If you’ve got new-car money to spend on your home cinema, we are both envious and excited for you. This premium system, while undeniably expensive, also offers, in a counter-intuitive sort of way, really good value for the money you are investing. And, dare we say it, as far as ‘serious money’ systems go, we’re barely touching the sides here.
In this particular AV collection, we've partnered a brilliant 4K projector from JVC with a mighty JBL AV receiver and Dynaudio speaker package, all fed from an extremely talented Panasonic 4K Blu-ray player. Together, they make for a formidable home cinema set-up.
Projector: JVC DLA-N5 (£6495 / $6000 / AU$9399)
AV receiver: JBL Synthesis SDR-35 (£6000 / $7560 approx / AU$10,500 approx)
Blu-ray player: Panasonic DP-UB9000 (£900 / $1135 approx / AU$1575 approx)
Speaker Package: Dynaudio Evoke 50 5.1 (£8249 / $7196 / AU$16,700)
Total: £21,643 ($21,891 approx / AU$38,174 approx)
Projector: JVC DLA-N5
JVC’s D-ILA projectors have long been some of the best premium performers around, and the current range-topper costs about the same as a Mercedez-Benz A Class. Keeping things at least a little bit more 'real world', here we suggest the baby of the family, the JVC DLA-N5 4K HDR model.
A high-end projector is as much a commitment to space and flexibility as it is to cost. The N5 is around 50cm wide and deep, and weighs 19.6kg. It’s a big machine with proper installation requirements and, though it fits on our racks without a problem, make sure to do the pre-planning on your home cinema space.
With 1800 lumens brightness, the N5 is a lights-off projector. You can expect to get around 4500 hours from the bulb with Lamp Power set to Low. We recommend watching on High, so you should plan on having to replace it sooner than that.
This projector gives you an exceptionally good performance. Thor: Ragnarok in 4K HDR is simply stunning on our big screen and reference system. Many lower-spec projectors do little justice to the tricky opening sequences, but the contrast handling of the N5 turns the normally dingy skirmish in Surtur’s underground lair into a rare treat. The bright spots of fire are full of complex colour and the whole image is consistent and sharp.
When the craggy caverns are flooded with the fire giant’s near-black minions, each one is clearly discernible and none of the fight action is lost to the shadows. Set Clear Motion Processing to Low, and there’s a sweet spot between judder and over-smoothing, meaning you can enjoy the movement without anything jarring.
Colour production on this machine is stunning and effortlessly nuanced, with skin tones natural and expertly blended. In the Contest of Champions scene, the reds and blues of Thor’s cloak and armour are vivid, Loki’s tunic is a superbly textured emerald leather and the Grand Master’s gold, glittered gown looks every bit the garb of a power-crazed space tyrant.
AV receiver: JBL Synthesis SDR-35
Those who become too focused on comparing specification sheets may well overlook the JBL Synthesis SDR-35. While its format support is thorough, its amplification for just seven channels and (current) lack of HDMI 2.1 connections are trumped by Denon receivers costing around a sixth of its huge price tag.
However, in terms of sound, the JBL Synthesis SDR-35 is a clear cut above any other AV amplifier we’ve tested over the past few years.
Power is rated at 100W into 8 ohms when all seven channels are driven, and that is really the maximum the SDR-35 can drive when used solo. Though it can decode and process up to 15.1 channels in a maximum 9.1.6 configuration, taking advantage of this requires the use of extra amplification. The seven-channel JBL Synthesis SDA-7120 power amplifier is the obvious choice here.
In our configuration, the JBL Synthesis SDR-35 sings. As Deadpool does his piece to camera at the start of the highway gunfight scene in his first film, we are immediately struck by the cleanliness and clarity of the delivery. There’s a beautiful naturalism to Ryan Reynolds’ voice – a richness and weight that makes less premium AV amps sound insubstantial. In scenes with more characters, each voice has a clearly defined and unique timbre. Until you have heard a product that is as well sorted as the SDR-35, you don’t realise how imprecise others are in this regard.
In quieter scenes, the JBL proves to be a nuanced and subtle performer, digging up the finest of details and deftly defining low-level dynamic alterations, but it’s also a true powerhouse when the action requires it. As the bullets start flying, there’s a hugely satisfying dynamic shift and a huge uptick in overall weight and heft. The leading edges of effects are crisply defined, but there’s none of the aggressiveness that more affordable amps fall foul of. Instead, that hit is fulsome, rich and solid. It’s satisfying in a way that few home cinema products can be.
Speaker package: Dynaudio Evoke 50 5.1
The Dynaudio Evoke 50 5.1 package has been carefully developed to deliver consistent voicing across the channels, creating a well-balanced soundfield. Rhythmically taut across the frequency spectrum with a standout agile low end, the package is both detailed and robust, attacking action, music and dialogue with dynamic urgency.
Baby Driver’s uptempo score gives the floorstanders a chance to shine, and they don’t disappoint. There’s fluidity in the midrange and an ease with which it hands over to the tweeter, while the rapid rhythm of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Bellbottoms is as cleanly rendered in the high-frequency cymbals as it is in the surprisingly nimble low end. The integration between the Sub 6 and the Evoke 50s, with their punchy bass, is effective, particularly on the leading edge of the gutsy sound of the car engine that syncopates with the music.
Blu-ray player: Panasonic DP-UB9000
And of course this system deserves a serious 4K Blu-ray player to provide the ultimate source material.
The Panasonic DP-UB9000 will help bring the best out of any 4K Blu-ray collection, and it has access to streaming apps such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and, in the UK, BBC iPlayer, so you can vary your content easily
With 4K Blu-ray, the level of detail on display is stunning, with a potent combination of detail and clarity keeping you fixed to the screen. We feed the DP-UB9000 a selection of 4K Blu-rays, starting with the Jumanji remake, and the picture we get blows us away. As the four explorers are dropped off at the start of their hunt for the Jaguar’s Eye, the jungle backdrop looks breathtaking. Clouds, blue skies and lush foliage combine to create a picture rich with information and beautifully shaded colours.
Panasonic has set the bar pretty high when it comes to picture quality and that’s mirrored by a similarly robust sonic performance.
Make no mistake, this is a pricey package. But if you value immersive home cinema and are lucky enough to have this kind of 'new car money', this quartet of star performers will certainly thrill.
The SDR-35 is an extraordinarily good home cinema receiver. It may lack a little in terms of amplified channels and HDMI 2.1 compared with more mainstream AV amps, but for sound quality it’s in a higher league, delivering music and movies with a rare maturity and sophistication.
Despite its high price, the JVC DLA-N5 still sits short of where the law of diminishing returns kicks in and it certainly feels like there’s value to be had with a large-scale picture that’s so strong in HDR and colour care.
The DP-UB9000 is a focused, high-performance Blu-Ray player – a home cinema powerhouse to match the rest of this stunning system.
Finally, the Dynaudios make for a sparkling, well-made cinema package with dynamics, detail and drama aplenty.
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4K Blu-ray: Paying over £500 for a player that doesn’t have universal disc play is just a rip off.
Nothing wrong with the JBL (Even though it is a little more expensive) but if you can hide it in the cupboard then also look at the Arcam. (They look cheap and nasty and you definitely wouldn’t want one on show in your rack, but the part that counts is great)
Speakers: As always choose what suits your preferences and room. (One man’s meat is another mans poison)