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Image Screens iMasque review

John Archer

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Image Screens iMasque
  • Image Screens iMasque
  • Image Screens iMasque
  • Image Screens iMasque
  • Image Screens iMasque

Summary

Our Score:

9

For sundry practical reasons we don’t review projection screens on TrustedReviews all that often. This is a shame, for we believe that getting the right screen for your projector and room setup can be almost as important as getting the right projector.

With this in mind, when we do look at projector screens, we try and focus on models that fit a specific brief or end user unusually well. Last time out, for instance, we tested the startling Black Diamond II from Screen Innovations, which was remarkably usable in non-blacked out rooms or with low-brightness projectors thanks to its outstanding ‘light amplification’ properties and surprisingly - but appropriately - affordable price.

Today we’re turning our sights further up the projection tree, towards the world of high-end installations. Once you get up to this sort of level, where paying five figures for a screen is more or less routine, the world’s your oyster in terms of screen finishes, mounting options, sizes, aspect ratios, curvatures and so on.

It’s hard to think of any premium projector screen that better illustrates this flexibility than the iMasque from German brand Image Screens. All iMasque screens are handmade - fast - to order, meaning they can cater for almost any size (up to a bonkers 12m) or native aspect ratio requirement. Also crucial to the iMasque’s appeal is the variety of screen materials you can use. The standard format (and the one we reviewed) is dubbed Nivo Black, and delivers a 1.2 gain from a matt-white screen backed by a black-coated rear layer - hence the Nivo Black name. This black rear layer is designed to stop any light passing right through the screen to reduce the ambient light the projected image has to contend with.

You can also go for a greyer front fabric to boost black level response, should your room be black enough to support a reduced brightness output. Plus there’s a Vevo series of fabrics that are acoustically transparent, meaning they use tiny perforations to allow sound to pass through the screen from any home cinema speakers mounted behind it.

It’s really quite common to find at least a centre-channel speaker fitted behind a screen in a professional home cinema installation - though the catch with acoustic transparency is that inevitably some light will pass through the audio perforations and onto the wall behind.

Finally, you can get the so-called Vilo material, which again offers grey or white configurations, but doesn’t have the black backing layer of the Nivo materials.

gazbarber

December 3, 2010, 3:28 pm

I have a few year old Yamaha projector which has a 'black mask' feature effectively stopping light from leaving the projector where black boarders normally are. It does mean the black boarders are still only as black as the screen material (perceptively black) but is a different but IMO as good a solution as this, and somewhat cheaper too.

StJohn Group

December 4, 2010, 8:14 pm

Just to clear up a few things. The acoustically transparent (AT) Vevo material is woven fabric, not perforated vinyl. So audio problems like comb filtering and high frequency loss are minimized or eliminated. The "openness" of the woven fabric is less than 3% (as compared to about 10% for a micro perforated vinyl screen) so there is very little light loss. An optional black backing material can be added behind the screen to eliminate any reflected light that DOES get through the screen, from bouncing back into the viewing area. IMAGE now offers the widest range of AT fabrics on the market, including the world's only 3D AT screen material. The minimal light loss through an AT fabric is far outweighed by the advantage of being able to place speakers where the director and sound engineer meant them to be - behind the screen. Once you hear your home theater speakers behind the screen, you won't be able to listen to them any other way. Finally, IMAGE has the blackest masks of any other screen manufacturer doing masking. ~ StJohn Group is IMAGE's North American distributor.

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