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Upsampling - A word of caution?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Steve.EX, Sep 6, 2005.

  1. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    There seems to be so much to-ing and fro-ing and enthusiasm about the "merits" of this "wonder-fix" that i thought i would put a few layman type words to this matter.
    This is all my based on my own experiences of course and should perhaps not be "taken as read" but certainly considered.

    Upscaling (on the cheap)

    To start with and in simplistic terms this "science" has the potential to induce real problems (read performance ruining) and it has been my experience that many of the perceived gains at this end of the market actually have little if anything to do with the actual upscaling of the frame itself. It is not at all "easy" to do well at any (realistic) price, far less sub £200 etc.
    It has been my experience that this is in NO way the answer to buying a quality, although not necessarily hugely expensive dvd player. There are several good quality SD (standard definition) machines out there for not much more that beer money that by a country mile outperform the 720/1080 players with what is perceived to be "a poor mans" 480p, or if you are prepared to buy an older secondhand player 480i even!
    For those with more modest displays/projectors it is simply a case of "the battle of the scalers", is scaler X in the display better than scaler Y in the player. In nearly all situations the image will be rescaled by the display devices internal scaler so you are simply adding to conversion chain. It is similarly a common misunderstanding that matching a 720p plasma (for instance) with a 720p signal from a dvd player will result in perfect 1:1 pixel matching - thus a better image. For reasons not relevent here, on many occasions i have witnessed a better image when the pixel matching has been slightly offset, in much the same way as some will higher/lower the refresh rate slightly to achieve improved "smoothness/stabiity".
    In almost all these instances it is likely that the best results will be obtained by feeding the display with a quality non-scaled image and let the display do the work rather than have the two devices interacting badly.
    There are of course solutions to this but this usually comes in the form of an altogether superior standalone scaling device with an infinately more flexible and controllable set-up and output. These are invariably expensive and generally require knowledgable input. There are cheap scalers about but they also (in my experience) have proved to offer as many hinderances as improvements to performance.

    HDMI

    Again briefly, as far as display devices are concerned it is probably a sensible thing to buy with, although an SDI input (all things being even) would perhaps be the addition of choice. As far as HDMI outputs on an awful lot of the current crop of players about, i would almost say it has value as a practical interface, but again offers NO guarantee of improved performance whatsover. If we ignore the numerous compatibilty issues of which there are many, and the continually evolving specifications we are still left with the real world scenario of is it actually better? In theory it is just what we want, an interface that lives in the 1's and 0's domain but the reality is that implementation seems to vary wildy and yet again imho better performance is still offered by other means. I really have yet to be convinced that cheap HDMI offers anything over that which is attainable by perhaps older quality non-hdmi players. As a foot-note and this IS important to someone like me, it is my experience and opinion that digital audio via HDMI (at any price!) does not compete with existing interfaces, i will of course acknowledge anyones to comments to the contary but i will not be swayed in my opinion that as of today i do not want my hi-res cd's or lowly DD/DTS tracks via hdmi, it simply does not sound "as good" (and sometimes nowhere near as good) as my sit-up-and-beg SP/DiF, especially if we are talking BNC type connections.

    Upscaling DVD players = Tomorrows quadraphonic maybe?
    HDMI = As of yet not the universal answer i was looking for.


    Regards

    Steven
     
  2. loz

    loz
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  3. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    A great link which i will absorb in due course, though from my scanning it would seem the Oppo is (on the bench) favourable and very popular on these forums, however, if i have read correctly??? they are only giving recommendations of these sort of players at 480p!
    All that said i stand wholeheartedly by my experiences of plugging these things into the various displays i own (CRT TV/CRT Monitor/LCD/PJ) and would welcome anyone to actually look at presented image and find differently. I honestly do doubt it.

    Steven
     
  4. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    am I reading a different test then? I don't get that conclusion at all. Secrets is a list of test the subject some players to, some are very relevant for PQ, others are not. What I get most from this is the MPEG decoders they use, and deinterlacer and not scaling. There are players there that pass many things and look less than stellar and others which struggle with a few but look gorgeous.

    Good post Steve.
     
  5. loz

    loz
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    Sorry, I was just pointing out that some of the sub £200 upscaling DVD players connected via DVI or HDMI were just very good players according to these tests, regardless of upscaling or not. e.g. the oppo is the 2nd highest ranked set in the test. So don't dismiss them as "cheap upscaling hdmi players" just because they also happen to have that capability (and are cheap)
     
  6. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    That I agree on, the Oppos (by reputation), the Panny 97 etc are great little players, however I think both Steve and I would recommend outputting 480p / 576p first and not too expect a performance gain. The Samsungs 850 / 950 are well down the list re quality, upscaling or otherwise and seem to gain the same enthusiastic owners who EXPECT upsampling to be better than everything before it. In fact of the >10 players here, the weakest one I own is a Sammy 950, upsampling or not.
     
  7. daz1976

    daz1976
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    Nic, just curious as to what alternative you might sugest to the SD850. As looking at the pioneer DV585, Panasonic DVD-S49, or the Denon DVD 1720. Anyhting else around this price?

    Cheers

    Daz

    PS. Agree that the 850 upscaled is not as good as standard Prog to my eyes on my Hitachi 7200.
     
  8. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    To add, and i know this will upset some, but.............
    I kind of think that there is/will always be a case of people seeing what they want to see?
    Is it just me or when comparing a 850 via HDMI @ 720p against a Pioneer 575 via component @ 480p is it not painfully apparent how noisey and palid the image is on the Sammy?
    This is just for starters - and i wear glasses, i wish it were different but my conclusions come from using several displays, cables etc. I do however have no problem in sharing my "dubious spend" with others. I really could on for quite a while here.
    Call a spade a spade and we all know where we are.
    Just mho of course.

    Apologetically

    Steven
     
  9. daz1976

    daz1976
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    Steve, can you tell me if the Pioneer 585 is similar to the 575, in which case I might be able to make my choice to swap my Samsung 850.

    Cheers

    Daz
     
  10. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Daz, I'm not sure really, it really depends on what toys you need. My list is the basics done well, others are much more into DIVX etc
     
  11. daz1976

    daz1976
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    Nic

    Just want a DVD player. Not bothered about Divx, DVD audio etc. Have found through experimenting that HDMI is not essential either. Have a budget of about £150.00

    Cheers

    Daz
     
  12. Spacedog

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    Any thoughts/opinions on the Cambridge Audio DVD79?? I know that the Oppo and perhaps the Panny S97 are among the most populars here in the forum but i read somewhere in the web that the Oppo is kind of a "cheaper" version of the DVD79, since they kind of share the same assembly line (I don't know if this is true! it's just something I read while surfing the web).

    Any DVD79 owners? Anyone tried it? Any opinions on this player versus the Oppo or Panny?

    I'm in the verge of swapping my Cambridge Audio Azur 540D for the DVD79 (i need the component input on the tv for the Xbox, so being able to connect the DVD player via HDMI will be an advantage for me) but i'm still kind of unshure... :confused:

    Thanks a lot in advance!
     
  13. Apollo11

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    I send an 'upscaled' image from my Pioneer 868 to my Tosh 37 LCD tv and can't see any real difference from normal RGB. Sending the same signal to my projector however gives a noticable improvement over RGB.
     
  14. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Do you think this is a result of upscaling or the choice of interface over RGB? Is it markedly better than using the same interface at 480p?

    Steven
     
  15. Sigismund

    Sigismund
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    I like being able to compare how different resolutions output from my Panasonic S97 and Philips DVP9000 compare when viewed on my AE700 through HDMI.

    I don't quite understand this "HDMI/upscaling players don't quite cut it" type argument. At least HDMI/upscaling players give us the option of 480/576/720/1080 resolutions, something that, generally speaking, component only players don't. So, if upscaling the image in the DVD player "clashes" with the monitor's scaler causing problems, it's easy to send the monitor a different resolution; if the upscaling is better in the player and causes no clash, then the image should be better, again generally speaking, than using the scaler in the monitor.

    I really don't see a problem here! :)
     
  16. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Unless you can "bypass" a hi-def display devices internal scaler or know absolutely that the image is 1:1 pixel mapped how can you be sure exactly what is happening?
    Assessing a displays scaling abilities is somewhat "easy" if fed with an SD signal. Using a scaling dvd player with no control other than a button that says 480/720/1080 doesn't imho tell us anything other than it is extremely likely that you are infact going to be using both scaling devices?
    However if it looks better to you then that is your money well spent. :)
     
  17. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    I've not dabbled much with upscaling players myself but I've helped out some friends with one or two ( momitsus mainly). I use an HTPC myself and use ffdshow specifically to use a lanczos algorithm for the resize to my plasma ( only sd so not much difference) and my projector (HS20).

    I'm also familiar with some of the ins and outs of scaling images and the pros and cons and suitability of certain types of scaling for certain results through my profession which involves manipulating video and film imagery.

    I've always found the scaling from a PCs graphics card ( even a 30quid one) to be superior than the onboard scaling on all the displays I've used. (mainly a couple of the panny LCDs , plasmas and the sony HS20. That includes a "straight" graphics card doing a hardware scale (no ffdshow) which is probably a less than brilliant bicubic. Using the lanczos software resize in ffdshow gains even greater improvements in both sharpness and smoothness (assuming you don't overcook it).

    I'd assume the scaling capabilities of your average sub 200quid upscaling player are at least on a par with a 30quid graphics card so the issue is what does the better job , player or display? Similarly to what does the better deinterlace when you consider progressive scan players.

    I've got one mate who's very happy with the momitsu and a panny ae300 but the pannys are hardly known for their scaling capabilities. Likewise I wouldn't dream of using the sd inputs on my HS20 as the scaling from an HTPC is miles better. (then again I suspect you'd have to spend a lot of money to better the scaling capabilities of something like theatertek in combination with ffdshow).
     
  18. Sigismund

    Sigismund
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    And no matter what the scalers may or may not be doing, isn't that the whole point? ;)
     
  19. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Yup :)
    But i do (and always have) had a desire to know "what's in my soup" :)
    Can't help it.
     
  20. loz

    loz
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    Thought there are several 1280x720 displays.

    Surely there are combinations of DVD upscaling output that match display resolution that avoid double scaling.
     
  21. PJTX100

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    If you read many of my posts in this forum you'll see I'm as cynical as anyone about all this HD upscaling hype, fuelled by my admiration of the Pio 575 component PQ vs the slightly softer (hence disappointing IMHO) upscaled DVI pic from my Samsung 745.

    Despite this, I've just ordered an Oppo. Hence I'll soon hopefully be able to give a fairly definitive view on how the current "king of budget DVI's" does against the "king of budget component"...PJ :)
     
  22. PJTX100

    PJTX100
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    I've heard it suffers from lip sync problems. I can also tell you that the component PQ sucks, never got as far as the DVI - took it back to RS and swapped it for a Pio 575...PJ :)
     
  23. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Whilst on paper this would appear to be the obvious scenario, the reality can be somewhat different.
     
  24. PJTX100

    PJTX100
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    I don't think there's any argument about that. The problem is that people seem to automatically assume that scaling in the DVD player will be better than in the display, despite the latter often costing ten times the former...PJ :)
     
  25. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    I may well be a mile off here but i was pretty sure that the Cambridge and Oppo ran on very similar firmware?
    Lip sync is nearly always firmware related which can be exasperated by video processing.
     
  26. PJTX100

    PJTX100
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    Allegedly fixed in the latest firmware, it looks like they've even introduced an adjustable delay...

    http://www.oppodigital.com/opdv971h_support.html

    ...PJ :)
     
  27. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Perhaps i am being pedantic here (i am known for it) but surely the point is: How do you know you are not using the displays internal scaler?
    I am presuming that your assumption here is that if your player is outputing 720, then your 720 display scaler is redundant or "out of circuit".
     
  28. PJTX100

    PJTX100
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    Don't know about "out of circuit", but I'd imagine the work it had to do if it were being fed a signal native to the display is minimal. Certainly in the case of 720 it would surely be the DVD's scaler doing the donkey-work?
    ...PJ :)
     
  29. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Forgive me, the question was somewhat rhetorical. The only times i have been witness to "proper" 1:1 mapping and thus no display (PJ) internal scaling is after hours of setting up (by another) using sophisticated scalers. I have found the results to be nothing short of night and day, real focus.
    I myself use(d) (via PJ) a 963SDI into an HD SDI pixel mapped to PJ. I look forward to ressurecting my kit when i move into my new (smaller :() place in the next couple of months :).
     
  30. loz

    loz
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    I don't understand that comment.

    There ARE 1280x720 displays, and upscaling players that output 1280x720p.

    In what way is the reality different?

    Do you mean in terms of PQ?
     

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