Sony VPL-XW7000ES 4K SXRD Home Theater Projector Review – Performance

April 26, 2022

/ By Projector Reviews Staff

COLOR REPRODUCTION

I was impressed with the outstanding picture quality of the XW7000ES right out-of-the-box. I have been blessed with the opportunity to review several good home theater projectors over the past year, but very few could match the XW7000ES.

The REFERENCE and USER picture presets were less than a hundred degrees off my calibrated white balance target of 6500K. The color temperature of the IMAX ENHANCED mode was accurate but the black level was elevated.

For extra brightness and to combat higher ambient light, you can switch to BRIGHT TV or BRIGHT CINEMA. These picture modes are slightly oversaturated with a cooler color temperature, but it may be worth it to cut through a lot of ambient light.

Like other Sony home theater projectors, I would be satisfied with the picture quality of the XW7000ES whether it was calibrated or not. However, I did take the time to measure the projector’s picture modes and calibrate its USER Mode.

Since your room and screen material has a major impact on the overall picture, we don’t recommend using someone else's calibration adjustments. If your room is brighter/darker or your walls are a different color, copying someone else results can cause more harm than good.

Just as an example, I am including the before and after results of calibration for my specific room and screen. To test the projector’s color accuracy, we use Portrait Displays Calman color calibration software.

Pre-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale

XW7000ES color calibration graph

Out-of-the-box, the grayscale and color tracking was very good. When measured, the color temperature of the USER mode was very close to my target of 6500K.

The XW7000ES grayscale was also good out of the box but there is a little too much blue at higher IREs which made the Color Temperature slightly cool.

The projector color tracking was also outstanding as well. Lastly, the Gamma measurement pre-calibration was close to my target of 2.2.

We calibrated the USER mode for SDR viewing in a room with low ambient light.

  • Picture Mode: USER
  • Color Temperature: 6804K
  • Average Color Tracking dE: 0.74
  • Average Grayscale dE: 2.87
  • Gamma: 2.23

Post-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale

XW7000ES color calibration graph

The color temperature was already very close to our 6500K. We switched the COLOR TEMP from its default of D65 to the nearly identical-looking CUSTOM 3 setting so we could compare the grayscale before and after adjustment.

To produce good grayscale (RGB Balance), I reduced the BLUE GAIN and increased the GREEN GAIN and RED GAIN a couple of steps. This resulted in a color temp closer to my target of 6500K.

To achieve my gamma target of 2.2 in my room, I set the GAMMA CORRECTION to 2.2. The XW7000ES offers CMS adjustments but the color tracking was excellent so there isn’t really a need to utilize them. However, I made adjustments to the saturation and hue for Green and Blue.

  • Picture Mode: USER
  • Color Temperature: 6493K
  • Average Color Tracking dE: 0.46
  • Average Grayscale dE: 0.68
  • Gamma: 2.18

Delta E as a measure of grayscale/color accuracy of 3 and under is considered ‘Excellent’ and imperceptible by the human eye. Even before calibration, the XW7000ES had an average Grayscale dE of less than 3 and average Color Tracking dE of just 0.74. These pre-cal measurements are better than many calibrated Home Theater projectors.

HDR Color Tracking and Grayscale

XW7000ES color calibration graph
HDR measurements were great after calibrating SDR

After calibration, the XW7000ES had an average grayscale dE of 0.68 and average Color Tracking dE of just 0.46 which is absolutely outstanding.

Like most Sony Home Theater projectors, once grayscale and color tracking were accurately adjusted for SDR, they will look great for HDR as well.

While there was some slight improvement to the picture after calibration, the difference was not dramatic. The colors and skin tones looked great the instant I turned the XW7000ES on.

I spent days watching content on the XW7000ES and unlike many laser-equipped home theaters projectors, I didn’t feel the need to fiddle with the unit’s picture adjustments.

Most owners would be satisfied with the picture quality of the XW7000ES whether it was calibrated or not.

Would I still pay to have the XW7000ES professionally calibrated? Yes, if you have already spent $26K on a projector of this caliber, it would be silly not to optimize the unit’s image for your room.

Once the projector is calibrated, the unit’s Auto Calibrate feature combined with its Z-Phosphor light source ensures that the XW7000ES will deliver “calibrated” color accuracy for several years.

The XW7000ES can reproduce about 95% of DCI-P3 color space, enough to ensure HDR colors appear rich and vibrant. Sony home theater projectors, like the XW7000ES, do not use a color filter to extend their color gamut. This is fine with me because I have never been a fan of using cinema filters when viewing HDR content.

While a cinema filter would increase the XW7000ES’s color gamut coverage, it would also reduce the projector’s brightness. Colors look more saturated when they are brighter. When viewing HDR on a projector, I personally prefer the look of extra brightness over a slightly wider color gamut.

BRIGHTNESS

The Sony XW7000ES has a rated brightness of 3200 ANSI lumens. I set the projector to IMAX ENHANCED Mode (the brightest mode) and then I took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens.

Sony XW7000ES Brightness (IMAX Enhanced Mode, Lamp Control Max): 3203 Lumens

The XW7000ES measured 3203 lumens which matched Sony’s rated brightness of 3200 lumens. This is 1000 lumens more than the VW1025ES. You will find the XW7000ES more than bright enough for viewing SDR content on a 180” screen or HDR content on a 150” screen in a dark room.

Picture ModeLumensColor Temperature
Cinema Film 131866720K
Cinema Film 228976823K
Reference28556808K
TV24009788K
Photo26195740K
Game29506773K
Bright Cinema29307897K
Bright TV26449763K
User29266808K
IMAX Enhanced32036771K

After SDR calibration, the XW7000ES, I still measured over 300 nits off my 100" matte white screen. which is very bright. When calibrating many projectors, you have to sacrifice half of the projector’s rated brightness to produce an accurate image but maintained most of its pre-cal brightness.

Also when viewing HDR content, the Dynamic HDR Contrast feature did an excellent job maximizing the brightness on the screen. The XW7000ES produced a brighter, more vibrant HDR image than many competitors’ projectors with higher rated/measured brightness.

BLACK LEVEL AND SHADOW DETAIL

The native contrast and black levels of the new 0.61” SXRD panels used in XW7000ES appear to be similar to the 0.74” units used in the older Sony 4K SXRD projector like the VW915ES.

While brightness is important, deep, accurate black levels separate a good home theater from a great one. If you compare two projectors with identical brightness, the one that can produce deeper blacks will deliver a higher perceived contrast.

One of the main reasons to buy a higher-end home theater projector, like the XW7000ES, is much better black levels, resulting in higher contrast. This is really beneficial when watching movies in a darkened theater or in a room with lots of light control.

Combining the high native contrast of the SXRD panels with the precisely modulated laser light output resulted in outstanding black levels. The XW7000ES delivered great blacks level and excellent shadow detail in my viewing room.

I did most of my viewing with the DYNAMIC CONTROL set to Limited, which engages laser dimming. Not only were the blacks nice and deep, but subtle details in the shadows were also clearly visible.

The XW7000ES rated brightness of 3,200 lumens combined with great black levels results in excellent contrast that made images pop, especially in a dark room.

SDR AND HDR PICTURE QUALITY

Due to its native 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) SXRD panels combined with its ACF lens, the XW7000ES had no problem delivering sharp, detailed images from my 4K UHD Blu-day player and Kaleidescape.

Since most TV shows and live broadcasts are still produced in HD, good 4K upscaling continues to be critical. Sony has over a decade of experience when it comes to 4K upscaling, so the XW7000ES does an excellent job as expected.

4K HDR content can deliver expanded color space with better highlight and shadow detail, but even the brightest HDR projectors can struggle to reproduce HDR faithfully.

The X1 Ultimate processor combined 3200 ANSI lumen with the resulted in a noticeable improvement in HDR reproduction when compared to my VW915ES sample.

In addition, the Dynamic HDR Enhancer feature utilizes frame-by-frame HDR tone mapping to deliver respectable full-screen brightness while still displaying a good amount of highlight detail.

The factory HDR Contrast setting of 50 was a little high resulting in some unnecessary highlight clipping, especially when viewing HDR content mastered above 4000nits. Once I reduced the setting to about 45, I rarely felt a need to make any additional manual tone mapping adjustments when viewing during HDR.

I left the Dynamic HDR Enhancer set to LOW most of the time but switching the settings to HIGH does increase onscreen brightness at the expense of clipping more bright highlights.

However, with nearly 50% more brightness available than the VW915ES, cranking up this setting is really unnecessary unless your screen is gigantic. If you do want to adjust the Dynamic HDR Enhancer setting, you can quickly switch between levels with the press of a button on the remote control.

Even though the XW7000ES is utilizing frame-by-frame tone mapping, sometimes brighter highlights are occasionally clipped. This is not a sign that the XW7000ES is not dynamically tone mapping. Sony believes this is necessary to keep most of the image on the screen as close to the director’s intent as possible. Remember, you can always adjust the HDR Contrast setting to restore any clipped highlight information.

The XW7000ES, like previous Sony 4K Home Theater projectors, also has an “HDR Reference Mode” located under the HDR menu option. When engaged, the XW7000ES will faithfully track the luminance of HDR content (no tone mapping) until the projector hard clips just like an HDR mastering display. This mode works well on content mastered at 1000 nits or below, but content mastered above that will have a few more clipped highlights.

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