A word about settings, professional calibrations, and specifically Chad B.
First off, my apologies in advance for the length of this post. I’ve owned a 65GT50 since late December of 2012, coming from a 9 year old 60 inch Sony XBR LCD that was a wonderful TV in its day, but was obviously overdue for a replacement. After some research, I pulled the trigger on the GT60, my first plasma TV. Out of the box (using THX Cinema), the improvement in picture quality and specifically black levels was nearly beyond belief. Then I became almost a daily reader of this and other forums (although AVS is my favorite). I had my Sony ISF calibrated about 5 or 6 years earlier so I already knew I’d be having my Panny done once I’d used it enough to break in the phosphors. Just regular viewing, no slides. I read a lot of very positive reviews of Chad B’s work and was happy to find out I lived within his travel range, so I set up an appointment for March 19th (yesterday).
Once the appointment was set up I began to tinker with the settings others have posted here and elsewhere. I tried the C-net settings, Black Ops, and a few others before settling on HD-Masters wide night settings (my TV is in a basement with no windows). All the settings were an improvement over the stock THX settings, but HD-Masters were the best to my eye and for my particular TV (and honestly I had a hard time imagining how much better they could get). So before I go on, kudos and thanks to you HD Master as the settings you posted are truly well done.
That said, and especially reading some of the recent postings regarding settings, I think it’s important for people to realize that even though the TV’s may be the same brand, model, and screen size, they are each unique pieces of equipment and no stock settings are ideal for everyone’s unit. An analogy might be that even identical twins have different personalities and traits that make each one a unique individual even though on the outside they look exactly alike. So, even allowing for personal preferences, there’s really no such thing as a “one size fits all” setting. HD Masters settings looked great on my TV, but there’s no substituting for having a trained professional with the right equipment take the measurements and adjust your TV for the settings that work best with your individual set.
Anyway, on to my experience with Chad B. He was prompt, an extraordinarily good guy, very professional, a hard worker, and most importantly VERY thorough with a real passion for getting everything optimized for my individual set. He took the time to explain what he was doing and why, and showed me the charts and graphs of the before and after settings changes (even though a good bit of it was over my head). He was familiar with and complimentary of the HD Master settings, and commented how they were pretty close in the gamma department, which as I understand it is the most important to get right. The farthest off they were (on my TV anyway…as I said, your mileage may vary) was in white balance, which I think I understand to be akin to painting on a non white or dirty canvas in terms of how that would affect the overall finished product.
Bottom line is, especially considering how good I thought the TV looked before; I cannot believe there could be this kind of improvement. I’m not sure it’s even possible to verbalize, but it looks sharper with brighter yet more natural looking colors and I guess more “film like” if that’s even a thing. We used “The Dark Knight” as a demo disc and even though I’ve seen the movie multiple times it looked like I was seeing it in High Def for the first time. I watched “Justified” on FX after Chad left and could not believe how good it looked.
I know most people will never have something like this done and just be happy with stock or someone else’s settings (which is fine, they can be pretty great), but to anyone on the fence or wondering if it’s worth it DO NOT hesitate, especially if you’re lucky enough to be in Chad B’s territory. As an example of how thorough he is, I also had recently purchased a new Pioneer AV receiver (the SC-68) that does some video processing, and he went through those settings and made sure they were optimized for my TV. One of the first settings there is to choose from is what kind of display you have (plasma, LCD, CRT, projector, and professional monitor). I of course chose plasma since that’s what I had. It seemed like an obvious choice which turned out completely wrong. Turns out it was causing significant color errors, and once set to PRO the results were much better. He also went through all the settings on my Oppo 103 and PS 3 and made sure they were all right, which of course they weren’t. All in all, it’s like I’ve got all new equipment again.
I know this is the GT50 forum and I’ve gone on long enough, but I also had Chad do an advanced audio calibration of my Pioneer receiver and 9.2 speaker system. He sat in the back of my room playing test tones and tweaking settings for literally about 6 hours, EQ-ing and channel leveling each speaker. Holy crap, what a difference. Like most receivers today, the Pioneer has an internal room correction system which gets you in the ballpark, but you’re in the Bob Uecker seats if you remember that commercial (the last row). It’s like an audio veil has been lifted. Everything sounds crisp and clear and I finally have the punchy bass I’ve been missing. I’ve got a bunch of movies and concert DVD’s to experience again for the first time, if you catch my meaning…
So once again, excuse the length of this post and my boyish enthusiasm. I’m also potentially sorry to future customers of Chad B since I told him a few times he’s not charging enough. Thanks HD Master for the enjoyment I got from your settings, but I always knew they were just a rental. Now I’m finally home, and it’s a great place to be. Thanks most of all to Chad B for revitalizing my entire home theater. You did some truly awesome work.