has an exceptional reputation in the A/V marketplace for providing high-end
gear for those looking for the best performance. Last year we watched as they entered the video projector market with the introduction of the LTX-500
and LTX-300 projectors. This year they announced the new LTX-500v
and LTX-300v that replace the earlier models. The LCoS-based LTX-500v,
being reviewed here, is the only Anthem model that features full ISFccc
(Imaging Science Foundation) and THX® certifications. The new LTX-500v offers 900 lumens, 120 Hz Clear Motion Drive and an amazing
native contrast ratio of 50,000:1 (using Dynamic mode). The bulb life of the new LTX-500v
has been extended from 2000 hours to 3000 hours from the earlier
LTX-500 model. Advanced inverse telecine (reverse 2-3 pulldown)
and scaling with full 10-bit 4:4:4 signal processing is handled by the
built-in Silicon Optix HQV Reon-VX video processor.
The sleek-looking LTX-500v features a piano gloss finish and measures 19-inches deep, 14-inches wide, and about 7-inchs tall. It is by no means a small projector and weighs about 25 pounds, making installation a bit more challenging. All cabling exit from the right side of the unit including the IEC power jack. The motorized lens assembly provides adjustments for 2x zoom, focus, horizontal and vertical lens shift. These features are extremely useful when setting up the projector using the remote.
If the Anthem LTX-500v looks like a re-badged JVC D-ILA projector, that is because it is. This unit is based
on the same LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) technology with similar performance
features offered on the current JVC DLA-RS25 Reference Series projector. It
doesn't take much to conclude this from the manual, chassis design,
feature set, and the letters "D-ILA" on the screen when the unit
is turning on. Videophiles will not be disappointed with this projector and given the track record of D-ILA (LCoS) technology, the LTX-500v projector appears to live up to the legacy.
Products seem to tout numbers that consumers often latch onto.
The problem is some of these numbers may be misleading and are not always
measured the same way. For example, most current LCD projectors extend
their contrast numbers by dynamically adjusting the iris to give the viewer
blacker blacks (during dark scenes) and brighter whites (during bright scenes). This is why the Full-On/Full-Off contrast numbers look so good when using the dynamic iris to control light output. The problem with this technique is there are compromises and some video material will quickly show the limitations of these methods.
When the iris opens to increase white levels, black levels suffer and become brighter. When the iris closes to deepen blacks, the whites decrease in brightness. Unfortunately, the
dynamic iris affects the
entire image and cannot offer both benefits on a single scene.
The Anthem LTX-500v uses a 3-panel LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) design capable of delivering peak whites and deep blacks with a native contrast (up to 50,000:1) without the use of a dynamic iris. This
offers a big advantage over many LCD projector designs that rely on a dynamic
iris to boost contrast. The contrast of this projector
is very apparent with a rich and punchy picture without the pumping action
sometimes seen with other projector designs. The result is video with excellent contrast — free of image artifacts associated with other methods used to improve the limitations of LCD technology. In addition, there is no annoying color wheel flicker associated with single DLP projector designs to deal with. The fill factor (non-dead space between each of the pixels) is excellent, virtually eliminating the screen door effect often seen on LCD and DLP projector technologies.
The LTX-500v has a motorized lens cover designed to help keep dust
out of the optic assembly. The mechanism is loud enough for the user to hear the cover is
working and it takes several seconds to move in or out of position. The
projector will automatically open the lens cover when the unit is powered on
and close it when powered off.
Motorized Lens Shift
The motorized Lens Shift option (also accessible with the remote) allows the user to move the projected image horizontally or vertically to accommodate a wide range of installation situations. The ±80% Vertical Shift range allows the projector to be mounted above the screen, without having to invert it. The ±34% Horizontal Shift give the user additional flexibility when the projector cannot be centered on the screen. The lens shift does not cause image degradation like digital keystone adjustments.
The LTX-500v offers a TRUE-FIT™ Wide Screen Mode allowing 2.4:1 aspect ratio movies
to be seen using the full 1920 x 1080 resolution, without letterbox bands
that reduce image brightness and resolution. Using an optical anamorphic
lens to horizontally stretch the image (just like in the movie theaters)
coupled with the TRUE-FIT™ feature, users can project to a wide aspect ratio screen. The result is a picture with outstanding picture quality and resolution even with a wide aspect ratio.
The two HDMI v1.3 (Deep Color) video inputs are CEC (Consumer Electronics
Control) compatible. The HDMI and 15-pin VGA style connector support all
major computer video modes including WUXGA-60 (1920x1200) and 1920x1080-60.
Component, s-video and composite inputs are also available for legacy
video products. Unfortunately, we only tested the HDMI interface connected
to our Denon AVR-5308CI. The RS232C port can be used to send and receive
operating and reference commands and is capable of providing a reliable
communication link from fairly long distances. The trigger outputs can
be used to start other events when the projector is powered on.
Efficient Air Flow
The LTX-500v is designed to provide efficient cooling with ultra-low-noise
fans. Under normal operation the fans are virtually silent and only become apparent
when the projector runs with the lamp in the high output mode. Cool air
enters the front of the projector through the vertical slot and exits the side. This design works
well and provides an efficient way of moving air without tight restrictions placed on the back of the projector.
The LTX-500v remote is a slim design measuring 2-inches wide and 8.75-inches long with a good feel and anti-slip base. The unit operates on a pair of standard "AAA" batteries. This new design has been improved and offers discrete input selection buttons instead of a single input cycling button found on the earlier LTX-500. Buttons are backlit and are spaced well apart making it easy to operate in a dark environment.
There are separate power ON and STAND BY buttons on the top of the remote, making it clear whether you are turing the projector on or off. Six input buttons (HDMI 1, HDMI 2, COMP, VIDEO, S-VIDEO, and PC) choose the inputs on the side of the projector. For this review we only used the HDMI 1 input since all of our source material was handled by the Denon receiver.
The LENS button cycles between Focus, Zoom and Lens Shift (horizontal and vertical). The ASPECT button switches between 4:3, 16:9 and Zoom. The HIDE button blanks the screen. Several buttons (TEST, MENU, and BACK) surround the main navigation controls. The TEST button cycles through a series of test patterns that can help the user when setting the black and white level settings. The MENU button is used to enter the main menu controls. There is also a Glow-in-the-dark LIGHT button that is used to illuminate the backlighting on the remote.
There are nine Picture Mode buttons (CINEMA 1, CINEMA 2, CINEMA 3, NATURAL, STAGE, DYNAMIC, USER 1, USER 2, & THX). The GAMMA button cycles through the Gamma settings and the C. TEMP button cycles through the Color Temperature settings. These two buttons are disabled when the THX mode is selected. The LENS AP. button allows the user to adjust the lens aperture manually. The PIC. ADJ. buttons cycles through Contrast, Brightness, Color and Tint. All in all this is a great remote with a user friendly layout.
The Anthem LTX-500v has passed the THX®
Certified Display Program — a series of rigorous tests designed
to set the best projectors apart from entry level products. The THX® Movie Mode ensures the picture
quality matches the color standard used by the filmmakers in the studio
with the correct gamma and color temperature. The Movie Mode
limits overscan and scaling to minimize artifacts and provides a correct
high definition color gamut. This certification also requires the projector
to properly de-interlace and scale the image for the best possible performance. The THX® Program ensures that
the projector will deliver maximum picture quality that is faithful
to the source.
(Imaging Science Foundation) Certification
The Anthem LTX-500v has been licensed with the ISF C3 (Certified
Calibration Controls) mode, allowing trained ISF dealers to professionally
calibrate the projector to specific screen surfaces, lighting environments,
and video sources. Once calibrated, the settings are locked to avoid any
accidental changes by the user. Using special ISF software, additional adjustments to contrast, tint,
sharpness and color levels for both day and night time viewing can be made to optimize
the picture based on the viewing environment. The ISF Day and ISF Night modes
are added to the six preset modes in the LTX-500v, for a total
of eight different settings.
Using the serial port on the side of the projector, ISF calibrators will have full access to the General settings, Gamma controls, and the Color Management System (CMS)
in the LTX-500v. The General screen allows calibrator to adjust Contrast, Brightness, Color, and Tint as well as the Gain and Offset of each primary color. The CMS menu allows Hue, Saturation, and Brightness of each primary (Red, Green, and Blue), and each secondary color (Yellow, Cyan, and Magenta) to be adjusted. Unlike many projectors, the Anthem LTX-500v provides extreme picture adjustability for optimum home theater performance. This has by far one of the most user friendly and easy to use calibration interfaces. In my experience, it is sometimes difficult or cumbersome to make color adjustments. However, the LTX-500v appears to have kept calibrators in mind when designing the user interface.
The calibrated picture looked very much like the predefined THX mode. After hours of tweaking the projector with thousands of dollars worth of test equipment, the presets on the Anthem LTX-500v were already excellent right out of the box. As the projector ages along with the lamp, periodic re-calibration may be necessary to keep the picture at its peak performance.
The LTX-500v comes with a 2x zoom lens with fully motorized adjustments for zoom, focus, and projects a 100-inch (87-inches wide by 49-inches high) 16:9 image from a distance of 9.9-ft (3.01m) to 20.1-ft (6.13m). Our filmscreen, which is a Stewart FireHawk (1.3 gain) was installed about 13 feet from the projector. We also did some testing with a 92-inch, 16:9 Screen Innovations Black Diamond II (0.8 gain). Choosing the right screen is an important part of any high-end video system. Other factors such as ambient room lighting, screen size and projector type plays into the decision on a screen. The Screen Innovations Black Diamond II is available in two difference screen gains (0.8 and 1.4). For this review we decided to go with the 0.8 gain to get the deepest blacks possible. This will of course limit the peak white levels, but since we also had a 1.3 gain Stewart Firehawk on hand we experienced the best of both worlds.
Our A/V system is centered around Denon's flagship AVR-5308CI A/V receiver and an OPPO BDP-83SE (special edition) universal blu-ray player. We also have a Dish Network ViP 722 high definition satellite receiver with an integrated ATSC tuner for local broadcasts. All HDMI sources were switched using the Denon receiver. The long HDMI video cable needed for the projector was provided by Accell.
To complete the home theater experience, our video system was complemented with the Denon AVR-5308CI decoding uncompressed multi-channel audio. The line level outputs were connected to a 5-channel Parasound HCA-2205AT amplifier feeding a trio of M&K Sound S150THX front channel speakers and a pair of Surround 250 Tripole in the rear. The high impact bass was provided by two M&K MX350THX subwoofers paired with the front left and right channels. The AVR-5308CI uses a THX crossover
set at 80 Hz and works well with our speaker configuration. Walls
were covered with Echo Buster sound absorption panels. This helps
eliminate slap echo and significantly reduce the RT60 time in the room. As a result, secondary reflections, which often blur
the sonic image are largely reduced or eliminated.
The top of the LTX-500v projector has a set of buttons for Power, Input, Mode, Navigation (Up, Down, Left, Right, and OK), Menu and Back. There are three indicator lamps for WARNING, LAMP, and STANDBY/ON. The WARNING light indicates a temperature or electrical problem. The LAMP light will illuminate orange if the lamp is near its end-of-life (usually around 3000 hours). The STANDBY/ON will be red if the unit is in standby or if is cooling down (flashes). This same lamp will turn green when the unit is properly powered up. Most users will never use these buttons since they may be difficult to get to, but Anthem nonetheless provides them for convenience if needed.
Anthem provides a coupon that allows their customer to purchase a replacement lamp for 50% off the retail price. This is a significant savings given that these lamps cost around $400. Replacing the lamp in the LTX-500v is rather easy just like most current projectors on the market and is completely user replaceable. Two screws hold on the rear access panel where the lamp assembly resides. A small handle is exposed allowing the user to pull the lamp assembly out of the holding area. With this design the lamp can be easily replaced in a short time.
The Anthem LTX-500v provides nine picture modes with two user settings. There are four preset color temperatures (5800K, 6500K, 7500K, and 9300K) available along with a High Bright (high output) and 3 Custom user settings. The projector offers a full six-axis color management system (CMS) allowing the user to adjust Hue, Saturation, and Brightness for each primary (Red, Green, and Blue) and secondary (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) color. There are also test pattern for optimizing picture quality when making lens adjustments. Like many projectors, the setting can be locked to prevent accidental changes. There are five preset and three custom Gamma settings, which can be adjusted using the on-screen graphics. There are also individual controls for red, green, and blue gammas.
smooth looking video from a variety of sources is not trivial, nor is
it implemented in the same way in all products. The Anthem LTX-500v features CMD (Clear Motion Drive), a selectable 120-hertz technology that uses high-precision
interpolation algorithms designed to accurately produce intermediate frames, resulting in video that looks
smoother and clearer with reduced motion blurring. Unfortunately, even though this projector supports 120Hz, it is not 3D compatible. The LTX-500v has two lamp settings (Normal and High), which can help when ambient light varies in the room. The Normal lamp setting is dead quiet (Anthem claims 19 dB). The High lamp setting can be slightly noticeable, but it’s not too distracting.
We ran a series of tests on the projector using a Sencore VP403C video generator and an Sencore OTC1000 ColorPro Optical Tri-stimulus Colorimeter. The measured results were as impressive as the picture it produced on our screen. We throttled back the iris setting to -5 and placed the projector in the THX mode before running any measurements. We also set the black level and white level visually using test patterns from the VP403C.
THX Color Gamut
There is certainly something to be said about having a pre-calibrated
THX mode in any projector. The Anthem LTX-500v THX mode produced
an amazingly accurate picture. The THX picture mode locks out the Color Temperature and Gamma adjustments. However, standard brightness, contrast,
color and tint settings can still be made and should
be adjusted based on room lighting, screen type (model, size, and gain).
We decided to take some measurements of the primary colors to see how
accurate the color gamut was in the THX mode. As the CIE chart shows,
all primary colors are near perfect with blue just slightly shifted off
the ideal spot. This is really impressive for any projector out of
the box. We only had about 100 hours on the unit before we started making
measurements. It is a good idea to break in the unit for a while to let
various parameters settle. Other factors such as lamp age will affect
the accuracy of the colors as well as other parameters over time. Therefore,
periodic calibration can ensure you are getting the best picture possible
even as your projector ages.
Since the THX mode locks out the user from adjusting the red, green and blue gain and offset
controls, we selected Custom 1 mode and chose 6500K as our
baseline. The preset setting of 6500K measured slightly on the high side
between 6500K and 7000K according to our test equipment. We brought this
down slightly closer to the ideal 6500K with no significant difference
in picture quality using real word material.
Both the lamp setting and the 16-step lens aperture can be used to set
the peak light output. This will also affect the black level and should
be considered when making the adjustment. We opted to use the Standard
lamp mode and set the manual lens aperture to get the right balance
of peak white and good black levels. Setting the iris to -6 gave us about
12 fL on our 100-inch Stewart Firehawk. This still produced a good picture
in our room with virtually no ambient light hitting the screen. With some
ambient light entering the room I found that the Screen Innovations Black
Diamond II screen with the 0.8 gain worked very well at keeping the
black levels inky even with an increase in light output to compensate for the lighting conditions. This dark gray screen produces the deepest blacks we
have ever seen. Our test equipment had limitations in measuring the deep black
level, so we couldn't get an accurate number to publish. However, based on some of our measurements, the full on/off contrast ratio exceeded 10,000:1, which is amazing given that there is no dynamic iris.
We have been using our 100-inch Stewart Firehawk for many years now and it has always performed well with a variety of home theater projectors. The Anthem LTX-500v was no exception and produced a natural looking picture with realistic flesh tones. The native dynamic range on this projector gave it a level of depth never seen before in our viewing room. The wonderful part about this is the performance is achieved without the crutch of a dynamic iris, which can often cause other artifacts. The picture produced by the LTX-500v was nothing short of stunning. There was an immediate and noticeable difference from many of the LCD-based projectors we have reviewed over the years. LCoS technology offers an excellent fill factor, making it difficult to see the screen door effect from a reasonable seating distance. With the HDMI mode set to Enhanced, the projector passes below-black (blacker-than-black) and above white (whiter than white) information. All of our testing was performed in the THX mode. Black levels were the best we have seen especially when using the 92-inch Screen Innovations Black Diamond II screen. Due to the low screen gain (0.8), we sometimes preferred running the projector in the High lamp mode especially if there was any ambient light entering the room.
Much of our video content comes from our Dish Network ViP 922 DVR with generally good to excellent picture quality from high definition source material. Blu-ray on the other hand has the potential to provide an excellent source of material when transferred well and is what we used to grade much of our video performance while using the LTX-500v. The much anticipated Avatar on Blu-ray was one of our favorite movies to watch with superb picture quality. The dark forest scenes where Jake Sully meets Neytiri provides excellent shadow detail with a wide dynamic range. Since many projectors use a dynamic iris, limitations occur when a scene has both dark and bright areas. The LTX-500v does not need a dynamic iris to achieve high contrast, so it can faithfully provide a brilliant picture with incredible depth, often taking on a 3-dimentional appearance. Much of this was expected given the outstanding measurements we took earlier in the THX mode. It just confirms that there is a significant benefit in having this predefined mode from the factory.
The LTX-500v is the first LCoS-based projector we have reviewed
and our first and final impressions have made this technology our personal
favorite. Blacks are deep with fine shadow detail, particularly when using
a quality screen such as the Screen Innovations Black Diamond II with a 0.8 gain. Higher gain may be required for those using a larger screen or if ambient light is difficult to tame. With a retail price of around $8500, this projector might not fit into everyone's budget, so Anthem also offers the LTX-300v for a couple of grand less than its big brother.
The Anthem LTX-500v is by far the best projector we have had in our theater
room producing a stunning picture with superb performance in virtually all categories. The projector
has just over 200 hours of operating time logged on it and has been extremely
consistent during the review period. We have covered many DLP and LCD
projectors over the years, but this projector sets the bar higher than
we have ever seen before.
The THX mode will give users a very accurate picture right out of the box and for those looking for the ultimate image quality, full ISF calibration is supported with ISFccc certification. The large dynamic range of the LTX-500v with the high quality HQV video processing put this projector on the top of the short list. Full anamorphic capability with 1920x1080 resolution is supported when using an external lens thanks to the TRUE-FIT™ Wide Screen Mode. Finding fault with the LTX-500v projector was difficult. As a result, it comes highly recommended.