Marantz VP-12S4 Darkchip 3 DLP Home Theater Projector

Marantz VP-12S4: Summary, Pros, Cons, and "Typical" Capabilities

Boy, am I getting tired of writing all these superlatives in describing this Marantz projector. Still, it’s time to summarize. First I must reiterate: The Marantz VP-12S4 is an exceptional home theater projector, providing performance that easily justifies its high price. And for that, it earns our Hot Product Award – for the Best single chip home theater projector we have seen yet!

The Marantz VP-12S4 projector (whether you choose the versions with short throw zoom (12S4-S) or standard zoom (12S4) – both have a manufacturer’s list price of $14,499, or the long throw 12S4L version with its $16,599 price tag, you are dealing with a state of the art single chip DLP home theater projector. Sure, there’s competition out there, but until I find one better, this is the King of the Hill.

The best attributes of the Marantz models start with exceptional image quality; with truly “film-like” performance. The projector is bright enough, when matched with the right screen to handle projecting image sizes to 133″ diagonal, and perhaps larger. The high contrast ratio (>4500:1) provides excellent black level performance out of the box, and calibrating should further refine its abilities. While the Marantz cannot match the perfect black capabilities of a CRT projector, its as close as any I have seen to date.

The projector is physically attractive, well laid out, has lots of inputs, and an “ok” remote. The choice of three lens configurations means that there almost certainly be a version ideal for your room.

Pros

  • Exceptional Image Quality
  • Film-like performance
  • 10 bit color handling (over 1 billion colors) for smooth gradations, flesh tones, etc.
  • Excellent black levels with almost no “black crush”
  • Multiple inputs (2 HDMI and 2 component video of note)
  • 3 year warranty (from authorized dealers only
  • Choice of three versions (with different thow zoom lenses)
  • Zoom lenses have plenty of adjustment range
  • Lens shift with exceptional adjustment range allows for optimal mounting of projector
  • Lack of light leakage
  • Calibration system (not tested)
  • Lots of end user control and presets
  • 3 year parts/labor warranty (from Authorized dealers only)
  • Optional RC9500 remote – battery powered touch screen remote can control your entire system

Cons

  • Slightly noisier than most
  • Remote not fully backlit – small – buttons all close to each other
  • Relatively expensive compared to many other Darkchip 3 DLP projectors

Typical

  • Owners Manual – It’s OK – a projector in this class should have a more in depth manual
  • Lamp life (2000 hours at full power)
  • Control panel

Ok, that’s a wrap. If you are spending the bucks on your home entertainment system that allows you to purchase the Marantz projector, this should be at the top of your list. With a few other Darkchip 3 projectors on the market, and more coming, there may well be one that outperforms the Marantz, but I’ll have to see it to believe it. I also look forward to seeing some of the lower priced 3 chip designs (LCOS, D-ILA), however I will be truly surprised if they can outclass this projector. I have seen the 720 resolution JVC HX2 , which is about $13,000, and uses a3 D-ILA design. While that projector was impressive in its own right, this slightly more expensive Marantz would seem to be a better choice (at least for anyone not affected by the rainbow effect).

If only the Marantz 12S4 was a 1920×1080 resolution projector. If it was, I’m pretty sure I could quit my search for my last projector, and I could sail off (into the sunset?)

Now if you run out and put one in your theater, drop me an email, I can’t wait to get some feedback from owners of this new machine.

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