Projector Reviews

Epson Ensemble HD 1080 Home Theater System Review: General Performance

Ensemble HD 1080 Menus

I’ve got to keep this simple. After all, this is a complete system, not just a projector. I will refer you back to the original Home Cinema 1080 review for the menu layout and controls of the projector. The menus are unchanged, they are well laid out, from a logical standpoint, and easy to navigate. I’ve always considered Epson to have one of the best menu layouts, and that is still true. The Epson image and color controls are extensive, including individual controls for primary and secondary color tuning. (For example, as part of our calibration, we significantly reduced the saturation of the green channel.)

That brings us to the menus that come up from the Ensemble‘s A/V Controller. The first image displayed is the Audio menu. Besides bass, treble, and mid-range (voice), you have adjustment for the surround sound. Below that are the distance settings mentioned, which are designed to optimize the audio channels to give you the best surround sound for where you are sitting. It seems to work well!

Video menu: As you can see, very basic items here. These, I do believe, relate strictly to the AV Controller, and affect the signal before it goes out to the display device.

There is also a Language menu, which lets you set, of course the language for the menus, but also for DVD menus, even subtitles.

The Preference Menu has but one item, and that is to toggle off or on, the Midnight mode, which is discussed later on this page. That pretty much covers the AV Controller’s menu, except for the Reset menu, which is pretty obvious.

Ensemble HD 1080

Ensemble HD 1080 User Memory Settings

Well, in reality, the User Memories are for the projector, and accessible from the projector’s menus. The projector offers nine separate user savable settings, more than enough for even those who love to fiddle around. Most projectors have 3 settings, and I think that providing five or six, is actually enough for 99 point something of all owners. Nine may be over the top, but, then, why not have them? afterall, the difference between 3 and 9, is just a bit of firmware!

By the way, Epson doesn’t provide any naming ability for the user memories, they just take on the name of the Color mode, thus you see a modified Theater Black 1, a Living Room, and two Dynamics. The first dynamic was Mike’s original setup. My instructions to Mike since he started doing my calibrations for me a few months ago, is to “tame” dynamic type modes, if the colors, contrast, etc., are far enough off to produce visibly poor colors and skin tones. Mike and I aren’t on the same page yet. He tends to over correct, getting better picture quality than I’m looking for. Afterall, Dynamic is there for dealing with rooms with too much ambient light. You need a bit of oversaturation, etc. Mike ended up with far less lumens than the default. The second Dynamic listed in the User area, was my work, starting with his settings, and putting back more ambient lighting “punch” and recovering more lumens. (Even that setting is still “better” and dimmer, than what I was looking for, and I’ll no doubt tweak that for even more brightness, as the picture is still “almost perfect”, and can be compromised, and still offer a really good image for brighter rooms.

Ensemble HD 1080 Projector: Universal Remote Control

This is tough for me. I am not, by any means an expert with universal remotes. At the most, I’ve barely dabbled, and still haven’t put one in my main theater (when I finish some work, I will buy one, but have Mike program it, since that’s an area of his expertise). For those familar with a lot of programmable remotes, this is the Universal Remote Control, model MX-350. It is, as is typical for programmable remotes, a large remote, for, of course it has a display screen and a lot of buttons.

The remote can handle up to 10 devices, so you have plenty for other toys you might add to the system. I’m going to concentrate on the organization and system functionality of the provided remote. I’ll cover most of what it can do, with the out of the box setup, and what an owner might want added to that. Keep in mind that Epson’s goal, here, is to keep everything simple. In the basic sense, they are very successful. One touch lowers the screen, fires up the projector and you are ready to go. (A second press of the power button is necessary to drop the screen all the way down, but this can be easily changed.) On the other hand, if you want to change the projector’s settings, they still provide you the standard Epson remote for the Home Cinema 1080.