20 December, 2008

Tuning one's HDTV with the 'Video Essentials' DVD, Sound Meter at Radio Shack

A letter to my pal, Jason, regarding tuning my HDTV.  We bond this way.

-------- Original Message --------

I tuned the new TV last night using my used $6 copy of 'Video Essentials' that I'd picked up at CD Max [Brookfield, WI.].  Of course, the difference was night and day, but the process left me feeling somewhat empty.  Like you, I am a stickler for detail, when making technical adjustments, so it was disconcerting to me that the old 'Video Essentials' was not really cut from a mold to properly fit my monitor.

For example, the monitor refused to "blossom" the gray box or cause the straight line to curve when adjusting the contrast.  While this should indicate that my monitor does a great job with its brightness, I was left with a feeling that perhaps the paradigm is different with an LCD HDTV than for a tube monitor for which the DVD was designed.  Similarly, the Sharpness control, when raised to the maximum, did not distort the resulting picture much at all, although at its highest level, there were noticiable new boundaries around objects.  When viewing the sample pictures, on the DVD, they actually looked BETTER with the sharpness cranked to maximum.  Conversely, with the contrast all the way off, the images became blurry.  Because the middle position of the Sharpness setting is zero, I opted to set it there.  At least this did not contradict the DVD, which advised that some monitors' Sharpness controls tend to wash out images at the lowest settings, so I was okay with leaving it at zero.

Fortunately, the color and tint were nasty screwed up, and adjusting them made all the difference in the world.  Indeed, setting the blues ended up being a compromise; I could get the right one perfect, or the left one, but not both simultaneously, even with back-and-forth between color and tint controls.  I found a happy medium -- subtle anyway -- and then ended up watching an hour of 'Revenge of the Sith' just...because.  Of course I first tracked down all the automatic adjustment settings and turned them the hell off.

Thanks forever for turning me onto the disc.  I'll likely pick up the HD version if I see it used somewhere.  My monitors have saturation and hue settings, for all the colors, and I had to leave them alone, not knowing what adjusting them would do to my experience.

I know it's time for me to pick up a sound meter, in preparation for my new sound system.  I had considered going with the ole classic Radio Shack model, that you have (and as featured in video essentials), but I might pay the extra $5 and get the digital readout model.  Both can be seen here:  http://www.radioshack.com/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=sound%20meter&origkw=sound%20meter&sr=1

Hoping all is well with you,

- Dan

[Postscript: I ended up buying the Blu-Ray/HD version of 'Video Essentials', from Amazon, later in the day.  As of this writing it can be found at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Video-Essentials-Basics-Blu-ray/dp/B000V6LST0/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1229823036&sr=8-1

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