You and me both. No where in the manual does it say, "Warning VHS HI-FI tapes may not playback properly after 7 years." Or "For AFM recording use only the SP mode." I can beat your story. I did mixes to PCM 14 bit, 44.1 khz, half inch VHS tapes on the EP mode. And when they almost couldn't play back I transfered them to VHS HI-FI. Beat that tragedy! But my 35 year old Type 2 cassettes from 1986 still play like brand new.