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Video: TV Contrast Ratio

Steve Kindig has been an electronics enthusiast for over 30 years. He has written extensively about home and car A/V gear for Crutchfield since 1985. Steve is also a volunteer DJ at community radio station WTJU, where he is a regular host of the American folk show "Atlantic Weekly," as well as the world music program "Radio Tropicale."

More from Steve Kindig

Learn about contrast ratio — what it means for a TV's picture quality, and how to use contrast ratio numbers when comparing TVs.

Video Transcript

Steve: Hi. I'm Steve and I'm here in the Crutchfield studio to talk about TV contrast ratio. Contrast ratio measures the difference between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks that a TV can produce. The higher a TV's contrast ratio, the better it will be at showing distinct details especially in the darkest areas of the screen. Now you might see contrast ratios ranging from 5,000:1 to 5,000,000:1. Now if you're shopping for a TV it might seem obvious to just compare the contrast specs between TVs, and buy the one with the highest contrast ratio. But actually you need to keep two things in mind when comparing these numbers.

First of all, you'll find that some TVs list two different contrast ratio specs. Static contrast ratio measures the difference between the brightest and darkest images a TV can produce simultaneously. Dynamic contrast ratio measures those same differences over time, so that number is always much higher. For example, a TV with a static contrast ratio of 3,000:1 may have a dynamic rating of 100,000:1 so make sure you're comparing apples to apples.

Second, there is no agreed upon industry standard for measuring either type of contrast ratio, and measurements of dynamic contrast ratio are especially varied. While static contrast ratio is a more real world measurement, there are still likely to be differences in how that number is calculated across different brands. The bottom line: The contrast ratio spec is most useful when you're comparing different TV models from the same manufacturer. Just don't rely on it as the most important factor when assessing picture quality. You can learn about other HDTV terms and technologies at, or you can always call our experts at 1-800-555-9408.

  • Vin from Syracuse

    Posted on 12/10/2016

    I would assume anyone watching this would want to buy a TV or projector with a good Contrast ratio. To help in making that decision, if you could mention what is a good static contrast ratio value and dynamic contrast ratio value, that would help.

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