My former projector, a 4k Sony, does a magnificent job with HD and also with 4k, except when imagery gets very dark. It’s a wonderfully reliable piece of gear, which gives wonderful, highly resolved images, with gorgeous color.
That has now moved on to a proper home, and I thought I’d put my initial thoughts in a column (in the software section) for those who may be considering an upgrade during their stay at home months.
For the past year, my two stalwart guides to the best in home theater gear, Robert Zohn of Value Electronics (www.valueelectronics.com), and Kevin Miller (www.isftv.com), one of the top ISF professionals in the field, have been advising me to either go without food, or sell a kidney, and pick up a JVC NX9.
I finally pulled the trigger – the two Jules Dassin films from Criterion are the first to be reviewed – and the result, after Mr. Miller completed his wonders, is nothing less than staggering.
Initially, there were some awkward problems, which JVC was not able to work through. I’m a believer that home theater gear, especially high-end, should just work. While I was able to run the HDR format with 4k releases, every time I switched a disc or shut down, the unit automatically retuned to User 1, actually not recognizing the HDR signal coming from the player to the projector, which it is supposed to do automatically.
Kris Deering did a consult, and he and Kevin were able to work through settings, which it seems were somehow mis-set by JVC. That was half a day of frustration. So, a huge thank you to Kris!
For those seeking quality calibration, Kris (www.deepdiveav.com) handles the northwest, working out of Seattle, while Kevin is available in the New York to D.C. megalopolis. If you ask really nicely, I believe they’ll both travel.
For those unaware, proper set-up is essential if you’re seeking to see what’s really on the discs.
There was another oddity with the NX9, in that it was a bit unsaturated, but once again, Kevin found a workaround. From what I’m led to believe, the factory setup for Rec 709 Color Profile is not correct.
As to brightness, one of the reasons I stretched from the cost of the 7 to the 9, was the optic, which is about as highly resolved and fast as anything one might wish. I’m able to see grain structure in large format presentations with ease. Focus is virtually flat from center to corners. Illumination actually had to be suppressed, as the glass allows more light to hit the screen than from the 5 or 7, with the same lamp.
Optics aside, the other major attribute here is JVC’s handling of HDR and tone mapping, made ever better with their frame to frame control (Frame Adapt HDR Mode), which is apparently going to be bettered by another software update in the fall.
Make no mistake, there’s nothing wrong with Sony gear, especially when you get into the laser range, which in JVC does not have the frame by frame as the 9.
From initial tests, colors pop off the screen, blacks are blacker than previously, and HDR is better handled – there is still no Dolby Vision, which apparently needs the brightness of a star to function properly – but does not beautifully on panels, especially OLED.
Mr. Zohn was kind enough to special order a unit for me. Apparently, they’ve been in short supply. Mr. Miller tweaked it to within an inch of its life.
Bottom line, if you truly have home theater as a hobby and part of your daily life, the JVCs are a great way of entering the high end. Not affordable, by any means – I do not received accommodations from JVC – but quality gear does hold value, and amortized over several years, can be less painful than one might expect.
As an aside, I ran a sequence from A24’s 4k of Midsommar for Mr. Miller, and viewed it on the JVC for the first time with him – literally pixel peeping at the screen. One can easily see extremely highly resolved details – people individually in costume in backgrounds – that were far less visible previously even in 4k.
Is it a miracle machine? No. But it takes what has been pressed to those shiny little discs, and displays them brilliantly. HDR still has a ways to come in the projection world, but at least with the 9, there’s a real step in the right direction.
Let’s see where we are after a few dozen newer films in HDR, and the forthcoming update.
As far as current reviews, this projector further exposes whatever wonders (or defects) that may exist, for better or for worse.
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