How To Manually Calibrate Plasma TV?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by NDyse10, May 12, 2010.

  1. NDyse10

    NDyse10 Auditioning

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    I have a 42 inch Samsung Plasma.


    I have had it for almost a year, and have not got around to calibrating it.


    Is there something I can buy to calibrate it? If so, where would I go about getting this and how much would it cost?


    Also, what exactly does the calibration do for the picture of my TV?


    Thanks
     
  2. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Nick:


    Welcome to the forum.

    There are two kinds of "calibration":


    The first is professional calibration where a trained technician comes in with test instruments and documentation, digs around in the service menu of the TV and adjusts everything as close to industry spec as possible. A pro calibration will cost several hundred dollars, but can be very well worth it if you want to squeeze every last bit of quality out of an expensive TV.


    The second is "consumer level calibration", which is really a matter of getting the consumer-accessible control settings (brightness, contrast, tint/hue, etc.) adjusted as closely as possible to industry standard without changing the underlying factory settings. Arguably this isn't really "calibration", but that's the term that most of us use for this kind of thing.

    All TVs should get at least the second type of calibration, because virtually all of them leave the factory deliberately misadjusted to make them look better on a TV wall under the harsh light of a "big box" sales floor.

    Consumer-level calibrations are done with test patterns and color gels, not special instruments. Digital Video Essentials (I'd recommend the Blu Ray edition if you have a BD player) and Avia II are probably the most popular around here. I've used the standard-def versions of both for years. (I don't think Avia has an BD edition out, but the SD disc will work just as well for adjusting most of the major user-accessible controls.) Each of the discs comes with one or more color gels for you to look through while making the color and tint adjustments, and a series of test patterns that they walk you through to dial in the other settings. They also both include test tones and instructions for adjusting your surround sound system, although auto-adjusting features like Audessy included with many newer receivers and amps are making such features less important. If your receiver does not automatically adjust to your room, you should buy an inexpensive analog Sound Pressure Level meter such as the one sold by Radio Shack to use along with your calibration disc of choice.) Some THX film disc include a brief "calibration" section called THX Optimizer for adjusting some monitor settings, but these discs do not include filter gels for color adjustments and are generally limited. Of course, the THXO is also free, and it is ceratainly better than nothing. There are also other calibration discs on the market, but I don't have personal experience with them. You might want to so some feature and price comparisons on those.

    The consensus among HTF members seems to be that Avia is a bit more user-friendly, better for people new to the hobby, while DVE is a little better for experienced users who want to go straight to the test patterns and already know how to use them. (Or have used the disc once or twice and want to skip the instructions.) I like them both, but tend to use DVE more often (especially when calibrating new TVs for friends) just because I'm more familiar with it and can navigate through the menus more easily.

    As for what calibration does - It will make your TV look its best under your viewing conditions and get it as close to the industry standard settings as you can get it on your own. Many first-time HD buyers are initially disappointed with the picture quality they get - especially on standard-definition material which tends to look "grainy" and "speckled", often worse than it did on analog TVs. This is largely due to the "sharpness" or "detail" setting being turned up way too high. Contrary to the name, this control does not increase sharpness or make the picture more detailed - it actually adds video noise to the signal so that the contrasting edges of objects stand out more. Turning "sharpness" down (or off) is often the single biggest improvement to the look of an HDTV on both HD and SD content. Dialing in the brightness and contrast controls also pay huge benefits. You're simply not seeing the picture your TV or your source materials are capable of delivering if you're running on the factory "torch mode" settings. (And with a plasma you're also in much greater danger of experiencing burn-in with those settings than you would be with a properly-calibrated picture.)



    Hope this helps,


    Joe
     
  3. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Hey Nick!


    Welcome to the HTF!
     
  4. NDyse10

    NDyse10 Auditioning

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  5. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.
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    that would be it.

    or the Spears and Munsil test disc...available from amazon or oppo.com
     
  6. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    That's it, same as the disc I linked to in my post.


    Regards,


    Joe
     

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