Question Can upscaling a disc ever lookas good as playing it back at its native resolution?

Corpus_Chain

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2024
33
5
45
Visit site
Here's a question for those with the experience to know the answer:
Can upscaling a disc ever look as good as playing it back at its native resolution?

e.g. if you play back a DVD or 1080p blu-ray on a cheap 2160p screen, either via an upscaling 4K blu-ray player or by using the TV's upscaling, you will notice some artifacts of upscaling, such as blurred background characters, fuzzy edges, unnatural-looking skin, but you won't get this if you, for example, play a 1080p blu-ray back on a 1080p screen.

But... if you spend a lot of money on a top 4K blu-ray player or a top screen, can you get really good results from upscaling, such that you won't be noticing the aforementioned artifacts?

Note: I'm not asking for advice on what to buy: I'm just asking a theoretical question to try and understand the technology better.

EDIT: Just an additional side question: is there a 4K blu-ray player that will display DVDs with black bars at top and bottom rather than upscaling it?
 
Last edited:
But... if you spend a lot of money on a top 4K blu-ray player or a top screen, can you get really good results from upscaling, such that you won't be noticing the aforementioned artifacts?
I can honestly say I only notice the occasional thing, and these tend to be from older DVDs. newer DVDs and blu rays - can't think of a single thing that I have noticed in the last three years with a good 4k set - and I am an attentive viewer. As to the whys and wherefores, I've no idea and couldn't really care less - if it works well that's surely all that matters.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DougK1

Corpus_Chain

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2024
33
5
45
Visit site
I can honestly say I only notice the occasional thing, and these tend to be from older DVDs. newer DVDs and blu rays - can't think of a single thing that I have noticed in the last three years with a good 4k set - and I am an attentive viewer. As to the whys and wherefores, I've no idea and couldn't really care less - if it works well that's surely all that matters.
Thanks. I see you have an Oppo blu-ray player. I've heard good things about them. Which model do you have?
 
Thanks. I see you have an Oppo blu-ray player. I've heard good things about them. Which model do you have?
UDP203 - though having seen upscaling on other, cheaper BR players I'm not sure that I saw anything significantly wrong with how they work - and in point of fact I use my TV's upscaler, rather than the Oppo's as I think it's both newer and better.
 
EDIT: Just an additional side question: is there a 4K blu-ray player that will display DVDs with black bars at top and bottom rather than upscaling it?
My understanding is that if it didn't upscale, the part of the screen used would only be minimal in terms of both height and width - upscaling expands the image in both directions. Even blu ray would only fill a quarter of the screen (half the height, half the width) - so DVD without upscaling would be miniscule.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tinman1952

Arron

Well-known member
Aug 24, 2021
156
49
1,620
Visit site
Here's a question for those with the experience to know the answer:
Can upscaling a disc ever look as good as playing it back at its native resolution?
It can look way better. My chain is:
Rip DVD to Plex Server >> Apple TV 4K >> Epson 9400 projector >> 106 inch screen

The upscaled DVDs look much better than their native. There are technical reasons for this such as the upscaling happens in a better colour space, bicubic resize is surprisingly good at uncovering detail, etc. Plus the people who code the upscalers are professionals at guaging what works best across the board.

The end result on my system is DVDs are very immersive. Far beyond what they would be in native.
 

Corpus_Chain

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2024
33
5
45
Visit site
It can look way better. My chain is:
Rip DVD to Plex Server >> Apple TV 4K >> Epson 9400 projector >> 106 inch screen

The upscaled DVDs look much better than their native. There are technical reasons for this such as the upscaling happens in a better colour space, bicubic resize is surprisingly good at uncovering detail, etc. Plus the people who code the upscalers are professionals at guaging what works best across the board.

The end result on my system is DVDs are very immersive. Far beyond what they would be in native.
Hmm intersting. How do you know they look better than in native resolution though? Does the projector allow you to output to the screen at 576p?
 

Corpus_Chain

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2024
33
5
45
Visit site
My understanding is that if it didn't upscale, the part of the screen used would only be minimal in terms of both height and width - upscaling expands the image in both directions. Even blu ray would only fill a quarter of the screen (half the height, half the width) - so DVD without upscaling would be miniscule.
Yes, true. But I'm curious. Presumably such a player would also allow something inbetween full upscaling and native resolution, and perhaps upscale it to 2 or 3 times the resolution instead of 8 times.
 

dhp

Well-known member
Mar 2, 2016
46
9
18,545
Visit site
Here's a question for those with the experience to know the answer:
Can upscaling a disc ever look as good as playing it back at its native resolution?

e.g. if you play back a DVD or 1080p blu-ray on a cheap 2160p screen, either via an upscaling 4K blu-ray player or by using the TV's upscaling, you will notice some artifacts of upscaling, such as blurred background characters, fuzzy edges, unnatural-looking skin, but you won't get this if you, for example, play a 1080p blu-ray back on a 1080p screen.

But... if you spend a lot of money on a top 4K blu-ray player or a top screen, can you get really good results from upscaling, such that you won't be noticing the aforementioned artifacts?

Note: I'm not asking for advice on what to buy: I'm just asking a theoretical question to try and understand the technology better.

EDIT: Just an additional side question: is there a 4K blu-ray player that will display DVDs with black bars at top and bottom rather than upscaling it?
Hello ,

My experience is that it will never be as good as the native resolution , but you can certainly get great results that are more than good enough to enjoy what your watching , and to me that is the point ! :) ! . Over the years I've always tried to get decent quality sources for my Discs. The players I have bought are all very good quality and subsequently all still work perfectly ! (touch wood ) so I have all 3 still in my system .

Upmarket players tend to use better components, especially micro processing chips etc... to give better quality upscaling , the benefits of which are more apparent on a good quality Screen.

So my answer would be that you get what you pay for ! and with a bit of attention with set up and calibration DVD's and Blu Rays can look good enough to enjoy on a 4K TV. So always buy the best you can sensibly afford ! :)

Most Players will have an option to set output to 'Native' resolution so that it does not upscale whatever its playing
 

manicm

Well-known member
It depends on the quality of the content to a large extent.

I bought one of the more recent Planet Earth Blu-rays by Richard Attenborough/BBC. I have 12 year old Cambridge Audio BD751 Blu-ray player, and a LG C1 4K TV. Believe me when I say that my eyes popped out. It was staggeringly good.

Youtube 1080p videos look excellent too.

Upscaling can be very good, provided with the following:

1. Content
2. A good Blu-ray player
3. A good upscaling 4K TV.
 

manicm

Well-known member
Hello ,

My experience is that it will never be as good as the native resolution , but you can certainly get great results that are more than good enough to enjoy what your watching , and to me that is the point ! :) ! . Over the years I've always tried to get decent quality sources for my Discs. The players I have bought are all very good quality and subsequently all still work perfectly ! (touch wood ) so I have all 3 still in my system .

Upmarket players tend to use better components, especially micro processing chips etc... to give better quality upscaling , the benefits of which are more apparent on a good quality Screen.

So my answer would be that you get what you pay for ! and with a bit of attention with set up and calibration DVD's and Blu Rays can look good enough to enjoy on a 4K TV. So always buy the best you can sensibly afford ! :)

Most Players will have an option to set output to 'Native' resolution so that it does not upscale whatever its playing

Yes it won't be good as native, but as I explained from my experience to the OP in my comment, it can still look excellent if you have decent content to begin with, and decent telly and Blu-ray player.
 

manicm

Well-known member
I can honestly say I only notice the occasional thing, and these tend to be from older DVDs. newer DVDs and blu rays - can't think of a single thing that I have noticed in the last three years with a good 4k set - and I am an attentive viewer. As to the whys and wherefores, I've no idea and couldn't really care less - if it works well that's surely all that matters.

Just forget about upscaling DVDs on a 4k TV. I don't set high expectations, and in my rig, the old DVDs look fine. It also depends on the content. My old Lord Of The Rings DVDs looked appalling upscaled to 1080p, let alone 4K.

Just manage expectations with DVDs - mine are low.
 

Arron

Well-known member
Aug 24, 2021
156
49
1,620
Visit site
Just forget about upscaling DVDs on a 4k TV. I don't set high expectations, and in my rig, the old DVDs look fine. It also depends on the content. My old Lord Of The Rings DVDs looked appalling upscaled to 1080p, let alone 4K.

Just manage expectations with DVDs - mine are low.
Then you did something wrong or your upscaler was broken somehow. Most upscalers use bicubic interpolation at a minimum and it is mathematically impossible for it to look worse.
 

manicm

Well-known member
Then you did something wrong or your upscaler was broken somehow. Most upscalers use bicubic interpolation at a minimum and it is mathematically impossible for it to look worse.

Upscaling 480p DVDs is just not going to look great on 4K displays, sorry, nothing wrong with my setup or equipment, it's just the way things are.

Which is why I'll never go 8k.
 

Corpus_Chain

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2024
33
5
45
Visit site
Hello ,

My experience is that it will never be as good as the native resolution , but you can certainly get great results that are more than good enough to enjoy what your watching , and to me that is the point ! :) ! . Over the years I've always tried to get decent quality sources for my Discs. The players I have bought are all very good quality and subsequently all still work perfectly ! (touch wood ) so I have all 3 still in my system .

Upmarket players tend to use better components, especially micro processing chips etc... to give better quality upscaling , the benefits of which are more apparent on a good quality Screen.

So my answer would be that you get what you pay for ! and with a bit of attention with set up and calibration DVD's and Blu Rays can look good enough to enjoy on a 4K TV. So always buy the best you can sensibly afford ! :)

Most Players will have an option to set output to 'Native' resolution so that it does not upscale whatever its playing

Most Players will have an option to set output to 'Native' resolution so that it does not upscale whatever its playing

Thanks, that's interesting. Unfortunately, setting the player to native output would mean my TV doing the upscaling and I'm not confident it does that well.

However, I've seen realised that part of the problem for DVDs on my setup is that they are being upscaled twice: the blu-ray player upscales to 1080p and then the TV does it again to get it to 2160p. Knowing what I do about processing signals, that can't be a good thing: it's like photocopying a photocopy. This is supported by a test I did with a Playstation 5 which upscales to 2160p and DVDs did look better just being upscaled once by the player.

Thus I have ordered a Pansonic UB820EB 4K blu-ray player. This is primarily to play back 4K discs, but also to see if the DVD quality improves.

I've also watched a few more DVDs on the system and some are actually quite watchable. My initial concerns were about a Dune (the new one) DVD, which looked awful, but I have since determined that this was a particularly poor disc, probably due to having a 3 hour film compressed to fit on one disc. Comparing this to Jurassic Park or The Heat on DVD, both shorter films, and Avatar on DVD, which is 3 hours across two DVDs, confirmed this hypothesis.

I've started buying more HD and UHD discs and they both look great. I've also been replacing DVDs with HD blu-rays since second-hand ones are so cheap. I've also got used to how DVDs look on the system, adjusting the TV a little to compensate, and also noting that for some films, such as darkly lit films and horrors, the slight fuzziness is not a problem, but for visual spectacles like Avatar or Saving Private Ryan, an HD or UHD disc would be required.

It's been a fun journey so far!
 

Corpus_Chain

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2024
33
5
45
Visit site
It depends on the quality of the content to a large extent.

I bought one of the more recent Planet Earth Blu-rays by Richard Attenborough/BBC. I have 12 year old Cambridge Audio BD751 Blu-ray player, and a LG C1 4K TV. Believe me when I say that my eyes popped out. It was staggeringly good.

Youtube 1080p videos look excellent too.

Upscaling can be very good, provided with the following:

1. Content
2. A good Blu-ray player
3. A good upscaling 4K TV.
I actually agree that 1080p content upscaled to 4K looks surprisingly good! And yes, the content is massively important. The original source (digital or film, size of film), the transfer (resolution of scan, compression algorithm and bitrate) and other factors all contribute to varying results between discs.

The reality is that on a 1080p TV, 576p content and 1080p content look great, but you can't play 2160p content.
On a 2160p TV, 2160p content and 1080p content look great, but 576p content looks a bit crap.

So which setup you go for will depend on how much content you plan to watch from each resolution. If you have thousands of DVDs and don't want to upgrade them, getting a 4K TV might be a bad idea, but if you have a lot of 1080p blu-rays and a few DVDs and don't watch those DVDs much, or you plan to replace them, then a 4K TV would be a sensible investment if you were looking to add 4K content or get any of the other features they offer.

[and try to ignore the purists who insist you're crazy for not wanting the same as them!]
 
  • Like
Reactions: manicm

Corpus_Chain

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2024
33
5
45
Visit site
Then you did something wrong or your upscaler was broken somehow. Most upscalers use bicubic interpolation at a minimum and it is mathematically impossible for it to look worse.
I think you might need to explain this, because the eye test would appear to contradict it. How is it impossible for content that has been upscaled to look worse than content displayed at its native resolution?

...and just to clarify, in my original discussion, "native resolution" did not mean displayed at native resolution on a 4K screen as a little image in the middle. It meant displayed at native resolution on an equivalent sized screen whose resolution matches the source.
 

TRENDING THREADS