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Spears & Munsil High-Definition Benchmark Blu-ray Disc Edition [Blu-ray]

4.0 out of 5 stars 154 customer reviews

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(Jan 01, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Stacey Spears and Don Munsil, who created the highly-regarded DVD Player BenchmarkTM and Progressive Scan Shootout at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity®, have applied all their technical wizardry to this Blu-ray test and evaluation disc. "The static test patterns represent the current state-of-the-art. They are more accurate than the test patterns found on previous discs. There are a lot of subtle details that go into making them as mathematically accurate as possible, especially since you are dealing with lossy encoding. We have built propriety tools to generate the synthetic patterns. We use a custom encoder that will preserve as much detail as possible. Even the simple color bars have unique traits that make them cleaner. - Stacey Spears, author of the disc" [Picture Quality Calibration and Evaluation Tool for Displays, Blu-ray Players and Video Processors] (IMPORTANT NOTICE: This disc is a high-definition disc and is compatible only with Blu-ray players. It will not play on a standard DVD player.)

Product Details

  • Actors: Stacey Spears, Don Munsil
  • Producers: Stacey Spears, Don Munsil
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Color, Widescreen, Dolby
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Spears & Munsil
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001UM29OC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,982 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I suppose I really should have chosen a different title for my review as I have not tried the Digital Video Essentials one; however, I have tried Avia, one from Monster, and of course the THX and Disney optimizers that come on various dvds, and this one makes those look like a joke. It's easy to navigate through the various test patterns, and within each pattern is readily available help information with correct and incorrect examples to give you an idea of what you should be looking for. I found the majority of them easy to use and helpful, though I must confess that with a couple of them (I think one was the chroma one) I couldn't tell any difference, either with the examples or with the actual test pattern. Additionally, some of them (e.g., the cadence ones) seemed to me essentially pointless in that they tested performance aspects not readily correctable; however, I suppose they would be useful for deciding whether or not to keep or return a product. With this disc, I was able to dial in a noticeably improved picture. I personally don't care about the lack of audio test tones as I leave audio calibration up to Audyssey and my receiver, but the DTS Master Audio and to a lesser extent the Dolby TruHD clips are fun. Oh, yeah, and they include the blue filter glasses too, which is great. Not having the glasses included in any of the calibration discs I have bought previously, until now I had always just skipped over those patterns. I highly recommend this calibration disc. It has given me confidence that I am getting the best performance possible from my setup.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Im an dedicated reader of "Home Theater" magazine and they wrote an article for this BD. So being the enthusiast I am, I purchased this BD with in minutes of reading the article. I'm glad it did! Spears & Munsil have definitely set the standard for HDTV calibration. I have used other cal BD's and they were great, but none come close to this one. The BD offers a array of test patterns to calibrate/adjust your TV. It even prove that my TV "Cine-motion" feature was better turn "off". They are also video in 7.1 Dolby HD and DSP HD to test your surround speakers. They dont offer test tones, thats my only complaint. But don't let that stop you from getting this BD. I'm still a fan of ISF calibrations, but if you don't have $400.00 to invest in a full "ISF" cal, then I would highly suggest you buy this BD.

Sony XBR6 52" is perfect after Spears & Munsil.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this disc. I bought it expecting a simple to use disc that you pop in your Blu-ray player and calibrate your TV according to the different tests that are performed.

It's not quite that simple. First off, a large section of the tests appear to test items on your TV that you have no control over. This is confusing to those new to "calibrating" your TV. There should be a section called "This will test stuff you can fix" and "This will test stuff you can't fix" to clarify. Example: a section will say "you should not see stepping of shades in the following test" and then refers to NOTHING to fix the problem. Ok, my TV is showing the stepping or sectioning of shades, so what do I do to fix it?

Also, the disc comes with what looks like 3-d glasses that are blue-ish in color. Nowhere, I repeat nowhere, in the booklet does it explain what these do. It refers to a "blue filter" in the booklet at one point, but it does not say it's the film that came with the disc and that you should, oh, you know, put it up to your eyes in some of the calibration tests!

A helpful manual or booklet would remedy all of the issues I've experienced thus far, but the booklet is simply made for those who have done calibration before.

I did perform the brightness, contrast, and coloring tests with relative ease - and this did improve the picture on my TV. But it doesn't look better to the point of paying for this disc. I even reverted my changes back to how I had it before and could make an argument that it looked just as good.

Another complaint - most TVs nowdays have built-in adjustment features that automatically change the brightness, contrast, back-light levels, sharpness and other items.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I own both this disk and also the DVE (Digital Video Essentials) blu-ray test disk as well as the WOW (Disney) test disk.

If you are debating between the three - pick this disk - the Spears & Munsil if you have a technical background and some instruments. This disk has not only good on-screen help but excellent web based help and discussions. The DVE disk has NONE. The Wow disc is easiest to use and will give as good results as the Spears and Munsil if you don't have instruments.

But the real question, for most people, is whether this disk will help them set up their HDTV in a user friendly manner? The answer is "maybe" and at best, ONLY in a very limited manner.

What can an average user expect to accomplish WITHOUT INSTRUMENTS? Not that much. Here is a list.

1.) Adjust the black level. Black level is an adjustment (using your brightness control - no - that is not a typo) so pure blacks are as dark as your TV can present them while near black (dark grays) can still be seen. This is not as simple as you might suspect. Your blu-ray player and HDTV must first pass the "below black" test signal. This disk, at least warns that some HDTVs or blu-ray players may not pass that signal, while the DVE disk does not even mention it. This disk also provides a work-around if your player/HDTV does not pass this signal. However this adjustment can be effected by an LCD's back-light and no mention or help is provided to deal with that complexity. So you may or may not get this adjustment right.

2.) Adjust the white level. This is controlled by your TV's picture or contrast control. Your goal here is to be able to detect shades of white above/below reference white.
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