I have a VCR with a tape cartridge playing in it. The video output (SCART/RCA) goes from the back of the VCR into my Elgato video capturing device's RCA cables. The Elgato device is then connected via USB to my PC, capturing the video/audio as it plays.

By "RCA", I mean "RCA plugs for composite video (yellow) and stereo audio (white and red)".

When I was a kid, I for some reason used to think that VCRs had a microphone, so that you had to be perfectly quiet while recording something from a TV broadcast onto a blank tape, or else the tape's audio would get the voices/noises from the room on it, over the actual broadcast audio. Of course, this is silly. VCRs don't have any such "microphone". Why would it? But that's how my childish mind thought, until I (probably) got it explained by somebody.

But I'm still paranoid to this day that, maybe, if the sound is loud enough, or maybe physically near enough, or if I'm playing music at the same time on the computer as I'm digitizing my old tapes, it could result in some sort of subtle interference. Is this the case? Could noises from the room or from inside the computer somehow end up sticking to the signal that goes from the VCR into the Elgato device? (I listen to the music with headphones.)

After all, we are talking about analogue signals. I've heard old "separated" audio channels from the 1960s where you can faintly hear other instruments from the other channels on the vocal track, etc., so at the very least, it was a thing back then. Or maybe they didn't do it correctly. It was a Beatles song's "multitrack" tape. I'm not at all sure that the analogue/electrical signals that go out from the VCR are somehow perfectly shielded from this potential issue. That's why I'm asking.

  • $\begingroup$ My sister recorded a concert onto a simple tape player using the microphone. Made sure all of us were quiet for the whole concert. very unhappy when she played it back as she had the clock ticking in the background. :) $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 9, 2021 at 5:01
  • $\begingroup$ "for some reason"? - possibly because your parents had found a fantastic way to shut the kids up? :-) $\endgroup$
    – abligh
    May 29, 2022 at 7:14

1 Answer 1


Unless the room noise is loud enough to cause physical vibrations in the playback head, leading to misalignment of the head vs. tape track (which could cause crosstalk or amplitude dropoff), there's no way that an acoustic signal can affect the flow of electrons in a wire.

BTW, it is true that some LPs show "print-thru," a situation where the patterns of one section of the groove are large enough that the vinyl is deformed slightly at the neighboring portion of the groove. This causes that faint 'echoing' of the music one revolution ahead or behind the true signal.

Sounds like you are interested in audio work in general - why not get yourself some basic books on electronics, feedback, principles of microphones, etc., and rid yourself of that "paranoia" you feel?


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