Dan Mons

Stop, Calibrate and Listen – CRT Calibration Made Simple video

A fantastic CRT colour calibration guide has appeared on YouTube this week courtesy of Lex Locatelli.


CRT colour calibration is often a task people like to do by eye. However due to a lot of factors around how human vision can be fooled by certain lighting conditions, this can leave you with a display that is often quite poor for colour, despite our best efforts to make it look nice.  Calibrating with a colorimeter (a device that can measure colour accurately, and connect to a desktop or laptop via USB for use with free software tools) can be a daunting process at first, however Lex’s video does an amazing job of stepping through the necessary stages to get your picture looking fantastic.

All of the software tools used in the video are free, and the colorimeter itself is the biggest cost outlay.  While these can sell for around USD$200 or so new, they can often be purchased for less second hand (especially as photographers, videographers and studios move from SDR to HDR and upgrade their colorimeters, selling the old ones on various marketplaces, eBay, etc).  If you’ve got a number of displays in your collection, or just want to ensure top level accuracy of your imagery, a cheap colorimeter is a fantastic tool to buy and learn how to use.

Calibrating specifically for retrogaming can also be tricky. Many calibration guides assume HD signal sources or devices with connectors our CRTs don’t have, which can be tricky on our old SD CRTs. However Lex again simplifies this, using the famous 240p Test Suite as a calibration source for the colorimeter to use, allowing us to calibrate directly for the console, FPGA device or emulator we’re going to use directly on our display with the exact cables and connectors we use for our daily gaming.

Lex’s video goes through everything needed in order from start to finish to get your CRT looking its best, and presenting an image back to you that’s both standards-accurate as well as delivering the best colours and contrast for your video and gaming needs.  A great guide with all of the steps, tools, software, processes and terminology explained very well for even a complete CRT beginner. Worth noting that this guide also applies to LCD and OLED displays as well, if you’re displaying a picture in SDR, and can even be applied to running an old console through a scaler into a modern TV.  All of the theories and methods translate across to a variety of display technologies too.

Many thanks to Lex for this great guide, and one that really aims to make this complex process as friendly as possible to everyone.