Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sony KDL-40XBR LCD Panel Calibration

I recently had the pleasure of calibrating a 40-inch version of Sony's 720p LCD panel, XBR model. This set is a superb value for an LCD offering excellent image quality and adjustability for a reasonable price. As I've said in other posts, 1280x720 is still a lot of pixels and a properly calibrated 720p TV can look every bit as good as a 1080p TV for less money.

This panel has an excellent contrast ratio. I measured 910:1 on a 4x4 ANSI checkerboard pattern after calibration! This is the highest ratio I've recorded to date. Unlike other Sony TVs I've calibrated, some of the options in the Advanced Video menu actually improved the image. I left Live Color on (Low setting) and chose the Wide Color Space. Usually, these options put the primaries way outside spec but in this case, the primaries weren't too far off. It was then on to the service menu to adjust grayscale. My first pass had the tracking pretty good but Delta C was not to my liking. After more tweaks, I got Delta C under 1.0 from 20 to 100 IRE. I was very happy with this. Dark scene quality took a big jump despite having no control over the gamma curve. I couldn't quite get it to 2.2. I finished by setting the backlight control, which is independent of the brightness and contrast controls. I lowered it quite a bit on the DVD input, down to 3.

The final result was quite improved especially showing dark content. Black levels are a weakness of any LCD but this panel looked quite good in that regard. I strongly suggest some sort of bias lighting to improve the viewer's perception of black levels. This set was in a room where the panel had an open staircase behind it. This provided a bias light of sorts. If your panel is on a wall or stand, getting some 6500k lighting behind it will greatly improve image quality. Actually, this method works with any type of TV.

Another Sony TV successfully calibrated!