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Scaler Recommendations

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Charlie Whitehouse, Nov 11, 2001.

  1. Charlie Whitehouse

    Charlie Whitehouse
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    I'm hoping to join the CRT user fraternity shortly. I have a Barco Cine 7 that I hope to get Roland's help with installing soon. I have a 6ft wide 16:9 electric Vu-tech screen on order - can't go any bigger due to room constraints. The Cine 7 has a built-in LIDO line doubler which will be OK to start with, but ultimately I want an external scaler. Sources will be a Theta David II DVD transport (interlaced component output), Pioneer CLD-D925 laserdisc player (s-video), and a Pace digital cable TV box (RGB/composite). I'm assuming that I won't be able to go beyond about 720p with the Barco.

    I am looking for recommendations for scalers I should be considering, new or second-hand, up to about £5k. The DWIN Transcanner in the classifieds looks tempting but I don't have the cash right now. Following The Event, I was more or less decided on the Vigatech, but I'm having second thoughts and am open to persuasion again. So apart from the aforementioned, the Rock+, Jenz's new offering (?), Extron USP405 (anyone have any idea of the price?) what others are there in this sort of price range that should be on my shortlist? Anywhere I can go to compare any of these head-to-head?
     
  2. WSquared

    WSquared
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    It might be possible for Roland to upgrade your Cine7 to the Limo Pro scaler which we saw at "the event". This looked fantastic. I think it was being used with the TAG DVD32R. I assume it would look good with your player too!.

    Some of the scalers are:
    Quadscan Elite
    Crystal Image(yet to see one in the UK)
    Vigatec Dune(same de-interlacing chip as the Iscan Pro)
    Faroudja NR
    and up in price from there

    Roland and Gordon?

    Cheers,
    WSquared
     
  3. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Charlie: I think you've got the usual suspects lined up.
    Rock+, Vigatec, Faroudja Native Rate. They are the three under £5000 I'd look at.

    Personally I love the Runco we have on NTSC stuff. It's not as good as the Vig on PAL though. Trying to get hold of a NR to evaluate. I like units which actually work and are seamless in operation so that knocks out a few.

    If you can go as high as £5000 then forget the Quadscan and Crystal Image. They are not in the same league as the others mentioned. They are good for the money though.

    Work out what features you need/want re aspect ratio control, refresh rates etc and go from there. Any of those mentioned is great.

    I am in the same situation as you but I am considering a custom PC solution as well.

    All the best,

    Gordon

    Gordon
     
  4. Jenz

    Jenz
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    Charlie, as Gordon said you should spend a bit of time discussing your specific requirements as this may knock out some of the units.

    Do you need Refresh Rate Control ie 72hz/75hz or incrementals?
    Do you need Aspect Ratio control? Here I mean variable control for example not just Anamorphic, 4:3 and Letterbox.

    You've specified your input requirements but if you're spending that money you should also consider a unit with SDI to eek the last drops of quality out of the Barco.

    What is the Partner/Wide Acceptance Issues if Any? The Rock+ is very ugly compared to the others though not as Chrome as the Runco.

    Is a HTPC a viable alternative?

    A bit more on your requirements wil help these. Personally I also think you don't need to spend £5k. £4k is going to get you pretty much all the products and leave £1k to spend on improving say the source.

    If you go the HTPC route even for a very high end unit you'll not pay anywhere near that.

    Regards Neil.
     
  5. Charlie Whitehouse

    Charlie Whitehouse
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    Thanks for the replies so far. :):)

    Jenz,

    To answer your questions (and raise a few more) in sequence:-

    Why would I consider refresh rate control? Is this something I would only find out once I have the Barco set up to see if I suffer from any flicker problems at 50/60Hz? Or am I missing something? Please enlighten. Essentially I want a de-interlaced signal with maximum resolution and minimum artefacts.

    Same applies for aspect ratio control. What would be the pros/cons. I have a mix of all kinds of disks. What should be the determining factor?

    My Barco doesn't currently have SDI input. Is this an upgrade option? Similarly the Theta doesn't currently have SDI output though it is available as an upgrade (only available with the prog scan upgrade, I think, at £2k+).

    Partner/WAF - not a problem. Only company is 3 cats and a home cinema system.

    HTPC not really desirable. The Theta is a good stylistic and synergistic match with my Casablanca II - sound quality also really important to me. Unlikely to be able to improve on David II as a source for £1k. Cost £6k already!

    Gordon,

    The Faroudja NR looks interesting though I assume a bit limiting if I later decided to change the Cine 7 for an 8" or 9" unit if it were optimised for the Cine 7. Really interested in your view if you manage to get hold of a demo unit. What's the price of this unit new? Am I right in thinking that Faroudja is imported to the UK by Path Premier? Anyone know any dealers in the South East with one of these units on demo?

    Oh, and I nearly forgot. Congratulations, by the way! Converged at last! Any more 'Events' planned for next year??
     
  6. Charlie Whitehouse

    Charlie Whitehouse
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    Not sure if it's good form to resurrect your own threads, but seeing as no-one seems likely to provide any further input on this one, I thought I would provide an update on my own findings to date.

    Jenz, where are you???

    Last Friday, my local dealer arranged for me to go down to Marata in North London to compare an Extron USP406 scaler that Marata were keen to promote, against a Vidikron rebadged Faroudja NR series scaler. When I say rebadged, the scaler says Faroudja on it, the box says Faroudja on it - you'd be hard pushed to find the small print that actually says Vidikron anywhere, but I digress.

    The Extron is about £3900 plus VAT and the Faroudja (sorry Vidikron) is £5000 including VAT. We reckoned that the Faroudja was fixed at about 1024x768 resolution. The Extron was capable of a variety of resolutions including 1080p.

    The demo at Marata involved an Electrohome 7500 8" CRT fed by a Theta David II DVD transport just like mine. We also tried Marata's own Pioneer DV717 for comparison but this was strictly no contest against the Theta!! The overall result with really good disks was ****ing brilliant.

    We watched various disks but I was most interested in those that were used at The Event, Star Trek Insurrection and Unbreakable. For me, the Faroudja was unquestionably better than the Extron. The image was more film-like, lacking jaggies particularly on on-screen text, but did seem to exaggerate any grain in the original image. The Faroudja was better at extracting the maximum detail from near-black images in Unbreakable, but the Extron was able to provide better detail at the higher 1080p resolution. Of the two, I would choose the Faroudja - it's just nicer to watch.

    Then in the afternoon, Roland came round and set my Cine 7 up properly and my dealer did the dirty on me and lent me the Faroudja over the weekend to play with!!! Roland got the Cine 7 really on song using the internal LIDO doubler, and then we plugged in the Faroudja. Well the image was a little soft, but not as bad as we feared, given that the Cine 7 is likely to struggle at 768p. The picture was really rather nice. We did notice a problem with PAL material though, in the shape of a 'kink' which appeared across the entire width of the screen and caused a slight 'ripple' in any vertical or diagonal lines in the image. NTSC material was fine in this respect, but was subject to some jerkiness in motion.

    Roland reckons from what he saw that the Rock is better than the Faroudja and is trying to get hold of one to demonstrate to me. So I await this next demo with interest........
     
  7. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Charlie,

    I started reading that you had gone to see the Extron and was concerned you'd say it was good.... I saw one at the Christie launch and was not very impressed. It doesn't have the best de-interlacing around. I saw quite a few artifacts where I would have expected none on something like a Vig/Rock/Runco/Faroudja. That's why it wasn't even mentioned in my post.

    768P is probably too much for the Cine7. The overlapping scan lines will probably make the image look soft and help mask any artifacts.

    Neil is correct that you need to think about what you want to achieve. Do you want variable refresh rates so that you can remove the 3:2 sequence in NTSC, film sourced stuff, or the flicker in 50Hz PALstuff. How many video sources do you have and do you want to sned them all in the hightest quality to the scaler? Do you watch solely NTSC DVD's or do you watch PAL tv programming?

    The two contenders are the Rock and Vigatec. I believe that on video based material the Rock is better. On anything else they are equals. Vigatec has 8 video inputs, one of these could be RGB from a Sky Box or Cable box (no need for rgb to s-video here) you could also, if you wished send de-interlaced signals to two of the inputs for upscaling to your desired resolution....These are features that may be of absolutely no use though! The Rock has some great set up features to help get a storming picture out of it, especially the infinite resolutions to get CRT's singing.

    You should definately let Roland get hold of a Rock Plus for you to look at. If you need to see the Vig...you know where I am.

    Gordon
     
  8. Charlie Whitehouse

    Charlie Whitehouse
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    Considering I was completely rat-ar*ed when I wrote that last night, I'm surprised it read as well as it did!!!

    To be frank, the guy from Marata had to concede that the Faroudja was simply better than the Extron in pretty much every department. I only went along because my dealer (that sounds distinctly iffy doesn't it?) offered the opportunity and I needed a day off from work! Having got absolutely no joy from Faroudja or Path Premier, I was keen to see the NR series in any context anyhow!

    Just out of interest, what's the price of the Vigatec these days? If you don't wish to reveal it here, please send me a private message or e-mail.

    I know that 768p is too high for the Cine 7, but you don't pass up the offer to borrow the keys to a Porsche or Ferrari over a weekend do you!! If I did go with the NR series, I would probably stick at 800x600. I would hope that the issue that Roland and I spotted with PAL material in terms of that 'kink' were only on that particular unit rather than a design problem.

    I am hopeful that the Rock Plus will fit the bill, otherwise the Vigatec may still make it but Glasgow is still a bit far to travel to try it.

    Looking forward to Event 2.
     
  9. rigman

    rigman
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    I have a rock plus and a Tag Mclaren DVD32R feeding into a Barco graphics 808s and it looks superb. I never got to the event so I have no real point of reference so cannot say how it compares to the other processors on the market but I am sure you will be very impressed. I will try and post some pictures in the next few days. The only negative thing I can say is that it is not a very pretty looking box. :p

    Darren
     
  10. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Charlie:

    You are right. Someone gives you the keys you spin those wheels!

    Vigatecs are different prices dependant on spec like Rocks....

    The thing to remember with CRT is that to get the best out of them you want to make use of the largest amount of raster. The NR series will, undoubtedly output signal at VESA standards. The timings for these may mean that it's not possible touse as much of the raster as is available.

    A Roxk has the ability ot fgine tune MANY parameters to get the best out of a CRT device. Vigatecs have some non VESA timing outputs as well (line tripling and quadrupling for instance).......

    I'm down seeing clients and hopefully Uncle Eric and Jeff in February (17 th onwards). If you want I'm happy to try and get SS's GVC1280 and lend it to you for a week while I'm in your neck of the woods. I do think the Rock may be more appropriate though.

    Gordon
     
  11. uncle eric

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    Charlie,
    I recently imported a Fara NR for a customers install I did previously. I put in a brand new Cine 7 for him.
    I got the 720p NR for this guy and once set up it looked fantastic. I would agree that 768p is just a little over the edge with the 7" Cine 7.
    720p however seems to be made to measure for the Cine 7.
    Just to point out that even if you upgrade your PJ later on, the Fara is factory upgradable to different rates to suit most 8 and 9 inchers.
    I'm not 100% on the price but around 1200 dollars rings a bell.

    On the other hand you, if much of your viewing is dvd, you might want to try what I did and go for a Cinematrix moded dvd player.
    This allows you to change scaling rates from 480p through to 1200p at the flick of a switch.

    For more info, do a search under the heading Cinematrix.

    Eric
     
  12. Charlie Whitehouse

    Charlie Whitehouse
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    Eric,

    Thanks for the info. I had just heard that 800x600 was about the sweet spot for the Cine 7. If it will do 720p then so much the better. 768p didn't look too bad, not nearly as soft as Roland and I expected.

    I have to agree that the Fara did look very good, apart from some jerkiness in slow scans and that weird kink on PAL material. Did you notice anything like this with the one you installed? I'm afraid it would put me off buying it if it was a general problem with this design. So I'm keen to know if the one you saw did anything similar. I had guessed that it should be possible to change the resolution by dealer/factory upgrade of the firmware and if your price is right then not too prohibitive - at least cheaper than a new scaler!

    I think I'll still go for the external scaler - it will also serve as a video switcher for my requirements.

    Gordon,

    If your offer is still open, I would be very keen to try the Vig if that's at all possible.
     
  13. uncle eric

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    Charlie,
    The 720p Fara NR that I put in worked beautifully with the Cine 7. One of my friends in Hong Kong has a Sony G70 (8" CRT) set up with a Fara 3000. This combo looked awsome. The Cine 7 Fara NR combo was not a million miles away in terms of performance.
    The Cine 7 and NR combo is superb value for money.

    Eric
     

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