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.
Marantz's VP-15S1 DLP projector has been an unqualified hit. At $9,999, it offers 90 percent of its more expensive sibling's performance at only two-thirds of the price. The VP-15S1 has benefited from Marantz's long history and strong performance in the DLP front-projector market. This 1080p projector utilizes the newest .95-inch Darkchip 4 from Texas Instruments. Like Marantz's more expensive VP-11S2, the VP-15S1 uses a magnesium alloy chassis, Gennum VXP9351 video processor, 200-watt DC Super High Pressure 2000 hour lamp and Konica Optics.
The VP-15S1 is brighter than the more expensive VP-11 series, with 1000 lumens. Contrast is specified at 10,000:1. The VP-15S1 has a three-position, dual-iris system, HDMI 1.3 with Deep Color modes and a six-segment, five-speed color wheel. While both the VP-15S1 and the VP-11S2 projectors have Marantz's proprietary color correction system known as "O.R.C.A.," the difference is that the VP-11 series color wheel's seventh segment is a dark green neutral density filter and that the VP-15S1 does not have the automatic color temperature calibration that is specified for the VP-11 series.
Watching the VP-15S1 reminded me of watching a high-quality plasma monitor. This projector was much more vibrant than the VP-11S1 and VP-12S4 projectors that preceded it. Colors were slightly oversaturated out of the box, with the colors, the greens in particular, less accurate than in the VP-11. I was able to adjust the amount of saturation easily enough through the user menus.
The images reproduced by the VP-15S1 had impressive depth, with a three-dimensional quality. The video processing was quite good and never distracted me from viewing any video material, although I did notice some jagged edges on rolling overlaid text.
In addition to providing excellent video quality, the VP-15S1 was very user-friendly. The projector has more picture memory settings than most people could use. You could easily configure a setting to be optimized for each source. Triggers enable automated shade and screen control or even to control an automated anamorphic lens, in conjunction with a vertical stretch mode that is available for 2.35 material. The large selection of configuration options ensures flexibility for both proper set-up and easy daily use.
Read about the high points and the low points of the VP-15S1 projector on Page 2.
• The custom Konica lens, coupled with the 1080p DC4 DLP chip provides a razor-sharp image.
• The Gennum processor, as modified by Marantz, provides excellent
video processing, including scaling, vertical stretch and
• The VP-15S1 can reproduce the look of a giant plasma monitor, something that many viewers find desirable.
• The fan noise can be intrusive during quiet scenes or during
audiophile listening that also includes video, such as when you are
using your music server and its video interface for a music listening
• The amount of heat produced by the projector, like most digital
projectors of this size, is significant. Ventilation requirements
should be considered.
• Video processing of scrolling text over film was not as smooth as it should have been.
Marantz's VP-15S1 offers stellar performance at a reasonable price. The
serious videophile may notice that the VP-15S1's low light detail or
color accuracy suffers slightly in comparison to the more expensive
VP-11S2, but the VP-15S1's performance in these areas is still very
good and more than competitive. The exceptional quality of the optics,
coupled with a topnotch video processor and advanced light engine,
makes for a package that is hard to beat. Watching movies,
high-definition television or even old, standard definition sources I
never felt like I wanted more out of the projector. The superior image
quality of the Marantz projector allowed my guests and me to immerse
ourselves in the onscreen action without any distraction from
artifacts. It is no surprise that this projector is regarded by many of
my colleagues as both a best buy and top performer.