Video Processors Benefits and Pitfalls

Many companies offer external devices that can change the video signal from a source to the display. These products can take the form of video specific products like those from Lumagen or DVDO, or they can be embedded in receivers or audio processors.

These were born in the past due to substandard video processing in displays for film material or insufficient color adjustments in the display. Today’s displays are much more capable. They frequently have great video processing and color adjustments. In fact many video processors will do more harm than good today. I have seen many cases where they corrupt 1080p/24Hz sources. Denon video processors for example will not allow the brightness to be reduced which is the most common error.

The most common reason today to have some level of video processing today is to accommodate differences in sourced switched through a common HDMI input. This is most necessary when using S-Video and composite video sources. These devices usually have brightness and color level errors. Another common problem are displays that handle RGB and YCbCr differently. When this is the case converting all inputs to a single type can be very useful. Displays with these problems include some Samsung and Pioneer monitors. The best products I have found for these things are the current Onkyo receivers with video processing.

If you have a capable display and HDMI sources I would avoid external video processing. Buying a better display, speakers or subwoofer is likely to yield more value for the money. The reason for this is that the fewer devices that can alter the image the better. Since the display has to modify the data if it does it well there is no reason to possibly degrade the image. It is also common when a display degrades the image it cannot be bypassed by using an external video processor.

W. Jeff Meier

ISF and THX Certified Home Theater Consultant

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