Great post. Imagine having to beg people to be fair and honest while under NDA? I always thought NDA meant you can't really say much of anything but certainly not make statements that clearly are agenda driven in a negative way because of professional relationships. Standing up to bullies is never wrong. Here is the website from W. Mayer if interested for observations and actual comparison shots from someone without an agenda. For anyone who thinks I have my own agenda, I do. To make sure every company gets a fair shake. I can't afford an Envy not even at a quarter of the price. But it doesn't mean people shouldn't get to form their own opinions about the device .After taking a break from this thread, due to all the mindless Envy bashing, I'm back with some actual technical information, for a change. So here goes:
I've taken the time to carefully analyze what an Oppo UHD Blu-Ray player does exactly, when being switched to "Source Direct" mode. For those of you interested in the very detailed test results, you can find them here:
To sum up the test results quickly:
1) The luma channel is always absolutely perfect (with a minor exception mentioned in the detailed report).
2) The chroma channel is always slightly blurred, but otherwise ok.
Which means that when playing either a 1080p SDR Blu-Ray or an UHD HDR Blu-Ray through a madVR HTPC, and comparing that to a properly configured "Oppo -> Envy" combo, the image quality should be very close. Actually, the quality of the luma channel should be exactly the same (provided both Envy and madVR HTPC are configured to use the same algos). There will be minor differences in the chroma channel, but in most movie scenes that's usually next to invisible.
Generally, as I've said before, the madVR HTPC has the technical advantage of being able to grab the decoded frames directly from the decoder, without anybody interfering. However, the above test results prove that using a good "CE source device -> Envy" combo can already achieve nearly the same quality today, hopefully soon 100% the same quality once we've worked with selected CE source device manufacturers to improve their source devices.
Please don't let anyone fool you into believing that the Envy *by itself* would lose to a madVR HTPC in quality. The Envy has the exact same processing and rendering and output algorithms as the madVR HTPC. The key difference is in the source. So it's the combo of a "CE source device -> Envy" (not the Envy by itself!) which may lose to a madVR HTPC. And if such a combo does happen to lose, then the jury is still out on whether it's the fault of the source device or Envy's fault. So claiming that the Envy itself would by design lose to a madVR HTPC, without even mentioning the CE source device, is very misleading. If anybody wants to claim that the combo of a specific "CE source device -> Envy" combo loses to a madVR HTPC, then please be my guest, but then please also state which source device you're testing with, and please don't put all the blame on the Envy. Doing so would be like playing a soft Blu-Ray on a projector and then blaming the projector for being soft, without even mentioning which Blu-Ray you tested with.
Of course it's possible that the Envy firmware might still have some bugs which in some situations could result in a suboptimal algorithm configuration to be selected. For example, I've recently optimized the way Envy applies sharpening, which was not optimal before. Technically/scientifically, though, when using a perfect CE source device (and the Oppo isn't far from that), there's no reason why Envy would have to lose to a madVR HTPC in image quality.
I'd like to suggest a CHALLENGE to anyone doubting Envy's image quality, compared to a madVR HTPC: Please pick any movie you like, with your preferred madVR HTPC settings, and then make a digital screenshot (not a photo). Then please upload your screenshot, link to it here, and provide me with the movie title and time code, plus with your madVR "settings.bin" file (which contains all your madVR settings), and I'll create a comparison screenshot with the Envy, using the Oppo player as the source device. That way we can actually scientifically verify if Envy looks the same as a madVR HTPC or not. If you're not willing to accept the challenge, then please stop claiming that the Envy loses to a madVR HTPC. Hope that sounds fair to everyone?
FYI, the next Envy firmware will auto-detect some of the chroma processing the Oppo does, and will "undo" it, to get as near to the original chroma channel as possible. Hopefully in the future we'll manage to find some CE source devices with perfectly lossless output quality for both luma and chroma channels. We'll see. Maybe such devices already exist today, I'm not sure. So far I've only tested the Oppo (because it's a known good source device). If I find more good source devices, I'll let you guys know, but I will probably not report "bad" devices, in order to not destroy our chances of working with such manufacturers in the future. Please for now don't ask me to test your other favorite source devices because it takes time I don't have atm. I've not automated the testing procedure yet. I will do that at some point in the future.
(Btw, in case you're interested, W.Mayer has posted some interesting screenshots in his Barco Thor thread in another forum. Can't post a link, but it's easy enough to find.)
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