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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:



http://madvr.com/avsforum/oppoTestResults.txt



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.)
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 .

https://dci-forum.com/d-cinema-hi-end-cinema-home/11/barco-thor-4k-6p-residential-laser-projector-best-world/1710/325

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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.
That's why I prefer to compare things myself: not to get fooled. And yes: this is all consistent with what I have seen myself. Thanks for that statement !
 

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That's why I prefer to compare things myself: not to get fooled. And yes: this is all consistent with what I have seen myself. Thanks for that statement !
Yep, that’s been my conclusion too and the reason why I’ve been advising an Oppo 203 (or clone as long as it’s a V2 or V3 as V1 was not as good) all along for best results with Envy (or any other VP). Looking forward to testing the next f/w as it might improve things even further.

I had not done the scientific tests that madshi has done, but it’s good to know that my eyes are still trustworthy :)

It also shows how important having a source direct mode is when using an external VP. For this reason, the Shield 2019 (Pro for IP/IR integration using FLIRC) remains my favorite streaming source at this stage, especially for Netflix (auto native refresh rate, auto native resolution when using the correct app / settings).
 

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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:

http://madvr.com/avsforum/oppoTestResults.txt
A huge thank you from me for those detailed results! May I ask you how you obtained these results? The only way I know to determine chroma upsampling are the Spears and Munsil discs. I'd really love to test playback devices like this myself, that's why I ask.
 

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Madshi suggested to me that I keep posting so here goes…

You know, the source device seems to be more important every day for Envy success.

I would have hoped Envy would have been beyond all that. But I understand. It doesn’t have the discreet input control of a PC and possibly won’t be able to amend for future source connectivity in it’s current state. Isn’t that supposed to be it’s magic? I’m torn at the moment. Is it just me? I want this product to succeed. Maybe I’m using wrong thinking. Sorry for the negative thoughts.

Correct me please if anyone can. I wish you NDA folks could reach out a little. :)
Choice of source device has always been and will always be important for the best image quality. But its not like the Envy will degrade the image if your source device is not perfect, i'm not sure what you are thinking? I'm sure it will do the magic the best it can to what the source provides. For streaming that is starting to be the major thing, there is no better way than a CE source device and an external video processor.
 

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A huge thank you from me for those detailed results! May I ask you how you obtained these results? The only way I know to determine chroma upsampling are the Spears and Munsil discs. I'd really love to test playback devices like this myself, that's why I ask.
i can't say for sure.

on the PC he has madVR which can access the source image as it is giving him full access to the value of each pixel he now has the envy too which can capture the image of every source device giving him the same type of information but they are altered now.

the rest is pixel image comparison (just the first example i found https://www.diffchecker.com/image-diff) and adjudicated guess by looking at a chroma channel directly. it's very easy for an advanced user to see how a common scaler like bilinear or NN looks like with NN it can even be proof easily if it is used and easily auto detected.
 

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My thoughts are centered around the source device. If not the perfect non-intrusive and heaven forbid, algo defeating *device* (such as upscaling already applied) it would seem to be a less than perfect match for Envy. Am I wrong? Wouldn’t Envy need a “source direct” virgin RGB signal (4:2:0) to do it’s thing properly?
It doesn´t "need" a perfect source device, but it would benefit if it has - just like any other video processor as well (as it has been already stated multiple times).
Some comments sound like that the Envy will all of sudden produce garbage when not fed by a perfect source, but of course that´s not the case. It will still get the most out of the source than possible.
 

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I'm glad I have an Oppo 203. ;) :)
Yep, that’s been my conclusion too and the reason why I’ve been advising an Oppo 203 (or clone as long as it’s a V2 or V3 as V1 was not as good) all along for best results with Envy (or any other VP). Looking forward to testing the next f/w as it might improve things even further.
Yep, the Oppo is definitely a good one.

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 .
That's why I prefer to compare things myself: not to get fooled. And yes: this is all consistent with what I have seen myself. Thanks for that statement !
:D

I would have hoped Envy would have been beyond all that. But I understand. It doesn’t have the discreet input control of a PC and possibly won’t be able to amend for future source connectivity in it’s current state. Isn’t that supposed to be it’s magic?
Would you expect a projector to magically fix a bad Blu-Ray which has waxy faces due to heavy DNR? Or would you expect an AVR to magically fix a distorted audio channel coming from either source device or from the Blu-Ray? I think you're being unreasonable by expecting Envy to magically auto-detect and fix any problems a source device could possibly introduce.

My thoughts are centered around the source device. If not the perfect non-intrusive and heaven forbid, algo defeating *device* (such as upscaling already applied) it would seem to be a less than perfect match for Envy. Am I wrong? Wouldn’t Envy need a “source direct” virgin RGB signal (4:2:0) to do it’s thing properly?
Let me ask you a question: Do you buy your AVR or projector blindly? Do you just pick a cheap projector, without properly investigating it's benefits and problems before buying it? Or do you read reviews, user experiences etc, before you buy a projector?

So if you do these things when buying a projector, why would you not do the same thing when buying a source device?

It's obvious that *any* device in your setup needs to work great in order for you to get great results in the end. Why would you expect the source device to be an exception to this?

Envy has the same "problems" as any device in your setup, including your projector: If you play a bad Blu-Ray, your projector can't fix that. If your AVR creates distorted audio your speakers can't fix that. If your source device screws up the pixels, Envy can't fix that (although it tries to as hard as possible). It's your reponsibility to pick good devices - including the source device.

The good news is that good source devices do exist. The Oppo is one of those, hopefully there are more. Yes, the Oppo isn't perfect. But honestly, it's pretty good and I doubt you would be able to see the difference between the Oppo and an absolutely perfect source device, when using the Envy. If you disagree, then please see my previous post for the challenge I suggested there.

And has Envy been implemented with all (most) of the HTPC algos?
It has access to all the same algos. Not all of them may be currently available through the menu, though, but the ones I consider worthwhile are (or will be shortly).

Choice of source device has always been and will always be important for the best image quality. But its not like the Envy will degrade the image if your source device is not perfect, i'm not sure what you are thinking? I'm sure it will do the magic the best it can to what the source provides. For streaming that is starting to be the major thing, there is no better way than a CE source device and an external video processor.
It doesn´t "need" perfect source device, but it would benefit if it has - just like any other video processor as well (as it has been already stated multiple times).
Some comments sound like that the Envy will all of sudden produce garbage when not fed by a perfect source, but of course that´s not the case. It will still get the most out of the source than possible.
Exactly!

A huge thank you from me for those detailed results! May I ask you how you obtained these results? The only way I know to determine chroma upsampling are the Spears and Munsil discs. I'd really love to test playback devices like this myself, that's why I ask.
Well, you could try creating special test videos to test for some of these things. E.g. if you create a completely gray luma channel and then add a chroma channel which is mostly gray, but has a 1 pixel wide red rectangle in it (only in the chroma channel, not in the luma channel!), you can already with your naked eye figure out some good information about what the source device does with the chroma channel. However, in order to fully judge whether e.g. the luma channel is perfectly lossless or not, you actually need direct access to the raw pixel data which such a CE source device outputs, which is hard to achieve.
 

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Just a quick correction: I had missed an option in the Refresh Rate third-party app on the Shield TV 2019. It not only allows to switch to the correct refresh rate, it can also select the native resolution. :)
(I haven't found the comparison thread quickly hence this post is here.)
It turned out for me that you *can manually* force a certain refresh rate @ a given resolution (e.g. [email protected]) with Fire TV as well:
 

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(I haven't found the comparison thread quickly hence this post is here.)
It turned out for me that you *can manually* force a certain refresh rate @ a given resolution (e.g. [email protected]) with Fire TV as well:
https://youtu.be/WF2g8s7AmQ8
Sure, if you want to manually switch to the correct refresh rate and native resolution everytime you play something, that's an option, but that's not the level of integration I expect to have in a system with Envy. I want the source to detect the content native refresh rate and resolution and switch to it automatically in order to get the best possible picture quality from Envy (or any external VP with better upscaling than the source / display).

With Netflix, the Shield 2019 is the only streaming box with Dolby Atmos support I know of that does it.

With Amazon Prime, the Cube 2nd Gen is a better option regarding refresh rate, but it has no automatic source direct mode for resolution. The FireTV doesn't support Atmos reliably (and has no Dolby Vision support either for those that care about that), so that's not even an option in my book. I've only tested recent streamers with Dolby Atmos support (and Dolby Vision for testing).

Anyway, this is off topic here, google is your friend (Apple TV 4K vs Amazon FireTV Cube gen2 vs nVidia Shield 2019 vs Roku Ultra 2019) if you'd like to discuss this further :)

Edit: I looked at the video and that won’t help even those ready to adjust refresh rate manually because it doesn’t make a difference between 23.976 content and 24.00 content. The ATV forces both to 23.976, which causes issues with all recent Netflix content (24.00), and the FireTV would do the same, forcing both to either 23p or 24p.
 

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... I think you're being unreasonable by expecting Envy to magically auto-detect and fix any problems a source device could possibly introduce....
My *expectations* of Envy were obviously wrong. I have never owned a VP, such as Lumagen. Can only compare in my mind to madVR HTPC.

The unknown to me I was trying to resolve was “does Envy produce a comparable PQ with the same available functions as madVR HTPC?” So you are saying with the *right* source device it does. That sounds great. I’m sold! That’s all I wanted to hear. There has been so much dis-information lately. With all the drama, I understand your concern and frustration.

Not trying to bash Envy one bit. I’m just in the dark as to what is going on with the beta testing? Sorry, if I sounded obtuse. But I’m not one of the lucky beta testers, so I ask a lot of uninformed questions. :)
 

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Madshi suggested to me that I keep posting so here goes…

You know, the source device seems to be more important every day for Envy success.

I would have hoped Envy would have been beyond all that. But I understand. It doesn’t have the discreet input control of a PC and possibly won’t be able to amend for future source connectivity in it’s current state. Isn’t that supposed to be it’s magic? I’m torn at the moment. Is it just me? I want this product to succeed. Maybe I’m using wrong thinking. Sorry for the negative thoughts.

Correct me please if anyone can. I wish you NDA folks could reach out a little. :)
The goal of the ENVY is to improve your existing sources. It is not to turn your roku into an HTPC. People buying the ENVY are not the thousands of madVR HTPC users but instead people that have Roku, apple tv, bluray players etc. They can then hook these devices up to the ENVY and run madVR like processing from those sources. So it's best not to get too caught up on the quality of the HTPC source vs those others. ENVY users aren't going to be comparing an HTPC to their Apple TV + ENVY because if they already have an HTPC they probably aren't buying an ENVY in the first place. Presumably many people are already using those sources and are generally happy with them. The ENVY will only improve upon them.
 

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(I haven't found the comparison thread quickly hence this post is here.)
It turned out for me that you *can manually* force a certain refresh rate @ a given resolution (e.g. [email protected]) with Fire TV as well:
https://youtu.be/WF2g8s7AmQ8
I could never get this to work. I would love to be pointed in the right direction of another thread on how to set auto-refresh rate with shield and that app. I have had no success.
 

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Here is my two cents regarding Envy vs Madvr HTPC. I think the Envy should be compared to Video Processor/s that have an HDMI input for external sources not an HTPC which is a different animal entirely. This goes back at least 20 years when an HTPC beat out the Faroudja 5000. Nothing really new here. For those that have external sources, it comes down to just two Video Processors the Lumagen and the Envy.
 

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I could never get this to work. I would love to be pointed in the right direction of another thread on how to set auto-refresh rate with shield and that app. I have had no success.
Same here. I would love to get that feature working as well on my Shield TV 2019

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Here's the reality of the situation: A good HTPC is extremely difficult (and typically expensive) to build, to configure, and to operate. Having to rip any physical discs you wish to watch is a tremendous inconvenience, and the HTPC version of MadVR can't be used on streaming sources, which is where the home theater market is rapidly moving.

In my experience, the type of person who would go to that much trouble is heavily invested emotionally in believing that they did so for a good reason, because an HTPC is the one and only perfect way to watch a movie and anything else is unwatchable garbage.

See also: PC gamers vs. console gamers. It's the same thing.

I get it. Really, I do. I'm the same way about many of my passions. It's human nature. Nevertheless, realistically, the difference in performance is going to be marginal to non-existent for most users, and the convenience of a good CE device has genuine benefits that shouldn't be dismissed, even if you have to trade off 0.001% in theoretical image quality.
 

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The goal of the ENVY is to improve your existing sources. It is not to turn your roku into an HTPC. People buying the ENVY are not the thousands of madVR HTPC users but instead people that have Roku, apple tv, bluray players etc. They can then hook these devices up to the ENVY and run madVR like processing from those sources. So it's best not to get too caught up on the quality of the HTPC source vs those others. ENVY users aren't going to be comparing an HTPC to their Apple TV + ENVY because if they already have an HTPC they probably aren't buying an ENVY in the first place. Presumably many people are already using those sources and are generally happy with them. The ENVY will only improve upon them.
Thanks, Mark. I think I have seen that much. My personal approach to Envy has been based on quality. The only platform I have to compare to mindfully is HTPC. But the intended Envy customer maybe doesn’t share my viewpoint and experience. If connectivity to a madVR *like* experience is number one they should be good to go. I do understand that. But, I’m way to picky for that solution.

I was hoping for Envy to open my available connectivity *madVR HTPC quality wise* to other devices of my choosing. No matter what device I chose. Madshi has pointed out that is not the case. Device selection seems to be paramount. My expectations were way over the top.

Those that want to embrace this solution should be more than capable of supplying the best source device(s). I believe Envy should be good to go!

I will continue to wait for final release (to make sure I got it right). :)
 

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What is the latest status on the NDA policy ? Is an Envy buyer who wants to buy today still under NDA ?

I remember some info by Madshi about NDA and also a plan how to proceed but it's a while back. An update in this respect would be much appreciated, thanks.
 
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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:

http://madvr.com/avsforum/oppoTestResults.txt

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.
The Chroma blurring has been a known postprocessing 'feature' of Mediatek chipsets for ages. That's exactly the reason why I prefer Panasonic players since Oppo went the Mediatek route.
 
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