HTPC is very, very good and is quite close to "Faroudja" quality on film. It is still not there on video. I love my HTPC and the performance that it offers for a fraction of the cast but it's not a Faroudja 5000. Ease of use? Not even close. The Faroudja wins hands down for ease of use. Still, for those that want very high quality on a beer budget the HTPC is the current champ.
How much is a Faroudja 5000 ?? How much is a HTPC ??
I think a HTPC comes in at 5 - 10 % of the cost... if it was as easy and as good then why would anyone buy a Faroudja at all...
After tweaking and with a little work is it 80% as good ?? Yes.. 90% ?? probably ?? The better systems will be getting up into that last 5%.. And then if the display medium is not the best out there then you may not even notice...
Originally posted by bluhorizan: Hi: Is is now possible to build a state of the art home theater pc system that is user friendly and can out perform the Faroudja 5000? If so, how can this be accomplished?
Palo Alto, CA
I own both a Faroudja 3000 (same exact processor as the 5000 except for HDTV) and a state-of-the-art HTPC. I have said this many times on the forum. HTPC is not as rich looking as a Faroudja, but it does offer slightly more detail and will better limit edge enhancement issues that come out of most dvd players. To many people that have the advantage I do in being able to compare both formats, the HTPC picture looks flatter with less vibrancy in the color palette. This is because Faroudja trades off the slight detail which is found at the top of the frequency for a more robust enhancement of the lower end frequency. On the other hand, an HTPC will register no rolloff at 6.75 which menas more detail, but it's very hard to see and with no enhancement added to the lower frequency, the picture looks duller than what the Faroudja produces. Ease of operation is a no brainer. The Windows environment is quirky even in the best of conditions while the Faroudja runs seamlessly all the time.
If I have understood you properly, you are saying that Faroudja produces a "more pleasing" image because it does not process all frequencies in a linear way? Isn't this similar to leaving the Loudness button on in an audio preamp? In any case from your statement, and that of other Faroudja users in the forum, these otherwise very well designed and built scalers might be putting a "prettier picture" as a higher priority than the "most faithful" picture according to the source signal.
I will only speak for myself here, but if my source outputs a lousy picture I would rather scale that lousy picture to the identical, and seek any improvements by addressing the quality issue at the source. One reason for this (among a multitude) is that whatever processing will seem to "improve" a given signal, will often do so to the detriment of another signal. A video processor which respects the original meticulously will at least not risk (in the same proportions) messing up a top notch input signal the day it gets the proper feed.
While utterly committed to HTPC scaling for the time being, it is not due to any Techno bent, but because there is really no true alternative in the same price bracket. I'd gladly fork out more cash for the deinterlacing of a Faroudja NR (1/5th price of the others) but only if it didn't "dope" the signal by enhancing it arbitrarily according to the esthetic preferences of a given design team for increased color saturation. Just like with film, I'll go with ektachrome any day over kodacolor, or should I just say colors which reflect filmed reality and not processing which produces a world of fiction rather than transfers reality.
Now if only HTPCs can get deinterlacing close to that of the DCDI circuit in the Faroudjas and proper drivers for the Radeon, then this thread topic will become self-evident!
Mike, what graphics card are you using in your HTPC?
I totally agree about the lack of color depth and vibrancy from a Geforce card but I'm stunned by the improvement, right out of the box, when I switched to a Radeon DDR card. I've tried most of the affordable scalers and the Radeon equipped HTPC beats them all @ 1280x720 for image quality.
I respect your striving for realism/accurate reproduction. However, I'd like to offer a couple alternate views:
1) Years ago, the audio world thought a flat frequency response at the speaker was the "right" thing. Turns out that has very little to do with what hits your ears, let alone how pleasing or realistic it sounds. And loudness really is a useful concept and is based on (usually) real data about how sound is processed by the human system.
2) In the world of mass market video, "reality" isn't what sells. I'm fully aware that Foroudja isn't mass-market, but that doesn't mean that they haven't found a "look" that is more pleasing to the bulk of their customers than "reality".
3) There are so many steps between the actors and what you see that reality is an elusive goal at best.
Certainly, throwing away good information with artificial rolloffs doesn't seem like a good strategy. However, producing a pleasing picture in a user friendly package is worth sacrificing some reality to a lot of people.
Would you mind sharing with us what your "state of the art" HTPC consists of? As Rob mentioned the Radeon sets a new benchmark for image quality. I recently had an opportunity to compare the Radeon and a Faroudja 3k over at Guy Kuo's on his extremely well calibrated NEC 135LC. He was nice enough to help me calibrate the Radeon on his oscillioscope. The Radeon equipped HTPC no longer looks flatter or has less color vibrancy when compared to the Faroudja 3k.
On darker scenes we were able to get a more pleasing image from the Radeon by using its gamma adjustment. The dark opening scenes of Gladiator are a great example. Detail and color were visible on the Radeon that were obscured on the Faroudja.
While I was there Stacey Spears showed up too. Considering it's price I was surprised at some shortcomings of the Faroudja he showed me. On the scope it has significant high frequency rolloff while the Radeon exhibited high freq. peaking. There were also y/c timing errors on the Faroudja due to some kind of internal RGB to component conversion.
There's still no contest on video sourced material where the Faroudja stomps the HTPC.
I had another HT enthusiast over a couple weeks ago and he has a similar G15 setup as I do, except I have a GeForce based HTPC.
He said that he was surprised at how good the HTPC picture quality was, and that it was "pretty close" to the quality that he was getting with his DVP 5000. I'm not too concerned about the scaling quality of video sourced material as 90% of what I watch is movies on DVD and HDTV.
I'm getting a Radeon card this week, and I'll see if that offers a picture improvement, but I'm already very pleased with the picture quality that I'm getting with my HTPC today, for $20K+ less than a DVP 5000.
As with the comparison of high-end CRT FPTVs with D-ILAs, sometimes getting 90% of the quality is close enough when the other factors are taken into consideration (cost, flexibility).
My statements were in no way meant to be a line of conduct for others to follow, only a personal preference which produces fine results in a tweakers quest to audiovisual improvements. I'm not judging what is right for others.
I was only remarking that when I modify settings in attempts to obtain improvements of visual parameters, the impression of realism or for want of a better term "immersion" in the picture can be either hightened or reduced, the impression of the virtuosity of acting may seem to be better or worse in a given scene, and one could contend that we are coming closer or becoming further removed from what is noteworthy in a given performance. My guiding light is whether it feels more real, or better acted. Isolated parameters are often misleading when operating mods, as certain visual aspects of a specific image may seem far better but the opposite may well be true for another scene or with other material. In my humble experience, only increasing the impression of realism works consistently regardless of what movie is projected.
This is also why on principle I would not knowingly integrate into the signal path anything which I know purposely skews the signals' integrity in a non linear manner, by boosting one parameter or another. This can go far, as producing artifacts such as the edge enhancement found in a number of DVD transfers which have many HT enthusiasts up in arms.
I understand your point that this is in response to a deformation of taste in mass markets, but it won't be doing much to bring improvements in the market's expectations, as it takes cutting down on the ketchup to develop a palet for more subtle flavors.
Hoping I'm not offending anyone here - heck, I've never owned a Faroudja, and would happily learn to live with its particularities to access leading edge deinterlacing of Laserdiscs. But I'd probably stick with my HTPC for DVDs, tweaking it and upgrading it until it beat the big F in all categories and not just in Bang for the Buck. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif
I like your ketchup analogy! I also agree that a change that improves one scene is likely to make another one worse, assuming the people who did the compression are good at it (lots of examples to the contrary). On the other hand, the NTSC and SMPTE color gamuts are subsets of the real world, so I don't think it's possible to reproduce "reality". I think it's possible that some of the "trickery" may get closer to nature than a replay that just tries to do a by-the-book restoration.
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