I've been entertaining guests from out of town so I've only had time for a couple sessions with my new RS57.
I haven't done anything near as objective a set up as Zombie or some other folks, so this is really FWIW. And, as usual for my first post about a new projector, I can't help but go on at length. Sorry.
Though there have been some nice raves about the new JVCs, my expectations have remained fairly low, just trying to be realistic. Although the rise in JVC's rated contrast from my RS55 to the new RS57
looked promising on paper, there has been enough technical discussion about this to really temper my expectations and enthusiasm for the new light engine, pinning my hopes more on the new Intelligent Lens Aperture for some improvement. And, even then, I've kept my expectations very low.
First I had my RS55 still set up, and I re-examined it for convergence, focus, etc. just as a baseline to compare the new RS57. I could not at this point set both up at the same time. Then I looked again through a bunch of my standard test scenes from Jurrassic Park, Alien, Avatar, Hellboy 2, some DVDs, etc. Scenes I've watched too many times to be healthy.
After that, I replaced my RS55 with the RS57. First thing I noticed: the sound. At first there was the nice, regular soft air swish sound I'm familiar with and I thought "hey, that's really quiet!" But then another sound kicked in: a sort of electronic hum or buzz. I was waiting for it to stop. Then I wondered if maybe the projector had been left in high bulb mode...or so I'd hoped. It never went away. I'm quite sensitive to noises and frankly, this added hum/buzz REALLY annoyed me. Because it was new, and tonal, I heard that damned noise through much of the material I viewed and had a hard time zoning it out (and being tonal, I could hear it added into the musical soundtracks in a discordant way...I guess that's the ex-musician in me). It was close to deal-breaker, frankly and I wondered if my unit was defective. But then remembered talk about E-shift 2 having this mechanical hum added, and someone else commented on this with his new JVC, so I'm inferring that is the source of the noise. I'll have to play with E-shift on/off to see. At the moment, this is my one major issue I think with my new projector.
Ok, that done with, on to checking convergence: darn! Not too good. Red seemed ok, but Blue was clearly off with a big blue fringe above the white lines. On my RS55 I remember one of the colors (blue?) was off and one full-pixel adjustment put it pretty much in line. Not this RS57. Moving the horizontal blue line on pixel click down simply moves the blue fringing on to the bottom side of the white line instead of the top, it doesn't align it. Further, most worrying to me, is the yellow fringing withing the white line. I'm not sure exactly what this signifies (Blue not being in place?) but I can't get rid of it. And further, I might be seeing this yellow on the actual image, as I noted some yellowish tone on a number of whiter scenes, and skies (clouds) etc. So, I'm not sure what to think yet.
Focus of pixels (non-Eshift-mode) seemed decent enough.
I followed Kris Deering's suggestion for a quick start-off picture mode:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1486011/new-range-jvc-2014/3360#post_24226082" user 1, standard color profile with all defaults for picture set to 0. Set the gamma to custom and 2.3 or 2.4 (depending on your preference for your room type). I then adjust the dark level in the gamma screen up to show digital 18 if you don't see it already (use basic pattern on the AVS 709 disc). I suggest Auto 2 for the dynamic iris and setting the manual iris to achieve your desired white level before changing to Auto 2. For grayscale I would suggest the 6500 preset. "
I actually couldn't find any way to adjust the gamma! (Where the hell are the controls?) So I just chose user one and I don't know what gamma that defaults to. I haven't got into calibrating yet, so I'm not too familiar with how to "show digital 18" etc.
But just to see how things looked anyway it was time to throw on some content. (Started with a 102" diag 16:9 screen image).
I left the MPC sliders in their default mode (though turned NR all the way down), made sure Clear Black was off, bulb low mode, and just to have a sense of how much brighter the RS57 was with the new bulb etc, I put it at the same manual lens app setting (-7). The first thing I noticed, to my surprise, was that with nothing on the screen the black levels looked clearly a bit lower! When some all black screens came on Jurassic park, the black levels looked definite darker than what I'm used to. This went against my expectation since the new projector's bulb would be brighter (including higher black levels). That was my experience when comparing my RS55 when it was new, against my older RS20 - the RS55, despite it's higher contrast rating, had higher black levels simply because it was a new, brighter bulb. So I was expecting the same in this case, not lower black levels (without using the ILA). I double-checked the Lens App wondering if I'd left it in an Auto mode, but nope it was in manual at -7, yet still looking like blacker blacks then I'm used to, and what I'd just seen on my RS55 Ok. Promising start even if I don't put too much stock into that first impression.
The opening of Jurassic park immediately looked different, both brighter and more punchy, but also higher contrast and deeper looking black levels. Not by tons, but it seemed distinct. And that was the impression I had going through all the scenes.
The image just looked more dynamic, mostly in scenes with black in them, and darker scenes. My go-to scene of the actors walking around holding flashlights looked fantastic, with the flashlight beams looking super bright, but with the black levels throughout looking actually a bit deeper at the same time. Though, of all the titles I watched, JP, though it looked different, showed the least obvious changes from my RS55.
What about the Intelligent Lens Aperture? Time to try it. I put on the recommended Auto 2. I experimented with setting the aperture at -7 and -9. Good news: The ILA struck me as doing it's work invisibly. Bad news: The ILA struck me as working invisibly. As in: I couldn't see what it was adding! It really took a lot of searching for the lowest APL scenes I could find to actually notice the black levels go lower! Certainly during certain black out scenes (including the opening credits) I could see the lens app close down more making it darker than I've ever seen in my home theater, which was neat. But that to me is a side benefit since I want actual on-screen content to show improvement, not non-images.
I saw the ILA do some nice things here and there, but I was mildly deflated at first, even though overall JP looked better than I've seen. (And that included some bright scenes, like when they first begin the tour in the daytime, the automated cars start moving, and you view the characters through the car windows which have reflections of sun and plants moving past. Those are the type of shots that can look mediocre on a display that doesn't have good ANSI-type contrast (or whatever) but start to come alive with a more dynamic projector. Those shots looked more vibrant than I remember seeing before on my screen, so that was great.
It was really when I put on some other movies that things seemed to kick into higher gear. I put on Alien and tried to match the brightness I saw on my RS55 (no meter, so not scientific). THAT was amazing! First, those opening low APL scenes of the credits forming against space, just how DARK the planet and space looked, and the brighter stars against that black, was fantastic. The next shots of the Nostromo ship, dimply lit against space, were ones I figured would show the advantage of a DI and, yup, there it was. Space was blacker, stars brighter and more varied, the ship definitely more contrasted against space, than I'd just seen on the RS55. Throughout Alien I kept going "wow...WOW..." especially any scenes requiring strong constrast, low APL scenes, and just the contrast in general. It just looked incredible. I guess it could be a combination of a new bulb, whatever was happening in the picture mode I'd chosen, and whatever contributions were being made by the new ILA and contrast of the projector, but I was getting some of those elements that impressed me so much when I viewed these scenes on the Sony VW1000 projector: that "pop" of brilliant lights of the Nostromo controls against deep black backgrounds.
THAT's more like it, THAT is what I was craving in terms of upgrading the image I'd been watching.
When I put on the first chase scene in Casino Royale I was like "holy sh#t! It was so brilliant and dynamic it blew me away. I had the image at 105" wide and the IRIS down to -10 I believe (or -12). Is this all due to simply a new bulb? Certainly could be I suppose. Or was I seeing some other elements of contrast added by the new projector? I can't say at this point: but whatever it is, the end result was a picture that had the type of "pop" I sometimes have envied from DLPs and just the type of image I might have expected if I'd replaced my RS55 with the Sony VW500ES. That's not to say that the image actually DOES look like the Sony's (which obviously would, at the very least, be capable of being even brighter). What I'm saying is that, lacking an actual side-by-side to show the Sony's superiorities, the brilliant Casino Royale images I was seeing on screen were just the type of pinch-myself-inducing images that I'd have thought I needed the Sony to bring to my system.
Then I tried the Clear Black feature. You know what? From what I've seen so far now I LOVE this new processing! I only tried it on "low" for actual moving images, but just like Kevin reported, I find it adds a noticeable crispness and a bit more vividness across the board, but not "too much." Casino Royale just continued to blow me away, how detailed and vivid the image looked, and now deep and anchored the black levels and dark scenes appeared. (ILA on auto 2 throughought).
Prometheus: again...holy cow! Prometheus was a movie that, even from it's initial trailers before it hit the movie theaters, I thought "this is going to look amazing on the JVC projectors, so many super dark scenes, brilliantly lit helmets and instruments against dark backgrounds, etc). The thing is once I finally got the Prometheus Blu-Ray on my RS55 it *did* look really excellent. But at the same time instead of perfection I would also think "we still have quite a ways to go black-level wise and contrast-wise for projection." But Prometheus on this RS57 actually seemed to fulfill the promise of this movie, the way I thought it could look. The way those space-ship shots looked, much of the ship low lit against space, with brilliant spot lights here and there, and the blazing rockets, it was rendered with such contrast and authority in the RS57 I just felt like "yeahhhh...I'm home! We are just about there!" Same thing throughought as Casino Royale, My black-velvet pit always shows projected black to be lighter gray, but I've never seen the black areas look like this in my set up. Where I'm not looking from the pitch black velvet surrounding to the projected black on screen and thinking "oh well" but actually thinking "damn, those blacks look great!"
Wherever it's coming from, just the ILA in action itself, or if there is also some additional contrast I'm getting from this machine, there is a sense of solidity and consistence, of realism, that I'm getting in terms of contrast/black levels, that I don't remember experiencing before. It makes me feel I could be satisfied with this, finally, for a while. (Yeah..right! Until next year).
Oblivion looked amazing too - the combination of image brightness, contrast, MPC settings and Clear Black showed a punchier, more detailed looking image, for sure, than that movies has ever looked on my screen. More in line with the type of improvements I would have expected if I'd bought the Sony VW500ES. And BladeRunner...mamma mia! Again, I'm really happy to find that the Clear Black feature is actually useful to me. From my brief exposure to it, I think I actually like aspects of it a bit better than my Darbee (as I tend to notice the "Darbee look" that has been added on top of images, I felt that less so with the Clear Black).
I watched some of this year's Grammys and, wow, I thought they looked incredible contrast-wise on my RS55 - on the RS57 concert lights were BLAZING through the blackness of the auditorium! I tried the new CMD setting on "low" and it seemed to work perfectly, giving beautifully smooth motion without any noticeable artifacts - e.g. to Pink's very acrobatic spinning performance above the crowd. Some shots were amazingly close to "being there" in terms of the detail and aliveness of the image. The same goes for the Stevie Wonder concert on Blu-Ray that I often use as a test. It just reached a new level of realism in terms of the performers and lights against the deep dark backgrounds.
Ok, so...it's the honeymoon phase I know. But not all is rosy, as I've already mentioned at the beginning. Other issues I've noted so far:
The ILA, as others have noted, does most of it's work invisibly, but is occasionally noticeable. The BladeRunner credits against the black background started off looking incredible. But then I saw the aperture/gamma adjust itself on a few of the credits. I also noticed these adjustments here and there in movie content. And sometimes certain scenes seemed to actually induce an almost "flicker" in the seen, as if the ILA couldn't figure out what position to adopt. Thus far, with the content I've watched, I'm finding the pros outweigh the cons with the ILA. I guess we'll all see how that goes as we spend more time with these machines.
More troubling: Sometimes the image seemed to go blurry! I think it was in Blade Runner where I thought my vision was going blurry, but it was the faces on screen. And then I saw it happen on Start Trek (2009 movie) as well, at the end when the two Spocks are talking. A shot of two of Nimoy's face looked totally blurry. And this seemed to happen occasionally in some of the other movies too. I'm still not sure what was going on - was it possible these were blurry shots I'd never noticed before? Maybe. But the impression I had was that some sort of processing in the projector was going wrong, being freaked out or whatever, and some sort of smoothing was being applied way too much, making a face a blurry mess. Again, it has me wondering if the projector is defective. Has anyone else noticed this happening? (I haven't spent time trying to diagnose it yet, switching the various processing parameters off and on).
Anyway, that's the state of my impressions after a few long sessions throwing on tons of different movies. Not all is perfect - I'm not sure what to think yet about the convergence, the buzzing, and the blurriness issues. And I am not making any technical case for what I perceive - all I can report are my impressions at this point, and the RS57 is striking me as just the type of upgrade I would have hoped for, and actually ticking off lots of the boxes I wanted the Sony to tick off, so at this
point it's feeling like I made the right choice. (Well...if I hadn't spent a ton more on calibration equipment and a Lumagen, and compared ONLY the prices of the two projectors, for me it would feel even more like the right choice, this year, to
have gotten the new JVC).
Over 'n out.