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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Folks,


When I started reading about the new Panasonic RP-82 DVD player the raves got me excited. Especially the reports that it was whooping some heavy-duty competitors in higher price ranges.


Now, I own the Panny RP-91 DVD player and love it. However, it seemed the RP-82 actually had promise to outperform it (same video DACs I believe, but a superior de-interlacing chip). It seems I'm not the only one who wished to know if the RP-91 was bested by the RP-82, yet I couldn't find any detailed comparisons on this forum.


So, I brought home an RP-82 (Future Shop has 'em in Toronto). I have a Panasonic plasma, and I'm using Nordost Optix cabling (for what it's worth). This set-up produces one of the most precise DVD pictures I've seen, and has been very revealing of component differences. I ran both DVD players directly in to the component input of my plasma. (My display has a single component input, so I'd just swap the Nordost cables from RP82 to RP91 and back).


Here's what I found, and I'll cut right to the chase:


The RP-82 ain't no RP-91! (With a sentence like that, I know I'm officially in geek-land).


The RP-91 simply had a better overall picture on everything I looked at. It was sharper, *slightly* richer and more realistic in color, more detailed, all of which added up to a more three-dimensional image.


To my surprise, the RP-82 had a slightly soft image. Some might call this "film-like." But it was just softer, smeared compared to the RP-91.

When actors were in long shot, their faces started to look "smudgy." In fact, the loss of detail was apparent on any image, no matter how close-up. Whenever I switched to the RP-91 the focus and detail just snapped into place - like getting your old glasses replaced with a new prescription. No contest. One especially telling shot was in Spider Man. The opening shot of the outdoor concert in times square, before the Goblin shows up.

It's a long shot looking down on a very complex image of giant balloon shapes, buildings, crowds. On the RP-82, the shot looked a little confused, as if the DVD were just an "ok" transfer, with a slightly blurred look overall.

Switch to the RP-91 and wow! Every item in the image looked sharp, not matter how distant. The balloon shapes went from flat looking to round and dimensional. Just this slight adjustment in focus, detail and color depth made the image more like peering down a balcony at real objects - with my eyes able to pick out and focus on any object.


De-interlacing: One of my de-interlacing torture tests is 2001 - brutal white, horizontal space ship outlines, moving every-which-way through the screen throughout the movie - causes fits in bad scalers/de-interlacers.

This is were I thought the RP-82 might show it's superiority, with it's Faroudja chip. Frankly, I couldn't see a difference in performance between the two. The space ships, and other movement torture tests, seemed to move equally well with both players. I tried everything I could throw at it, but the RP-91 sailed through pretty much everything with as much aplomb as the RP-82. Now, I'm sure there must be something in the Faroujda chip that would produce a visibly better result in some tests. But it seems to me that wherever the RP-82 performs better, it doesn't pop up enough to be a factor to convince me I need the RP-82. I mean, I tried my best and could find nothing that convinced me the RP-82 was superior in this regard.


There you go. Just figured I'd share my findings. I assume this RP-82 is representative of it's breed? I don't know, but there is nothing that makes me believe it was a returned unit or defective in any way. Is there some difference in parts quality between the Rp-82 and Rp-91 that accounts for what I'm seeing? Ida know. Anyway, I'm sticking with my RP-91, that's for sure.


Rich H


On a side note, since I bought the Nordost Optix cable, I've actually found that using the S-Video cable out from my RP-91 to my plasma produces a superior over-all video quality (if inferior in de-interlacing). If the RP-91 component signal was better than the RP-82, on my display the S-Video signal STOMPED the RP-82 component signal (for video quality). I swear certain images on my panny/RP-91/Nordost combo looks as good as some of the best HD I've seen. I believe my Panny Plasma just handles S-Video signals particularly well. Plus, Jim Burns posted some technical measurements on the interlaced output of the RP-91, stating "This DVD player is the best I have seen for interlaced Video. " Which perhaps goes some way in explaining why I'm getting such a friggin' awesome picture from the S-Video signal.
 

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From what I've been told DCDi in the Faroudja chipset (the de-interlacer) causes frequency clipping which in turn could cause the image to appear softer. Just what I've been told though :)
 

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Out of curiousity, did you properly calibrate both dvd players using Avia or Video Essetials before testing?


My friend has an RP91, and we both feel I get superior PQ and deinterlacing with the RP82 using progressive output. However, we both feel the RP91 has a better audio section.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Webslinger,


No, I did not use Avia to calibrate. I made sure that both players had the same settings for each DVD (black level was set the same, all user picture settings were set to "0" on both units).


Rich.
 

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A few thoughts:


First, The RP-91 does have essentially reference-quality basic video output, so it's pretty hard to get any improvement. Overall, I think the RP-82 is similarly good, but it's not going to improve on the RP-91 in basic video quality in any obvious or visible way. The best it can do is match it. It's important to realize that there is a hard ceiling on how well a player can do with DVD, and the RP-91 is scraping hard up against it, in the basic video measurements, though not with deinterlacing.


Second, Both of these players reproduce all 540 TVL of resolution, and share the exact same MPEG decoder. The only difference that would explain the results you are seeing is a difference in sharpness. Sharpness is adjustable, both on the display and on these players (though I believe on the RP-82, you really just have to try the different picture modes, and they all have slightly different sharpness settings). It would have been worthwhile to see if increasing the sharpness produced an equivalent or close to equivalent picture.


Thirdly, 2001 is not a good test of deinterlacing at all, when comparing two players that have a working film mode. 2001 is a film, with good cadence and flags. Every progressive DVD player is going to do a good deinterlacing job with this movie (except the Pioneer 434 and 444, which don't do a good job with any material.) If you want to test deinterlacing quality, watch an episode of the X-Files on DVD, or a making-of or behind the scenes documentary, like the supplementary material on the new Lord of the Rings (though any supplement will do). Watch some animation designed for TV, like South Park or the Simpsons. Watch anything unusual. Most big hollywood movies are easy for deinterlacers.


Don
 

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It's likely your t.v. needs to be calibrated independently for both dvd players in order to adequately compare both units (using Avia . . . otherwise, I personally don't feel you're comparing apples to apples), and you might have been using an improper setting in the RP82 player itself.


I think there's probably a good reason why one of Stacey Spears' current favourite DVD Players is the RP82 and not the RP91 (and that reason is deinterlacing quality at the price point of the RP82, I suspect). If you're interested, this was some of the findings from the original RP91 shootout:

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...asonic%20RP-91
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Don,


Okay, I will try the images you suggest. As far as 2001, I used it as one of my references for image/motion quality for over a year, shopping for plasmas and DVD players. That film, of all I've seen, produced the greatest variance of performance between plasmas/DVD players. I watched the degree of "stutter" to the movements of the spaceships vary greatly between set-ups. As well, the image outlines of the spaceships could produce all sorts of artifacts.


The cut from the flying bone to the spaceship falling across the screen has looked awful on some DVD players/or displays, with the outline of the spaceship rippling terribly. Are problems like that not a casualty of poor de-interlacing, or am I mistaken?


(Yes, I understand the basics of de-interlacing, and why the Faroudja should look better with video-based material).


Webslinger,


I'm very familiar with all the user settings of the RP-91, and the RP-82's settings were easy to check. I made sure all user settings were at "0," so I can't see what could have been set incorrectly. Could you give me a suggestion? The images were actually remarkably similar - it certainly looked like the images were going through the same general processor. It was mainly that the RP-82 had a softer picture.

Perhaps the RP-82 needs tweaking of the user settings, such as sharpness, to bring it in line with the RP-91's performance?

I will try calibrating both RP-82 and my display to see if I can increase PQ.


Rich H.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by R Harkness


Perhaps the RP-82 needs tweaking of the user settings, such as sharpness, to bring it in line with the RP-91's performance?
I really feel you need to calibrate your t.v. with Avia or Video Essentials for both dvd players, save the two separate video settings, and then compare. I could use the same video settings on my television for a Denon dvd player, for example, that I use for the RP82--but then the colour, sharpness, black level, contrast, etc., may be completely wrong for the Denon dvd player (I know this shouldn't happen, but the fact remains that I've it seen it happen with my own eyes). Ultimately, this doesn't logically imply the Denon dvd player is in any way inferior to the RP82--just that my video settings on the television were improperly set for ANY other dvd player than the RP82. Also, you would need to compare the progressive output of the RP91 vs the progressive output of the RP82 to notice any significant difference, I suspect. I'm not sure how useful it is to compare component output of an RP82 vs Svideo out on an RP91 (if that is what you're doing, keep in mind, black level may change given the source that you're using).


Now after calibrating your television for each dvd player (using Avia or Video Essentials), respectively, you still find the RP82 produces an inferior image, then I suspect others would be more willing to take your comments to heart (and maybe the RP82 does produce inferior PQ than the RP91, but that hasn't been the case in my personal experience).


I hope this helps explain better what I'm getting at. (Also, you need to be careful with both the RP91 and the RP82 what U1 or U2 settings you're using when watching different types of material--but it seems as though you are already aware of this).
 

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R Harkness, this is a dumb question and please take no offense, but are you sure you've got the RP-82 and not the RP-62? The soft picture you describe sounds like what others have attributed to the RP-62.


That out of the way, is it possible that the RP-91 is adding edge enhancement to the picture? If that is what is producing the sharp picture in the unit, I think most of us would agree that the 82 is better off without it.


The fact that your plasma produces a better picture through S-video than component troubles me. That really should not be the case unless there is something wrong with the way it processes the component input.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Josh Z
The fact that your plasma produces a better picture through S-video than component troubles me. That really should not be the case unless there is something wrong with the way it processes the component input.
Good point!
 

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If a deinterlacer doesn't have a film mode, or doesn't have a very good film mode, then yes, the flying bone/spaceship cut might tell you something interesting. What it tells you, basically, is that the player or display doesn't really have a working film mode, because if it can't deinterlace 2001 correctly, it can't deinterlace *anything* worthwhile.


There are still TVs that don't have a film mode, or their film mode is turned off by default, or get confused by the stupidest things. I don't know of any cadence-based progressive DVD player that's going to get tripped up by that scene, though if it's a chapter stop, most flag-based players are going to die. Neither of these players is flag-based, so that scene's not going to tell you much.


If I had to evaluate deinterlacing quality with one disc, it would be the opening of the making-of documentary on the Big Lebowski. It has in 30 seconds about 15 cuts, 11 of which are hard for cadence-based and flag-based deinterlacers to handle. It's switching back and forth between film and video flags (not very well, as it turns out), and the cadence is constantly glitching because of the edits. And it's not an unusual piece of material. I found it after looking at about 3 discs. I could find another one easily. The documentary on Jurassic Park is similarly tough, switching back and forth quickly between film clips and video.


Of course, the montage of images on Video Essentials is similarly tough, and yet we've seen many reviewers say it "looked good" on players that we know comb constantly on it (because we tested the player ourselves). So what do we know? :)


Don
 

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The RP91 combs frequently. Otherwise, it's a superb player. But, the combing was bad enough for me to replace it with the RP82. The RP82 produces solid images & smooths jaggies better than the RP91. I sometimes do miss the RP91's scaling feature though.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Josh Z
That out of the way, is it possible that the RP-91 is adding edge enhancement to the picture? If that is what is producing the sharp picture in the unit, I think most of us would agree that the 82 is better off without it.
I own the RP-91 and I've noticed some presets add edge enhancement. When I bought an LCD porjector it was very visible in the "Normal" setting which I had been using with my RPTV. Now I use the "User" setting and turned off edge enchancement. Another RP-91 annoyance, it is SLOW.
 

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Rich,


"......On a side note, since I bought the Nordost Optix cable, I've actually found that using the S-Video cable out from my RP-91 to my plasma produces a superior over-all video quality (if inferior in de-interlacing)....."


Ummmmmm........... this does not "seem right". Granted that with your system set up as you had it at the time you may have actually perceived that S-Video was superior to component - but based on video principles this is "impossible" in an ideally performing and set up video system. It may have something to do with plasmas not being able to match CRT's on black level delineation and contrast ratio yet, so perhaps on plasmas component does not demonstrate it's edge over S-Video (I'm not sure how plasma's shortcomings will manifest themselves in a Y/C versus Y/Pr/Pb shootout.)


I have both Nordost Super Optix S-Video and Nordost Super Optix component cables in my CRT-based HT system, but I have never tried the Nordost S-Video on my Pio Elite/Denon 3800 combination yet because the component signal path video comes off as so stunning - perhaps I should run the experiment though to be sure in my particular situation. (I use the Nordost S-Video cables for SD SAT, S-VHS, and VHS.)


Also, "setting both players at zero" is not the way to run shootouts .... as others above have alluded to. Adjusting both players to "their particular optimum" in your system is the proper way to judge between two DVD players. Actually the ultimate comparsion methodolgy is to compare both players while routing them into the display simultaneously on two different inputs and playing the same DVD on both players at the same time. Set your display on A/B split screen with one player's images on the left and the other's on the right. (For CRT, compare the images only near the center to eliminate beam differences - not necessary for plasma displays.)


The above is exactly how/why I chose Nordost cables over another good brand.


All other things being equal, DVD players are getting so good that A/B split screen is the only way to do it "right" between closely competing players.


"All things being equal" is the key. Decoders and deinterlacers is not the only thing that must be equal in a non-SDI or non-DVI DVD player. Are the analog portions of the video channels after the deinterlacers designed and implemented equally well in the RP82 and RP91 - probably not? For video perfection this analog video portion of a DVD player must also be top notch.


Fun isn't it! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks everyone.


Just to be clear, I'm not trying to put forth anything definitive about these two DVD players. I simply wanted to report my experience with the two units. The comments and information you've provided are helpful and educational.


Webslinger,


In my "shoot-out" I used the progressive scan output of both RP-82 and RP-91. I only switched the RP-91 to S-Video at the very end of the night.

Both were set to U1, with all settings "flat." I'll try calibrating to each DVD player.


Josh Z,


Yup, it's the RP-82. I appreciate your concern for my sanity :)

Regarding edge enhancement, I had the RP-91 sharpness at "0." I didn't notice edge enhancement per se. Perhaps someone who has calibrated with the RP-91 can comment - does it add edge enhancement at 0 user setting?


Brajesh,


I rarely see the RP-91 comb. Certainly never to distraction. Perhaps it's because I watch almost exclusively film-based DVDs (?).


Ron Alcasid,


Yup, the RP-91 takes it's time. How to use RP-91 to do get house hold chores done: Turn on RP-91, load dirty laundry in clothes washer, return just in time to see "Welcome to DVD World." Load DVD and Press play, leave, return later with dry laundry in hand, as menu finally arrives on screen.


pnichols,


'Tis a head scratcher, this S-Video superiority in my system. The S-Video quality only really caught my eye when I first borrowed a Nordost Optix S-Video cable first. I was amazed to see my S-Video quality then surpass my component signal quality. Next I acquired Nordost Component cables. They upped the quality of my component signal a bit - it was damn great already - but not quite as dramatically as the S-Video signal.

I'm very familiar with how the Panasonic plasma looks in countless set-ups.

There's definitely nothing wrong with the progessive component signal - I get a better component signal than I've seen in any other Panny set-up.

Yet, the S-Video signal is still better: a little lower in picture/color noise, a little clearer, more precise. Take an actor's face: The component signal looks like a fantastic TV or film image. Switch to the S-Video image, and his skin becomes "solid," sculptural, three-dimensional. It looks like you're seeing a real person's face, real skin, vs. pixels approximating skin.

And the depth. Component is like looking at an object with one eye closed - all the detail is there, it's sharp, rich etc. But switch to S-Video and this realistic depth just happens - skies look "deep," clouds far away, peoples noses protrude forward...you get the idea.


I wish I had the explanation. Someone has suggested that the Panny just has a particuarly good filter for S-Video. I don't know, but I have not seen an image like this on a plasma this size (42 - 43" range), nor on any CRT for that matter.


--- I will try and do another shoot-out tonight and I'll report back.


Thanks all.


Rich H.
 

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Rich,


I may have missed it ......... do you have a processor in between your player and the plasma that you can use for deinterlacing? If not, using S-Video out of your DVD player of course means you can't have the progressive interlacing done in your player, which is the main reason for using p-scan DVD players. You especially want to do p-scan in the player when it's using a world-class deinterlacing chip like the FLI2200 or Si504. Even if your display has one of these two chips in it, you still (usually but not always) want to move the deinterlacing step back to right after digital decoding in the player. I guess I'm confused as to your exact setup.


BTW, a super-tweak trick you give up by using S-Video instead of component is the capability to precisely set end-to-end color hue in your system via an infinitely adjustable attenuator plugged onto the back of your player in the Pr line of the component cable . The Nordost component cable is especially good for this upgrade because it has nice long strand tails protruding out of it's 3-strand jacket cover.
 

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I use to have the RP-91 and when I switched to the RP-82 I recalibrated with S&V and the settings were different for each player. At first I thought that the RP-91 was better but after calibration, I no longer felt that way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
pnichols,


No I have no processor between DVD player and plasma. It's a direct connection


Yes, I understand what I'm giving up when I use the S-Video. I do suffer more picture artifacts, de-interlacing etc. with the S-Video signal. BUT, on every other count the picture is decidedly more realistic than the component signal (man, I wish someone could see this), so I often stick with the S-Video for DVDs.


(Side note: I tried the S-Video out of the RP-82 as well, and it did have some of the quality of the RP-91 S-Video signal, but was a tiny bit softer and displayed a bit more digital smudginess).


As far as the super tweak for component signals you mentioned, I'm not sure at all what you're describing. What does that tweak do?


Thanks,


Rich H.
 

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I still feel the problem is that Mr. Harkness is not properly calibrating his television using industry standard calibrations (this is paramount) that are found on Avia or Video Essentials for each separate dvd player and for each respective input (S-video and composite).

When people look at a side by side comparison of s-video and composite inputs (on a split screen), people often complain that composite looks "duller". Often, the problem is they haven't calibrated their television's video settings properly for each respective input. Really using Avia or getting your television professionally calibrated for each input and for the dvd player in question is essential for any comparison.
 
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