Smooth, "Film Like" Treble: Happiness At Last...

While fiddling with my television and LCD projector, I had a new insight into the interconnectedness of high fidelity audio and home theatre.

According to my video test DVD and literature, most TVs -- even really good ones -- are set way too "hot" at the factory in order to stand out on a display of fifty TVs at Circuit City or something.

Adjusting my TV and projector according to the test disc results in a strangely dull picture at first which makes you wonder if the calibration material is accurate.

"Sharpness" in particular, ends up all the way down, at its LOWEST setting in contrast to my normal temptation to have it almost near it HIGHEST setting.

According to the literature, what we initially perceive as sharpness is actually distortion and turning it down results in a smoother, more film like image.

Over time, it does indeed look much better.

The relation to audio occured to me when installing two custom made tweeter attenuators for my Magneplanar Tympani ribbons. The reduction of 6 db initially seemed a bit dull, but after a short period of time, my ears seem to have adjusted and I love it!!

No more fatigue, no more brightness, bad recordings are easier to listen to, everything just sounds more natural and more musical. Perhaps the impression of slightly less "resolution" but still with wonderful detail -- just sounds better.

Could even high end manufacturers -- like Bose ?!?!? -- tweak their gear to grab your attention in a high fi store demo in ways that impede long term satisfaction at home?

Has anyone else thought about this?

This happens all the time. Fuji film exagerates colors. Car manufacturers gear econoboxes so they seem to actually have something that resembles power on a demo around the block. The miracle shampoo you buy that works well the first time but builds up like gunk after a week. Bose 901's.

Leaving the mass market electronics out of the picture however, shows what an overall fine job the companies that cater to this crowd does. Just my opinion and worth what you paid for it.
Back in the 70's, it was common for speakers to have adjustable tweeter attenuators built in. This fell out of favor when audiophile practices moved toward reducing components in the signal path. Some speakers may be designed "hot" to entice buyers, but generally not at the higher quality ranges. I feel that any "heat" you are getting in the treble, is generated by your digital front end, even though it is a good one. This is the most common complaint there is about digital. So by simply cutting the high end, you are hearing less of the digital "nasties". This may not be a popular opinion, but there is evidence of it all over this website, especially on the cable forum, where there is always mention of smoothing the high end of digital-sourced systems. I say, if it gets you to enjoy the music more, then go for it. The people who are buying to "smoother" cables are doing the same thing, but using a different item to do it.
Most likely it is because Joe Consumer thinks that is what a good picture and good sound is. Joe wants the distorted 3D video effect. Also take subwoofers for example. We want something that flushes out the low level detail and nuance in the music; Joe Consumer wants something that rattles the windows.

Lugnut is right about photography. In addition to Fuji film, most typical 35mm cameras sold to the public do not have lenses that produce a natural image. They produce a slightly exaggerated image, so it will jumps off the paper and makes a typical 4X6 snapshot look "sharper" on a quick glance.
Since finally joining the modern world and getting myself a new TV which has a 'color temperature' control (changes the 'shade' of the whites), I have noticed this adjustment can be seen as somewhat analogous to some of the sonic changes that can be wrought with cables, tubes, etc. But as for older speakers that featured roll-off contour switches around back, I've never used any that didn't sound best set for 'flat', although their tweeters surely weren't the most extended in the world to begin with. I've frequently heard the 'showroom-grab' explanation offered as the main reason why many manufacturers of speakers which were not high-efficiency designs went to 4 ohms impedance instead of the old standard 8 ohms, so their speakers would seem to play more loudly in demos.
Last year a bought a small Panasonic Tau TV for the bedroom. In the store, this set stood out as having the best overall picture of the bunch, and was reasonably inexpensive as well, so I took it. After getting home and hooking it up, I realized that the colors we *way* too hot on all channels. I fiddled with it a while (several days actually) and found that the correct color, on a scale of 0-63 (really, the maximum value is 63!), is at a setting of 4. Turning it down one more notch results in virtually no color at all, and up one makes it very hot. Given that correct color is at an extreme, its discouraging to find the controls to be so non linear.

Clearly Panasonic is addressing the store's need to demo their TV's more than they are the customer's need to watch comfortably. The set has worked well in the past year, and I've become used to the odd color, hue, and picture settings I needed to make for it to look good. Still, it irks me a bit to think that this set was not made to provide the best possible viewing experience, but rather to simply stand out on a wall of TV's.