The Future Looks Bright 未来一片光明
The Future Looks Bright
Sound & Vision
By Kris Deering
current uncertain state of the world, I was truly surprised when JVC announced not one but three new projectors prior to the kickoff of CEDIA Expo 2021, an event that ended up being a pale shade of its regular self.
The new JVC trio largely replaces the company’s current projector lineup, offering a list of new features including a next-gen BLUEscent laser light engine, HDMI 2.1 connectivity with full 8K/60HZ and 4K/120HZ video input support, and HDR10+ high dynamic range.
Along with this uptick in features comes a substantial uptick in pricing, with the new projectors ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. Even so, the refreshed lineup sets a new price/performance bar for native 4K laser light engine-driven projectors. For this review, JVC sent me its top-dog DLA-NZ9 ($24,999.95), a direct replacement for the DLA-NX9 ($18,000) that I tested when it first launched (October/november 2019 issue), and a model that I’ve used as my reference projector ever since.
A WOLF IN FAMILIAR CLOTHING
At first glance, the DLA-NZ9 (also available with the model number DLA-RS4100) appears to be a clone of the earlier NX9. The chassis is nearly identical— until you peer around back and see the intake filters for the projector’s cooling system, which are substantially larger than those used for the NX9. It features the same 18-element 100mm glass lens and third-gen native 4K (4,096 x 2,160-pixel) D-ILA panel as its predecessor, but the similarities end there. The NZ9’S new BLUEscent laser diode light source is a more compact design compared with the one used for JVC’S flagship RS4500 ($30,000) but still delivers the same 3,000 lumens peak uncalibrated output, with a half-life rating of 20,000 hours in the High Laser mode.
The NZ9’S two HDMI inputs are version HDMI 2.1 (full 48Gbps) with HDCP 2.3 content protection. That means compatibility with 8K resolution video at up to 60 frames per second and 4K up to 120 frames per second—the latter format now supported by the new Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X game consoles. Both the NZ9 and the new DLA-NZ8 feature 8K e-shiftx, an evolution of JVC’S 8K e-shift system and one that uses a four-direction shift which addresses individual pixels in 8K input signals with no scaling. (The NX9, in contrast, would not accept a native 8K signal and used a two-direction 8K e-shift feature that fell short of full-resolution 8K display.) Pixels with 8K e-shiftx are still slightly overlapped due to the use of an optical actuator but given the massive pixel density of an 8K image, I find it hard to believe there would be any visible difference between this system and a native 8K imaging chip, something that doesn’t exist yet.
JVC uses a new video processing board on the NZ9 to support all these new features. Synch times with signal format changes are unbelievably fast, with most clocking in at 3 seconds. My only real speed gripe concerns lens memory changes, which take quite a bit of time to finish as background settings tied to the lens position (Theater Optimizer, anamorphic modes, etc.) are loaded. The projector’s anamorphic modes can process for both vertical compression and horizontal expansion, and it offers the ability to scale input sources to the full 4,096-pixel width of its imaging chip.
JVC’S new laser light engine operates in similar fashion to the one found in the flagship RS4500, offering three output modes (Low, Medium, High) and two dynamic modes (Mode 1 and 2). Back when I reviewed the RS4500, I had some issues with its light engine design. Mainly, the noise level in High output mode was loud enough that it was nearly unusable as an in-room projector. A later firmware update helped a bit, but still not enough to satisfy most users.
The NZ9 doesn’t have the same issue. I used an SPL meter to measure noise, placing it about a foot or so in front of the projector. Operating noise in the Low and Medium modes was identical and measured lower than my NX9 projector in Low mode, which was excellent. High mode measured a few db lower than my NX9 at the same setting and was dramatically lower than my experience with the RS4500 set to High. I was also impressed to find that activating the e-shiftx function had virtually no effect on operating noise.
Setup of the NZ9 was straightforward for me as the menus are mostly identical to those found in JVC’S previous NX series. The most accurate out-of-box presentation for standard dynamic range viewing was in Natural picture mode with Mid Laser selected.
For high dynamic range, it was in Frame Adaptive mode with High Laser and the BT.2020 (Normal) color profile selected. Keep in mind, these outcomes will vary in installations depending on screen, zoom, and other settings.
The NZ9’S HDR picture modes offer a few tweaks compared with JVC’S previous NX models, the biggest one being HDR10+ support, a first for a projector. HDR10+ is a dynamic format that uses frame-based metadata to ensure the best HDR presentation and can be found on a limited number of Ultra HD discs— mostly from Warner Bros. and Universal— as well as on streamed titles from Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Hulu, and other services. I only had a few HDR10+ discs on hand to test and the results didn’t look much different than watching the same titles with JVC’S already excellent frame adaptive tone mapping enabled. HDR10+ also limited some settings like color profile selection and automatic selection of HDR processing intensity. Ultimately, it’s nice to see support for the format in a projector, but I think most viewers would be better served by JVC’S own frame adaptive tone mapping, which can be manually selected at any time.
JVC states that it hasn’t really changed any of the HDR tone mapping algorithms for the new lineup, but there are a few changes in the Frame Adapt HDR mode.
The Theater Optimizer setup is now more refined, with new settings for screen aspect ratio (16x9, 17x9, or Cinema Scope) and diagonal size. The previous Low, Medium, and High HDR brightness options have also been replaced with Auto and variable (-2 through +2) settings. This, combined with the NZ9’S higher light output, yielded modestly improved HDR performance, especially on images with a high average picture level.
The NZ9 offers the same automatic picture modes JVC introduced in its last projector firmware update. These include the ability to assign specific custom picture modes for 2D, 3D, HDR, and HLG input formats. I’d still like to see JVC add a custom setting for input signals that use the BT.2020 color space but are not HDR, though this use case is specifically for outboard video processors and ultimately not important for most viewers.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the NZ9 when I first fired it up. When JVC shared the details of its new projectors, I thought the new features sounded exciting, but also that many of them wouldn’t improve core video performance compared with my NX9. The biggest change is the laser light engine, and I typically don’t see much image quality difference between these and standard bulb models, though I do love the convenience of being able to quickly turn the projector on and off without having to worry about bulb wear and tear. The biggest benefit to JVC’S new laser light engine is an increase in light output. JVC also included dual apertures in this design (a feature missing from the RS4500), so if you don’t need the full brightness level that the projector provides, you could use these to fine-tune light output in a manner that will increase native sequential contrast.
The NZ9’S uncalibrated light output met the company’s 3,000-lumen spec (I measured 3,069 lumens) and calibration lowered light output by about 20 percent, which is typical for JVC models I’ve tested in the past.
But a concern I had— one originating from my experience reviewing the Rs4500—was light loss related to the color filter (labelled BT2020 [Wide] in the Color Profile menu), which is used to achieve a wider color gamut. Enabling the RS4500’S color filter resulted in a loss of 40 percent or more total light output. With the NZ9, it was close to 30 percent in the High Laser setting, and 25 percent in Medium or Low. Given how long it has been since JVC released its first blue laser phosphor light engine, I was hoping they’d move to a design that used more than just blue diodes plus a filter to deliver wider color gamut coverage. We’re already seeing other manufacturers use dual-color laser light engines capable of hitting full DCI-P3 (a color space used for HDR programs on disc and streaming that is a limited subset of the full BT.2020 Ultra HDTV color gamut) without light loss, and even true Rgb-based designs offering near-bt.2020. I hope to see future JVC designs start to push this envelope.
Native color gamut coverage from the NZ9’S laser light engine was similar to what I’ve measured from other blue laser designs. Rec. 709 (the standard HDTV color gamut) was 100 percent as expected. With the color filter in place, I was able to achieve 98 percent of Dci-p3—similar coverage to the previous NX series. When I measured DCI-P3 coverage (within the BT.2020 container) the NZ9 came up a bit short in its non-filter mode (labelled as BT2020 [Normal] in the color profile menu) at 87 percent coverage. But given the higher light output of this new design compared with the NX series, there is a very appreciable increase in brightness, and it runs quieter in any given picture mode.
JVC lists the NZ9’S contrast ratio as 100,000:1 native (no laser dimming) and infinite with dimming (based on the laser turning off for a full black frame). I did full contrast testing and found that the native contrast at full output with no aperture closure was about 28,000:1 at minimum throw and closer to 50,000:1 at the longest throw (uncalibrated). Maximum native contrast with both apertures fully closed and the projector in its longest throw was about 123,000:1, but even at minimum throw the projector could still deliver close to 100,000:1.
With laser dimming engaged, contrast increased substantially with Mode 1 reaching close to 470,000:1 and Mode 2 hitting around 560,000:1. Mode 2 on the RS4500 would go to full black-out when displaying a full black field, but the NZ9 does not. (This may be addressed in future firmware, though I didn’t get confirmation of that from JVC.) Blackouts still looked very dark and anyone would be easily tricked into thinking the projector was displaying a full black. The NZ9’S laser dimming also didn’t display the RS4500’S aggressive tendency to black-out images that should be visible during very dark scenes. This was probably my biggest gripe with the RS4500’S laser dimming and it has definitely improved in this new implementation.
That’s not to say the JVC’S laser dimming is perfect. Any dynamic modulation system on a projector will always have issues with gamma modulation and clipping, and I found the NZ9 to be a bit too aggressive in dimming lowto mid-bright image highlights. The dimming would improve black levels at times, but there were also quite a few instances where highlights and brighter objects were affected though the black floor didn’t share the same benefit. This would result in slight changes to color balance, mild highlight clipping, and a muting of detail in bright objects, and it also decreased my subjective perception of contrast.
The good news here is that, with the NZ9’S already high native contrast, laser dimming isn’t needed for the most part. The feature did seem to work better with HDR images than SDR ones, which means it may benefit from the frame analysis that JVC uses for tone mapping. I could see most viewers happily using it, but I can be a bit too picky and was content to leave it off. Ultimately, what I would really like to see JVC implement is a third dimming mode offering the ability to turn the laser off with a full blackout. Seeing a dramatic full black was the only thing I really missed with laser dimming turned off, so it would be great to have a mode that only impacted that situation.
Another new feature JVC announced for both this model and the DLA-NZ8 is an optimized high contrast light engine designed to eliminate uniformity issues caused by reflections within the light path or optics. The new engine effectively addressed this during my testing: nearly all image streaking was reduced, with only a tiny amount visible when a bright object appeared on a full black background. It also dramatically improved the mixed contrast measurements (listed in the Test Bench section) compared with earlier JVC models.
Dlp-based projectors typically score well on such measurements, which reveal contrast as the average picture level of an image is increased, but not LCOS designs like the JVC. But in my testing the NZ9 more than doubled its contrast performance compared with the previous NX9, and it was more in line with what I see from higher-end DLP models.
JVC’S new features added up to a modest but welcome improvement in image quality compared with what I’m used to getting with my NX9. There was additional light to play with in High Laser mode, and I could also get a bit better light output in Mid Laser mode while benefitting from dramatically quieter operation. Of all the new features, the most controversial might be 8K eshiftx, a mode I was curious to test as I didn’t really note any visual improvement with the previous 8K eshift implementation in my NX9.
Given the current dearth of 8K content, I had no real way to test the new e-shiftx system, so I reached out to test equipment manufacturer Murideo to borrow an 8K signal generator. The company loaned me its SIX-G 8K generator so I could put e-shiftx to the test with full 8K-quality test patterns. The NZ9 breezed through the test patterns with crisp, clear representation and no discernable scaling or processing artifacts—a positive sign for the day when we might see consumer 8K content (likely a long time from now). But the real question remains: Does 8K offer any current benefit for home theater systems?
The answer is yes—and no. From a strict resolution standpoint, I find 4K to be more than enough for even the largest home theater screens (and to be honest, movie theater screens as well). Individual pixels in full 4K-resolution static test patterns are non-discernable at most seating distances. And when you add in the fact that the 4K movies and TV shows we watch on disc or via streaming fall short of the full resolution of a static 4K pattern due to losses from motion and video compression, it becomes clear that 8K doesn’t seem necessary.
Where I do see the benefit is when any type of image processing such as scaling and enhancement is being applied. With 8K, these extra processes extend over far more pixels and as a result lack the immediate artifacts you may see at lower resolutions, 4K included. Viewing in 8K also helped with motion resolution. The image took on a quality that reminded me of frame interpolation, but without any of the annoying “soap opera effect” on camera motion and pans. I also noted a subtle increase in apparent depth, dimension, and detail on lots of material I regularly use for testing. So, while I was quite the skeptic about viewing standard HD and 4K content on an 8K display going into this review, the more I watched the more I liked it.
To cite two examples, Eshiftx yielded an appreciable increase in image clarity on the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Blade Runner 2049 and the 4K/HDR image montage on the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark disc. Other scenes I’ve used repeatedly for demos and testing showed marked improvement. The difference wasn’t night and day, but it was visible.
I wanted to have an opportunity to test the NZ9’S 4K/120HZ input with a next-gen gaming console from Microsoft or Sony but was unable to obtain one. (These seem to be really hard to get at the moment.) I was also hoping to test latency with a 4K/120HZ signal (for gaming), but the Murideo generator doesn’t support latency testing at that resolution.
I spent a lot of time with the NZ9, viewing a wide variety of HD and Ultra HD content from sources including my Oppo 4K Blu-ray player, Kaleidescape Strato system, and Apple TV 4K streamer. Overall performance was a definite uptick from my
NX9, though the difference wasn’t drastic. The laser light engine provided a lot more headroom for HDR than the previous NX9 and subtle improvements in the Theater Optimizer setup further benefited HDR performance.
JVC’S new Auto Frame Adapt HDR mode did a fantastic job balancing the settings to use for overall brightness across different HDR sources, making it a true set-andforget solution compared with the previous line.
When watching a variety of difficult test material I’ve collected for HDR testing, the JVC’S Auto mode always ended up using the amount of range I would have personally selected if I was making manual adjustments across the five available Frame Adapt HDR presets (-1 thru +2). I am used to viewing 4K/HDR via an outboard video processor in my setup (Lumagen Radiance Pro). While the Radiance Pro had the upper hand during "Does 8K offer any benefit for home theater? The answer is yes—and no."
some of my most extreme testing (very dark movies like Black Panther, or very bright ones like The Meg), the JVC did a better job handling some of the HDR tone mapping (specifically, some of the necessary desaturation) on the Spears & Munsil montage and even some scenes in The Meg. JVC remains miles ahead of its competition in the projector space when it comes to onboard HDR support, and this new model pushes the envelope even further. I can’t imagine most people having issues with its HDR presentation, and the new Auto mode makes things completely set and forget.
Wrapping up, the big question for me is: Are JVC’S new projectors a worthwhile upgrade if you already own one of the previous NX series models? The new DLA-NZ9 without a doubt delivers a betterlooking image than my DLA-NX9, and I already thought the NX9 was one of the best projectors at any price point. Again, the difference wasn’t night and day, but there were appreciable differences when it came to image definition, contrast, and depth. The NZ9 also offers higher light output, quieter operation, and support for true 8K (not to mention 4K/120HZ for gaming) should that ever become a consumer option. And I know that the projector’s laser light engine will outlast a bulb by a considerable amount, so as a long-term projector it easily makes the case for itself.
Ultimately, one must weigh modest improvements in image quality against a substantial increase in features. I don’t think anyone upgrading will regret the decision, and I’ve already decided to take the jump myself by replacing my own NX9 with the new NZ9. I can’t think of a better recommendation than that. If JVC’S NZ9 provides the light output you need for your screen size, I can’t think of a projector that offers better overall picture quality at anywhere near its $25K price point.
Sound & Vision
给定目前世界不确定的状态，当JVC在CEDIA Expo 2021开幕之前宣布不是一台而是三台新投影仪时，我真的很惊讶，这一活动最终成为其常规自我的苍白阴影。
新的JVC三重奏在很大程度上取代了该公司目前的投影机阵容，提供了一系列新功能，包括下一代BLUEscent激光引擎，具有全8K / 60HZ和4K / 120HZ视频输入支持的HDMI 2.1连接以及HDR10 +高动态范围。
乍一看，DLA-NZ9（也提供型号DLA-RS4100）似乎是早期NX9的克隆。底盘几乎是相同的 - 直到你回头看，看到投影机冷却系统的进气过滤器，它比NX9使用的要大得多。它具有与其前身相同的18片100mm玻璃镜头和第三代原生4K（4，096 x 2，160像素）D-ILA面板，但相似之处仅此而已。与JVC旗舰产品RS4500（30，000美元）使用的光源相比，NZ9的新型BLUEscent激光二极管光源的设计更加紧凑，但仍提供相同的3，000流明峰值未校准输出，在高激光模式下的半衰期额定值为20，000小时。
NZ9的两个HDMI输入是HDMI 2.1版本（全48Gbps），具有HDCP 2.3内容保护。这意味着与高达每秒60帧的8K分辨率视频和每秒高达120帧的4K分辨率视频兼容 - 后一种格式现在由新的Playstation 5和Xbox支持。
X系列游戏机。NZ9和新的DLA-NZ8都具有8K e-shiftx，这是JVC的8K电子移位系统的演变，使用四向移位，可处理8K输入信号中的单个像素，无需缩放。（相比之下，NX9不接受原生8K信号，而是使用双向8K电子换档功能，但无法实现全分辨率8K显示屏。由于使用了光学致动器，具有8K e-shiftx的像素仍然略有重叠，但考虑到8K图像的巨大像素密度，我发现很难相信该系统与原生8K成像芯片之间存在任何明显的差异，而这还不存在。
与JVC以前的NX型号相比，NZ9的HDR图像模式提供了一些调整，其中最大的一个是HDR10 +支持，这是投影仪的第一次。HDR10+是一种动态格式，它使用基于帧的元数据来确保最佳的HDR呈现效果，并且可以在有限数量的超高清光盘（主要来自华纳兄弟和环球）以及来自Amazon Prime Video，Paramount+，Hulu和其他服务的流媒体标题上找到。我手头只有几张HDR10 +光盘进行测试，结果看起来与在JVC已经出色的帧自适应色调映射的情况下观看相同的标题没有太大区别。HDR10+还限制了一些设置，如颜色配置文件选择和HDR处理强度的自动选择。最终，很高兴看到投影仪对格式的支持，但我认为JVC自己的帧自适应色调映射可以更好地为大多数观众提供服务，可以随时手动选择。
JVC表示，它并没有真正改变新阵容的任何HDR色调映射算法，但是在Frame Adapt HDR模式中有一些变化。
影院优化器设置现在更加精细，屏幕宽高比（16x9、17x9 或影院示波器）和对角线大小有了新的设置。之前的低、中和高 HDR 亮度选项也已替换为自动和可变（-2 到 +2）设置。这与NZ9的更高光输出相结合，产生了适度的改善。
NZ9提供与上次投影机固件更新中引入的JVC相同的自动图像模式。其中包括为 2D、3D、HDR 和 HLG 输入格式分配特定自定义图像模式的功能。我仍然希望看到JVC为使用BT.2020色彩空间但不是HDR的输入信号添加自定义设置，尽管此用例专门用于外置视频处理器，最终对大多数观众来说并不重要。
但是我有一个问题 - 源于我审查Rs4500的经验 - 是与彩色滤镜相关的光损失（在"颜色配置文件"菜单中标记为BT2020 [Wide]），用于实现更宽的色域。启用RS4500的彩色滤光片导致总光输出损失40%或更多。对于NZ9，在高激光设置中接近30%，在中或低激光设置中接近25%。考虑到JVC发布其第一个蓝色激光荧光粉引擎已经有多长时间了，我希望他们能够转向一种设计，不仅使用蓝色二极管和滤波器，还提供更广泛的色域覆盖范围。我们已经看到其他制造商使用双色激光引擎，能够击中完整的DCI-P3（用于光盘和流媒体上的HDR节目的色彩空间，是完整的BT.2020 Ultra HDTV色域的有限子集），而不会造成光损失，甚至是真正的基于Rgb的设计，提供接近bt.2020。我希望看到未来的JVC设计开始推动这一信封。
NZ9激光引擎的原生色域覆盖范围类似于我从其他蓝色激光设计中测量到的色域覆盖范围。Rec. 709（标准 HDTV 色域）是 100% 的预期。使用滤色镜后，我能够实现 98% 的 Dci-p3 覆盖率，与之前的 NX 系列相似。当我测量DCI-P3覆盖率（在BT.2020容器内）时，NZ9在其非滤镜模式下（在颜色配置文件菜单中标记为BT2020 [Normal]）在87%的覆盖率下有点短。但是，与NX系列相比，这种新设计的光输出更高，亮度有了非常明显的提高，并且在任何给定的图像模式下运行得更安静。
与我习惯的NX9相比，JVC的新功能在图像质量方面有了适度但受欢迎的改进。在高激光模式下，还有额外的光线可以播放，在中激光模式下，我还可以获得更好的光输出，同时受益于更安静的操作。在所有新功能中，最有争议的可能是8K eshiftx，我很好奇地测试这种模式，因为我在NX9中之前的8K eshift实现并没有真正注意到任何视觉上的改善。
鉴于目前缺乏8K内容，我没有真正的方法来测试新的e-shiftx系统，所以我联系了测试设备制造商Murideo借用了一台8K信号发生器。该公司借给我SIX-G 8K发生器，这样我就可以用完整的8K质量测试模式对e-shiftx进行测试。NZ9轻松通过了测试模式，具有清晰，清晰的表示，没有明显的缩放或处理伪像 - 对于我们可能看到消费者8K内容的那一天（可能是很长一段时间后）的一个积极迹象。但真正的问题仍然存在：8K是否为家庭影院系统提供了任何当前的好处？
举两个例子，Eshiftx在《银翼杀手2049》的Ultra HD Blu-ray和Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark光盘上的4K/ HDR图像蒙太奇上产生了显着的图像清晰度。我反复用于演示和测试的其他场景显示出明显的改进。区别不在于白天和黑夜，而是可见的。
我想有机会用微软或索尼的下一代游戏机测试NZ9的4K / 120HZ输入，但无法获得。（这些目前似乎很难获得。我还希望使用4K / 120HZ信号（用于游戏）测试延迟，但Murideo发生器不支持该分辨率的延迟测试。
我花了很多时间与NZ9，从我的Oppo 4K蓝光播放器，Kaleidescape Strato系统和Apple TV 4K流媒体等来源观看各种高清和超高清内容。整体表现是我的一个明确的上升NX9，尽管差异并不大。与之前的NX9相比，激光引擎为HDR提供了更多的动态余量，影院优化器设置的细微改进进一步有利于HDR性能。
在观看我为HDR测试收集的各种困难的测试材料时，JVC的自动模式总是使用我个人选择的范围，如果我在五个可用的Frame Adapt HDR预设上进行手动调整（-1 到 +2）。我习惯于在我的设置（Lumagen Radiance Pro）中通过舷外视频处理器观看4K / HDR。虽然Radiance Pro在"8K是否为家庭影院提供了任何好处？答案是肯定的，也是否定的。
我的一些最极端的测试（非常黑暗的电影，如黑豹，或非常明亮的电影，如梅格），JVC在处理Spears & Munsil蒙太奇的一些HDR色调映射（特别是一些必要的去饱和度）方面做得更好，甚至在The Meg中的一些场景中。在板载HDR支持方面，JVC在投影机领域仍然领先于竞争对手，而这种新型号进一步推动了信封。我无法想象大多数人的HDR演示都有问题，而新的自动模式使事情完全设置并忘记。
最后，对我来说最大的问题是：如果您已经拥有以前的NX系列型号之一，那么JVC的新投影仪是否值得升级？毫无疑问，新的DLA-NZ9提供了比我的DLA-NX9更好的外观，我已经认为NX9是任何价位上最好的投影机之一。同样，差异不是白天和黑夜，但在图像清晰度，对比度和深度方面存在明显的差异。NZ9还提供更高的光输出，更安静的操作以及对真正的8K（更不用说游戏的4K / 120HZ）的支持，如果这成为消费者的选择。而且我知道投影仪的激光引擎将比灯泡的使用寿命长得多，因此作为长期投影仪，它很容易为自己辩护。
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