HDTV Calibration

Filed Under: Misc - Other

test patternAll HDTVs should be calibrated. Here is the quick lowdown.

What is calibration?

Calibration is the finding and using the optimum settings for all of your HDTV’s display controls. These settings include (but aren’t limited to):

Black (or White) Level
Color Correction (tint and color levels)
Geometry Correction
Audio Settings

Why should I calibrate my HDTV?

Well, just like any other fine piece of technology, why have it if you aren’t getting the most out of it? You wouldn’t own and regularly drive a high end sports car without it being properly tuned and maintained, so why not do the same for your high end HDTV?

Some HDTVs look very good out of the box, but oftentimes, we can make them look even better. Sometimes, considerably better. With the chance to get more vibrant colors, better shadow detail, and more immersion in your home theater, you should want to calibrate your set.

How do I get my HDTV calibrated?
You have two options here. Either 1) buy a calibration disk and do it yourself, or 2) hire a pro to do it for you.

1)DIY, as usual, is the most cost effective method. You buy a calibration DVD once, and you may use it as often as you like. (Look for AVIA or Digital Video Essentials – they usually run for 20 and 40 bucks, or less.)

However, it takes time to set the display up yourself, and you may need to learn a bit on the way. (a plus for some, no comment for others)

2)Hiring a pro takes all the time, pain, and (to some) the fun out of it. This can cost upwards of a few hundred bucks. You have to determine what is right for you according to your available time, cash, knowledge, and willingness or desire to learn. However, a pro should have tools and experience we won’t be able to match, and he may be able to do a better job.

True DIYers will engage in the experience with enthusiasm, and take great joy in the end result. I know I do.

DIY Calibration – What do I do?
First, warm up the HDTV set. (Check your user manual, but usually 5 minutes will do it.)
Insert the calibration DVD. (Be sure you’re using the best video connection available from DVD to HDTV)
Follow the instructions on the DVD. Have your hdtv display manual handy.
The DVD will run you through a set of test patterns and instuctions. You will adjust and tweak your set until the pattern looks as it should, as described by the calibration disk on-screen instructions.
Enjoy the results.

Running through the patterns and judging exactly what is best can be tiresome and frustrating on your first run. Don’t sweat it. You can go back through the setup later, at any time.

I suggest running through the full setup once, and do what you can. It should all start to come together by the second or third time through. If it doesn’t, give yourself a rest and try again later.

Digital TV settings are a bit different than traditional analog sets, and this can be confusing. Just give yourself time to understand, and you’ll probably be very comfortable with digital calibration in no time.

Seeing the Difference
Have your own personal “reference” DVD, a favorite flick that you know well. One that will challenge your set with a variety of colors, contrast, texture and movement. My personal reference DVD is Saving Private Ryan. It’s not really the best for colors, but I know that D-Day scene very, very well. Whenever I tweak my rig, I pop this baby in, and enjoy my efforts.

Watch your DVD (or DVD scene) before and after calibration. See the difference, and you will understand why calibration is worth the effort.

12 Responses to “HDTV Calibration”
  1. Jim Reynolds Says:

    Do you recommend the Avia or Digital video essentials disk?

  2. Mitsubishi WD-62628 Review Says:

    […] I wouldn’t let that deter me, as I would calibrate my hdtv before drawing any conclusions. Also considering the 6 user reviews averaging 9.0/10 I’m not so sure they got this one right. […]

  3. Home Theater Dude Says:

    I like the DVE disk myself, but AVIA is good as well. I just used DVE first, so that’s my personal preference.

  4. Star Wars Episode III - Must Have DVD Says:

    […] This could also be a good reference DVD choice for calibration or HDTV shopping. […]

  5. ZX9RDan Says:

    If you want a good calibration movie to enjoy your work, you have to look at http://www.animusic.com Their worl is just amazing, they have music and colorful anumations.

    Shoulda total newbiw go for Avia or DVE?

  6. sxrdal Says:

    Another interesting wayt o do a calibration is to use a starwars DVD and use the THX optimizer. This will walk you thru the calibrtion and it makes a big difference

  7. Spyder2PRO Studio Review - Projector Calibration Says:

    […] Then you can easily calibrate your home theater projector. You definitely want to calibrate your projector. […]

  8. Gedalneil Says:

    You can get some profiles for suggested settings at http://www.tweaktv.com

  9. LCD Vs. Plasma Says:

    […] retailers for your decision-making process – these sets are usually not calibrated. A 30-minute calibration that you can do yourself may make all the difference. Related […]

  10. joe Says:

    A question about those hdtv calibration disc…Can u use a calibration disc via a blu ray player?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    You sure can. There are Calibration disks available on Blu Ray as well.

  12. Abc Says:

    I just read on Crutchfield about a calibration DVD from Monster. Their review says it’s easy and effective. I found one on Amazon fo about 20 bucks. I did do a calibration on a Blu Ray disc Wall-e I think. It’s included as an option on the Blu Ray DVD. It even checks you surround sound. I found out 3 of my 7 speakers had loose connections and weren’t working. Dang!