Epson EB-U04 – Sound Quality
While the EB-U04 joins most budget projectors these days in carrying an on-board audio system, it’s one of the weakest ones I’ve heard for a while.
The single mono speaker firing out of the projector’s rear muffles, distorts and crackles under any sign of pressure. In general, it lacks clarity and fails to throw the sound any significant distance beyond the confines of the projector’s body.
This latter issue means the audio always sounds dislocated from the pictures the projector is throwing onto a distant screen or wall.
Other Things to Consider
The remote that ships with the EB-U04 falls foul of one of my biggest projection bugbears by not carrying any backlighting. This makes it challenging to use in a blacked-out room. Especially since many of the buttons on the remote are too small and sit too close together.
Another issue to be aware of is the EB-U04’s running noise – which is pretty extreme if you use the lamp on its Normal setting. Too extreme, I’d argue, to make for either a comfortable presentation or movie-viewing experience. Fortunately, the fan noise drops considerably if you switch to the Eco lamp setting.
But even in Eco mode there’s a residual whine that can become distracting during quiet movie moments. Worse still, the EB-U04 suffers with that recurring Epson problem of clicking and grating noises from the dynamic iris.
If you have the sort of brain that tends to latch on to such sounds, you may well find you have to turn off the dynamic iris system – despite it having a negative effect on the EB-U04’s home-entertainment picture quality (it’s not really a problem with presentations, though).
The last thing to report here is the EB-U04’s input lag, which I measured at 40ms in Presentations mode with noise reduction turned off. This is a respectable result that raises the possibility of using the EB-U04 as a gaming display. However, games such as Alien Isolation that feature a lot of darkness will obviously be badly affected by the projector’s lack of contrast.
Should I buy an Epson EB-U04?
The EB-U04 isn’t bad value for a projector with the features necessary to work as both a home-entertainment and business presentations projector. However, its performance is more geared towards the latter.
Those looking for a projector predominantly for home-entertainment use, and where price isn’t a concern, should consider one of BenQ’s new W1110 or W2000 models instead. Otherwise, while Epson’s recently tested EH-TW5300 is hardly the stuff of home-cinema dreams, it’s at least a little more refined with movies than the EB-U04 – and it costs only a tiny bit more money.
The EB-U04 is a solid – although not amazing – and affordable presentations projector. However, a lack of contrast means that it struggles to convince as a home-entertainment device.
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