A relative newcomer to the home theater projection screen market, Canadian company EluneVision has made quite the splash recently by offering what they claim to be reference-level screen materials at not-so-reference prices. The literature for their Reference Studio 4K screen takes aim directly at Stewart Filmscreen's Studiotek 100, widely regarded as the industry reference standard. They claim it can match the industry reference for about one-third the price. This is a monumental claim that deserves attention, but also scrutiny.
Like the StudioTek 100, EluneVision's Reference Studio 4K screen is manufactured to have as little grain, texture, sparkle, or other elements that might interfere with the image leaving your projector's lens. These qualities make it an ideal screen surface to use if your intention is to have the most unobtrusive viewing experience possible.
This screen is offered in both 16:9 and 2.35:1 aspect ratios in screen sizes ranging from 80 to 180 inches diagonal. My review sample is a 120-inch-wide, 2.35: 1 aspect ratio fixed frame screen priced at $1,500. This is an opaque, unity gain (1.0) screen material best placed inside a dedicated light-controlled home theater. The included screen frame is four inches wide on all sides and is constructed of an aerospace-grade aluminum alloy. This alloy is then wrapped in a high-density black velour material, resembling black velvet, to soak up any stray light.
The screen comes with a well laid out instruction manual for assembly. It took me around half an hour to construct the screen with the help of a friend. Setup was relatively easy and straightforward. The frame is extremely rigid and has no flex to it whatsoever. The tensioning system for the screen material is well thought out and, once installed correctly, leaves you with a perfectly tensioned screen with no visible sag or wrinkles. The screen comes with wall-mount brackets and the accessories needed to affix your screen to a wall.
To test out EluneVision's lofty claims about material quality, I compared it directly to a sample of StudioTek 100 on hand. It's nearly impossible to make claims about differences between the two without having both at the same time. One objective test to judge screen material quality by is how well it can portray pixels on screen.
For reference-level performance, it's important for a screen to not only show individual pixels, but also their outlines. For that to happen first, you need to have a projector with an inherent capability to resolve pixels this well. My reference JVC DLA-RS500 projector, with its high-quality all-glass optics, easily fits this bill. Both screen materials clearly showed individual pixels and their outlines. The ultra-smooth surfaces on both screens, practically devoid of texture and grain, allows for this to happen. If we want to nitpick, upon extreme close inspection within a few feet from the screen, the StudioTek 100 material did show a small advantage in smoothness, resulting in subtly better delineated pixels, but I do mean subtly. From more than a couple feet back, it was impossible to discern a difference between the two in this regard. So far, so good.
The Reference Studio 4K screen is unity gain, which means that the material diffuses light evenly across the entire surface area of the screen. This gives the material several benefits over positive gain screens. You can expect a unity gain screen to have excellent uniformity with viewing angles up to 180 degrees and no issues with hotspotting.
The downside is that they generally don't cope well with ambient or reflected light, which is why it's important to place the screen in a room with complete light control. Complete light control also means having materials such as black velvet on walls, floors, and ceilings. This is to soak up any light that might bounce off the screen, reflect off of these surfaces, and then back on to the screen, thus washing out the image to some degree. My theater space is configured to accommodate such a screen. I saw absolutely no issues with uniformity, viewing angles, or hotspotting with the Reference Studio 4K screen in my theater room. It seems to match the StudioTek 100's performance in this area. That checks off another box.
Color temperature of the screen material is an important factor when choosing a screen, too. This goes double for those who don't plan on calibrating their projector, as this is the only way to compensate for a large color temperature shift introduced by a screen. Most current home theater projectors come with at least one factory preset mode that is close to the reference D65 white color temperature. This color temperature for white is the standard used when mastering Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray content.
Having a screen that matches this white point means there won't be a large color shift introduced by the screen. We can easily check how much color temperature shift the screen introduces by measuring the difference in color temperature between the light that leaves the projector's lens and the light that bounces off of the screen. In my tests, there was only a difference of 50 Kelvin between the two. Measuring the StudioTek 100 screen material in this same way revealed a difference of 40 Kelvin. Both screen materials offer near-reference performance in this regard.
All of this "under the microscope" torture testing informative, of course, but how does the Reference Studio 4K screen look with actual video content? In short, the image on screen appears pure, ultra clean, and sharp, with accurate colors and popping contrasts. It's important to note that most other screens have optical coatings applied to them to cope with ambient light and to help boost the amount of light reflected back at the viewer. This coating is usually visible in the form of grain and sparkle elements. I often see this coating when video content has long panning shots or if the video is extremely bright in nature. The Reference Studio 4K screen shows no signs of these artifacts during panning shots or bright material. All you're left with is an honest representation of the light leaving your projector's lens. To me, that is exactly what people should be looking for when shopping for a screen.
Comparison and Competition
There are so few alternatives out there that meet the same quality standards. So few, in fact, that the ones I know of can be counted with the fingers on one hand. And none of those other screens come in at a price point close to this one's.�
Near its price, I'd say Stewart's Cima Neve line, a step down from the StudioTek 100, offers the closest performance. Most other screens near the Reference Studio 4K's price point have more screen texture, grain, or sparkle, which can lead to a suboptimal viewing experience. The value proposition with this screen is very high.
Does EluneVision's Reference Studio 4K screen live up to the hype? I'd have to say that it does. While not quite reaching the strictest standards set by Stewart with their StudioTek 100, it comes extremely close. You need to do a close-up inspection to spot the subtle differences. However, I found these differences impossible to see from a normal viewing distance. If you have a room with proper light control, I can't think of a better screen anywhere near its price point.