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Resolution Is A Double-Edged Sword

A common fallacy in the high-end audio world is that if you buy better, higher resolution gear all of your recordings will sound better. The short answers is, they won't. Higher resolution invariably exposes more flaws in recordings you already knew were flawed, but what's more uncomfortable is that you'll also hear "new" flaws in recordings that sounded pretty good previously. Some of these might be your favorite demo cuts, which really sucks. And of course, your best recordings will scale new heights entirely, but which turn out to be which is often unpredictable.

Video is much the same way, as the Marantz VP-11S1, which I bought to use as my reference projector, has been teaching me lately. The 11S1 is the sharpest, most detailed 1080p projector I've yet seen, and its video processing is first rate. But we've been living on a steady diet of hi-def in my house lately, and some of my DVD favorites simply don't hold up like they used to, and like they often do on lower resolution projectors.

Case in point: the other night my son demands a 997th viewing of Finding Nemo. The purposefully murky scenery around the Shark scenes were playing and my wife voices the dreadful words that were going through my head: "why does that look so soft?" Ouch. Since my wife generally makes about three comments about my (our) system in a given year, that set off a half an hour of tweaaking focus, checking every setting in the system, and general screwing around. I checked some other scenes on the disc, and felt embarrassed. The scenes that were sharper still looked great, but the scenes that weren't, well the 11S1 tells that like it is too.

But on lower-res projectors and smaller screens, I've seen Nemo look drop dead gorgeous from beginning to end. Confirming this, I've just fired up Epson's Powerlite Pro Cinema 1080p front PJ. While detailed, this projector is noticeably softer than the VP-11S1. And those softer scenes in Nemo simply don't look as poor in comparison as they do on the 11S1, but neither do the sharper scenes look quite as jaw-dropping.

Of course, in the end I go for the highest resolutin I can get, just as I do in my audio system, and I let the chips fall. But if you go out and buy that shiny new proector or big screen, dont' be surprised if some of your golden oldies turn to golden moldies.

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