Arcam FMJ test (longish) also in DVD Player Forum

Gordon @ Convergent AV

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For the last week I've been happily testing a BETA unit of the forthcoming ArcamFMJ DVD player. I thought it'd be nice to share my thoughts with the forum.

First, it's well made, built just like other FMJ CD players in fact. The back looks familiar to anyone who's seen a DV88 with the exception of some additional sockets for the progressive scan outputs. The first thing we did wth it though was to play some CD's. Using the analogue outputs we compared it to a DV88. The difference was not subtle. Whereas the DV88 is equivalent to the starter alpha series CD player this isn't. It's much more like a good mid price CD player. Nice one!

I then set about comparing it to our Vigatec scaler as well as trying it with a range of projectors. Here's what happened.

SanyoPLV30. I used the same discs for most evaluations. Gladiator (Battle of Carthage), Fifth Element, Snell and Wilcox Zone plate with bouncing ball. Using the PLV30's internal scaler with Gladiator their chain mail/the gold brocaide on everyone's tunics and the edges of the ledges in front of the Emperor all had obvious artifacts. The picture was good but the strange jaggedy edges, shimmering and patterning made you realise it was a processed image. Switching to the progressive output was revelatory. This was easily the most obvious and biggest difference I've done in a while. All these artifacts seem to be eliminated. Same story with Fifth Element during the "on a ledge" scene. You can usually see shimmering and jaggedy edges on the top right of the inside of the tube she's crawling along when she turns round to look at the cop shouting at her. Almost totally gone with this on the FMJ. From this dem and from seeing an Iscan used with one of these units I'd say that owners of such projectors should consider prog scan DVD players or external processors as great cost effective updates. They really will give the picture a BIG boost.

Seleco500. Pretty much the same here. I used a customers projector for the tests as I had to go out do some work in his house. Seemed like the perfect opportunity as his Pioneer DV-09 was in for repair. He was impressed too guess he mght not be getting his DV-09 back!

Barco800. used the FMJ27 at home a fair bit. I found that it's 480P output on my 16:9 screen was close to ideal resulting in no visisble scan lines. The image really did look good.

The slightly more interesting thing is a bit complicated tp describe though. Due to the way our dem Sony1251Q is wired up it's not possible to send it a component signal. Only RGB. Now, our dem Vigatec scaler has the ability to scale incoming progressive signals as well as interlaced. This means that I could feed interlaced and progressive component outputs to two seperate inputs on the scaler and then output them both to the Sony via RGB. The scaler was set to output XGA resolution. In this way it's possible to compare the de-interlacing inside the FMJ to that of the Vigatec. I think this is more interesting as both these units use the same chip for de-interlacing. I should point out though that our Vigatec doesn't have the additional co-processor update done yet. This is a Free of Charge hardware update that increases its performance still further. So, on to business.

Not to beat about the bush after doing the same dems with this combo I immediately called the Vigatec distributor to see if the co-processor's had arrived from Germany. The FMJ had the beating of our favourite scaler, well, at least with anlogue component inputs but not by much though. they were very similar but the FMJ seemed less processed and natural.

I'm sure Oasis can help here but I used theZone plate bouncing ball test to compare these two. They both were very similar on the last two bouncing ball sections but on the first one (where I believe it's a representation of film based material) the FMJ exhibited less artifacts and patterning. In fact while the ball was moving it just looked like concentric circles with patterning only visible at the "bounce" off the sides.

So well done Arcam. I look forward to seeing production models as I'd imagine they can only get better.

Don't write off the Vigatec though. I also saw an updated one with digital video input fed by a modified Pioneer 737 during the week. That was very interesting indeed... best picture of the week! If I get a chance I'll try and write it up over the holiday weekend as well.

All the best,


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