Epson throws ultra-short
DRIVING SOUND ▶ NAIM, FOCAL & BENTLEY
The ultra-short-throw projector seems to be coming of age in homes where it’s a fit, and Epson’s $5499 4K Pro-UHD EH-LS500 is the latest contender, sitting close to the wall, shining up to illuminate a screen or wall, and having its own speakers too.
“Even though panels are getting bigger and bigger, they can get nowhere near as big as a home theatre projector,” Epson Australia’s Bruce Bealby told us when the projector was first shown in Sydney, pre-COVID. “The LS500 has a screen size of up to 130-inches — that’s equivalent to four 65-inch panels.”
The EH-LS500 can be purchased alone with an RRP of $5499, but Epson also has two bundles, coming either with a 100-inch screen for a total price of $6599, or with a 120-incher for $7199. For a 100-inch image the projector lens needs to be 65cm from the screen or wall, for a 130-inch image the distance needs to be 82cm — so go measure your bench space to see what’s possible. If it can’t be accommodated there, the LS500 can also be ceiling-mounted to achieve the required throw distance. Of course the final brightness of your image and its relative imperviousness to ambient light conditions may also have a bearing on your final image size.
The laser light source, together with Epson’s 3LCD Technology, delivers 4000 lumens of both white and colour (other technologies have lower colour brightness than white brightness because of the use of a colour wheel), achieving a quoted 2,500,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Long life is another benefit of laser sources, with an expected 20,000 hours life in Eco mode, which Epson equates to five hours every day for 10 years.
As for resolution, the projector uses Epson’s 4K Pro-UHD, which takes a UHD input signal and delivers the High Dynamic Range information to an image which is not native 4K but rather uses a 1920×1080 panel pixel-shifted once to deliver around four million pixels, half the number of actual Ultra High Definition 4K. Epson has strong arguments in favour of this technology over DLP technology which uses multiple pixelshifting to achieve actual UHD, not only better brightness and contrast, but especially Epson’s use of larger 0.74-inch panels, compared with DLP’s 0.47-inch panel for the projectors using DLP470TP micromirrors. That’s a big difference in area, so each pixel is larger, brighter and, all other things being equal, also less prone to noise. The same argument occurs in the camera industry, ‘larger pixels’ invariably getting the vote of experts against simply more pixels. The LS500 also features frame interpolation and Detail Enhancement functions, while a 10-bit HDR Processor uses 100% of the HDR source information for 4K signals.
The LS500 has three HDMI inputs, with one of them behind the rear panel to accommodate a Wi-Fi Android TV stick, which will makes it easy to stream direct to the projector from the likes of Netflix. USB power is provided to power this (or a different) stick. While there is HDMI ARC or an analogue audio output to integrate with an external sound system, the unit also includes two built-in 10W speakers behind the front-facing grille. An Ethernet network connection further allows operation and status checks over a network from a computer or a smart device, as well as Epson iProjection from Windows PCs or Macs. More info: www.epson.com.au
Yamaha is in full launch mode at present, so that while we await news of the 10th anniversary Aventage AV receiver range, the company is rolling out new soundbars, RX-V range receivers and headphones.
AV RECEIVERS: The new RX-V receiver range is redesigned from the ground up, and looks it, with two minimalist-fronted models — the $899 RX-V4A and $1299 RX-V6A — sporting a new, high-res LCD display and front jog-dial knob plus touch-sensitive buttons. The receivers offer five and seven channels of power respectively, and come with impressive 8K future-proofing onboard.
“No other AV receiver on the market offers as many 8K HDMI inputs as Yamaha, as of today,” boasts the company, with three of the seven HDMI inputs on the RX-V6A and all four inputs on the RX-V4A being able to pass through 8K/60 material with full HDMI 2.1 specification, which also includes eARC and next-gen gaming features including auto low latency mode (ALLM), variable refresh rates (VRR), quick frame transport (QFT) and quick media switching (QMS). And to support the use of powered HDMI cables for longer wiring needs, Yamaha has boosted the power supply from HDMI outputs to 300mA. We note that the gaming features, 4K/120 support and HDR10+ support are all listed as “via future firmware update”; Yamaha Music Australia tells us that these are expected next year once the HDMI 2.1 testing spec becomes available.
The seven amplifiers of the RX-V6A are rated at 100W into 8 ohms at 0.06% THD, the five channels of the RX-V4A at 80W using the same specs. The higher model includes Atmos and DTS:X support in 5.1.2 (with two subwoofer outputs available), whereas the RX-V4A tops out at Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio. There’s plenty more, of course, including a phono turntable input and Yamaha’s MusicCast streaming and multiroom platform to offer app control, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Tidal and Deezer, multi-room audio, and voice control via Alexa, Google and Siri-enabled devices. MusicCast Surround allows additional MusicCast speakers to be used as wireless surrounds in a 5.1-channel set-up.
SOUNDBARS: The two new soundbar models extend the bottom of Yamaha’s range, the SR-C20A priced at just $299 and the SR-B20A at $349. The CR20A (pictured above) is Yamaha’s first compact bar, just 60cm wide and operating in stereo with two 46mm treble drivers and a 75mm woofer, while the B20A is wider at 91cm, allowing room for six drivers — 2 × 25mm tweeter, 2 × 55mm midrange and 2 × 75mm bass, still in stereo configuration. Despite their entry-level status both bars have HDMI ARC, twin optical inputs and Bluetooth (the C20A adds an analogue input and the B20A a subwoofer output). Each soundbar comes with its own remote and is supported by the Sound Bar Controller app for smartphone control.
HEADPHONES: Yamaha has no fewer than eight new pair of headphones, ranging from the $329 TW-E7A True Wireless Noise-Cancelling Earbuds (pictured right, with carry case below), to the top-of-the-line $499 YH-E700A wireless noise-cancelling headphones (pictured below left). These feature Advanced ANC, which Yamaha says “goes beyond standard ANC which can often ‘colour’ or degrade sound. Advanced ANC analyses and removes background noise while keeping the music signal pure and untouched.”
Both models, plus the $229 YH-E500A on-ear model, also feature ‘Listening Care’, which is a headphone adaptation of the YPAO Volume system found in Yamaha receivers, aiming to make EQ adjustments for more satisfying low-level listening — so you don’t need to turn your headphones up so loud! More information: au.yamaha.com