June 30, 2009
| by Dennis P. Barker
If you’re a home theater aficionado looking for larger-than-life visual experiences, the latest technology and a flexible setup, take a look at SIM2’s new modular projector system.
The Grand Cinema C3X Lumis HOST pairs a reference-quality 3-chip DLP projector with a discrete outboard control module/video processor to provide some of the finest blacks and color you will see anywhere—and it better at its $40,000 to $42,000 base price.
The C3X Lumis HOST is based on a trio of the DarkChip4 DLP chipsets that yields improved overall picture quality with better blacks and increased brightness. It utilizes SIM2’s proprietary Alphapath light engine that features precision glass optics to deliver a Full HD 1920 x 1080 image with a contrast ratio of 35,000:1 and light output of 3,000 ANSI lumens.
The two components in the system, the projector and rack-mountable control module, are connected via a proprietary three-line optical-digital High-Definition Optical Signal Transfer (HOST) system that offers a special fiber-optic lossless cable for runs up to 250 meters. The module utilizes 10-bit video processing with high-definition scaling and deinterlacing, and its on-board LCD panel displays all vital information: brightness, contrast, gamma, signal type, etc.
Within the projector itself is the proprietary Dynamic Black technology, which dramatically increases black levels and dark details. That means midtones become bright tones and dark details become quite visible. Through the use of an optical aperture, the system can then reduce the light output to the correct amount while maintaining the dynamic range and boosting the black levels.
The HOST module further incorporates flexible video switching with six HDMI 1.3a inputs with DeepColor, three HD component-video inputs, and several legacy composite and S-video inputs as well as RGB and the SDI professional format inputs. There’s also several control options including IR, RS232 and IP addressable plus a dedicated 10/100 Mbit Ethernet connection allowing it to be tethered to a LAN network or to the internet. As well, the C3X comes with Live Colors Calibration software, and a choice of three lenses.
The projector is housed in an attractive high gloss sculpted black and silver cabinet designed by Giorgio Revoldini. The Lumis HOST module is designed to be placed with a user’s rack of A/V components, which can be placed virtually anywhere within the room (up to 750 feet away).
For this evaluation, the C3X Lumis HOST was paired an anamorphic lens kit (motorized sled with Isco lens), and a Stewart Filmscreen Vertical ElectriMask screen that measures 46.75 x 110 inches (119.5 diagonal inches). The screen features a 2.35:1 ratio, and uses the Firehawk G3 Microperf screen material with12-degree material skew. For viewing 1080p content, a Sony Blu-ray player was provided. Audio was handled through Classé separates and B&W 802 speakers. Testing was done in the newly renovated custom A/V showroom at Talk of the Town in Allendale, N.J.
So how was the system?
The C3X’s precision-matched light intensity adjustment resulted in significantly better blacks and shadow detail. This added a new sense of realism to images, noticeably in the dark scenes from The Dark Knight and Independence Day. Images from satellite and Blu-ray Disc sources showed superb clarity and definition.
High-definition images in particular produced a lifelike effect, especially when viewing all forms of nature on DiscoveryHD Theater. Sporting events are the cream of the HD crop, and they didn’t disappoint with the C3X either. Several channels from DirecTV stood out including HD-NET, ESPN-HD, and the Smithsonian Channel among others resulting in excellent 720p and 1080i images.
Image quality from all sources was excellent with superb clarity and definition. The resulting images from satellite and BD were incredibly realistic, giving almost a three-dimensional quality to them.
Two films on Blu-ray, Speed Racer and Disney’s newly restored Sleeping Beauty, threw us colors that were so rich and vibrant that they seemed to leap off the screen. In Across the Universe, the colors were very natural and realistic. And films like South Pacific and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor have color palettes all their own, which the C3X rendered beautifully.
For the home theater aficionado, the SIM2 Grand Cinema C3X Lumis HOST is just the ticket for years of viewing splendor. If it is properly installed and calibrated, you won’t be going to the multiplex any time soon.
Dennis has been involved with Consumer Electronics forever it seems. His 25+-year career includes a 12-year tour of duty at Consumer Reports magazine, as well as stints as a product reviewer, market analyst, technical editor, and consultant for the electronics industry. He lives in Ossining, NY with his two children, one demanding cat and piles of A/V equipment.