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How to calibrate non-dvd inputs?

381 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Paul Bigelow
I've read lots of threads about calibrating your new tv and they all recommend that you at least start with one of the calibration dvd's to get the basic parameters set. I also read however that each input needs to be calibrated independently since the signal coming from the cable box will be different from the dvd, etc. So here is my question:

How do you calibrate the inputs being used for cable, satellite, ota etc?

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It ain't easy. Some folks pay a professional to come in and do it for them. A professional calibrator (an "ISF" calibrator) will use signal generators. For example he'll use and HDTV signal generator via the antenna inputs on your HDTV receiver to produce a known calibration signal via that receiver through to the input on your display.

Presuming you are doing it yourself, here are some hints.

First, hook up your DVD player the way you want to use it and calibrate that connection. Have patience and keep tweaking until you stop seeing improvements in DVD movies you like to watch. One of the things you are doing here is training your eye as to what a calibrated image LOOKS LIKE. The "steaming rat" thread here will give you some hints as to things to look for.

Temporarily hook up your DVD player via the other inputs and calibrate for your DVD player on those inputs. All you are trying to do at this point is make sure you've turned off any "torch mode" nonsense on those inputs and get them into at least a possible ballpark of proper calibration. If the settings you end up with happen to work for any of your other devices it will just be pure luck, but taking this step will at least insure that you've turned off the nonsense in your display that would fight against any possibility of proper calibration for those other devices.

Now hook up you other devices and start tweaking by eye. Again the "steaming rat" thread will give you suggestions as to what to look for. Constantly refer back to what should now be the excellent image quality you are getting from your DVD player on its calibrated connection. That's your gold standard of what a calibrated image SHOULD look like from your other devices.

Keep an eye out for any test patterns that might be available via your other devices. For example, if your HDTV service carries HDNET, check the small collection of test patterns that HDNET broadcasts on Tuesday mornings at 8:00 am Eastern time (adjust for your time zone and note that HDNET doesn't do this every week, so you'll have to keep checking).

Perhaps the most important advice here is to iterate -- do it all over again. It takes time for your eye to learn what a calibrated image looks like and what a not-quite-calibrated image shows wrong. So after you think you've got it right, take the time to view a significant amount of content and then record all the settings you've achieved for all connections and start over from the beginning.

Changes should be relatively minor, but trust your new eye and leave them changed until you've had a chance to view a variety of content at the changed levels. Even for the DVD settings achieved via the calibration DVD, it is not at all unusual for someone new to calibration to discover that the precision with which you use the tools on the calibration DVD improves over time.

If you can stash settings in display memories and switch between them while watching programs, that's also a big help, because it will help reinforce the idea that all this tweaking you are doing is in fact actually improving things! Keep at it. Make small changes as experiments. Have patience. And enjoy the great new images from your display.

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I use to calibrate Panasonic TC-22LH1:

HD Component: HDNet Test Patterns via JVC D-VHS

HD HDMI: HDNet Test Patterns via Pace 550HD w/ DVI --> HDMI cable

480P component: Momitsu V880 and DVE/Avia

SVHS: Momitsu V880 and DVE/Avia

Composite: Momitsu V880 and DVE/Avia

NTSC RF: Philips CDV-488 and "A Video Standard" LD

Color Temperature check: 6500K Daylight florescent light.

I also use the Momitsu V880 as a "reality check" for the HD HDMI and HD component and they seem to agree.

Except for the RF calibration the Momitsu V880, for me, can just about do it all. I have an RF modulator I can hook up to the Momitsu but I'm just not sure of the quality of that thing. I wish TV stations would broadcast test patterns.

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One other point when using Paul's method: be sure to change your DVD player's black level setting to whatever corresponds to 7.5IRE when calibrating the Svid and composite inputs. These inputs are usually used with devices (VCRs, cable box, etc.) that output black at that level.

Right. The latest Momitsu firmware allows for adjusting the player output. I don't actually use any of the S-VHS or composite for any real viewing. It was just for fun and to see the slight variations in calibration needed.

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