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HDTV calibration by qualified personnel - Is it worth it? (1 Viewer)


Oct 8, 2006
Real Name
Charles Yu
I've just taken delivery of my new Sharp Aquos 1080p 52" LCD. At the same time, I also came across an article on 'HDTV calibration by ISF qualified technicians' in the latest issue of Sound & Vision magazine. Is the pumping out of an extra few hundred dollars to do the calibration necessary and worth it? I was told by the salesman whom I got the Sharp from, the factory default setting is enough to give me an excellent picture. Afterall, he said, my HD program provider is not currently broadcasting 1080p signal and I don't own a Blu-ray or HD-DVD set.

Michael TLV

THX Video Instructor/Calibrator
Senior HTF Member
Mar 16, 2000
Calgary, Alberta
Real Name
Michael Chen

What can a good calibrator guy improve on?

Image centering ...
Overscan reduction ... see more of the image ... less stuff chopped off ...
Proper settings of user level controls to maximize both dark detail and bright end details.

Remove unwanted marketing gimmicks that affect image quality.

Make the colors/grayscale more accurate.

possibly idiot proof the TV so that others cannot reset the optimal settings. Hit REset and bam ... right back to where the calibrated positions are.

Please note that the marketing of a TV set has nothing to do with presenting accurate images. It has everything to do with selling more TVs. If marketing research tells the tV maker that people respond better to green images ... guess what ... you make your images green.

Now as to whether a person will see a difference ... no one can answer that question for you because of two major items.

1. No one knows what your particular TV looks like and without seeing it ... no way to know. Is it close to being accurate ... or a gazillion miles away? It may look "good" to you, but that doesn't mean anything unless you know what "accurate" looks like. We cannot tell you that you will see a difference on something we have not seen ourselves. Any person promising you that you will see a difference without actually seeing what the TV image looks like is lying to you.

2. Even if we did know what the image looked like ... the second part of the equation is subjectivity. You and how you perceive the world. Without being able to look through the world with your eyes and value judgement system, we cannot be in any position to tell you that you will see a difference. This is no different than the realty agent saying to you ... "This is the house for you" and he only met you in the morning. Sometimes small changes to the TV image can be huge improvements in the eyes of some people. And then huge changes to the TV image can be nothing in the eyes of others.

You have to figure out what type of person you are and because of this second point, only you will know if the calibration process yields a big improvement or a small one.



Senior HTF Member
Dec 17, 2003
I could very well be worth it. At the very least you should drop the cash for an Avia calibration disc (if you've got Netflix you don't even have to shell out extra money for it).

Oh, and take anything a salesman says with a grain of salt. I'm sure that if his store offered calibration he would have been very excited to sell it to you.


Senior HTF Member
Aug 19, 2002

The salesman is an idiot.

EVERYONE should at the very least do a basic user-level calibration on their own using appropriate test patterns from: Avia, DVE, etc. This will provide an image that is SIGNIFICANTLY more accurate than factory settings which are usually produce no less than completely and thoroughly horrendous dogsh*t for an image.

A professional calibration can take it the last big step in terms of grayscale tracking which a user cannot achieve without instrumentation which costs a lot more than hiring a pro. Whether that is worth it or not is not a question anyone can answer for you. But you should ALWAYS at the very least do a basic alignment of user settings using appropriate patterns. This is by far the best performance improvement you're going to get with a display, and all it costs is the price of the calibration DVD, hardly cost prohibitive and chump change compared to the cost of the display.

Regardless, that salesman is an idiot and probably doesn't know anything about accurate images at all.


Stunt Coordinator
May 14, 2005
I have a question.... (i have a sony 60" xbr2)
I have heard people say that after you calibrate the tv that the images look dull? if this is true what is the purpose of calibrating the tv if it looks worse? thanks in advance, also i play alot of video games and don't really watch movies on my tv yet.... thanks for the help..

Jeff Gatie

Senior HTF Member
Aug 19, 2002

It only looks dull because you have been looking at a too bright, washed out, over contrasty, bad color level, piece of shit "TORCH" mode picture from the time you were in short pants (sorry to be blunt ;) ).

Seriously, once you get used to a proper picture, you will be amazed at the level of detail, especially in the dark areas, that you were missing in a TV set to factory "TORCH" mode. It may take a day or two, but do an A/B of a highly detailed DVD in your collection and you will be blown away by what you were missing. Easiest thing for you to do is forget about what you used to think was a good picture - You were wrong. :)


Senior HTF Member
Aug 19, 2002

The purpose is an ACCURATE image. Not a cartoonish looking turd of an image that is oversaturated and way too bright and the grayscale almost neon blue.

Phil Iturralde

Oct 7, 1998
I agree, ... at the very least, ... you should get Digital Video Essentials DVD to calibrate your 1080p HDTV.

Because it's impossible to get an accurate video without the following DVE 16x9 Anamorphic test screens ...

1) Pluge test screen for "Contrast & Brightness"

2) NTSC Color test screen & BLUE Filter for "Color & Tint"
.... a) Three (Blue, Red & Green) Color Filters included on a single cardboard carrier.

One of the best $16.48 w/FREE S/H (@ DeepDiscountDVD) DVD investments for your HDTV display (or any TV for that matter)! Tutorial provides all the details to properly calibrate your video.


Bill Cowmeadow

Second Unit
May 5, 1999
The best buy near me has been running HD and Blu-ray titles on 50" plasma's. They are so far out of whack with the all the settings set to blazing, the actors moving obout in the movie appear to be made out of plastic. People stopping to look think it's awesome. Put a calibrated display next to it and most would pick the torch mode set cause that's what they think it's supposed to look like.

Nut's I tell ya!

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