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Old 10-24-2017, 01:38 AM   #1
David M David M is offline
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Default (Nearly) undefeatable detail killing on Sony BDP-S6500 (pictures)

A few days ago in the UK subforum, I mentioned to avoid this player due to undefeatable spatial filtering that kills detail. I returned this, the top-end 4K upscaling player, for the cheaper Sony BDP-S3600, which is free of any noise reduction controls - and is free of this problem.

It's not visible all the time, but the player kills detail in darker regions of the picture, even when all of the video processing controls (Smoothing, Dark Filter or whatever it's called, IP NR Pro, etc) are turned off. It kills detail seemingly on a block-by-block basis, making even well compressed discs look like shoddy YouTube videos.

It turns out that the player does NOT do this is the video output is 4K - when operating in this mode, the video controls menu disappears entirely, which suggests that the chipset in the player is not capable of running the extra NR features when the output is 3840x2160p (thank goodness). My theory is that the detail reduction was not deliberate and that some kind of noise reduction feature was inadvertently left running. I tried to speak to Sony engineers about this at CES, but wasn't able to, so I had to give up trying to reach them and bought the cheaper model instead.

Anyway, the pictures: I would rather grab frames digitally from the video output of the player instead of take photos of a TV, but that involves bypassing HDCP which is neither easy or legal. So, I used a Sony A6000 camera on a locked-off tripod with the same manual picture settings for each photo.

The BD used is THE TERMINAL, chapter 16. I used this because it's a mostly very well encoded title with an extremely well resolved film grain texture.

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/121572

Bottom line:

* if you have a 1080p (or 720p) display, it's best to avoid the 4K upscaling Sonys. I don't know which players have this problem, and don't feel like buying them all to find out!
* if you have a 2160p display, the detail reduction filter won't be activated. Just make sure the player is outputting in 2160p ("4K") mode.

Last edited by David M; 10-24-2017 at 01:43 AM.
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Old 10-25-2017, 09:50 AM   #2
rickardl rickardl is online now
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Do you know of any other players, beside Sony, that have similar problems?
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:00 AM   #3
Kwebbotaurus Kwebbotaurus is offline
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I'm hoping this doesn't affect the S5500 which I have?
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:02 AM   #4
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Interesting (and worrying) reading. Thanks David.

I always use sony equipment but thankfully I have the S5500 which has no 4K upscaling. Will be holding onto that until I splurge on an X800/UHD TV combo.

EDIT:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kwebbotaurus View Post
I'm hoping this doesn't affect the S5500 which I have?
No 4K upscaling on the S5500. It's a good little machine.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:52 AM   #5
Kwebbotaurus Kwebbotaurus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Phil View Post
Interesting (and worrying) reading. Thanks David.

I always use sony equipment but thankfully I have the S5500 which has no 4K upscaling. Will be holding onto that until I splurge on an X800/UHD TV combo.

EDIT:


No 4K upscaling on the S5500. It's a good little machine.

Phew!
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Old 10-25-2017, 12:11 PM   #6
David M David M is offline
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The 1080p Sonys I've looked at have all been fine in terms of image fidelity. Having said that, after this incident, they're no longer one of my trusted brands that I would recommend almost unreservedly. Here's hoping this was a one-off issue.
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Old 10-25-2017, 12:35 PM   #7
Indiana Jonezzz... Indiana Jonezzz... is offline
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I saw your original post about this in The Thing thread, this is really unfortunate news as I have 2 of these players! I presume if I was to set the output in the player to 4K, on my 1080p TV, it would simply not play anything, or would it just default back to outputting 1080p direct? I wondered if it might bypass the noise reduction by outputting at 4K as you said, then because I have a 1080p TV, it would just downscale it back to 1080p, without the NR.

I wonder if this could be fixed with a firmware update?

Last edited by Indiana Jonezzz...; 10-25-2017 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 10-25-2017, 02:39 PM   #8
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I bought a modded S6500 back in August to replace my modded Samsung J5100 when I applied a firmware update to it, and it killed the ICOS mod.

Looking at the comparison screenshot, my player shows the exact same thing. Although you do have to look pretty close to see it. However, DVD playback, whether its a NTSC disc or PAL disc, is atrocious. It straight up looks like DNR, wiping away all grain and detail.

I messed around with the settings for what seemed like hours. Even though my TV is only 1080P, the 4K upscaling did nothing to change DVD playback. Though I did not test it for Blu-rays. I can test this when I get home.

Bottom line, avoid the S6500 unless the 4K upscaling on an actual 4K TV fixes DVD playback. If someone could test this, I would be most interested.

(Also, if anyone knows why a firmware update would kill a HD-ICOS mod on the J5100, I would be interested in that as well. Even possible to fix?)
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Old 10-25-2017, 04:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indiana Jonezzz... View Post
I saw your original post about this in The Thing thread, this is really unfortunate news as I have 2 of these players! I presume if I was to set the output in the player to 4K, on my 1080p TV, it would simply not play anything, or would it just default back to outputting 1080p direct? I wondered if it might bypass the noise reduction by outputting at 4K as you said, then because I have a 1080p TV, it would just downscale it back to 1080p, without the NR.

I wonder if this could be fixed with a firmware update?
It would depend on how the TV handles the higher resolution, some will go out of range or give a no signal message. But be aware if you're player doesn't have analogue video outputs, you may have to do a video reset to get the settings back, which can be a pain to do if you can't see anything (it's usually a combination of front panel button presses).

But I would imagine you'd receive a no signal or out of range pop-up.
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Old 10-26-2017, 02:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indiana Jonezzz... View Post
I saw your original post about this in The Thing thread, this is really unfortunate news as I have 2 of these players! I presume if I was to set the output in the player to 4K, on my 1080p TV, it would simply not play anything, or would it just default back to outputting 1080p direct? I wondered if it might bypass the noise reduction by outputting at 4K as you said, then because I have a 1080p TV, it would just downscale it back to 1080p, without the NR.

I wonder if this could be fixed with a firmware update?
Ok, I tried setting the player to 4K upscaling and tested it with a Blu-ray, and nothing seemed to change. TV still showed it was 1080P, and the video controls menu was still available. I'm guessing the player will only go into 4K mode if it detects a 4K display.
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Old 10-28-2017, 04:01 PM   #11
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I'm going to push some contacts at Sony and see if I can get this escalated. The more I look at it, the more I'm convinced that it's an accident. A firmware update could surely fix it.
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Old 10-28-2017, 04:31 PM   #12
Indiana Jonezzz... Indiana Jonezzz... is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
I'm going to push some contacts at Sony and see if I can get this escalated. The more I look at it, the more I'm convinced that it's an accident. A firmware update could surely fix it.
That would be fantastic David, I can’t see why a firmware update shouldn’t be able to fix this, unless it’s hard coded into the chipset or something like that.

I was going to watch the Arrow version of The Thing tonight using the player, but I won’t be able to quite appreciate its true glory. I’d heard it was very well encoded too, no idea who did it though.
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Old 11-02-2017, 01:08 AM   #13
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Here is a comparison shot of DVD playback on the S6500 vs my Samsung J5100. Its the 2006 DVD release of the unaltered Star Wars. Its shows the weird 'DNR' thing the best because the image is so grainy and noisy. The S6500 smooths it out, and not in a good way. Funny enough, the photos make it look like the Sony looks better, but in motion, its quite the opposite.

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/122382

My apologies for the awful quality, I have no equipment to capture digital screenshots. But the difference in the pictures I hope is evident.
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Old 11-02-2017, 01:57 AM   #14
Indiana Jonezzz... Indiana Jonezzz... is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanguard View Post
Here is a comparison shot of DVD playback on the S6500 vs my Samsung J5100. Its the 2006 DVD release of the unaltered Star Wars. Its shows the weird 'DNR' thing the best because the image is so grainy and noisy. The S6500 smooths it out, and not in a good way. Funny enough, the photos make it look like the Sony looks better, but in motion, its quite the opposite.

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/122382

My apologies for the awful quality, I have no equipment to capture digital screenshots. But the difference in the pictures I hope is evident.
Thanks for that comparison . That really shows the DNR thing very clearly. Is the colour difference just due to your camera btw?
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Old 11-02-2017, 03:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
It's not visible all the time, but the player kills detail in darker regions of the picture, even when all of the video processing controls (Smoothing, Dark Filter or whatever it's called, IP NR Pro, etc) are turned off. It kills detail seemingly on a block-by-block basis, making even well compressed discs look like shoddy YouTube videos.
This. I've seen lots of movies on this player (majority in 3D) and haven't noticed any of this even with the 2D to 3D conversion ON in a movie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanguard View Post
Here is a comparison shot of DVD playback on the S6500 vs my Samsung J5100. Its the 2006 DVD release of the unaltered Star Wars. Its shows the weird 'DNR' thing the best because the image is so grainy and noisy. The S6500 smooths it out, and not in a good way. Funny enough, the photos make it look like the Sony looks better, but in motion, its quite the opposite.

http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/122382

My apologies for the awful quality, I have no equipment to capture digital screenshots. But the difference in the pictures I hope is evident.
I have the same DVD and will try at some point but to me DVDs are unwatchable regardless ever since HD!!!
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Old 11-02-2017, 12:48 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indiana Jonezzz... View Post
Thanks for that comparison . That really shows the DNR thing very clearly. Is the colour difference just due to your camera btw?
Yeah, its the camera. Its an 11 year old DSLR, plus I was not really sure what I was doing. The color actually looks very nice on both players. I really should invest in a capture card someday. Taking pictures of a TV is... quaint
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Old 11-02-2017, 12:51 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLMN View Post
This. I've seen lots of movies on this player (majority in 3D) and haven't noticed any of this even with the 2D to 3D conversion ON in a movie.



I have the same DVD and will try at some point but to me DVDs are unwatchable regardless ever since HD!!!
Cool, i'd love to see what your player does. Maybe mine is just buggy? I figure if all players did this, people would be up in arms about it already.
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Old 11-02-2017, 09:25 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Vanguard View Post
Cool, i'd love to see what your player does. Maybe mine is just buggy? I figure if all players did this, people would be up in arms about it already.
Many people wouldn't notice mild DNR from their player, especially with nothing to compare it to. That doesn't mean it isn't happening. My old media player from a few years ago had a bug where it stuttered every 42 seconds due to framerate conversion issues, and I was the only one complaining about it. Many owners insisted it wasn't happening. Finally another owner confirmed the issue, with proof, and the company eventually put out a new firmware update that fixed the issue. It happened on all players, even though most owners insisted they didn't see it.

I'd like to know if this issue is confirmed or not.
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Old 11-04-2017, 06:12 AM   #19
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I need to know if this affects the Sony BDP-S6700. Can this be confirmed either way for this player?

Bhphotovideo lists the BDP-S6500 as discontinued, and lists the BDP-S6700 as the replacement. Maybe the replacement isn't affected? It seems like virtually the same player though, so I'm wondering if any faults with the 6500 carried over to the 6700?

Last edited by mar3o; 11-04-2017 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 11-05-2017, 11:31 PM   #20
Vanguard Vanguard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mar3o View Post
I need to know if this affects the Sony BDP-S6700. Can this be confirmed either way for this player?

Bhphotovideo lists the BDP-S6500 as discontinued, and lists the BDP-S6700 as the replacement. Maybe the replacement isn't affected? It seems like virtually the same player though, so I'm wondering if any faults with the 6500 carried over to the 6700?
It does have 4K upscaling like the 6500. Good chance it might have the same issues, but I do not know.

If you have no need for 4K upscaling, then I would suggest the S3600 like what David M said. Its cheaper and is a solid little player.
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