What: Calibration of Mitsubishi WD-73837
When: Sunday 29 November 2009
Who: Gregg Loewen of LionAV
Where: Fullerton, California
I finally had my 73837 calibrated yesterday by Gregg Loewen of LionAV. As others have said before me I cannot say enough about how much of a difference there is in the picture my television is displaying post-calibration as opposed to pre-calibration.
Gregg showed up exactly at the mid-point of the timeframe he gave me for his arrival. He is a warm, friendly man who comes armed with two suitcases of equipment to ensure that your set is looking as good as possible by the time he leaves.
We have had our 73837 since early June. The television has well over 1000 hours on it so the bulb is well broken in. We had done some semi-calibration of our own previously with a Spyder2 device and were happy with the results. But we knew it could look better. We just didn't know how much better. Now we do and the results are astonishing.
Gregg set up first and was kind enough to thoroughly explain every step of the process. The first thing that he did was reset the television back to 1x1 pixel mapping. I didn't realize how much detail we were losing until I saw the massive moire in his test patterns at 720p and 1080p. We only have a slight bend on 4x3 material at the bottom of the screen and it's very easy to live with.
After this it was time to set up greyscale and while we were "close", Gregg really dialed in the greyscale. It helps to have a trained eye that knows exactly what it is looking for as well as appropriate test patterns. The differences were very noticeable. The one thing that he explained that I hadn't previously known about before was the concept of "blacker than black" as an actual colour in movies, television and on the film colour spectrum.
From there Gregg went and adjusted the colour to get it correctly set. He explained what every graph on his software was telling us, what our present values were, what acceptable tolerances are for each measurement, etc. Back and forth adjustments were made to the gains for red, green and blue. Picture+ adjustments were made to all of the primary and secondary colours, some more than others, to get within acceptable tolerance.
One of the biggest things brought to our attention is how narrow our colour gamut was before adjustments were made. I don't have the graphs on me, but our initial "colour triangle" was well under the standard colour gamut triangle. It looked as though we were missing about 25% of the colours we should have been seeing based upon the plot points. On top of that our triangle acutally looked more like the spaceship from Asteroids in that it had two relatively straight sides and the third side had a "kink" to it in the middle pointing inwards.
Gregg let us know that we weren't going to be able to dial the colour gamut triangle in exactly so. We were more than likely going to have a gamut that would lie outside the standard. But it is better to have too much colour available than too little. At least now we are able to render the entire colour gamut standard.
The difference was immediately noticeable. We were surprised at the overall changes when we started looking at test material. The largest differences came in flesh tones and blacks. Gregg introduced us to "Jennifer", his skin-tone test queen. With colours set appropriately he was able to use our standard colour and tint adjustments to show us what happens if the colours are off. Too much one way and Jennifer turns green. Too much the other way and she turns shades of violet. With everything set correctly she's just a really pretty redhead with pasty white skin.
With greyscale and colour set, Gregg moved on to making adjustments to our BluRay and HD-DVD players. Combined with the changes made to the greyscale and colour gamut the players were set up to perfection.
Gregg showed us demo material consisting of selected scenes from the X-Men: The Last Stand (I think... I'm not sure) on the BluRay player and Transformers on the HD-DVD player. While watching Gregg was able to show scenes where blacker than black came into play, shadow detail came into play and also how filters and lighting were affecting each scene into warmer or cooler tones.
Once that was done we set about doing a daylight calibration. This was just a minor modification of the brightness that had been set in the dark environment.
What is most noticeable? Pretty much everything. Our blacks are much more bold and deep. The colours are all more vivid. Flesh tones are all "correct". My wife immediately noticed every change that was being made and was most appreciative. It is also immediately apparent that everything is much darker post-calibration. This takes a little bit to get used to as things initially appear "dim". Well, that's because we had everything set a little high in terms of brightness and contrast.
In reality there is nothing I can say that can adequately prepare one for the differences in their television after Gregg gets done doing his magic. While how much one likes what Gregg does is certainly subjective, the numbers are very much objective as are the standards they are based on. I initially thought my television looked a little dim post-calibration. I had to remind myself that it's now set to a standard and my eyes, though good for me, aren't set to "standard".
As an example, my previous setting for brightness had been 35. My Spyder had previously told me to set it at 17. I thought that looked a little too dim after always previously done what the Spyder had said and had bumped it back up to 35. What was Gregg's final brightness reading? 16. Whereas I second guessed my own reading there was and is an assuredness and certainty of getting the numbers from Gregg and seeing exactly what his readings were showing and why we were getting to the numbers. So brightness is 16 for a reason and I know the reasons behind
If you ask, Gregg will explain. I don't know what'll happen if you don't ask because both myself and my wife were very interested in what Gregg was doing and he couldn't have been more forthcoming with details of what exactly was happening. I couldn't have been happier with this part of the calibration. It's one thing to see your television's picture improve incrementally with each adjustment that is made. It's another thing to know "why". This took what Gregg was doing from being some sort of television voodoo to true audio visual science.
I don't have my final before and after numbers from Gregg as he is due to email those to me when he gets back home. Doesn't matter though as I wasn't going to post them anyway. My numbers will be different from the next person who has this television and I think that there has been enough variance in numbers floating around that it is best for people to just have Gregg out for themselves so they can get their television set right for their particular environment.
In closing, I can't recommend Gregg highly enough. The man is a true professional with a love of his craft that you just can't fake and the results speak volumes for his efforts. This was $450 dollars I couldn't have been more happy to spend.