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TV Black Level Low Or High?

You bought yourself an impressive new TV and want to have the best home cinema experience you can get. People often tell you how vital black levels are for color depth and immersion, and now you’re wondering whether you should join the dark side. The technical advice of cinematic experts and TV configuration pros will shine a light (or instead take some away) on how bright your setup should be.

The brightness settings for your screen control the black level of your TV, and you should lower it as far as possible without losing visual detail. Lower black levels achieve more vivid coloration at the cost of detail, while higher levels increase visible detail but reduce color quality.

Generally, lower brightness settings will improve the quality of the image on the TV, up to the point where distinguishing what is the picture on the screen becomes difficult. To obtain the best viewing experience, you will need to know how to configure the black level of your TV and consider some technical points about the black level achievable by different types of TV.

The Significance Of High And Low TV Black Levels

The black level of TVs influences how the contrast between darker and brighter colors on the screen is displayed. Deeper levels of black allow more brilliant colors to stand out and create vivid images, while shallower black levels are less effective and suffer from more glare in brightly lit rooms.

Somewhat confusingly, high black levels reduce the depth of black imaging on a TV screen since the brightness setting of the TV determines this. Altering the white levels of your TV is another method of configuring the image depth, but the effects are not exactly the same. Changing the brightness levels of a TV will adjust the black level while adjusting the contrast configures the white intensity.

Sometimes you can also adjust the gamma levels of a screen. Gamma levels are associated with grey color depth and change, which might also influence how dark the rest of the coloration on the screen appears.

Black Level Differences Between Different TV Types

Nowadays, most new TVs will be either OLED or LED TVs, while LCD and CRT panels will become increasingly scarce. On the LED side of the equation, QLED is the most recent innovation and serves as an improvement in how bright the image on a screen can be.

QLED (Quantum Light-Emitting Diode) uses increasingly small particles to boost the levels of contrast and color relative to other LED TVs. In brighter rooms, the QLED TV achieves brighter pixels and images, even compared to what the sun introduces into your home. If you prefer to watch TV with the lights on, or you can’t dim them, a QLED TV is preferable to darker screens because it can out-compete the lighting.

OLED TVs can completely prohibit light from entering a pixel as each pixel has independent light emitting capacity. The diode can achieve a completely black pixel when it is not radiating any light. The absolute level of blackness achieved allows for a more vibrant contrast with adjacent pixels. OLED TVs don’t use backlighting, eliminating bleed-through effects and light filtering along the edges.

Another advantage OLED TVs have regarding black level is a faster pixel response rate and higher refresh rates. Essentially, since the diodes in OLED TVs light up independently, they reduce the time it takes for any pixel to change color. As a result, OLED TVs not only have better color depth but also have reduced ghosting effects.

If you intend to watch TV from a wider angle, OLED TVs also tend to have a higher visible range since the light from the diodes in the OLED TV is directed at every angle. For QLED TVs and LED TVs in general, the backlighting in the panel limits the light projection angle. Viewers sitting off-center might suffer some image quality loss unless their TV model compensates for wider angles.

In darker rooms, OLED TVs will be your better bet for achieving visual quality, but when the diodes of the OLED TV must compete with another light source, the image may appear dim by comparison. Reducing the lighting in the area around the TV could be beneficial for maximizing image quality. Otherwise, you may have to increase the brightness levels of the TV beyond what is optimal.

How To Adjust TV Black Levels

If you feel that you need to adjust the black level of your TV, you can configure the brightness settings in your TV’s menu. The brightness level of a TV typically includes a sliding bar allowing the user to choose any point on the spectrum. On the higher brightness levels, you lose color depth while gaining more detail, while lower settings decrease the amount of detail you can see, but the images are more vivid.

First, you will want to switch off any unnecessary lights in the viewing area and position your TV as close as possible to the center to reduce the extremes of viewing angle. TVs watched from askew have lighter darks and darker bright colors than intended. If the image appears iffy, you should change your position to a tighter angle or a greater distance and see if that makes any difference in the quality of the picture.

A shortcut to good black-level settings is to use the cinema picture mode of your TV, which is pre-programmed to emphasize contrast while retaining as much detail as possible. If your TV supports HDR or Dolby Vision protocols, you should try to enable these as they boost color, brightness, and contrast.

You can adjust the screen’s backlighting, brightness, and contrast on some TV models. These levels are interrelated, so it may be necessary to configure each of the settings alternately. Reducing the backlighting will make everything appear darker, but it may also make the image on the screen less visible.

Other Methods To Increase Black Level Color Depth Or Detail

While you can change your TV’s visual performance by adjusting the display’s black levels, most modern TVs have a range of options that you can enable or disable to configure the image on the screen without disturbing the overall performance of the TV too much.

Many manufacturers have specialized functions built into your TV to try and enhance some of the set’s features, but they may be counterproductive. Often, it is better to turn most of these features off. You can try playing with each of them to observe how they affect your picture quality, but first, take note of each setting and its value as a precaution.

Conclusion

The black level of your TV will impact the color depth and how realistic the images on the screen appear. With higher brightness levels, visible detail increases, but the content on the screen may appear flat. Lower black level values will lead to more vivid imaging but may reduce the amount of visible detail. You can adjust your TV’s black level by configuring the screen’s brightness settings and design features.

Different types of TV also have varying abilities regarding the depth of black pixels they can achieve, with OLED TVs being particularly effective at improving black levels. However, if you watch TV in a brightly lit room, it would be wiser to choose a QLED TV, as OLED displays appear relatively dim in competition with other light sources.

References

https://www.consumerreports.org/tvs/tv-settings-for-the-ultimate-picture-quality-tv-calibration-a3400045646/

https://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/qled-vs-oled-tv/

https://www.popsci.com/how-to-calibrate-tv-dark-content/

https://www.trustedreviews.com/explainer/why-are-black-levels-so-important-for-tvs-4227389