Video Calibration

Avia II Guide to Home Theater

ARTICLE INDEX

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Introduction

Avia Guide to Home Theater, is known to many in the world of AV. Released in 1999 by Ovation Multimedia, its various video test patterns and audio test tones have helped countless enthusiastsget the most out of their audio and video equipment. In fact, whenever I have received a new system to evaluate, Avia has traditionally been one of the first tools I would utilize to get the system properly configured. When I recently learned that a new version of Avia was available, I didn't wait very long to request a copy for review and the kind folks at Ovation Multimedia happily obliged.

Specifications

Avia II is a substantial upgrade to the first Avia Guide to Home Theater. The cost is $49. 99 and Ovation also offers an upgrade program for owners of the original Avia disc which runs $25.00 plus shipping and handling. While the focus and delivery pretty much stay the same as the first Avia, Avia II is a better product than its predecessor because of its additional test patterns, its live action tutorials, and its printable user manual that is included as a pdf file on the disc. Avia II is currently available as a DVD, and Ovation has indicated that there will be a Blu-ray version available in the future. The package includes the Avia II DVD and three colored plastic filters that are used to check a display's color decoder and properly adjust the display's color settings.

In addition, if the Avia II disc is placed in a computer's DVD drive there is a handy glossary of home theater terms as well as an user manual that instructs one on how to get the most out of the advanced test tones and video patterns located on the disc. AviaII-GuideToHomeTheater-Figure2.jpg

Watching the program from start to finish, I was looking forward to seeing what changes were to come. First off, the presentation is very polished and the hosts of the program explain all the concepts in a simple and easy to understand fashion. One can go from start to finish with the disc if they are brand new to home theater, or if they are a seasoned veteran they can advance to a specific chapter to gain more knowledge or check reference test material to assist with calibration and evaluation.

 


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The Design

Avia II program material is broken down into ten chapters. The first seven chapters feature live action personalities that talk about and introduce all of the relevant equipment and concepts present in home theater today. The live action material describes topics such as speakers, display technology, cable connections, and HD technology and the hosts of the program give very clear explanations about the various kinds of equipment that make up a home theater and how they all work together to provide the home theater experience.

With the big digital switch on the horizon, Avia II's information is presented in a way that would be perfect for somebody who is either new to home theater or unfamiliar with the current technologies. The seven introductory chapters serve not only as a guide to equipment but they also serve to educate a user about the home theater environment and what factors are important in getting the most out of the equipment once it is ready to be set up. Following this material, chapters eight and nine consist of live action tutorials on making standard audio and video adjustments. Specifically, the standard video adjustments include contrast, brightness, color and tint, sharpness, and red push. The standard audio adjustments include speaker identification, phase, matching speaker levels, subwoofer phase, and subwoofer level.

The tutorials offer an improvement over the previous version of Avia in that they really make the calibration process easy for someone without experience to make the adjustments. They first describe the test patterns and then show what to look for when making an adjustment and how to perform the calibration. The DVD is also organized so that the media can be paused while making a calibration. These tutorials are clear and simple to follow for anybody no matter what experience level they are at. The last chapter consists of all the patterns and test tones found on chapters eight and nine as well as additional advanced patterns that can be utilized by amateur and professional alike.

While going into detail with all of the advanced patterns and tones on the disc is way beyond the scope of this review I will say that the more than 200 video patterns and more than 100 audio tones that Avia II includes are precise tools and can be used to fine tune or evaluate any system although some do require professional equipment such as a waveform monitor to use properly. A complete listing of the included tones and patterns can be found on Ovation's website.

Avia II Guide to Home Theater
Avia II Guide to Home Theater

Many of the patterns cover the same ideas found on the previous version of Avia but this version has updated and improved on many of them to cover more ground and to make them easier to use when calibrating equipment in various situations. One such example comes in the Needle Pulse pattern which has added a horizontal step block that shows how a system is handling blacker than black and whiter than white information thus evaluating a system for proper headroom.

Avia II Guide to Home Theater
Avia II Guide to Home Theater

Another example is the 10 IRE field pattern which is handy for detecting if there is interference present in the cables, connectors, or AC power supply of a video system. Noise shows up as visual artifacts that are either static or moving. New to the audio test tones section, Avia II has included a way to calibrate subwoofers at four different crossover frequencies which is used to get a good blend between the main speakers and the subwoofer. The different crossover frequencies at 200 Hz, 120 Hz, 80 Hz, and 45 Hz are handy because of variations in speaker driver size. Avia II also has included twenty seven test tones used to evaluate 6. 1 surround sound systems.

One of the most welcome additions to the Avia series is the included user manual that is accessed from a computer with a DVD-Rom. It's an indispensible resource for understanding and maximizing one’s ability to further calibrate or evaluate their system using the supplied video and audio test material. The descriptions start out by showing what the test pattern looks like and then they explain what they test. This is followed by clear instructions on what to do to use them and what to pay attention to.

 


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Conclusions

No serious home theater or audiophile enthusiast should be without a resource disc to assist in system evaluation and calibration and Avia II is hands down one of the easiest to use and most comprehensive discs available. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran at a mere $49. 99, Avia II Guide to Home Theater represents a true bargain. So, If you don't own a home theater calibration disc already,now there is even more reason to get yourself a copy of this excellent home theater resource from Ovation Multimedia. Highly recommended.
Adrian Wittenberg