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Plasma Calibration DVD: Which One?

There are a few ways you can go about calibrating your plasma: you can do some crude adjustments by eyeballing using DVDs you already own; you can achieve slightly more precision by using HDTV calibration DVDs; you can buy a colorimeter which will give you even more accuracy but also has a steeper learning curve; or you can just splash out on an ISF calibration carried out by a qualified professional. This article will elaborate on the second plasma calibration method.

There are many HDTV calibration DVDs available on the market, but few are fit for the purpose of plasma calibration simply because they were written more than a few years ago for CRT TVs when plasma display technology was still fledging. If you trawl through the AV forums on the internet, the top two commercially available calibration DVDs that are invariably recommended would be AVIA and Digital Video Essentials (DVE). Many a debate has been waged over which one is better, but I personally prefer the latter because of the following reasons:

  • DVE has a "below black" (also known as ‘blacker than black’ or BTB) pattern which allows you to test if your video chain is clipping black whereas AVIA doesn’t.
  • AVIA’s grey patterns has just a tinge too much red due to errors introduced during authoring/ encoding.
  • There is a PAL version of DVE (which is handy for people like me in United Kingdom) as well as NTSC, but AVIA is mastered for NTSC video so strictly speaking would only by truly accurate on display systems in North America.
  • DVE is slightly cheaper than AVIA.

Now the major complaint of DVE is its confusing navigation structure – most people pull their hair out trying to figure out which pattern is suitable for certain adjustments, and how to directly access the pattern without waddling through the rest. When I have time I will write up a step-by-step tutorial on how to calibrate your plasma using specific patterns in DVE, but if you wish to try your hand at calibrating your plasma using DVE, you can grab your copy below: