Digital Video Articles, Tutorials, Guides & Q & A Since 2007

Buying Guide, Devices, Tape, video formats

The Best S-VHS Players to Convert Your Tapes to Digital

Best S-VHS Players

Last updated on February 28th, 2024 at 06:33 am

During the age of VHS, if one wanted better quality video, one had to opt for S-VHS.

VHS provides 240 lines of horizontal resolution. S-VHS offers over 50 % more at 400 lines.

S-VHS resolution is no big deal these days. However, when S-VHS VCRs hit the market in the late 1980s, their main selling point was they provided picture quality better than what you got from TV broadcasts.

The S-VHS format began to gain popularity.

Also, it was quite common for weddings and major events to be shot in the S-VHS format. Some were lucky enough to own S-VHS camcorders through which they captured precious personal memories.

Those who had S-VHS camcorders could play back S-VHS tapes through their camcorders. Or if you had some S-VHS tapes, but did not have an S-VHS Player (expensive those days) you could rent an S-VHS player to view them.

This was in the VHS heyday. Things are different now in the HD video world.

If you’re looking for an S-VHS player, it’s most likely you want to convert S-VHS tapes to MP4 or DVD.

You would need an S-VHS player or S-VHS VCR to playback your video tapes. Also to connect it to a video capture device.

Before we look at some S-VHS players that would suit your requirements, let’s first learn more about S-VHS players, in case you’re new to the game.

Difference Between a VHS Player and an S-VHS Player

Tape Playback

Generally, VHS players can only play back VHS tapes. S-VHS tapes aren’t supported. However, some high-end VHS players support S-VHS playback mode through the Quasi S-VHS mode.

S-VHS players can play both S-VHS and VHS tapes.

Video Connections

A VHS player comes with composite analog connections (AVIn/AV Out). It means the VHS player has RCA connections.

S-VHS players also have composite video connections. However, what sets them apart is they also have S-Video In/Out ports.

This is the connection that provides superior video quality when S-VHS tapes are played, especially if your TV has an S-Video input port.

Also, with an S-Video connection, you can connect your player to a video capture device. Analog video capture devices these days come with S-Video ports. So, you can connect them to your S-VHS player to capture high-quality analog video from your tape.


With an S-VHS player, you can record on S-VHS and also S-VHS-quality video on VHS tapes.

The latter is made possible by employing the S-VHS ET function.

S-VHS ET stands for Super VHS Expansion Technology. With his handy function, you can use a standard VHS tape to record S-VHS video quality.

This would come in handy if you can’t lay your hands on an S-VHS tape for recording.

Be reminded though that you’ve to use a high-grade VHS tape to see positive results.

Also as convenient and cost-saving as the S-VHS ET function is, it has its drawbacks.

Tapes recorded in S-VHS ET mode may not play well on a non-S-VHS ET player. Videos may appear grainy or play with a lot of noise.

So, unless you are playing back your recording on an S-VHS ET player, you’re advised not to record S-VHS quality video on a VHS tape.

How Does an S-VHS Player Achieve Superior Picture Quality?

A Super VHS player works very much like a standard VHS player. Almost Everything about S-VHS is the same as VHS – cassette tape size, tape speed, audio recording method, and even the video recording method (FM or ‘color under’).

S-VHS’ superiority lies in its higher frequency range that enhances the luminance (brightness) of recorded images.

VHS players record a video signal between 3.4 and 4.4 MHz.

S-VHS frequency range is between 5.4 and 7.0 MHz.

This higher frequency range allows for an increased bandwidth which contributes to an improvement in image quality.

The bandwidth is around 60% broader than that of VHS (1.6MHz for S-VHS as opposed to VHS’ 1.0MHz).

Also. the S-Video output will separate the luminance (brightness) and the chrominance (color) signals. This reduces image degradation as a result of interference (‘crosstalk’) between these two signals as may happen in a composite video connection.

What to Look for In an S-VHS Player

Working S-Video Ports

This is crucial as you’ll most likely be using the S-Video port to playback S-VHS tapes or to capture video digitally. You would want to make sure that the S-Video ports are working fine.

Timebase Correction

Some S-VHS VCRs or players come with the time base correction (TBC) feature. TBC as its name suggests corrects ‘problem’ signals and improves picture quality. It minimizes jitters or picture distortion when playing back a tape.

Remote Needed

Some sets would require a remote to operate the S-VHS player. Important functions like Play, Stop, Rewind, and Fast Forward are not found on the player but on the remote.

So you would want to choose an S-VHS player which doesn’t require you to use only a remote to access the basic functions mentioned above. Surely, don’t want to be held up when your remote isn’t working,

Also, some units will require you to use the remote when switching to S-Video mode but not to composite video. You would want to, as far as possible, avoid such a model.

S-VHS Player Buying Ideas

New S-VHS players or VCRs are no longer in production. So, you would have to source for a used S-VHS videotape recorder.

You can find refurbished units online, serviced by qualified technicians, should you be unable to find one in your neighborhood.

Here are some S-VHS players available for sale.

Panasonic PV-S7670 S-VHS Player VCR

This is a 4-head S-VHS tape player. It comes with the Video Head Sensor System. With it, you don’t have to worry about the condition of your video head. If your video head gets dirty, the system alerts you to it.

Audio is in Hi-Fi stereo, boasting a dynamic range of above 90dB. The Spatializer Audio Processing Technology+ function allows you to enjoy an authentic surround sound with nothing more than two speakers.

Also, you don’t have to use a remote to access the play, stop and rewind buttons as they’re available on the player itself.

Check out the Panasonic PV-S7670 S-VHS Player.

JVC HR-S3600U 4-Head S-VHS Player VCR

If you have an S-VHS tape-recorded in ET mode (see above), this would be the model to choose to play back such a tape.

The player has gold-plated A/V inputs. The jog shuttle is also useful to control the playback of your tape, without the need for remote control.

If you’re buying this S-VHS VCR on Amazon, you’re offered a one-year warranty and a 90-day warranty on parts.

Check out the JVC HR-S3600U 4-Head S-VHS Player VCR.

Panasonic PV-S9670 4-Head Hi-Fi S-VHS VCR

This Panasonic Super VHS player has almost all the features of the PV-S7670 model mentioned above.

This would include front A/V inputs. S-Video ports are at the rear end of the S-VHS player.

The size of the S-VHS VCR allows it to fit seamlessly with your existing home theater setup.

You would also be able to use the VCR without a remote as there are large play, stop, and rewind buttons on the front of the player.

The unit employs the Spatializer audio processor technology. This improves the Hi-Fi stereo sound, creating a surround sound effect with just 2 speakers.

Check out the Panasonic PV-S9670 4-Head Hi-Fi S-VHS VCR.


Popular Mechanics January 1988

Free Video Workshop