Buzzing sound and extreme dithering grain on S60-series (2013) Panasonic Plasma - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi, I just purchased an S60 series panasonic plasma and am really disappointed in certain aspects of its performance. First of all, it buzzes quite loudly across the unit and not locally in one spot even (which seems strange, like it must be a defect) and there's a ton of dithering and posterization. From a distance (10-15 feet) it fades away and black levels are very nice by any standard, but the posterization looks like 8 bit (256 color) era stuff, must worse than I'm accustomed to on any plasma display (or LCD, of course, but then again those don't have the same kind of temporal dithering).

I have an older (2009) entry-level Panasonic back home and love the image. As expected, the newer panel has better contrast and blacks, but the posterization and grain is orders of magnitude worse. Plus the buzz. I've noticed subtle grain in smooth gradients and solid colors on the older (2009) panel, but only when studying up close and even then it doesn't bug me. I'm not a "videophile," I just want an acceptable image and care in particular about tonality. And this is very bad, super grainy, but I imagine it's because the S60 series is the entry level and I'd have to spend more to get the quality the old set offered?

Is the buzz normal? The extreme graininess and posterization? The panel seems fine otherwise and the black levels are impressive. Video looks good from 15 feet and both the buzz and grain are hard to notice from that distance, but I can't help but feel very disappointed in these aspects of the tv's performance. The 2009 model had orders of magnitude less dithering noise and posterization, but I suppose it's borderline acceptable from a distance.
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post #2 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Mdawg12 View Post

Hi, I just purchased an S60 series panasonic plasma and am really disappointed in certain aspects of its performance. First of all, it buzzes quite loudly across the unit and not locally in one spot even (which seems strange, like it must be a defect) and there's a ton of dithering and posterization. From a distance (10-15 feet) it fades away and black levels are very nice by any standard, but the posterization looks like 8 bit (256 color) era stuff, must worse than I'm accustomed to on any plasma display (or LCD, of course, but then again those don't have the same kind of temporal dithering).

I have an older (2009) entry-level Panasonic back home and love the image. As expected, the newer panel has better contrast and blacks, but the posterization and grain is orders of magnitude worse. Plus the buzz. I've noticed subtle grain in smooth gradients and solid colors on the older (2009) panel, but only when studying up close and even then it doesn't bug me. I'm not a "videophile," I just want an acceptable image and care in particular about tonality. And this is very bad, super grainy, but I imagine it's because the S60 series is the entry level and I'd have to spend more to get the quality the old set offered?

Is the buzz normal? The extreme graininess and posterization? The panel seems fine otherwise and the black levels are impressive. Video looks good from 15 feet and both the buzz and grain are hard to notice from that distance, but I can't help but feel very disappointed in these aspects of the tv's performance. The 2009 model had orders of magnitude less dithering noise and posterization, but I suppose it's borderline acceptable from a distance.

What picture mode are you using, if you are in Standard get out of that and switch to Cinema see if that makes a difference, what are your sources ?

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post #3 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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What picture mode are you using, if you are in Standard get out of that and switch to Cinema see if that makes a difference, what are your sources ?

Cinema mode is a bit better but still really bad. Even the blue menu overlays have tons of dithering so its not the source. But the source is PS3 via HDMI.
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post #4 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 11:05 AM
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Cinema mode is a bit better but still really bad. Even the blue menu overlays have tons of dithering so its not the source. But the source is PS3 via HDMI.

At what viewing distance are you seeing it ?

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post #5 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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At what viewing distance are you seeing it ?
Up to 6 to 8 feet its visible but only bad from 4 to 5. Invisible by the 12 feet I watch from but the screen still feels a little posterized relative to the smoother displays like the old 2009 one I used before.
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post #6 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Also is the loud buzzing normal?
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post #7 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 01:14 PM
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Also is the loud buzzing normal?

I would say no if you can hear it from more than a few feet away your dithering sounds extreme to me

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post #8 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Mdawg12 View Post

Is the buzz normal?

Sadly, perfectly normal. The two 50ST60s (Jan and Mar 2013 mfg dates) and one 50S60 (Feb 2013) I've had in my home all buzzed about the same, easily audible in a quiet room from 10' in high APL scenes like the typical Family Guy living room scene with Contrast in the low 60s. It can be heard over (and naturally between) dialogue at normal volume and sometimes even soft background music. It's pretty much inaudible in Standard mode, with Contrast at 50 and CATS enabled, but that's not usable for anything. Chad B mentioned buzzing in his review, saying it was audible at 6', and the Samsung F8500 at 8-9', and I believe this was in a "quiet room" in a store, and in the F8500 review, he said a Bluray player was masking the noise at that distance. (No idea what Bluray player - The Samsung and Sony ones I've tried recently are hideously loud, though.) The FlatpanelsHD review said, "it was noticeable in a silent room when sitting 1-2 meters in front of the TV. No real improvements in this area, saddly." These are the only reviews I'm aware of that mention buzz at all, and all their samples buzzed. I would not recommend taking omission of buzzing evaluation in other reviews as a suggestion that the set didn't buzz.

Is the buzzing a huge problem? No, and I'm keeping the second 50ST60. I can watch hours of most shows and never hear it. It's mainly brightly lit animation whose audio is frequently just dialogue that it is noticeable. Other places I've noticed it include the space station interior and bedroom scenes in 2001. Most of the time, there is background music or noise that masks the buzzing, and periods of relative silence really have to coincide with a high APL scene to bring out the buzzing. The buzzing tracks the APL incredibly closely and quickly, and lowering Contrast helps. If I wanted to use a higher Contrast in the 80s vs the 60s, it would be more of a problem.

I took the backs off two of the sets looking for documented problems like the washerless screws, poorly tightened screws, cracked component housings, etc, and I found nothing. I couldn't feel any vibration through a plastic probe. The buzzing seems to be coming from boards on both sides of the ST60s and also the middle power board. With Screen Wipe on and my ear on either side, I can hear the buzzing from the side boards go up and down as the white part advances and retreats from their side of the screen.
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The extreme graininess and posterization? The panel seems fine otherwise and the black levels are impressive. Video looks good from 15 feet and both the buzz and grain are hard to notice from that distance, but I can't help but feel very disappointed in these aspects of the tv's performance. The 2009 model had orders of magnitude less dithering noise and posterization, but I suppose it's borderline acceptable from a distance.

Looking at low luminance solid color patterns where it's worst, I don't see it on my 50ST60 beyond 4-5 feet or so, and I sit 7-8'. Some program material is naturally noisy, and that's true when viewing on an LCD as well.
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post #9 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 01:41 PM
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Regarding buzzing, yesterday I had two S60s side by side in my living room. I wanted to identify any inconsistencies between the two units.

One area that I focused on was the buzzing because I am sensitive to buzzing televisions. This is not to say that buzz is a problem for me because I've owned two plasmas previously. But I am cognizant of a plasma that buzzes too loudly versus a plasma that just buzzes. Ironically, if I'm hungry I notice the buzzing more than if I am not, but that's a whole other story. :-)

Both of the S60s that I tested buzz. No surprise there. And they both buzz equally loud, which was kind of good to see in that I prefer consistency unit to unit rather than inconsistency. I had them both running the exact same content at the same time so the stress on the units were the same.

But specifically to one of your comments, both of the S60s that I tested exhibit buzzing on both sides of the top back panel. So I don't think you have a defect there.

Setting aside the comparison of the two S60s, I think the buzzing exhibited by both is pretty standard buzzing. I sit about 8 feet away from the 50" television. If I am watching television at regular volume levels, you can't hear the buzzing too badly unless you really try to listen for it in which case you'll perceive to be hearing it underneath the volume of the TV (whether or not it's just in your head). If I am watching television at low volume levels, the buzz can be discerned if the screen is all white. For example, a hockey game.

My preference is no buzz, but the two S60s I've encountered up close don't have unreasonable buzz.
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post #10 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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My older model (from 2009, roughly entry-level or one step up) has no buzz and almost no dithering. I know the S60 is a cheaper model (though not by much); is it really that big a downgrade, though? I was expecting a better image if anything.

Are the two in any way related?
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post #11 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 03:12 PM
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I do not believe that that buzzing and dithering have anything to do with one another.

BTW, if you truly, positively 100% have a plasma with NO BUZZ, let me know how much you want for it. Entry level 2009, no problem.

I have unfortunately never encountered a truly silent plasma. Just room conditions that are more favourable to not hearing the buzz.
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post #12 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 05:13 PM - Thread Starter
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For all I know the 2009 screen buzzes, but I've never heard it, even up close. The new one is loud to the extent you have to turn up the volume to drown it out.
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post #13 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 05:28 PM - Thread Starter
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The buzz changes as the picture does. Higher frequency with brightness increased. Posterization is bad. Are these tvs really this ****** and everyone just accepts it?
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post #14 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 07:23 PM
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I'm not having the audible buzz, but am having extreme dithering issues with my 60" ST60. On standard mose its very visible from over 20 feet, even on custom mode with Dnices calibrated settings while much better than standard mode its still quite bad and highly noticable from 11-14 feet away which is normal viewing distance for me....outside of crushing the hell out of the blacks (which is no solution) I dont know what to tell you.....had my service guy check mine out today and he was quite stunned by what he saw.....on darkly lit scenes its a hot putrid mess....he did play around with some of the voltages in the service menu but they did very little, he took a bunch of photos and is going to get back to me after he talks to Panasonic.

I'd really like to get my eyes on one of the glowing review samples, because my ST60 looks like dog crap in low to dark lit scenes....which is where plasma is supposed to shine...the dithering on mine is mostly very bright green and very fast moving, when the service guy was playing with the voltages he could change the behavoir of the dithering (mostly altering the speed at which it moves around the screen from the out of the box frantic to a slower pace)....but aside from crushing black levels couldnt lessen it.

I got hooked by the rave reviews of the ST60, and with the big guys all backordered I jumped on a smaller etailer without really checking em out....there return policy it turns out is NONE....hence the service call instead of throwing it back....I was getting mixed responses here about my issue being normal or not, my service guy told me before he left that in its present state he considers the set "unwatchable" and thats what he's telling Panasonic.
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post #15 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Both encouraging and discouraging. Thanks for the detailed notes. My dithering in blacks is visible from 20 feet too but a bright image looks fine at 10. But it's ridiculously bad compared with every other plasma (and LCD) I've used.

Wish I got a "glowing review sample" too. Keep me updated and I'll do likewise. Buzz is very bad too.
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post #16 of 19 Old 05-22-2013, 11:11 PM
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At this point I just want to see one, to see if it exhibits any of the problems mine has.

Mine isnt buzzing at least, and I've paid extra attention as after I had the panel replaced on my LG plasma it buzzed like a mofo off and on, loud enough to be clearly heeard over my sound system at normal movie volume. With the LG to stop the buzzing I just very lighty touch the screen in various spots around where I hear it, when you get close the buzzing drops in intensity instantly, touch the right spot....no need to apply pressure, just touch, and it stopped for a while, it could be days or weeks before it came again and it was always in different locations....really wierd.
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post #17 of 19 Old 05-28-2013, 04:04 PM
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I just recently (2 days ago) brought home a p65s60 and thought I'd share my experience so far after viewing for about 4 hours all together, 3 of it at once to test seating... (there's also a question below if any of you plasma experts would like to answer it =] )

First, I have never watched a plasma for any length of time, only an old top of the line bravia 46" and a newer ~60" midrange sony at my parents' place. I've used the bravia as a computer monitor from only a few feet and aside from noticeable clouding and awfully shallow blacks, it's very nice.

I hadn't done much research on plasmas in general, but as I have complete control over room lighting and the 65" S and ST 60s are so reasonably priced for a large size, I had to jump on it. Heard the S had less natural delay and also it's cheaper, so went with that at the sacrifice of some unmeasurably 'slightly worse picture.'

I was incredibly surprised at the dithering up close. I have a LOT of green/blue dithering at all gray/black levels (inc. actual black), visible from 5'. I also have dithering that makes me understand the 'swimming' term in midrange warm sections (watching a desert scene would be interesting) at 5' or so. Nothing is noticeable past 5'.

However, what IS Noticeable is contrast lines. If the entire screen is light with a dark ball bouncing around, the horizontal lines left and right of the ball are off-color. It is noticeable even with heterogeneous backgrounds, as long as the contrast of the background to itself is low and to the foreground object is high. Levels of this effect become insane when navigating contrasty windows 8 menus/applications on my entertainment machine.

Blacks and colors are amazing from > 5' and I find myself 'losing' the black bars when my room is as dark as it can be (no windows... just the light from the screen bouncing off the unfortunately light walls). Sound through the speakers is utter crap, obviously, but still somehow worse than you'd expect.

Overall I'm happy with the purchase at close to retail and I wouldn't take it back unless someone were to tell me an s60 existed with less dithering.

I have one observation that doesn't seem in keeping with what everyone else is talking about... The dithering is not consistent across the panel. There are no night-and-day sections, but in a black area of a test image, there is a 'structural' looking pattern (like maybe internal support members behind the panel) where there are ZERO lighted pixels (compared to about 10 at any given time per square inch moving around (what I'd call dithering if it weren't pure black) of the rest of the panel). The overall lighted-pixels-in-black across the whole panel pulses slightly, seemingly at random to about double the normal density (from 10 to 20 per square inch) and each of these 'pulses' lasts a fraction of a second, occurring a couple times a second for an overall cycle of maybe 25-50%. None of this is noticeable past 5'.

QUESTION: Is this normal for plasmas? I'm quite happy with the set and would only want to go through the return process (wouldn't cost me anything) if anything I've described above is abnormal. I'm sure folks considering the set would also be interested in knowing if my experience is standard or if they can expect the same.

Thanks much, all.
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post #18 of 19 Old 05-28-2013, 05:38 PM
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@telnettro, try the settings in my sig. I am personally using the Cinema settings with a little adjustment to the Red CMS since I'm at over 700 hours now. Ultimately you need to run a brightness calibration pattern to get the brightness tuned in properly for your set. The dithering viewable might be from the brightness being set too high.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1461177/official-panasonic-s60-series-discussion-thread/1740#post_23361394

I also addressed this recently for another user.

And this, if you don't have access to a calibration disc or patterns:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1461177/official-panasonic-s60-series-discussion-thread/1740#post_23360927

Sony 32" EX400 calibrated settings

Panasonic 50" S60 calibrated settings

HTPC/Sony S5100 to Sony HT-CT150 to Panasonic 55" VT60, Sony 32" EX400, Panasonic 50" S60

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post #19 of 19 Old 11-09-2013, 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by mattf0124 View Post

At this point I just want to see one, to see if it exhibits any of the problems mine has.

Mine isnt buzzing at least, and I've paid extra attention as after I had the panel replaced on my LG plasma it buzzed like a mofo off and on, loud enough to be clearly heeard over my sound system at normal movie volume. With the LG to stop the buzzing I just very lighty touch the screen in various spots around where I hear it, when you get close the buzzing drops in intensity instantly, touch the right spot....no need to apply pressure, just touch, and it stopped for a while, it could be days or weeks before it came again and it was always in different locations....really wierd.

Sorry to bump an old thread, but I'm dealing with buzzing and I've only seen this mentioned one other place and I've now experience the same thing basically.

I've got an S64 with buzzing and popping. I remembered seeing a thread that said to loosen and then tighten the screws that hold the panel on. I did this and popping is reduced, but not eliminated, but buzzing increased. I went back to the thread about the popping and read further than I had before and found out that a couple people experienced increased buzzing after messing with the screws. This lines up with what you said about getting the panel replaced.

The thing is though that some of the screws are so tight you can't move them and some were loose. With such low QC tolerances in the first place you wouldn't think moving them a bit should be an issue. Also, if the darn things are that sensitive to a fraction of a screw turn you'd think more sets would buzz louder or quieter sets would start to buzz at some later point due to aging, weather change, etc... I have heard of some developing buzz, but not a lot.

This is really discouraging, but I really don't like LED's. Don't really know what to do.
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