What is TV Black Level and Why is it so Important?


What seems like a simple term is slightly more complicated than one might think. Black level can be 1) a calculation of the darkest black a TV can obtain (used in contrast ratio measurement) or 2) it can apply to perception about the depth of blacks when viewing content on the TV.

Black levels are important because the deeper and truer blacks are perceived to be by the viewer, the better colors will look next to it. The 3-dimensional effect off a good TV is also reliant on solid black levels to produce depth. A deep, dark pure black level is essential to good picture quality. It's one of the most important characteristics of a TV. Ever seen a TV with washed out hazy blacks that look more like charcoal gray?? Pioneer had exceptional black levels in their KURO plasma TV series and is possibly still the gold standard for black levels in a TV.

HDTV Black Levels
Over powering black levels can remove detail from dark scenes and reduce overall picture quality.

Plasma TVs have an advantage in black level technology-wise as they use less power to “light” the phosphors thus producing darker scenes on screen. LCD/LEDs use more power to produce black levels as they must “twist” the individual crystals in the LCD panel to fully closed to produce black. Conversely, plasma TVs use more power to produce whites and bright colors than do LCD/LEDs. LCD/LED manufacturer's have been acutely aware of this fact and have been improving black levels in their TVs for years. They are still improving...

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