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S-VHS vs VHS: Easily Learn the Difference Between VHS and S-VHS

Difference between VHS and SVHS

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:33 am

Updated 22.9.2021

If you’re not from the VHS age, you may be wondering what the difference is between VHS and S-VHS. Especially if you’ve come across these two tape formats from the days of your forefathers.

Well, let’s check out the difference between VHS and S-VHS.


VHS means Video Home System. As its name suggests, VHS is a tape format meant primarily for home entertainment.

It was a format developed by JVC (Japan Victor Company). It was introduced to the home entertainment market from 1976 (Japan) to 1977 (USA).

When it was first introduced it was called Vertical Helical Scan (VHS) after the technology behind it. It was renamed Video Home System much later.

By the 1980s VHS had become the preferred format for watching movies at home with a VCR.

Read more about VHS at this VHS Wiki.


S-VHS stands for Super-VHS.

It was introduced in 1987 by JVC. It was meant to be an improvement over VHS.

S-VHS tapes contain high-density oxide-tape formulation. This enables the tape to accommodate high-frequency signals of S-VHS.

Similarities Between VHS and S-VHS

Before we look at the difference between VHS and S-VHS, let’s look at their similarities.

The two tape formats look very much the same physically. They’re of the same shape and size.

They have the same tape width – 0.5 inches. The tape shells also share the same physical dimensions.

S-VHS tapes, however, contain a special identification hole on the reverse side of the tape (bottom) to differentiate it from VHS tapes, though.

Difference Between VHS and S-VHS

Here are among the differences between the two tape formats:

Video Resolution

The main difference is in their video resolutions.

VHS has a horizontal resolution of 240 lines.

S-VHS has a horizontal resolution of 400 lines.

Although both the formats support Hi-Fi audio, VHS’ color is only of the composite quality. In fact, VHS’ quality could be said to be lower than the quality of TV broadcast during the analog TV days.

S-VHS, on the other hand, has superior video quality. This is achieved by splitting the luminance and the chrominance (Y/C) signals.

With VHS, both these signals are mixed.

Standard VHS VCRs record signals between the range of 3.4 and 4.4 MHz (MegaHertz). S-VHS VCRs record between 5.4 and 7.0 MHz. This increased range provides for superior picture quality.

Test: Is there Any Quality Difference Between VHS and S-VHS?

Is there any quality difference between a VHS and S-VHS commercial movie tape? Is there any difference in quality when you record a TV program on a VHS tape vs an S-VHS tape? Does it make any difference whether you use RCA (composite) cables or an S-Video cable?

Watch the video below to learn the answers.

Can You Play Back an S-VHS tape on a VHS VCR?

Generally, a VHS VCR doesn’t play an S-VHS tape. But then if your VHS VCR comes with the Quasi S-VHS playback feature, it can play an S-VHS tape. Quasi S-VHS playback is also known as Super Quasi-Play Back (SQPB).

One such VHS VCR which comes with the Quasi S-VHS playback feature is the JVC HRJ692U 4-Head Hi-Fi VCR.

You won’t get the S-VHS quality of 400 lines from the player though. You’ll have to settle for the VHS quality of 240 lines.

VHS VCRs with Quasi S-VHS playback offer you the convenience of playback tapes (S-VHS or S-VHS-C) recorded with S-VHS camcorders.

Also bear in mind that you can only play back S-VHS tapes but not record on them.

VHS Playback on S-VHS VCR

S-VHS players can support the playback of VHS tapes. However, the picture quality will not improve just because a VHS tape is played on an S-VHS deck.

Also, S-VHS video players come with S-Video output, for the separation of the luminance and chrominance signals as mentioned above.

Although composite output could be used, superior picture quality is achieved by using the S-Video connection.


Newer S-VHS VCRs came with the S-VHS ET (Super-VHS Expansion Technology) feature.

This allowed you to record video on a VHS tape. The advantage is you get near S-VHS quality video on an affordable VHS tape.

S-VHS ET was developed by JVC to allow S-VHS ET tapes to be played back on non-ET S-VHS VCRs.

Panasonic PV-VS4821 4-Head S-VHS Hi-Fi VCR is one S-VHS VCR that records in S-VHS ET mode.

S-VHS Tapes for Sale

S-VHS tapes are no longer manufactured. Still, you can find them offered for sale online.

The price of an S-VHS tape is more expensive than a VHS tape. That’s understandable owing to the quality difference.

Here are some S-VHS tape brands you may want to look at.

Maxell S-VHS T-120 VHS Tape

This tape promises a rich range of colors, superior picture contrast and sharp images.

Check out the Maxell S-VHS T-120 VHS Tape.

Fuji ST-160 SVHS Broadcast Quality Tape

This tape records 2 hours and 40 minutes of footage in SP mode, including in the D-VHS format. In LP mode, you get about 5 hours and 20 minutes of recording. Record in EP mode and enjoy up to 8 hours of recording.

Check out the Fuji ST-160 SVHS Broadcast Quality Tape.

TDK XP Super Pro ST-120 S-VHS Tape

This S-VHS tape comes with an ultra-fine Super Avilyn formulation. It provides the added high magnetic energy required for superior S-VHS recording.

You can expect improved picture sharpness, color saturation and Hi-Fi audio with it.


Check out the TDK XP Super Pro ST-120 S-VHS Tape.

S-VHS vs VHS: Learn More

For additional information on the difference between VHS and S-VHS please watch the video below.

Pre-Recorded S-VHS Movies

During the time when S-VHS offered the highest video resolution possible.

The following are pre-recorded S-VHS movies you may online if you’re lucky:

  • Blade Runner
  • Canyon Dreams – The Grand Canyon
  • City Slickers
  • Colors
  • D.O.A. (black and white)
  • Days of Thunder
  • Desert Vision – The magic of the desert
  • Elton John – Live In Australia
  • Ghost
  • Godfather Part III
  • Grand Canyon – The Grand Canyon
  • His Girl Friday – Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell (black and white)
  • Hunt for Red October
  • Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
  • Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
  • It’s A Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, black and white, 120 minutes.
  • Misery
  • Natural States – The Pacific Northwest
  • Nature’s Serenade
  • Nature’s Symphony
  • Oliver
  • On Golden Pond
  • Patriot Games
  • Perfect Picture System – Video/Audio calibration tape
  • Point Break – German Tape
  • River Song – The Colorado River, stereo
  • RoboCop
  • Rolling Stones: Let’s Spend the Night Together
  • Scanners
  • Sherlock Holmes and The Secret Weapon (black and white)
  • Star Trek II
  • Star Trek IV
  • Star Trek VI
  • Superman
  • The Emerald Forest
  • The Last Emperor and A Chorus Line
  • The Nutcracker
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro
  • The Terminator
  • The Terror
  • The Unbearable Lightness Of Being
  • The Voyager Odyssey
  • The Worlds Below – An underwater tour of Monterey Bay
  • Throw Mama From The Train
  • Top Gun
  • Water Colors
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • White Mischief
  • Yellowstone – Yellowstone National Park
  • Yosemite – Yosemite National Park
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