If you have not read the first part of this blog, you may want to read it – it covers the main differences between the projectors, 4K image sharpness & resolution, HDR color, calibration, and wide color gamut.
Black Level Performance and Contrast
Deep black levels in home theater give more depth and help make images appear more realistic. Of course, in a projector you can only have deep blacks if the projector is capable of good blacks – and the room and screen must be capable of supporting those blacks. When it comes to deep blacks, we have found no other projector to beat the JVCs. It also should be noted that in order to see the best blacks of any projector, the room must not only be dark, but not reflect the light that is generated on the screen from the projector. That means in order to get the very best blacks from any projector, the walls, ceiling, floor, and furniture must also be dark. Sometimes this is referred to as a “bat cave,” as the darker the room, the better the blacks can be in a projector.
Of course, not everyone wants a dedicated “bat cave” to watch their favorite movies or even some sports or other content. A good compromise is to have a mid-tone or dark-tone room. For example, I just re-did my home theater and the carpet is a deep black with some fun mid-tone designs, and the walls are mid-grey with some darker grey acoustic panels, and the ceiling is kind of a mid-grey blue acoustic tile. It has made a huge difference in my blacks and overall contrast, and I would highly recommend it if you want to improve your blacks and contrast. Unfortunately, our current demo room has not been redone yet and so the blacks do not give either projector their full capability. To measure contrast in such a room would not make much sense as the room is going to add to much light back onto the screen. It is, however, able to give us some idea of the comparative contrast and black levels.
On these kinds of images, low-level with some mid-tones, Kris pointed out that they are not really that low-level due to the mid-tones in the image. We have found, however, that there are many projectors that cannot equal the JVC blacks even on these kinds of images. If you look at these images very closely you will see there is no sign of poor blacks, or “milkyness,” in the images until you are well under the 10% average IRE like Kris brought with him from the Revenant (2015). One of the reasons the JVC can do so well on those ultra low light scenes is the JVC DLA-NX7 has dual iris capability which were both used during this comparison. One of the differences between the DLA-NX5 and DLA-NX7, besides the wide color of the NX7, is that the NX7 has both a fixed iris for best contrast and then the dynamic iris works on top of that to provide those incredible blacks.
In addition to reducing the original Optoma UHZ65 projector brightness from 3,000 to about 2,200 lumens, we were also able to improve the blacks by reducing the reflections inside the light engine by reducing the amount of reflected light in the “off” state of the DLP light engine. In all DLP projectors, the off state or black is created by a typical 12 degree deflection of each mirror; since the light is still hitting the mirror, any reduction in reflected light inside the light engine will also lower the blacks. That is how we are able to significantly improve blacks by using both the filter and the light engine improvement. Here is a comparison of an unmodified Optoma UHZ65 shown side-by-side with the JVC DLA-NX7 and the Theo-Z65 Lite
Here are Kris Deering’s comments on the JVC DLA-NX7 and Theo-Z76 Lite comparison from the 4K HDR-10 disc from Diversified Video.
HDR Performance and HDR Tone Mapping
Well-executed and projected images in 4K HDR, from a 10-bit source (4K HDR UHD disc) in wide color, is an experience to behold. We enjoy doing demos with clips from movies that most people have seen, and it is a whole new experience for them as even in a commercial theater they do not have the brightness, detail, or dynamic range that we can now do in our homes! Even though these two very different projectors have unique ways of doing HDR tone mapping, they each have additional fine tuning of the HDR tone mapping, as Kris demonstrates in the comparison video of the JVC DLA-NX7 when he shows “Auto, Low, Middle, and High” adaptive tone mapping choices. Likewise, the Theo-Z65 Lite has four tone mapping choices on top of what we do with the original tone mapping. Those choices are “Bright, Standard, Film, and Detail”.
Extreme High Brightness HDR
As mentioned earlier, there are not fixed standards yet in HDR color grading at the studios. Most movies we have watched are graded at 1,000 nits, however it is possible for a studio to grade at 4,000 or even higher nits. This is where the JVC, with its Frame-Adaptive tone mapping, really shines. it is able to sample the the overall brightness levels and adjust the tone mapping for that scene or even frame.
Here are some additional scenes from the new HDR Benchmark calibration disk from Spears & Munsil and Kris’s remarks.
Conclusions and Results
This had definitely been one of the more interesting and challenging comparisons to capture. There is absolutely no substitute for seeing these live, however, that is not possible for many so we hope this comparison adds new insight and understanding. As we began and now re-affirm, this is not a projector shootout, this is a comparison between two very different technologies and between two different calibrations. The goal is to help show what a reference level projector can do and how the Theo-Z65 Lite compares in terms of 4K detail, color gamut, and HDR performance.
JVC DLA-NX7 w/ 3.10
Previously, we had rated the JVC DLA-NX7 the highest performance of any projector we have tested. With the addition of the new Frame Adaptive HDR (Dynamic HDR), the JVC further establishes itself as the leader in under $10,000 projectors. Kris was able to fine tune and get an even higher level of performance that was near perfection. If the JVC is in your budget, please call us at 801-486-5757 or contact us online and we will help with the purchase process and answer any questions you may have. We can also arrange for Kris to calibrate the projector before we ship it to you once we know your screen size and type. Please note that JVC has posted a warning on their website about counterfeit JVC products (even in the US) and has also noted that new Procision projectors are NOT sold online.
Additional things you may want to consider:
- Fan noise: ~34-37db in high bright mode
- Weight: 43.56 lbs
- Dimensions: 19-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ x 19-1/2″ (W x H x D)
- Standard 3-year parts & labor warranty
- 3D HD Blu-Ray Capability
Here is our updated Theo-chart for the DLA-NX7 w/ 3.10
TheoZ65 Lite (Modified Optoma UHZ65 Laser Projector)
What a privilege to be able to finally see the Theo-Z65 Lite side-by-side with a near perfectly-calibrated high performance projector – we just can’t thank Kris Deering enough. We are excited about our extra wide color gamut, good black levels and contrast, and for all but the most challenging scenes – a very good showing against one of the best. Considering the Theo-Z65 is under $5,000 and has a zero-maintenance 30,000 hour laser, we were very pleased with the comparison. We feel the Theo-Z65 Lite is the best “under $5,000 4K laser projector” currently on the market and invite you to visit more with us. We would also encourage you to take advantage of the “Projector Challenge” and come see the projectors in person. Please give us a call (801-486-5757) or contact us online so we can make sure we are here and have the staff available to help show you the comparisons.and the projectors you wish to see are available.
Additional things you may want to consider:
- Fan noise: ~29-33db in high bright mode
- Weight: 20.5 lbs
- Dimensions: 19-3/5″ x 13″ x 6″ (W x H x D)
- Standard 3-year parts & labor warranty (approved by Optoma)
- 3D HD Blu-Ray Capability
Here is our Theo-chart for the Theo-Z65 Lite w/ C17