Ripping old VHS, VCD and DVD to H.265



I have a large pile of VHS, VCD and DVD, that I want to archive.

I have a VHS player, and a Panasonic DVD recorder with HDD. This is what I am doing:


  • play the VHS from the VHS player to the Panasonic DVD recorder DMR-EH59, which records to its HDD
  • Since the DMR-EH59 does not allow direct access to the content of its HDD, I have to use its interface to burn DVD

On a Linux machine, rip the DVD, and re-encode to H.265 files The software will also rip srt subtitle files.

On a Linux machine, re-encode the .DAT files on the VCD to H.265 files

As you can see, VHS -> H.265 involves three conversions:

  • VHS to DMR-EH59 internal representation
  • DMR-EH59 internal representation to DVD
  • DVD to H.265

So are there better ways to reduce the number of conversions? Each conversion will lose quality.


If you have a good video card you should be able to connect the VHS to it.
That way it’s direct to your computer.
I no longer have a SVHS player but they have more lines of resolution than a standard VHS . They can give a small improvement.
I have no idea what software you would use with Linux to convert the input from the VHS to the video & sound card to an audio/video file. Probably there isn’t one that would go directly to H265.


A capture card in your computer can also get the VHS material to the computer hard drive, but without any intermediate steps. Using an uncompressed codec like Lagarith or HuffyUV, you would get the best possible quality, though they would be very large files in AVI format. Been a long time since I’ve dealt with this, so I advise asking over at on the process. If the VHS tapes are commercially made, you’ll also run into issues with Macrovision copy protection.

The real question is why are you thinking of using H265 for this? With standard definition material and low bitrates, H265 isn’t a good choice. I’d use H264 if you need smaller file sizes, and compatibility is certainly much better with H264.


I agree with Kerry on the using H264 & for me .mkv has worked better if you want subtitles.
I didn’t have very good results with the capture card I used but some do.

I still think going directly into a video/graphics card & the audio/sound card is the way to go.
Maybe those are considered a capture card .I mean the kind that have inputs on them.

@Kerry56 , Since the OP didn’t post the VHS tapes were commercial I assumed they weren’t. If they are then a video stabilizer may be used.

I have read some of the old Hauppauge cards could record from a commercial VHS without a video stabilizer but I have never tried one myself.
I have a Dimax Grex .


I use one of my STBs to digitze and H.264 it without a hitch.

H.265 is still too newish and not near final.


You say your goal is to archive.

The best way is to keep the DVDs as DVDs and the VCDs as VCDs. Just image the discs 1:1 with no further compression or conversion. If you don’t want a disc image, you can extract the MPEG-2/MPEG-1 stream and put it in a mpg or mkv container.

You are converting the VHS to DVD. Keep it as DVD and store the DVD images as backup.

If your source is already digital, it would be a mistake to do a whole conversion especially to a format like H.265 at this time. The best way to archive a digital format is in its original form because each conversion leads to generation loss in quality.

Tests have been done on other sites and it has been found that x264 still beats x265 in terms of quality in many cases. H.265 will eventually replace H.264, but currently it is not a format intended to be used as archiving as the encoders available are not mature and are not optimized.