YES I Did!Comparative Analysis of Faroudja vs. Algolith - Silicon Optixby Rob Feiner - Copyright 2005
Equipment at the Silicon Optix Booth …For the Record:
Denon 5910 DVD player
QuVis-Qubit HD HDU for 1080i sources
2 Realta reference systems
JVS HD2k 1080p projector (Faroudja Video Processing)
Marantz S4 720p projector (GENNUM GF9350 VXP Video Processing)
Plasmas: (2) Runco CW61"
Rear Projection: (2) Sony 70" Grand Wega LCD
Processors: Silicon Optix reference design board (essentially an open Dragonfly) and Faroudja 1010 (or whatever it is that ships with the HD2K) and internal processing of the projectors/displays
Comparative Sources: either DVD coming from Denon 5910 or HD from QuBit (or Tivo)
Setup: going out analog from the source devices into a distribution amp that split the signal either direct to the display or to the Realta and then to the displays.
Realta Chip Information:http://www.audioholics.com/cedia/ced...xRealtaHQV.phphttp://www.siliconoptix.com
The above information sets the Baseline as our “field lab” for available components.
Preliminary Comparison between the Units:
There seems to be a huge amount of confusion regarding what the Algolith products are, and do. The following is provided for your understanding prior to going into my observational review.
Dragonfly is primarily a deinterlacer, scaler and cadence corrector with some noise reduction, it has Standard Definition (SD) Mosquito noise reduction, it is a reduced version of what is offered in the Mosquito product. The Mosquito is a compression artifact Noise reducer, it does not do any scaling, deinterlacing or cadence correction. In the Mosquito, the MPEG noise reduction is called "MPEG Noise Reduction" or "MNR", in the Dragonfly it's called; CNR or Codec Noise Reduction, CNR does Mosquito noise reduction on SD not on HD. Dragonfly has Temporal recursive noise reduction in SD and HD, however it does not have any macro blocking reduction (BAR) in either resolutions. Whenever you turn on CNR on the Dragonfly, you loose some of the great Teranex software algorithms for deinterlacing, hence this causes jaggies to become more apparent on the image, so to get the best picture you want to turn off CNR on the Dragonfly and combine it with the Mosquito. This combo, gives you the best picture, since you get maximum compressed noise reduction in SD and HD and Block artifact reduction and edge detected and amplified sharpness from the Mosquito, giving you the added depth of field in SD and HD, so many of our clients rave about, and the Dragonfly gives you all the power of the Teranex software algorithms for deinterlacing, scaling and cadence correction.Block Chart Provided by Algolith is Available on the PDF Version of this Review
(Located at the bottom of this post)Editor’s Note
I’m NOT going to get into a technical debate over signal to noise ratio, stat numbers, and stated specs on any unit. All numbers can be manipulated to achieve a goal.
This review is based upon my eye, my perceptions, and my 25+ years in Network Broadcasting. I have an FCC First Class License, extensive electronic background (I’m NOT an EE), and Broadcast Operations. I have 5 Emmy awards which only means I know a good picture, I can tell a story, and was just LUCKY in winning over several of my peers who are equally talented. My review is my opinion, and objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.
After meeting and speaking with Mike Poirier, Vice President Sales & Marketing of Algolith for over two hours at the HE2005 show, several dynamics became apparent. Mike is extraordinarily charismatic, and knowledgeable when it comes to algorithmic corrections of less than perfect video. He also took a beating from me regarding his booth set-up demo of the Dragonfly. There are two other members of the Press that had the same reaction regarding the quality of the Dragonfly demo set-up.
Algolith as Mike enlightened me is first and foremost a Mathematics Corporation. If you understand what it takes to correct video, it’s all about math and algorithms. Algolith had a HighBit version the Fifth Element playing on a cheap DVD player going through the Dragonfly, and out to an LCD FPM (all component). The naked picture was horrible, and the corrected version (Post Dragonfly) still had noise in it. Even on my old DVD player, and an even older Pioneer Elite RP, I have never seen the Fifth Element look so bad, and my version isn’t HighBit. That old TV is gone and the Qualia 006 is its replacement. So, after beating Mike up about the show set-up, he informed me that there was a secret demo comparison being conducted in the Silicon Optix Booth for Press. He also agreed with me 195% about his own set-up at his booth. 195% must be one of those new algorithms Algolith has been working on.
Also at the Algolith booth was the Mosquito. Set-up separately but in the same way as the Dragonfly. This demo actually impressed me. On various video formats from WMV, MPEG 1 and 2, SD and HD output in 720p, the Mosquito delivered on every level. The source material was generated from a multimedia PC. Noise reduction was outstanding. pixel tearing, and motion block artifacts gone. I’ll talk about this more later on.
As the show began to close at 5:00pm, on the second floor of the NY Hilton, various, nefarious, members of the press began to gather. Like junkies looking for a fix at 3am way uptown, we sauntered into the Silicon Optix booth, given a shot of off vintage Chianti while being greeted warmly. You see, we have the pen, we can make them money. People hang on our every word… are you hanging? Various engineers were scampering about the room trying to figure out why there was no audio. It turns out that the voltage going into some of the audio amps was 193 out of the wall. Hmmm… I do believe that is an extra charge, but, I can check with the teamsters. With a little hobnobbing and hand pressing, the usual exchange of colorful business cards, (mine is) and a promise of wonderment, we all took our seats. There was to be no audio at this demo thanks to the Hilton, but did we care? Hardly. Source material 1080i from the Discovery Channel. Yes, you guessed it! Bugs and flowers, my favorite! The JVC Front projector contained a version of Faroudja’s 1010 processor for internal processing. Whether or not it matches the external device circuit for circuit is unknown. It would be unlikely that Faroudja would build 2 different chips. This was the part of an A/B/C test. A) naked, B) Faroudja, and C) Silicon Optix reference design board (essentially an open Dragonfly). The theater crowd was unanimous. the Silicon Optix won hands down. The Faroudja couldn’t resolve the fine details. As a point of reference, there really was none. Since the demo team at Silicon Optix didn’t have in their possession the Faroudja remote control, no tweaking could really be performed on the Faroudja. We collectively agreed the black level of the Faroudja was off. We were told that the Faroudja was “as shipped” and factory calibrated.
De-interlacing is the hardest part of signal processing which is why film looks so great. it shuttered but never interlaced. Once you accomplish the de-interlacing, the scaling is the easy part, and the Dragonfly does this far better than the Faroudja. Since the Silicon Optix Rialta chip is capable of over 3 Trillion instructions per second it cleans video and applies CNR (codec noise reduction) at the pixel level. What does this mean? If a pixel doesn’t need processing, it doesn’t get it. The algorithm detects motion, and leaves that alone too because otherwise you’ll get smearing. The processing I am told, is achievable up to 2K pixels width, so those of us with Qualia 006’s and an enhanced 1920x1080 resolution will achieve stunning results. The 10-bit diagonal interpolator removes any “jaggies” and stair-stepping artifacts from de-interlaced video sources without blurring the image. This was apparent during some FOX NASCAR video that we were shown. The video was from a flat sky on an overcast race day, and while the noise levels were low and didn’t need a lot of the Realta’s power the video was smooth and easy on the eyes. To my eyes it was clear that the de-interlacing and output to 1080p was an outstanding result.
The Faroudja processing left me flat. The lack of detail in the Faroudja chipset made everyone in the room take tangible notice. It was unbelievable at how we collectively agreed that the Silicon Optix Chip so dramatically overshadowed the Faroudja. Several other tests further confirmed that the Faroudja was no match for the Realta. Here on a table lay a circuit board, basically the guts of a Dragonfly, and it ripped apart the Faroudja.
The Mosquito was quite another story in and of itself. Analog SD broadcasting is the bane of all digital TV’s. Mosquito noise, MPEG garbage of every proportion, broadcast noise that you get when you pay $100 monthly cable bills, and the list goes on. With a TIVO driving two identical Runco Plasmas, one feeding into the Dragonfly using a Mosquito Noise Reduction Algorithm, the other unprocessed, it was immediately apparent that unprocessed video was unwatchable; yet, I was watching it every day; countless hours wasted on bad TV. Once you are configured with HDMI inputs over 12 Bit processing becomes available. Proprietary 3D-MNR MPEG Noise Reduction - Proprietary 3D-DNR Gaussian Noise Reduction - Proprietary 2D auto detection Block Artifact Reducer (BAR) - Proprietary Detail Enhancer are the order of the day. What the Mosquito serves up is a delicious way to return your video content even if it’s HD to a pristine picture free of artifacts. I think that we have all seen high motion HD content is not free from Block Pixelization, and this is due to bandwidth constraints. As more HD content becomes available the delivery pipe is just going to get that much smaller. If this is an indication of things to come, the Mosquito will become a necessity right now it’s a luxury that should be part of every serious videophile’s system.
The double bang of the Dragonfly and Mosquito from Algolith is not an inexpensive journey into video bliss. The fact that the development costs exceed $8 million, and new algorithms are constantly being developed to devices that are openly upgradeable through internet downloads, takes some of the sting out of the price tag, maybe. With any new technology comes a price, and bleeding edge technology only means that with your dollars comes a pint too.
2005 Home Entertainment Show
NY Hilton. Date Attended: Friday April 29th, 2005http://www.he2004.com/index.htmlPDF File is Located on the Video Processor Area with this same post.