Super BetaMax

Published: October 20, 2021
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Super Betamax is an analog magnetic videotape format introduced by Sony in the mid-1980s. The format was one of Sony's last attempts at making Beta catch on and beat VHS, but JVC released the VHS HI-FI standard and S-VHS, which due to their lower costs and longer recording time caused SuperBetaMax to disappear from relevancy.

super betamax

In early 1985, Sony would introduce a new feature, Hi-Band or SuperBeta, by shifting the Y carrier by 800 kHz. This improved the bandwidth available to the Y sideband and increased the horizontal resolution from 240 to 290 lines on a regular-grade Betamax cassette. Since over-the-antenna and cable signals were only 300–330 lines resolution, SuperBeta could make a nearly identical copy of live television. However, the chroma resolution still remained relatively poor, limited to just under 0.4 MHz or approximately 30 lines resolution, whereas live broadcast chrominance resolution was over 100 lines. The heads were also narrowed to 29 μm to reduce crosstalk, with a narrower head gap to play back the higher carrier frequency at 5.6 MHz. Later, some models would feature further improvement, in the form of Beta-Is, a high band version of the Beta-I recording mode. There were some incompatibilities between the older Beta decks and Super Betamax, but most could play back a high band tape without major problems. Super Betamax decks had a switch to disable the SuperBeta mode for compatibility purposes.

Popular Super Betamax models are:

  • Sony SL-HF900
  • Sony SL-HF2000
  • Sony SL-HF1000
  • Sony SL-HF900
  • Sony SL-HF3000
  • Sony SL-HF2100
  • Sony SL-HF750
  • Sony SL-HFR70

Despite the sharp decline in sales of Betamax recorders in the late 1980s and subsequent halt in production of new recorders by Sony in 2002, Super Betamax is still being used by a small number of people. Even though Sony stopped making new cassettes in 2016, new old stocks of Betamax cassettes are still available for purchase at online shops and used recorders, as well as tapes, are often found at flea markets, thrift stores or on auction sites.


Watch this 1985 Super Betamax vs VHS comparison video on YouTube.

Super BetaMax value and price guide

What's your Super BetaMax worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items with prices.

Item Title Date Price
Sony NEW Halloween BETAMAX Tape NEW Halloween BETAMAX Tape SEALED Media 08/2021 $ 1 700.39
Sony Sony SL HF1000 Super Betamax Sony SL HF1000 Super Betamax Pinnacle Of 09/2021 $ 1 246.90
Sony New NOS Sony SL S606 Super New NOS Sony SL S606 Super Betamax Beta 07/2021 $ 1 076.92
Sony SONY SL HF950ES Super Beta Hi SONY SL HF950ES Super Beta Hi FI Betamax 07/2021 $ 847.60
Sony Fully Restored Sony SL HF900 Fully Restored Sony SL HF900 Stereo HiFi 10/2021 $ 793.46
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices12/2021-.--

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