Q. I am constantly struggling to get the right picture on my 4K TV. I can’t figure out if I am setting it right. The color. The brightness. Everything! I read about this new 4K calibration disc from Spears and Munsil. Should I get this? Will it help me? — Ronnie, Fresno, California.
Ronnie, you are referring to the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Disc, which was just launched for $39.99. (Available here at Amazon.)
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The disc’s makers promise it will help both professionals and amateurs calibrate the settings on their 4K TVs so they will deliver the best picture possible.
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“We believe this disc completely changes the game for test and evaluation discs, by making use of all of the features and range that HDR and wide-gamut standards can offer,” the Spears & Munsil press release says.
However, trust me on this, the disc is not for amateurs, unless those amateurs are highly skilled in the practice of calibrating televisions.
Past calibration discs for High-Definition TV, such as the Disney WOW disc, feature displays of people and common day objects with easy-to-understand, on-screen instructions on how to adjust your picture settings to get the perfect image.
But the Spears & Munsil 4K calibration disc features confusing and complicated test patterns and data images with absolutely zero on-screen instructions (or voice narration) to make picture setting adjustments. To make matters worse, the disc is not accompanied by any paper guide on how to use it. Basically, unless you have a degree in engineering, you’re lost.
Ronnie, I can not recommend this disc. Hopefully, in the near future, a different company will produce a 4K calibration disc for the average consumer. Considering that 4K is still too complicated for most people, it’s sorely needed.
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On the Spears & Munsil 4k disc, I believe they are in the process of preparing a written instruction manual. They also have online instructions. The real issue for me is that the disc does not come with a blue filter because they say that there is not one shade of blue or material that will work with all TVs. I am still thinking about buying it though and following the online manual. Waiting for a disc has been long time coming.
Plus you need a 4K DVD player as well.
From the S & M website:
“Unlike previous editions, we did not include pop-up help or a manual with the UHD HDR Benchmark. (3rd Edition) We have moved to electronic instructions and we are in the process of updating the current articles.
We are also working on a more in-depth manual that will provide information on the various patterns. The first PDF is due by the end of July with the more comprehensive manual by end of summer. You may want to wait until we have more documentation if you are new to calibration.”
“We have not found any filter material that works with all HDR displays. We continue to evaluate filter material. Some displays include a blue-only mode in the display. On LG OLEDs, the blue only mode is called Colour Filter in their menu.”