CINEDREAM BELGIUM NEW SONY PROJECTORS EUROPEAN LAUNCH EVENT | SONY 885ES/760ES, 385ES/360ES & 285ES/260ES
Firstly, I would like to thank
for inviting me to attend this launch event with respect to Sony’s new home theater/cinema projectors, where Sony has chosen CINEDREAM as the dealer of choice to demonstrate the new models to the other AV dealers in Belgium. Wherein, immediately upon my arrival I realized that Sony had without a doubt made the right decision choosing CINEDREAM. The event was exceptionally well organized with the absolute degree of professionalism and attention to detail. Each and every one of the projectors had been professional calibrated and had its own dedicated booth and/or room incorporating dedicated projection screen.
I was informed that in all instances 1.0 unity gain projection screens were being used specifically to present the ‘true’ performance of the respective projectors without aspects such as screen gain being an influencing factor. IIRC the screen size used in all instances was 2.6m wide 16:9 aspect ratio.
For the benefit of those who don’t know me I feel it important to point out that I have absolutely no affiliation with any particular manufacturer/brand and whilst I manage an AV company our business model is such that I have complete impartiality and absence of bias when it comes to AV equipment; and so I am able to assess and view products from an entirely neutral perspective. Furthermore, personally, I have owned projectors by a wide array of brands, including both JVC and Sony; I have no particular preference with respect to either brand over the other; and I am of the view that both Sony and JVC manufacture excellent projectors. And as it happens I am a huge fan of the Sony 1100ES which the new Sony 885/760ES is essentially replacing. OK then, here we go:
Sony 885ES/760ES | FIRST IMPRESSIONS
As it happens, this wasn’t the first time I had the pleasure of viewing this projector in action. I attended demos of the projector recently both at IFA 2017 in Berlin and a second time at CEDIA 2017 in San Diego. In both instances, I was immediately impressed by the video image. At those shows I attended not only demos of the projector by itself, but also shootouts hosted by Sony where they demonstrated the Sony 885ES/760ES versus the JVC RS4500/Z1, where the message that the Sony sales rep was seeking to communicate was/is that the Sony 885ES/760ES delivers similar video performance as compared with the JVC RS4500/Z1 but at significantly less cost. Clearly a very bold objective, especially given the cost differential. I will come onto the subject of how the Sony 885ES/760ES compares versus the JVC RS4500/Z1 later, but suffice to say for now I was already seriously impressed by the capabilities of the Sony 885ES/760ES by what I saw of its performance at those two trade shows. So why fly all the way to Belgium to see it again for a third time? Well here’s the thing, at both IFA and CEDIA the projector was demoed using its uncalibrated out-of-the-box settings. In fact, the Sony rep made a point of telling everyone repeatedly that this was the case. And why not? It looked great. So, knowing that
is a renown highly skilled professional video calibrator who would be calibrating all the Sony projectors being demonstrated at the CINEDREAM SONY event, having already been impressed by its out-of-the-box performance at IFA and CEDIA, I just had to see what is the video performance of this thing when properly calibrated.
The Sony 885ES/760ES was setup by itself in a dedicated blacked-out home theater/cinema room. When I entered the room its was packed with people, which kinda took me by surprise because there was a deathly silence… nobody was making a sound and what also struck me immediately was neither was the projector!!! But before that had a chance to really sink in of course my gaze went to the screen at the front of the room, which is what everyone was transfixed staring at, and then I realised why the deathly silence… Everyone was sharing what can only be described as a ‘Communal WTF Moment’… All that was projecting was the Kaleidescape Stato Menu in 4K SDR, but it looked absolutely AMAZING! Seriously the image was a knockout. Wonderfully bright, dynamic, superb crisp detail, phenomenal colour, and really good blacks!
who was at the front of the room then dropped a bomb… Firstly he informs us all that he’s measured the peak light output of the projector as being 1,800 lumens calibrated, which sounds about right given the marketing information lists 2,000 lumens maximum.
COMPARATIVE POST-CALIBRATION PEAK LIGHT OUTPUTS
• Sony 5000ES = 4,500 lumens (ColorSpace 2; no filter --> ~85% DCI-P3)
• JVC RS4500/Z1 = 2,500 lumens (HDR colorspace; no filter --> ~85% DCI-P3)
• Sony 885ES/760ES = 1,800 lumens (Native Triluminus colorspace; no filter --> T.B.C. % DCI-P3)
Then, using the remote
opened the menu and revealed that the laser level was set to only 12! That’s like 13% of maximum! Every single person in the room expleted, including me. What with the bright image we were all seeing on the screen something’s going on here that just doesn’t add up. I’m sure that with some further investigation and measurements someone will get to the bottom of what’s what, where we’ll do it ourselves if no-one else does; but for the time being I resigned to simply enjoying what was without a doubt an absolutely fabulous looking image, albeit somewhat baffled as to how it was possible we were all seeing what we were seeing. Is magic dust involved? Unicorn tears? Who knows!
To elaborate a bit, 1,800 Lumens was/is the maximum
light output post-calibration. The Laser Level was set to 12 via calibrating the luminance value with full field white to circa 22 fL whilst displaying SDR. Consequently with the 2.6m wide sized projection screen and the projector calibrated to display 22 fL luminance with full field white the Sony 885ES/760ES was outputing circa 900 lumens and hence operating at circa only half capacity. Obviously, larger sized screens would require more light output to achieve the same luminance, and HDR video content is a different kettle of fish in that it is a lot more demanding when it comes to peak light output, however this is pretty impressive nonetheless.
played a variety of HDR video content, kindly indulging my request to play the scene from Lucy upon first entering the hotel and the various instances of guys with black suits concomitantly with some specular highlights.
I still continued to be very impressed by the video image, but it was now that I noticed a couple of things. First of all, there were two uniformity issues. First of all, there was an issue specifically with respect to luminance uniformity, with the corners, as well as the top, bottom, and side edges being brighter than the centre of the image. I pointed this out and
said he’d already told Sony about it and Sony had said that the demo unit was a final prototype using beta-firmware and with respect to the actual production units this will be a non-issue. That’s good news. So let’s assume that’s the case. It’s the other one that I’m more concerned about, namely the focus uniformity.
Despite the fact that the new Sony 885/760ES is being touted as a replacement for the 1100ES it’s more akin to a hybrid between the Sony 5000ES and the 675/550ES, in that it’s sporting a laser light source, like the 5000ES, albeit less powerful, with same the lens and optics as the 675/550ES and not the 1100ES unfortunately. I say unfortunately because the lens and optics of the 1100ES are phenomenal, but the 675/550ES not so much, in that it is afflicted with focus uniformity issues. That said, please don’t get me wrong. We are talking about imperfections here as opposed to serious problems. The Sony 675/550ES is a very good projector and I am being critical here with absolute perfection being the reference standard. Where I am sure we can all agree that no projector is perfect. Wherein with respect to the Sony 675/550ES its lens and optics are very good, they just aren’t perfect or as good as those used in the 1100ES, and it can be tricky to attain perfect focus uniformity across all the image. So it’s a shame that Sony didn’t choose to use the lens and optics from the 1100ES. That said, I feel the need to reiterate that this was/is a final prototype using beta-firmware and with respect to the actual production units it is possible that this might be a non-issue. We shall see, but if I was obliged to find something wrong with what is indubitably a fabulous projector that is the Sony 675/550ES then I’m going to point out that it would have been better if Sony had used the lens from the 1100ES but then again if they had then there would almost certainly have been a cost implication and the price would probably have to be higher.
Again, deliberately trying to find things to criticise, what I also noticed is that the black floor noticeably rose with HDR content as compared with SDR; but all things considered this is to be expected; particularly given in many instances with respect to 4K UHD HDR Blu-Ray discs the black level is encoded on the disc as being elevated to 0.05, where as in happens Lucy is one such example where this is the case, where this can easily be 'fixed' via a various methods, such as lowering the 'Brightness' setting on the Panasonic DMP-UB900 Blu-Ray player by a notch.
Similarly, subjectively speaking I think it’s not quite matching the contrast performance of the 1100ES either. But there’s a couple of good reasons for that being the case. Firstly, there’s an established pattern now with respect to first generation native 4K laser projectors taking a contrast ratio reduction as compared with their lamp-based and/or HD resolution equivalents. Secondly, unlike the Sony 1100ES, which has a manual iris feature, with respect to the new Sony 885/760ES for reasons unknown Sony has inexplicably forgone its inclusion. Something which is a missed opportunity in my opinion; especially considering the laser level was set to only 12 out of 90 (13% of maximum), where if there had been a manual iris there would be the option to close down the iris and raise the laser level and thereby significant increase the contrast ratio and consequential black levels. That said, the black levels are already pretty fantastic with respect to SDR video content so I think it’s mainly with respect to HDR content where there would be the most significant difference. A missed opportunity by Sony. And it’s a strange omission, especially given the fact that the projector which the 885/760ES is replacing, namely the 1100ES has this feature. I can’t think for the life of me why Sony chose not to include it. The downside of this is that because of the inability to manually close down the iris there’s not much that can be done to improve native contrast and hence black floor. Even so, please don’t get me wrong, the Sony 885/760ES is a superb projector. As mentioned, what I am doing here is being critical with absolute perfection being the reference standard. Furthermore, it is natural to draw comparisons against the 1100ES given the 885/760ES is touted to replace that projector.
So, in summary, before moving on, because the Sony 885/760ES uses the same lens as the 675/550ES it doesn’t quite achieve the wonderfully crisp and razor-sharp image produced by the Sony 1100ES. And the Sony 885/760ES is not quite as good at doing HDR as it is with respect to doing SDR. SDR looks amazing. HDR looks great, but just doesn’t seem to have quite the same wow-factor.
Moving on… Some previous models of Sony projectors have been limited with respect to supporting a maximum of 10.2 Gbps video bandwidth, it was great to hear that the Sony 885/760ES reportedly supports full-bandwidth 18 Gbps video content. But does in reality actually pass the full 18 Gbps signal and all-importantly reliably so? Well, as far as this is concerned I am pleased to report that the answer is YES. The Sony 885/760ES passed the 18 Gbps torture test with flying colours; displaying the now infamous Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk in all its high-frame-rate 4K HDR high-video-bandwidth glory, including the accompanying much-maligned ‘Soap Opera Effect’, of course.
Time for some photos… Please kindly note that with respect to all the following screenshot photographs, these were not only taken with the video running, as opposed to static / paused frames, but also within a low ambient light level environment; wherein it is very difficult to achieve a shutter-speed that captures the precise frame, as well as the video image accurately. The result of which is that the photos aren’t quite as sharp as the video images actually are. That aside, by using a calibrated (clickable link:
) Nikon D810
with respective lenses, using Adobe RGB, and setup such that all photographs taken used a full 36.3 megapixels as raw uncompressed, unprocessed and unadulterated image files. I then simply converted these to JPEGs without any image processing whatsoever or any added compression. The result of which is that all the photos pretty accurately represent what the corresponding images actually looked like when viewed in person.
SONY 885ES/760ES vs JVC RS4500/Z1
One particular question that keeps coming up is how does the video performance of the Sony 885ES/760ES compare with the JVC RS4500/Z1? Well, I can’t really properly answer that question until after we’ve had opportunity to carry out comprehensive direct comparisons and measurements with respect to both projectors, which we will be doing soon in our AV ‘laboratory’.
That said, from what I’ve seen of the Sony 885ES/760ES now at all of IFA, CEDIA and now CINEDREAM, and what I know of the performance of the JVC RS4500/Z1 regarding which I am very familiar, this is my opinion as of right now.
With respect to certain aspects the JVC RS4500/Z1 outperforms the Sony 885ES/760ES; and with respect to other aspects the Sony 885ES/760ES outperforms the JVC RS4500/Z1. Both projectors are excellent projectors, but all things considered I do think that the JVC RS4500/Z1 overall is the better projector; however it’s more expensive, so I think that both projectors represent the best video performance of any home theater/cinema projector as of right now at the respective price points; and I think that this is an instance where you do get what you pay for.
One particular aspect where the Sony 885/760ES outperforms the JVC RS4500/Z1 is with respect to operating noise level. Wherein, the JVC RS4500/Z1 is now renown for being pretty noisy, albeit JVC has significantly improved this situation as compared with when the projector was initially launched. Even so, the projector can tend to get a bit noisy if or when it heats up and activates the high-fan cooling mode. Whereas, in comparison, the Sony 885/760ES is so quiet even standing right next to it I couldn't hear it at all but only the sound of the air eminating from the climate control ventilation in the ceiling above me. We don't quite know how Sony has achieved this but that's a double thumbs up for Sony as far as operating noise levels are concerned!
On the other hand, a sizeable portion of the cost of the JVC RS4500/Z1 is attributed to its lens and optics, which are nothing short of phenomenal and without a doubt superior to those featuring in the Sony 885/760ES. Consequently, the JVC RS4500/Z1 shares the calibre of razor sharp image that the Sony 1100ES produces, with perfect focus uniformity across the image and outstanding detail. And it outperforms the Sony 885/760ES in this regard.
Contrarily another particular aspect where the Sony 885/760ES outperforms the JVC projectors in general is with respect to HDMI sync times, which unlike the JVCs that are typically 10-14 seconds, is thankfully impressively speedy. So much so in fact that I often found myself thinking to myself “if only the JVCs were this quick!”
The JVC RS4500/Z1 has higher light output as compared with the Sony 885/760ES, being circa 2,500 Lumens post-calibration as compared with the Sony 885/760ES, being circa 1,800 Lumens. This luminance difference does mean that when both projectors are professionally calibrated properly the JVC RS4500/Z1 should yield the brighter image with more pop as compared with the Sony 885/760ES, particularly with HDR video content and with larger sized screens, where the extra light output of the JVC RS4500/Z1 should make a noticeable difference. This ties in with what I saw and took away from the shootout between the JVC RS4500/Z1 and Sony 885/760ES; albeit that the shootout used out-of-the-box settings for both projectors. The Sony 885/760ES looked superb. But the JVC RS4500/Z1 simply looked better; with a sharper image, with slightly higher brightness, seemingly more dynamic range, contrast, better blacks, as well as slightly more ‘pop’. But like I said I really need to carry out a direct comparison with some proper measurements in order to confirm this.
• Native 4K (4,096 x 2,160)
• Superb detail with both Native 4K and HD-upscaled-to-4K
• Wonderfully bright image with typical HT screen sizes
• Exceptionally clean image; no added video noise
• Excellent colours
• Superb SDR performance
• Good HDR performance
• Good contrast
• Fast HDMI Sync times
• HDMI 2.0b 18 Gbps
• Compact size
• Extraordinarily quiet operating noise levels
• Dolby Vision support possible via future firmware upgrade (N.B. This is confirmed as being technically possible; but Sony has not yet confirmed whether this will actually happen)
• Contrast, whilst good, seemingly not quite on par with 1100ES
• Possible imperfect focus uniformity (as per Sony 675ES/550ES)
• No manual iris
• Irregular pricing globally | £15,000/€15,000 vs $25,000
The best performing home theater/cinema projector in the world as of right now at the price. Both JVC DLA-RS4500/Z1 and SONY 5000ES are overall superior projectors, but then they are more expensive; so, you get what you pay for. But if you are seeking the best performing projector at the given price then ladies and gentlemen here it is.
Sony 285ES/260ES | FIRST IMPRESSIONS
I have been informed that the 285ES/260ES was on low lamp mode and that resulted in 26 fL luminance on the screen; and hence this is what you are seeing in the following photos:
The Sony 285ES/260ES provides you with true native 4K video performance for a budget of circa 5,000 bucks… What’s not to like? The Sony 285ES/260ES produces a great looking picture and represents great value-for-money performance-wise.
Sony 385ES/360ES | FIRST IMPRESSIONS
It has been discovered by CineDream, the event organizers, that sometime during the event the settings for the 385ES/360ES were altered; wherein, the lamp mode had been changed from LOW to HIGH, and also the HDR slider and other settings has been changed during the course of the evening. Therefore, it is unknown precisely what were the settings when the following photographs were taken.
Additionally it is important to note that all three new model projectors were pre-production prototype units using beta-firmware, which had 'done the rounds' having been shipped all over the world for multiple AV industry events and shows, thereby undergoing multiple instances of national and international courier transportation and deliveries, which can often induce transit trauma. Consequently, the video performance of these units was/is not fully respresentive of what will be the video performance of the actual production units.
CineDream are carrying out another shootout event next month on SATURDAY OCTOBER 21st and SUNDAY OCTOBER 22nd. I will be covering this event also; wherein hopefully CineDream have received delivery of actual production units, in which case we will be able to feedback regarding the comparative performances of all the various projectors accordingly.
Further to this, we will ourselves shortly be carrying out fully comprehensive evaluations and comparisons under laboratory conditions with respect to all the relevant SONY and JVC projectors; wherein, we will publish our review and and comparison report with respect to the actual production units with actual launch firmware, including comprehensive measurements and readings, along with high quality professional photography.