10 Things You Need to Know About Setup & Calibration

Performing a basic setup of your AV components is highly recommended; advanced calibration brings your system to its peak performance.

1. Set your display to the most accurate picture mode, which is usually the Movie or Cinema setting.

2. Disable features and settings such as motion interpolation, overscan, and dynamic contrast, which generally degrade the picture quality.

3. Use a setup disc to adjust brightness, contrast, sharpness, color, and tint. Choices include Disney WOW, Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark, or JKP Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics. These setup discs each cost around $30.

4. Alternatively, use the free AVS Forum HD 709 program to perform basic adjustments on your display’s settings. It even includes patterns that work with various calibration-software packages such as CalMan, Chromapure, and ColorHCFR.

5. You can perform your own calibration if you have the right software, hardware, and training. You can buy a bundle for under $500 from SpectraCal than can handle TVs as well as projectors. AVS Forum has a dedicated forum where you can learn about DIY calibration.

6. If you are calibrating a TV, make sure you create separate presets for day and night viewing. The amount of ambient light in a room has a huge impact on image quality. A proper professional calibration should include both day and night settings.

7. If you don’t have the right tools and training, hire a professional calibrator to perform a full calibration on your display; this usually costs several hundred dollars. When done right, a professional calibration will result in the most accurate picture your display is capable of producing.

8. Audio also requires setup and calibration. Many AVRs and pre/pros offer an automated setup routine that works with an included calibration microphone. At the minimum, you need to set speaker levels and delay; you can make these adjustments manually with a decibel meter and a tape measure.

9. If your AVR or pre/pro offers EQ and room correction, run the automated-setup routine and see if you like the results. Audyssey and Dirac Live are popular third-party systems implemented in various AVRs and pre/pros, while other manufacturers offer their own proprietary systems, such as Pioneer MCACC, Yamaha YPAO, and Anthem ARC.

10. Another facet of speaker setup is finding the right crossover point for bass management. Many AVRs can set the crossover automatically, but you might wish to choose your crossover point. The THX standard crossover for movies is 80 Hz, but it’s worth trying other crossover points and determining what sounds best to you with your particular system.