New Spectroradiometer!

As of this week I will have my new JETI Specbos 1211 Spectroradiometer to use when calibrating your displays. This meter is a true reference spectroradiometer which means it accurately reads any color being displayed by any device. My previous meter was a tristimulus colorimeter, which is fast but not as accurate for different devices and is not as good at making CMS adjustments.

If you’re interested in more details on the meter, you can find them here.

For calibrations scheduled after May 7th, you will receive the benefit of the new meter. Please contact me for an appointment or if you have any questions.

Why 3D Won’t Work and Never Will

Roger Ebert recently had a post on his blog where he describes a letter from Walter Murch describing why 3D video in its current incarnation will never work. Basically, he’s explaining the fact that our eyes have to work differently in 3D video than they do in the natural world. I think this is a very interesting article and it makes sense. However, I wanted to provide a diagram showing exactly what Walter is describing in his letter. Read the blog post and then take a look at the diagram below, and hopefully it will make things a bit clearer.

I don’t currently have any opinion as to whether this technical detail means 3D will not succeed. However, it does seem to explain at least part of why some people have difficulty viewing 3D in this manner for long periods.

The HDTV podcast has a short discussion of this article in their January 28, 2011 podcast.

Diagram of 3D convergence vs focus distance problem.

Audyssey Pro calibration now available

If you have an Audyssey Pro Installer-Ready receiver (or other Audyssey Pro device), we are now an Audyssey Pro installer and can calibrate your Audyssey Pro device.

Audyssey Pro calibration offers a significant improvement over the built-in Audyssey calibration on many receivers. The calibration is done with an expensive, high quality microphone using (usually) more measurement points. In addition, the parameters can be tuned for the best possible performance.

Audyssey Pro calibration requires a license for your receiver or device, which we handle for you and is included in our fee.

Please contact us if you are interested in having us perform this service for you.

You can also purchase many Audyssey Pro devices from us, including the Audyssey Sound Equalizers or some Denon and Onkyo receivers. By purchasing them through us, we will sell you both the receiver and calibration as an affordable package. Contact us for more details.

Click here for more information about Audyssey Pro

Now an Oppo Digital Authorized Reseller

Oppo Digital Logo
Authorized Reseller

If you’re a fan of the Oppo Digital Blu-Ray players, Crystal Clear Home Theater can now provide you with one as part of one of our calibrated equipment packages. These award winning players offer incredible performance at incredible prices. If you purchase one through us, we will provide the installation and configuration of the player at no additional cost, plus any desired training.

Contact us for more information or to get your Oppo player headed your way! (In person delivery or pick-up only – we do not ship any products or do internet sales).

THX Certified Video Calibration now available

I recently completed the necessary steps to become a THX Certified Video Calibrator, which allows me to offer official, THX certified video calibrations of your home theater television or projector. THX Certification means your calibration results will be reviewed by THX, you’ll receive a letter of certification from THX indicating that your display meets THX calibration standards, you’ll receive a small plaque with the THX logo you can display in your theater, and a THX demo disc.

For now, there is an extra fee to have your calibration THX certified, but within the next month or two some changes to the certification program will allow me to make all of my calibrations be THX certified. Keep an eye out for this.

Check me out on the THX Website by searching for me in the Seattle area under “Certified Installers”!

In the market for a TV or home stereo?

Now selling calibrated equipment packages

For some time now I’ve felt that in order to properly meet the needs of many of my customers, I need to make it possible for them to purchase equipment directly from me. In particular, the type of customer who knows they want a new TV, home stereo, or some other home theater component but isn’t quite sure what to get. Trying to do the research can be daunting, and there are a myriad choices that can be very confusing.

My goal is to give my customers the best audio and video experience they can get. It can be frustrating for me sometimes when I visit a customer’s home and they have made a choice to purchase something simply because it was the cheapest, or the easiest for them to get, or for whatever other reason. Often their choice has resulted in them ending up with an inferior product, when they could have had something much better for the same price or even less.

By offering calibrated equipment packages I will work with you to determine the best option for your goals and your budget, obtain the equipment for you, verify that it works before installing it in your home, set it up, and calibrate it. For a TV or projector this means that when you get it, you’ll get the best picture possible from day one. For audio, it means that I will set it up, configure it, and calibrate it for the best possible sound. I can also offer peripheral equipment and other products related to home theater.

What about price? I can offer you very competitive pricing for what you would pay for the equipment only elsewhere. So, while you may end up paying a little more going through me, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’ll be seeing and hearing the best quality possible for your budget dollar. I can’t compete directly with online retailers and big box stores on price alone, but I can offer you significant added value that is more than worth the price difference.

Because I carry no inventory I will never push to sell you a product you do not need or that does not fit you and your project! However, most of my suppliers carry stock locally and I can get you what you need very quickly in most cases.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss a calibrated equipment package.

Note: I will not quote prices over the phone or by email. When you work with me on a purchase, we will talk about what you want and your needs, and I will put together an estimate that includes the price of the equipment, the setup, and the calibration. I am not a storefront retailer and cannot be just another place you shop for gear. I will not sell over the internet or ship any product. All delivery is done in person.

Here are some brands that I can get you set up with:

Televisions: Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Toshiba, JVC, NEC
Projectors: Optoma, JVC, JVC Pro, Sanyo, Marantz, BenQ, Sim2 and more
Receivers: Denon, Onkyo, Harman and more
Speakers: Klipsch, KEF, Boston Acoustics, Crysalis, JBL and many, many more
Wire, accessories, mounts – just about everything you can think of!

Oppo Digital Authorized Reseller

Is a calibrated picture a “better” picture?

I often get asked a number of questions that all revolve around whether calibrating a television provides any real benefit to the viewer. They tend to be questions like this:

  • Is calibrating my TV worth it?
  • What exactly does it mean to “calibrate” a TV?
  • How will the picture be better if I calibrate my TV?
  • Why should I calibrate my TV?
  • Does calibrating a TV really do anything?

Ultimately it comes down to: will my TV look “better” after it’s calibrated, and is the amount of “better” worth the cost?

It is perfectly reasonable to ask these questions. After all, the person asking the question(s) usually just spent a boatload of money on a new TV, and is now wondering if they need to shell out a few hundred more for a calibration.

There are two major areas of misunderstanding that I try to correct as I answer any one of these questions:

Misunderstanding #1:

“Better” is absolute

People assume that because they’re spending money on a calibration, that the picture will be “better” afterward. There is a significant problem with this assumption: “better” is very subjective. What one person considers better, another may consider the same, or worse, or just different.

What a person considers “better” can be tricked and manipulated. Most unsuspecting viewers will always consider a brighter picture “better”, even if it can be shown to be substantially worse in picture quality. TV manufacturers know this, and make their TVs as bright as possible so you’ll buy theirs. Does this make the picture “better?” No. It’s completely unrelated. Other enhancements added to TVs, such as sharpness, dynamic contrast, enhanced color, and so on all fall into the category of manipulating you into thinking the picture is “better.” None of the manipulations used to make you think the picture looks better actually have anything to do with improving the quality of the picture. In fact, most of them add distortion and inaccuracies to the picture.

“Better” can be defined in many different ways. For example, is a brighter picture “better” than a not-so-bright one? Is a picture with richer color than another “better”, even if those colors are no longer realistic? “Better” is a completely subjective evaluation.

Misunderstanding #2:

Calibration is about making the picture “better”

Thinking a calibration will just make the picture “better” misses the point of calibration. Calibration is not about making the picture “better”, unless you define “better” to mean “calibrated.”  If someone defines “better” to mean “oversaturated color” (whether consciously or subconsciously), then he will most likely consider a calibrated picture to be worse, at least at first. He might consider the picture to be “dim” at first, simply because he’s used to an image that is too bright. Or, he might miss the edge enhancement, or any number of things, simply because he is accustomed to seeing an inaccurate picture.

Depending on what modes a viewer had been using on their TV prior to a calibration, he may see either a large difference or a small difference in the picture after calibration. If all he had been using was the “out-of-the-box” settings of their TV, he will see a significant difference in the picture after calibration. If he has played with the settings and used some of the other picture modes, such as “Cinema” or “Movie”, he may see only a small difference in the calibrated picture. In nearly all cases, however, factory modes, no matter what they are, still have inaccuracies designed to make the viewer think the picture looks “better” than a competitor’s.

So, what IS calibration about?

Calibration is about getting the TV to reproduce the original image as accurately as possible. Then, the viewer sees exactly what the director intended. This means that the color is realistic, that the picture is as bright as it needs to be, and that you can see every detail of the picture without distortion or artifacts. Distortion and artifacts are simply things in the picture that should not be there, or that are displayed incorrectly. It could be a problem with the color, an element added or removed, or incorrectly placed.

The elements that are optimized in a calibration include: the “blackness” of black, the brightness of white, the color of white, accurate colors, colors that are correctly saturated, and something called “gamma” (which is beyond the scope of this post to explain).

Is calibration worth it?

You have to decide for yourself if calibration is worth it. If you care even a little bit about seeing the picture the way the director intended, then you should think about a calibration.

If you don’t know much about picture quality and don’t want to spend much money, then calibrate yourself using a calibration DVD or call me out to do a basic calibration, which is only $50. This gets you in the ballpark, and is a significant improvement over factory settings.

If you’ve invested a lot in your TV, or if you’re passionate about what you watch and want to experience it the way the director intended, then you should definitely consider a full calibration. You owe it to yourself and those who watch with you. Just consider it part of the purchase price of your TV.

In my opinion, you’ll not only find it to be worth it, but once you’re accustomed to watching a calibrated picture, you’ll never go back. You’ll be telling all your friends just how much “better” your picture is!

For more in-depth, technical discussion about what calibration is about, please see this thread on AVS Forum.

Now THX Certified

Just a quick update – I took the THX Certified Professional Level I course at CES and am now certified by THX at that level. In March I will be taking the THX video certification course as well. These certifications will help me provide even better service to you in providing greater “clarity” to your picture and sound.