LED/LCD calibration tips, help, sharing

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  • synthguy
    Member
    • Oct 2008
    • 34

    LED/LCD calibration tips, help, sharing

    In my case, specifically a new LG LH90 LED set.

    I bought a 47" LH90 at the usual Black Friday gig at Best Buy, like a lot of us tech addicts do. It's replacing a 40" Bravia which I dearly love, but is going to a relative as a Christmas hand-me-down. In fact, they have it and are in HDTV heaven.

    As I expected, the picture out of the box wasn't ideal. It seems none of them are. What I didn't expect was for the LG to fight me almost every step of the way in my hunt for the ideal picture, or close to it.

    It does have a TON of parameters to tweak. However, half of them are arcane, and the DVD manual doesn't explain them all that well. Also, undocumented quirks, name an input, and suddenly a bunch of the tweakable parameters for it gray out, so you can't get to them anymore.

    I have a few main issues:
    • Brightness which isn't glaring.
    • Contrast with blacks which don't swallow up dim details - and the balance between brightness and contrast has been a huge struggle.
    • Color which is rich but doesn't cause saturation issues.
    • Whites which aren't tinted peach or teal.


    My Bravia wasn't even one of the high end XBRs, just a W series, and it was almost a breeze to get going with a wonderfully vivid picture with just the right brightness. The only issue with it were blacks that weren't quite black, but I could easily live with that.

    This LG is giving me fits, being just off enough in a few areas to make me consider returning it for an LCD XBR Bravia. I also game a lot, so plasmas are out of the question for me. Besides, the Bravia engine has impressed me with the quality of its color processing.

    Now, I'm close, and the LG is one of the most lauded of the LED sets because of the excellent display and lower price, but I'm looking for someone's advice for settings to take it one step closer to perfection. CNET has a setting example, but the image was tinted a weird peach color, so I don't know what the heck they were doing. Maybe drinking or watching the naughty stuff. I could buy a calibration DVD or Blu-ray, but I'm not sure one is available for this TV, and I'm not about to pay for a technician to come out to set it. Surely someone has the thing and displaying properly.

    Anyhow, this is what I have so far, and it does give the TV a darn good image.

    isf Expert settings

    44 (Backlight
    85 (Contrast
    0 (H, V Sharpness
    60 (Color
    0 (Tint

    Expert Mode

    Off (Dynamic contrast
    Off (Noise
    Low (Gamma
    Low (Black level
    (Real Cinema and True 240 irrelevant)
    Wide (Color gamut
    Off (Edge enhancement
    Cool (White balance
    10 point (pixel Method
    Outer (Pattern
    137 (Luminance

    Now, here comes the isf settings. I'm not quite sure what exactly it is, but seems to be 10 brightness levels, and their associated red, green and blue values for each isf level.

    3, 0, -3 (100
    4, 0, -5 (90
    4, -1, -5 (80
    3, -1, -3 (70
    2, -1, -3 (60
    1, -1, -2 (50
    -1, -1, -3 (40
    0, -1, -2 (30
    -2, -2, -3 (20
    -1, -1, -2 (10

    Color management (only non-zero values listed)

    -1 Yellow tint
    -1 Magenta tint


    So, does anyone have anything to share? Or should I just go back to Best Buy and demand an XBR Bravia? Speaking of which, maybe I should post my Bravia settings if anyone wants to try them.
    I'm spoiled, and I intend to stay that way.
  • aud19
    Twin Moderator Emeritus
    • Aug 2003
    • 16706

    #2
    Buying a copy of Digital Video Essential or AVIA will help you setup ANY display more accurately. So right there, that's my first recommendation.

    Still without the proper test equipment you'll only be able to get it so close with standard user selectable settings (colour, tint, brightness etc). Adjusting greyscale, tracking, gamma etc really requires the proper test equipment which really requires hiring an ISF technician. Playing around with those ISF settings will likely due more harm than good without that equipment and the know-how to use them. Also even the same make/model of a set will not always have the same settings from set to set due to production variation, shipping etc... That may explain why using someone elses setting give you the "peach" tone.
    Jason

    Comment

    • synthguy
      Member
      • Oct 2008
      • 34

      #3
      Originally posted by aud19
      Adjusting greyscale, tracking, gamma etc really requires the proper test equipment which really requires hiring an ISF technician.
      Thank you for the reply, but then the above quote snip vexes me. If an HDTV is made that has almost no chance of looking right out of the box without not just extensive tweaking, but calibration, it should be part of the package. This is the first TV I've had that has been so utterly wrong, and because of the goofy choice of parameter implementation, been literally fighting for five days straight.

      This is why I'm debating sending the thing back and jumping on what many consider to be the lesser set, the XBR8. The Bravia engine does superb image processing and has a much better 240hz performance. Plus, the parameter lists make more sense. Oh well... the thing is huge. I might just spring for that calibration session... next year. Eventually. It's too close to Christmas and I don't feel too happy having to spend a few hundred more to fix LG's lame factory setting issues.
      I'm spoiled, and I intend to stay that way.

      Comment

      • aud19
        Twin Moderator Emeritus
        • Aug 2003
        • 16706

        #4
        Originally posted by synthguy
        Thank you for the reply, but then the above quote snip vexes me. If an HDTV is made that has almost no chance of looking right out of the box without not just extensive tweaking, but calibration, it should be part of the package. This is the first TV I've had that has been so utterly wrong, and because of the goofy choice of parameter implementation, been literally fighting for five days straight.
        For the record no TV is calibrated or "looks right" out of the box. That includes any and all Sony TV's. You may be more used to their appearance so it may "look" right to YOU but I can assure you most Sony sets err on the side of a cool colour temperature and have a blue hue to them prior to a full calibration.

        For starters all manufacturers set their displays in what is commonly referred to as "torch mode" to get them to stand out on showroom floors. Right there that guarantees they'll not be accurate out of the box.

        Secondly, as I already noted due to manufacturing variance, shipping etc all sets even of the same brand/model will have slight variance in their settings and as such it's unreasonable to expect a perfectly calibrated set out of the box.

        Third, manufacturers sometimes make certain "qualities" inherent in their displays (the blue hue to Sony's comes to mind). Some add edge enhancement, some err to red, some over-boost greens etc. They do this to appeal to a wide spectrum of the public who then associate their sets with deep blues, warm reds, lush greens etc. (There is apparently also a large and utterly misinformed contingent of the public that actually likes edge enhancement). This is why you audition sets, to see which qualities you prefer and do research to see which sets are closest to neutral either by design or have features which allow them to be calibrated to be so.

        Of course this makes no mention of the quality of components either. I'd be willing to bet the Sony costs a bit more and may have a better scaler etc. But that's an entirely separate can of worms.

        So by all means return the set if you're not happy with it's particular traits or are unwilling to have it calibrated and would be happier with an uncalibrated Sony's inherent traits.
        Jason

        Comment

        • Kevin P
          Member
          • Aug 2000
          • 10809

          #5
          Cool (White balance
          Try changing this to a "warm" setting, this should get you closer to the 6500k standard.

          Hopefully you didn't change the values in the "ISF settings" menu. These are for setting gray scale/white balance at different IRE levels, and is difficult to do accurately by eye. If you write down the values before you start, you could use the IRE field patterns on DVE or another calibration disc to eyeball them to get a neutral gray/white for each IRE level, which might get you closer than the factory settings. If you really goof it up, just set them back to the settings you wrote down. An ISF tech uses special equipment to read the color temperature so he/she can set the values for a neutral grayscale.

          Buying a HD display is sort of like buying a performance car: off the lot it might drive pretty well, but spend the money to get it tuned for optimum performance and then it'll really sing.

          Comment

          • synthguy
            Member
            • Oct 2008
            • 34

            #6
            Originally posted by Kevin P
            Try changing this to a "warm" setting, this should get you closer to the 6500k standard.
            Thanks for the replies again.

            Actually, it's a little easier to warm up LG's Cool settings than to cool down its Warm settings. Strangely, it seems this is a red-green biased display, so even Neutral gives everything a golden cast. Another oddity with the LH90, at least mine, is a blue bias at the top and orange hue towards the bottom. It could be a clever design decision though, as the lower half of the screen is usually full of natural or manmade clutter, and the top half or so, the sky.

            I understand what Jason is saying too, it's just that no other TV has been so difficult to get right. Even then, the LH90 is a very good TV. It's just that with most sets I've been allowed to tweak, they're not that hard to come to grips with some sort of contrast balance. Mostly it seems to do with most other manufacturers giving you basic parameters dealing with visual elements such as Black Level as well as Intensity or Depth. With the LG, you're stuck to dealing with the IRE 10 Point parameters, which to be sure aren't for the novice to play with.

            This thing is definitely a Porsche among HDTVs, a set which doesn't take kindly to unskilled hands. It is priced very well against comparable sets. I'll see what happens after a novice calibration this week.
            I'm spoiled, and I intend to stay that way.

            Comment

            • Kevin P
              Member
              • Aug 2000
              • 10809

              #7
              Originally posted by synthguy
              Actually, it's a little easier to warm up LG's Cool settings than to cool down its Warm settings. Strangely, it seems this is a red-green biased display, so even Neutral gives everything a golden cast. Another oddity with the LH90, at least mine, is a blue bias at the top and orange hue towards the bottom. It could be a clever design decision though, as the lower half of the screen is usually full of natural or manmade clutter, and the top half or so, the sky.
              This is probably a consequence of the LED technology used. LED sets use red, green and blue LEDs but the different colors (esp. blue) LEDs have different voltage requirements and different response curves, which makes it tricky to get a LED set properly calibrated. Plus, LED TVs are still a new technology, in a couple years I'm sure they'll be more mature and look better. I remember the earliest plasmas not looking nearly as good as current ones too.

              The blue bias toward the top and the orange toward the bottom is likely due to the physical orientation of the LEDs. The LEDs are in an array, most likely with the blue ones beneath the red and green ones, causing the hue to vary depending on viewing angle. I'm sure that's something else that will improve as the technology matures.

              P.S. I noticed you call yourself "synthguy". Are you into music synthesizers?

              Comment

              • synthguy
                Member
                • Oct 2008
                • 34

                #8
                Yes, I am a self-confessed synthaholic, and have too much gear. :P I mostly have old used stuff from ebay no one wants to spend any money on, but that sounds great still. I'm big on all the keyboard wizards from Eddie Jobson and Keith Emerson to Tomita, and go crazy programming all kinds of sounds. I need to practice way more, because I want to do an album series, a space rock extravaganza in old-school prog rock, and my fingers don't want to play so well anymore. But that's what computers and synth workstations are for.

                Unfortunately, I'm doing the one man band thing right now and are playing all my parts, but it's a lot of fun to do it all myself.

                I still haven't played that movie, Christmas keeps intruding, so I should do that presently. I also need to make some noise about potential high end speakers next year in that other section...
                I'm spoiled, and I intend to stay that way.

                Comment

                • Kevin P
                  Member
                  • Aug 2000
                  • 10809

                  #9
                  Me too! In fact I call myself "Synthaholic" on the VSE forums. I'm also on Harmony Central KSS and GearSlutz. I'm not much of a player either, so I rely on computers and workstations too.

                  What do you have for gear? I have a Yamaha Motif XS6, Alesis A6 Andromeda, Yamaha TX802 and Roland D-550. I wish I had more time to play with the stuff and more space, so I can put a modular together.

                  Comment

                  • synthguy
                    Member
                    • Oct 2008
                    • 34

                    #10
                    I'm jealous of anyone who has an Andromeda. ;x( And the XS6 is a fantastic synth workstation that does an astounding amount of stuff just itself. In fact, I want to get all your gear myself. Maybe this year...

                    What I do have is an insane pile. In fact, there's so much I can't remember it all. These are my main songwriting tools:

                    Korg M3-73 with EXB-Radias and mem expansion
                    Korg Radias keyboard - Radias overkill, but it's one of the very best VAs I've ever programmed
                    Korg Wavestation R
                    Ensoniq TS-10, which still does things nothing else will
                    Ensoniq Fizmo, ditto
                    Kurzweil K2000 Rack, fully expanded
                    Roland JD-990 with Vintage Expansion

                    And there are a bunch of other odds and ends, like a Roland Fantom which is being used by my brother's classically trained wife - I hope to enlist her aid in playing some things for me this year.

                    All this is running through a huge Studiomaster mixing console... which hums badly. I need to see if I can get this resolved with a ground lift short term, because it makes mics sound expensive.

                    My New Year's resolution is to finish five songs this year, at least, and get on with that album project. Nothing to share yet, but with the passing months, we'll see. :T

                    As for the LG, it's still being cantankerous, and I can't afford a calibration for two months! But seeing as I got a mild concussion on the sidewalk at Best Buy last saturday, maybe the manager would cut me some slack...
                    I'm spoiled, and I intend to stay that way.

                    Comment

                    • Kevin P
                      Member
                      • Aug 2000
                      • 10809

                      #11
                      You've got some nice gear there. The TS-10 has poly aftertouch, something I wish more keyboards had. The JD-990 is sweet. I love my D-550, great for those 80s digital pads. The K2000 is pretty amazing too. Tony Banks used a Wavestation, and the JD-800, the 990's older brother. :B

                      I sort of lucked out on the Andy... found it on eBay a year or so ago, the seller said it had a problem with losing its settings when powered off. When I got it, I discovered a diode installed backwards that prevented the battery power from getting to the SRAM chip. I reinstalled the diode the correct way and it's worked perfect ever since. The XS6 is a great synth too, amazing sounds in there, and it has a lot of programming flexibility for a rompler.

                      It's a shame we live 1000+ miles apart... otherwise we could get together, talk synths and I can help calibrate your LG.

                      I guess we're both nuts about electronic toys, hence our interest in synths AND home theater.

                      PM me if you want to talk more synth talk. Are you on any synth forums?

                      Comment

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