New setup with Sanyo PLV-Z800 projector, Onkyo TX-SR608 amp and Sony BDP-S570

brianvic

Standard Member
I have just, literally, recevied my Sanyo PLV-Z800 projector, my first ever projector, and thought I would share my initial findings with my personal setup for anyone interested or having similar requirements. These are only my prelimenary views as I am still waiting on the projection screen arriving and can only view the image on a plain, magnolia wall at the moment. I have also to spend more time tweaking settings. Although as you will see I don't think there's much to do. But I found other peoples reviews and setups very helpful in making my choices and thought it only fair to return the favour.

I'm not fortunate enough to be able to dedicate a room to my home cinema and have to make compromises in the living room. I am lucky enough to have a wife who loves this stuff as much as I do, which helps tremendously, but we still have to consider all the uses of the room.

My living room is approx 16 x 18 feet with the viewing axis on the longer distance. On the wall opposite the screen and TV are patio doors with one window to the left of these doors. There are no sources of daylight close to the screen area. While we have not opted for true blackout we do have fairly heavy curtains, but in strong day light these only dim the room.

My equipment comprises: Philips 42" LCD TV, Sony BDP-S570, Onkyo TX-SR608 AV amp, Satellite TV (currently Freesat soon to be Sky HD).

Speakers are a bit of a Frankenstein's Monster and have been built up over the years. My fronts are Mission E83 floor standers, center is a Tannoy, surrounds are B&W Solids and rear surrounds are ageing, but very capable Wharfedale Black Diamonds. The sub is my latest edition and is an Acoustic Energy Aelite 8.

Prior to the Sanyo I was happy with everything except the size of the image. The sound from the Onkyo is incredible! Once I'd tweaked the settings to bring the quality from my odd collection of speakers as close together as possible I couldn't believe the sound! Detailed and spacious with depth and power, both for regular audio listening and cinema sound. My speaker setup does like to be driven, but not stupidly so. Watching TV is usually done around 50 on the Onkyo and around 60-65 for movies. Much above this becomes tiring quite quickly. Interestingly the THX recommended setting is 82, which is too loud to be comfortable in our living room even if we are lucky enough to not have any neighbours close by. Besides even at 65 the bass frequencies rattle pictures throughout the house!

I use the Onkyo as my AV switch with everything going in via HDMI and using the Onkyo's audio decoding for everything. The Satellite box is connected via an optical cable as its (and I believe Sky's) HDMI only passes Dolby Digital stereo.

The picture on the Philips TV from the Sony Bluray is really, really good. Crisp and colourful with smooth movement. I used to use a PS3 as my Bluray player and was very happy with the picture, but the move to the dedicated Sony is many steps up the quality ladder. If you are in the market for a new player make sure you audition the latest Sony range. In terms of value for money and quality I think they are currently hard to beat!

Now to the Sanyo. This is my first projector so I have no direct comparison other than with TVs. I also didn't receive my Panoview screen so these initial views are based on projecting onto a magnolia wall. I also don't have the final cable yet. We are keeping the TV and since the Onkyo only has one HDMI out I have bought a splitter from HDCable so we can use either the TV or projector without changing cables or having to switch. Once everything is in place I will update this thread over time with my views on it all.

Well, all I can say is "Wow"! I didn't really know what to expect, although I was obviously hoping for a good picture I didn't know just how good it was going to be!!

Our primary reason for moving to a projector was size. A 50" - 60" plasma just wasn't going to cut it and of course the cost of the larger models just gets silly! Well, for our budget anyway. We have looked at some of the £2,500 Panasonics and Sonys and while the picture quality can be exceptional we felt, for the money, it still didn't give us that true cinema feeling.

I would have to say that even on a wall the quality of HD and Bluray sources through the Sanyo is easily as good as the expensive TVs we looked at. Now this is, of course, a subjective view and you may be much pickier than I am, but with a 100" picture on the wall I was just blown away at how good it looked. I knew this was the way to go, but I didn't truly appreciate just how immersive such a large screen in your living room can be!

Colours are strong and vibrant without being garish, although you can have that too if you wish. Skin tones are astonishingly real out the box! The only adjustment I made initially was to the colour temperature. The magnolia wall warmed all the colours so by cooling it slightly everything looked so real. It may be cheesy and a bit of a cliche, but it did feel like looking through a window it looked that good.

The Sanyo has an auto iris, but in its default setting I actually found it noticeable as it adjusted. I have briefly tried varying the auto settings, but I eventually just set it to a fixed size that works for me. Over the next few weeks I will probably fiddle some more with it, but for now I found its effect too visible to be worth it.

Which brings me on to the subject of contrast and blacks. If you want to use a projector in daylight or high ambient light then even I know to expect a fairly washed out picture with little or no blacks. We watched some TV during the day with the Sanyo and while watchable it lost most of its quality. With the room dimmed a little things improved a lot, but it is when it got dark outside that the image truly came to life. So I would agree with most people's assessment, you do need a light-controlled room to fully appreciate this (and probably most) projector.

But I found the blacks to be surprisingly really good! I had read reviews that said the only thing they wished for was better blacks out of the Sanyo and, yes, it would be good to have really deep blacks, but the blacks I achieved with the Sanyo were easily a match for my Philips LCD. I'm sure moving to a Panny Plasma or a much more expensive projector might get closer to that elusive black, but for the money I am delighted with what I am getting! The contrast is good, but I reckon I will be able improve the blacks further once I've sussed more of the settings.

Fan noise is almost non-existant, although once the unit has been on for a while and is hotter the fan increases speed and becomes more audible, but not to the level you really notice. If you stop and listen you will hear it, but even during quiet moments in a movie it is certainly not intrusive and the projector is currently sitting on a table right in front of us.

I was slightly worried about the 'chicken wire effect' as I had read that some lower price projectors can have it quite noticably. I needn't have worried. If you stand a foot or so from the screen you can just make out the grid lines, but step back and the image is clear and smooth.

HD material is definitely this projector's forte, but SD material still looks great, if a little softer. The larger image does show up poorer quality more though. Older TV shows in particular lack definition and the colours are more muted. But we didn't purchase this projector to replace our TV. We bought it to enhance our home cinema experience, which it does in spades!! Casino Royal, Quantum of Solace, Avatar and Where The Wild Things Are all look superb!! Truly breathtaking!!

Once it is properly mounted and the screen is up, and I have had more time to check out all the settings combinations, I will update this post. But considering I am just viewing on a wall at the moment I can honestly say this is a truly awesome projector for the money!

I should take this opportunity to point out that everyone's tastes are different and never more so than in audio visual. I did't intend this to be a detailed review of my setup or my equipment, but just my own personal assessment of how it looks and sounds. I'm sure many people would love my setup and just as many may not, but if you are in the market for something similar then hopefully my own experience may help make those tough decisions.

Please feel free to ask me any specific questions.
 

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