Review: JVC DLA-N5

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The JVC DLA-N5 is the entry-level model in the Japanese manufacturer’s range of native 4K projectors. For 5999 euros, you can enjoy the D-ILA technology that helped build the reputation of excellence of JVC’s projectors over the years. Offering a native resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels for UHD 4K compatibility, the JVC DLA-N5 projector is also able to display all the richness of HDR images with a high dynamic range. To do so, it features two HDMI inputs that support 4K HDMI video streams up to 18Gbit/s, including 4K/60p videos in 4:4:4. It also benefits from a low latency mode optimized for displaying video games on PCs and consoles, ensuring excellent responsiveness for seasoned gamers. Lastly, its extensive settings menu lets you fine-tune several parameters for optimal image quality that is perfectly adapted to the specifications of the room in which the projector is installed (certified ISF 3C).

Equipped with D-ILA 4K technology and an excellent lens, the DLA-N5 projector is tailored for projecting very large Ultra High Definition images in a dedicated home theater.

JVC DLA-N5: the brand

The company JVC was launched in 1927. As the Japanese branch of the American phonograph and record company Victor Talking Machine Company, JVC stands for The Japan Victor Company. When JVC started out in the 1930s, it exclusively produced record players and records, just like its parent company. The logo for the Victor Talking Machine Company is the famous painting titled “His Master’s Voice”, which shows the dog Nipper sitting in front of a phonograph with his head tilted to the side. This painting symbolizes the spirit of the brand and its desire to provide exceptional performance. This philosophy was passed on to the Japanese subsidiary and is still an important part of JVC’s DNA today.

The famous illustration of the dog Nipper who became the icon of the Victor Talking Machine Company, JVC’s parent company.

JVC started to branch out in 1932, producing its first radios after Victor Talking Machine was bought by RCA. JVC soon made a major breakthrough by producing the very first television made entirely in Japan in 1939. The post-war era was a time of significant growth for JVC. Among the key events for the company was the acquisition of the majority of shares by Panasonic Corporation, which became JVC’s majority shareholder, and the arrival of Kenjiro Takayanagi. A pioneer in television development, the engineer Kenjiro Takayanagi is known as “the father of Japanese television”. In 1959, he introduced the first dual rotary head videocassette recorder. JVC made its mark as a leading-edge brand and became a global trailblazer in the VCR industry. 

The engineer Kenjiro Takayanagi, inventor of the dual rotary head videocassette recorder and future vice president of JVC.

In 1970, JVC introduced the Videosphere, a spherical cathode ray television with a futuristic design. Shaped like an astronaut’s helmet, the videosphere had an alarm clock base and was a huge success upon release. The following year, JVC continued to innovate with the first ever home audio system for 4-channel discrete format playback. Designed for quadraphonic recordings with four discrete channels, the JVC system allowed users to enjoy a precisely spatialized sound, both vertically and horizontally.

The JVC Videosphere CRT television with its unusual design was sold up until the late 80s. 

JVC made audiovisual history once again with the release of the JVC Victor HR-33000 VHS video recorder in 1976. The HR-33000 was the world’s first VHS VCR and was initially restricted to the Japanese market due to its regional limitation. However, the following year it was released in the United States and the UK under the references HR-3300U and HR-3300EK respectively. The JVC HR-3300 featured two large dials to adjust very high frequencies (VHF) and ultra high frequencies (UHF), separate inputs for the antennas for each frequency range, as well as an RCA composite video input and output. This programmable video recorder even allowed the user to automatically record programs aired in a time frame of up to 24 hours.

The JVC HR-3300U VHS video recorder was the first VHS model from the brand.

In 1984, JVC released the GR-C1, an all-in-one portable camcorder that could record up to 30 minutes of images on a VHS-C cassette that you could then watch on a VHS VCR using an adapter. Some of you may remember Marty McFly using the JVC GR-C1 camcorder in the first installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. 

The JVC GR-C1 camcorder in Robert Zemeckis’ movie.

In 1991, the first 16:9 format TV was released by the Japanese company. With this new television format, JVC brought the cinema format to living rooms and started a major audiovisual revolution, a domain in which the company has been making waves since it was founded. The brand whose slogan is “The Perfect Experience” did not rest on its laurels. Alongside the televisions and camcorders whose exceptional quality established the reputation of the brand, JVC continued to innovate in the early 2000s and released the first ever high definition camera. Unveiled in 2003, the JVC GR-HD1 camcorder could record images in 720/30p using the MPEG-2 codec and play them back in 720p or 1080i on a compatible screen. 

The JVC GR-HD1, the first ever HD model.

In 2007 JVC released the first consumer Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel camcorder, and the first 3D LCD display in 2009. In 2011, the company continued to innovate with a range of 3D projectors and 4K compatible models using e-shift technology.

With almost half a century of experience in the audio and video industry, JVC has developed many products over the decades that have left their mark on the history of consumer electronics. With record players, videocassette recorders, televisions, camcorders, headphones, earphones, car stereos and now UHD-4K projectors, JVC continues to be a frontrunner in the audiovisual field.

JVC DLA-N5: packaging and accessories

JVC France kindly lent us one of their JVC DLA-N5 projectors that they use for demos at shows. Consequently, this model didn’t come in its original packaging but in a fly case.  

The standard packaging is a large cardboard box that holds not only the projector but also an infrared remote control with backlit buttons, two AAA batteries and the power cable. Note that the lens is protected by a plastic cover that you have to remove manually (no motorized shutter).

Compact and luxurious with its metallic casing, the JVC DLA-N5’s remote control provides access to all of the projector’s features.
The button backlighting on the N5’s remote control allows you to easily find the right feature in the dark.

JVC DLA-N5: presentation

The JVC DLA-N5 projector is fitted with a D-ILA Ultra High Definition 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) matrix. It is compatible with images with a high dynamic range (HDR10 and HLG) and supports 4K HDMI video streams up to 18Gbit/s, including 4K/60p videos in 4:4:4. It also benefits from a low latency mode that is ideal for displaying PC and console video games. Lastly, it can be calibrated by a professional to provide optimal image quality that is perfectly adapted to the specifications of the room in which the projector is installed thanks to its ISFccc settings menu.

Dimensions

The JVC DLA-N5 is an imposing projector. It is 50cm wide, 23cm high and weighs almost 20kg. Although it can be used in a living room (it is very quiet), its size and performance make it more suited to a dedicated home theater.

Placed in between the Pioneer UDP-LX500 4K Blu-ray player and the NAD T778 A/V receiver, the JVC DLA-N5 projector doesn’t go unnoticed.

The JVC DLA-N5 projector’s size is really impressive. This is due to its long throw lens with large-diameter lenses and its ventilation system. The projector uses large fans that rotate slower than smaller fans but still circulate the same amount of air, which contributes to how quiet it is.

4K D-ILA matrix

The JVC DLA-N5 projector features the same 4K D-ILA chip as the JVC DLA-Z1 projector, an ultra high-end model from the Japanese manufacturer. It is therefore one of the few projectors on the market to incorporate native UHD 4K resolution (the previous 4K “compatible” models produced by JVC worked with a pixel shift image interpolation system named e-shift). It features a UHD 4K D-ILA matrix for each primary color (Red, Green and Blue), optimized to provide a high contrast ratio.

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The JVC DLA-N5 projector’s 4K D-ILA matrix is optimized to improve the projected image’s level of contrast and brightness.

High-performance optical block

The JVC DLA-N5 projector adopts an optical block consisting of 17 elements divided into 15 groups, with all-glass lenses housed in an aluminum cylinder. With the 4K D-ILA matrix, the 65mm lens is this projector’s main asset. It is what sets it apart from more affordable 4K models and explains its high price: good lenses are very expensive.  

The JVC DLA-N5 uses very high-quality glass lenses for excellent image sharpness.

This motorized lens offers a powerful optical shift feature (±80% vertically and ±34% horizontally in 16/9 aspect mode) as well as a 2x zoom. These two features give the user a lot of freedom to place the projector outside the axis of the screen. Moreover, the Zoom and Lens Shift are both motorized, making installation easier and more convenient. Consequently, to achieve an image that is 100” (2.54m) in diagonal with an aspect ratio of 16/9, you can place the projector at a distance between 3.16m and 6.45m from the screen. 

Le bloc optique du JVC DLA-N5 garantit un excellent piqué d'image.
The JVC DLA-N5’s high-quality optical block provides an extremely precise and detailed image.

Auto Tone Mapping

The JVC DLA-N5 projector is compatible with HDR10 and HLG high dynamic range images. In addition, it includes a feature called Auto Tone Mapping that enables it to automatically and very efficiently match the brightness range of the HDR image received through the HDMI inputs with its own brightness range.  

It is important to note that while HDR content provides much brighter images than before, their peak brightness can be much higher than the projector’s and can reach 4,000 or even 10,000 nits. The brightest 4K HDR projectors generally reach 3000 lumens, with the exception of the Sony VPL-VW5000ES that can reach 5000 lumens. The tone mapping feature is specifically designed to adjust the brightness level of the HDR image sent by the source so that it matches the projector’s characteristics.


Thanks to the Auto Tone Mapping feature, the projector adapts to the brightness peaks of the image by using the metadata on the disc, such as the MaxCLL and MaxFALL values visible in the menu at the top right of the picture that opens when you press the “info” button on the remote control. 

Without tone mapping technology, the easiest way to display HDR images with a projector is to clip the brightness peaks that aren’t handled (clipping). With this radical method, the brightness range implemented is that of the original image, ranging from total black (0 nit) to the maximum brightness permitted by the projector. All the areas of the image with a higher value are displayed with this maximum brightness. On the screen, the lightest and brightest objects (clouds or snow, for example) are simply white, without any visible texture or details (they are burned or overexposed).

To address this, each HDR video file contains metadata indicating the level of the brightest area of the image (MaxCLL or Maximum Content Light Level) and the average maximum brightness level of each image (Max FALL or Maximum Frame Average Light Level) for the HDR-compatible television or projector. It is then up to the latter to adapt the display according to its abilities.

Thanks to the expertly calibrated Auto Tone Mapping feature, the JVC DLA-N5 projector is able to faithfully reproduce HDR images from UHD 4K Blu-rays and online video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Clear Motion Drive

The JVC DLA-N5 provides two video processing technologies: Clear Motion Drive, which reduces judder by inserting reconstructed images in between the original images, and Motion Enhance, which reduces motion blur by optimizing the motion of the D-ILA matrix.

These two exclusive technologies work together to ensure the smooth and detailed reproduction of any type of video. They reduce the residual images that are often seen around fast-moving objects, particularly during sports programs, action movies and sci-fi movies. 

HDCP 2.2, HDMI 18 Gbit/s

The JVC DLA-N5 projector features two HDMI inputs compatible with a 18Gbit/s data flow. It can therefore handle all UHD 4K video signals, including 4K/60p (4:4:4), 4K/60p (4:2:2) 36-bit and 4K/24p (4:4:4) 36-bit formats. Support for the HDCP 2.2 copy protection standard ensures compatibility with copyrighted content from online streaming services as well as 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.


The JVC DLA-N5 projector’s connectors include two 18Gb/s and HDCP 2.2 compatible HDMI inputs. Large ventilation grilles are also present to draw in the air needed to cool the lamp.

Key specifications

Projection system

  • 3 x 0.69” D-ILA matrix in native 4K resolution (4096 x 2160 pixels).

Lens

  • 65mm all-glass lens with 17 elements in 15 groups
  • x2 motorized zoom
  • Motorized focus
  • Motorized lens shift: +/-80% vertical, +/-34% horizontal

Image

  • Brightness: 1800 lumens
  • Native contrast ratio: 40,000:1
  • Dynamic contrast ratio: 4000,000:1

Advanced features

  • Up to 9 different settings that can be saved (lens memory, pixel adjustment, screen adjust…)
  • HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) compatible
  • Auto Tone Mapping
  • Automatic HDR detection
  • Low latency mode for faster response with video games
  • Clear Motion Drive: smooths moving images (4K60P 4:4:4 compatible)
  • Motion Enhance technology: reduces residual images and blurring with fast-moving images
  • ISFccc mode (Certified Calibration Controls) for professional calibration by a qualified technician

Lamp

  • Type: NSH 265W
  • Lifespan: approximately 4500 hours in Low-power mode

Connectors

  • HDMI inputs: 2 (3D/Deep Colour/HDCP 2.2)
  • 3D sync output: 1 (mini-jack, CC 12V/100mA)
  • Trigger: 1 (mini-jack, CC12V/100mA)
  • Control connectors:
  • RS232C: 1 (Sub-D 9-pin)
  • LAN: 1 (RJ-45)
  • USB type A connector: 1 (for firmware updates only)

Power

  • Power requirement: mains voltage AC100V – 240V, 50/60Hz
  • Consumption: 
  • Projector in use: 400W
  • Normal standby mode: 1.5W
  • Eco standby mode: 0.3W

General

  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 500 x 234 x 495mm
  • Weight: 19.6kg

JVC DLA-N5: configuration

For our review, we paired the JVC DLA-N5 with the Pioneer UDP-LX500 UHD 4K Blu-ray player using a NorStone Jura HDMI-Optic cable. We were able to project an image that was 240cm wide on our Lumene Coliseum UHD 4K/8K Platinum projection screen, a motorized version with an extremely smooth stretched canvas designed specifically for Ultra High Definition projection. 

We connected the JVC DLA-N5 projector to the Pioneer UDP-LX500 Blu-ray player (to the left on the TV stand), which in turn was connected to the NAD T778 receiver for the audio (to the right) that we will also be testing soon.

A UHD 4K Blu-ray of the movie Mad Max: Fury Road and a few movies shared over the local network allowed us to assess the display quality of the JVC 4K projector.

For soundtracks, we used the NAD T778 A/V receiver combined with a pack of Focal Chorus 726 HCM home theater speakers. The latter includes a pair of Focal Chorus 726 floorstanding speakers, a Focal Chorus CC700 center speaker and a pair of Focal Chorus 706 compact speakers used as surround speakers.

Adjusting the image geometry

It was such a pleasure to be able to adjust the geometry of the image using the remote control! Once the JVC DLA-N5 was placed opposite the screen on a NorStone hi-fi stand, it only took us a few minutes to position the image centrally on our projection screen. 

The powerful x2 optical zoom and the Lens Shift provide a lot of freedom concerning the placement of the projector. The Lens Shift allows you to easily correct the position of the image vertically and horizontally, without distortion.

These two features are accessible via the third menu from the left, under the “Lens control” option. An alignment grid is also accessible to adjust the edges of the image so that they align with the edges of the screen.

Thanks to the horizontal and vertical motorized lens shift, you can move the image to the right or the left, but also up or down if the projector isn’t placed in the axis of the screen.

Image settings

The JVC DLA-N5 projector’s settings menus are among the most comprehensive you can find and can be difficult to understand without basic knowledge in image calibration. It is possible to personalize these image settings by using a calibration disc such as the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark calibration Blu-ray, or by contacting a calibration professional who will be able to make adjustments that are perfectly adapted to the room in which the projector is installed.

Once calibrated, the JVC DLA-N5 projects beautiful HDR images (here, an excerpt of the demo video on the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Blu-ray calibration Blu-ray).

The JVC DLA-N5 also provides an auto-calibration function that requires the purchase of an optical sensor from the manufacturer and that you install proprietary JVC software on your computer.

However, it is possible to perform some “basic” settings (brightness, contrast, colors, gamma…) yourself without really risking messing anything up by using an adapted calibration disc. We were therefore able to check out the image calibration menu using the test patterns from the Spears & Munsil 4K Blu-ray as a reference to adjust the brightness and contrast in this mode.

In Frame Adapt HDR mode, we increased the contrast to 10 and reduced the brightness to -7 to achieve a perfect image. We didn’t have to modify other settings such as the color profile and temperature or the gamma. In the “Movement Control” menu, we left the “Low Latency” video game setting and the “Mvt Enhancement” setting on “Off”. 

However, we did keep the “Clear Motion Drive” mode on, but on the lowest setting. While preserving a cinematic appearance on movies, judder was somewhat reduced, making fast scenes more legible without generating unpleasant video effects. That said, we recommend that you set the Clear Motion Drive mode to High for sporting programs where the benefits are obvious (smoothness, sharpness, details, judder elimination).

The HDR images shown below are taken from the Spears & Munsil 4K calibration Blu-ray’s demonstration video. Although the quality of the shots isn’t perfect, they did allow us to get an idea of the DLA-N5’s performance with high dynamic range content…

Automatic HDR detection

Note that for HDR10 movies, the JVC DLA-N5 has an automatic detection feature, in addition to Auto Tone Mapping. They can both be set to activate automatically or can be activated manually if auto-detection is disabled.

When we loaded the Mad Max: Fury Road Blu-ray, the JVC projector automatically detected the HDR stream and switched to the appropriate mode.

Low latency mode

The JVC DLA-N5’s low latency mode lets you enjoy video games with a low input lag (40ms).

Although this video projector is primarily designed to be used in a home theater room, the Japanese engineers have bestowed it with a low latency mode so that it can provide optimal responsiveness when connected to a PC or game console. With this mode activated, the projector’s input lag is measured at 40ms. This allows gamers to enjoy great responsiveness with both FPS and racing games.

JVC DLA-N5: our impressions

The JVC DLA-N5 projector impressed us as soon as we took it out of its flight case due to its imposing build and the size of its optical block, which ensures a sharp and precise image. When it was turned on, the projector was surprisingly quiet.           

4K HDR Blu-ray

With the Mad Max: Fury Road Blu-ray, we were very impressed by how expertly the dark and bright areas of this HDR movie were handled. At the beginning of the movie, the scene in which the hero tries to escape his captors through a labyrinth of tunnels was a formidable challenge that the JVC DLA-N5 tackled brilliantly. Many of the details in the dark areas of the image were still visible while the parts that were bathed in light remained nuanced, without any overexposed white areas. During the outdoor scenes that were also flooded with light, the N5 worked wonders and provided bright colors that weren’t washed out.  The scene of the crowd waiting for the water to flow out from the huge dams was a feast for the eyes. The faces were highly detailed, the various skin tones excellently rendered, the texture of the rags that the different characters were wearing looked incredibly realistic. We thoroughly enjoyed every detail while marvelling at the makeup and costume work. 

When we climbed into the truck’s cab with Charlize Theron, we were in for another visual treat. The color of the actress’ skin and the details of her metallic arm were very realistic, the leather of the steering wheel was beautifully textured, and we could see a plethora of details on the dashboard. Despite the light that flooded the cab through the windscreen, the image remained balanced with details in the dark areas that weren’t underexposed, and nuanced light areas. What a treat!

1080p HD Blu-ray

To test the JVC DLA-N5’s display quality with 1080p Blu-rays, we loaded the Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague disc into the Pioneer player after taking care to set the HDMI output to 1080p/24 to deactivate upscaling.

This video recording of Hans Zimmer’s concert allowed us to enjoy the excellent level of contrast offered by the JVC projector. 

Even though the concert wasn’t in 4K or HDR, the image projected by the JVC DLA-N5 was exceptionally precise and rich (unfortunately, our photos don’t do the real image justice).

The N5 proved to be particularly effective when most of the stage was dark and only a few artists were under the spotlight. Despite the low definition and the noise caused by the recording conditions, the result was very impressive. The colors were rich and realistic, the contrast was excellent, and in certain scenes the depth of field was admirably rendered. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

JVC DLA-N5: compared to…

BenQ W2700: this “little” BenQ made a lasting impression on us and impressed us with its vivid and natural colors and its excellent contrast, as well as the sharpness and level of detail with 4K sources. Its expertly calibrated Cinema mode that allows you to enjoy your movies as soon as you unbox the projector is another of its strong points. Lastly, its USB multimedia player and integrated audio section allow it to be used independently, which isn’t the case for the JVC DLA-N5. 

However, the Japanese projector has the upper hand concerning the quality of the projected image and excels in every aspect: sharpness, precision, color range, realism and naturalness. The JVC DLA-N5 offers a lot more when it comes to contrast and it handles HDR content more efficiently than the BenQ model. The image is extremely rich and full of details, while remaining smooth and natural. The JVC projector’s image geometry and sharpness are also easier to calibrate thanks to the motorized Lens Shift, zoom and focus. 

That said, you will have to spend some time going through the JVC DLA-N5’s settings menus or hire a calibration professional to optimize all of the settings and get the most out of the projector.

JVC DLA-N7 and JVC DLA-NX9: almost identical dimensions, similar technologies, the same 65mm lens for the N5 and N7 (the NX9’s lens is 100mm in diameter and has an extra element) and the same native 4K D-ILA matrix. You have to delve into the technical characteristics to find any differences between the three projectors. The upgrade is justified by the improved contrast and brightness of the more expensive models: 1900 lumens and a doubled native contrast (80000:1) for the N7, 2200 lumens and a contrast of 100,000:1 for the NX9. The JVC DLA-N7 and JVC DLA-NX9 also benefit from a more extensive color space that covers a wider spectrum than the DCI-P3 standard (the N5 only benefits from the Rec.709 gamut). Lastly, the NX9 is certified THX 4K Display, features 8K e-shift technology to improve the perceived resolution, and its Lens Shift has a greater range. 

JVC DLA-N5: conclusion

The JVC DLA-N5 is one of those exceptional projectors we all dream of owning. Give it any 1080p HD or 4K image and it will provide you with a visual experience of exceptional quality and worthy of the best movie theaters. Its D-ILA matrix in native 4K resolution and its excellent optical block comprised of glass lenses genuinely work wonders, providing a very natural looking image.

Very easy to install thanks to the motorized optical zoom, Lens Shift and focus, it is also very quiet, which makes a significant difference in terms of viewer comfort during the projection. In addition, it features a very advanced professional settings menu to optimize all the image settings.

Naturally, all of these technologies and advanced features come at a cost, and excellence doesn’t come cheap.

What we liked

  • The motorized Lens Shift, focus and powerful Zoom
  • The sharpness, definition and precision of the image
  • How effectively it handles HDR content
  • The contrast and depth of the blacks
  • How quiet it is
  • The numerous settings options

What we would have liked

  • For it to have been more affordable
  • A motorized lens cover

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