What is HDMI Black Level?

When you see a movie or play a game on a television system, every detail showing on the screen represents a distinct message. From the manipulation of lighting towards one part of the screen, making it crystal clear, to another, which is seemingly dark, all of them have a purpose.

Black level in the video refers to the brightness level at the dark part of the television screen. Just because there is a dark part on the television screen, doesn’t mean that the spot should appear dull and unattractive. The black level of television must be properly optimised so that a visual image displayed on the television can pass the right message.

There are instances where the black level of your television is not sufficient enough. That’s why televisions like Samsung adopt the use of an HDMI black level.

The function of the HDMI black level is to support the black level range on a Samsung television for an HDMI input. With the HDMI black level, you don’t just get the best colour accuracy. It also enhances the best digital black level that you can get.

How to set the HDMI Black Level on Samsung TV

This is considered a controversial question in the Samsung community. Setting the HDMI black level of your Samsung television largely depends on the type of display on the television.

There are two levels of settings you can choose for your HDMI black level. You can choose either Low or Normal depending on which gives you the best digital black level. When the option is placed on Low, it enhances the deeper black level range, and if placed on normal, it enhances what image the device is sending.

To set the HDMI black level on your Samsung television, follow these simple steps.

Step One

Grab your television remote and click on settings. Please scroll to the General on the Settings option, click on it.

Step Two

Once you have clicked on the General, other options will be displayed. Locate External Device Manager, click on it and wait for the options to be displayed on your screen.

Step Three

Another option will be displayed once you click on the External Device Manager. From the list of options shown, locate the HDMI Black Level. Click on the HDMI Black Level to set it, put it on Low.

The step-by-step method explained above is the best way to have those picture accuracy and excellent digital black level. As stated earlier, getting the selection for the HDMI Black Level can be pretty tricky. We will highlight some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about this topic.


Will the digital black level be affected if I turn the settings to low?

No, setting the option on low will not affect the digital black level, provided you do not mess around with the picture settings on your television. For instance, if you move the picture brightness to below 0 in the middle and not change the Gamma from 0. The Gamma should be on 0, which is the balance mode. If you have not done any of these, you will indeed have the best digital black levels.

Why can’t I find the HDMI Black Level on my television?

There are cases of the HDMI Black Level not being found on television. Remember that the HDMI Black Level is to compensate the black level of the tv for HDMI input. This means that television must receive a signal in RGB. If this doesn’t happen, you will have the HDMI Black Level on your television greyed out.

Is it essential to use the black level for gaming?

The simple truth is YES. The black level in television is not just for display. It is for colour richness. So, regardless of what you are doing with the television or seeing on the television, the black level needs to be appropriately optimised to have the most fantastic picture quality.

How would you enjoy video games without perfect picture quality? Video games are not just about sound. It is about the visual images displaying on the television. So, yes, it is best to use the black level for gaming.

3 thoughts on “What is HDMI Black Level?”

  1. All common video formats use limited range levels. For 8 bit video, instead of zero being black and 255 being white,16 is black and 235 is white. That’s what TV’s normally expect YCbCr to be over HDMI.

    On the other hand, PC displays traditionally expect a full range RGB input. If you watch limited range video on a PC, it has to be expanded to full range before it’s sent to the display, usually by the video card, or it’ll look washed out.

    That’s all the HDMI black level setting does. It tells the TV to expect the input to be either full or limited range. For limited range video, with the TV’s input set to expect limited range, the result should be exactly the same as sending it full range video and telling it to expect full range.

    Samsung decided to call the full range input setting “normal” and the limited range input option “low”, which I guess makes sense from an RGB perspective, where “normal” for RGB means full range. If it is full range though and you tell the TV to expect limited range (HDMI black level low), the TV will expand the full range levels unnecessarily, which will probably crush the blacks and the picture will look too dark. If it’s limited range RGB, Black Level “Low” would tell the TV to expand it to full range so it’ll display correctly.

    If the HDMI black level option is greyed out for YCbCr it’s because the TV expects YCbCr to be limited range and the input will effectively be set to HDMI “low”. Likewise for TVs with a VGA or DVI connector, where the input is expected to be full range RGB, the black level option will probably be greyed too and fixed at “normal”.

  2. I have a Samsung QE75QN95aatxxu. When I access external device manager, HDMI black-level appears greyed-out and unresponsive. Is this as it should be?

    Also, on the same TV, is up-scaling automatic, or must I enable it? If the later, please tell me how.

  3. @ Daniel Jacks
    The manual says under “Using HDMI black level”:
    “This function is only available when the input signal connected to the TV via an HDMI connector is set to RGB444”

    Although RGB is always 444 anyway (no subsampled chroma).

    My LCD computer monitor calls the same option “HDMI RGB PC Range”. The setting isn’t available for YCbCr over HDMI as it’s always supposed to be “limited range”.

    As far as upscaling goes, a device would connect to the TV using one of the TV’s supported input resolutions. For example, the TV supports 720×480 (standard definition NTSC), 1280×720 (HD), 1920×1080 (FHD) and a whole bunch of other input resolutions. When a device connects at a non-native resolution, the TV should automatically upscale it to fill the screen. When a device connects at the TV’s native resolution (4k I assume?) it’s receiving a 4k picture and therefore doesn’t need to upscale it. If the TV has a built in media player (ie USB input for a hard drive etc), it should upscale automatically if the picture’s resolution is lower than the TV’s native resolution.

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