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A Look At The Panasonic AG-1980 Editing Deck

This is an old aritcle

We compared the Panasonic AG-1980 S-VHS editing deck against its predecessor the AG-1970. When comparing the playback picture quality of the same tape on both source decks, it was immediately apparent that the new full-field TBC in the AG-1980 offered a substantial improved quality in its playback capability over the AG-1970.

Next, we decided to connect two AG-1970’s together and make a second generation dub from our master tape. Then we connected the Panasonic AG-1980 to the AG-1970 and again made a second generation dub from our master tape. We reviewed these two dubs from the AG-1970 that we recorded them in. The dub that was made from the AG-1980 as the source deck was cleaner and sharper than the dub that was made with the AG-1970 as the source.

In our next test, we swapped source and recording duties between the AG1980 and the AG1970. The AG-1970 became the source, while the AG-1980 VTR was the recording deck. We noticed immediately that the AG-1970’s playback quality was not quite up to the level of the AG-1980. This also showed up when we made a second generation dub from our master tape.

If you are planning on adding a AG1980 VCR into your editing system, it would be wise for you to use it as your source deck, as the playback is much improved over the AG1970 and AG-1960.

The Panasonic AG-1980 can remove video noise or sharpen the video picture. There is a switch on the left side of the drop down panel labeled, Detail/Norm/Edit. When you set the switch in the Detail position, it enables the use of the slider that is labeled Soft/Sharp. Moving the slider towards Soft will remove video noise from the picture, but you will notice a slight softening of the video picture. The opposite happens, when you move the slider towards Sharp, you will increase the video sharpness, but you will also increase the video noise slightly.

The New Audio Track Features

One of the new features of the AG-1980 is its separate linear audio track access. In addition to the stereo right and left hi-fi audio input and output jacks on the back of the AG-1980, there is a linear track input and output for discrete recording and playback of the linear audio track.

This is a nice feature when you need to keep the linear audio and stereo hi-fi audio separate during a mix-down of multiple audio tracks, as well as when assigning an audio input to the linear track and not to the hi-fi. The separate linear audio track is beneficial for those needing a “cue track” or LTC time code track. Also, the AG-1980 has a Search Sound feature that is helpful when audio is needed to be heard during the shuttling of the playback tape.


The additional features found on the Panasonic AG-1980 makes a nice improvement over the previous models, i.e. the AG-1970 and AG-1960. The AG-1980 VTR will make a nice addition to anyone’s editing system, especially those who are using the AG-1970’s and AG-1960.

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