What is the JVC DLA-N5?
The JVC DLA-N5 is the entry-level native 4K projector in the line-up sitting below the DLA-N7 and flagship NX9 models. It uses the same native 0.69-inch 4K native D-ILA devices as the two higher models and newly developed digital driver LSI for native 4K resolution. This dedicated driver LSI simultaneously drives each of the three (R/G/B) native 4K D-ILA devices at high-speed 120fps to improve the projected image quality with the new native 4K devices, which have a resolution of 4096 x 2160.
The N5 also has a 17-element, 15-group all-glass lens with a 65mm diameter to project fully focused 4K native resolution to all corners of the screen. JVC also claims a brightness of 1800 lumens and high native contrast of 40,000:1 with a dynamic contrast of 400,000:1. The lens shift is fully motorised with control over zoom, focus and shift and this works with the new installation modes that allow you to have preset control over the aspect ratio, masking and several other settings. This allows you to have modes for various different viewing experiences and content.
The DLA-N5 supports HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) images with dynamic tone mapping thanks to the new Frame Adapt system (make sure the projector is running 3.10 firmware). This dynamic mapping significantly improves the HDR playback of the projector to balance out the image and retain details in the specular highlights as well as the shadows. Unlike the N7 and NX9, the N5 does not feature the Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) filter so therefore does not support WCG with HDR.
Like all JVC projectors, there are full calibration controls available within the menus which should allow for accurate calibration. There is an auto-calibration feature which is only compatible with a third-party meter. Clear Motion Drive frame interpolation is also here along with Motion Enhance which optimizes the driving of the D-ILA devices according to the motion of the image, reducing motion blur.
While this may be the entry-level to JVC’s 4K native projector range it still has a pretty high price tag of £6499, so does it all add up to a decent HDR home cinema experience without the wide colour gamut coverage? Let’s find out!
JVC N5 Video Review
Design, Connections and Control
The DLA-N5 uses the same chassis as the N7 which is larger and taller than the outgoing X-series models, the NX9 is slightly bigger again.
The N5 measures in at 500 x 234 x 495mm (WxHxD), it weighs 19.6Kg and it is available in a black or white finish. It follows the traditional home cinema design of a centralised lens with exhaust and air vents to each side of the front plate which has a smooth finish. The lens opening is 7-inches wide with the 65mm diameter lens sealed in the centre. There are three indicator lights to the top right when viewing from the front of the unit. To the top is a stripe which runs the length of the body and it has the JVC, HDR and ISFccc logos at the lens end and 4K D-ILA logos at the rear.
Around the back, we have the connections and control ports with the power socket to the bottom of the backplate. From the left top, we have the 3D sync input for the emitter and to the right of this are the two HDMI 2.0b inputs with HDCP 2.2 compliance. The HDMI will accept full 18Gbps bandwidth 60p 4K 4:4:4 signals with HDR10 and HLG compatibility. Continuing to the right we have an RS232 control port, a USB service port, LAN ethernet and a 12V trigger. Rounding off the backplate are manual menu and access control buttons for use if you misplace the remote control.
It follows the traditional home cinema design of a centralised lens with exhaust and air vents to each side of the front plate
The remote control supplied with the DLA-N5 is the new N series model which is a small plastic affair with a backlight and direct access keys place to the top of the unit. These are logically laid out and intuitive to use and the unit fits neatly in the hand and is easy to use.
Out of the Box
As we always do within our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a display must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen.
We continue to push JVC to switch to the CalMAN AutoCal system
There are a number of SDR picture presets but no THX settings as the N5 and N7 are not THX certified. We found that Cinema was the most accurate picture preset to the industry standards. We set the colour gamut to Rec.709, colour temperature to 6500K and gamma at 2.4 for our viewing room which is a light-controlled Batcave. We found that, to reach a gamma of 2.4 we had to select the 2.6 setting in the projector.
We also tested with the settings available to the end consumer and a professional calibrator, so did not use the auto cal system which requires the use of a specific low-end meter. We continue to push JVC to switch to the CalMAN AutoCal system which allows professionals to use high-end meters to carry out the process with much-improved accuracy.
Looking at the greyscale we can see that there are large errors in the brightest section of the track from 60% stimulus and up. There is a mix of too much green, red and blue at various points. Our DeltaE errors are also above the visible threshold of three from 60% upwards. Gamma is also tracking around the 2.4 mark, but with darkening at 10% which translates onscreen to some mild black crush.
Our Rec.709 HD colour gamut results are also good but impacted by the wayward greyscale tracking. Green is the major error here with a hue pitch towards cyan, but everything else is there or thereabouts given the white point error. We certainly didn’t see any obvious issues when watching film and TV content with colours or skin tones.
This review sample had a good number of hours on the bulb when it arrived and was 110hrs when we calibrated it. We used our reference Klein K10-A meter, Murideo Six-G 4K HDR pattern generator and CalMAN software.
The greyscale tracking and the graph doesn’t look very nice on first look. This is because we were forced to manage the inputs we corrected at 80 and 30% stimulus using the two-point controls. Because of the way this projector was behaving, correcting the blue at 30% stim any more than shown also pushed red up at 10% stim, which turned blacks red. There was nothing we could do to flatten the blue rise in the mid-tone areas of the greyscale, but as blue is harder for the eye to pick up, this doesn’t cause any visible issues with actual film and TV content. The higher end of the tracking is more accurate, but with DeltaE errors all under the visible threshold of three, there are no visible issues within actual viewing material. Gamma is also better tracked and the light black crush is removed.
The Rec.709 colour gamut results were also improved against the out of the box results now that we were able to get some improvement in the greyscale white point. There are still a few points that are slightly off on the graph, like 100% green, cyan and red, but with DeltaE errors all under the visible threshold of three, these do not present any visible errors with actual film and TV content. Accuracy is very good.
As we continue to say in all projector reviews, as these are a reflective display technology, it is not capable of producing an image that can match a direct display device, such as a TV, for HDR peak brightness or specular highlights. Indeed, HDR on projectors is a completely different viewing experience to that seen on a TV, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of brighter images and wider colour gamuts. Just don’t expect the same specular highlights seen on a 1000 nit TV. The DLA-N5 does not have a colour filter in use of Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) so the colour volume will be less than the N7 and NX9 but the brightness will be better with no filter in use. Indeed, the N5 measured quite a bit brighter in calibrated mode than our recently tested NX9 but didn’t have the same contrast performance.
Related: What is Colour Volume?
We measured 460nits in the best D65 capable HDR mode (Frame Adapt) and contrast measured in at 47,734:1 (460/0.01) with no zoom and 47,874:1 (304.9/0.006) at full zoom with the manual iris wide open. Results like these will vary from projector to projector as they are bulb based and each age differently, but the contrast results are very close to those advertised by JVC.
The PQ EOTF follows the ST.2084 curve as much as it can up to 100 nits, and then it rolls off to the peak brightness available, but with Frame Adapt the tone mapping is dynamic with content, and not measurable.
... the colour volume will be less than the N7 and NX9 but the brightness will be better with no filter in use.
The P3 saturation sweeps within Rec.2020 were also very good with a decent attempt to reach the Wide Colour Gamut without the use of a filter in the light path. The downside is the colour volume which isn’t as rich as the NX9 using the filter, so colours are a little less punchy, but with actual HDR content, we were happy with the colour performance on offer from the JVC DLA-N5. BT.2020 coverage is 72% XY and 78% UV with P3 measuring in at 95% XY and 98% UV.
Related: What is Wide Colour Gamut?
Like all higher-end projectors, the JVC DLA-N5 benefits from being used on a batcave environment, like our testing room. This allows the projector to perform at its best with excellent black levels and image detail. As mentioned in our NX9 review the black floor is fractionally raised when compared to the X-series models, like our reference X7900, but this will only really be noticeable to owners coming from an X model and is not a deal-breaker at all.
Another slight issue I found with this sample, which has 110hrs on the bulb, was light corners when the screen went completely black. Again this isn’t noticeable all the time and I am only mentioning it to be complete in our assessment. We also didn’t notice any issues with a 16:9 image on an unmasked scope screen as we did with the NX9 sample. Plus, HDMI handshake is also improved here over the X-series models, but it could still be quicker.
Colours are also superb with incredibly believable skin tones and a cinematic edge
The installation modes explained in detail within our NX9 review are also present here and offer the same flexibility is selecting items such as aspect ratio switching, Lens Control, Pixel Adjustment, Mask, Anamorphic On or Off, Screen Adjust, Installation Style, Keystone and Pincushion. Our only slight gripe is that, unlike the X7900 where the menu selection screens disappear and the aspect ratio changes, the N5 has the adjustment notification onscreen throughout the change and then falls back to the mode menu screen. Again, this is a tiny issue that will only be annoying to a handful of users, but mirroring how the X-series do it would be great if possible in future.
The native resolution of the N5 is 4096 x 2160 and displaying normal UHD 3840 x 2160 is easily managed without any need to zoom. Image sharpness is excellent and is uniform across the screen thanks to the excellent lens being used by the N5. It is not as noticeably pin-sharp as that on the NX9, but then there is a huge price difference between the two pieces of glass used. I only noted the difference as I had spent a long time with the NX9 and it is one of the main standout features. Upscaling and video processing is very good on the DLA-N5 with nice sharp edges without any unwanted ringing or artefacts. Motion is also very good with the JVC able to display 400 lines on a moving pattern with no interpolation. Adding Clear Motion Drive on max upped this to 650 lines, but with some obvious artefacts being introduced. The N5 also benefits from having Motion enhance set to Low which removes unwanted image blur not present in the content, without adding any interpolation. It’s subtle but beneficial in most cases. Motion with 24fps content is also very good with no induced judder added that is not present in the content.
I haven’t been disappointed at any point with the performance on offer
SDR in low lamp mode is a real strongpoint of all JVC D-ILA projectors and the N5 is no exception with stunning dynamic, solid blacks and very good shadow details adding depth to the image. Colours are also superb with incredibly believable skin tones and a cinematic edge that other projectors just can’t match. Blacks continue to be the JVC strong point with an inky deep sheen that doesn’t crush detail. In fact, the 4K models have a very good just above black performance once calibrated, that really adds to the image dynamics. I once again used a test scene from the Blu-ray of Jaws and ended up watching the rest of the film as it looked so good.
Upscaling and video processing is very good on the DLA-N5 with nice sharp edges without any unwanted ringing or artefacts.
Moving to HDR and, once again, the disclaimer is that HDR on a projector is not like a TV and will never be able to achieve that level of dynamic range and specular highlights. However, with the new V3.10 firmware update that added Frame Adapt to all the native 4K models, JVC now has one of the most convincing HDR images on a projector thanks to the dynamic tone mapping used.
More: JVC DLA-N7 review Frame Adapt explanation
Blacks remain deep and shadows to mid-tones are excellent which really adds depth and texture to HDR images, with detail still visible in most highlights without dulling the image down. Content mastered at 1000 or 4000 nits are handled as you would expect with highlights looking bright, but with detail retained where possible. The sun in Pan, for example, looks like it should with no hard clipping and details remain visible in the clouds without whites looking blown out. Skin tones look superb and lifelike with excellent texture to faces and pores being visible. Colours are also natural-looking and balanced with no signs of bloom or oversaturation. However, being critical, they are also not quite as saturated as they should be for a wide colour gamut as the N5 doesn’t use a P3 filter. The trade-off though is a much brighter image as there is nothing in the light path to knock lumens.
HDR looks great on the N5 and JVC has really nailed the Frame Adapt dynamic tone mapping to make their 4K models the best currently tested projectors with the format. As with SDR content, the strong point with HDR on the N5 is the superb cinematic looking images that transport you to wherever the movie is taking you. Images are sharp, detailed and colourful with a natural and cinematic flair that is hard to describe.
Just like the NX9 when it was here for review, I have made use of the N5 to watch countless movies and dramas in all resolutions and formats. I haven’t been disappointed at any point with the performance on offer and while it lacks the absolute depth and colour fidelity of the NX9 along with the breathtaking image sharpness and texture, there is not a £13,000 difference between the two.
- Excellent SDR picture quality
- Excellent HDR picture quality
- Frame Adapt dynamic tone mapping
- Good calibration controls
- Excellent black levels and shadow details
- Very good 3D playback
- Motorised lens shift, zoom, focus
- No motorised lens cover
- Slightly lacking absolute colour saturation for HDR
- Auto Calibration needs to feature all high-end meters
JVC DLA-N5 (RS1000) Native 4K Projector Review
While the JVC DLA-N5 may well be the entry-level when it comes to native 4K, the performance on offer is excellent. It might not have the WCG filter of the N7 and NX9 but it still manages to produce some of the best HDR10 images we have seen from a projector at the price point. The only small negative being an overall lack of absolute colour saturation, but it is not something you would notice in isolation and as such is probably not going to any issue for the vast majority of users. The Frame Adapt dynamic tone mapping is a game-changer for JVC and elevates their machines above the competition for balanced, nuanced and effective HDR image quality. That alone is worth the entry price.
SDR as you would expect looks sublime with stunning image accuracy, detail and black levels. Yes, the black floor is ever so slightly raised compared to the outgoing X-series, but you would only notice this moving from one to the other, as we did. In all other respects, the JVC still has the best black levels of any currently available native 4K projector.
Overall, the DLA-N5 is an excellent entry point to native 4K projection from JVC
Video processing is also very good with no issues when it comes to upscaling content to 4K and motion is also very good with 24fps material. There is a frame interpolation system available if you want to watch big-screen sports and this works fairly well but does add in artefacts at the highest settings. It shouldn’t be used with film or drama content. 3D playback is also very good indeed with no issues with obvious crosstalk of ghosting within images. Alita: Battle Angel looked stunning in 3D on the big screen and it is nice to see manufacturers continuing to add this to projectors like the N5.
If you want to add in the wide colour gamut filter to that excellent HDR then you will need to step up to the JVC DLA-N7 which Steve reviewed for the site, but be prepared for the jump in price point. You could also consider the Sony VPL-VW570ES that remains as a current model even though we reviewed it back in 2018. It has many of the features the DLA-N5 has but I certainly feel the HDR on the JVC would sway me if I had to make the choice. Obviously, at the time of this review, it is difficult to demo any equipment, but I would recommend a demo at a specialist dealer of both before spending this much on the projector.
Overall, the DLA-N5 is an excellent entry point to native 4K projection from JVC and it offers superb SDR and very good HDR picture quality. The lack of a WCG filter is not a major factor as the image quality with HDR is still some of the best we have yet seen from a projector. We are struggling to find any real negatives with the N5 and as such it comes highly recommended.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels
2D Picture Quality
3D Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
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