Originally Posted by Dino520
Pardon my ignorance...but I'm gonna ask a real dumb newbie question. I'm beginning to see that upscaling and video processing are two different things. But seemingly they both affect the PQ. Can anyone explain in layman's terms how each affects the PQ?
My interest in the Oppo was based on 3 things.
1) improving the PQ of my SD-DVDs..( I'm told my Toshiba X-A2 is probably superior to the 103 in upscaling, but I have no idea at this point if the Oppo would otherwise improve PQ)
2) Potentially improving the quality of my Comcast HD signal (i.e., picture quality) by sending it through the Oppo.
3) Viewing Blu-ray discs
If someone can clarify these issues..I would REALLY appreciate it! Oh...and my new Samsung PN60E7000 arrives Thursday or Friday.
Not at all a dumb question. Indeed, there are debates and different points of view on these issues on this forum whose members range
from newbies to people with very different forms of knowledge. E.g. I'm a film-maker and know how my films should look, but I have
far less technical knowledge than many others here.
So what follows are my opinions. There are others, and there are no absolutes.
1) In my opinion, the SD-DVD playback on the 103 is very good, but not 'state of the art' as the earlier Oppo models were. That has to do with
using different chips (their old chip maker is no longer in business) and the way the chips are implemented (different players can use the
same chip and achieve different results depending on how the engineers at each company set them up.)
To make things more complex with the 103, there are differences between the HDMI 1 and 2 outlets. When you use the HDMI 1 output, the signal
is going through an extra chip, the QEDO chip, which adds video processing (as opposed to upscaling). It always adds at least some noise
reduction to the image, even when the noise reduction setting is turned to "0" (which has led to complaints from a number of us that the ability
to turn off all processing should always be available.) The NR, or noise reduction can help make rough images look smoother and better, but
it can also cause the loss of some fine detail in shadow areas.
The QEDO chip also seems to add some extra contrast to the image on SD-DVDs, at least to my eyes. It doesn't look bad, but again, it should
be an option, not an automatic.
Things like noise reduction and contrast enhancement are examples of 'processing' which is indeed different from 'upscaling'. 'Processing'
is intentionally altering the image to 'improve' it -- though that can be a controversial and subjective question. Should a disc look as close
as possible to the way it's mastered? Or is it 'OK' to change it to fit your taste? To me it's a grey area affected by how well the original disc
was mastered, and if it was done carefully under the film-makers guidance, or down and dirty by some tech who didn't really care.
'Upscaling' is the chip acting like a computer to 'fill in' the number of lines on the picture, basically using an algorithm so your SD-DVD which
actually only carries 480 lines of information has the spaces between the lines filled in by a chip figuring what would logically be missing
between those lines, and thus outputting 1080 lines of information - the same number as a blu-ray disc.
It will never look quite as good as a well made blu-ray simply because there is only so much information to start with on the SD disc, but a
good upscaler can dramatically close the gap between an SD DVD and a blu-ray of the same film.
Now, on the 103, if you hook up using HDMI 2, you bypass the QEDO chip. That means no unwanted automatic noise reduction, or contrast
enhancement or other 'processing'. But you are still getting the same 'upscaling' whichever output you use - that's a different chip, active on both
To my eye (and some others) HDMI 2 is a more natural, better image for SD-DVD discs (i.e. it's closer to the original master), but you won't have the
option to use the processing power of the QEDO chip on HDMI 1 should you want it (for example) on a bad looking, ill mastered disc.
To make it more confusing, it has been observed by some very technically knowledgeable members that, at the moment, HDMI 2 can create some
color distortions. This does not seem to be the case with all users and all set ups. Oppo claims they are looking into it, and may try to correct it in
a future firmware release.
2) I can't really speak to this since I haven't done it myself, but certainly the consensus seems to be that you can indeed improve your
cable signal by putting it through the 103, although some people with some set ups have struggled with glitches that Oppo has promised
3) This is a very controversial one. The blu-ray image from any good player will be excellent. However, the old bromide that there
is no difference between players seems to be falling by the wayside as tests get more accurate. There has been a raging debate as to
whether the 103 is currently providing the best possible blu-ray image - but it's important to remember you're talking about slight
differences and a lot of picky people (myself included).
Some of us feel that using HDMI 1 is problematic, even with blu-rays. While Oppo says the 'always on' noise reduction should be so
low as to not effect blu-ray playback, there are a number of us who feel that HDMI 1 with sharpness set to "0" produces an ever so slightly
softer picture than it should. The problem has been, upping the sharpness on HDMI 1 just to +1 is a fairly large jump, and can lead to an
image that can look slightly processed or artificially sharp to some of us. Oppo admits there is a decent sized jump between 0 and +1
for sharpness, but claims that is built into the QEDO chip, and can't be made a smaller change.
The other choice is to use HDMI 2 for blu-ray. This seems to eliminate the softness for many (and that makes sense, since it
is no longer going through the 'always on' processing on the QEDo chip, but then you're back to the issue that HDMI 2 may be
mucking with your color a bit at the moment.
Again, especially with blu-rays these are subtle differences to most eyes. You could try all 3 --HDMI 1 at 0 sharpness, and
+1 sharpness and HDMI 2 at 0 sharpness. You may feel there is very little difference, but you may find you prefer one.
Personally, I actually think the blu-ray picture on my old BDP-83 is ever so slightly better than any option on
the 103, but we are talking VERY small differences, and I usually only notice them if I go into an obsessive A/B
comparison mode on discs I know very well.
Now, having blathered through that, far more important than any of this will be getting your new Samsung properly
calibrated. A screen that is not set up right will have a MUCH bigger effect on PQ than any of the issues I've been
raising, so that's really the place to start. Until your set is calibrated to produce as good and 'neutral' a picture
as possible, trying to judge all these other issues is letting the tail wag the dog.
I hope this is helpful, and I hope others will correct any technical matters on which I may have mis-spoken.