Color Calibration, Dynamic Contrast, Best Performance

Dire Need
I have an old Akai 55-inch HDTV rear-projection TV. Is there a calibration program I can download to a DVD and use to calibrate the color? It is in dire need. Other than that, it works well, and I really don't want to get a new TV as long as this one works.

Wayne F. Dibert

There are two levels of calibration—basic and advanced. A basic calibration consists of setting the basic picture controls, which you can do yourself with any of several commercial setup discs, such as HD Benchmark ($25) or Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics ($30) on Blu-ray. If you don't have a Blu-ray player, you can get Digital Video Essentials ($25) or HDTV Calibration Wizard ($35) on DVD. Most of these discs can be found online for less than the list prices cited here.

An advanced calibration optimizes the grayscale and color at a deeper level, but this can only be done by a trained technician with some pretty expensive equipment. A full calibration normally costs several hundred dollars.

Disabling Dynamic Contrast
I recently bought a Samsung B6000 LED TV, and I love it! Vivid contrast and rich blacks. Please speak to the issue of the image dimming slightly during mostly dark scenes. I find the Standard setting beats all the others for eliminating this as much as possible.

Rene Peraza

The effect you're talking about is the result of the set's Dynamic Contrast feature, which varies the backlight and other parameters according to the overall brightness of the scene. When you set the Picture Mode to Standard, the Dynamic Contrast probably defaults to its Low setting, but you can go into the menu and turn it off if you don't like the effect. (BTW, I don't like it, either.)

Best Settings
I just bought a Panasonic PT-AE4000 projector and Sony PS3, and I want to make sure I configure them to see and hear the best image and audio.

I know I can configure the PS3 to internally decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio or let the receiver do it. However, my Yamaha RX-V1600 receiver does not have this capability. Am I correct that if I configure my PS3 to send multichannel PCM to my receiver via HDMI, it will get a signal that has already been "decoded" so that I hear lossless audio? In the receiver's manual, it says that its HDMI connections are compatible with version 1.1; does it matter? What options should I select in my PS3 to make sure I hear the best audio possible with my receiver?

I think I can configure my PS3 to do the video decoding or I can let my projector do it, correct? What options should I select in my PS3 and my projector to have the best image possible?

Christian Menard

You are entirely correct about the audio. The PS3 can—and, in your case, should—decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio and send multichannel PCM to the receiver via HDMI, and you will hear the lossless audio in its full glory. I assume you have one of the new "slim" PS3s, in which case be sure to set it to output PCM rather than bitstream. If you have a first-generation PS3, it cannot send Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA as native bitstreams, only decoded PCM. BTW, the receiver's HDMI version doesn't matter in this case—any version all the way back to 1.0 can carry multichannel PCM, so no problem there.

Regarding video, the PS3 does the decoding, not the projector. For movies, set the PS3 to output 1080p/24 (sometimes called 24p). There might also be a setting called "native" or something like that, which outputs the video format that is natively stored on the disc; I normally set a player to "native," but if you watch mostly movies, either setting is fine. When the PT-AE4000 receives a 1080p/24 signal, it automatically displays the image at 96Hz, eliminating 3:2 judder.

Then, set Frame Creation to whatever value looks best to you. This feature interpolates new frames between the actual frames in the signal to sharpen the detail in moving objects, and different settings determine the aggressiveness of the interpolation. It can also make the picture look a bit unnatural, so you can turn it off if that bothers you. If you do that, the projector simply repeats each frame in the signal, and motion detail is not sharpened.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to scott.wilkinson@sorc.com.

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COMMENTS
Doc Rings's picture

I am a recent fan of the AVSHD709 free calibration disc. It's a free download, and you burn it to DVD on your computer. (Google search it).GetGray is also a download (I think about $25) which is also a nice Standard Def calibration disc... and ***MUCH*** easier to navigate than most of the store-bought discs, many rendered unusable due to the confusing menu structures.The service menus are less scary than you think... you just must do a LOT of reading of various forums for your specific television and then edit setting methodically, and record all values changed.Good luck,Doc Rings

Ian Campbell's picture

There's also a audio & visual calibration section on some THX certified DVD's & Blu-Ray's, I've got it on the Terminator 2 Skynet Edition Blu-Ray.

Curt Sampson's picture

If you play games on your Playstation 3, you don't want to restrict your output format to 1080p/24, because you really want to be using 60fps for the best experience. (It's even better to shift down to 720p/60 if the game doesn't work well at 1080p/60.)However, the PS3 lets you set up a list of output formats your display supports; I would guess that it chooses the most appropriate from that list based on the material.

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