding more digital distortion. Encoding lossy copies from a 24-bit PCM master may result in higher quality than encoding from a 16-bit version. Also be mindful that leaving at least 1 dB of headroom in the PCM is advisable so that clipping distortion is not added during a lossy encode, or by the conversion to analog during playback.

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hairy_hen said:
Analog audio doesn’t have a sample rate

True, but something I didn’t post the last time is that IIRC the hi-fi tracks are actually digital and gets reconverted to analog for the output. This information came from an engineer who worked on an audio card.

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VHS is TAPE< and so that’ll have a gentle rolloff staring from ~12k down to 18.

DVD 192kps has a ~18kco.

All tings equal, I’d say the AC3 should sound better, assuming that the Ac3 has the same original source as the tape.

NOW, to do EQUAL comparison, make sure that the VHS & DVD are the SAME VOLUME.