Follow the steps below to begin calibrating your TV:
There are several main settings that you can play with, but some models of television may not have every control mentioned in this guide. Don't be concerned, your image quality will still be improved just by working through the steps for those that you do have.
Before starting, find a DVD or Blu-ray disc with good picture quality. A live-action film is better for this, as animation often features bright colour tones that are less helpful for the calibration process.
- First things first; make sure that your living room lighting is the same as you normally have it while watching the television.
Most televisions offer several different pre-set visuals, these usually have descriptive names like 'Dynamic', 'Normal', 'Cinema' and 'Game'. Before adjusting the levels, change the mode to the one with the most natural colours and skin tones. This will frequently be the 'Cinema' or 'Normal' mode.
- Leave your TV in this mode for about five minutes before continuing, to let your eyes fully adjust to it.
Despite the name, this function actually adjusts the levels of black used in the image
- On your DVD/Blu-ray disc, find a scene which uses lots of dark shadow, or one which was filmed at night-time, and then pause that scene.
- Adjust the brightness level upwards until you can see as much detail in the black sections as possible.
- If the image now appears grey or washed-out, reduce the brightness level until the black sections become rich and full again, while still retaining detail.
- Fine tune the dial until you find the best-possible balance of darkness and detail.
This controls the levels of white used in your picture
- Move the disc to a scene with plenty of bright detail; for example, one set in bright, sunny daylight with plenty of blue sky. Pause the disc at that scene.
- Take the contrast level up towards the top end, stopping when bright details start to blend into each other.
- Slowly move the dial back down, until the bright sections reveal their detail but the brightest areas haven't yet become grey.
- Fine tune the controls to find the best-possible level of brightness and detail.
This function controls the amount of colour used in the image
- Find a scene on the disc with plenty of bright colour; red is an especially useful colour for doing this. Pause the disc.
- Bring the colour levels up so that they are vivid and clear, being careful all the while not to allow the image to 'bleed' or to overpower the background or surrounding images.
- Fine tune the dials, until you find a balance where the colours pop out but still remain natural.
This controls the way that your colours appear on the screen
- On the disc, find a close-up image of a human face and pause it
- Carefully adjust the buttons using the remote control, so that the skin looks as natural and realistic as possible.
This setting controls the way that your television displays detail
- Find a scene with lots of close, fine detail. Anything with a focus on lots of straight lines that are close to each other is a good one to use; for example, a herringbone pattern or an image of a fence in the distance. Pause the disc.
- Adjust the sharpness upwards until the detail begins to look strange. It may start to appear blocky, or as if it strobes slightly.
- Reduce the level again until the unnatural "artefacts" vanish.
- Fine tune until detail is sharp without appearing artificial.
The audio settings have a big effect on your viewing experience, and are easy to adapt
- Most televisions have a built-in equaliser (to,achieve the optimum sound quality between audio frequencies).
- Rather than have the viewer adjust the equaliser blind, the manufacturer usually gives a clue as to the best audio settings by labelling certain frequencies with names such as 'Film', 'Documentary', 'Music' etc.
- It may be worthwhile toying with the settings by watching several different programmes, until you find an audio profile which works well across a broad spectrum of prgrammes.
Once completed, watch a section of the movie to see how your new settings look. As adjusting one level can alter the appearance of another you may want to repeat the process again until you get it exactly how you want it.
Having trouble finding brand-specific calibration instructions? Try visiting TweakMyTV.com, a website which allows you to select the brand name and model of your television so that you can find model-specific calibration instructions.
It's also possible to buy special DVD and Blu-ray calibration discs to help you through this process, and there are a number of movies that have THX picture (contrast settings functions) and sound calibration features. For example, many movies produced by Disney can be fine-tuned in this way.
Now, sit back and enjoy your film. You'll start to notice all sorts of details you'd never seen before and really be able to show off your home cinema setup.Back to top