As a certified calibrator and instructor for the Imaging Science Foundation, Aaron Rigg frequently works on $250,000 projectors in commercial cinemas, so he knows a thing or two about picture quality. So when he appeared as a guest speaker for a demonstration of SIM2’s new Grand Cinema C3X1080, we knew it was going to be something special. You don’t, after all, stack a room full of journalists and have the guest of honour dump on the main attraction. And he didn’t.
The C3X1080 has “the best colour accuracy I’ve ever seen,” said Rigg. In fact, out of the box, it has “perfect colour accuracy”.
Indeed the 400cm-plus image it threw onto the screen in Sydney’s Fox Studio theatrette was superb, exhibiting wide colour depth and saturation, and deep inky blacks and stark, clean whites within the same frame. The picture was indistinguishable from that of a cinema projector.
But then, we’ve come to expect that from the gourmet Italian projection house spawned by Seleco, one of the world heavyweights of projection technology, and which from its beginnings in 1984 was designing specifically for home cinema. So what makes the company’s projectors – with their pleasingly sleek, curvaceous lines and opulent high gloss finish – so good?
The three main elements of any projector are the imaging chip, the light engine and optics, and the video processing and control electronics. Strike the right balance between the three, and you achieve the optimum performance from each.
The C3X1080 is based on the DLP (Digital Light Projection) technology favoured by the majority of the world’s commercial digital cinemas, Hollywood studios, and directors such as George Lucas, Steven Soderbergh and David Lynch for its brightness, natural colour, sharpness and contrast. And with not one, but three of the latest Texas Instrument’s DarkChip4 DLP chipsets – each dedicated to handling one of the three primary colours that make up a picture (red, blue and green) and each with a True HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels – the C3X1080 needs no colour wheel, so exhibits none of the rainbow artefacting that can marr the viewing experience.
The AlphaPATH light engine in the C3X1080 perfectly controls the light from the internal lamp onto the DLP chipset and through customised optical components (lenses and prisms), to deliver sharp, bright images and a rated contrast of 10, 000:1.
Before the imaging chip and light engine are engaged, however, the incoming video signal is finessed by true 10-bit video processing. This produces 1024 shades of a single colour and allows for over one billion colours on screen, which goes some way to accounting for the projector’s impressive colour performance. Other top-shelf circuitry works to scale and deinterlace video signals, and provide 1080p24 support for film-sourced images.
These features alone make the C3X1080 a covetable projector, but sweetening the package further is PC-based colour management software that allows calibration professionals, such as Rigg, to further tweak image quality, optimising it to suit ambient light conditions or different personal viewing preferences.
At $44,999, though, the C3X1080 won’t be an impulse buy, even for uber-elite shoppers looking to kit out the penthouse or country estate. For those with more modest credit card limits, something of the projector’s pedigree can be enjoyed in other SIM2 models, which start from $3999 for the Domino 10.
But if you dare to dream, this is the one to get. And you could call it your “45 Grand Cinema C3X1080”.