Brian Kahn is the longest tenured writer on staff at HomeTheaterReview.com. His specialties include everything from speakers to whole-home audio systems to high-end audiophile and home theater gear, as well as room acoustics. By day, Brian is a partner at a West Los Angeles law firm.
The VP-11S2 is Marantz's newest and best front video projector to date. The VP-11S2 is a 1080p DLP-based front projector with a retail price of $14,999, which puts it on the high side of the 1080p market, above players like JVC and Epson and below more specialty brands like Runco and Meridian-Faroudja. Marantz has built a solid a reputation of making high-quality DLP projectors, specifically with excellent optics. The current Marantz projector lineup consists of two choices, the VP-11S2 reviewed here and the more affordable $9,999 VP-15S1. Both projectors use the same magnesium alloy chassis, 200-watt DC Super High Pressure 2,000-hour lamp and Konica Optics.
The VP-11S2 utilizes hand-picked .95-inch, 1080p Darkchip 4 DLP chips. The three iris positions by dual iris and 850 lumens allow the VP-11S2 to obtain an excellent (reported) 15,000:1 contrast ratio. The seven-segment, six-speed color wheel incorporates Marantz's ORCA filter for optimum color reproduction. Notably, the color wheel speed can be set at 4x, 5x, or 6x to reduce noise. In addition to the high-quality optical engine, the VP-11S2 features a custom-tuned Gennum VXP 9351 video processor, which scales the incoming signal to 1920 x 1080 and can also provide vertical stretch for those using anamorphic lenses and 2.35:1 screens. Inputs include computer, HDMI 1.3 with deep color and analog. A plethora of menu options and user memories allow nearly endless tweaking of the picture for each source.
Watching the VP-11S2 is truly a pleasure. As with its predecessor, the quality of the optics is excellent, with minimal distortion. Video processing was quite good with real program material, even though it did not pass all of the video tests on the Silicon Optix test disc (most projectors don't). Video processing artifacts from 480 and 720 sources were minimal and de-interlacing of 1080i signals was properly handled by the Gennum processor. The color points were very close to accurate out of the box, as was color saturation. In comparison to the popular, leading D-ILA projectors, the color accuracy and saturation levels of the VP-11S2 are noticeably more lifelike. An area where digital projectors typically falter and where the VP-11S2 noticeably improves upon its predecessor is in shadow detail. The noise level in the darker scenes has been visibly reduced, letting previously unseen details come forward. Overall, the performance of the VP-11S2 is excellent. Marantz continues to make significant improvements with each new iteration of their premier line of projectors.
Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2