Why you need to turn down your TV’s sharpness control right now

TV's sharpness control

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The sharpness management in your TV is not what you assume. Regardless of the title it does not truly “enhance” sharpness, element or the rest you would possibly affiliate with a superb image. The sharpness management truly provides one thing referred to as “edge enhancement,” which might diminish the fantastic decision within the picture you are . If sharpness is about too excessive, you won’t be benefiting from all of the crisp element that is potential in that fancy 4K TV. Generally the perfect setting is definitely 0, whereas on most TVs the setting is finest within the backside 20% or so. 

Sharpness is among the many picture settings on your TV, like brightness, distinction, and colour. Turning all of them up would possibly look like an excellent concept. In any case, who desires an image that is dim, colorless and uninteresting, proper? In actuality, maxing out any of these changes can damage your image, making it much less correct and limiting the potential of the best TVs. A picture that is too bright or garish is simple to grasp, however sharpness takes some explaining. Buckle up.

Learn extra: Want better TV? Change these 9 TV picture settings today (you’ll thank us later)

Sharpness means edge enhancement

On almost all TVs, the sharpness management provides one thing referred to as “edge enhancement.” That is precisely what it seems like. The sides within the picture are enhanced, basically by including a skinny define or halo to them. This makes them extra seen.

Left: the unique picture. Proper: the edge-enhanced “sharper” model. The “halo impact” is what the sharpness management provides.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Check out the side-by-side photos above. The left picture is the au naturel model. The appropriate has important quantities of edge enhancement added. Notice the define across the buildings. Whereas the left picture would possibly seem, at first look, “comfortable,” it truly is not.

The image under is a close-up of the “sharpened” edge-enhanced model. As you may see, a form of white halo seems round distinct edges. 

Geoffrey Morrison

The issue is that the halo should not be there — and it is changing what ought to be. It could not look like an enormous deal on this picture, however with most content material that halo is overlaying the precise element. Moreover, it typically brings out grainy noise in different components of the picture. See how a lot cleaner the left picture seems in comparison with the improved.

Edge enhancement positively provides the picture a sure look: It may possibly present the look of extra element. Most TVs have their sharpness controls turned up within the default image modes, so we’re used to this faux-detail look.

Whereas unenhanced photos can look comfortable by comparability, particularly at first, they’re truly extra detailed as a result of they present fantastic textures in partitions, pores on faces and tiny hairs — all of which might be hidden by an excessive amount of edge enhancement.

What’s the perfect TV setting then?

The best strategy to verify is to modify your TV to the Film or Cinema image preset, and see the place the sharpness management is in that mode. No matter that quantity is, it is a good place to start out. 


Brett Pearce/CNET

Wish to fine-tune it? Whereas watching quite a lot of content material, particularly 4K if in case you have a 4K TV, flip the management down from that place to begin and see what occurs. Does the fantastic element disappear? If that’s the case, that is too low. Ideally, you can discover the spot that gives probably the most precise element and the least further noise. Do not be shocked if that quantity is 0. 

Some TVs actively soften the picture if you flip the sharpness management to zero (and even under 50 in some instances). This is perhaps executed to supply a strategy to lower the noise in lower-quality sources, however I would be shocked if it is ever used for that objective. Simply one thing to remember. If the picture instantly seems blurry, that is positively too low. There is a candy spot with any TV, it is only a matter of discovering it.

A setup disc, just like the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark, has patterns that may make it simpler to search out the precise sharpness stage in your particular TV.

It is potential, although uncommon, that you’ve got a TV with everlasting edge enhancement. Even turning the sharpness management to zero and going via each setting (and movie preset) in your TV, you continue to might even see edge enhancement or different processing. This was extra frequent with older TV units, although. Lately it is pretty uncommon. 

What about different visible controls? 

Many TVs and a few high-end projectors have processing options separate from the sharpness management. These are normally deeper within the settings menus, or in separate “superior” sections. A few of these can improve the obvious element with out including undue quantities of edge enhancement. Others, after all, do extra hurt than good. 

AI Upscaling

The assorted steps in Samsung’s AI Upscaling course of. 


A part of that is because of the enhance in general processing energy out there in mid- and high-end TVs. For example, Samsung, LG, and Sony have discussed using AI for their upconversion, which is the way you get a decent-looking lower-resolution picture on a high-resolution tv.

There is not any blanket recommendation right here. In case your TV has these decision/element enhancement options, check out every in flip to see what they do. Sit shut, and see if it is including noise, edge enhancement, or if it is making the picture seem sharper. Purists will doubtless need to maintain these options off, particularly with high-quality content material like from a 4K Blu-ray, however with some content material it would assist.

Contemplate what the supply is

Sometimes, the sting enhancement is within the supply. This was frequent on early DVDs, the place edge enhancement was added to make them “pop.” If it is within the supply, there’s nothing you are able to do about it. It is simply one thing to remember for those who’re making an attempt out totally different settings, do not use only one supply or program.

TV producers love edge enhancement, largely as a result of it makes their TVs appear tremendous detailed when seen in a retailer.

There are additionally some sources, typically low-quality video like standard-def TV channels and even VHS tapes, that may profit from a TV’s element enhancement circuits. These sources are so comfortable and low-resolution to start with, that when blown as much as the dimensions of at this time’s massive televisions they might look higher enhanced.

Wanting sharp? Hold wanting

For those who go to your TV proper now and switch the sharpness management all the way in which down the image is completely going to look comfortable. Very similar to with high color temperatures, anybody who is not used to creating fantastic changes to their TV controls has gotten used to a sure “look” to their TV’s image. So at first, even the proper sharpness setting might sound comfortable, particularly in case your TV has been within the Vivid or Dynamic image mode.

Attempt the brand new, decrease sharpness setting for a number of days. For those who then do not just like the look of the un-enhanced picture, that is fantastic. Flip it again up. However I wager if you do the “unique” setting will look bizarre. 

Notice: This text was first printed in 2015 however has been up to date and refreshed with extra information.

In addition to overlaying TV and different show tech, Geoff does picture excursions of cool museums and locations around the world, together with nuclear submarinesmassive aircraft carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and extra. 

You’ll be able to comply with his exploits on Instagram and YouTube about his 10,000 mile road trip. He additionally has written a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, together with a sequel. | Why you might want to flip down your TV’s sharpness management proper now


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