As I mentioned in the introduction, VAVA is one of only three companies using an ALPD 4.0 discrete RGB laser light source which, on paper, gives this projector a massive color pallet to create images on the screen. VAVA claims the Chroma covers 106% of the Rec.2020 gamut.
Out of the box, the colors the Chroma displays on-screen run the gamut from powerfully oversaturated to excellent. The preset picture modes are overall cool and mostly on par with other triple laser projectors' out-of-the-box preset modes.
VAVA provides six preset picture modes for users to choose from STANDARD, FILM, GAME, TV, PE, and PC.
The FILM and CUSTOM modes feature a warm overall image. The rest of the modes lean more toward the blue tones. Typically, the FILM mode is one of the modes that many manufacturers adjust to provide the best overall picture, including color and contrast. Oddly, the preset picture mode providing the best overall picture was the GAME mode. Overall, the colors were neutral, and I found the presets contrast setting to offer me the best balance of seeing content in the dark and bright areas of the image while still getting a decent black level.
The VAVA Chroma would periodically oversaturate dark scenes containing some red hues. This did not happen with every dark scene with red highlights. When this would happen it did so regardless of the projector being fed an SDR or HDR signal. The only solution I could find was to turn down the CHROMA (Color) setting. Doing this greatly reduced the problem; however, the rest of the movie would be undersaturated. I could not find a good solution for when this happened. Fortunately this issue did not show up with the majority of content.
VAVA only provides one CUSTOM mode for users to dial in their adjustments. I recommend adjusting the projector to your screen and space for the best results. Be mindful that when you are in one of the other preset modes and think you are making changes to them, the projector applies those changes to the CUSTOMIZED mode, not the preset picture mode you believe you are adjusting.
We took the time to calibrate the VAVA Chroma. Since your room environment and screen material significantly impact the overall picture, we don’t recommend using another users calibration adjustments. If your room is brighter/darker or your walls are a different color, copying another users results can cause more harm than good. However, below are the before and after calibration results in our space.
All the picture modes were too cool out of the box, resulting in a blueish-looking image. The VAVA Chroma offers single-point RGB balance adjustments, which can be used to correct the projector's grayscale.
The projector's Gamma measured 1.77, which is brighter than our normal target of 2.2.
The projector's RGB laser light can reproduce 100% of the BT2020 color gamut, but the Chroma does not properly track the smaller Rec709 color space used in SDR content, so bright colors were noticeably over-saturated.
The Chroma does not have CMS adjustments, so color-tracking issues can not be easily corrected.
Picture Mode: CUSTOMIZED
Color Temperature: 9944K
Average Grayscale dE: 3.55
Average Color Tracking dE: 7.24
Post-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale
While the Chroma only has single-point RGB adjustment, they are very effective. Decreasing the BLUE GAIN while increasing the RED GAIN resulted in very good grayscale, and the average color temperature was 6550K which was very close to our target.
Since the Chroma doesn't have Gamma adjustment, we could achieve our Gamma target of 2.2. Reducing the BRIGHTNESS setting did result in a Gamma of 2.0, which will look fine in an environment with moderate ambient light.
Since the Chroma does not have CMS adjustments, we adjusted the projector's RGB balance, CHROMA (color), and HUE, improving the color tracking at lower IREs. However, brighter colors are still remained too saturated.
Picture Mode: CUSTOMIZED
Color Temperature: 6552K
Average Grayscale dE: 1.12
Average Color Tracking dE: 4.79
Delta E measurement of 3 or less is considered ‘Excellent’ and imperceptible by the human eye. After calibration, the projector had a grayscale average dE of 1.12, which is outstanding. An average post-calibration Color Tracking dE was 4.79 due to hue shifts and over-saturated colors. While the grayscale and skin tones looked good, bright colors were still noticeably oversaturated.
HDR RGB Balance
The VAVA Chroma supports High Dynamic Range encoded in HDR10 and HLG. Note that all the picture settings adjustments are shared between SDR and HDR. The good news is once the RGB balance is adjusted for SDR, those settings also work well for HDR.
When set to CUSTOMIZED picture mode, the Grayscale error was under 1, which is very good.
Since HDR content is shot in DCI-P3, which is closer to the Rec.2020, the color mapping issues are less obvious. Bright colors seemed less oversaturated than SDR content captured in Rec709.
The VAVA Chroma doesn't offer dynamic tone mapping, but HDR picture quality looked as good as other Laser TVs in its price range.
Out of the box, the VAVA Chroma skin tones were just average. Most of the preset picture modes made skin look overly bright or yellow in the case of the FILM mode. However, with a little tweaking, this was easily adjusted. I recommend starting with the CUSTOM mode and adjusting from there.
As mentioned in the color section above, the GAME mode provides the best balance of colors, including skin tones.
I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens, which usually gives a pretty good approximation of ANSI lumens. I measured the VAVA Chroma in its brightest picture mode, STANDARD.
The VAVA Chroma measured 2,391 ANSI lumens which is 108 lumens less than its rated 2,500 lumens. My measurements fall right between the manufacturer's product website rating of 2,200 and the instruction manual's 2,500 lumens.
2,391 ANSI LUMENS
1,570 ANSI LUMENS
2,369 ANSI LUMENS
2,374 ANSI LUMENS
2,372 ANSI LUMENS
2,370 ANSI LUMENS
1,459 ANSI LUMENS
The brightness of the measurements of STANDARD, TV, GAME, and PC modes were incredibly close to each other. FILM and CUSTOM modes were less bright but also very close to each other.
VAVA's rated brightness of 2,200 or 2,500 lumens, depending on who you believe, aligns with most of the similarly priced triple laser light source projectors that came to market in early 2022.
The brightness on this projector is excellent for a dark or even dim space, but even with the Ambient Light Rejecting (ALR) screen, it did not take much room light for the color to begin washing out and black levels to suffer.
BLACK LEVEL AND SHADOW DETAIL
Most ultra-short throw DLP projectors designed for home use in the past 18 months have similar black levels. Dark scene viewing wasn't bad. As a family projector in a living room environment, the VAVA will get the job done better than many other ultra-short-throw projectors in its price range. The VAVA chroma displays a decent amount of detail in the dark areas of the image. However, like many of the DLP projectors in its class, black levels on this projector are still darker gray if you want to see any details in the darkest areas of the picture. You can turn down the brightness to get deeper blacks, but that crushes out all the detail you would see by not turning down the brightness.
The VAVA Chroma supports HDR encoded in either HDR10 or HLG. Since most HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content is either backward compatible with or available in HDR10, you can watch most of the HDR content available on 4K Blu-ray Discs and streaming services. HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) was developed for live broadcasts, so you can enjoy sports and award shows when the networks start broadcasting.
One of the many benefits of an RGB laser light source projector is its ability to reproduce such a large part of the BT.2020 color space. The manufacturer rates the VAVA Chroma to reproduce 106% of the BT.2020 color gamut. This has real value when watching HDR content. Reproducing such a wide-ranging color pallet allows HDR content to appear incredibly rich and vibrant, at least on paper.
I could see a difference between SDR and HDR content in most preset picture modes. Depending on the selected mode, SDR content could look anywhere from average to surprisingly decent. Put the projector in GAME mode and play Thor Love and Thunder, and it's hard to tell the difference between SDR and HDR. Project the same content in SDR STANDARD mode, FILM mode, or PC mode, and I saw a massive difference in the same movie displayed in HDR and SDR.
Check out the photos I've attached above, where I compare, side-by-side, some stills captured from the same scene, with the only difference being that the projector receives content encoded in HDR or SDR.
The VAVA Chroma comes with a 60-watt (30 watts x2) Dolby Digital sound system with Harman Kardon speakers built in. More and more ultra-short-throw projector makers collaborate with mainstream audio companies on their onboard sound systems. To be fair to VAVA, this partnership with Harman Kardon started with their first 4K Laser TV-style projector three years ago. They were one of the early brands that very smartly collaborated with established sound companies.
The Harmon Kardon speakers can get loud enough to fill a decent-sized home theater room. The projector's sound system comes with multiple preset modes for various listening options like MOVIE and MUSIC, to name a couple. VAVA offers a decent amount of mid-bass, and with the 3.5-inch audio output, users should be able to connect the Chroma to an externally powered sub-woofer.
If it's an option you can afford, I strongly recommend adding an external sound system or sound bar to any projector to allow the audio to match its image quality. If not, the onboard sound on the VAVA Chroma is one of the better ones I’ve tested.
The VAVA Chroma's cooling fans are quiet and do not produce excessive noise. The projector's cooling system is certainly not a distraction while watching movies; it is pretty quiet even when I'm sitting about seven feet away from the projector.