RCA VMT395 & General Electric 9-7675 VHS VCRs

It’s time to look a bit on the old electronics side. I must apologize in advance if my pictures aren’t the greatest. For some reason, it’s a total pain to get a decent VCR pic.

One of my hobbies that seems strange to some people is that I love collecting old VCRs. I think the fact I’ve gone through so many of them over the years has given me a weird affinity for them. Every time I’m at a thrift store or the like and come across a unit that appeals to me and is a decent price, I pretty much have to buy it. Case in point: The two VCRs we’ll look at now.

rcavcr2

This first one I picked up several weeks ago for $10. Ten bucks is just a bit more than I like to pay for an untested unit, but I have no regrets. It’s not like it was a ton of money. Besides, I figured, even if it didn’t work, I’d rather have it in my hands than in a landfill somewhere,

It’s an RCA VMT395 HQ VHS VCR. Sucker even has Dolby stereo with the capability for noise reduction. It came with the original remote, but the thing was filthy enough that I could never in good conscience use it, even after a cleaning. There’s no date anywhere on the machine, but a bit of research indicates that it comes from 1986 or somewhere around that time-frame.

rcavcr1

Look at that, audio levels. When’s the last time VCRs came with that?  Given that and the number of functions this fella has leads me to believe that this may have been a *relatively* high-end unit for the time. I found a mega high-end unit for $5 a few months back (and which has become my all-time favorite VCR find for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that it performs beautifully and the number of functions it features is staggering), and while this RCA doesn’t feature as many functions as that one, it still does waaaay more than the cheapo VCRs being sold nowadays.

At the store where I found it, I grabbed a random VHS tape (one ostensibly used for testing) and tried out everything I could without hooking the unit up, and it seemed to play, rewind, fast forward, eject, etc. without issue. When I got it home, it did indeed work, although something in the store I didn’t notice was that while it rewound and such, it only did so with a fair bit of internal grinding.

When I tried the machine out again last week, it was no longer working properly, however. It didn’t eat any tapes, but it won’t actually play them, either. Oh well, still a pretty cool VCR.

This next machine I actually picked up yesterday, and I like it even more than the RCA.

gevcr2

It’s a General Electric 9-7675 3-Head HQ VHS VCR from 1987, also with Dolby stereo. I scored this sucker for $5, which is really my preferred amount to pay for untested VCRs. Well, I did test another random tape in it (should it have eaten the tape, I would have been out of one whole dollar), and this one seemed to work flawlessly. That doesn’t mean anything until you get it home and actually hook it up, of course.

gevcr3

Unlike the RCA, this one works like a champ. Really, I didn’t have any problems in any way. I didn’t try recording anything, but since I never buy old VCRs to record, that doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.

gevcr1

This one doesn’t seem to be as relatively high-end as the RCA, though it still does more than the bare-minimum machines sold within the last several years. The great thing about many (but not all) VCRs manufactured in the late-70’s, throughout the 1980’s, and even into the early-90’s is that they were built to last. I’ve had fairly good luck finding working units, and even units that don’t work are often worth having repaired (should I feel the need to do so).

By the mid-90’s or so, these things were being manufactured so cheaply that you were almost better off junking a dead machine and just buying a whole new one. My personal indicator of a cheaply made VCR? Plastic casing. I almost always pass those up. There have been exceptions, but that’s my personal rule of thumb.

This GE though? Nice solid metal casing, the way it should be. I think my biggest surprise regarding this unit (besides the fact that it works so incredibly well) is actually that it’s a GE, which is a manufacturer I’ve never really had any problems, but not one I’ve ever paid much attention to as far as VCRs go. Zenith, RCA, Panasonic, Sony, sure, but GE for some reason I always sort of associated with lower-end/cheap models.

Maybe that was unfair, or maybe I just lucked out and found a well-maintained machine. I couldn’t say one way or the other. All I know is that the GE was $5 well, well spent.

3 thoughts on “RCA VMT395 & General Electric 9-7675 VHS VCRs

    1. neovideohunter Post author

      I really have no idea. I wouldn’t think it’s possible. If a machine has an old school counter, I’ve personally never seen one being switched over to hours/minutes, but I don’t know.

      Reply
  1. The Media Hoarder

    These are nice but not quite “high-end”- they lack the capability for Hi-Fi stereo, which is a much higher quality audio track. The GOOD thing about them is that they play the “Normal” audio track, which used to be the only one that existed and then served as a back-up to Hi-Fi, in stereo- about 99% of Hi-Fi VCRs will only play that track in mono. That means if you have an older stereo tape from before 1984, you can’t actually hear it that way on most machines. We got one of the first Hi-Fi VCRs in 1985 and I was SO pissed about that- that meant that we could only play the absolute newest tapes from the video store in stereo, all the older ones only played in mono and were worthless to me. At that time there were a few machines that did both tracks in stereo but they were few and far between, and it wasn’t my call to take back the one we’d gotten. Finally in the 90s I found a machine that did both and it was liberating- I could finally play any tape regardless. That machine eventually died but I’ve accumulated a number of backups. Professional-model VCRs kept linear stereo capability up to the end, so I have that as my main deck but such machines only play the SP speed. For tapes in the slower speeds I currently have one Hi-Fi machine that I won in 1987 from a contest that still works great (except for the lack of linear stereo), and an RCA like the one pictured. I have two consumer Panasonic decks that do both sound types but neither work, they’ve been in the repair shop as they try to get at least one of them working.

    BTW I’ve found a problem with the RCA is the mechanism in the lower part. I don’t know what most of the parts are called, but normally the machine will start playing for a few seconds with no picture or sound and then stop. It turns out a mechanism in the lower part needs a push by hand to spin as far as it needs to in order to get the tape playing. Will need to try some WD-40 and maybe new belts to fix that problem.

    My name on YouTube is The Media Hoarder, and everything I upload (from both VHS and Beta) is played on stereo equipment even if the material is in mono. I’ve always liked the way the tape hiss sounds in stereo, and sometimes the audio drifts to one side from the center where it should be. If that happens, I want to hear it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to neovideohunter Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s