Benchmark Testing DVDs - Overview of HQV, Avia Pro and DVE
All of our DVD player reviews are subjected to our rigorous tests. A modest score on our test does not necessarily indicate that a DVD player performs poorly in real world installations, but these metrics all work together to form a complete picture of the player.
Testing and evaluating a DVD player's performance with test discs and various display devices is somewhat subjective to the reviewer's interpretations of the test results and are not absolutely scientific. Thus, the review should be used as a guideline only. Each review of a DVD player will ultimately be a result of the player in conjunction with a display, however by doing the following, we ensure that the display is having a minimal impact on the player's evaluation:
- The reference display must have been calibrated utilizing a reference DVD player as its source
- The reviewed DVD player must be outputting progressive scan signal
- If an upconverting player is utilized, the player must output upconverted video matching the display's native resolution (or as close as possible)
- Noise reduction circuitry as well as an scan velocity modulation or sharpening circuits must be disengaged or set to minimal (verification must take place to ensure minimal settings for Sharpness do not, in fact, blur the image.)
- Adequate cables and cable lengths must be used to ensure proper tranmission of a digitasl or analogue signal from the player to the display
- Environmental conditions must be taken into account (ambient room light, reflectivity of viewing room, etc)
- When possible, multiple displays are utilized
Audioholics' benchmark testing of DVD players is rigorous; the simple fact is that many of the high-end DVD players cannot pass all the Audioholics/HQV tests. We at Audioholics feel there should be no compromise on borderline judgment calls on the tests, so when in doubt we'll fail the test or give partial credit. It is our hope that with this testing, the DVD player manufacturers will continue to upgrade their implementation of the technologies and strive to make products that are fully capable of passing these rigorous test standards - and result in real-world performance that is exceptional and expected. A modest score on our test does not necessarily indicate that a DVD player performs poorly in real world installations, after all, there are a lot of factors that contribute to a player's overall performance. What this does do, however is supply a set of objective tests to an otherwise subjective review.
Beginning the Testing - Resolution
Utilizing Ovation Multimedia's Avia Pro we will check the basic resolution capabilities of the player. The 6.75MHz pattern in the test should be clearly visible and well defined as shown in the photo lower right corner.
After the resolution check, we proceed to the a black level test using Avia Pro's pluge test pattern (there are several patterns that can be used for this including deep ramps). The ability to display correct black level is an important part of a DVD player's performance. Correct black level settings will preserve shadow detail and improve the depth and contrast of an image. This is also where we can determine the correct placement of any "Black Level Enhancement" settings (typically OFF). It is important that the blacker than black pluge be clearly visible in order to achieve all of the potential dynamic range available on DVDs.
If necessary, we will adjust a player's brightness (black level) and contrast (white level) settings, however typically we want to run the units at 'stock' settings and will make a note in the review if any player's initial settings required adjustment.
Editorial Note about Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark Test DVD
Silicon Optix developed the HQV Benchmark DVD in an effort to set a new standard for video processing quality and to attempt to make the testing more objective rather than subjective. The main goal was to help reviewers and consumers measure the performance of the video processing logic inside DVD players, scalers, and displays. The HQV Benchmark helps reviewers generate a ratings score that may be used by consumers to compare products and get a better understanding of the differences they will have in their viewing experience with various competitive products.
The source material for the HQV Benchmark was accumulated by Silicon Optix'Teranex division over the past five years. Teranex has been working closely with Hollywood post production facilities and major broadcasters to collect a variety of real-world samples of video processing challenges. Those sequences are included on the HQV Benchmark DVD. Where possible, the tests include both synthetic tests to aggravate a particular problem along with real-world material that shows the same problem. For the past year, numerous reviewers and industry experts have been evaluating this content and providing feedback to Silicon Optix on both the content and the ratings systems. The current HQV Benchmark DVD is a direct result of this industry collaboration.