Projector Reviews

Epson Ensemble HD 1080 Complete, Projector Based Home Theater System Review-4

Ensemble HD Screen (and speaker) System

The Epson Ensemble HD comes with a motorized screen that has a 100″ diagonal, 16:9, matte-white screen surface. The screen is capable of lowering all the way, or can be reset to go part way down (or all the way, by hitting the power button twice). There are two advantages of being able to stop the screen from going all the way down.

The screen has about a 1 foot black drop when fully extended, so if your room has a low ceiling (ie. some basements) you might want the top of the screen surface to be closer to the screen housing at the top. A second use, which I like – though I haven’t set it up yet – but will – comes into play when watching movies with Cinemascope aspect ratio.

The wide Cinemascope is what we are used to, for most movies, and normally leaves you with a black letter box area at both the top and the bottom of the screen. I plan to adjust the screen stop, so that the bottom of the surface is where the bottom of the movie content will be, and the letterbox black area, would actually be below the screen, hitting, in the case of my installation – dark blinds and wall, where the minimal light of letterbox is invisible. End result – only letterbox at the top, not top and bottom. Then, if I am watching something in standard 16:9, or 4:3 aspect ratio, I can hit the button again, to fully lower the screen surface.

What is truly special about the screen, though, is the left, center, and right front speakers being located in the screen housing. This is a key part of making the Ensemble HD 1080 so quick and easy to install, and far less intrusive than most setups. More on the speakers, below.

Ensemble HD 1080 5.1 Speakers and Amplification

Epson partnered with well respected speaker manufacturer Atlantic Technology, an established manufacturer of medium and higher end speaker systems. The end result is really impressive, room filling, (and when appropriate), room shaking sound.

First, the three speakers in the screen housing consist of left and right speakers, each with one 1 inch titanium dome tweeter, and one 4.5 inch midrange speaker. The center channel also uses the 1 inch dome, but has two of the 4.5 inch midrange speakers.

The rear speakers mounted in the projector housing, again, bringing together different components for easy wiring. The rear speakers use a 4 inch mid-range speakerl.

Finally, there is the included subwoofer than sits in the equipment cabinet. The subwoofer consists of a ported 10 inch woofer, and draws on its healthy 150 watt amplifier. The rest of the amplification; 40 watt amplifiers for the left and right, front and rear speakers, and a 70 watt amplifier for the center channel, are all housed in the sub-woofer.

All together, in a medium sized room (2000 cubic feet – somrthing like 20 feet x 10 feet x 10 foot ceiling height or 16x12x10), the system can hit 105 db of volume, which is very loud. We are talking peak volume levels of typical rock concerts (though not the very loudest of them.)

Ensemble HD 1080 Remote Control

One touch operation! That’s oversimplifying, but press the Power button on this remote, right out of the box, and the screen will drop, the AV Controller will power up, and the projector will turn on. Too easy?

The remote, manufactured by Universal Remote Control, comes preprogrammed to run the entire system. It uses both RF and Infra-red capabilities. It is a learning remote, and also accepts codes, so that you can add additional devices to it, to control their functions. It’s functionality will be covered in the General Performance section. As I have already mentioned that I have added a Sony PS3 to the system, and, since I suspect that many others will, I should point out, that without an adapter, the Sony PS3’s wireless is Blutooth, and not compatible with this remote. With an adapter, I believe you can have the PS3 accept commands from the Epson’s remote control. I expect to do this in the next month or so, and will report by blog. Mike, who does my calibrations these days, is a programmable remote specialist as well, and has done so in his house, if I recall correctly.

Ensemble HD 1080 Miscellaneous Equipment

Basically, assorted hardware, brackets, etc., but also cabling for speakers, AV and power cabling to wire up the whole system are included. Perhaps more significantly, channels are provided, so you can neatly attach them and run wires without opening up the walls (more time, expense, and hassle). As mentioned the channels can be painted, allowing them to be less visible in your room. The image below shows one of the wiring channels as it comes out in front of the projector. This image was borrowed from Epson’s site, and is black and white. Further, it was no doubt taken in the development stages of the product, as the mounting plate you see there is not what the final looks like, and is clearly metal, while the finished mounting plate is white, and consumer looking, not industrial like the one shown here.

Also, the channels in my system (which, as noted, I didn’t use), were white, whereas these seem darker, or where digitally darkened so they would be easier to see in this photo. Rest assured, the channels are nice and white, and can be painted (good thinking Epson), to match wall colors or ceilings if needed!

OK, time to consider the picture quality of the completed system!