Black Levels HT200 DM



I am experimenting with settings on my new HT200DM, has anyone else had the experience to improve black levels ?

I have the following system :

Toshiba SD900E, Sim2 HT200DM, specially made up high quality component cable, Yamha DSP AX1, energy 5.2's The creen is a matt white Homecreens low gain screen 70" with blacked surround on a 16:9 format

I do find the black detail and black levels ok, but this is where I would like the most improvement.

Any ideas ?

I will be trying to reduce the 'halo' effect from the DLP and have tried Gamma settings / contrast etc. Mayve I simply have to accept this and be satisfied !?

Any ideas ?
Other cables, screen surfaces (Stuart Firehawk too expensive), Views on the DVD player etc would be greatly appreciated (I have yet to try a region 1 disc which should be better as I can then run progressive scan. (The Pal progressive on this machine I do not find particularly good)

Thanks :)


Established Member
You can reduce the 'halo' effect by reducing the sharpness setting to 0 or 1 - and reducing the filter to 4-5. Black levels are significantly improved on a grey screen. I use a Stewart GreyHawk. Also check you brightness and contrast settings - I have brightness set at 48 and contrast at 70 - This may not be perfect for your setup but should give you a starting point.
Having said all that - I do wonder if we make too much fuss about black levels. When you next watch a movie in the cinema really check out the black levels - they are never as black as you think. When we go to the cinema its to enjoy the film - we tend not to spend all our time looking at black levels or contrast - whereas at home we have the time to tweak and twiddle with the settings on our equipment - and i think tend to become hypercritical.


Thanks for the reply. Is it a HT200Dm that you have ?

I ca find the sharpness setting, but not the filter. I will have a play tonight..... I will also play with the contrast and brightness. I am going to experiment a little with the gamma settings on the DVD player, I have read a recent review that suggested they were able to improve black levels noticeably by running the gamma at -1. We'll see !

Did you feel the stuart Screen was worth the expenditure ? How much did you pay ?

I have just bought some self adhesive black felt, I am going to make something up to allow my screen to have the correct sized black surround for 2.35:1 as well as the 16:9 format that is already blacked out surrounding this format.

I have been considering making up a widow about 12-14" infromt on the projector to take away some of the Halo effect. I want to fool my brain into believing that the blacks are really as black as they could be. Seeing DVD's with the surround blacked out (As the screen is for 16:9) looks a lot better than 2.35:1 which throws some 'halo' onto unlit white.

I will let you know how i get on



I had a good experiment last night and tried adjusting the contrast / sharpness / gamma / brightness as well as finding a well sized piece of hardboard to take the halo effect from the lower part of the picture - just as an experiment. The hardboard definately worked.

I do still find the black levels a little dissapointing. I still seem to see lots of grey. I am only convinced of black when there is some strong light in the backgound.

I now have some NSTC region 1 discs through (Thanks postie) so I will experiment further tonight...

Does the Sharp / Sim2 HT300 / Marantz produce less 'grey' when they should be producing nothing do you know ?

I will keep you posted



Distinguished Member
Its interesting when people make mention of the black level on film projection being not totally black. Film emulsion is never totally opaque hence the slightly lifted black level. However film is designed with a Dmin point (density minimum) below which the emulsion won't record any useful detail ( it does actually record a little bit down there but stocks have improved in recent years so its still a convention in use: think black level set-up in video).

The point is though that film records a lot more intensity changes than video: its orders of magnitude greater from memory its about 100 vs 700. Thats discernable intensity changes between black point and white point. Depth perception in an image is almost entirely down to intensity variation so whilst film has a higher than zero black level the associated larger intensity variation ensures that the image presents plenty of dynamic range so it looks on the whole more dimensional than the equivalent video image even if its displayed with a comparably lower black point.

Effectively on video you need that low black point to imbue the image with a sense of tonality.


Established Member

I am using an HT300 - which has a 16x9 dimension DMD - this may account for some of the improved black levels I seem to have - also - Yes there was a discernable difference using the grayhawk material (0.95 gain) when compared with other screens,and painted walls. It is expensive - but deals can be had. mine is a 96" fixed panel grayhawk with a black velvet surround - it was close to 2k installed. (however I found out after the event that Gordon is competative). Ultimately as Mr D says in his post its about image perception - film may well have a seven fold increase in its ability to record intensity (by the way thats not even one order of magnitude) but if you don't see it (like my wife) it makes not one jot of difference. If you do you'll probably want to pay 2k for a screen. I now feel the image I see in my home setup is "better" (brighter, sharper, more saturated, with a greater perceived depth and richness to the image) than just about any projected image I've seen. In fact the only one that bettered it was a presentation of Toy Story 2 via a digital projector - on Screen 20 at the UCI Trafford in Manchester. I know this is not a like for like comparison but who cares, I just enjoy my images more - and, for the time being anyway, I am able to just watch the movie and not get caught up in the concerns about the quality of the image.


Thanks for the input guys, well here's my latest findings...

I tried a region 1 disc and progressive scan, Vanilla Sky adjusted the brightness and contrast (I ended up with +1 Contrast on the DVD, a Tosh SD900E and 47 brightness and 57 contrast on the Sim2) just taking a very, very small touch of focus off the picture quality and everything I hoped for was there !

Wow, the region 1 allowing my unit to run true progressive was Incredible. I was going to experiment with some of the other discs that have come through... I just had to watch this film again, fab!

This is what home cinema is all about... Great ! Just me a perfect espresso and a great film (Not sure why it was slagged off I really enjoyed it !). Tom also has good taste in watches, a nice little IWC for the man who has everything !

I love IWC watches....

Before I ramble too much I was thinking of starting with a set up via the video essentials disc and then taking a few preferences away from that if necessary.




Established Member
I thought I'd posted some further suggestions to help, but they seem to have disappeared? Odd...I'm sure they'll turn up.

It sounds like you've got very close to what you're aiming for anyway. I would suggest putting some of your black felt on the matting hardboard screen to prevent reflections from this back to the projector or from the edge of the aperture.

I've always thought the best presentations I've seen with projector surrounded the screen with light absorbing material. There is a reason why cinemas have all that velvet! However I've seen quite a few posts elsewhere suggesting bias lighting (ie. v.low light...xmas lights seem to be a favourite) behind the screen to improve apparent contrast. Might be worth a try?

For video setup disks there only seems to be Video Essentials and Avia. I've got Avia which does the job (american guys in cardigans talking you through the whole thing. <smirk>). NTSC only though. I think I got mine from Amazon, but sure they can be had cheaper used to be a cheaper source for Video Essentials, and could be even better with the value of the Aussie dollar.

Glad to see you're enjoying the challenge. Was worried for a while you were following in my footsteps and talking yourself into 'needing' a 16:9 projector ;)

Ian Guinan


Established Member
Thought we were going half shares on it Paul, and seeing as you're 'sans' projector were in no hurry to have it back...let me know when you've made your mind up as to what you're going for next (200DM first, then 300, currently projectorless) and you're welcome to have it back...have tried watching it and it makes my eyes go funny ;)

Now tell the gentleman where you got it from...

Ian Guinan

p.s. shouldn't you be enjoying your holiday instead of lurking in that seedy cybercafe?


I have ordered a copy from the australian site mentioned. 32 Astralian dollars which seemed a pretty good price compared to Amazon America - £45 !


Paul D

Prominent Member
Since i bought my first "fixed panel" projector (Tosh MT1 LCD) i had been obsessed with getting true blacks.

After reading about "grey" screens on AVS, i was the first person to try the now infamous "Dulux - ice storm" range of grey paints!.
The only trouble with grey screens is as Mr D will confirm is you are only moving the contrst range. Ie better blacks at the expense of whites. But with careful grey level matching a good compromise can be achieved.

As for the comparison to true film based cinemas. I found myself hating "their" lack of true blacks!. In fact since i got into home cinema, i have found going to the cinema a step backwards. (with most houses having poor focus and film grain)

With the advent of CRT TVs, we have got used to fantastic vibrancy to the picture and zero black levels. This has lead us to expect this type of picture from bigger and bigger screens.

This was my first mistake with my fixed panel projectors.
I ramped up the contrast level control, and had the brightness way to low to try and compensate. This was in some misguided effort to get "CRT TV" like pictures.

What i should have been doing was getting the most out of the devices limited contrast range. It takes some while to stop setting the picture to what we are used to ie high colour levels and high sharpness settings, contrast so high as to burn retinas!.
Setting the brightness and contrast to that you don't lose detail is more important to film watching than ultimate black level (although zero black is great!).
Using the grey scale in VE/AVIA is a must, as this will show where detail is being lost.

I eventually went to CRT projection in the end, and now enjoy perfect blacks. I just love it when i totally black scene comes on and the room plunges into total darkness, where you can't even see your hand infront of your face!.
But like all projection technologies this too has some draw backs, but in this instance black level not being one of them!.

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