Best price or best device? The Next generation has already grown up, which wants everything at once, freed from the Soviet habit of saving for a rainy day. Just look at the foreign cars in town … Today’s review is for those who set the bar very high in life. While it’s hard for me here and now to classify myself as someone who chooses the best device over the best price, I’m well aware of how charged my generation is to cross the now quite affordable line into business class… The JVC DLA-X900R Hi End projector in line with Mercedes and Lexus is another upcoming annoyance in the luxury segment.
JVC DLA-X900R projector
The JVC DLA-X900R was tested in a professional studio, in a totally dark room with neutral walls, where it was virtually impossible to distort colors. The projector was clearly set up with the Cima by Stewart 135″ screen – exactly centered, which was used to display the test image at 313×180 cm. Distance to screen – five meters. The measurements were made using an X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter. HCFR Colorimeter 3 software was selected as the software.1.0.6.
We have tested all the modes of the projector: Old Cinema, Cinema, Animation, Natural, Photo, Variety, THX. This time we decided not to test the Custom mode because JVC engineers made it a copy of the Natural mode.
We were interested in the main parameters that affect the image quality:
- Screen illumination uniformity
- Color gamut
- Gamma curve
- Color fidelity
- Color temperature stability
Let’s start with the most colorful pictures, namely CIE charts. They help us evaluate color gamut, color temperature and the presence of stray tones.
It is obvious that the projector is able to reproduce a much larger set of colors than sRGB. At the same time, the manufacturer has limited the color gamut of some modes to the sRGB palette, so as not to over color some scenes in some not quite appropriate recordings.
Extended color gamut is implemented by default in the following modes: Old Cinema, Cinema, and Photo. Accordingly, the standard color gamut has Animation, Natural, Estrada, TNX.
Old Cinema mode has the widest color gamut with a much richer green. That said, Cinema mode reproduces slightly more shades of red. Of the profiles with enhanced color gamut, I’m most impressed with the Photo mode with its set of tones. True, the number of these tones is less than in other modes, but the color palette is located more correctly and better balanced – see, all the reference lines of primary and secondary colors cross almost at one point.
Among profiles without an extended color gamut, the closest to sRGB are the Natural and THX modes. All modes of the projector gravitate a little towards the over-saturated red. The scale of the “overflow” of red in the interpretation of sRGB is not great, so there are no significant consequences for the image.
Since the color gamut is more than good, let’s move on to the analysis of the grayscale points. Looking ahead, I want to say that all modes have the same drawback – a little bit cold color temperature and a slight blue-green tint at about dE=3~5.
After measuring the entire lineup I came to the conclusion that only the X900 and X500, represented by the beta samples, had deviations that were noticeable. As X700’s measurements showed, in the real version on sale, the engineers brought everything back to normal.
In this situation, our main look will be directed more at the dispersion of dots, rather than their location.
Animation – all dots are quite compactly arranged. Unfortunately, they’re a bit off from the reference curve. In general, the color temperature is very stable and a little bit cooler. Suitable for watching cartoons.
Estrada – the situation is similar to animation mode, only the dots are more crowded and closer to the curve, which further minimizes the appearance of extraneous hues
Cinema – the points are placed close enough to the confidence interval, and most importantly, close to the reference curve. The spread of the dots is quite large, but they are arranged in a “bunch” and not in a line or chaotic way. This indicates a relatively high color temperature stability, which, by the way, is about 7000K.
Photo – the dots are quite tightly spaced. Some of them even border on the dE=10 interval. However, the position of the dots is very far from the reference curve. As you can see from the diagram itself, although the points are far from the reference curve, they fall into a zone where the tint is not very noticeable.
Natural – the dots are concentrated. The color temperature will be very stable, but a little cooler than it should be. Dot curve deviation is less than in other modes.
Old movies – the situation is more dramatic here. Undoubtedly, this mode has no claim to color rendering accuracy from the very beginning. Color temperature varies from about 6500K to 9000K with some tint.
No matter how the graphs look, in real life the picture in all modes looks quite interesting, and whoever sees the Hi End for the first time, won’t close his mouth immediately…
THX is probably the best result. All the dots, like sparrows on a wire, are crowded into the confidence interval. In this mode, the color temperature is closest to 6500K.
So, the color gamut of the projector is truly beyond reproach. There are no major differences in color gamut between the profiles taking into account normal and extended gamut . The color temperatures of all modes are quite stable except for the Old Cinema mode , although they are a bit cold. However, with the help of the image setting menu all the imperfections are corrected in a couple of seconds.
Let’s look at the color temperature of each mode in more detail. The graphs allow you to estimate the color temperature when you change luminance, but unlike the previous charts do not give an indication of the presence of tints.
Here we clearly see the shortcoming of the pre-production models – not very accurate factory calibration. On average, all modes are 500-1000K cooler than they should be. But do not be alarmed: although I can not lie against the measurements, the truth of life is also that the beta samples JVC is unlikely to pop up on the counter, the probability – almost zero.
However, all you need to do is to adjust color temperature to 6000K in some modes, and all the sags in the graphs will automatically disappear.
The key to the X900 is color temperature stability. With the exception of Old Cinema mode, color temperature performance is within +/- 300K. This is very little. So by varying the color temperature setting in the menu, you can achieve exactly what you want.
As we can see, in all modes the channel gamma curves are higher than the reference, which means that the image will be more light than ideal. This “downwind” correction is a common story for premium-quality projectors, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
First of all, users will not always have an expensive screen, as we have in the process of testing – with whiteness close to perfect. Quality screens return a lot more light than cheaper ones. They hide a part of light flux and miraculously make the image look almost ideal.
Secondly, a bright and clear image in ambient light will be more readable than one with normal brightness and a subdued contrast.
Old Film and Animation modes offer us S gamma-curves which are already familiar to us. In Old Cinema mode, where the S shape is most pronounced, an interesting effect arises: in the light areas of the image there are no details.
Middle tones look very contrasty. What’s more, they’re lighter than they should be, and since the dark areas of the image are about as dark as they should be, this creates an additional effect of contrast. Coupled with exotic color temperature settings, you get a really interesting vintage effect.
The gamma curves of THX and Natural modes appeal the most to me. Moreover, the first mode shows a nearly perfect graph. The Natural mode curves are also very nice, although they go well above the reference point. The main qualitative difference of these modes from the others is the absence of stratification of the channel curves.
The Photo mode curves are at about the same distance from the reference, but there is stratification. The strongest stratification is inherent in the Cinema mode in the light parts of the image. For the sake of fairness I should note that for a projector this degree of separation can be characterized as insignificant.
Separately I want to note the Estrada mode. Its gamma curves are on the border between normal and S-shape. I don’t know about watching pop clips in this mode, but presentations will look great in it – due to a reasonable balance between loss of detail in the midtones and the brightness of the image, as well as the midtone contrasts.
Now let’s look at how the channel gamma curves merge. On the diagrams you can see the gamma value depending on the brightness level of the image. Let me remind you that the reference value is 2.2.
As always with modes with S gamma curves gamma values are far from ideal. Old Cinema mode, for example, has gamma values in the bright areas that are out of scale.
The closest to the reference values has the TNH mode. At the same time in the shadows the gamma value reaches 2.4, and in the lighter portions of the image 2.0. The “hospital average” is just 2.2.
The Cinema, Natural, Photo and User modes have an average gamma of about 2.0. But in Cinema mode the gamma is the most stable.
Animation and Variety modes have an average gamut of about 1.9. However, the average value in this case is not an indicator. The lowest gamma value in the Animation mode is 1.5 and the highest is 2.55. Therefore, the average value does not reflect the overall picture at all.
Thus in all modes the gamma value decreases as you get closer to the bright parts of the image. There’s nothing bad about it, except for Old Film, Animation and Variety modes, where the image will be very different from the reference, and I wouldn’t recommend using them for permanent work.
RGB levels are one of the main tools for color calibration. Ideally the values of the channels should be identical and should be at 100. In this case, the grayscale will be neutral and the color calibration is at. By the deviation of the graphs from 100 percent, you can judge the presence of a particular shade in grayscale.
So we’ve discovered the real reason for the cool color temperature – it’s all about the lack of red in the grayscale structure. Its value is at 80-90 percent. But this is easy to correct.
The entire LVC DLA line has an intensity adjustment for each channel, even the younger model. Therefore, it is not very difficult to correct the not very accurate calibration of the presale version. You need to take a long look at the color settings menu.
Everything is the same again in the Old Cinema mode. Very high dE, significant channel stratification and, most unpleasantly, the structure of the channels changes depending on the brightness of the image. The diagram vividly illustrates the reasons of color temperature warming towards light colors of the image, because the blue channel’s share in the general structure decreases.
In all other modes you can observe high stability of each channel. This is very good, especially if the projector is manually calibrated after purchase.
Many people probably wonder why in Photo mode, where the channel structure is quite stable, dE grows with increasing image brightness?. It’s quite simple: our eyes distinguish shades better in medium and light tones than in dark ones and this feature is taken into account by the projector settings. Calculation formula of dE implies not a trivial mathematical color deviation, but it is corrected according to the peculiarities of human perception: better – light, worse – dark.
Unfortunately, the Photo mode has the worst grayscale calibration of all the modes on offer except for the Old Cinema mode, of course . This is a bit odd, since this is the mode that should have the most neutral grayscale. So I would clean up the Photo mode with a professional calibration first.
In other modes there are no serious differences. The dE in the dark tones is 1~2 and to the light areas it reaches 8~9. Which is a very good indicator. Visually, I wouldn’t notice the tint of neutrals.
Further specifications and average values
As in the case of X700, I was not able to measure the contrast of X900 with the program. Which is not surprising. Black was even denser and denser, my program just can’t catch the missing shades of black. The depth of black is simply exorbitant. The eye can see it too. A visual test showed how good the X900 had excellent blacks and contrast. I would not have believed it myself, if I had not seen it with my own eyes and crossed myself..
The average gamma values in the table above are slightly overestimated. But we’ve already dealt with this effect in the Gamma value section. Let me remind you that such high gamma values are due to the outstanding whiteness of the professional screen and a really powerful projector lamp. That’s why our image is a bit lighter than it should be.
The table shows that the most accurate color reproduction is ensured by the THX mode, gamma, grayscale, primary and secondary colors and color temperature deviation are the least. Especially the deviation of primary and secondary colors is minimal, with one and a half times lower than that of its closest competitor, the Photo mode.
Natural, Variety and Animation modes aren’t much different, either. And no problems at all when looking at images. But the color variations of the Old Cinema mode are quite large. However, for watching old video tapes it is rather an advantage, since there is no image quality in such “used” tapes from the very beginning – the main thing is to have more contrast to see the characters..
A role for every mode
Let’s pass to the summary description of each mode and recommendations for its use. To make it clear, we use our proprietary cube. Like last time, we’ve chosen the color temperature, gamma value and color gamut as the axes.
THX is my favorite. Almost correct color temperature, very good gamma. The only thing that might disappoint is the normal color gamut, not the expanded color gamut. But if you like colors, two clicks in the menu and the extended color gamut comes out triumphantly on your screen.
The Estrada and Animation modes are very similar to each other, the only difference is the color temperature. Almost S gamma curves, slightly low gamma and cool color temperature. Standard color gamut. The image in these modes is a bit of an acquired taste. The S-curve effect can both add charm to an image and spoil it.
Natural – completely lives up to its name. Except for the excessive brightness caused by the overpowered lamp. The mode provides very good color reproduction and a quiet balanced picture.
Photo – has an expanded color gamut, a relatively good gamma and a slightly cooler color temperature. If the grayscale calibration hadn’t faltered, it would have been a good mode for photography right away. In the meantime, without further calibration, I recommend that you use the Natural mode with the AdobeRGB color profile setting for graphics.
Cinema- probably one of the modes that best matches its application. Colorful cool picture couldn’t be better for watching movies. If you don’t like the expanded color gamut, just switch to regular sRGB.
Old movie – this mode is like a pulse sensor in the smartphone Galaxy S5 – more like a toy with which you can play with old records, but clearly Old movie is not suitable for permanent work with high-quality video content. The picture in this mode looks more than unusual, flat, without textured details, which is guilty of S-curve, a very unstable color temperature and low gamma average.
If you have a colorimeter or spectrophotometer and if not, I highly recommend buying one for a 700k ruble projector , I would not use the built-in modes at all.
Projector offers four memory locations for recording custom settings. On the basis of these I would make a mode for movies, everyday work, photos and the one you need for yourself, for example, for presentations.
Conclusions on the flagship
Strengths: Measurement tests of the flagship model JVC DLA-X900R instrumentally confirmed what was already apparent to the naked eye: the highest, simply unreal contrast and black depth, amazing lamp power and the widest color gamut, combined with a very flexible settings of all modes. That is, image quality is actually at the level of Hi End. You have to see it with your own eyes.
Disadvantages: the factory calibration “out of the box” is generally done on a decent level, except for Photo mode, which, however, not so difficult to “tweak” their own forces. But it’s better to do it in the factory. When measuring different modes it was also found that the color temperature was too cool, which is the only thing I can complain about. But even this flaw can be fixed in the menu with a couple of clicks. Moreover, judging by the test of the X700 model, such deviations have been corrected in the production samples with an A+.
So my conclusion is very simple: the JVC DLA-X900R projector is one of the coolest on the market. It’s impossible to spoil a true Hi End. And there’s nothing to stop you from moving into the category of those who choose the best device over the best price.