Suggested TV Settings

Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at

Q. I recently purchased a Samsung 6420 LED TV. I contacted both Samsung and TweakTV looking for suggested calibration settings, but they were of no help. I am not satisfied with the set’s current picture and was wondering if you had some suggested settings for this model or could direct me to other Websites that might help. —Cannon / via e-mail

A. There are plenty of sites where TV owners post their preferred picture adjustments, so a good place to start would be to Google your TV’s make/model number and “calibration settings.” I wouldn’t necessarily advise you to go that route, however. Why? Not every TV of a particular model that rolls off a manufacturer’s production line gets adjusted to the same exact specification. And the conditions of the room where you install your TV are bound to be different than another viewer’s due to the level of ambient light, the hue of paint coating the walls, etc.

At a basic level, the best bet for getting your TV calibrated to suit your room is to use a Blu-ray with video-calibration test patterns. There are several good test disc choices that can be easily ordered from Amazon, including Disney’s WOW: World of Wonder ($26) and Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark and Calibration Disc 2nd Edition ($30). Both discs have an interactive component, with onscreen guides showing you what to look for when adjusting basic picture settings like brightness, contrast, color/tint, and sharpness. To take things to the next level and properly adjust your set’s white balance and color point accuracy, it will be necessary to engage the services of an ISF- or THX-certified video calibration professional with the proper measurement gear. (Some stores offer this service when they sell you a TV.) Getting an on-site calibration will add a few hundred bucks to the cost of your set, but it’s the only sure-fire way to know that it’s delivering an optimal picture. (Pro calibrators provide you with a report containing graphs that show the before and after results of their calibration.) And an optimal picture is what you’re after, right?

RSVM5's picture

I've had my ST30 for 2 years now. I assume that if I get my TV professionally calibrated I would request the documentation of the all the new settings. I've read you have to follow this up with re-calibration after a certain number of hours watched. For re-calibration, do I simply take the documentation and check the tv to see if any settings have changed and change them back? Or, do I need another trip from the professional that will produce a new document with a set of new values?

willieconway's picture

First of all, if you're not measuring (i.e. using a meter) and aligning with a standard, you're not calibrating. And nothing wrong with that, but terminology matters.

There are also several free discs that can be used to find the right basic settings. An example is AVS HD 709.

@RVSM5: the reason your set MIGHT need to be calibrated again isn't that the settings change by themselves. It's that the panel may "drift" i.e. its characteristics might change over time. Therefore the settings that were arrived at during your initial calibration may no longer be the right ones for ensuring that your set produces an image that's within the specifications of the targeted standard. You'd need another visit from the pro and if there's drift, new settings would be determined.

This article fails to mention the option of DIY calibration. Affordable meters and software (and even free software) are available, and for someone who's interested in learning (and interested in viewing an accurate picture), the hobby can be a lot of fun. Just make sure you have time to spare :-)

Rob Sabin's picture
The cost of an entry-level meter and software has dropped greatly, and I've been immensely impressed with the latest generation of CalMan. It's extremely sophisticated software that they've made very easy to use, and Willie is right -- if you're into getting things just right you can get almost obsessive about tuning things like grayscale and black level/gamma with the instruments. The reward, of course, is in the viewing and the satisfaction of a job well done. Anyone interested should check out SpectraCal's website,, and you can always consider a course with ISF or THX as well.

drj9797's picture

as an ISF calibrator, i see LOTS of different brand TVs. they are all different from each other, both in the sense of brands, and of themselves. there is no consistency in the way these TVs roll out of the factory. they are all "set" to their factory standards, and they all have a preset vivid, standard, cinema, and ideally a custom, and/or ISF day/night memory. so it really does you no good to set your set to numbers that were achieved on another. the better way to do it, is to get some sort of test disc and use those patterns to make the adjustments. BUT, unless you have the expensive meters and software, you cannot adjust the RGB levels to D65 by the naked eye. i dont care how good your eyes are, it cannot be done. an ISF calibration can produce the best picture possible, and it comes with documentation and charts for your reference. to summarize: 1-dont set your tv to some random numbers that came from another TV set. 2-get a dvd with test patterns, and follow the directions to get the levels and make the adjustments. 3-if you really want it done right, hire an ISF guy.