VHS video transfer to Mac: Sony Media Converter vs something modern?

I have a Sony Media Converter (DVMC-DA2) which Sony no longer makes. Here is a link to the PDF manual:

I have successfully used this with an old Mac Pro to transfer VHS tapes to make digital video files out of client assets. It connects with a 4-pin DV IN/OUT cable to the old Mac Pro’s 400 port.

I’ve not had to do these VHS tapes to computer transfers in many years, and I’m wondering if something modern would produce a higher quality video digital file.

In looking in the PDF manual, in the specifications it lists DV IN/OUT: 4-pin S100 (100 Mbps).

If I understand this spec, this means that the bandwidth of transfer of the video at best coming out of the Sony Media Converter is 100Mbps even though it is connected to Firewire 400 which is 400Mbps. I realize I can use a 4-pin to 9-in cable to use this on a Firewire 800 port on a modern Mac, but that won’t increase the speed, but it would be more convenient than using a 10 year old Mac Pro.

One such modern product for the Mac is, “Easy VHS to DVD 3 Plus VHS to DVD Converter” by Roxio. It uses USB 2.0, but I can’t see the specs of this.

So my big question here is, since I already have the Sony Media Converter and it works, should I continue to use it to transfer the remaining VHS tapes in our library to digital video for archive purposes, or look into something more modern? I have seen devices which have RCA plugs going to a USB, I think most are USB 2.0 (like the Roxio). Don’t know if there are USB 3.0 versions out or if that would matter.

Or is nothing from 20(?) years ago such as the Sony Media Converter at 100Mbps going to be improved using a modern USB device?

For ordinary VHS a sampling rate of ~2mbps is good enough. Some people think that ~8mpbs is better.

Note that USB 2.0 can handle that easily. But you’re not going to be happy going that way in all probability.

The biggest chore is converting the uncompressed video to compressed video on the fly. A decent semi-modern computer should handle that fine for something simple like mpeg2. Going for H.264 or some such is a bit more demanding.

At the VCR to converter end, be sure to use an S-video connector, not RCA video.

Modern? Apple dropped FireWire back in 2013. Current iMacs have USB 3 and USB-C (aka Thunderbolt 3) ports, either of which are faster than FireWire 800.

How were you expecting to increase speed? The VCR is going to play the video in real time, so as long as the converter and computer can keep up without dropping frames, it’s fast enough. Quality-wise, VHS tape itself is probably the limiting factor.

I suggest you re-read my post.


When the Sony Media Converter was designed, what I don’t know is if the bandwidth for the time was actually all that was needed for SD video transfer or if that was a technical and more likely a cost limitation on the hardware.

A top selling product to do this on the BH Photo Video website is Elgato Video Capture which is USB 2.0 and it includes video capture software which saves the video as either MPEG4 or H.264.

If is interesting that this same company makes HDMI capture devices, but one Youtuber warned against using an HDMI to RCA connector cable with it because it doesn’t do as well a job as the actual Elgato Video Capture. I’m guessing it is because HDMI uses some sort of handshaking where analog video doesn’t support that, and the result was a bad capture. But he said and demonstrated how the Elgato Video Capture worked fine.

I don’t know if the Elgato Video Capture device actually has a higher through-put than the Sony Media Converter, but I will see.

FWIW, I am not a fan of Elgato products in general and their USB capture devices in particular.

I’ve only read about their Video Capture Device for the VHS. They have a lot of positive reviews from customers. I’d be interested to know why you feel that way about them.

It looks like the other devices for capture they make are for HDMI. I guess I can understand why someone would want to transfer something off their DVR to make an MP4 out of it. But what I’m not clear on is why gamers would want to use their devices. I guess gamers like to capture and save their better gaming sessions?