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Podcast #840: Real Life OLED Burn In Test

Walking through a large electronics store the other day something caught our eye on one of their OLED display televisions. While you’d like to hope it was the vivid, realistic images on screen, it wasn’t. It was the obvious burn-in. And it was bad. You could clearly see a shadow of the bottom logo bar / ticker from content they must use regularly peeking through what would have otherwise been a stellar video presentation. The burn-in scare was one of the factors that ultimately led to the demise of plasma televisions. Will burn-in be the demise of OLED?

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Business Insider: Sonos vs Bluesound Pulse 2 Review

We’re always thankful for helpful links and articles sent in by listeners. While they’re all (typically) great articles, we don’t have enough time in a weekly podcast to share them all. But occasionally we’ll read one we really enjoy or think the rest of our listeners will find informative, so we share it. This week listener Joe sent a link to an article at Business Insider written by Matthew DeBord called I tested a Sonos speaker competitor and was blown away by the audio quality that we thought was worth sharing. For us, we tend to see whole house audio as background music. But this article shows a different aspect

If you’re like us, you’ll turn on the Sonos or the Chromecast or Airplay system - or even Amazon Echos now - when you’re doing chores, or maybe when you’re having a party or get together. We don’t typically focus on the whole-house wireless audio systems as high quality audio playback systems. As long as they sound good, and can stay in sync across zones, they fit the bill. But this article highlights that some of you out there are using these systems for much more than that. You want your audio zones to be high fidelity listening zones.  If that’s you, if you want the best audio quality possible out of your wireless system, this is a great read for you.

The article’s author own Sonos speakers, and describes his household as a “Sonos family” but also admits that he’s a huge fan of high quality audio. His article focuses on comparing the Sonos Play:5, a $500 speaker, with the Bluesound Pulse 2, a $700 speaker. In his quest for high fidelity, he even goes so far as to mention the Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) streaming that is available from Tidal for some tracks. Bluesound supports it, but Sonos doesn't yet. Bluesound also supports Bluetooth as a secondary option, Sonos does not.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

I won't beat around the bush. The Bluesound Pulse 2 is significantly better than the Sonos Play:5. I could hear the difference, vividly, every time I sampled the device's talents. The Pulse 2 is also $200 more expensive than the Play:5 — $700 versus $500 — and with an interface that's somewhat more difficult to use.

What we're really looking at here is the difference between a system designed for audio enthusiasts who also appreciate Apple-like ease of use — Sonos — and a system engineered by audiophiles who didn't want to go entirely in the direction of majestic and very expensive setups.

My Play:5 has three tweeters and three woofers handling the bass duties, and each component has a dedicated amplifier. This configuration can mimic stereo — sort of what you might get from an old-school, two-cabinet hi-fi system — but to my ear, what the Play:5 does well is deliver great volume, good musical detail through the listening spectrum, and create a "mass" of sound about ten feet in front of the unit.

The Pulse 2 has two tweeters and a single woofer, each with its own amp. The stereo effect is less prominent, to my ear, but the sound is much bigger then the Play:5's, with more detail. Impressive given that the two units are about the same size.

The overall Sonos experience is more seamless than the Bluesound experience, and the Sonos app is a breeze to use. Some reviewers of Bluesound products have complained that they're difficult to set up, but I had no troubles, and once I downloaded the iPhone app, I was able to connect with the streaming choices effortlessly.

Interestingly, my favorite use of the Pulse 2 was when I used the convenient integrated carrying handle to take it to my backyard for a party. I set it up in a nice, safe place and let it do its thing. The sound was beyond room-filling. At modest volume, it took over my not large but hardly small yard, suffusing every corner with lovely tones. That was the only real moment of regret I endured, when I thought that I should have dropped the extra $200.

Simply put, Bluesound's Pulse 2 is worth a look. Real Life OLED Burn In Test on 6 TVs

Walking through a large electronics store the other day something caught our eye on one of their OLED display televisions. While you’d like to hope it was the vivid, realistic images on screen, it wasn’t. It was the obvious burn-in. And it was bad. You could clearly see a shadow of the bottom logo bar / ticker from content they must use regularly peeking through what would have otherwise been a stellar video presentation. The burn-in scare was one of the factors that ultimately led to the demise of plasma televisions. Will burn-in be the demise of OLED?

To dig into the issue, we turned to our friends at It just so happens that they are currently, actively running a real life burn-in test on 6 LG OLED televisions. While we used to dismiss burn-in issues with plasma once the technology matured, it looks like we may not be able to dismiss them with OLED yet. The technology just hasn’t matured to where we can say it isn’t an issue. Hopefully it will. If not, the test results at were eye opening for us. Enough to give us pause on purchase decisions, and certainly informative on how we would use an OLED screen if we owned one.

The folks at ran a burn-in stress test to compare the results across three different display technologies: OLED and two types of LCD, In Plane Switching (IPS) and Vertical Alignment (VA). The results there are pretty dire for OLED, as are the comments from some of the OLED owners at the bottom of the page. And when you factor in that, as they point out in response to a comment “Burn-in on OLEDs unlike Plasma or CRT TVs is not caused by retention or stuck pixels, but instead due to cumulative degradation of the material through usage. This means that over time, OLED TVs will lose brightness across the whole screen progressively. Burn-in is simply a high contrast region of the screen where there was more usage than the surrounding area creating a visible shape.” It doesn’t paint a rosy picture for OLED.

For more information on In Plane Switching (IPS) versus Vertical Alignment (VA) for LCD TVs, see this article: IPS vs VA: Comparing LCD types found in TVs.

But the real world test is a bit more “fair” than the stress test - especially on the OLED sets. Here’s how they went about it. First, they “bought 6 LG OLED C7 which will play real, non-altered content. This should give you a better idea on what to expect depending on what you watch on your TV.” Then they simulated using them like you might.


The goal of the test is to provide an idea of the usage time of a 2017 OLED TV before burn-in becomes apparent, which will depend on your usage. To do so, we will replicate five different real-world conditions in an accelerated aging test. We will also independently test two different brightness ('OLED Light') settings with the same content to see the impact of this.

Test Setup

The TVs will all be controlled by a microcontroller to repeat a five hour on and one hour off cycle four times per day. The 'Screen Shift' option will be enabled on all TVs, and 'Pixel Refresher' will be performed before each set of measurements taken on each TV. They will all be playing real content (not test patterns), from live cable TV sources, video game clips or recorded sports. The brightness of all TVs (except the one identified below) will be set to 200 nits on a checkerboard pattern, with the content described below.

The Content

1. LIVE CNN - This test is considered a control, with the 'OLED Light' set to a brightness of 200 nits.

2. LIVE CNN (MAXIMUM SCREEN BRIGHTNESS of 380 nits) - This is to show the relationship between burn-in rate and 'OLED Light' with the exact same content and over the same time period.

3. FOOTBALL - Includes content from a variety of channels and with different teams, so overlays are located in different areas and team colors change. It includes many games to avoid too much repeating.

4. LIVE NBC - The source is a live cable feed and should be representative for a range of general TV content.

5. FIFA 18 GAMEPLAY - The goal of the content on this TV is to investigate the effect of a 'high risk' video game - one which has some bright, static areas which remain very consistent.

6. CALL OF DUTY: WWII GAMEPLAY - The gameplay footage on this TV is to represent a relatively 'low risk' video game. It only has small areas which are static and an overall dim image without too many bright colors.

Results (so far)

Week 2: No issues are visible.

Week 4: Uniformity issues are clearly visible on the 200 nits CNN TV in red and magenta slides (but not in normal content). This is unusual, as we would expect the maximum brightness CNN TV to show uniformity issues before the 200 nits CNN TV. The 25% window we used in January to measure the color gamut is also becoming more visible on this TV (and the FIFA 18 TV) as the weeks progress, even though we haven't displayed that 25% test pattern since January. We have contacted LG to understand why this is happening and will update this article as we obtain more information.

Week 6: Only minor changes since week 4.

Week 8: Increases in peak brightness across all TVs, but otherwise the measurements remain consistent.

Week 10: LG engineers visited our lab, and we will post the results of their investigation and an update in the next few days.

04/10/2018: We contacted LG regarding the strange results in week 4. LG engineers visited our lab a few days ago and were able to confirm the 25% window on the Live CNN and FIFA 18 TVs are a result of a factory issue (see our video here). OLED TVs are produced in a hot process, and after cooling a 25% window is shown on each panel. Some TVs which haven't cooled completely can produce invalid results for the lookup table used by the 'Pixel Refresh' function, causing this 25% window to become visible. Only some 55" OLED TVs were affected during part of 2017.

As this is not an issue with the panel itself, it is possible to apply a fix to the lookup table. LG will apply this fix to anyone who presents this issue to their support, for free, even after the warranty period has long expired. They have fixed our two affected TVs (see the uniformity photos below). Note that this doesn't fix other uniformity issues as the result of static content, only the 25% window caused by a factory defect. LG has also confirmed that there is variation between panels, which is why some OLED appear more prone to developing uniformity issues (as in the case with our Live CNN (200 nits) vs Live CNN (Max).)






Download Episode #840

Reader Comments (1)

Hey Gang!

Thanks for the Podcast, enjoy it every week! I wanted to comment on the UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, Digital Copy conversation. I think the reason these have all been bundled is so that when you buy a film you don’t have to be commuted to one way to view the film.

You may be saying well why are they doing this if disks are dying. I think with companies trying to adapt, they know that some consumers want to get the best bang for the buck, and while we’ve lately had the option to buy a film a week or two before the Blu-ray release, it’s often best to wait for the UHD combo because for $10 more generally you get all three versions and will then have the 4K UHD for home viewing, digital copy for trips, and General Blu-ray for the bedroom and/or to rip a version to your plex.

I find that if I’m going to own something, I like to own something physical that gives me options and I think by offering a combo the studio is actually giving you the best chance to enjoy the content in whatever form you like!

Thanks for the chance to win the weekly contest, I was genuinely giddy when I heard this coming out of the subway on my way to work! Can’t wait to tell my coworkers!


April 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Butler

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