This is to help sieve through the many calibration discs we have on the market.
Too many discs can add confusion to new buyers and newbies to HT.
Firstly, understand the controls on your TV, amp or speakers. Go through the basic terms like speaker placement, SPL meters, color, brightness, contrast etc first before you venture further. Then you will need to see if you use your TV in 2 settings – day and night. Then you may need to use 2 different settings for each light condition.
For video, the main thing is optimising your settings to give you the best picture quality (PQ) and similarly for sound, the ideal setting to make you feel part of the sound.
For video, it should have the basic brightness, colour, contrast and tint sections, then it may have test screens to centre the picture, and further tests of alignment, bleed, interlacing etc, but the first few should be present.
Good test discs also have realistic scenes after test screens to show what real skin tones look like.
Discs should be easy to navigate, understand and also have explanations for each section.
Sound testing can be done after basic setting up of the speakers, measuring their distances and also using the built in auto-EQ functions like Audyssey, YPAO, MACC etc first.
There should be a sound sweep through all the speakers, and not all discs cover 7.1 channels, so take note. Then there should be a frequency sweep from low to high, and there should be enough breaks between each frequency and each of sufficient duration (or you can advance the section) so you can take readings.
First the free:
Tests screens on TV:
Sure it is in SDTV and depends on your reception, but it is a good start.
Few things come free, but the THX labelled discs all come with basic color and sound calibration, which can be very useful.
The BBC male voice is an excellent test of how natural your centre speaker sounds, does it really sound like someone is in front of you? And when you use the 7 channel stereo mode, do all the voices reach your ears at the same time?
Life – BBC
On Disc 1 there is a setup for Hi Def tune up which is as simple as you can imagine and IMO, excellent and even better than some of those fancy AVIA or DVE discs!
Those that cost $$:
Sound and Vision Calibration DVD –
Simple with many explanations, good for beginners.
Joe Kane’s DVE- available in BR and DVD.
Oldie and goodie, covers most of what is needed but the ease of use isn’t too great, especially for beginners.
AVIA - available in BR and DVD.
Newer version of an old hit – comprehensive and pretty easy for newbies – good for mid to high level users.
The Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray Edition
If you bought a Oppo BD 83, this comes free and is good for beginners to mid – level.
HD HQV Benchmark Blu-Ray Disc
This is a mid to high level test disc, but it is not too hard to use.