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A Home Theater Build Project - Part II

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Video: From Progressive Scan to Video Processors

After a couple of months of very happy watching I started getting a bit antsy…it was around March of '07. I had some money to throw at the theater and I started considering some sort of video upgrade. I had already upgraded the screen material from HC Gray to Brilliant White...but my sources needed some work. I had been happily using a Denon 1600, but wanted to see what digital had to offer.

I picked up a first generation Oppo to try out and was moderately satisfied with its performance, but I decided to look at other options. A local dealer friend, suggested I start looking at a video processor so I began weighing different options on that front.

I had been toying with the idea of a video processor for many years. Optimal video performance circa 2007 was not easily achievable in most standard video displays. De-interlacing was spotty and scaling (the process of changing the resolution of a picture to fit the native resolution of the panel displaying it) was even more suspect. There were traditionally two ways to achieve superior de-interlacing and scaling – a high end DVD player or a video processor.

What I liked about the Video Processor approach, was that my processing power wouldn't be limited to DVD's – I could also feed in a signal from cable TV, laserdisc, or any other video source to be cleaned up. Not only would a video processor allow me to handle various resolutions with ease, it would give great flexibility over calibration settings for all of my inputs. I selected a unit from a somewhat lesser known (at the time anyway) company called Lumagen. Lumagen offered a set of DVI based video processors that had a terrific reputation for performance and service. The Lumagen HDQ that I settled on had plenty of inputs and reference level deinterlacing, deinterlacing and noise reduction.

In addition, the VP was going to be capable of working with next generation video formats in the form of HD-DVD and Blu-ray. The Lumagen might have been overkill for the Panasonic 900, but I was starting to think again about my next projector upgrade and I knew I would get quite a bit of use out of this piece.

For my next DVD player I selected a Oppo 980. I selected this unit because it was recommended as a prime unit to pair with a video processor. At the time, it was one of the new players capable of outputting 480i digitally, unaltered from the disc. This way the video processor could handle everything from de-interlacing to scaling.

While the Lumagen wasn't the easiest piece to work with, once I had it mastered, I truly loved having a VP in the system. We will discuss VP's later again in this series. Paired with the Denon 2910 (via SDI) I had about the best picture that you could get from a standard DVD source – and I was really happy – happy until we started hearing about this whole 1080p thing.