|Marantz VP-11S2 DLP Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Wednesday, 01 October 2008|
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The VP-11S2 was quite easy to set up in my new theater room. I placed it on the same stand that I had previously used for its predecessor and the VP-15S1. The stand was about 14 feet from the 92-inch, 16:9 Stewart Greyhawk RS screen. I later installed a 110-inch SMX ProLine screen with the white CineWeave HD acoustically transparent fabric. The gain of the two screens is .95 and 1.16, respectively. With the larger screen mounted on the front wall of the room, the projector’s throw distance was approximately 17 feet. As with my prior Marantz projectors, there was no discernable light spill from the lens.
As with its predecessors, the Marantz has extensive vertical shift capabilities, allowing it to be mounted approximately one-third of the screen height either above or below the screen without being forced to use digital keystone correction. The projector has an internal pattern generation that helps with positioning and focus. The pattern is white in normal installations, but will turn green when the projector is outside its optimal vertical positioning.
I again used Monster Cable’s HT UPS 500 Power Center for both a power conditioning and battery backup. With all of the recent power shortages and outages its worth mentioning again: with digital projectors, I would recommend installing a battery backup unit as well, so that the cooling fans can run if you have a power failure. Video connections were made through a Halcro SSP-220 audio video processor and, later, on Marantz’s AVP-8003 (review coming soon). I turned off all video processing in the Halcro and AVP-8003. Sources included a Marantz DV-9600 DVD player, Pioneer Elite BDP-95FD Blu-ray player and a DirecTV HD DVR.
The DV-9600 was set to output 480i via HDMI and component and the BDP-95FD was set to 1080p/ 24 fps via HDMI. I began my review with a combination of Kimber Cables and Tributaries new Series 9 HDMI cables. Later, I used Kimber Cables HDMI and component video cables exclusively to minimize any variables. Even though I have found the HDMI connection system to be finicky, I had no glitches or problems with either the Kimber Cables or Tributaries HDMI connections and can recommend them without reservation.
Using both the Digital Video Essentials and the Monster Cable / ISF calibration discs to calibrate the projector (I know, I need to get the Blu-ray version of DVE), I kept most settings close to standard with the iris in the “1” position and gamma at “Standard.” With some sources, I set the color to minus one or two to reduce the saturation level.
The VP-11S2, like its predecessors, has a plethora of picture profiles to choose from. Each profile has five gamma presets and Theater and Dynamic modes for eight configurations. Further, there are many fine adjustment menus, including color temperature, aspect ratio, black level adjustment, gamma and more. The professional calibrator and adventurous hobbyist will have many adjustment options available to obtain the best picture quality for any situation.
Watching the VP-11S2
Beginning with standard-definition discs, I have to say that the video scaling was generally very clean and absent of artifacts. When alternating from DVD and Blu-ray versions of the same material, the primary difference was that the DVDs were slightly softer. I also noticed that the color saturation levels seemed to be just a bit less with the DVDs.
I watched a DVD I used with the VP-15S1 review, The Incredibles (Walt Disney Home Entertainment). As with the VP-15S1, the VP-11S2 exhibited excellent field uniformity. This animated feature, like many others, provides large fields of uniform color. Better-quality projectors, such as this one, will reproduce these fields with great uniformity. Recently, some friends came over to watch some high-octane, blow ‘em up films, so we played Heat (Warner Home Video) and The Rock (Buena Vista Home Entertainment). The scene where Robert De Niro is standing in the shadows is an excellent test of low-level detail and one that challenges most DLP projectors. The VP-11S2 was able to render more detail with less noise than I have seen on any other DLP projector. True, a good D-ILA projector can do slightly better in this regard, but there are other tradeoffs to consider. The Marantz also did a superb job with The Rock’s multitude of darker scenes and was excellent at portraying skin colors, as well as outdoor scenes. Items of nature looked natural; the trees were a realistic shade of green rather than some glow in the dark neon. Color accuracy is a place where good DLP projectors, such as the Marantz, can differentiate themselves in a good way from D-ILA.
Moving on to high-definition, specifically Blu-ray, shortly before I did the VP-15S1 review I acquired Casino Royale (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), the newest installment in the James Bond film series. This has become one of my favorite demonstration discs, as it is well done and many people are familiar with it. The nighttime opening scene is in black and white and features the local MI-6 chief getting out of his car in front of a modern-looking office building. As with the two prior projectors, the grays did not shift. This is a good sign, as many projectors demonstrate some color push in what should be a black and white image. The dark scenes had noticeably less noise than the VP-15S1 and even improved upon the already excellent performance of the VP-11S1. The now-famous parkour foot chase scene that follows allowed the projector to show off. The colors, while still slightly oversaturated, were much more accurate and realistic than with the VP-15S1 and perhaps slightly better than with the VP-11S1. The contrast levels and sense of depth were noticeably better. The scene includes dark indoor portions and brightly lit outdoor portions. Both were handled with aplomb.
Dan In Real Life (Blu-ray, Buena Vista Home Entertainment) features several scenes along the New England coast. Having visited the area, I immediately recognized the projector’s color accuracy. The detail on the darker interior scenes was very good while maintaining good color accuracy.
While watching DirecTV, I let the Gennum 9351 processor in the projector handle all of the scaling. It was not football season, so I watched some high-definition baseball games. The uniform colors were vivid, while the grass was a natural shade of green. The processor did a great job, with no visible jagged edges on any of the straight lines, even during fast pans. Watching 1080i programs, I never had any problems with the Gennum processor’s de-interlacing capabilities. All was smoothly reproduced without visible twitter.