Using Your Computer to Calibrate A/V Gear
How a computer, some low cost software and a little knowledge can help you calibrate your A/V gear.
Home Theater Calibration
March 13, 2009 by Richard M. Sherwin

“The color calibration can save on your display’s energy consumption and extends the life of your TV,” says David J. Weinberg, an engineering consultant and technical expert on audio, video and film technology. “Spyder and other computer or Internet based video analyzers are for those who need a scientific way beyond the self help DVDs, that can calculate the correct adjustments to brightness, contrast, color, tint and temperature.”

Shareware programs offer an even cheaper alternative to True RTA and Spyder. These programs are written (usually) by industry professionals who ask as little as $10 for the downloadable software. You can even run a fully featured program several times on a free trial.

The following sites offer a wide range of audio-video productivity software:

Both with the True RTA System and shareware, you simply run the software program and either use a mic to “hear” the audio and/or directly connect your notebook PC via USB to a Internet connection on the audio equipment. The Spyder System connects to your TV via a suction cup and/or USB port. Then you use your PC and Spyder software to read the lighting and color results, and then adjust your TV set or PC-TV monitor accordingly.

Built-in Analysis
Denon’s Jeff Talmedge, who holds the highest certifications in both audio and video engineering, reminds us that many high-end audio systems come with built-in analyzers. “Many of our components and systems come with Audyssey, which we think is the best room calibration system. And it’s easy to run right out of the box.”

But Talmedge warns customers that by changing a room’s layout, paint, adding or subtracting carpets, rugs and wall coverings, you are unlikely to recreate the ambiance from your audio.

He too supports the latest in computer based add-ons (in addition to his company’s built-in analyzers) to re-create your favorite audio feeling. “Many of our systems which connect to the Internet can run third party software that can tune and adjust, and our models that don’t have Internet access can still be worked on using a notebook computer and a decent Behringer type mic.”

How did Diane make out in her the rearranging of her living room and den? Using the True RTA system, some simple shareware, a mic to realign her speakers and the Audyssey feature in her Denon receiver, she’s close to recreating the terrific experience in her living room and den. And with the help of shareware and exchanging her Cablevision set-top box, her home theater experience in the smaller den is better than ever.

For the record, Diane did not have to do anything to her ION deluxe digital turntable. “The LPs and 45s and 78s sound the same as they always did no matter what is connected to the turntable and, when I burn the albums, I have saved them permanently for posterity.”

Related articles:
Adventures in Home Theater Calibration
What is the Best Way to Calibrate my 5.1 Sound System for Movies?
Coming Soon: Self Calibrating Home Theaters

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Richard M. Sherwin - Contributing Writer
Richard Sherwin is a former syndicated technology columnist and TV/Radio analyst, who has also been a marketing executive with IBM, Philips, NBC and a chief advisor to several manufacturers and service providers.

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