Marantz VP-15S1 DLP Video Projector Page 2

While using an anamorphic setup is more theater-like, and has the advantage of using more of the vertical resolution of your projector and possibly increasing subjective image contrast by not projecting black bars onto the projection screen (which will have positive gain more often than not). But it cannot actually increase the resolution inherent in 2.35:1 source material (which doesn't use all of the vertical resolution of a 16:9 image) and is, currently, a hideously expensive proposition. The masking screens are several orders of magnitude more expensive than their standard 1.78:1 counterparts, and Marantz sells a motorized anamorphic lens option which, at $12,999, costs more than the 15S1 itself. And the lens has to be superlative, so this isn't somewhere you'd want to cut corners. We plan to evaluate one of these systems in the future, but it's clearly not an inexpensive solution.

As is typical of Marantz projectors, there are plenty of memory slots here in the User settings for any complex system. They are easily accessible from the remote control, cycled through in groups of three. Both standard front panel adjustments (Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, Tint, etc.) and custom color temperatures can be stored.

As is typical of Marantz projectors, there are plenty of memory slots here in the User settings for any complex system. They are easily accessible from the remote control, cycled through in groups of three. Both standard front panel adjustments (Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, Tint, etc.) and custom color temperatures can be stored.

The remote control, which was introduced with the 11S1, is superb. It has an easy to find slider on the side that activates the backlight. This is cool, because with a lot of remotes you have to hit a smaller button on the remote face in the dark just to light it up and find what you're looking for. All the critical functions are there, and most are accessible with a single, direct button push, including source inputs. Just a smidge busy for me, but one of the best I've used for any type of component.

This projector isn't loaded with superfluous features to "enhance" the image quality. Marantz knows its projectors don't need any, especially now that our source material is increasingly pristine high-def that doesn't need any damned help. As a result of "lacking" a bunch of garbage it doesn't need, a clear and intuitive menu system, and excellent factory setup, it's exceedingly easy to get an excellent picture from this projector.

As mentioned, I was hoping for more adjustment over the dual-iris system. While competing projectors offer a wide variety of iris adjustments and lamp settings, the Marantz offers two lamp settings, Normal and Economy, and three fixed iris positions, numbered 1-3. Position 1 was just too dim for me, but for movie watching setting 2 with the lamp at Normal was the proverbial third bowl of porridge. At that setting it provided what looked like slightly better light output than the VP-11S1 (at iris f6) and better blacks. The contrast always looked richer and superior at setting 2 here than with the VP-11S1, which has excellent but not state-of-the-art with blacks and contrast. Gamma curves and other factors can create such an illusion. I'll be curious what TJN measures here.

Very welcome was the Iris 3 setting which pumped up the light output enough to make some room light tolerable without washing out the image. I found this superior to the f3 iris setting in the VP-11S1 for football games, or even movies, with the room lighting turned up just enough to read or eat dinner by. So I had two user setups, one for iris setting 2 and the other for iris setting 3. I used the latter for daytime viewing and some sports viewing. I don't want to give the impression that this PJ will tolerate a ton of ambient light, but using iris setting 3 you can tolerate some or just get a nice bump for material that can use it.

I would note though, that as in the past, the Marantz doesn't have the kind of horsepower to drive really big screens at any setting. I always find screens closer to my reference 80" wide more compelling anyway, so this doesn't bother me. An 80" wide screen translates to a 92" diagonal, which means this screen encompasses the nearly the same screen area as four 46" flat screen TVs. But some viewers might want more light output even on smaller screens, and if that's you then you might want to keep looking.

There are several color temperature settings, with setting 3 being remarkably close to standard. Not just the temp either; even the x/y coordinates were surprisingly close to the D65 standard. Each temp selection can be adjusted, and after calibration this PJ tracked as tight to D65 across the brightness range as any I've seen. I used the Standard gamma curve throughout the review.

Moving into the Fine Menu area, we find full adjustments (gain and bias for red, green, and blue) for customizing color temperature as well as Noise Reduction, Luminance Gain, and Chroma Delay. I did not feel the need for any of these three latter adjustments and didn't use them at any time.

Fine Menu 2 has some settings you do need to know about. Particular to those using HDMI sources, the Black level needs to be set to "Expand" in order to avoid clipping of signals below black. FRC allows users to force the projector to certain frame rates to match their source components and eliminate hiccups. This is fairly arcane, but 24fps signals are not exactly 24fps, but 23.98 or 23.97fps. Don't ask me what .98 of an allegedly progressive frame looks like, but this feature allows some flexibility in dealing with sources with timing that's off in this regard (such as a straight 24fps, which ironically is wrong), as is the case with some sources.

The VP-15S1 accepts 1080p/24 and 1080p/60 sources, and displays the former at 48Hz (47.95Hz to be ultra-precise) and the latter at 60Hz (59.94Hz to that same Nth degree of precision). Most of the time the Auto 1 setting will work fine. Auto 2 displays incoming 24fps/23.98fps and 60p/59.94fps sources at exactly 48Hz and 60Hz, respectively. But, there are also 48Hz and 60Hz modes that force 47.95hz and 59.94hz outputs. I used Auto 1 with a variety of high-def disc players and other sources and never saw any issues, so don't mess around here unless you see problems.

A last welcome touch along these lines is that the information display now shows not only the incoming resolution- 1080i or 1080p, but also the frame rate. This is handy for verifying the 24p output of the source components that do an HDMI handshake to determine the output.

If you engage the CEC (Chroma Error Correction) you'll see reduced bandwidth at the frequency extremes with HD. The Chroma Upsampling Error, or "chroma bug," was an artifact that affected DVD players and apparently still affects some source components. While its presence is certainly an unwanted artifact, I always found this a very elusive bug to chase, even after I knew what to look for in program material. (Go to this one chapter on this one disc, and instead of watching the scene, look at the red bucket and pause the disc player, then start it, then pause it, and see that? A real bug hunt in other words.) And rolled off resolution is a rather steep price to pay to fix it even if it's there. I never engaged this feature.