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Old 12th Aug 2022, 3:51 pm   #1
trellis
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Default Sony PCM-F1 Question

Hi all.

I've just acquired a Sony PCM-F1 unit, and it seems to be working, but at the same time it doesn't seem right to me. After some help.

The "muting" LED seems to be on permanently, regardless of the position of the "muting" switch.

When I play audio into the analogue inputs, I get a "video" output corresponding to the incoming audio, but nothing on the VU meters or from the headphone or line outputs.

If I press and hold the orange "rec mute" button, the "video" output stops, but I then get VU meter response, and output from both headphone and line out. As soon as I release the "rec mute" button, it goes back to nothing from line/headphone out and no VU meter response, and the "video" output starts up again.

It seems a bit odd that the VU meters are active only when the ADC is inactive, and I would expect the audio to be looped through to the headphone output for monitoring during recording as well.

Is that just how it's meant to work, or am I doing something wrong?

Thanks.

Last edited by trellis; 12th Aug 2022 at 3:55 pm. Reason: Clarification
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Old 12th Aug 2022, 4:07 pm   #2
trellis
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Default Re: Sony PCM-F1 Question

Sorry, no sooner had I posted the question than I realised the answer!

The video out has to be looped back into the video input. Presumably the idea is that this looback would be via a VCR or some sort, but there is a useful "copy out" socket on the back for a direct loopback.

Supplementary question - is there such a thing as a software decoder for the video output from these devices? Seems like an easy enough thing to create if the video format is understood, and with cheap video capture hardware available. Just curious.
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Old 12th Aug 2022, 4:31 pm   #3
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Default Re: Sony PCM-F1 Question

It sounds like you've only got the digital audio converter box. It was normally used paired-up with Sony's F1 portable betamax video recorder.

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Old 12th Aug 2022, 5:22 pm   #4
trellis
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Default Re: Sony PCM-F1 Question

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Originally Posted by Radio Wrangler View Post
It sounds like you've only got the digital audio converter box. It was normally used paired-up with Sony's F1 portable betamax video recorder.

David
Yes, I was just trying out the PCM box on its own.

I have got two of the companion Betamax machines. Although I haven't tested them yet, one is labelled "U.S." so I presume is broken, and the other one has a tape in it, so I presume it is also faulty, as the tape would most likely have been removed if it was possible to eject it. Also I don't have any means of powering the VCRs and the PCM unit at the same time as I only have one power unit.
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Old 12th Aug 2022, 6:37 pm   #5
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Sony PCM-F1 Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by trellis View Post
...is there such a thing as a software decoder for the video output from these devices? Seems like an easy enough thing to create if the video format is understood, and with cheap video capture hardware available. Just curious.
Not as far as I know. These units are holding up quite well, except those modified carelessly for digital output, which cooked a Sony-specific chip. Some were done well, however, and if you have a 601, that does SPDIF out of the box.
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Old 12th Aug 2022, 8:48 pm   #6
trellis
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Default Re: Sony PCM-F1 Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Kendall View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by trellis View Post
...is there such a thing as a software decoder for the video output from these devices? Seems like an easy enough thing to create if the video format is understood, and with cheap video capture hardware available. Just curious.
Not as far as I know. These units are holding up quite well, except those modified carelessly for digital output, which cooked a Sony-specific chip. Some were done well, however, and if you have a 601, that does SPDIF out of the box.
Ah, right. It's not something I would particularly have a use for, but I was just curious if anyone had actually implemented it, as it seems it could be very useful for some, and eminently doable.

I'm just happy playing with my PCM-F1 at the moment. I find the video output strangely mesmerising.
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Old 12th Aug 2022, 9:05 pm   #7
Restoration73
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Default Re: Sony PCM-F1 Question

Whilst latterly the F1 was used for consumer devices, early pro application was to use it
with a Sony U-matic recorder to generate stereo audio mastering tapes for vinyl.
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Old 12th Aug 2022, 9:32 pm   #8
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Sony PCM-F1 Question

The F1 was intended first and last as a consumer device, the professional product being the 1610, which was expected to be paired with a U-matic. However, with the 1610 rig at ca. 20,000 and the same quality of recording available for 1,000 with the F1, professional recording engineers and the BBC flocked to the latter, some recording F1 on U-matic for greater reliability. The only fly in the ointment was that seamless editing was impossible, as the allocation of data blocks for error rate robustness spread words across frame boundaries, unlike the 1610 which could be edited on a video editor, if 1/30th second resolution was tight enough for your purposes, Most used the DAE-1100 editor, which allowed practically infinite resolution - as long as you could find your edit point precisely enough with the 8-bit mono scrub wheel. Once you were happy with that, you hit "preview", which was the cue for anything up to two minutes of spooling, rolling back and arguing between the source and assembly U-matics as they got into step. If you were happy with preview, you then hit "edit" and away it went again and printed it. You then went as far as the next edit and repeated the process. Mind-numbing, especially if you failed to concentrate as the preview went past and incurred another two minutes' wait to hear the edit. The advent of Sadie was like being let out of jail, once I'd had a crash course in GUIs, which I had avoided like the plague until then...
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Old 13th Aug 2022, 2:47 am   #9
Tester.
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Default Re: Sony PCM-F1 Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by trellis View Post
...is there such a thing as a software decoder for the video output from these devices?...
Yes, there is: PCM Decoder, an application for Windows (7 & 10, 64-bit versions). The USB capture device must be REC.601 compliant, even when only luma is needed.
https://www.tapeheads.net/threads/pc...windows.82905/
There's also an Encoder... and at least one 'current' hardware alternative. (Incidentally, a neat explainer for PCM-on-videotape.)
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