Sunday, October 29, 2006

Samsung HL-R5067W calibration

The Samsung DLP rear-projection TVs are in the product category of "well-kept" secret. Why? Because they have the greatest potential for truly stunning picture quality. Even the HLR series which I'm writing about today, which has the fewest adjustments of all Samsung DLPs, will blow away nearly every other TV I've worked on when properly calibrated. This is a 720p model which is now discontinued. It has 2 component and 1 HDMI input. Picture out of the box is fair from a color standpoint. Banding and macroblocking are evident in both dark scenes and fine-gradient images like sky and hazy mountains. A few tweaks in the user menu will improve black and white levels immensly. The default contrast is set to mega-torch mode. A 100 IRE full-screen actually hurts the eyes.

As with all Samsung TVs, you have to go right to the service menu to perform your adjustments. The reason is all user menu settings are reset to defaults when you do this. Fortunately, everything you need is in there. I begin with the CCA menu. First a warning, don't try this at home! To use the CCA properly requires the use of a colorimeter to set the baseline for the light engine. Simply changing the target values will not adjust the color accurately. I worked in a totally darkened room to be sure of accurate measurements. After setting the baseline, I worked the targets until primaries and secondaries were nearly dead-on spec. Only red wouldn't quite hit the bullseye. I suspect I am being limited by the actual color wheel segment colors. After engaging WB_Spread to send the settings to all inputs, I moved on to grayscale. This is set for each input in the DNIe menu. Since the color management is so good, I barely needed any adjustment here. When I finished, I was within 100k of D65 from 20 to 100 IRE, superb performance. I only wish this display had an iris. I couldn't get a gamma better than 2.1. The curve tracks almost perfectly though with a slight rise from 20 to 60 IRE. Once service menu adjustments are complete, I exited to the user menu and made the final tweaks to black level, white level and sharpness. Since only color saturation was available, I increased that to compensate for the undersaturation of the red primary.

With calibration complete, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Many people have complained that with the HLR series, you can't defeat the DNIe. To see if its effects were still degrading the picture, I turned on the demo mode. Surprise, surprise, both sides look the same! This is with sharpness set to 40 on the DVD input and 20 on the cable TV input. It seems that fixing the color inaccuracies and getting the gamma closer to 2.2 eliminates the negative effects of DNIe.

Based my experience to date, I would recommend a Samsung DLP over other rear-pro sets. With an ISF calibration, it simply won't be beat. As long as you aren't one of the 1% of people that see the rainbow effect, you won't be disappointed with a DLP and ISF calibration. Even with the wildly varying quality of standard-def content, the picture is simply incredible. With hi-def or a good DVD, you will be amazed. I can't wait to get my hands on one of the newer Samsung 1080p sets!



Anonymous said...

please post your calibrated service menu settings.

Anonymous said...

Please post your calibrated service menu setting. I know every TV is different, but I would like to compare yours to mine.


Chris Eberle - ISF said...

There are a few reasons why I am unable to do this. Firstly, as mentioned, every TV is different and my numbers would not work for another set even of the exact same model. There are at least 5 different firmware versions for the HLR. Each one would render a different result. Second, the information on the CCA calibration procedure has been provided by Samsung to the ISF community under the stipulation that it not be publicized. I realize I'd only be posting numbers but I cannot do this as I would violate my non-disclosure agreement. Thirdly, the CCA calibration can ONLY be performed with the proper instrumentation. Any adjustment of the parameters without instruments can easily render the TV unwatchable. If you want to adjust CCA to maximize your set's color accuracy, please hire a professional. It's just not something that can be done with a test DVD and your eye.