|Marantz VP-11S2 DLP Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Wednesday, 01 October 2008|
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Within the past year, there has been a large leap forward in DLP front-projector technology, which has thankfully been accompanied by a noticeable reduction in price. Marantz, well known for manufacturing topnotch gear, has been at the forefront of this evolution with their VP-11S1, VP-15S1 and now their VP-11S2 projectors. The VP-11S2 reviewed here is their current top of the line projector. It replaces their VP-11S1, yet is priced at $14,999, smack dab in the middle of the pricing of its predecessor and the VP-15S1. A long-throw version is also available for slightly more money.
Those looking for DLP projectors now have two outstanding choices from Marantz. The question that will face most shoppers is whether or not the VP-11S2 is worth the $5,000 premium over the already excellent VP-15S1. While that ultimate decision has to be made by you, the buyer, and will depend on what qualities you seek from your projection system, I will try to help out by outlining the differences in this article.
Readers of this publication should be pretty familiar with the Marantz series of DLP projectors, as we have recently covered the VP-11S1 and the VP-15S1, as well as some of Marantz’s earlier models. In order to avoid being repetitive, I will focus on the new features in the VP-11S2 and the differences between it and its predecessors. Those seeking even more information would be well served by looking at the two reviews mentioned above.
The VP-11S2 shares the same chassis as its predecessors. As you can see by the accompanying photographs, this chassis is extremely solid and well-engineered. Unlike many of the chasses used by other projector manufacturers, which are primarily plastic with a few thin sheets of metal, the VP series of chassis is made of lightweight alloys that provide rigidity, durability, heat sink capability and noise dampening. As with its predecessors, the VP-11S2’s build quality is excellent.
The exterior if the VP-11S2 is nearly identical to the VP-15S1 and VP-11S1 and has a lit connector panel like the VP-11S1. It would be hard to tell the projectors apart without reading the markings or turning them on. Like the VP-11S1, the new S2 features hand-picked components and is designed for maximum performance. The S2 differs from its predecessors in that it is the first DLP projector to use TI’s DC4 1080 DLP chip. The new DC4 helps the S2 achieve a claimed 15,000:1 contrast ratio, which is well above the S1’s 6,500:1 or even the VP-15S1’s 10,000:1. (Note: Marantz has just announced that the VP-11S2 will now incorporate the lens coating from the long-throw lens, which will further improve contrast ratios.) Like the VP-15S1, the VP-11S2 utilizes a three-position, dual-iris system. Light output is rated at 850 lumens of output, which is right between the VP-11S1 and the VP-15S1.
In addition to being the first projector to utilize TI’s new DC4 DLP, the VP-11S2 has another new feature: selectable color wheel speed. The seven-segment color wheel is mounted on quiet, fluid-filled bearings like its predecessors, but can run at either 4x, 5x or 6x speeds. While I am not very susceptible to color separation and rainbows, I have some friends who are and none of them report seeing any at either the 4x or 6x settings.
The remaining feature set of the VP-11S2 is very similar to that of its predecessors, and why not? The features have proved to be high-performance and reliable, a combination that is sure to be welcomed by enthusiasts.
A feature that has been on the last few Marantz projectors that is starting to get more attention from serious enthusiasts is the anamorphic lens capability of the projector. Many enthusiasts who use their projectors primarily for widescreen movies have been touting the benefits of anamorphic lenses and constant height screens. A typical set-up will include a 2.35:1 screen with side masks for 1.78:1 material. While projecting 1.78:1 material, the normal lens and processing is used. In a standard, non-anamorphic system, when a movie in 2:35:1 or even wider is played back, there are black bars above and below the screen. While the black bars in and of themselves may not be bothersome, the bars also mean that about one-third of your projector’s vertical resolution is being wasted on the bars rather utilized on the actual picture you want to watch. The solution is to install an anamorphic lens that is used when widescreen material is played. This way, the image still uses the entire vertical resolution of the DLP chip and the screen, which is where the term “constant height” comes into play. This is accomplished by using the vertical stretch mode in the projector and placing the anamorphic lens in front of the projector. The slick set-up for this is Marantz’s own. Using this set-up, the vertical stretch mode is selected, which then activates the second 12v trigger on the projector, causing the lens to slide into place. When normal 16:9 or 4:3 material is played, the lens slides back out of the way. Unfortunately, my experience with this is limited, but I liked what I saw and hope to be able to provide you with a more in-depth review in the future.