Spears & Munsil Introduces Greatly Expanded 2023 Test Disc Set

Spears & Munsil has announced a vastly enhanced and expanded 2023 version of its popular Ultra HD Benchmark home theater calibration tool.

The new three-disc Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc set boasts 266 gigabytes (GB) of data, including 5,000 audio and video clips, making it the company’s most comprehensive test set to date, according to creators Stacey Spears and Don Munsil. The previous iteration was a single disc with 1,000 encoded files, which represented a high-water mark for evaluation discs at the time.

Perhaps the best news is the reasonable price of $59.94 for discs that provide a wealth of test and demonstration materials to help professionals and enthusiasts identify weak links in their video hardware and software setups and dial in the optimal settings. The set also introduces pop-up help to simplify the calibration process.

“Every pattern has been rethought with high dynamic range (HDR) and Ultra HD in mind,” said Stacey Spears. “We believe this disc set completely changes the game for test and evaluation discs by making use of all of the features and range that HDR and wide-gamut standards can offer.” (The previous disc covered only HDR10.) For added flexibility, most patterns are encoded in multiple versions, with metadata and peak levels adjusted for HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision.

As with previous discs, the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark uses patterns created from scratch using the company’s own in-house software. “There really isn’t any other way to make patterns that we can stand behind,” explained Don Munsil. “We build every pattern using our own tools, written from scratch in C++.

“If a pattern needs to be generated directly in a very specific color space and data format, we generate it in that color space and format; we’re not limited to what you can do with off-the-shelf graphics software. In a few cases we’ve had to create our own format, because no existing file format could represent the pattern we needed to create.”

The 2023 set includes new editions of favorite patterns from the earlier editions plus many new patterns exclusive to Spears & Munsil. It also expands the range of formats and encodings. “In this set, we’ve included video in HD and UHD resolution, in SDR (encoded in the BT.2020 and BT.709 color spaces), HDR10 (with multiple target peak luminance options), HDR10+, and Dolby Vision,” Spears said.

There is also a new Peak Luminance test pattern, designed to achieve a more accurate measurement than the legacy window pattern, and a Pixel Aligning pattern for breaking in new OLEDs.

On the audio side, the set includes test material in the object-based Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround-sound formats with tones covering setups ranging from 5.1.2 to 9.1.6 channels.

As with the previous editions, the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark disc set contains a suite of test patterns suitable for the professional calibrator or serious enthusiast who use spectroradiometers and colorimeters. “These patterns are tested by industry professionals, multiple times over multiple iterations, before we put them on the disc,” Spears said, noting that the patterns are the same ones used by the people who create movies and build video displays and disc players.

“HDR represents a new way of thinking about video,” Munsil observed, “with a completely different approach to transfer functions, or what we used to call ‘gamma,’ and that meant that a bunch of old patterns just plain didn’t work anymore. Video is now encoded for very-high-brightness devices, and then has to be remapped by the display to fit that display’s actual capabilities. Needless to say, every display does it a little differently — now, with the Ultra HD Benchmark, enthusiasts and professionals will be able to get insight into exactly what the display does when it makes those important remapping decisions.”

To order or get more information on the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark, visit spearsandmunsil.com.

Faboohaahh's picture

Thanks for the heads up! There are no ISF calibrators near me, so I just placed a pre-order for this new disc.

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