Originally Posted by Joseph Dubin
I too noticed that if I lowered the vivid picture/brightness controls (with the aid of test patterns) enough to eliminate the torch effect the picture was dull and flat.
Could be just the combination of all of the Sony factory adjustments going into the VIVID preset cause the result you describe when turning down just brightness or contrast in trying to make it a bit less "vivid". Might be that there are further service menu settings that should also be reduced, and that just one or two simple user menu reductions actually do make it look kind of worse.
I honestly can't contribute from firsthand experience, because I never leave the PRO-tweaked setup I have, no matter whether it's day or night. This is my one-and-only viewing setup "for real", and is intended and optimized (for me, anyway) for true dark room environment watching when I sit down to seriously view anything (be it HDTV or BluRay movies).
I actually don't care what it looks like if I'm working on my computer during the day and have the TV on ("in the background") for a talk show or something irrelevant. So the fact that with daylight in the room the picture is clearly not really usable is just not critical to me, as long as I can hear the sound. I know, that sounds unacceptable for others, but it's just how I use TV... during the day, anyway.
The closest of the two picture modes when properly tweaked seem to be standard and pro. Use movie mode for DVDs because it shares the HDMI input with the DVR (have a switch box for multiple HDMI uses).
I've got my three HD sources (DVR which is actually HTPC, Oppo BluRay player, and DVHS VCR) going through my Yamaha AVR, with the HDMI output of the AVR feeding the XBR960. I simply use my one and only PRO adjustments settings for everything. Never touch the XBR960 from that, even though there are bound to be minor differences in appearance on the TV from TV show to TV show, as well as from movie to movie.
Perhaps it's just laziness, but it's like the audio EQ setup in my car, where I just feel I've found the "optimal" general setup that seems to work "best, for almost everything". I just don't want to fool with it anymore because I don't want to lose that "sweet spot" I've found, fearing I'll never find it again. Same with my XBR960 viewing setup, all other variables in my environment considered. Same with my home sound system setup to go along with the XBR960, which also involves adjustments to several component/variables. I just like the final result, and have gotten used to it for general use, even though for individual situations perhaps there might be some little tweak here or there that could make it "better".
I've just gotten used to the audio/visual results of what was a focused effort to find "the best" settings in all of these systems. I have definitely "gotten use to" all of these results, and now just use (a) POWER on/off, and (b) AVR volume. I know that sounds almost criminally naive, but it's all just that otherwise satisfying to me with the net total set of "adjustments" that we all know really went into the setup/tweaking of each individual component in the entire system.
How have things been?
Good! My XBR960 is now about 8 years old (knock wood) and still stunning. I have made only two subsequent very small geometry and picture adjustments in the user and service menus since settling on my original set of values as recorded in the spreadsheet I'd posted a long time ago. These small "post-launch course corrections" were done a few years ago now, and I attribute the need for them to ordinary aging of the set.
Apart from its original two "failed" visits from a Sony factory tech when I first bought it because of geometry problems when it was brand new, followed by two "successful" visits (one primary, and one follow-up for some small further adjustments) from a local very qualified TV service technician who did the very significant and completely successful "magnet job" on the picture tube and additional "by sight" service menu adjustments, all of which were done in the first few months of its life in my home, it's never needed any further formal technician service since.
Never been ISF'd, and I don't want to start now. Best to leave well enough alone.
I still watch from a viewing distance of about 4-1/2' to 5'. Sure, the 55" new Sony XBR LCD set at my sister's is much larger and can be watched from the sofa across the room, and it can deliver 1080p, but I'm still perfectly content with my XBR960 and my own personal viewing/listening configuration.
It should be noted that I still don't have a true multi-channel loudspeaker-based sound system, although I do use an old Altec-Lansing 621 2.1 speaker system as my "external speakers" for the XBR960 (fed from AVR, and DBX EQ for tone control), rather than the pretty poor built-in speakers on the TV itself.
The rest of the "serious listening" capability comes from headphones. This Stax and Smyth Realiser-based system has undergone a number of very significant improvements over the years:
(a) Stax SR-Omega headphones (aka Omega-1), vintage 1995
(b) Stax SRM-007tII headphone amp (recently acquired, replacing a former Stax SRM-T1S vintage 1995 headphone amp); the amp is fed via Audioquest King Cobra XLR cables from an external DAC
(c) Audio-GD NFB9 external DAC, feeding the headphone amp via XLR cables; fed via 2-channel optical digital from my Smyth Realiser
(d) Smyth A8 Realiser, for "SVS" processing fed from multi-channel input; delivers 2-channel headphone-intended digital optical output of its "SVS-processed sound" to the external DAC; fed via discrete 8-channel analog input from the discrete 8-channel preamp outputs of my Yamaha AVR. The AVR (for DD5.1 delivered by the DVR or DVHS VCR) or Oppo (for DD5.1, DTS-MAHD, etc., delivering 192/LPCM to the AVR) converts digital to discrete channel analog for delivery via preamp outputs to the Realiser.
The Realiser replaces the previous Dolby Headphone processors I used to use way back when (Pioneer DIR-SE1000C and Philips HD1500U).
The current digital optical delivery system from Realiser to external DAC and analog XLR cable to the SRM-007tII amp is a recent upgrade. Originally this was an all-analog RCA 2-channel analog delivery system (making use of the Realiser's built-in DAC and output amp), going from the Realiser's RCA headphone outputs to my DBX 14/10 EQ for gain and 14-band tone control, and then from DBX EQ to the SRM-T1S headphone amp.
Although my own Realiser cannot be upgraded, more recent models of the Realiser include an HDMI-input option, to support input of 8-channel discrete LPCM digital audio (decoded upstream by the source device) via HDMI, in addition to its alternative 8-channel discrete analog inputs. This avoids the A-to-D conversion in the Realiser (needed for the analog inputs) in order to perform the digital SVS processing of multi-channel source to "Smyth virtual surround" 2-channel headphone.
Using the 8-channel LPCM via HDMI input option the entire multi-channel source delivery system feeding input to SVS is then completely digital, with no D-to-A and A-to-D conversions needed. And when the optical-to-external-DAC output system is involved, the only analog stage anywhere is that final required one feeding the headphone amp from the external DAC, to provide the SVS-processed 2-channel "virtual surround" headphone result from the 8-channel digital input.
For anybody not knowing about the Smyth Realiser, this is NOT DOLBY HEADPHONE nor is it anything like Dolby Headphone. It is a system designed to deliver sound through headphones that is an exact duplicate of any listening environment sound room you take a "measurement" in. The "measurement" involves calibrated microphones inserted into your ears, processing the measured binaural results from listening to specific generated sweep signals sent individually by the Realiser (in "calibration mode") to each speaker the listening room.
The digital results (stored as a file on an SD flash card and/or in digital memory of the Realiser) describe how YOUR EARS AND BRAIN heard the sound IN THAT ROOM, involving all of the characteristics going into what makes that room sound like that room to you. This includes the net total effect of floor, wall and ceiling treatments and sound baffles, speakers used and their placement, electronics and delivery components, etc.
When that digital file (known as a PRIR, which describes how that room sounded to your own ears) is used "in reverse", to LISTEN TO ANY MULTI-CHANNEL SOURCE through that same "filter", the effect is as if you were listening to whatever source content you're listeing to IN THE VERY SAME ORIGINAL LISTENING ENVIRONMENT.
In other words, it's like taking home a "sonic photograph" of any listening room in which the PRIR measurement gets made (think buying an hour of high-end sound studio time, and getting a PRIR to take home with you) that is a perfect sonic "filter" which can then be used to duplicate that room's sound in your headphones from any source you care to play back through that filter. Watch a BluRay movie or HDTV program, and through your headphones it sounds like you are in that original high-end studio listening room to the sound through the speakers and environment of that room.
There is no "optimal" or "best" PRIR. That's not the intent of the system. In fact, you probably will accumulate a whole "library" collection of assorted PRIR's, from each "measurement" you're lucky enough to arrange in some particular sound studio or theater or home or wherever. You then use any or all of them at "playback" time, to listen to actual new movie/DVR content in your bedroom or living room or theater... through headphones.
So your collection of PRIR's represents different listening rooms you've been fortunate enough to "measure". And then you can duplicate the sound of that particular room when listening through headphones to anything fed through that particular PRIR "filter", thanks to the Realiser and SVS processing.
If you haven't ever heard of it or experienced SVS for yourself (and in particularly, been lucky enough to arrange for a PRIR measurement in a high-end sound studio with astonishing sound that you would otherwise never be able to afford for yourself in your own home, e.g. the AIX mixing room in Los Angeles), and if you're a real lover of high-end sound and high-end headphones... look into it.