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Old 30th Jun 2023, 11:12 pm   #1
trellis
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Default List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

I'm trying to put together a list of PAL VHS machines that support the EP recording speed.

NTSC machines almost ubiquitously had a third recording speed, variously referred to as SLP or EP, which tripled the run time of the tape, but an equivalent mode on PAL machines was very rare.

I'm hoping the list will prove useful to those who have tapes recorded in the very unusual PAL EP mode to find suitable equipment to play their tapes.
  • Panasonic NV-HS960 (S-VHS)
  • Panasonic NV-HS930 (S-VHS)
  • Panasonic NV-FJ760
  • Panasonic NV-FJ630
  • Sharp VC-MH715
  • Sharp VC-MH705
  • Sharp VC-H720 (Australia/New Zealand model)
  • Sharp VC-H726 (Australia/New Zealand model with SECAM support, but SECAM cannot be recorded in EP mode)
  • Sharp VC-H725 (Australia/New Zealand model with SECAM support, but SECAM cannot be recorded in EP mode)
  • JVC HR-S5980 (S-VHS)

I have checked the user manuals for all of the above models, and can confirm that they all definitely support PAL EP.

Can anyone add any models to this list? It was a very rare feature. Some sources say that the Sharp VC-MH722 also supports PAL EP, but the manual for this model makes no mention of it, so I believe this to be incorrect.
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Old 30th Jun 2023, 11:26 pm   #2
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

Panasonic DVD recorder DMR-EZ48VEB. [records on both VHS and DVD], JVC SVHS recorders HR -S6855EK , HR-S6856EK and HR-S6857EK.

I have examples and manuals of the Panasonic and one of the JVC recorders.

Last edited by emeritus; 30th Jun 2023 at 11:52 pm.
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Old 30th Jun 2023, 11:58 pm   #3
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

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Originally Posted by emeritus View Post
Panasonic DVD recorder DMR-EZ48VEB. [records on both VHS and DVD], JVC SVHS recorders HR -S6855EK , HR-S6856EK and HR-S6857EK.

I have examples and manuals of the Panasonic and one of the JVC recorders.
Thanks! The fact that one of these is also a DVD Recorder suggests that the PAL EP mode was just coming in as VHS was already a dying format, which probably explains why there are so few machines that have it.

Pity I can't edit the first post to add these models in - maybe an admin can oblige?
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 12:03 am   #4
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

JVC SVHS HR-S9850EK.

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Old 1st Jul 2023, 12:28 am   #5
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

SLP? A rather silly idea if you ask me. All the compatibility/tracking /tape noise problems of LP, but doubly worse. And this at a time when you could pick up decent blank cassettes for around a quid, so there wasn't even a reason to save on tape.

I have a few US-made blanks. They are about the same length as our E-180 but plastered all over the boxes are '6 HOURS'. It's only when you read the small print that you see that that only applies if you run it at that stupid low speed! Otherwise it's 2 hours recording time at SP. Couldn't get away with such misleading advertising here.
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 2:40 am   #6
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

PAL tape speeds were slower than NTSC so perhaps not surprising that SLP/EP was rarely found on PAL VHS. Yes quality and alignment/compatibility issues in picture and sound were even worse. No free lunch...

Last edited by TIMTAPE; 1st Jul 2023 at 2:45 am.
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 8:19 am   #7
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

I can understand SLP being attractive in applications like the ultra low budget CCTV systems found in corner shops etc which used a video recorder modified to record as a continuous loop.

They never would change the tape and the heads were always worn so the recordings were invariably incomprehensible messes when you tried to use them to identify shoplifters.
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 9:35 am   #8
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

I still have some customers that like the convenience of VHS to record and seem to invariably use Panasonic machines.

Many seem to be on the EP setting, probably by accident, and, as you can imagine, with tapes that have been used over and over, the pictures and (especially) sound are a far cry from what VHS can be like.But as long as it offeres some limited entertainment value the customer is happy. 'Twas ever thus...
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 11:43 am   #9
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

Another possible application might have been compliance logging for TV channels, where quality isn't the main concern. 12 hours on an E-240 would be just nice for a twice-daily tape swap. But I guess there were already better, custom-built solutions to this by the time the EP feature started appearing.
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 12:16 pm   #10
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

I know of one radio station in the 90's which used VHS PAL tapes in LP for compliance audio logging (no picture recorded), and another station which used them in LP to record a particular radio personality's live radio interviews which I have ended up with, all 100 hours or so worth. Trying to extract the audio has been a mixed bag. The HiFi audio tracks are prone to clicking and popping at the head switching points. Fortunately the linear audio tracks while lower fidelity, have no such problems and are subjectively more easy to listen to.
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 1:02 pm   #11
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

I had a Panasonic PAL VCR with EP at one time. The quality in EP mode was surprisingly good - not obviously worse than in LP and perfectly adequate for timeshifting and other everyday uses. A HiFi soundtrack was essential though, as the tape speed was too slow for acceptable performance from the linear track.

The recordings may have been more vulnerable to age related degradation though.
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 2:06 pm   #12
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

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Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
I had a Panasonic PAL VCR with EP at one time. The quality in EP mode was surprisingly good - not obviously worse than in LP and perfectly adequate for timeshifting and other everyday uses. A HiFi soundtrack was essential though, as the tape speed was too slow for acceptable performance from the linear track.

The recordings may have been more vulnerable to age related degradation though.
I've just tried the Panasonic FJ630 I bought in a charity shop last week (and which prompted this thread!), and I agree - the picture is surprisingly good in EP mode. I would say it's a little worse than LP, but not markedly so. Certainly perfectly usable.

The linear audio at EP speed is indeed extremely poor. Just about adequate for speech I'd say. In fact, I would liken it to audio coming through a telephone. Hi-Fi audio sounds indistinguishable from an SP recording to my ears.

Of course that's playing back the recordings on the same machine that recorded them, as it's the only one I have. I wonder what compatibility with other EP machines would be like.

Last edited by trellis; 1st Jul 2023 at 2:08 pm. Reason: typo
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 4:24 pm   #13
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

As Ben said [p5*] it's difficult to understand why a third speed was introduced at all but then it's probaly hard to appreciate the circumstances applying at the time. I never heard of that being an option in either NTSC or PAL but I recall that if you wanted to buy a E240 video tape, at one point, it would cost the best part of £7. As I was doing a lot of VHS archiving from 1982 onwards I sometimes resorted to LP which was inferior [over time] but reasonable as Paul said [p11*] and definetely better than nothing! In the early eighties I was getting people to make VHS recordings of films for me as previously, you might have had to wait years for a film to come around again and who knew that it was all going to change so rapidly, so very soon.

I wasn't in a position to buy my own VHS Recorder yet and my first one was in a Granda Rental VHS/TV bundle. It was a model on which you could dub an audio soundtrack on to the video as well. The TV was a 21"Finlandia and seemed very futuristic then. The LP feature was quite sought after at one stage, as the doubling of recording hours was popular with customers. If you could afford to actually buy a machine with the LP facility then, the price was very much increased. I was told later that the only difference was in the way that the same micro-chip had been wired up but I'm not sure if that was true or not

Re TimTape's comment [p6*] I think that Radio Manchester [Oxford Road] used VHS LP audio recording to satisfy the broadcast requirement ie to maintain a record [and then perhaps reel to reel multi track machines]. Radio Four used high quality mini-discs later to record the Today program. There was a point where the BBC started to value archived "sounds" more [as now] but I believe that the Oxford Road material, in particular, was wiped or discarded.

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Last edited by dave walsh; 1st Jul 2023 at 4:38 pm.
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Old 1st Jul 2023, 7:47 pm   #14
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

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Originally Posted by emeritus View Post
Panasonic DVD recorder DMR-EZ48VEB. [records on both VHS and DVD]
And has HDMI out and a Freeview tuner
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Old 2nd Jul 2023, 9:35 am   #15
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

Another interesting phenomenon: picture search on EP recordings is far better than LP. In fact, it's about the same as SP picture search. Very narrow noise bars, and solid colour.

LP is by far the worst for picture search, with broad noise bars and horizontal 'tearing' of the picture, and frequent loss of colour.

What would the technical explanation for that be?
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Old 2nd Jul 2023, 11:43 am   #16
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

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Originally Posted by defender View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by emeritus View Post
Panasonic DVD recorder DMR-EZ48VEB. [records on both VHS and DVD]
And has HDMI out and a Freeview tuner
My Panasonic has a front-mounted Firewire input for recording from a camcorder. That model was replaced by one with a USB front input, I don't know the model number, but it presumably has an otherwise identical spec. I got mine in a Maplin sale, ideal for use with my Firewire-equipped camcorder before I got a Firewire card for my laptop.
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Old 2nd Jul 2023, 3:19 pm   #17
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

Quote:
Originally Posted by trellis View Post
Another interesting phenomenon: picture search on EP recordings is far better than LP. In fact, it's about the same as SP picture search. Very narrow noise bars, and solid colour.

LP is by far the worst for picture search, with broad noise bars and horizontal 'tearing' of the picture, and frequent loss of colour.

What would the technical explanation for that be?
Guard - bands between tracks..
A single speed SP machine doesn't need a guard band, but a LP/SP lays down a narrower track and I suppose an EP machine narrower still, so the slowest speed has the tracks butted up with each other.

I used to advice people not to buy a multi speed machine if quality and long lived recordings were paramount. Wider track, more magnetic flux to recover.
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Old 2nd Jul 2023, 3:32 pm   #18
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

The user manual for my VHS-C camcorder advised you that LP recordings should only be played back using the camcorder they were recorded on. I never used to use the LP mode so I don't know what happened if you did try using a different machine .
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Old 2nd Jul 2023, 5:15 pm   #19
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

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Originally Posted by ben View Post
SLP? A rather silly idea if you ask me. All the compatibility/tracking /tape noise problems of LP, but doubly worse. And this at a time when you could pick up decent blank cassettes for around a quid, so there wasn't even a reason to save on tape.

I have a few US-made blanks. They are about the same length as our E-180 but plastered all over the boxes are '6 HOURS'. It's only when you read the small print that you see that that only applies if you run it at that stupid low speed! Otherwise it's 2 hours recording time at SP. Couldn't get away with such misleading advertising here.
Well, there will be people who want to make continuous recordings of above three hours. Not just that, but tape formulations had come on tremendously since the launch of VHS and I'd wager that using a good quality tape on a late machine run at slow speed would have given superior results to earlier machines run at normal speed using first generation tape - results that were demonstrably acceptable, VHS winning the video wars. Plus, in any case, notwithstanding how good or bad it was, the general public were often more concerned with convenience features on their machines than out and out video and audio performance.
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Old 2nd Jul 2023, 5:17 pm   #20
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Default Re: List of PAL VHS Video Recorders with SLP / EP Mode

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Originally Posted by G6Tanuki View Post
I can understand SLP being attractive in applications like the ultra low budget CCTV systems found in corner shops etc which used a video recorder modified to record as a continuous loop.

They never would change the tape and the heads were always worn so the recordings were invariably incomprehensible messes when you tried to use them to identify shoplifters.
In the 80's, a security company I worked for got caught out selling a time lapse VCR to CCTV recording on a car dealership. I seem to recall the tape stopped & started every few seconds to achieve an overnight recording time. Might have this wrong but seem to recall the tape head had 4 sensors and lasted about a year requiring a warranty fix. On the back was a counter (mercury in a horizontal tube) ? that indicated how long the machine had been recording.

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