First let may say that this forum is a great source for information. I have read many posts on varios topics that interested me, and I have significantly increased my understanding of all things av.
Now my questions are again on the topic countless times discussed- how to correctly set up HTPC, and dynamic range in particular. I have researched and read as many guides, discussions and suggestions I could find, but I am still missing pieces of the overall picture.
I have built an HTPC, which is used to watch movies (60% of the time)/ play games (40% of the time). It's connected to a recently bought Samsung LED TV. My intention is to properly configure the whole set-up to the best of my ability.
What confuses me in particular is the term "Dynamic Range". Whenever someone refers to it by saying "you need to change dynamic range to" - how to determine where this should be done, as there are many places this particular setting can be configured. Let me give my own example.
My set-up is as follows:
HTPC with nVidia card, video playback by MPC-HC with EVR as renderer and LAV as decoder -> video output via HDMI -> Samsung LED TV
So the options for dynamic range settings are:1) on the HTPC (nVidia drivers)
a. Change settings for desktop. Possible options are:
- Let application decide
b. Content type reported to display
- auto decide
- as desktop
- as in video
c. Change settings for video:
- Output range 0..255
- Output range 16..234
- let application decide2) on the MPC-HC
a. In LAV decoder settings:
- YUV -> RGB set to 16..234
- YUV -> RGB set to 0..255
- YUV -> RGB set to "as input"
b. In renderer settings:
- Output 16..234
- Output 0..2553) on the TV
a. Change HDMI black level to:
So as you can see, there are at least 5 different places where dynamic range settings can be manipulated. How does one proceed to configure everything without making mistakes, how to connect the chain correctly?
- Have I understood correctly that for HTPC set-up it is best to output from the video card 0..255 signal (both for desktop and video, as nvidia drivers allow to set this separately). The reasoning is that this is what PC uses natively, and although movies are encoded 16..234, video card cannot natively put out 16..234 signal even if YBR444 for desktop / 0..255 for video is set up in driver settings due to internal conversion still happening behind the scenes (ybr -> RGB -> ybr), thus introducing one additional compression step which is not desirable due to potential quality loss?
- If I am correct in the above, and if I set up my video card to put out RGB for desktop (and I have already applied nvidia registry hack), do I now need to set 0..255 output in nvidia video settings, or better leave this at “application controlled”?
- Which option for dynamic range do I set in the MPC-HC, both for decoder and renderer? I assume that this is based on my previous choice with nvidia video settings- so if I have left “application controlled” there, the renderer needs to be set to 0..255, and vice versa- if I set 0..255 in video card settings than renderer output will be greyed out?
- What about the MPC-HC decoder? This is where I am most confused. Am I correct to assume that if I choose it to do YBR->RGB conversation to PC levels (0..255), it will cut BTB and WTW at the source level and expand the output to 0..255, and I will lose the BTB and WTW information? On the other hand, if I set it to output TV levels (16..234) than it will output unchanged signal (which is what we want, right?) to the renderer, and then renderer (if set to 0..255 output as described above) will expand the signal and match it to PC levels? But now wouldn’t it mean that BTB and WTW is lost due to this expansion? Or renderer “knows” that it needs to properly map the signal so that BTB and WTW is not lost while still displaying PC levels?
- Or do I need to set renderer to 16..234 for it to display correct video information and keep BTB and WTW?
- Finally, I assume that since I am trying to output 0..255 right from the beginning, the TV itself should be set to accept PC levels, which in Samsung case is hdmi black set to “medium”? Or, if I needed to set renderer to 16..234 (or if I have chosen 16..234 in video card settings), does it not mean that in this case I need to set the TV to “low” hdmi level so it displays 16..234 range correctly? But if I do so- I am crushing my blacks and whites on desktop applications and youtube, right?
Thus a philosophical question- is it even possible to achieve both- display correct PC levels for games, applications, youtube, etc. and keep BTB and WTW in the video signal, after all the calibration and configuration is set and done? If not- which compromise is better?
I have already spent 3 night playing with different options, some give better results, some worse. Since I’m no expert, before settling for a particular configuration I wanted to verify my thoughts on this forum, so appreciate your opinion on this.
Thanks and regards,