POLISHING TURD: Steps To A Better NTSC (Cable/Sat) Image On Your Plasma... - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 09:39 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
R Harkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 11,895
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 257
People of plasma:

A lot of folks come to this forum asking: "How does NTSC look on plasma?" "Why do regular channels look so bad?" "Now that I own a plasma, how can I get a better NTSC image?"

I figured it was time perhaps to create an "information" sheet about the problem, and it's possible solutions - perhaps to be made a "sticky" note for a while on the Forum, or perhaps added to the FAQ. The following will be my take on the topic. I started out simply writing about picture settings, but realized there were a lot of areas that can affect the quality of regular cable and satellite images on a plasma...and the thing grew and grew as I tried to address them all. The idea was to address the problems and possible solutions in as user-friendly, newbie-friendly, and non-technical manner as possible.

If anyone spots mis-information, or something that could be changed for the better in the post, please let me know!

As well, I would invite anyone with information or ideas on the topic of achieving a better NTSC image to add them to this thread. Give your view on this - the more the merrier!

On with the show...

BTW, my post might take a short while to paste on here, perhaps divided into a couple of posts, so please refrain for replying to this post until I write "finished." That way the flow won't be broken up by someone's reply to this post.

Thanks,

Rich H.
R Harkness is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
R Harkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 11,895
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 257
Folks,

We plasma owners know DVDs and Hi-Definition signals look awesome on our display. Yet it’s not an HD Universe yet, so we are stuck watching a lot of NTSC on our displays as well. Naturally, then, we see a lot of people here asking how to maximize the performance of “regular cable or satellite channels†– NTSC - on their plasma. In comparison to new, higher resolution signals like DVD and High Definition Television, poor old NTSC often disappoints on our shiny new display, looking softer and noisier. Let’s face it, technically NTSC may be termed: Turd!

This thread is about applying some spit and polish to that turd, shining it up so that, at least occasionally, it can fool the eye we’ve revealed gold (ok, maybe brass). Grab my hands, and fly with me: Let’s get as happy about our standard cable or satellite channels as we can be!

I think anyone who has ideas or information about improving the NTSC viewing experience should chime in on this thread. I’ll go first. I’m not an AV expert; merely an educated consumer who has spent a while wrestling with the problem of NTSC in the ever expanding universe of Hi-Def/Wide screen displays. The following is meant to be as basic, non-technical and newbie-friendly as possible. The more experienced may wish to skip large chunks, perhaps to the picture settings section.

1. DEFITINION OF NTSC: NTSC Stands for National Television Standards Committee. NTSC has been the video standard in North America and other parts of the world for broadcasting video into the home and recording it on tape since about 1953. Basically, it’s the image quality standard we’ve all been watching on TV up until Hi-Definition and DVDs came along. Whether you have cable or satellite, analog or digital service, in North America any channel that isn’t in Hi-Definition (HDTV) is regular old NTSC standard resolution.

Here is one web site with user-friendly technical explanations about NTSC vs the Digital TV formats, including High Definition: http://www.hdtvinfoport.com/high-def...elevision.html

2. NTSC LOOKS FINE ON MY TUBE SET: WHY DOES IT LOOK SO BAD WHEN YOU SEE IT DISPLAYED ON TVs IN THE STORES? ESPECIALLY ON THE PLASMAS?

Summary: Stores screw up their signal feeds in many a creative way! Plasmas, especially, don’t take well to the poor set-ups in many stores.

Explanation:

There are several issues here. First, NTSC is an inherently inferior signal, resolution-wise, than HD or DVD. That is why stores use DVDs and Hi-Def signals on their displays, and why it’s a shock when the salesman actually plays a crappy-looking regular TV channel on a big screen display. The large-sized wide screen displays people are now buying look great with DVDs/Hi-Def signals, but poor old NTSC was never meant to be viewed on such large screens, and it shows. NTSC on the big displays tends to look softer, more smeary and noisy than on the smaller direct-view tube sets. However, a good strong NTSC signal can still look quite sharp and impressive, even on a big screen. You just don’t get good signals in stores very often, for the following reasons.

Typically an AV store will use a line distributor of some kind to split the cable signal, in order to reach many displays at once. This allows customers to see the same image on all the TVs in the store. However, if the splitter is not of high quality, or the connections are poorly maintained, and/or the signal has to travel long cable runs to the TVs, picking up interference or loosing bandwidth along the way, this can result in a deterioration of the image. Under these conditions, the TV signal will end up looking softer and nosier (sometimes showing distinct interference patterns) than if the display had been hooked directly to a cable or satellite box. NTSC, already a low quality signal, will be made to look even worse in this case. Since connections will be made with more care at your house, it’s very likely the NTSC image will look better than any you see in the stores.

Secondly, stores tend to pay no head to proper picture settings. Typically the picture is left in a mode that is bright and attracts the customer’s eye, but which really make an NTSC signal look it’s ugliest. This includes contrast/brightness settings too high, sharpness controls cranked up, and often on wide screen displays the image is left on an inappropriate “stretch†mode for the source, resulting in extra softening and artifacts in the picture. Bottom line: it’s really hard to tell how NTSC will look on any display unless you can at least see it from a dedicated hook-up, which means the TV hooked directly to a cable/sat box – no splitters, no long runs of cheap cable, and reasonable picture settings (see picture settings section of this post). If you are about to spend big bucks on a display, I’d insist on seeing it properly set-up and fed direct signals. (Or at least buy with a solid return policy).

3. WHEN BAD IMAGE QUALITY IS THE FAULT OF THE DISPLAY, or “NOT ALL SCALERS ARE CREATED EQUALâ€:

Summary: Plasmas have a fixed, native pixel resolution, and all incoming signals must be converted (by a scaler) to fit this resolution. Some plasmas do this better than others, and you should be aware of how well your prospective plasma performs in this regard, as poor scaling will mean an extra-bad looking NTSC picture.

Explanation:

People in the AV world often blame the low resolution of NTSC for how bad it can look on modern big screens. This is true only to a point. In fact, with a good, strong signal NTSC can still look fantastic on a plasma or other large screen display (if not to HD standards). The reason NTSC may look like crap on one digital display vs another is often due to the quality of the display’s internal scaler. In simple terms, a scaler refers to the electronic section of the display responsible for taking any signal it receives, and “scaling†it to the fixed pixel resolution of the display. An Example: My Panasonic ED plasma has a pixel count of 854 x 480 pixels so all sources, whether of greater resolution (Hi-Def) or lesser resolution (NTSC), must be arranged by the scaler to fit those pixels. A display’s scaler is essentially “guessing†at how to distribute the image among the pixels, based upon algorithms designed into its software. Good “guessing†by the scaler results in an image that looks solid, sharp and smooth on a digital display. Poor “guessing†makes for an inaccurate distribution of picture details among the pixels, resulting in a degraded picture: softer, smearier, more washed out, noisier and more pixilated (like a swarm of pixel activity in the image). Scaling of NTSC may be particularly tough for HD displays given their greater density of pixels over a standard view TV. In Hi-Def models the scaler has to do more guessing as it were, doubling up or digitally adding information to pad out the NTSC signal among all those pixels. That is one theory as to why NTSC often looks a bit smudgier on the HD plasmas vs some of the ED models – there’s more processing going on. The worse the scaling the softer, more digital, more ugly and synthetic the image will look. (HD displays can look very good with NTSC; just be aware of the issues I’ve pointed out when auditioning them).

There are other factors too: The display that is able to achieve deeper black levels typically has the better chance at making NTSC look good. One reason is the deeper blacks create more depth, richness and contrast in the image (this increased contrast also helps the apparent sharpness...sharpness being one of the first things to go when you enlarge NTSC signals). Good black levels can also help with picture noise. A display that can only achieve light black levels leaves picture noise illuminated, with nowhere to hide, making it harder to adjust out of the picture. In my experience, the poorer the black level performance of a display, the more apparent signal noise will be with NTSC channels. So if NTSC performance is a big factor for you, these are things to consider in choosing your display.

Also, each wide-screen display, plasmas included, give you different “zoom†and “stretch†options for making the square (4:3) NTSC images fit the rectangular (16:9) aspect ratio of your wide screen display. Some displays do this well, making the stretching of the image look fairly natural. Others make the NTSC image look unnaturally stretched, or riddled with artifacts. You will want to check out these various stretch modes before you buy your plasma, because when watching regular NTSC channels it’s best to fill the full plasma screen to avoid burn-in (see plasma faq for burn-in).

4. SIGNAL QULALITY: HOW GOOD IS THE SOURCE?

Summary: Poor NTSC images may be due to a poor signal feed to your TV. Also, some of the picture problems you see may be inherent in the signal itself, such as analog noise or digital compression for digital channels.

Explanation:

Obviously the quality of NTSC on your display will also be affected by the strength and quality of your cable/satellite feed – as well to some degree by the quality of your cable/satellite box. I have a digital cable box, which gives me both analog and digital channels (as well as Hi-Def channels). Luckily, my feed, while somewhat variable from day to day, is quite strong. I get a generally good to great NTSC image on my plasma, in terms of sharpness and low picture noise.
If you have a poor signal strength, I understand that one can often contact the cable/sat company to have a technician check the feed strength to your home, and amplify it if it is found to be substandard. Appealing for such help from the signal provider has helped fix some people’s problems with regular cable picture quality.

One trap people often fall into is the “digital†vs “analog†hype. One claim to fame for digital channels is true: that analog picture interference – the type that causes that staticy, snowy washing out of the image – is generally absent in a digital transition, making for a cleaner look. But a digital channel does not automatically equate to a better image. Digital channels can have their own set of distortions. In order to meet the need of the ever expanding number of digital channels (and, of course, mostly out of pure greed), and to fit all these channels into the limited bandwidth available to the cable/sat companies, digital signals are put through varying levels of digital compression. A high level of compression results in just those type of Mpeg artifacts you see when watching video on the web: blockiness, smear, pixelation…all manner of digital noise.
On my digital cable some channels look blocky, soft and smeary, sometimes with sparkly pixel distortion. While other channels with less compression look super sharp and clean…almost like watching a good DVD. The differences in compression between channels is not very visible on a standard-sized tube set (which is why many owners of tube sets rave about how great and clean-looking all their digital channels look). But on the bigger displays like plasma the compression artifacts can be very visible and a real drag.

5. HOOKING UP YOUR DISPLAY FOR BEST NTSC QUALITY:

Summary: Experiment with connection-options between your cable/sat box and your display. If you own a High-Definition cable or Satellite receiver you are probably running all the channels through the three-wire Component connection from your box to your display. If you find the NTSC image is soft, try connecting the cable/sat box to your plasma via its S-video or composite output (single-wire connections). You might get a sharper image.

Explanation:

First, here’s a good site explaining the difference between the various connection options you’ll have with your new display:

http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-6463_7-...ml?legacy=cnet

NTSC sources – regular TV channels from your cable/sat box – may be connected to your plasma via composite or S-Video connections. Experiment with these connections to find which one produces a better NTSC image on your display. S-Video is generally the higher quality connector, and *should* look a bit better than a composite cable. But sometimes a display will have been designed with better filtering functions on one input vs another (such as comb filters, which reduce jagged line artifacts). Due to this the cheaper connection option occasionally looks better on some displays. (Some AV receivers, such as the one I own, will up convert composite and S-Video signals into Component – three wire – signals, allowing everything to be output to the component input of a display…but that’s another subject).

Another way the picture quality of NTSC can be degraded is less obvious (and is loathed to be discussed by AV salesmen or cable providers). The issue arises for people using a Hi-Definition cable or satellite receiver box. Hi-Def signals MUST pass along a component connection (three cables: Red/Green/Blue). Its part of the specification for Hi-Def signals. Unfortunately, NTSC signals are just the opposite: NTSC is specified to pass through a single-wire component or S-Video connection, but is NOT specified to pass through the three-wire Component connection. How does your receiver box deal with different signals that require different connections? After all, the receiver box wants to make life easier for you by sending all channels – NTSC and Hi-Def – through one set of connections (Component) to your display.

What your Hi-Def box does is digitally convert NTSC signals to a signal that can be sent out the three-wire Component connection of your box, along with the Hi-Def channels. That’s why all your channels, regular and Hi-Def, are accessible on the same Component input.** BUT….the problem is that in order to achieve this your NTSC signals have been put through that extra step of digital conversion, and there’s no free lunch. The conversion tends to soften the NTSC signal…making for a less sharp image than if the signal had been left unconverted. If you own an HD box and are really bothered by the softness of the NTSC channels, try hooking your cable box to your display via the S-Video connection (or composite). You’ll then see NTSC channels displayed with no extra conversion steps. In my experience, this always results in a sharper image (sometimes slight, sometimes quite a big step up in sharpness).

That was my solution. My cable box is connected to my plasma both from its component connation (for Hi-Def), and from its S-Video connection (for NTSC). This means that I have to switch inputs on my display when I switch between watching NTSC/Hi-Def. But, with the use of a universal remote, this simply means hitting the “input†button of my remote. No biggie. And I enjoy a clearer NTSC image for little extra effort.

**((It’s also why some displays may “lock†aspect ratio and not be able to zoom in on the 4:3 NTSC image, because the converted NTSC “tricks†the display that it’s a high-def signal, and the display is designed to display Hi-Def signals “as is†with no zoom modes available. Luckily, for just this problem, there are often zoom modes available from the receiver box itself to allow re-sizing of NTSC channels).

Cont'd....
R Harkness is offline  
post #3 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
R Harkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 11,895
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 257
6. PICTURE SETTINGS: GETTING THE BEST NTSC IMAGE POSSIBLE:

Summary: Picture settings will have a large impact in getting the best out of NTSC and mitigating picture noise and other artifacts. My approach is to create picture settings designed to mitigate the problems of NTSC.

Explanation:

The following is a personal approach to picture settings, best outlined in a previous post of mine found in the Plasma FAQ:

"Steaming Rat," or Rich's Method For Achieving A More Realistic Image On Your Plasma.

The basic premise for getting a believable NTSC picture is the same: use picture settings that fool your eye into believing the signal is even better than it really is. I do this not necessarily by using a calibration disk, although I would heartily endorse doing that as a first step – as a base from which to further tweak the image. However, typical calibration is geared toward seeing accuracy, warts and all. This is great for good source material, but in my experience it tends to show too many warts in NTSC. Instead, I look at the problems inherent in NTSC – low resolution, garish color, analog and digital noise, softness, crushed whites/blacks etc., and I create picture settings specifically to hide the faults and make NTSC look good to my eyes. My plasma allows three user settings per input. I’ve made two user settings for watching NTSC: 1. Is very low contrast/brightness for ultimate smoothness of image, and which helps extend the life of the display and avoid burn-in of station logos. The other is a higher contrast which works great on a strong signal, making for a more vivid, realistic image when I want it.

COLOR LEVELS:

Reduce the overall color level. NTSC is often reviled as "Never The Same Color." But it’s not only the horrible color variation between channels that makes it look so garish; it’s the over-saturation of color. When you start to reduce the overall color level (using your “color†setting) you should notice the image stops glowing garishly, and the image takes on a subtler, finer quality. People on TV will actually start looking like they have normal human skin, rather than as if they were people made of blazing, glowing pixels. You should notice as you dial down the color the image starts to look subjectively a bit cleaner and slightly sharper…less “color-bleeding-all-over-the-place.†Overall, it should look a bit more convincing and normal.

As a reference, my plasma picture controls ranges from +30 down to -30, with “0†being the normal default value. My NTSC color settings sit between -8 (to cure really over-saturated shows) and -3. Typically they sit at -5 or -6.

(One other personal note: For whatever reason, I find warm settings accentuate the garishness and color inconsistency of channel to channel picture quality – even those settings dialed to D6500K by an ISF technician. A setting with a tad more blue in it somehow makes the average NTSC skin tone appear more normal to my eyes. I find myself saying “yuck†much less often with NTSC on the “normal†setting vs the warmer settings. This may be my own bias and may not work for you, but you might test out the idea).

BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST PICTURE SETTINGS:

As counterintuitive as it may seem, the Brightness control of a display typically affects the dark areas of the image – the black level - which is what we want to do here. The deeper you dial down the brightness control, the less visible picture noise becomes, especially in dark areas of the image. This is especially true of “analog snow,†but also works to a degree for pixelation noise in digital channels. Play with your Brightness levels first by turning them up. You’ll see how hazy picture noise becomes much more visible as you crank up the brightness (especially analog snow in dark areas of the picture, like a man’s dark suit). Now start cranking that brightness down – keep going and going as far as it will go - and watch how the picture noise disappears, or at least becomes less visible.
The trick is finding a balance YOU LIKE between showing detail within dark areas, and revealing the noise in the NTSC signal. Often, I’ll actually let the black levels dip low enough to swallow up a bit of detail in shadow areas…the trade-off being a smoother, less noisy picture. The other benefit of deep blacks are the sense of richness and depth an image gains. Find your own balance of shadow detail to picture noise.

The Contrast Control adjusts the bright parts of the image. The higher you dial the contrast control, the more noise you are going to see in the brighter areas of the image, be it analog snow or digital artifacts. Again, first try cranking up the contrast control to see how it affects noise in the picture. Then start dialing it way down, just as you did with brightness, and observe how the “swimming particles†noise in bright areas becomes much less obvious to the eye. Also, in many NTSC signals the bright areas are “crushed,†meaning they have lost all detail. This is one culprit in that artificial, too-contrasty look that shouts “Video!†Lowering the luminance of those bright areas (by turning the contrast down) will make for a more even, more natural, less video-like image.

Again, the trick here is to strike a balance: I suggest dialing contrast all the way down, and slowly turning it up to what looks like a natural balance, while mitigating picture noise.

A word about these settings: Many people who have their display professionally calibrated find the brightness/contrast settings have been lowered, much like I am suggesting. It might look less vivid at first, especially in the day time. But if you live with it for a while you’ll see the image retains punch and dimensionality (especially at night – you can make different settings for day viewing if you must).
You also might appreciate how the image becomes smoother and more soothing. Think of the difference staring at a painting on a wall, vs casting your eyes on the typical TV and its blaring, electronic-sign light quality. With contrast/brightness settings down looking at the TV image takes on the ease of looking at a painting – it produces less “eye shock†when looking from real life to the display (and ultimately less eye strain over the long haul, especially if you watch a lot of TV).

As example: My settings for much of our TV watching are: Contrast -28, Brightness -24, Color -5, Sharpness +7. I also have settings with higher contrast/brightness that I use when I want a punchier, more 3D look. The settings are more revealing of source signal quality, but with a good, low-noise signal the settings can look fabulous (while still being well down from “burn-in†mode). The more dynamic settings are: Contrast -20, Brightness -16, Color -5, Sharpness +10.

SHARPNESS CONTROL:

Sharpness controls tend to be viewed as “bad†by AV gurus. They can add picture artifacts (exacerbate noise and add halos around images), and result in a gritty, unnaturally sharp looking image. I agree with this mostly for high quality sources like DVD and Hi-Def signals, which are naturally clear and sharp. Many AV people feel you should crank down the sharpness even for NTSC, to make NTSC look “smoother.†And if you’ve used a calibration DVD you’ve probably ended up with your sharpness control well down for all sources. But NTSC isn’t a high quality source; it tends to look blurrier on the big screen. I find an overly soft, smeary image more irritating than a slightly too-sharp image (blurry sources make me feel like I can’t focus my eyes). Therefore, I employ the sharpness control to help NTSC look more focused. My Panasonic plasma seems to have as unobtrusive a sharpness control as I’ve seen – and I’ve read that this is true more for plasmas than for CRTs (in CRTs the artifacts and haloing created by the sharpness control tends to look ugly really fast). I observe that I can dial up my sharpness for NTSC to around +10 before I start seeing any sharpness artifacts. At up to +10 sharpness NTSC on my plasma simply looks like a sharper signal feed…no added grain or anything to the picture. Try it. You may like it.

BENEFITS OF REDUCING OVERSCAN: RE-SIZING THE IMAGE TO HELP APPARENT SHARPNESS ETC

Summary: If you are using a zoom or stretch mode to make NTSC fill your display, you can also use the picture position/size controls to modify the amount of zoom-in, thereby gaining some additional sharpness to the image.

Explanation:

The zoom and stretch modes zoom in on the image, mildly zoomed for a stretch mode (stretches sides, zooms in slightly over-all), and quite heavily in Zoom mode (in which the display is zooming in heavily on the 4:3 NTSC image to make it fill the whole wide screen display, without the geometric distortions found in the “stretch†type modes).

In general, the more zoomed in on the image – the more you blow up NTSC on your display – the blurrier it will look. Hopefully your display has a picture re-size/position control within your picture setting options. This control should let you squeeze or expand the image vertically and horizontally. The value is this: the more of the original image you squeeze in to fit on your display, the sharper the picture. Try it and you’ll see. (This is sort of like reducing overscan on a display). I’ll sometimes do this on my stretch and zoom aspect ratio settings for regular channels. Try going to a stretch mode, which would be the mode were the image in the center of the screen is geometrically normal, but the very sides of the image are stretched to fit the wide screen display. Next, try reducing the horizontal/vertical size so the image just fits in your screen. You should see the image become sharper, slightly more dense and dimensional. Also, more of the image now fits into the center of the screen, where there is less geometric distortion, which is a nice bonus.

This also can work great with the ZOOM mode. Use your picture size/position control in this mode to reduce the amount of zoom (by squeezing the image to fit vertically/horizontally). Again, you’ll realize more sharpness to the image, you’ll see more of the image that was cropped off by the zoom mode, yet you still benefit from the zoom mode’s undistorted geometry. (You can reduce image sizes most accurately using test patterns from a calibration disc like AVIA or VE).

For NTSC you will not want to leave the images squeezed to *just* fitting the screen. You’ll actually want to expand them just beyond the edges. This is because not all channels are perfectly centered, which means if you have fit one channel image to perfectly fit your display the next one may be slightly shifted to one side. This is why some overscan (a bit of zoom in designed into most TVs) is often advisable for NTSC.


To sum up about picture settings: with color over-saturation reduced, contrast/brightness down and sharpness up, and some overscan reduced, my NTSC picture is richer, smoother, sharper, easier on the eyes, and more natural and realistic. Sometimes I find myself flipping around channels because of how NTSC is blowing me away on my display.

I hope this gives some people some ideas to try.

Rich.
R Harkness is offline  
post #4 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
R Harkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 11,895
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 257
Finished!

Comments, corrections and additional info are now welcome. :)
R Harkness is offline  
post #5 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 10:31 AM
AVS Special Member
 
MarketingProf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 1,331
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Nice job Rich! Thanks for all your efforts. A lot to digest in one sitting, but the overall tone is very inviting and quite intuitively appealing.

I take particular note regarding your comments on sharpness with NTSC signals - well said!! Sharpness can be your friend with NTSC.

Maybe you or others could also coment on gamma? I've noticed that some gamma settings reduce noise considerable with NTSC. Also, certain gamma settings seem to reduce the false contouring so inherent with the highly compressed digital signals that have been upconverted from NTSC by the cable provider (but, that's another topic).

Thanks again Rich for a very well written explanation and tutorial!

Best Regards,
David

Marketing Professor
Music, then Movies...
MarketingProf is offline  
post #6 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 10:43 AM
Advanced Member
 
Andrzej's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Wayland
Posts: 791
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Rich,
One more superb "must read" of yours. Congratulations!

The settings on my ED Panny for NTSC are almost identical to yours - which is not surprising as I used you "Steaming Rat" method. In fact, my VGA settings for HD signal are also quite similar. In particular, the contrast setting is down to -30 (-28 for NTSC), which is the lower end of the scale. And I keep it there not becasue I am afraid of burn-in. It just looks the best for me for my evening and night viewing. For bright sunny day viewing it is up to 0 but, obviously, it doesn't look as good as at night no matter what.

Andrzej
Andrzej is offline  
post #7 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 11:36 AM
djs
AVS Special Member
 
djs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Bolton, MA
Posts: 1,726
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Rich,
I think the forum should treat you to a big plate of steaming rat.;)
djs is offline  
post #8 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 12:51 PM
Member
 
norcalsvt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: bay area
Posts: 72
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thank you for the very easy to understand way of explaning why my SAt signal looks so bad. I am now running my DTC 100 through the S-video & VGA/RGB connector for the HD channels. The Panny looks alot better. Not as good as when I had the HDS20 unit, but thats awhole other can of worms.
Gonna play with the setting again try reducing as you suggest.
Thanks for the informative post.
norcalsvt is offline  
post #9 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 12:54 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
rogo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Sequoia, CA
Posts: 30,062
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 35 Post(s)
Liked: 382
The sole problem I have with Rich Harkness is that he writes two epic posts and now they will forever be referred to as the Steaming Rat and the Polished Turd.

That is just too gross!

:) :) :)

Mark

There is no difference in HDMI cables. If you can see the picture without visible dropouts or sparklies, the cable is working at 100%. No other cable will display a better version of that picture. You're simply wrong if you think there is a better digital cable than one that is already working.
rogo is offline  
post #10 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 02:36 PM
AVS Special Member
 
mattg3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: ma
Posts: 3,651
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Liked: 38
Dont forget to hound the cable company to give you the strongest signal available.My sd cable was awful so i complained and comcast checked my signal strength which was very weak.they discarded my old line and created a more direct line into my house from the pole and boosted my signal strength and now the reception is outstanding.I also applied steaming rat method to my sd cable and my settings follow all of what Rich has stated.Cable will come as comcast did for no charge if you have a poor signal to show them and they will take care of it.Some channel reception is as good as dvd.I also got rid of my box since i have no premium service and do not want a digital connection.Believe it or not analog gives out a cleaner signal you dont have to rent a box.

Matt
mattg3 is offline  
post #11 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 04:21 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Mit07's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,231
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Rich - Excellent post. As usual.

For those folks out there who are scared by long posts - please read this summary.

To sum up about picture settings: with color over-saturation reduced, contrast/brightness down and sharpness up, and some overscan reduced, my NTSC picture is richer, smoother, sharper, easier on the eyes, and more natural and realistic. Sometimes I find myself flipping around channels because of how NTSC is blowing me away on my display.

Oh - and try S-video vs component.

I want a Masquerade.
Mit07 is offline  
post #12 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 05:10 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Paul Bigelow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,334
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Hello,

Another item: If the set has some sort of "Digital Noise Reduction" try turning it off (after making the recommended changes).

Best regards,

Paul Bigelow
Paul Bigelow is offline  
post #13 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 05:15 PM
Advanced Member
 
the bomber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Virginia
Posts: 926
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Rich,


Thanks...I'm going out tomorrow and buying a high quality "s" video cable tomorrow.

Bomber

It's never over, it's never finished....it's never cheap.

MY HT --> Show AVS Gallery Images
the bomber is offline  
post #14 of 69 Old 10-31-2003, 08:25 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
R Harkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 11,895
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 257
I'm glad some people have found the post useful. And it's good to see additional information being added (hoping for more, unless we've already got things covered).

Yes, it's long, as usual. It seemed to me that NTSC can be done in by any weak link in the chain, so I wanted to cover the whole chain. But that's why I put summaries at the heading of each section, so it can be more easily scanned for relevant issues.

Thanks again. (I think I've run out of topics for these "epic" posts).
R Harkness is offline  
post #15 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 02:17 AM
Advanced Member
 
spleen93's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Ewa Beach, HI
Posts: 644
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Yet another amazing post, Rich. Thanks for your insights - it'll come in handy when I'm setting up my plasma. Steaming rat and polished turds for everyone! :)

Spleen

What do you mean, I can't afford it!?
spleen93 is offline  
post #16 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 03:21 AM
AVS Special Member
 
HuskerHarley's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Lincoln,Neb
Posts: 1,461
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Rich

You never cease to amaze me with your writing skills and knowledge on the subject of Plasma TVs. The thesis that you have going on Plasma's, should be included in the owner's manual of every plasma TV sold to prevent frustration, while providing an education.

I have sent a link of your latest work of art to a couple of my friends who own Panasonic Plasma's.


Quote:
Originally posted by R Harkness
My cable box is connected to my plasma both from its component connation (for Hi-Def), and from its S-Video connection (for NTSC).
Another member "Therese" reported better results using composite instead of S-Video.
Have you tried composite instead of S-Video?

Here is "Therese's" thread.

Harley
HuskerHarley is offline  
post #17 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
R Harkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 11,895
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 257
HuskerHarley,

Thanks dude!

Embarrassingly enough, I have yet to use composite on my display (actually, I did use composite for a few days when I first got it, before I bought my other cables).

Reasons: 1. I've been so happy with the S-Video and Component images.
2. The way my set-up is built-in would make it a hassle at this point. My contentment makes me a bit too lazy to try. Maybe I'll get around to it.
R Harkness is offline  
post #18 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 10:02 AM
AVS Club Gold
 
cheridave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Orange County, Ca. USA
Posts: 3,268
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Rich,

Your thoughtfulness and dedication to this Forum is exemplary. You really do care about alot of people with all your hard work on obtaining the perfect picture with all these not so perfect Plasmas. Keep up the good work and yes it is well received and appreciated.

I give you "Five Thumbs Up Out of Five". :):):):):)

Dave

"Appeasment only makes the Aggressor more Aggressive"
cheridave is offline  
post #19 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 10:11 AM
Member
 
69jag's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 45
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
hey rich, fellow canuck now living in chicago, great info, one question though, you said you have an s cable going from your cable box to the plasma for sdtv and components going from cable box to plasma for hdef signals, my situation is this, i have components going from my cable box to my plasma but no s cable, what you are saying is that i can improve my sdtv picture by having it run via s video rather than being up converted via the components, so how do you go from hdef signals to ntsc signals via inputs on you plasma, this may sound stupid but you are referring to the input buttons on the plasma remote, i have the pany pwd6uy, how do you make sure the ntsc signal goes through the svideo and not through the components, and how do you make sure the high def signal doesn't go through the svideo and but through the components, via going from input 1 to input 2, i hope you can explain this to me
jag
69jag is offline  
post #20 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 10:56 AM
Advanced Member
 
lewlew's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Beaverton, OR
Posts: 573
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Rich- Great stuff!

An addition to your epic might be a tuner selection guide.

I have 4 NTSC tuners in my system and there is a noticable difference between them with the exact same signal source (Comcast cable). I have a Replay 5040, (probably the worst of the bunch), a Toshiba vcr,( not as bad as the Replay), a sir-t165,(pretty good but a major hassel to tune), and a Mits HD 2000, (the best of my lot). I don't have a cable co. provided box so I can't comment there.

Short of dragging home a dozen tuners, how can a person determine which tuning device will give him the best bang for the money.

I have asked here befor and gotten recommendations on a few fine sources but they were testimonies to the fact that those individuals liked what they had, not that they had necessarily researched and tested a number of different units.

I believe tuner quality and implementation varies enough to make or break your day.

Has anybody done anything like this? I know my old 35 Toshiba crt's tuner left a lot to be desired also.

Paul Harris has talked a little about different quality tuner "cans". I wonder if these cans are marked clearly (and simply) enough that someone could peak inside the box and know if it was an especially good one?

If and when one has the best tuner available he can throw a polished turd at it.

Batter-up!

Thanks again for your prose.

Lew
lewlew is offline  
post #21 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
R Harkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 11,895
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 257
69jag,

Yes, you've got it basically right. You end up using your plasma's remote to switch between inputs to watch NTSC or HDTV signals.

In your current set-up you simply add an S-Video cable from your receiver box to the S-Video input of the plasma.

That way your receiver box is sending NTSC simultaneously through the component cables (that's the digitally converted version of NTSC), AND it's sending NTSC channels along your S-Video connection at the same time (that's the unconverted signal, which should be sharper).

Just use your plasma's remote control to switch from your component input to your S-Video input, to directly compare the NTSC image. It's likely to look a tad sharper on the unconverted S-Video input signal.

If you decide to keep that set-up, it simply means that you watch regular TV on the S-Video input, but whenever you want to watch a Hi-Def channel you just use your remote "input" button to switch over to the component input. Very, very simple and easy.

Two things about this: 1. I'm assuming I correctly remember that the PWD6 has two component inputs...which allows you to also save one for your DVD player.

2. One possible problem could occur: some receiver boxes will not output the signal simultaneously through the S-Video output AND the Component output. In other words, when you plug in component cables the signal is routed only to the component output. Same thing happens when you plug in an S-Video cable. In that case you're pretty much out of luck, if you want to watch both HD and S-Video signals easily.

Best of luck.
R Harkness is offline  
post #22 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 03:35 PM
Advanced Member
 
spleen93's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Ewa Beach, HI
Posts: 644
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Lew - don't have a replay but have a Tivo. Wouldn't the Replay be the worst of the bunch just simply because of the compression? I know that even on live TV, Tivo still compresses in best quality live TV before showing it on the screen (which is what allows for instant replay). I would think that this would negatively effect PQ compared to a straight tuner.

Rich - the 42PWD6UY doesn't have 2 component inputs by default - you'd need to buy another component "blade".

But we're straying off topic ...

Spleen

What do you mean, I can't afford it!?
spleen93 is offline  
post #23 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 04:30 PM
AVS Special Member
 
HuskerHarley's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Lincoln,Neb
Posts: 1,461
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally posted by spleen93


Rich - the 42PWD6UY doesn't have 2 component inputs by default - you'd need to buy another component "blade".

I think THIS will work.

Harley
HuskerHarley is offline  
post #24 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 04:47 PM
Advanced Member
 
spleen93's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Ewa Beach, HI
Posts: 644
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I stand corrected. :)

Spleen

What do you mean, I can't afford it!?
spleen93 is offline  
post #25 of 69 Old 11-01-2003, 06:07 PM
Member
 
knudsonwe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 28
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thanks for the great info. I should be able to use your recommendations to clean up my NTSC signals coming from my DTivo. I have HD coming from a separate HD receiver.

I would agree with your comments regarding degredation of regular TV coming from the HD receiver. I watch regular channels with good clarity from the DTivo setup and only HD channels from the HD receiver. The only problem with this setup is having 3 cables running from my satellite to my living room!

W
knudsonwe is offline  
post #26 of 69 Old 11-08-2003, 12:36 PM
Senior Member
 
Sickman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: NYC
Posts: 239
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
As a plasma rookie (got it yesterday), let me say your posts ROCK! Quick question: What do you do with Tint?

Another question, maybe more a steaming rat question than the Turd: How do movies look under your methods where a DP has exaggerated the color of a film? A few examples that come to mind are the green of the matrix in the Matrix, the various colors (one blue, one bleached, one more "natural") of the different story lines in Traffic or the washed-out dustbowl look of O' Brother Where Art Thou.

Thanks.
Sickman is offline  
post #27 of 69 Old 11-08-2003, 08:21 PM
adb
AVS Special Member
 
adb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: central texas
Posts: 2,640
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Rich

What a wonderful effort you are making to help folks get better results. We really appreciate it.
adb is offline  
post #28 of 69 Old 11-08-2003, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Addicted Member
 
R Harkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 11,895
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked: 257
adb,

Thanks...just trying to share what I've learned in trying to educate myself about these things. A good number of people on this board know a lot more than I do. I'm just the one with the gift of gab.


Sickman,

(Hope you're feeling better soon). I have the Matrix /Band Of Brothers/Minority Reports and many other movies that have stylized color/filter schemes. Although the color temp I'm using is not precisely D6500K, I've compared these movies on many displays, as well as to my ISF settings, and I find my settings preserve the look of such films very well.
R Harkness is offline  
post #29 of 69 Old 11-09-2003, 06:06 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Mr. Biggles's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Kenmore,NY USA
Posts: 1,271
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 38
Great post Rich!

I have applied both Rat and Turd 'theories' to setting up not only my plasma, but my front PJ.


Bill
Mr. Biggles is offline  
post #30 of 69 Old 11-09-2003, 09:21 AM
Member
 
diamar's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 54
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Another cable signal issue that people often overlook is the use and over-use of splitters. Every time coax cable is split (either to go to different rooms or to accommodate different equipment), you get signal loss. Even the highest-quality splitters have some signal loss: nearly all of them tell you how much signal is lost right on the splitter, measured in dB.

For example, these are the specs for Monster's splitter. You lose at least 3.4dB per splitter, and as much as 9.6dB on a 4-way splitter at the high end of the spectrum. So go on a splitter-hunt in your home and reduce or remove as many as you can.

It also helps if you're able to trace the coax all the way back to the first source in your home; you may be surprised by the results. My place, for example, originally had cable looped through several rooms, each one splitting -- and therefore degrading -- the signal before heading to the next room. By replacing the splitter T-connectors with straight-line connections (in upstream rooms not using the cable outlet), my downstream signals were improved dramatically.
diamar is offline  
Closed Thread Flat Panels General and OLED Technology

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off