Art and Experience: Consumer display technology finally has studio reference quality accuracy with LG’s new line of OLED displays.
According to the most recent tests from DisplayMate, an independent display technology and calibration tool provider, the 2016 line of LG OLED displays (identified by E6 in the product name) qualify as Studio Reference Quality. This is impressive for monitors that price out at$5,000 for the 65′ and $3,500 for the 55′.
If you are building a home theater or small editing/coloring suite, there is a strong argument to be made for considering an E6 product.
That level of accuracy is generally restricted to monitors that cost much, much more—such as the $50,000 Sony CRT Studio Reference Monitor. There are certainly monitors under $5,000 that are nearly that accurate, but they are usually smaller, and they don’t typically reflect the typical consumer setting of larger TVs in the home. If you are building a home theater or small editing/coloring suite, there is a strong argument to be made for considering an E6 product for your “client” monitor.
Unfortunately, this level of accuracy still doesn’t mean that it is guaranteed to absolutely match a smaller monitor. For instance, if you set up a 24″ Flanders Scientific on your desk and the E6 for the client to view, even when full calibrated, they won’t match perfectly. This is because of the limitations of human vision; we use a different part of our retina to view big images and smaller ones, and it is basically impossible to match your giant client review monitor precisely to your smaller monitor.
The good news, however, is that the E6 tests so high in color accuracy that a case could be made for making it your only monitor for image review. (Of course, you’ll still need a computer monitor of some sort to see your editing or color interface.) If you connect through a proper signal chain putting out a clean HDMI video signal, such as a Blackmagic Ultrastudio, and you calibrate properly, you shouldn’t need a smaller monitor to check against. In an ideal setup, your client monitor should be accurate enough to use as your only evaluation. Previously, it wasn’t always cost effective to have a display that is both big enough for client review and accurate enough to fly solo. Now, it appears it is.
While LG is first out of the gate to bring this accuracy level, we have seen indicators that Samsung, Panasonic, and Sony aren’t far behind.
Additionally, it’s always important to remember that no TV comes out of the box as a true reference monitor. One of the frustrations of shopping for a monitor is that the default settings on the vast majority of monitors are terrible. TV manufacturers know that many decisions are made by consumers after comparing the image quality of the TV against its competitors in the only environment that is available: the florescent lit big box store. They also know that salespeople at these stores generally pull a TV out of the box, plug it in, turn it on, and forget about it. So, they set up their TVs with default settings that are less concerned with accuracy—since that’s something you have to test for—and more concerned with standing out against competitors on the show floor. This means the colors are often more saturated, the contrast is turned up, the skin tones are often tuned too magenta (to compensate for the green overhead lighting). Additionally, a horrible motion mode is often turned on to make things look more “dynamic.” Before doing any work on this monitor, you’ll want to calibrate it.
However, keeping in mind that you always have to change the settings to get a good image on your monitor, the fact that you can take an under-$5,000 monitor and calibrate it to studio reference monitor accuracy is pretty amazing. It’s particularly exciting since OLED isn’t a technology that is exclusive or limited to LG.
A decade ago, plasma was the technology that offered the best price-to-accuracy ratio, and you were pretty much stuck with Panasonic’s Pro Plasma line because the manufacturing costs kept many other manufacturers out of the market. LG is the current leader in OLED, but the other major TV manufacturers all have at least some interest in and capacity for OLED. While LG is first out of the gate to bring this accuracy level, we have seen indicators that Samsung,Panasonic, and Sony aren’t far behind.
If you are currently shopping for a monitor, the full DisplayMate article is worth a read, especially for the number of times “visually indistinguishable from perfect” appears in the results. The OLED monitoring space is going to have a lot of activity in the next year, but you can’t beat the fact that this studio quality display is available now from B&H.
- Dimensions (W x H x D): TV without stand: 48.7″ x 30.2″ x 2.2″, TV with stand: 48.7″ x 30.2″ x 6.9″
- Inputs: 3 HDMI 2.0a & HDCP2.2, 3 USB, 1 RF, 1 Component, 1 Composite, 1 Optical, 1 RS232C, 1 Ethernet
- HDR Enhanced Display, DolbyVision compatible
- 4k Ultra HD native resolution
- 40.8 lbs
- webOS operating system
- DCI-P3 and sRGB /