Sony’s new PVM-X550 Monitor is one of the highest quality production-grade 4K OLED monitors on the market. It has the most accurate picture and color reproduction of any monitor (of this size) that we know of. It is also very expensive. Here is a breakdown of the monitors features that set it apart from the rest. (Scroll down for FAQ.)
We recently hosted an open house event to let people get a glimpse of the Sony PVM-X550 – Sony’s flagship video monitor. It has an impressive list of features, and no one could argue that if you are serious about getting accurate picture and color output, this is your best choice.
However, the allure of less expensive alternatives is hard to resist. For example LG has 55″ and 65″ 4K OLED panels in their consumer line. They look great! On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer, but there are very important differences between these two products. The LG is a ‘display’ – it is meant to make video pleasing to the home viewer. The Sony is a ‘monitor’ – it is meant to give your editors, colorists, and clients an accurate representation of what really is going on in the picture – especially in the 0 – 25% brightness ranges, where other monitors typically start to crush the blacks and tint the grays. It all boils down to what you need for your buiness to propser.
Here is a breakdown of the differences between the LG B-series 55 inch TV and the Sony PVM-X550 monitor.
- The OLED panel on the Sony PVM-X550 is much higher quality than the LG TV.
- The Sony PVM-X550 OLED panel has a longer life when used for HDR applications.
- The LG suffers from color inaccuracy due to the consumer-grade processing engine.
- The viewing angle on the Sony is better.
- The high-quality manufacturing process for the Sony PVM-X550 results in very high consistency unit to unit. Due to a low-cost, budget manufacturing process and materials, the LG OLED panels usually have dead pixels. In addition, even two units, one serial number apart, can be vastly different in terms of output.
- The processing engine of Sony is also far more advanced.
- Because the LG is a consumer television and not a professional studio monitor, it is designed to display images in a way that LG engineers think the consumer will like. What this means is that, although the picture may look good, it is not an accurate, true representation of the recorded video you are monitoring. For example, the LG will show odd midtone deviations.
- The Sony PVM-X550 uses the same processing engine as the Sony BVM-X300, which sets a high standard in the industry for accuracy.
- The Sony has 12-bit color depth processing, which is the highest bit depth specified in the ITU-R BT.2020 standard. According to LG, their B-series is capable of 10-bit processing, but in most cases, uses only 8 bit color depth, which results in banding.
- The X550 has settings for multiple gamuts and EOTFs, which use very precise and accurate data tables.
- The Sony is far more stable, whereas the LG will need frequent adjustment to stay aligned and calibrated.
- The PVM-X550 is ITU-R BT.2100 compliant, which is the current and future standard for reproducing HDR video. The LG is not.
- The Sony fully supports SMPTE ST2084 (PQ) and SMPTE RP431-2 (DCI p3). The LG has settings for these modes, but they are not true representations – the LG modifies the output due to its consumer orientation.
- The Sony has a feature known as quad view, which lets you monitor four separate inputs at the same time, all with independent gamma, gamut, white point and frame rates.
- the PVM has four 3GHSDI inputs, while the LG only has HDMI.
- the Sony monitor can be controlled via LAN from a BKM 16R controller.
Here are some FAQ’s and more information regarding the PVM-X550 based on other customer’s questions:
Q: How do you control the monitor?
A: It has basic menu and up/down/enter controls built-in to the right side panel. A preferred method, however, is to use the BKM-16R contol panel – it is the same one used for all their BVM and PVM-L monitors and connects via a standard Ethernet cable.
Q: Can one BKM-16R be used to control multiple monitors?
A: Yes. You simply connect all the monitors and control panel(s) together on a basic Ethernet LAN. Both the monitors and the controllers get a unique IP address. The monitors also have a number assignment and a group assignment.
So, when you set them up, you set a monitor number, group number, IP address, and a subnet mask.
The controller has an area that lets you select one individual monitor number, a group number, or all of the monitors on the LAN:
Q: What is the brighness rating of the panel and why?
A: The panel is rated at 400 nits. Any brighter and the white subpixel starts to wash out the RGB pixels and shrinks the color gamut.
Q: Is this meant to be a client monitor or an evaluation grade monitor?
A: The main intention of the monitor is to have a matching client solution that pairs with the BVM X300 which is a master evaluation monitor. Sony says it’s a client monitor since when compared against the performance of their BVM models. But if you are used to using a plasma and felt that was accurate enough, then this is far better in stability and accuracy, so you could say it’s an evaluation grade monitor.
The design of the PVM X550 follows EBU 3320 monitor recommendation. They designed it as a ‘grade 2’ monitor. The BVM X300 being a grade one (actually far better than the grade one description).
Q: … So that’s why it has a ‘PVM’ instead of a ‘BVM’ designation – Is there a BVM version in the works?
A: No. The OLED technology between a BVM level and PVM level would be way too expensive. The BVM monitors use a top emission RGB subpixel array that incorporates a resonance cavity architecture which allows for very precise calibration and helps with stability. But is much more expensive to make. The OLED technology in the PVM is a bottom emission architecture using white pixel array (stacked blue and yellow emitters) with a color filter. Not as accurate and needs much more power to drive, but since all the subpixels are white, it’s much easier to make large panels.