Soundscience HDTV Bias Light Review
A bias light is simply a light which attaches to the back of an LCD, plasma or OLED display. I have been recommending bias lighting in home theatres for some time, to reduce eye-strain from watching TV in a darkened room and to improve the perceived contrast ratio of a display. Adding light to your home theatre won’t alter the actual contrast of your display, but it will give the perception of improved black levels, or 'darker blacks'.
Of course, turning on the lights in your home theatre won’t create the most immersive movie watching experience. So therefore the introduction of any light, such as bias lighting should be used sparingly and placed correctly. Ideally it should be attached to the back of the display, or to the wall behind it, to avoid any light reflecting off the display. Bias lighting should produce light no brighter than 5-10% above black. The accompanying photos will give you an indication of how bright this is and there are also a number of discs available (such as Joe Kane’s DVE HD Basics) with test-patterns to aid with correct setup.
While the placement and brightness of a bias light is important, it’s equally important it’s the right colour. A calibrated display will produce a neutral white, free of colour intrusion (D65 white point and colour temperature of 6500K). Bias lighting that is either too warm (yellow), or too cool (blue), will give the perception that the white level of the display is either too blue or too yellow.
Retailing at $29.00, the Antec Soundscience HDTV bias light is a 1400 mm LED strip, recommended for displays of up to 60 inches in size. It’s powered by a 1300mm USB cable, which can be attached to a USB port on your display which in convenient as it enables the bias light to power on and off with the display.
I tested Antec’s bias light on both a 65” plasma (5” larger than Antec’s 60 inch maximum recommended screen size), on a stand-mount 100mm in front of the wall, and a 46” LED-LCD also on a stand-mount, 300mm in front of the wall. Installation was simple, as the LED strip comes with double sided tape already attached, but once in place, it’s difficult to move, so it’s worth doing some testing first!
With the larger plasma I found the bias light provided too much light (I suspect this was due to it being nearly 100mm from the wall). However with the smaller LED-LCD situated closer to the back wall, the level of light it produced was almost perfect, although the LED strip was longer than the TV itself. Fortunately, it’s able to be cut at pre-determined points allowing you to adapt the length for your display.
While the brightness of Antec’s bias light was ideal, it was let down by its cool colour temperature. Upon measuring the colour temperature and white point of the individual LED’s I discovered inconsistency between the LED’s. While some were close to the desired 6,500K and D65 white point, others where closer to 12,000K.
Antec’s Soundscience HDTV bias light offers an affordable and simple to install bias-lighting solution. It will help overcome eye strain associated with viewing in a darkened room and improve the perceived contrast ratio of a display.
If you want your picture to be accurate, which is particularly important if the display has been calibrated, the cool light produced by Antec’s bias light is going to alter the perceived white level of your display towards blue. But in more non-critical applications, such as a bedroom TV, Antec’s Soundscience HDTV bias light may just be the solution you’re looking for.
Our review sample was provided PC Case Gear.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.