Some Observations Re: 4K Upscaling as Done by Denon, Yamaha, and Integra - LONG POST - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 05-26-2013, 10:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello friends!

I've been a long-time lurker here at AVS, and I can't tell you how much I've benefitted from reading the posts here. The persons who post here seem to be my kind of people - knowledgable, engaging, and often pretty funny. So, today, I wanted to try to return the favor by posting a few thoughts on the 4K upscaling capabilities of a few current receivers I've had the opportunity to test of late.

A little background: I'm a huge film buff, lately came into a little extra money and could not resist upgrading to Sony's XBR-65X900A, which I'd seen demoed several times here in NYC, and which I must tell you I absolutely love. I've had the display for only a few weeks, but so far, I couldn't be any happier with this purchase. The only real disadvantage to going 4K this early is that - unless you went with the $25K 84" Sony, which came with a server loaded with 4K content - there's not any native 4K content to be had.

So, for the first time in my life, the 'upscaling' capabilities of the gear I own has become very important to the overall performance, look, and feel of my system. I've read a lot of posts here and elsewhere speculating as to the performance of the chips included in certain receivers that are currently available - especially the chips used by Integra / Onkyo, Denon / Marantz, and Yamaha - but I haven't seen much in the way of posts from persons who've had the opportunity to test for themselves the 4K upscaling capabilities of these devices.

Well, as it turns out, over the past few weeks, I've had the chance to do some actual field testing of the chips included in these units. And since there hasn't been much posted here in the way of 'real world' observations about the 4K upscaling capabilities of the Qdeo, Analog Devices and HQV chips as yet, I wanted to chime in with some observations regarding the 4K upscaling performance of each of these chips, which are included in the Integra 70.4 (my current unit), the Denon 4520CI and Yamaha's RX-A3020, respectively.

Let's start with the Integra, which uses the Marvell Qdeo 4K upscaling processor and was the first unit I attached to the XBR-65X900A. Bottom line? This chip appears to perform exactly as it's supposed to, and with perfectly beautiful simplicity. Setup was a snap. I connected the receiver to the display via HDMI, fired up my system and set the Integra to upscale everything to 4K. And that was literally all I had to do.

From that point, the display began reporting a 3840x2160 signal from every source connected to it, and, in the case of certain native 1080p sources (for example, Blu Ray discs I own, have archived as MKV files, and which I stream via XBMC through a custom-built HTPC connected to the Integra), full-on *theatrical* 4K (4096x2160), which the display handles flawlessly.

What's more, to me, the 'visual' difference between the original source signals and their upscaled 4K counterparts was hardly 'subtle,' as some people have suggested it probably would be. Quite the contrary, I'd say there was a clear and obvious improvement over all source signals and their upscaled counterparts. SD signals were markedly better, for example, and while I wouldn't say the Qdeo handles those signals perfectly (I mean, you can't work with data that isn't there, so these images were a little 'soft' for my taste), these signals were still well-rendered and generally free from those annoying playback 'stutters' and other types of artifacting that are sometimes a side-effect of upscaling.

HD content, on the other hand - especially native 1080p/24 content - well, as far as I'm concerned, when upscaled to 4K via the Qdeo chip included in the Integra, those sources looked every bit as good for the size display I was using as any theatrical presentation I've ever seen short of IMAX. I'm hyper-critical, and I *really* looked for imperfections in the upscaled image generated by this chip - any sign of a pixel, an artifact, or any kind of playback stuttering or delay (all common upscaling issues) - but there was just nothing there, period. Every native 1080p/24 source I tested was just jaw-droopingly beautiful.

There's just one problem: as you probably already know, while the Integra 70.4 does a fantastic job with 4K upscaling, at present Onkyo / Integra units don't do 4K *passthrough.* And because I know I'm going to buy Sony's 4K media player the second it comes out this summer, I decided that it might be time to replace the Integra with a unit that does both 4K upscaling *and* 4K passthrough. After some research on AVS and elsewhere, I decided I'd give the Denon 4520ci a shot.

When it comes to 4K upscaling, the Denon's results were fine but far less exciting than I'd hoped they would be, and far less than I've come to expect from Denon, which has been one of my favorite brands over the years. In terms of setup, it only took about fifteen minutes trying to set the Denon to deliver a 4K signal (a process that took all of five seconds on the Integra) to show me how spoiled I'd been with the Integra's performance. In the end, it took a call to Denon technical support to learn that the Denon had not appropriately 'shaken hands' with my TV and wasn't outputting a 4K signal because it had incorrectly determined that it wasn't connected to a 4K display.

I resolved that problem and, after about an hour(?!?) of setup was able to get the Denon to upscale signals from certain sources - but only sources that were not themselves capable of outputting an upscaled 4K signal. Two more calls to tech support later, it turns out that the Denon 4520ci is capable of detecting which devices in your system are already capable of outputting a 4K signal (either natively or via upscaling) and will not upscale signals output from those devices. So to get everything upscaled through the Denon, you'll need to manually configure every device in your system that is capable of 4K upscaling to output a 4K signal, which the Denon will then simply pass through to the display.

Kind of defeats the purpose of 4K upscaling, doesn't it?

Anyway, this 'quirk' made configuration of the Denon a real pain. And then, even after configuration was complete, the quality of the upscaled, 4K images just wasn't nearly as good (or of the same consistent quality) from any source as was the case with the Integra. This is probably because instead of one chip doing all of the upscaling (and doing a good job of it), you have the Denon using its Analog Devices chip to upscale from sources that are not capable of upscaling / outputting a 4K signal on their own, with upscaling for all other sources handled by the chipsets included in those sources themselves.

The bigger issue with the Analog Devices chip included in the Denon is that it did a pretty bad job of upscaling SD signals to 4K. Essentially, any SD image that ran through the device exhibited severe 'stuttering.' While the audio played smoothly, the video itself looked like choppy SD video that was struggling to stay in sync with the audio. And this, despite having high-speed HDMI cables throughout my system (which shouldn't make that much of a difference anyway).

Add to this the fact that even a simple listening test tells you that the Denon's advertised output (150 watts/channel) is nowhere near its *actual* output, and I decided that the Denon was not for me. So, after a few days, that receiver went back, and I decided instead to try what I'd read here and elsewhere was a terrific receiver all-around: the Yamaha Aventage RX-A3020.

This turned out to be a very serious mistake, because, at least when it comes to 4K upscaling, the performance of the HQV chip included in the Yamaha RX-A3020 was just miserable.

On the setup front, the Yamaha had all of the issues of the Denon (the inability to complete or even maintain a correct 'hand-shake with the display, for example) and then some. These issues were made even *more* frustrating due to what I found to be Yamaha's absolutely counter-intuitive user interface. I mean, forget the fact that you have to punch a combination of keys hidden on the front panel just to perform simple functions like checking for a firmware update; it took almost five minutes just to locate the control that turned on the receiver's 4K upscaling, which is buried beneath about four layers of additional menu options. This process really shouldn't take more than a few seconds.

All the same, at least with the Denon, once the unit was set up, even though the quality of the 4K upscaling wasn't as good as the Integra, at least the upscaling / passthrough *usually* worked, and it worked well enough, at least with HD sources.

I just couldn't say the same of 4K upscaling via the HQV chip included in the Yamaha, which generated 4K images that in most cases were no better than and often were significantly worse than their non-upscaled counterparts. Specifically, the receiver itself and the upscaled images generated by the HQV chip in the Yamaha exhibited three serious issues:

1) The Yamaha could not maintain a proper handshake with the display. Not at all. This meant that every two or three times the display & receiver were powered up, I had to reset nearly all of the settings that it'd already taken me an hour to set the first time around. Maddening!

2) Remember the 'stuttering' issue I mentioned with the Analog Devices chip included with the Denon? Well, in the Denon, this issue was only apparent on upscaled SD sources. The HQV chip in the Yamaha exhibited the same issue with *both* SD *and* HD signals, with the exception of 1080p/24 signals, which it seemed to handle well enough, but still not as well as either the Denon or the Integra.

Case in point: 1080i signals output from my TiVo were upscaled to 3840x2160 by the Yamaha, but every time you changed the channel, the image on the new channel would start 'stuttering' as if trying to 'catch up' with the audio. The resolution was to 'pause' the TiVo, give the unit a moment or two to 'cache up,' and then hit 'play,' at which point the image would smooth out - most of the time. Change the channel again, and the issue immediately returned - and these same problems existed in every signal actually upscaled by the Yamaha itself (passthrough via the HTPC and other sources didn't seem to have this problem, but then, they were doing their own upscaling).

3) Virtually all upscaled images showed some degree of "shimmering." We're talking about everything from glowing halos surrounding every non-static element of an upscaled image to various graphic images generated by the HTPC that exhibited what I could only describe as 'instability.' I'm willing to bet that this was the result of a very high 'sharpness' setting applied automatically by the Yamaha to signals it's passing / processing, but by this point, I was so aggravated that I was unwilling to try to 'calibrate' this problem out of the system.

Now, really, shouldn't Yamaha's $2,000.00 flagship unit perform better than this when it comes to 4K? I think so, and that's why I also returned the Yamaha - and after less than a full day of testing. I just couldn't take it anymore!

So now, having actually 'field tested' the three major chips used for 4K upscaling using Sony's 65" 4K display, here's how I'd sum things up:

1) The Marvell Qdeo chip used by Onkyo / Integra is an excellent choice, does a great job all the way around, and provides an upscaled image that, in my opinion, rivals the appearance of 4K cinema.

2) The Analog Devices chip used by Denon (and I think Marantz) provides fine performance with HD signals, but the units themselves are not very 4K friendly, upscaling doesn't work as described (only selected signals are upscaled at all) and upscaled SD signals look pretty bad due to the 'stuttering' issue.

3) The HQV chip in the Yamaha just did a horrifically bad job when it came to 4K upscaling. Seriously, the 4K image generated by this chip isn't just horrible - it's so bad that I'd call it 'defective.' If you're looking to upgrade your receiver and you think there's a remote possibility that 4K upscaling will be important to you, I would not, under any circumstances, buy a receiver that upscales via the HQV chip, and in its present state, I would avoid the Yamaha like the plague.

***

In the end, I'd really like to have 4K passthrough capability, but given that there's virtually no native 4K content available to us at this time (and given that we've just learned that you'll have to connect the Sony 4K media player directly to a Sony 4K TV in order to get it to work at all - bad mistake on Sony's part, I think), I'm going to stick with the Integra (and Qdeo chip) until Onkyo / Integra produce a unit that does both upscaling and passthrough via this chip, at which time I'll upgrade.

Until then, having carefully tested all three of these chips in a configuration including Sony's 65" 4K display, it's my opinion the Qdeo chip found in the Onkyo/Integra receivers gives you the 4K-upscaled image that is closest to native 4K that I think you can find at any reasonable price point.

At present, this means I'll have to trade 4K passthrough in exchange for the Qdeo's excellent upscaling performance, but until we have native 4K source material, this seems to me like a small price to pay, especially given the performance gains of the Qdeo chip over both the Analog Devices and - especially - the HQV chip included in the Denon and Yamaha receivers, respectively.

***

I know that this post is a LOT longer than the norm, and I'll try to keep future posts much shorter. But the truth is that before buying either the Denon or the Yamaha, I searched all over AVS to see if I could find any information about the upscaling performance of these units. There were lots of reviews of / comments regarding the receivers themselves, but most folks didn't have a 4K display and so couldn't really evaluate how any of these chips actually performed in a 4K environment.

I hope the observations I've shared are helpful to at least some of you and at least save you the 'heavy lifting' I had to do as I worked to install, uninstall, and return two 40+ pound receivers. But if you have 4K display, and / or you have similar / difference experiences with these or other 4K upscaling / passthrough solutions, I'd love to hear about them. I'm always looking for ways to improve my system, and I'm especially interested to know if any of you with Denon / Marantz or Yamaha units *and* 4K displays experienced any of the issues I noted above.

Thanks for reading, hope this helps, and have a terrific day!
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post #2 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 02:49 AM
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A few initial queries:

1. What's the native resolution and refresh rate of the display?

2. Are you saying SD is only upscaled to only 3840x2160 by the Integra, and HD to 4096x2160 (2180?)? Can you not configure output resolution? What about the Denon and Yamaha (you mentioned 3840x2160 for 1080i) ? Any difference between 1080p24, 60i and 60p?

3. What is the source and display frame-rate and color space when there is 'stuttering' (judder?) and 'shimmering'? Did you try different combinations of these?

4. Hard to believe that the Denon will not upscale to 4k if the source can, even if the source is only manually set to output SD or 1080p. Is that really what tech support say?

5. Did you try test patterns at all?

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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Hi Kilian -

Thanks for your thoughtful questions, which I'll try to answer as best I can:

1) What is the native refresh rate of the display?

The native resolution / refresh rate for the display is advertised at 3840x2160 @ (I *think*) 60Hz. However, it had no problem handling resolutions / refresh rates all the way up to theatrical 4K, 4096x2160@24Hz (sorry about the typo above). However, the way it handled these resolutions varied from chip to chip. For example, using the Qdeo, 4096x2160 was displayed in the appropriate aspect ration for the source / display. As indicated above, the Denon required me, for example, to set the actual video card in my HTPC to output the maximum resolution I wanted. I selected 4096x2160, and the result was a 'window-boxed' version of the display, so I ended up falling back to 3840x2160, which looked fine. But I still felt a little cheated in that case, since the Qdeo did 4096x2160 in the correct aspect ratio, and with no additional setup of any kind.

2) Are you saying SD is only upscaled to only 3840x2160 by the Integra, and HD to 4096x2160 (2180?)? Can you not configure output resolution? What about the Denon and Yamaha (you mentioned 3840x2160 for 1080i) ? Any difference between 1080p24, 60i and 60p?

Yes. With the Qdeo chip, SD sources are upscaled to 3840x2160. HD sources at 1080p/24 are automatically upscaled to 4096x2160 (just confirmed that it's 2160, not 2180). HD sources at other resolutions (1080p/60, 1080i/60, etc.) are upscaled to 3840x2160. The extent to which you can configure output resolution via the Integra is either to set the unit to 'auto' upscale, or to set all sources to 4K. I chose the latter, and the results are detailed above.

The Denon and Yamaha work in a totally different way. As with the Integra, you can set upscaling either to 'auto' or to all 4K, but whatever choice you make (I tried both), you'll still have to set the individual components of your system that can upscale to 4K to do so. The Denon / Yamaha will then pass these 4K signals through to the display. So, because of the functionality of these receivers, the resolution you'll actually get from each component that can upscale depends on the upscaling capabilities of that component (and these vary widely, as you might guess). For example, as mentioned above, I could set my HTPC to output 4096x2160, and the Denon / Yamaha would pass this signal as output. However, the results were a 'windowboxed' image. This issue didn't exist for the Integra.

Additionally, with the HTPC, as you probably understand, I have lots of different types of media archived. Setting the output for the HTPC at a static 4096x2160 resulted in really bad-looking SD images, so I actually had to adjust output resolution on the HTPC every time I wanted to view, say, an SD source @ 480p/60 vs an HD source @ 1080p/24. This is just one of the reasons I found the functionality and design of the 4K upscaling included in the Denon and Yamaha to be, not just substandard, but downright counter-intuitive.

3) What is the source and display frame-rate and color space when there is 'stuttering' (judder?) and 'shimmering'? Did you try different combinations of these?

First, thanks for giving me the term I was looking for ('judder'); I couldn't remember that for the life of me.

Again, because of the way the Yamaha and Denon work, this depends on the way the various components of the system are configured. For example, the Denon didn't exhibit the 'shimmering' artifact at all (in my experience, that was unique to the HQV chip), but 480p/60 signals upscaled by the unit or any component attached to it exhibited the judder issue I mentioned. 1080i/60, 1080p/60 & 1080p/24 didn't exhibit this issue at all. The Yamaha 'shimmering' artifact extended to all upscaled signals, whether they were created by the unit itself or merely 'passed' through the unit from other sources. This issue and the juddering problem occurred at all resolutions and frame rates *except* for 1080p24, which didn't seem to exhibit any significant judder or shimmering.

With regard to colorspace, I'm a little less proficient in that area and can't really answer this question well. I didn't change the 'default' settings here, so I'm assuming that whatever the 'default' color space was for each device, that's what I was using. However, I did try every combination of source, signal, and refresh rate I could think of, and the results of the two receivers were exactly as described above. Only the Qdeo chip seemed not to have any problem with any combination of signal sources / refresh rates.

4. Hard to believe that the Denon will not upscale to 4k if the source can, even if the source is only manually set to output SD or 1080p. Is that really what tech support say?

I agree. It's very hard to believe and amounts to, I think, a very bad decision with regard to design. But this is what tech support said, and this was my experience as well. But here's the caveat: it was pretty clear that the Denon technicians I spoke to were not used to these questions and didn't really have much information themselves about how this functionality was supposed to work.

The final solution we hit on (after a long time and after speaking with multiple persons up the chain) was to do what I described: set the units that could upscale to do so and let the Denon handle everything else. This was the only way we could get an upscaled signal from, for example, my Oppo BDP and the HTPC (both of which can upscale or output a 4K signal). The Denon upscaled the TiVo signals on its own, since there is no 4K setting on that device.

But this isn't to say that this is the definitive answer. This is just the best answer Denon could give me and the only solution that we could find after over an hour of trying different settings. If anyone has had better results with the Denon using a different technique, I'd love to hear how you resolved this issue.

5. Did you try test patterns at all?

Truthfully, no. The display is still in its 'burn in' period, and I don't generally start with serious calibration efforts until +/- six to eight weeks of use. But I'm not sure what the test patterns might've shown me that would've resolved the 'deal breakers' for the Denon and Yamaha, chiefly the problems maintaining an accurate 'handshake' with the display and the juddering exhibited with some (or in the case of the HQV chip, all) upscaled sources via the Denon and Yamaha units.

The shimmering issue I noted with the Yamaha looked to me an awful lot like the kind of artifcating we often see when sharpness is set improperly, and this could probably have been 'calibrated' out. But the same can't be said of the other issues - particularly not the judder - so I didn't bother to attempt these adjustments, especially with the Yamaha, which I knew was going back within three hours of testing.

Hope these answers are useful. If there are other questions out there that I might be able to answer, send them on, and I'll do my best. Thanks!
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post #4 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 12:01 PM
 
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Thanks for sharing this info with us it will be helpful for many when upgrading to 4k in the future I think. I have a feeling the Denon technician was just reading basically FAQ help from a Denon customer service program and actually didn't know anything. I highly doubt that the Denon was designed to not upscale from sources that can do it themselves, that makes NO sense.

I would be interested to see what the Denon X4000 does.
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post #5 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 12:34 PM
 
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Thanks for your write up.  How does the TV do if you let the signal pass through to the TV and let the TV do the upscaling?  There might not be a reason to have the receiver upscale if the TV does a good job, that way you can pick a receiver with the audio properties you want and let the video signal pass through.

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Thanks for all of that kptaylor..........I also immediately wondered how the performance of the TV's upscaler worked.....

"To sum up: I'd really like to have 4K passthrough capability, but given that there's virtually native 4K programming at this time (and given that we've just learned that you'll have to connect the Sony 4K media player directly to a Sony 4K TV in order to get it to work), I'm going to stick with the Integra (and Qdeo chip) until Onkyo / Integra produce a unit that does both upscaling and passthrough via this chip, at which time I'll upgrade".

I will not update my Onkyo TX-NR3009 until HDMI 2.0 as it should be fully compatible with 4K which is not the case with these current receivers.
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post #7 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 01:08 PM
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Thank you for the detailed and review and information it happens to very important to me as well. Some issues need a "long" post so thanks. Over the last few weeks I have been trying to get reviews about 4k upscalling/uncoverting (I'm not even sure of which term to use) but usually the reviewer says they don't have a 4k tv yet so that part of the review is not completed.

First question, how does the internal scaler of the tv compare? I watched briefly at a hhgreg of the sony 4k tv and the salesmen showed me spiderman that he claims was a br. Now he also didn't even know there was a hard drive connected to the tv until I asked him to open the cabinet so I could see the source material and I said what is that "HDD labeled black box." I think between the denon techs you mentioned and my experience good luck. Anyway I think I finally switched between the server of native 4k and a blu ray disc player that had clips of soccer and spiderman. The only think is these clips may have been saved on the br player and not a disk for all I know. I need to have them connect bunny ears to it and another br player to see.

Second question. How does the oppo compare to the receiver? I mostly want upscaled br so if the best upscaler chip is in say an LG br player, etc I would want that. However if the br player is as good as the receiver it would be nice to have the reciever to watch sports upcoverted.

Third, integra pq. Did I understand you that br looks as good as 4k movie theatre? If dvd is a 5, and br is a 10 on a 1-10 scale, what do you rate the upconverted br? 12? 20? When I checked out the sony tv I would say it is at least a 15 if not 20 compared to 1080p. But I attributed that to the tv quality as well. So the integra makes 1080i cable etc. look what?

I conncected last years onyko that claims to be 4k upconverting to a seiki 50 inch 4k and I could see only some minimal softening, minimal increase in fine detail, and minimal improvement of loss of grain in a br. The receiver's display said 4k upconverting so I believe it was working.

You mentioned 60hz in 4k, I thought 30hz was the technical limit of hdmi 1.4b, either way fine for movies. I picked up the dispaly for games as well and don't mind low fps

Thanks for work on these 4k upscaling chips!
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post #8 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all of your kind words about the write-up. As I mentioned, you can't know how much I've benefitted from all of your knowledge & comments over the years, and I'm glad some of you are finding this post helpful.

Regarding the performance of the upscaler included in the display itself, I purposefully didn't mention this since we're in the 'receivers' thread, and I didn't want to 'break the rules' of the forum on my first post! But, since you asked, I'll tell you what I know:

My initial thought had been that I'd let display handle all upscaling, just as BobL suggests. I had presumed that the display would 'auto-upscale' any signal it received, but after initial setup, I really couldn't see any significant difference between the test materials I normally use as displayed on, say, a solid 1080p display and those same images on the Sony display.

So, I called Sony's tech support, thinking that there must be a way to 'activate' 4K upscaling on the display. Sony tech support - which *seemed* to know a lot about 4K, happily (best tech support experience I've had during the whole set-up process) - informed me that, indeed, the upscaler in the Sony display is always active and that all non-4K signals sent to the display are auto-upscaled to 4K by the display by default.

If this is true, then my totally unscientific opinion would be that the upscaler included in the Sony display doesn't really do very much at all. I seriously couldn't tell the difference between the image quality of test material with which I'm very familiar and which I've used on countless 1080p displays I've owned over the years and those same images 'passed' at 1080p/24 to the Sony display, where they were purportedly 'auto-upscaled' by the display itself.

My sense is that the tech support folks I spoke to at Sony were wrong and that there's a setting on the display that activates 4K upscaling. But if this is true, I have yet to find where that setting was located. So, if I'm right and upscaling has to be activated on the Sony display, then the truth is I haven't yet been able to test it, as I haven't found the setting.

On the other hand, if Sony is right and the upscaler is always active by default, then I would highly recommend using a different upscaling solution, since, if Sony is correct and all non-4K images sent to the display are upscaled to 4K by default, the improvement in image quality using the upscaling solution included in Sony's display is negligible at best.

By the way, does anybody know if Sony's right about this? Does this display 'upscale' by default, or is there a setting that has to be activated in order for the display to upscale? If there IS a setting that has to be activated in order for the display to begin upscaling, where the heck is it?
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post #9 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 01:59 PM
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I have a bad feeling sony is correct because the upscaler used on my seiki is basically no difference as well. Do you think you will be able to get to my questions above, thanks.
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post #10 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 02:12 PM
 
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If the image fills the screen the upscaling is active.  It might be a simple scaling algorithm like just doubling the horizontal and vertical pixels.  The advantage of a better scaler is it could smooth out some jaggies that happen by just doubling the pixels.  Luckily 2160P is twice the resolution and just doubling should work pretty well for 1080 sources.  Actually real 4K material (4096 x 2160) to 3840x2160 is a lot tougher to handle and some displays just crop the extra pixels and sometimes that is better some scaling algorithms.

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post #11 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Traumadisaster -

First, you're welcome! I'm glad you found some of this information helpful. To answer your questions:

1) If you look just above, you'll see my thoughts on the upscaler included in the display itself. BTW, regarding your experience at HH Gregg, I'd be willing to bet that the Spider-Man image you were shown was *not* a blu-ray. Spider-Man is one of the native 4K films included with Sony's 4K media player, was included in the media server that people who bought the 84" 4K display or 4K Sony projector received, and is very often used to 'demo' this display's performance when using native 4K material. But you're right. Most people selling or supporting this technology don't seem to know a whole lot about it, as evidenced by your experience at HH Gregg and my experience with Denon (I still don't believe that Denon's statements regarding what the receiver will / won't upscale were correct - I think they just couldn't tell me exactly what to force the Denon to upscale all signals appropriately and threw a 'Hail Mary' so they could get on to the next phone call.)

2) The upscaling solution included in the Oppo looked really, really good, but then again, you have to remember that Oppo really pulls out all the stops on their players. I haven't had the chance to test, say, an upscaling LG player with this display, but I *strongly* suspect that the solution included in the Oppo is a much higher quality solution than you'd find in something like an LG BD player. That said, even the Oppo's upscaling solution (whatever Oppo is using) wasn't nearly as good as that of the Qdeo chip, at least in my opinion. I still have to say the Onkyo / Integra Qdeo is the way to go for upscaling across the board, and that'll give you the upscaled sports you want as well.

3) As far as 'ranking' the picture quality of various signal types as upscaled by the Integra - well, that's hard to do, but if I had to try, here's what I'd say:

Let's presume that the best possible image you can get out of a 1080p display running native 1080p/24 content is a '10,' that a truly excellent 4K cinema presentation ranks a '20' in terms picture quality, and that it's not possible to get an image with a picture quality of '20' with anything short of professional equipment.

Under those conditions, here's how I'd rank the various signals I tested as upscaled by the Qdeo chip and displayed on the Sony 4K:

a) Upscaled SD signals from sources like DVD or SD TV signals (480p/30 to 4K): 7-8 (would be a 4-5 otherwise)
b) Upscaled 1080i signals (for example, signals from HD Cable / Satellite Sources): 12-14, depending on the signal strength / quality (would be 6-7 otherwise)
c) Upscaled 1080p/24 signals (for example, from blu ray): at least 16-17, maybe 18 depending on the quality of the transfer
d) Upscaled BD3D signals: an easy 18-18.5 (This display has *the best 3D image* I've ever seen short of IMAX 3D. This is the consensus of everyone who's viewed upscaled 3D on this display. It is simply superior to anything any of us have ever seen done theatrically via, say, RealD 3D, with absolutely ZERO ghosting, NO artifacting, nothing. The 'straight' 3D image on this display is a joy to watch. Upscaled, it's just stupid good.)

By the way, you may be right that the technical limitation of HDMI 1.4b is 4K @ 30 Hz. Please forgive my obvious mistake if that's the case.

Again, hope this is helpful. Thanks for the questions and feedback!
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post #12 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 02:52 PM
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Wow I am shocked at the improvement. I am so thankful for you taking this on...you are way ahead of the curve as no websites I have found have tackled the 4k upscaler chip review. I will now be researching this receiver to buy.
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post #13 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 07:03 PM
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Thanks for the detailed reply, kptaylor1967. smile.gif
Quote:
1. The native resolution / refresh rate for the display is advertised at 3840x2160
Related to the always active upscaler query further down: any input that differs from this will be scaled, up or down.
Quote:
2. With the Qdeo chip, SD sources are upscaled to 3840x2160. HD sources at 1080p/24 are automatically upscaled to 4096x2160
There is no advantage sending a resolution that exceeds the native resolution of the display because the display will scale it back down so there will be two scaling steps.
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2. I could set my HTPC to output 4096x2160, and the Denon / Yamaha would pass this signal as output. However, the results were a 'windowboxed' image. This issue didn't exist for the Integra.
With HTPC there are additional confounding variables like video vs PC colorspace and refresh rates (60.00 vs. 59.94) so these should be known. The windowboxed image indicates the picture is downscaled to a lower resolution than the display's native and re-affirms my point made above.
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3. ...the Denon didn't exhibit the 'shimmering' artifact at all (in my experience, that was unique to the HQV chip), but 480p/60 signals upscaled by the unit or any component attached to it exhibited the judder issue I mentioned. 1080i/60, 1080p/60 & 1080p/24 didn't exhibit this issue at all.
Since SD is 480i60 this wouldn't be a major issue in practice but still no excuse for messing it up.
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3. With regard to colorspace, I'm a little less proficient in that area and can't really answer this question well.
PCs usually output RGB, players often let you choose between different forms of RGB and YCbCr. Receivers don't normally give you any choice. The reason for asking is because some display (and so perhaps same for receivers) perform better when fed with one type of colorspace over another.
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4. But this isn't to say that this is the definitive answer.
Yup this needs further testing but I don't have a 4k player or display.
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5. But I'm not sure what the test patterns might've shown me that would've resolved the 'deal breakers' for the Denon and Yamaha
Not about obvious artefacts that everyone can see immediately but more subtle ones. For a start, any over- or underscan, cropping.
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Originally Posted by kptaylor1967 View Post

That said, even the Oppo's upscaling solution (whatever Oppo is using) wasn't nearly as good as that of the Qdeo chip

The current Oppos use Qdeo also.
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I still have to say the Onkyo / Integra Qdeo is the way to go for upscaling across the board, and that'll give you the upscaled sports you want as well.

Some Onkyo/Integra receivers have the 24p bug (since fixed in the 818) so it remains to be tested if this happens again in the newer models. I don't expect you to be able to test this as I did with the 818, just noting a word of caution.
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Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #14 of 24 Old 05-27-2013, 08:22 PM - Thread Starter
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You're very welcome, Killian! Thanks for these really good points. Obviously, there's lots of additional testing to be done by people more qualified than I am to do it, and I'm excited to read what those folks have to say once more of us have 4K displays and can *really* put these units through their paces in various environments with other pieces of equipment. Just a few clarifications that may or may not be helpful:

1) I'm not sure the display is actually 'downscaling' the 4096x2180 image. Here's why: as you probably already know, the native aspect ratio of the display 1.78: 1. By contrast, native resolution of theatrical 4K is 1:90:1, so to correctly reproduce an image at that aspect ratio, the Sony would have to display films shot in 'flat' (these would normally fill a 1080p display at 16:9) with small black bars at the top & bottom of the screen. This is exactly what the display does.

All of this is to say that despite the 'advertised' maximum resolution of the display, I think it may be possible that the Sony can correctly display sources encoded at 4096x2160. This needs to be tested, and I don't have the equipment to do it. Just saying it looks like it may be a possibility and wouldn't it be great if this turned out to be the case?

2) With regard to colorspace: now that I know exactly what you mean, I can tell you that all of the components in my system, including my HTPC, are set to output YCC 4:4:4, with the HTPC set to force the color range to 'full' (0-255), if that's of any help / interest.

3) I know what you mean about the 24p bug that some previous models of the Onkyo have had. I don't believe the Integra 70.4 suffers from that issue; I've never experienced it with this receiver.

4) I should've done more testing with the Oppo's stand-alone upscaling capability when I had the chance to do that easily. Since the Integra doesn't pass an upscaled signal, the only way to do that now that I've returned the other receives is to connect the Oppo direclty to the display and see what the result is. If any of you would like me to do that, I'll be happy to give it a shot.

Anyway, thanks again for making these great observations / points of clarification!
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post #15 of 24 Old 05-28-2013, 12:04 AM
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The qdeo chip is in not only the oppo, integra 70.4, but also the tx nr626 and 726 as well as many other devices. Since I trust your description of improvement I will start with the cheapest model and see if that works to upscale as well as your experience with the integra. I have to wonder what the difference is in each iteration of this chip or is it the same each year, I would think it is updated similarly to a cpu chip, I have no idea and can't find any details. All I see is pr bullit points of it has qdeo by marvel. Well that's nice but is it the low end i3 or high end i7?.

As I mentioned earlier I viewed 4k upscaling on a onyko low end receiver, I think a 2012 model and it was negligibly improved. So it could be qdeo has only 1 chip and its improved, or there is a big differences in low end vs integra video processing, or the sony tv can realize the improvevment that my cheap seiki can not. But there is no documentation related to details of 4k upscaling beyond, it just has it. I can't find anything on marvels website.
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post #16 of 24 Old 05-28-2013, 01:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kptaylor1967 View Post

1) I'm not sure the display is actually 'downscaling' the 4096x2180 image. Here's why: as you probably already know, the native aspect ratio of the display 1.78: 1. By contrast, native resolution of theatrical 4K is 1:90:1, so to correctly reproduce an image at that aspect ratio, the Sony would have to display films shot in 'flat' (these would normally fill a 1080p display at 16:9) with small black bars at the top & bottom of the screen. This is exactly what the display does.

Since there's no native 4K source yet, are you saying that any HD source (broadcast, BD) that isn't native 1.90:1 would be scaled to 1.90:1 in the receiver?

If an image starting with 4096 horizontal square pixels is fitted onto a display with 3840 pixels without cropping then it has to be shrunk down and the same for the vertical 2160 pixels by the same proportion to 2025 pixels to maintain the AR. I would call that downscaling.
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2) ... all of the components in my system, including my HTPC, are set to output YCC 4:4:4, with the HTPC set to force the color range to 'full' (0-255), if that's of any help / interest.

I don't use HTPC but my understanding is the 0-255 vs 16-255 range only applies to RGB.
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The qdeo chip is in not only the oppo, integra 70.4, but also the tx nr626 and 726 as well as many other devices...I have to wonder what the difference is in each iteration of this chip or is it the same each year...

The Qdeo is also used in the Pioneer BDPs and the top receivers. It is at least the 2nd gen. The first gen was used in an older LG BDP (could be the combo player).
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As I mentioned earlier I viewed 4k upscaling on a onyko low end receiver, I think a 2012 model and it was negligibly improved. So it could be qdeo has only 1 chip and its improved, or there is a big differences in low end vs integra video processing, or the sony tv can realize the improvevment that my cheap seiki can not. But there is no documentation related to details of 4k upscaling beyond, it just has it. I can't find anything on marvels website.

What you see or not see depends also on your source, viewing distance, the level of calibration and how sensitive and critical you are to artefacts. The same chip in different components can have different implementation and custom tweaks. The Pioneer and Oppo players do not have exactly the same HDMI output benchmark. People say the Oppo has a little sharpening. The players tend to have more user options to adjust picture settings than receivers generally. I doubt manufacturers for receivers generally pay that much attention to the video side (the fine tuning): it is a blessing if they don't mess it up in the first place.

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #17 of 24 Old 05-28-2013, 05:55 AM
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I agree it seems avr companies just want to check the box next to 4k and don't put too much effort in, goodness knows the hdmi handshake problems they all have, they probably see video as a curse that they have to deal with
Rather than embrace like I assume the oppo does, obviously.
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post #18 of 24 Old 07-11-2013, 12:53 PM
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First off, I wanted to say thank you. I bought an Onkyo TX-NR5010 and was quite upset to discover that I get a green and black flickering screen when passing through UHD rez from my Oppo 103 to the my XBR-65X900A. As I have been building my new A/V system from the ground up, in stages, I have missed my window to return the Onkyo receiver and now the even the TV. That being said, I was starting to wonder if the Denon you tested would have been the better choice... so I feel a little better now. My only question was, do we really need upscaling from an external device when you have the Sony XBR-65X900A which has its own upscaling... or are you just testing the waters to see if anything was better?

I haven't tested this yet (need another HDMI cable), but I am planning on running the OPPO-103 with split HDMI with just the video going to the TV and the audio going to Onkyo and see how well Oppo upscale signal looks compared to Sony's upscale and Onkyo's.

From my limited experience with using the combination of OPPO without the receiver using upscale and using OPPO at 1080p/24 and Onkyo at upscaling... both images were darker and not as vibrant as when having the OPPO and Onkyo both set to 1080p/24 and letting the TV upscale.

Oppo does use the Qdeo chip as well.. as I said earlier thought I have setup the system yet to easily flip between both out puts: one where the TV HDMI 1 has the direct output and the other where Oppo passes the 1080p signal through to Onkyo and have Onkyo upscale to the TV's HDMI 2.

Thank you again for the great analysis.
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post #19 of 24 Old 12-26-2013, 06:07 PM
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Hi kptaylor1967 - revisiting this thread as I find it the most comprehensive one on connecting 4k up-converting receivers/players to the Sony XBR65X900A ultra HDTV. It is now about 5 months since the last post. I was wondering whether your testing went forward? I am very interested in buying the Oppo Digital BD-103D player (which unfortunately does not have the Qvdeo chip but has the Analog Devices chip)! Oppo is selling it for a $100 more than the BD-103 (which has the Qvdeo chip) - so question, should I go with 103 or 103D? Or do you recommend something else that you have tested?

Let me know (after all the Sony firmware updates) if we are looking at a better handling of 4K upscaling within the TV itself?

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post #20 of 24 Old 03-23-2014, 07:44 AM
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Thank you for such a detailed post! I have been searching for answers on just this subject. In fact, I just posted this questions:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1523861/denon-vs-pioneer-elite-or-other-video-quality

If anyone following this thread can take a moment and review those questions, I would be grateful.

Other questions related to this thread:

Pioneer Elite (all SC's) spec says: Video Scaler: Marvell Qdeo up to 1080p / 24fps
Is this the same as the one you tested?

Denon - I cannot find in any specs what it actually uses for scaling. Can someone point me to that?
Do we know for a fact that the video processing is (or is not) the same in all the current Denon products?

Has any of this changed since the initial post almost a year ago?

Thanks again, this was really enlightening!
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post #21 of 24 Old 03-25-2014, 06:44 AM
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I'm gonna chime in here. So, due to an outstanding warranty from the Geek squad I just swapped out my 52z5100 sony for a xbr55x850a 4k led. I have been messing with the settings on this thing for 4 days now trying to get it "just right". Just yesterday it dawned on me that my Onkyo tx-nr609 does 4k upscaling. So, I have always been of the mindset that the Sony tvs handle the up conversion of SD and 720 hd signals to 1080p better than any external connected device. I leave all signals connected to the receiver add native or pass through. I have a directv hr-24 dvr, xbox 360, and Sony s530 blue ray connected through the Onkyo receiver. Now, with noup scaling from the receiver I definitely notice the picture is very slightly fuzzy when viewed from less than 5 feet while viewing 1080i or less input signal from the sat box. Blue Ray looks pretty good, I would say at least as good as the 52z5100 and probably better and the 360 is pretty much the same as well. So last night I spent about 20 min (I know, not long enough) testing out the 4k upscaling from the Onkyo. First thing I noticed was the edge detail cleaned up significantly. I only tried it with the directv on 720p broadcast and 1080i broadcast. It did seem a little softer but I didn't try changing any of my settings as I needed to relinquish the tv back to the family for the evening. I plan on doing some more experimenting over the next few days and I'll share what I find.

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post #22 of 24 Old 03-25-2014, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kptaylor1967 View Post

2) The Analog Devices chip used by Denon (and I think Marantz) provides fine performance with HD signals, but the units themselves are not very 4K friendly, upscaling doesn't work as described (only selected signals are upscaled at all) and upscaled SD signals look pretty bad due to the 'stuttering' issue.

According to this review: Home Theater HiFi Review of Marantz AV8801, the Marantz AV8801 pre/pro uses three Analog Devices ADV8300 video processing chips to upscale content to 4k.

I own an AV8801 and like the upscaling it does over the upscaling in my 65" 850a. Sony calls their upscaling "X-Reality™ Pro" according to Crutchfield Sony XBR-65x850a details.

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post #23 of 24 Old 04-15-2014, 05:11 PM
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Thanks for this information. 

I am in a similar boat - i have the 65 x900B on order as our current set is failing.

I already refreshed to the Integra DTR 70.4 last year.       Do I also want (need) the OPPO DBP-103D?

As far as simple upscaling of my Directv, are you saying the Integra will do the job?   Other considerations?

I have a 4 year old Sony BD player.

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post #24 of 24 Old 04-30-2014, 06:19 PM
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I'm stuck between the Denon x4000 and onkyo 929 and the video performance for 4k upscaling is the deciding factor, so anyone else with a review or anecdotes, please share.
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