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Monday, August 22, 2005

Back in 2002 I did a bunch of research and settled on a Rear Projection TV to purchase. I used several sites to research but one, hometheatherspot.com, was a big help. It appears that some of the more useful forums are now "members only" and that's unfortunate. One of the tricks I learned in those forums I thought I'd reproduce and share. I'm not taking credit for discovering or coming up with these tips but they are good ones anyway.

The first tip is to purchase the Avia Guide to Home Theater. The step by step calibration guide not only for video but for audio makes this disc worth it's weight in gold for the home theater enthusiast.

The video calibration includes color calibration, brightness and contrast, as well as sharpness. It does a good job of explaining how to use the tests and how to properly set up your TV. It includes little translucent strips of plastic colored red, green, and blue. Using these slips will get your TV as close as possible to the NTSC standard (sometimes referred to as never the same color). This will ensure that you see the film/show as the director intended you to see it, instead of how a sales person wants you to see it. The color bars you see when a TV station goes off the air is actually an NTSC test pattern. This pattern along with dozens of others are included on the Avia disc, along with instructions on how to use them.

When you look at TVs on the sales floor the brightness and contrast settings are jacked way up, to make it look better against the other TVs (brighter is better, no?). But that can cause washing out of details on the screen and in practical terms decreases the life of the TV. Again, the Avia disc covers setting this up along with a host of other video options. This disc will work on any kind of TV not just a Rear Projection. If you've laid out the bucks for a big screen or even a quality "normal" sized TV, spend the extra 40 bucks and order this disc. You'll be amazed at how great your set can look when properly calibrated.



One trick not included on the DVD but is especially useful if your RPTV includes a manual convergence calibration. I also learned this trick on hometheaterspot. By taking the Avia strips and taping them together (see picture above) it makes the daunting task of aligning the RGB guns on the grid very simple.



The above shot shows the points that I can align the guns, difficult to do with the naked eye. The goal is to control the red gun and the blue gun and line it up with the green gun to make a perfect white line. By applying the taped together film it becomes much simpler and easy to see:



As you can see from the above picture, I need to bump the blue line a bit to the left to line up with the green (and red) line.

The audio portion of the disc recommends the purchase of a SPL meter from Radio Shack. I concur with this recommendation. Using a tripod and the calibration tools on the disc you can truly create an acoustic sweet spot in your own living room. With your video and audio settings correctly set up, you'll be able to experience the movie truly as the director intended you to.

This all may seem overkill to some, but for the enthusiast, it's well worth the time.


2 Comments:

Blogger Gene Cowan said...

I often wonder about the use of color calibration on HD sets -- the ATSC television standard has a different color gamut than the old NTSC standard, which is evident in the vibrant colors seen in high def programs. If one calibrates an HDTV for NTSC colors, what would that do to the HD pictures?

10:01 AM  
Blogger Duane Keys said...

The only reference I could find on a quick google search is that they color spaces are "similar." That's not very helpful is it?!

4:08 PM  

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