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Projector Screen Gain, Explained

Projector Screen Gain, Explained

If you’re looking for projector screens for your office, home theater or conference room, you’ll run across the term “screen gain” very often.

In fact, every projector screen you look into will have the screen’s gain in its description. Which means it’s an important aspect.

The reason is that it determines the screen’s performance in reflecting light.

Knowing this will lead you to ask a question, “what’s the best gain for a projector screen?” Here, we’re going to answer that question for you. We’ll also explain the important things you need to know about a screen’s gain.

So let’s get straight to it!

What is the Projector Screen Gain?

Why is it important to understand what the screen’s gain is? Well, you can’t expect to find a good projector screen if you don’t know what screen gain is best for your needs.

You know that a screen reflects the projector’s light. So, the more reflective the screen, the brighter the images will appear.

Now, how do you measure the screen’s reflectiveness? This is where the screen’s gain comes in.

To put it very simply, the gain determines the brightness. The higher the gain, the higher the reflectiveness, the brighter the image.

That’s it. That’s what the screen’s gain refers to.

How To Calculate Screen Gain?

Knowing what the gain stands for is easy enough. However, you might get confused with the gain’s ratio numbers.

The ratio number determines how much light is reflected from the light source.

Let’s give you an example. The standard gain ratio is 1.0. If your projector has 1,000 lumens (brightness measurement), the 1.0 gain in the screen will reflect the same amount of brightness.

If your screen’s gain is 1.5, it’ll give off an even brighter reflection, much brighter than the projector’s light. So a 1,000 lumens projector will come out as 1,500 lumens with a 1.5 screen gain.

In the same way, a ratio gain lower than the standard will reflect less light. Going back to our 1,000 lumens projector example. Say, you get a screen with a .8 gain, that’ll only reflect 80% of the light’s source. You’ll only be viewing 800 lumens in a 1,000 lumens projector.

projection to a white screen in a dark room

How Does It Work?

By now, you might be wondering, “How can you make a screen reflect more or less than the light source?”

This is where it gets interesting.

Have you ever noticed how a screen that has brighter images tends to darken as you move to the side? Or, the screen is less bright but you can see it clearly at any angle? You might have experienced this with your computer or TV.

Well, that’s because a screen that reflects more light than the light source needs to be focused on one spot. That spot is usually at the center of the screen, where it’ll be directly in line with the projector’s light. This is what’s called a Degree Viewing Angle.

Since the light reflection is so focused, you’ll only experience the full brightness and clarity when in front of the screen. The farther people sit at the side of the screen, the lesser the brightness is.

Now, to make it reflect less than the light source, it needs to scatter the light around more. This is why, with a lower gain screen, you can still view the images even at a 45° angle. This will also allow a wider viewing range.

To summarize, higher gain ratios focus on one spot to make it brighter. While lower gain ratios scatter the light around to widen the viewing range.

What Is the Best Gain for Screens?

No doubt, you’ll want to get a projector screen with the best gain. But what’s the best gain? Is it better to have a high gain or a low gain projector screen?

The answer to that is neither one is better than the other. The best one will all depend on your needs and preferences.

To help you, we’ll list down all the pros and cons of high and low screen gain. This way, you can choose one that’ll fit what you need and prefer.

Pros and Cons of High Gain Screens

The good thing about a high gain screen is that you don’t need to worry about ambient light. Since its reflection is so bright, you’ll still be able to see clear images in a bright room.

This is perfect when you can’t control ambient light. For example in a conference room with lots of windows in the middle of the day. Or if you use the screen outdoors.

If you’re within the reflected light’s focus, the images will come out clear and bright.

This is where one downside comes in. You have to be within the reflected light’s focus. The farther away you move from it, the darker the screen will appear until it’s all black.

You can see why this isn’t ideal for a movie night with all your friends and family. The people sitting to the side or farther away won’t be able to enjoy the movie quality as much.

If you get a very high screen gain, like 6.0, you could experience other problems. These are hot-spotting and color reduction.

With hot-spotting, you’ll get distracted. This is because the center of the screen is bright while the outer edges appear darker.

The color reduction can remove the impact of the images, especially in movies. The reds, greens, and blues will undergo noticeable color shifting. This will not only distract you, it might even give you a headache.

However, some high-end projector screens have a 6.0 gain but don’t have any of those negative effects.

If you don’t want hot-spotting and color reduction to be noticeable, a good choice will be a screen with 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 gain.

Pros and Cons of Low Gain Screens

It’s funny because some of the high gain’s cons are some of the low gain’s pros, and vice versa.

The first advantage is that you can view the images at any angle. Another one will be it enhances blacks, giving it better contrast and color quality. And, since the reflected light is evenly scattered, there’s no danger of hot-spotting.

Like high gain screens, though, low gain screens can work well with ambient light, if not better.

You learned that low gain diminishes the light reflected. It doesn’t only do this to the projector’s light, but also ambient light. So you’ll get less ambient light reflection as well.

In saying that, it’s still always best to use any projector screen in a dark room.

Another downside to low gain screens is that your projector should have a higher lumen. This is so the images on the screen won’t be too dark, even if there’s no surrounding light.

These were the pros and cons of both the high and low gain screens. It’s up to you to weigh it all in and pick the one that fits your needs and preferences.

A quick rule of thumb: it’s always wiser to get the gain closer to the standard. Only in some cases do you need a screen that has very high or very low gain.

Read more: What kind of projectors do movie theaters use?


To get you started, we’ll give you some projector screen recommendations with a good gain ratio.

If you’re looking for a projector screen for a home theater, we recommend Taotique’s 120in Projector Screen. With a gain of 1.1, it’ll give a wonderful brightness in a dark room. You don’t have to worry about hot-spotting and color reduction.

This screen is also foldable, crease-free, and portable. With 120 inches, you’ll enjoy even the smallest details of the images or movie projected. The best part is that it’s very affordable!

120 inch Projector Screen…
  • Foldable and Wrinkle-free - The 120inch projector screen is made of high-quality polyester fabric to...
  • Compact and Lightweight - Compact one-piece, lightweight and folding design. You can fold the...
  • Easy to Set Up - The wall projector screen can be easily attached to the wall or tree within minutes...

Last update on 2023-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.

Another great quality screen with a 1.1 gain is Elite Screens’ Yard Master 2. It comes with everything you need to set it up. This makes it perfect for outdoor or indoor movies, business presentations, and much more.

Elite Screens Yard Master 2, 120-inch Outdoor Indoor Projector Screen 16:9, Fast Easy Snap On Set-up Freestanding Portable Movie Foldable Front...
  • 【120 inch Freestanding Portable Projector Screen】 This projector Screen is 120-inch Diagonal,...
  • 【Amazing Visual Feast】CineWhite UHD-B (Tensioned Matte White) 1.3 Gain.4K Ultra HD and Active 3D...
  • 【Easy Set up& Clean】 Assembles in minutes without the use of tools Lightweight aluminum square...

Last update on 2023-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.


So what’s the best gain for a projector screen? Only you can answer that for yourself.

Now that you know what you need to know about screen gains, it’ll be a lot easier to pick one that’ll align with what you’re going to use it for. Whether in a conference room, home theater, or whatnot.

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