JVC DLA-X95R 3D D-ILA Projector Page 2

Since I’ve been using JVC projectors for some time now, I’ve gotten the setup routine down pretty well. But this year I learned some new interesting tricks from the folks over at SpectraCal, who developed the above-mentioned auto calibration routine for the JVC line. The new line doesn’t need that much fine-tuning if you perform the setup in a specific way. For this review, I set up the projector for 2D playback using the User 1 picture mode. The Standard color profile provides the most accurate color profile for conforming to the Rec. 709 HD standard. For color temperature, I used the Custom 1 profile with the 6500 preset. This is one of the few areas where a professional calibration or investment in your own measuring equipment will pay off. The DLA-X95R’s gray scale did need some work to achieve a good balanced and the gamma I wanted to achieve. One word of note here: When you’re adjusting the gray scale settings, make sure you never go above 0 for any of the offset values. This immediately throws the gamma out of whack and also raises the black floor, robbing the JVC of its contrast advantages.

For gamma, the DLA-X95R tracked better than the previous year’s models, and it held pretty close to the value I selected in the custom gamma screen. The new light engine seems to be a lot more stable than we’ve seen in the years before, and I’ve noticed on my DLA-X75R that lumens don’t drop excessively with use. In previous model years, the gamma drifts considerably as the lamp ages, and touch ups to the gray scale and gamma are required more often than most projectors. This year’s lineup seems to have improved in this regard with a far more stable lighting system that doesn’t drift nearly as much, if at all.

The standard picture controls like contrast, brightness, color, and tint should largely be left alone. Their default position tends to be the most accurate position unless you set the HDMI mode to Enhanced, which allows for below-black information. Be advised, though: Using this mode will affect the projector’s gamma performance and make it harder to calibrate properly. I would suggest using either the Standard or Super White HDMI input modes. The Standard setting will clip above-white information, providing a slightly brighter image with more contrast. Super White sacrifices a bit of brightness and contrast performance to allow for headroom in white. Ultimately this comes down to how accurate you want your image to be in relation to the playback content. Most of the ISF and THX people will tell you clipping is a bad thing, but the list of content with any information above digital 235 (reference white) is minuscule, so it may be worth it for the slight bump in brightness and contrast performance. For this review, I used the Super White setting to deliver the most accurate calibration possible.

Other adjustments include the MPC Level, which deals with JVC’s e-shift2’s setup. As I mentioned before, I haven’t found any real benefit to this process in my setup, so I left it off. It certainly didn’t hurt the image, but it also didn’t show any benefits in my setup unless I put my nose right up to the screen. Since I like to keep my image as unprocessed as possible, I left this off to eliminate any chance of it affecting my evaluation. The DLA-X95R also includes a full color management system (CMS). Here you can fine-tune the JVC’s color performance. This requires special equipment to do properly, and as always, I recommend hiring a professional for a calibration if you want to achieve the best picture possible from the display. While the JVC’s CMS does a good job with dialing in the display’s color, it really wasn’t needed in this case. The default Standard Color Profile was only slightly off from the Rec. 709 reference color gamut, and any fine-tuning provided only a modest improvement that would probably be imperceptible to most. For 3D playback, though, the CMS is handy for calibrating to offset the color shift of JVC’s 3D glasses.

Although JVC’s advertising makes a big deal about their high contrast numbers and the lack of a dynamic iris system to achieve them, there’s more to the story. JVC does forgo a dynamic iris system, but in order to wrangle the claimed contrast ratio performance, they say you need to use a manual iris. This has its advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that if you truly want to achieve the absolute peak contrast performance from this projector, you’ll need to crank the iris all the way down to its smallest aperture, which will kill your light output.

In my setup, I achieved a peak contrast performance of 110,000:1 by taking the Lens Aperture to its lowest setting of –15. But this also resulted in a meager 4 foot-lamberts of light on my 120-inch screen, which is way too low for typical viewing. Opening the Lens Aperture fully to 0 provided about 12 ft-L on my screen with a peak contrast of about 24,000:1. This is still a very respectable contrast number, and the added brightness makes for a far punchier image. While this is only a quarter of the contrast performance that the tighter lens aperture setting affords, it’s still exponentially better than what you’ll achieve with almost any other technology on the market. Also keep in mind, because this is a manual iris, you can always fine-tune the image to your particular viewing environment. Not everyone has a screen as large as mine, so you may be able to achieve a higher contrast ratio at the same light level by simply adjusting the aperture to your screen.

Another option is to put the projector in high lamp mode. This provided a bump in brightness overall, but the JVC is quite loud in high lamp mode. This is one area where I think the DLA-X95R has gone downhill compared with JVC’s older models. In high lamp mode, the projector sounds like a turbine has started up, and it’s definitely noticeable during typical viewing even at moderate listening levels. While I found this to be a necessary evil for 3D viewing, I stuck with low lamp mode for 2D playback.

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