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Seattle Area Home Theater Professionals

Is professional calibration neccessary?

Why is Professional Calibration Necessary?

For marketing reasons, TVs are shipped with hyped settings from the factory. The vivid and dynamic settings usually look bright and garish in a home environment, causing eye fatigue. The movie settings on most sets are usually under whelming with reduced viewable contrast levels and nearly all sets out of the box do not display an accurate white. Since manufacturers can’t anticipate which sets will end up on brightly lit showroom floors, and which ones will be in people’s homes, they set them up for the competitive sales floor environment. This means blasting contrast, setting color and sharpness too high, and skewing the grayscale to blue, because blue whites appear brighter. The bright environment of an average sales floor is nothing like the typical home environment where lighting is more subtle.

If you are interested in getting the best picture and performance out of your HDTV, professional calibration is a service you should consider. Some of the picture improvements you can expect from pro calibration include more natural looking flesh tones, and colors that are realistic. Images appear smoother and more detailed with fewer artifacts, and look less unnaturally sharp. There will be more detail in dark scenes as a result of getting black level exactly correct for all your sources. Movies on DVD, Blu-ray, and HD cable or Satellite channels are more accurately reproduced, which means you will experience more of what the director of the film intended it to look like.

  • Video calibration is a must for HDTV owners who want to fully experience optimal picture quality from their entertainment investment.
  • Calibrated displays look smoother with natural, un-hyped colors and reduce viewer fatigue.
  • Due to manufacturing tolerances, even the same make/model of HDTV “out of the box” usually will not display detail the same side by side.
  • Increased energy efficiency and useful life. A properly calibrated HDTV display runs cooler, extending component life. THX has recently released a study showing that calibrated video displays offer up to 50% energy savings over out of the box sets.
  • System verification- ensures that each component and cable in the video chain is configured for optimum quality. This is an important benefit- on over 80% of our service calls we discover incorrect settings that are trashing image quality. Some clients are even paying for HD service but not actually viewing it yet!
  • Theater Design Northwest offers ISF-C Certified Video Calibration services.

Your Audio System

Modern surround sound systems are designed with extensive setup options that need to be configured correctly. These options give a skilled tech the ability to adjust the system optimally for different program material, listening modes, speaker types, video resolution/upconversion, audio quality and even compensate for poor room acoustics. It’s sad but true-on about 80% of calls we see systems that have not been setup at all or with incorrect setting/connections.
While it is somewhat true that HDMI-connected equipment is plug and play, the default settings that most components ship with are programmed for the simplest scenario by design. For example, you can usually buy a new BluRay player, connect it with an HDMI cable to your TV and get a BluRay quality picture with downsampled stereo sound. Will it upconvert standard DVDs to BluRay picture quality out of the box? Probably not. If you connect this same BluRay to your surround system will it play the latest Dolby True HD or DTS Master high resolution audio in 7.1 surround? The answer is no. Today’s electronics truly are more powerful than ever and offer us incredible performance potential for the price. And these powerful capabilities are the exact reason that setup and calibration by a technician with the right tools and appropriate knowledge is required to enjoy the full performance your system is capable of delivering.

For surround sound, our THX Certified tech will:

* Verify proper setup, operation and connection for all components in the audio chain. *Setup correct speaker types and distances to ensure phase coherency * Balance surround speaker levels throughout the listening area so every seat is a good seat * Integrate the sub perfectly with surrounds for smooth, powerful and dynamic response * Measure the perfect crossover points for your system * Properly configure the system for maximum movie, gaming and music performance * apply corrective EQ for flat in-room response * Document and save all settings with redundant data backup

For audio calibration, we use the state of the art R+D acoustics software system with expensive and accurate Audix small diaphragm condenser measurement microphones through an EMU hi-resolution AD/DA converter. For video we use the Datacolor digital colorimeter and software along with reference DVDs by Avia, THX Limited and the Spear’s and Munsil High Definition Benchmark BluRay Edition. Triplett and Nady handheld measuring devices are used for system troubleshooting and channel balance measurements.

THX Technician - Theater Design Northwest offers complete quality home theater services in the greater Puget Sound Region.

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