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What Is HDMI Black Level?


The HDMI Black Level is a setting within Samsung TVs and monitors designed to compensate for the intensity of blacks in the display. It can either increase the range of blacks it shows or decrease it. The setting may vary according to what you are watching or the setup you have. 

Let’s consider this in more detail to help you understand the concept better. 

What Is HDMI Black Level?

From gamers to people who watch movies on their TV, the concept of HDMI Black Level concerns everyone who has a Samsung TV and wants a clearer, crisper image. Every detail on the image you see or the video you are watching represents the manipulation of light. 

The LEDs behind the screen that make up your screen can be managed to make what you are watching clearer. Things made too dark represent a unique message, and your TV screen should reflect that, or you may want the exact opposite. For example, if you are playing the cave missions from God of War, you know how irritating the dark can be, yet how meaningful blacks themselves are. 

SAMSUNG 75-Inch Class Neo QLED QN90A Series
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In older TVs, the black part would appear dull and would dim out the whole experience. Samsung has introduced a new feature into its televisions: the HDMI black level. This technology aims to make sure the dark spots don’t appear unattractive but get optimized to reflect the visual quality and message that the image or video originally intended to reflect. 

By combining HDMI technology and your television’s black levels, Samsung LED TVs have introduced a much broader range of blacks into the image. The idea is to refine the input through the immense potential offered by HDMIs and, therefore, improve the output. There are 105 different blacks that the combination has introduced, and the results are nothing short of astonishing. 

The HD input ensures better color accuracy and ‘highlights’ the blacks, reducing reflections and potential distortions you would normally see. This has been dubbed as ‘enhancing the digital black’ by Samsung. 

Using the HDMI Black Level Option in Samsung TVs

SAMSUNG 65-Inch Class Crystal UHD AU8000 Series
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When you use the HDMI Black Level option in Samsung TVs, the option lets you compensate for the “blackness” of the input by expanding the range of blacks your TV accepts. This may cause your TV to run slightly hotter (nothing dangerous). 

The ‘normal’ setting of the HDMI Black Level stands at roughly 130. The HDMI input allows you to change it from 0-255 from a YCrCb color source, giving your blacks more depth. Normally, these extreme black levels will be greyed out unless you turn on the HDMI setting. 

Which Is the Best HDMI Black Level Setting?

The HDMI Black Level option you choose to go with will depend entirely on your TV settings, the color range you use, and of course, whether you are using a TV or monitor. Despite popular belief, you need to mention that the HDMI Black Level has nothing to do with image sharpness or the overall detail. The only thing it impacts is the black color accuracy. 

SAMSUNG 55-inch Class QLED Q60T Series
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For those of you who use a limited RGB range on your TV, you should use a low HDMI Black Level. Otherwise, you may risk saturating the blacks too much, which will, in turn, lead to a darker, duller, and unattractive image. Increasing the black levels may result in shadow outlines getting blurred or shadows not being visible if you are gaming! 

On the other hand, if you use a full RGB setting on your TV or gaming console, you may need to go with a normal or high HDMI black level. Combined with full RGB, you can expect the black level to improve and create a compelling contrast in the process. Depending on the model of your TV, you may have an ‘expanded’ or ‘full’ option. 

When setting your Black Level for the first time, you may have to play with the settings a bit, though, particularly the brightness. As you continue to expand the level, you will find that the brightness will go down, even at full RGB/Normal.

There is no ‘best’ HDMI Black Level setting, just one most compatible with your settings. 

Black Level Settings Based on Your Equipment

Another important consideration to make is whether you have a TV or monitor as well as the system you are using. For TV, we recommend using low or medium Black Level settings. For PC, on the other hand, we recommend you go with Full Black Level. 

If you have a PS4, you may want to decrease the HDMI Black Level and increase the brightness a bit. However, for XBOX consoles, you may need to go with High/Normal Black Level settings as their games are usually less saturated than PS4. Of course, there are exceptions.

Setting the HDMI Black Level on Samsung TVs

The HDMI Black Level setting on Samsung TVs will vary from the model of the TV/monitor and the display type. For some, you may have just Low and Normal settings, while others let you choose between Low, Medium, High, and some recent models also give you the option of manually choosing the Black Level from 0 to 255. 

SAMSUNG 55-Inch Class Neo QLED QN90A Series
Click the image for more info

Lower options enhance the black level range, while normal enhances the image as it is. Higher settings usually brighten up the black by reducing its saturation. Setting the HDMI Black Level on Samsung TVs is fairly simple:

  1. Open the settings menu
  2. Scroll to the General tab
  3. Click on the External Device Manager
  4. Find and click the HDMI Black Level
  5. Choose the option you want. We recommend choosing Low first, if you are just testing out the options available.

If you find that the image has neither changed at all with the low option or the blacks aren’t attractive anymore, change the brightness a bit to see if the difference is to your liking. If not, go with the Normal/High option. 

HDMI Black Level isn’t essential, but it is a great option for gamers. It doesn’t do anything to enhance the sharpness or detail of the image; however, it seems like it has a huge impact.


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