'Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark: 2nd Edition' Announced for Blu-ray

Posted Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 04:00 PM PDT by

The second edition of the calibration disc adds tests for 3D televisions and more.

Spears & Munsil will be releasing 'Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark: 2nd Edition' early next week.

The first edition of this disc was recommended by the New York Times, Widescreen Review, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity®, and many other print and online publications. The second edition adds even more features and patterns and sets a new bar for the term “state of the art.” The Spears & Munsil disc is the first (and at this time only) disc to offer stereoscopic patterns for calibrating and testing 3D televisions. It has audio level and phase tests created using the latest noise-shaping algorithms. And for the professional or advanced enthusiast it contains a complete set of patterns suitable for precisely calibrating contrast, grayscale, gamut, and other settings using test equipment.

“We didn’t just want to add a few new features here and there,” said co-creator Stacey Spears, “we went back to the drawing board and re-thought every pattern.” There are more than twice as many patterns on this new disc as on the previous disc, covering every aspect of home theater testing and calibration.

Like the previous edition, the Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark, 2nd Edition uses patterns created from scratch using Spears & Munsil’s own in-house software. “We still feel that there isn’t anything else out there that meets our quality standards across the board,” said co-creator Don Munsil. “So every pattern was created from scratch, using custom software, in the native color space that is most appropriate for that pattern. All of the scaling and color conversion was done using our own software as well.”

The disc includes new editions of some of the favorite patterns from the previous disc, plus many new ones that are exclusive to Spears & Munsil. “We’ve created what we think is the best pattern for setting color and tint ever made,” said Spears. “The problem with the classic color bars pattern is that it was designed for broadcast engineers and is confusing for the new user. We re-thought the entire pattern from scratch and made something anyone can use, with step-by-step instructions right on the pattern. We did the same re-thinking for essentially every pattern we made, though the classic patterns are on there as well for the purist.”

“The enthusiasts and power users took to our previous disc right away,” said Munsil, “but we got feedback that the disc was still too daunting for inexperienced users who’ve never tried to calibrate a television before. We tried to address that with even more comprehensive guides and help in this disc, and we think we have created a disc that allows someone with no home theater experience to jump right in and get a basic calibration in less than an hour.”

The power users have not been forgotten, however. The new edition also contains patterns suitable for the professional calibrator or serious amateur who wants a complete suite of test patterns usable with spectroradiometers and colorimeters. “The people who tested our professional patterns perform calibrations for Hollywood studios and famous movie directors. These people are the pickiest customers you could ask for,” said Spears.

The Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark, 2nd Edition is the first test disc to contain tests and demo material in 3D, for users with a 3D Blu-ray Disc player and 3D display. In addition to patterns for testing the 3D features of the display, the disc contains a full set of 2D calibration patterns that are encoded in 3D mode so the user can do a calibration of the 3D modes on the display. “Most televisions have completely different settings for 2D and 3D modes,” said Spears. “Calibrating one doesn’t affect the other. Without these patterns, you can’t really ensure your 3D movies look as good as the rest of your video.”

Suggested list price for the Blu-ray is $29.97.

You can find the latest specs for 'Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark: 2nd Edition' linked from our Blu-ray Release Schedule, where it is indexed under April 30.

See what people are saying about this story in our forums area, or check out other recent discussions.

Discs mentioned in this article: (Click for specs and reviews)
Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark: 2nd Edition (Blu-ray)
Tags: Disc Announcements, Spears & Munsil (all tags)