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Thread: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

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    Default Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse


    So as anyone who has U-verse has noticed the HD quality varies greatly depending on what your watching.

    PPV HD looks great
    On-demand HD looks good

    HD channels look bad to good depending on the channel and the content.

    I found you need to set the gamma around 2.35 for u-verse to start to have any pop. And even then it still has a dirty glass look to it depending on the channel. If your HD looks dull your gamma is probably too low. Even 2.22 is a bit dull looking.

    Be sure to set your HDMI input on the TV to "low" for the black level.

    To get black level close I recorded HDnet's calibration slides and adjusted brightness in the 1st slide until the I could just barely read the 10 in the gray scale chart. This will get your brightness setting really close.

    From there I physically swapped the HDMI 1 input on the TV to my BR player. I check to make sure the BR player is outputting RGB (not enhanced). Then I just did normal calibration white balance, color space, gamma/gray scale.

    So if your HD is looking washed out or dull try and get your brightness dialed in right and get your gamma around 2.35

    Even I am at my witts end. My DVD's up-scaled to 1080P blow away the quality of some (most) of the HD channels... so I might be looking to move on. Too bad they can't deliver the PPV HD quality on every channel.
    Last edited by SiGGy; 06-03-2011 at 01:37 PM.

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    I've just about given up, I just can't seem to get a good black level and not get crushed blacks. I lose all shadow detail it smashes up and stuff just looks too dark.


    BR and DVD looks good. But U-verse just isn't cutting it. I've tried setting HDMI low, and normal for black levels. I have to turn brightness up to nearly 67 to alleviate the black crush. Then to makeup for the crappy blacks, I have to turn on black tone and dynamic contrast to get mediocre black levels.

    I'm not sure if this is just just how U-verse is, or if this is from how samsung is handshaking and interpreting the RGB 0-255 U-verse is sending.

    Now I'm trying to read how to get Media Sharing up and running. So I can can display slides directly from the U-verse box and try and calibrate.

    If I get this working I'll try calibrating both component and HDMI.

    Or I'm thinking it's time for DirecTV

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    Tried both HDMI and component, component was slightly better but still looks crushed. I give up. Going to shop other services.

    Just too many channels with contrast/brightness/chroma that's way off. With the calibration occasionally I'll find a HD channel and program that it mates with. But it's not frequent enough.
    Last edited by SiGGy; 06-03-2011 at 06:51 PM.

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    So yes, I'm going insane... before you ask :D

    Just for kicks I tried swapping out the STB from the upstairs TV and brought it down here. I plugged it into the input I have calibrated for BR/DVD.

    And.... it's looks great.... so I have a bad DVR box or the HDMI chip on the DVR is either A. broken or B. incompatible with my receiver and TV.

    I'm thinking it's flaky, because on a cold boot it starts out OK, it just slowly starts to look like crap.

    edit

    Update: HDMI chip is flaky on the box once it runs for awhile (and maybe heats up) the blacks go to crap brights get crushed as well. And the extra box I moved to the big screen still looks great. So no need to switch services. But I do need to make an appointment to get the bad box swapped out.
    Last edited by SiGGy; 06-05-2011 at 02:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SiGGy View Post
    So yes, I'm going insane... before you ask :D

    Just for kicks I tried swapping out the STB from the upstairs TV and brought it down here. I plugged it into the input I have calibrated for BR/DVD.

    And.... it's looks great.... so I have a bad DVR box or the HDMI chip on the DVR is either A. broken or B. incompatible with my receiver and TV.

    I'm thinking it's flaky, because on a cold boot it starts out OK, it just slowly starts to look like crap.

    edit

    Update: HDMI chip is flaky on the box once it runs for awhile (and maybe heats up) the blacks go to crap brights get crushed as well. And the extra box I moved to the big screen still looks great. So no need to switch services. But I do need to make an appointment to get the bad box swapped out.
    Nice work on the troubleshooting!

    I've tried swapping STB's around and the PQ looks the same no matter which of the 5 I currently have is running. So, I would say that all of mine are ok, I Just am not happy with the service.
    Video: Panasonic TC-P65VT30, Panasonic TC-P50ST30, Sharp LC-42D62U
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    Quote Originally Posted by theIrish1 View Post
    Nice work on the troubleshooting!

    I've tried swapping STB's around and the PQ looks the same no matter which of the 5 I currently have is running. So, I would say that all of mine are ok, I Just am not happy with the service.
    thanks!

    I'd only recommend doing this is your PQ is very dark and being crushed on both whites and blacks. It was pretty bizzare.

    The HD quality looks significantly better with /w 2.2 gamma or even a 2.35.

    Do you have LCD or Plasma TVs?

    With LCD (and plasma) anything under a 2.2 gamma and the compression artifacts will artificially show up on the screen. 2.35 is pretty dark, I'm still messing around with this. Unfortunately I'm on a 3 week road trip, so I only had 3 days to try calibrating for the PQ before I left... I'm itching to get home and mess around with it some more.

    But even with the TV dialed in, sports won't look superb. I can see grass will never look quite right until they make some improvements. But all of the movie channels are fine for the most part. The quality varies pretty heavily between them.

    U-verse is night and day better than the digital HD in the hotel I'm in. I see compression artifacts all the time in the 42" LCD in my room. But a lot of that is due to the LCD's calibration, which is way way off... LOL.
    Last edited by SiGGy; 06-13-2011 at 11:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    Hey there...

    Sorry, just now saw this... I was out of town when you wrote it and must have missed the email.

    Anyway... I have 3 main TV's. 46" Sharp Aquos LCD (Bedroom), Panny 50ST30 Plasma (Family room), Panny 65VT30 Plasma (basement "theater room"). No matter what I tried, I just could not get the quality I was looking for on any of the TV's. For me it wasn't so much brightness or dull looking picture, as it was compression (or at least that's what it seemed to be).

    I got to a point where I just couldn't deal with it anymore, and moved back to DirecTV.

    As I mentioned, I have an LCD in the bedroom.. it is probably 3.5 years old. With U-verse it looked like an old worn out TV. Now that I am back on DirecTV... this thing looks brand new again. My wife even commented on how good the picture looked, and said that same thing about it looking like it was new.

    Like I've said before, there were a lot of things I liked about U-verse.. but many more that I didn't.
    Video: Panasonic TC-P65VT30, Panasonic TC-P50ST30, Sharp LC-42D62U
    Audio: Denon 3311CI, Yamaha RX-V2095
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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    Ok, ya the "worn out tv" look. *That* is the dullness I'm talking about.

    There's something off with the HDMI handshake of U-verse to my Samsung TV. If I have it in HDMI port 1, it looks really dull and washed out (like old TV). But if I move it to port 4 the handshake goes OK and the HDMI looks awesome.

    Easy way to tell if your U-verse isn't right is to watch the SD channels (800+). To do this hook up *both* the component video and the HDMI cable at the same time. Ensure all of the settings on your TV are the same between the two inputs (i.e black level, contrast, ...) Change channels to the 800's. Find one that looks dull. Then flip back and forth between the HDMI and Component input on your TV. If you notice the HDMI looks washed out or dull compared to the component video you're running into the same problem. But also be sure your TV's input settings are similar. Below I mention how to calibrate using Uverse's media share, anyone trying this should dial in their brightness via "black crush" slides on both the component and HDMI inputs before doing this comparison.

    The correct setting on a Samsung Plasma for the HDMI black level is low. I can't recall what I set my Panasonic too. If this isn't set right things will also look washed out or dull.

    If I do this and switch between HDMI1 and HDMI4 the difference is huge. Not sure why the handshake is different, but it is and it works correctly on HDMI4.

    As well...

    To calibrate U-verse: (I used chromapure with an i1Pro meter)

    Use the "Home Media Share" options so you can view pictures from a computer on the network on the TV. Then I took the AVS 709 Disc and made slides of all of the calibration screens in PNG format (JPEG was too noisy using the method I did). I made slides for everything under APL, Windows, Full field. Using the slides I did a full calibration: brightness, contrast, sharpness, white balance, color space (color management) and gamma/greyscale.

    The only quirk I noticed with Uverse's "media share" is sometimes the pics come up a bit blurred. Just either let them cycle through and come back or hit stop and select the image you need again.

    To make the slides I used classic media player in Windows 7 and the MP4 video files from AVS 709. There is an option to save an image in classic media player. Before you get started right click and made sure the black level is set correctly in classic media player. To do this bring up the "black clipping" video under "basic" you should only be able to see 17-25. If you can see shades below 16 you need to change the black level setting in classic media player before you start to make slides.

    Anyway...

    So for me...
    After swapping boxes; switching to HDMI4 (samsung PN64D8000) then calibrating using this method the picture looks outstanding. The only quirk being the motion artifacts on some of the channels. Amazingly you can occasionally get the "looking out the window" sensation with low motion video and the calibration dialed in.

    And I do see a difference still between the DVR and NON-DVR box. (I haven't swapped out my DVR yet). Hopefully the DVR looks just as good once I get it swapped out. The DVR box looks dull on the SD channels, almost as if the gamma is too low on the low end.
    Last edited by SiGGy; 07-07-2011 at 12:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    Just got off the phone with AT&T. They're sending me a new DVR. Have to see how this one looks Hopefully it doesn't have the bizzare gamma/dull look to it.

    -David

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    I'm going to get TimeWarner back and do a side by side. Wish directv would let you do monthly contracts.

    I just can't get my TV calibrated to make most of the channels look great. I'm about out of gas trying to make U-verse work.

    It's quite bizzare, some channels on some days with specific content will look great. The on others, it looks like a dull washed out mess.

    I feel like I'm bi-polar with the TV quality... so end my debate I'm going to run another service side by side.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    I understand completely.. I got there over a month ago and went back to DirecTV.

    I didn't need to side by side, I saw it as soon as DirecTV was switched off and U-verse was turned on. I saw it again when I went from U-verse to DirecTV.

    I haven't had cable service for over 10 years, so I don't know how it would compare. My assumption (no proof) is that it would be similar to U-verse... but who knows, they may have improved quality since then.
    Video: Panasonic TC-P65VT30, Panasonic TC-P50ST30, Sharp LC-42D62U
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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    Well, it's a year later and I'm back...

    With a VT50 this time. I was having a VERY hard time getting the lower gamma to float right but I finally found the combination last night thats about right for u-verse.

    These settings are for night viewing. So for anyone trying to get it "close" without a meter, or even with one. This is a good starting point.

    With these settings you shouldn't get any of those mid tones that look "grey" or "washed out" leaving you with that dull looking picture.

    Any setting with a * is optional to hit a contrasty poppy picture.

    HDMI Settings
    Standard 16-235 (auto mode should pick this anyway, can't hurt to force it)


    Picture Mode -> Custom (or ISF night)
    Contrast: 70 (I'm at 68 now)
    Brightness: 45
    Color:46
    Tint: 0
    Sharpness: 10 *
    Color temp: normal
    CATS: off
    Video NR: Weak *

    Pro Settings
    Colorspace: normal
    Black extension: +4
    Gamma adjustment: 2.0 (try 1.8 if you feel the image is too dark)
    Panel Brightness: mid
    contour emphasis off
    AGC: 3

    Gamma detail adjustment
    30 IRE: -3
    20 IRE: -6
    10 IRE: -13


    Advanced Picture
    Block NR: on *
    Mosquito NR: on *
    Motion Smoother: off
    Black Level: light
    3:2 pulldown: off


    Some notes:
    If I don't mention a setting it should be set to it's default. So reset the mode you're going to use prior to these settings.

    AGC; Normally I'd say leave this (off) at 0 but in this case it gives U-verse a bit of pop that missing from the drown out colors of the compression as well a bit of depth. ** If you're using a meter to calibrate turn off the AGC with a setting of 0 while your calibrating. Then when your done play with the control slowly and see if it enhances your experience.
    Black Extension; this is very useful to help attenuate near black with U-verse. You want to do this just a little bit to clean up image, there's a lot of compression noise down near black with U-verse. It's best to just attenuate it out with this control.
    Gamma; 2.0 probably sounds too low to anyone who knows gamma. However it's not for U-verse due to the way the video is encoded. Well, no, technically gamma looks close to being correct around 1.9 with U-verse, but not quite 2.0. I would need to include a lot more calibration data to hit the proper gamma of 1.9 ish. 2.0 is slightly too dark for some material.
    Sharpness the VT50 tends to dull some material, so personally prefer a bit of extra sharpness added to try and get some of it back. Experiment for yourself, I've tried everything between 0-50. I personally like to keep it around 40 for U-verse.

    I recommend viewing: kung fu panda 2, and Disneys a christmas carol to check your settings. There's a LOT of dark details in a Christmas Carol. I think you'll find you can see them well with these settings yet still have good blacks/shadow details. Granted the 1.9ish gamma does make them look a bit more lush.

    If you DVR A Christmas carol from a channel it'll have artifacts you can see... Including banding that is *NOT* from the TV. It's from U-verses's color reduction. I would recommend using an On-Demand version if you can find it. On-demand on U-verse is * significantly* better in quality than normal channels. On-demand uses a higher bit-rate than a normal channel and the video is encoded from a very clean source. It's actually quite superb to be honest on the material that was encoded by someone with clue.

    In closing, I can say with these settings the picture is very close to how my D8000 looked I had last year. My only comment is the lack of working noise reduction that would smooth out some of the chromatic issues. As well just a touch of artificial sharpness/smoothing would be OK. I do hope the VT50 noise reduction controls are non-functional in the menu as of this writing and they fix it with a firmware update.

    If anyone wants it, I can include full calibration settings including CMS and a better gamma (near 1.9). The CMS and gamma do make a difference to really dial it in, color space in the U-verse STB is interesting to say the least. Just let me know....
    Last edited by SiGGy; 06-22-2012 at 02:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    I started trying to dial in color on U-verse. I have very low luminance error at single points less than 5%. I haven't done luminance tracking yet.

    This is how the colors track out though. I screwed up and took the shot before I finished magenta on one of them. But you can see what the U-verse STB is doing to color

    I can probably get these better I need to sit and play with the CMS and the settings again.

    I did a quick cal/color tracking in both normal and wide colors modes available on the VT50.

    These charts are generated from slides I displayed from the U-verse STB using the media sharing mode. I calibrated to the 100% targets (furthest out from center). I also tried using 75% but I forgot to save the charts. I'll include them next time I update.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Normal seems to track a bit better. Once I find time later this week I'll try and get it dialed in better. I think I can make some compensations and get it better.

    ** In my idiocy I just now realized I left AGC on when I did these Oh well. I'll redo it all later in the week.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    On-demand on U-verse is * significantly* better in quality than normal channels. On-demand uses a higher bit-rate than a normal channel and the video is encoded from a very clean source. It's actually quite superb to be honest on the material that was encoded by someone with clue.

    Hmm - "On Demand" as in "Pay to Rent a Movie?" Or "On Demand" as in "HBO/Starz/Whatever On Demand?"

    Have steered away from the Free / Premium Channel On Demand offerings, as in the past they did NOT offer 5.1 Audio - and I find that having Surround Sound adds significantly to the enjoyment of MOST movies.
    Recently had a 3-month "Free Trial" of HBO/Cinemax, and discovered that at least some of their On Demand shows DID offer 5.1 - but when we checked out a movie on one of our Normal Premium Channels (Starz, Encore & etc) it was on Dolby Pro Logic....

    In any event, thanks for posting your Uverse Settings - and especially for taking the time to include Commentary on some of them!

    Even though we are running a ST50, and thus should not expect your settings to transfer over, your comments were enlightening, and have provided a couple of ideas for things we might try!

    HDNET used to broadcast Test Patterns - and suspect they probably still do, if you can find their schedule - and we have one such broadcast occupying space on our DVR.
    Took a quick look at it with our 50" panel, but no longer recall what patterns they provide. Now that our ST50 has a few hundred hours on it, might be time to give it another go...

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    Quote Originally Posted by Dierk View Post
    Hmm - "On Demand" as in "Pay to Rent a Movie?" Or "On Demand" as in "HBO/Starz/Whatever On Demand?"

    Have steered away from the Free / Premium Channel On Demand offerings, as in the past they did NOT offer 5.1 Audio - and I find that having Surround Sound adds significantly to the enjoyment of MOST movies.
    Recently had a 3-month "Free Trial" of HBO/Cinemax, and discovered that at least some of their On Demand shows DID offer 5.1 - but when we checked out a movie on one of our Normal Premium Channels (Starz, Encore & etc) it was on Dolby Pro Logic....

    In any event, thanks for posting your Uverse Settings - and especially for taking the time to include Commentary on some of them!

    Even though we are running a ST50, and thus should not expect your settings to transfer over, your comments were enlightening, and have provided a couple of ideas for things we might try!

    HDNET used to broadcast Test Patterns - and suspect they probably still do, if you can find their schedule - and we have one such broadcast occupying space on our DVR.
    Took a quick look at it with our 50" panel, but no longer recall what patterns they provide. Now that our ST50 has a few hundred hours on it, might be time to give it another go...
    thanks.

    The HDNET patterns are pretty basic compared to the slides I'm using through the "media share" option in the U-verse STB.

    Something to also be aware of the HDNET patterns do not take into consideration the ABL on the Plasma. I have that show recorded though, and every once in awhile will cross reference it with the color bars it has

    Note: I did change color temp: normal on my settings above

    The VT50 has luminance problems targeting blue at 75 or 100%. And is uncorrectable in the CMS without a working luminance control. The "normal" color temp setting is probably the most pleasing in terms of balancing the color out without doing a full calibration.

    I'm about at my ropes end. Without working luminance controls in the CMS.

    With HDMI you either get.... decent luminance with bad color tracking. Or "so so" color tracking with terrible luminance. Either one isn't even close to being accurate. This combined with the soft picture on the VT50 with some sources is pretty lack luster thus far. I haven't completely given up, but with out a fully functioning CMS it's just not possible to get a "great" picture from the U-verse STB.
    Last edited by SiGGy; 06-23-2012 at 08:32 AM.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    Here's tracking with component video output from the Uverse STB -> AVR (Pioneer VSX33) -> VT50

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Much, much better.

    I'll try a calibration with Component connected direct to the TV. I did this yesterday but I didn't measure anything

    Still luminance problems in the CMS but the tracking is pretty good now. VERY noticeable improvement when watching. I'm about tempted to say to use the component only on U-verse with 50 series Panasonic's.
    Last edited by SiGGy; 06-23-2012 at 08:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    Here is Component -> VT50

    This is probably the best I have seen it look yet and I can keep the input's setting separate from the AVR input. Luminance wasn't off terribly far -6.7% on blue with 75% saturation. So far this is night and day better than anything I could accomplish on the HDMI port. Image is very appealing with channels that encode their content well (hit or miss on U-verse). I'm watching Gladiator now, and it's the 1st time I'm finally watching the movie and not the TV for flaws.

    Gamma: 2.2

    Click image for larger version. 

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    If someone wants the control control cal file I'll upload it.
    Last edited by SiGGy; 06-23-2012 at 08:42 AM.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    I went and re-attacked the calibration... this time with a target gamma of 2.55 (gamma setting of 2.6 in Pro controls). I also used very tiny 1% windows from the GCD disc.

    *Note the HDMI setting should be set to auto or "normal".

    I was completely wrong with my previous calibrations. 2.4 is probably the lowest gamma I would use for ISF night even that will be a bit washed out.

    Here's my latest settings. This is for HDMI; switching back and forth between component and this is nearly indistinguishable (most notable difference is in reds; need working luminance control to fix). What I found interesting is the CMS settings are significantly different between component and HDMI. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on there (I think it's the color space U-verse is using on HDMI and the TV not detecting it). I got component dialed in pretty good as you can see in previous posts. Gamma points 10-40 might still need a bit of tweaking. I raised brightness 2 clicks since I did the gamma. So I'm sure points 10-40 in the gamma is a bit low (too bright).

    For almost all channels/viewing this has been the best I have come up with yet. As well I enabled "contour emphasis", this really helps the image not looking so soft. The sharpness is at 75 (I know it's high, but I prefer it with U-verse since some of the content is HD lite).

    I attached a control-cal file. Just rename it to only .XML (I had to add .txt for the forum).

    Anyone who doesn't have control cal can just rename the file (back to .XML) and open it in a browser and use the settings.

    ** I didn't use slides for break-in so no clue how the coarse or fine white balance settings will translate. Might be significantly off. If it is just use all of the other settings and don't use the WB/whitebalance ones. Also color temp of warm1 or normal might be interesting to play with as well if you can't use the WB.

    So far the bet calibration (color wise) can be had via component output. There is some sacrifices going to HDMI.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by SiGGy; 07-08-2012 at 12:54 PM.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse

    So... to recap on this. I had been calibrating for U-verse wrong for awhile now. I didn't realize sRGB had a non-linear gamma curve. I have been using the sRGB curve in my new calibrations. It makes for a good picture. I'll post some data post slides in a few weeks.

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    Default Re: Uverse HD quality, calibrating for u-verse


    Quote Originally Posted by SiGGy View Post
    So... to recap on this. I had been calibrating for U-verse wrong for awhile now. I didn't realize sRGB had a non-linear gamma curve. I have been using the sRGB curve in my new calibrations. It makes for a good picture. I'll post some data post slides in a few weeks.
    Hey Sig...

    Long time no chat. So it looks like you have gotten some good results with U-Verse and the VT50. Assuming that fixes the "dullness" or "old tv look" that we talked about awhile ago, I have to ask if the compression has gotten any better?

    Compression was Pt.2 of my big problem with U-verse. Beyond the inconsistency of picture quality from box to box, channel to channel, TV to TV... was the artifact/compression troubles. Best I can describe is it looked like they were starving the bit rate. In a fast motion, high action scene... the picture would pixelize and get "blocky". It seemed to have a problem with explosions or flames especially, and it was VERY easy to pick out in a scene like that.

    When I switched back to DirecTV, I did so happily and have not looked back.. until now. I am sitting here watching Sunday night football, on my 50ST30 and the picture looks great. I spent most of the day earlier downstairs watching the days football games on my 65VT30 and I still to this day marvel at how good this set looks. That being said, I am now having an issue with DirecTV relating specifically to content/programming. They dropped a channel from their Sports Pack that I watch EVERY weekend during the soccer season. The only way to get it back is to buy the "Spanish Pack" at an additional $15 a month. I have a problem with this, to the point that I'm willing (at the disdain of my wife) to consider U-verse again. I just don't know if I can do it if the compression problems have not been resolved.

    I appreciate any thoughts you might have....
    Video: Panasonic TC-P65VT30, Panasonic TC-P50ST30, Sharp LC-42D62U
    Audio: Denon 3311CI, Yamaha RX-V2095
    Speakers: Energy Connoisseur C-8 in Cherry (L+R), Energy CC-10 Black (Center), Various NHT
    Source: Panasonic BDT-110 Player, DirecTV Premier (2x HR22-100, 3x HR25-500), 2x Xbox (1 Slim & 1 Fat)
    Misc: APC S15 Conditioner/Battery/Surge, Sonax SN-4600 Stand, Harmony One Remote

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