The Familiar Ring(ing) of Excess Sharpness!

The Sharpness control is one of the Basic Video Level settings found in every TV.  It is also, alas, one of the settings most commonly abused by manufacturers trying to make their TVs stand out in a wall of competing TVs under garish store lighting!  Indeed, TV Factory Default settings with Sharpness set WAY too high are commonplace --  a key facet of the justly-infamous Torch Mode settings foisted on new TV buyers. See my prior post on Extinguishing Torch Mode Settings for the others.

Excess Sharpness, in particular, produces the appearance of "false detail" in the image, which looks attractive on a casual glance (applause from the Marketing guys!).  However, the REAL details of whatever you are watching are ACTUALLY being obscured!

In this post we'll discuss what the Sharpness adjustment does to your image, and how to set this control properly in your TV -- using a Calibration Disc.

We'll also discuss the problem of "Edge Enhancement"; damage akin to excess Sharpness ALREADY baked into the content you are watching!

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Quick Tip: Adjust your Picture using ONLY the "Video Level" Controls Found in your TV!

Brightness, Contrast, Color, Tint, and Sharpness:  These five controls establish your "Basic Video Levels", and are fundamental to achieving best Picture Quality in your Home Theater.  EVERY modern TV will feature these controls in its user-accessible settings -- although perhaps less prominently than in the past, as a whole bunch of other weird (and usually unexplained) settings like "Flesh Tone Correction", or "MPEG Noise Reduction" will also be clamoring for your attention.  "Contrast" might be called "Picture" in your particular TV, and "Color" might be called "Saturation" (Hey, Marketing guys LOVE to invent names!), but they are the same controls.

And as I move along in this Blog, I'll undoubtedly talk about each of them -- umm, at some point!  We've already covered Brightness in my post on Blacker Than Black Video, and Contrast in my post on Peak Whites Video.  And in my post on Extinguishing Torch Mode Settings I alerted you to the sad fact the Factory Default settings for these basic controls in your brand new TV are, almost certainly, flat out WRONG for best quality viewing!  So correcting THESE settings is something you'll want to tackle right up front when dialing-in your Home Theater.

But when you begin that task, you may be stymied by the discovery the SAME (apparently) controls are also offered in some or all of your Source devices -- and possibly even in your Audio Video Receiver (AVR)!  So, umm, WHICH set of controls should you use?  Or should you COMBINE the controls? For example, doing part of the necessary adjustment in each device?

In my post on Peak Whites Video, I revealed the basic Rule of Thumb for this:

Adjust your Picture using ONLY the “Video Level” Controls Found in your TV!

Let's explore this further.

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Just Bought a New TV, eh? Time to Extinguish its Torch Mode Settings!

OK, so you just forked over the cash for a brand new TV.  You wrangled it out of the box, got it positioned in place, cabled up, plugged in, and Voila!, you've even got a picture!  Pretty cool, eh?  Time to kick back, relax, and enjoy?

Not so fast, Bunky!

One of the dirty little secrets of the Consumer Electronics biz is that the "out of box", Factory Default Settings on just about every TV ever sold are flat out WRONG for best quality viewing!  There's no real mystery behind this.  The default settings are deliberately chosen to make the TV stand out -- to catch your eye -- from a distance, when buried amidst a whole wall of competing TVs, under garish, store lighting conditions.  THESE, my friend, are the so-called (and rightfully infamous) "Torch Mode" settings.  And if you are reading this, know that your FIRST task, should you choose to accept it, is to douse all of them!

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