|Faroudja NRS Video Processor|
|Home Theater Video Processors & Switchers Video Processors|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Saturday, 01 June 2002|
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One of the first things I was able to test with the NRS was its HDTV pass-through. HDTV in my system looks unmolested through the Faroudja or even bypassing it, which leads me to believe that the NRS truly does pass through the video without any notable degradation. While watching a PBS documentary about travel in Italy (shot in 1080i), I could not discern a difference between the HDTV feed going directly into my projector from the Sony SAT HD100 receiver or through the NRS. The convenience of having all of your video switched in your Faroudja, including your HDTV, is a definite perk, but it's also reassuring to know you aren’t selling out video performance for convenience.
The DCDi was in effect during sessions watching my beloved Philadelphia Flyers absolutely embarrass themselves in the first round of the NHL playoffs this year. I got a chance to clearly see how inept their power play was, without as much jagged video noise as you sometimes see during live sports event. The Faroudja NRS was best on really fast moving shots and close-ups. It didn’t entirely eliminate the problem, but it seemed to help, which I appreciated. Now, if only the NRS could teach an All Star team like this year’s Flyers how to improve their standing from 28th in the league on the power play …
On movies, the NRS was my control center for getting the video the way I wanted it. The William Phelps set-up really helped me to obtain some more needed pop from my projector through dramatic increases in the overall contrast. I rarely needed to adjust the contrast on the Faroudja for movies, but sometimes played with it for "The Sopranos" second season (HBO Home Video). On "Ocean’s Eleven" (Warner Home Video), I was impressed with how vibrant the colors were during the scenes shot inside the Bellagio casino. As gaudy as the draperies are over the gaming tables, the Faroudja on my Madrigal Imaging D-ILA made them look vibrant and clear, lacking weird artifacts as the shot quickly pans away. The chips on the table were detailed and bright. Even the subtle details in the background looked good. I watched the scene as Saul walks through the lobby of the Bellagio, with the amazingly colorful hand-blown glass sculpture in the background. Even on the third time through viewing this section of the scene, I struggled to believe how detailed my picture looked.
Some of the most fun I had with a video system powered by a Faroudja NRS was at Bryan Southard’s house in San Jose. He has an older seven-inch Sony CRT projector and a Faroudja NRS setup for a CRT projector at 800 x 600, also with a William Phelps set-up. While his picture is nowhere near as bright as my D-ILA, the contrast was stellar. We spent hours in his dedicated theater playing Gran Turismo 3 (Sony Computer Entertainment) on PlayStation II. I was blown away. The detail of the game looked spectacular on the system in ways that can make logical adults spend hours of their valuable time trying to master "The Corkscrew" at Laguna Seca.
The screen on the Faroudja NRS front panel is barely big enough to see. Seemingly, the NRS was designed for systems with RS232-controlled systems using big, color touch screen remotes. Unfortunately, I don’t have one, which made tweaking with my Faroudja not as much fun. Both of my set-up gurus complained that the menus were lousy, especially the way the buttons scroll awkwardly in one direction. For example, if you are simply switching from a component video source to perhaps the HDTV pass-through on the faceplate, you can easily miss your desired input, resulting in you having to scroll through all of the inputs again. Once again, RS232 control would allow you to program a macro, which would avoid this problem, but not everyone has such a luxury.
Bryan Southard contributed suggestions for ways to improve the NRS, based on his experiences with his system. He wished for more video inputs, especially the component variety. He likes the idea of having two DVD players: one DVD-Audio with a progressive video component out and another DVD player with a traditional interlaced 480i component video out. You’d need either a receiver that could manage two component inputs to solve your problem or you’d need an external switcher. The addition of a few more inputs would allow you the luxury of plugging your PlayStation II and other component video goodies directly into your NRS.
Southard went on to note that the NRS comes with a very limited manual that, in his opinion, gives the do-it-yourself video enthusiasts very little chance of success. If the unit is designed to be installed by a professional, then Faroudja should say so. If not, they need to produce a truly comprehensive manual and maybe even provide a tutorial DVD.
Faroudja deserves serious props for the NRS series video processor. The have successfully addressed a whole new set of video maladies as only Faroudja can but better yet, they dealt with the issue of value in a way that makes sense for a larger audience of AV enthusiasts. In the past, Faroudja products were always the single most expensive black box component in any good AV dealer. Old school Faroudja gear devalued like a share of Enron common stock the minute you walked out the door, mainly because there were so many new video technologies coming out with no clear-cut upgrade path. But that was then.
The NRS is expensive but fairly priced, considering its performance. It now has more of an upgrade path and, better yet, is packed with enough power to make someone with a good video system find even more reasons to turn on the tube, or in this case, turn on your chip. For those of us who are willing to step up the plate for top of the line video performance in the digital domain, the Faroudja NRS should be at the top of the list of needed components. For those who want a taste of what an NRS can do – especially with DCDi – you might want to look at some of the less expensive progressive video DVD players on the market from companies like Marantz, Kenwood and Krell that are also quite good. They don’t compete with the NRS in terms of scaling, flexibility and component quality, but they are killer for the price. Bravo to Faroudja for making like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra or Madonna by reinventing themselves with a hit for an entirely new generation.