Frequently Asked Questions
Does the MediaLight change colors?
No. Our entire raison d'être is the manufacture of reference quality video white bias lights. If you want to make your wall turn green, blue or red, we can't help you. However, if you are ready to elevate your home theater experience by doing something that improves the quality of the colors and contrast on your screen, you've come to the right place.
Do the lights turn on and off with the TV?
Some manufacturers make this claim about their LED lights, however, this is false advertising at worst and misleading at best. The lights will turn on and off with the TV only on TVs that cut off power to the USB port when the TV is turned off.
Don't all TVs do this? No, they don't.
Some TVs leave the USB port on when the TV is off. Other TVs turn the USB port on and off every 10 seconds when the TV is turned off (Sony Bravia, for example).
This is why we include an AC adapter and a remote control with most of our MediaLights for TV.
You can teach the remote control commands to your universal remote or smart hub with IR blaster.
If you order the MediaLight Flex, you must request a free extension cord and ac adapter if you intend to use outlet power (the cord will not reach the wall. The Flex is a streamlined alternative to our bulkier systems).
However, if your TV does turn off the power to your USB when the TV is turned off, your MediaLight will turn off when it loses power
This leads us to our next popular question:
What's covered under the 5 year warranty?
Everything is covered.
"The dog chewed my remote control"
"I accidentally cut the power end of the light strip."
"The basement flooded and took my home theater with it."
Our customers will back us on this; we've never denied a warranty claim. We use quality components and our bias lights are built to last.
However, if something does go wrong, we view it as a chance to remind you of why you picked us. If we had to compete on price, using the high quality, ISF-certified components that we use, we'd be dead. However, we realised that there was a hole in the market when it came to accuracy, quality and service.
We'd rather focus on making great lights than try to figure out whether a claim is covered. (This doesn't mean that we won't ask to prove that you own the lights before sending replacement parts).
The only caveat is that if you ordered from outside of the USA, in a region where we have a local distributor, you might be asked to pay for anything faster than standard USPS first class international package mail for replacement parts.
By the way, if your dog swallowed the remote control, you can try pressing the dog's stomach to activate your MediaLight.
Do the lights remember the previous brightness level when they are turned off?
Yes, they do.
Why does MediaLight cost more than some of the cheap lights on Amazon and Alibaba?
We use premium LED chips, which are selected within a very narrow window of color temperature accuracy and color rendering index.
All SMD (LED) chips have slightly different color, brightness and spectral characteristics due to variations in the manufacturing process. These are sorted (binned) so all chips of similar characteristics are binned together. Those with the best (in our case, closest to the D65 standard illuminant), are sold at a premium. The less ideal or wider tolerance chips are cheaper.
The minimum color rendering index (CRI) for a MediaLight in 2019 is 95 Ra. They've improved over time. In our first year (2016), our lights were just over 91 Ra. Our MediaLight Pro has an extremely solid CRI of 99 Ra. We're very pleased with how far technology has come over the last 3 years.
Aside from the quality of our chips, we include everything that you could need for the ideal bias lighting setup. We include a dimmer, a remote control (on TV models) as well as wire management clips and velcro straps to tidy up your installation.
One of the most popular brands of LED backlights on Amazon has a CRI below 75. MediaLight has a CRI of 95. To put that in perspective, it would cost us one-tenth as much to use LEDs with a CRI of 80 and the competing strip isn't even that high.
We won't often be the cheapest option, but we believe that our markups are more modest than those selling systems made with inferior chips.
Will I really see a difference compared to cheaper lights?
Do you prefer to view a calibrated display? If so, you will absolutely see the difference when you accurate MediaLight bias lights. As improbable as it may seem, placing inaccurate lights behind a calibrated display essentially "uncalibrates" the display because it has a subtractive effect on what we see. If you place harsh blue, low CRI lights behind a TV, your image will look warmer to your eyes.
What do you think about lights that change colors with the TV?
Eh. We don't mess with any of that stuff, but we're not here to argue. Buy what you want to buy. Light bleed is something that most people try to eliminate, not add. In the worst cases, it makes the picture look desaturated and the colors seldom match the TV. Worst of all, it's often laggy. If you are an OCD type (our #1 type of customer!), it might drive you bananas. There's plenty to find wrong. All. The. Time.
However, if you are going to spend that kind of money on colored lights, we'd argue that you'd get more bang for the buck and cover a similar amount of wall space by purchasing a larger display. With a 65"-90" display, the picture is very immersive. When Philips launched Ambilight in 2004, TVs were maxing out at around 40"-50". There was still some bare wall -- not that this excuses Philips, but colored lights look silly on an 85" screen.
Do your lights change colors? Are they warm white? Are they cool white?
No. Everyone has opinions about what looks best. We have science and standards. Our lights are certified by the Imaging Science Foundation. Every MediaLight. From the $25 Eclipse to our most expensive units is ISF certified.
If you look on the message forums, you can read about cool white, warm white and rainbow colored bias lights until your eyes glaze over. If any of them did what they were supposed to do, we wouldn't have been able to carve out a niche charging considerably more for our lights (fun fact: our manufacturing costs are higher than their retail prices and our profit margins are much lower).
If you are a professional colorist, we made The MediaLight for you. If you care about home theater and know the value of a calibrated display, we made The MediaLight for you.
We manufacture the very best high CRI (95-99 Ra) CIE Standard Illuminant D65 (6500K; x=0.3127, y=0.329) compliant ("reference standard" video white) bias lights for the professional and consumer market and sell them at a very reasonable price and with a 5 year warranty.
Reference bias lighting is all about making the picture look as the director intended. We are perhaps less dogmatic than some -- if you like colored lights flashing on your walls, we're not going to try to talk you out of them. After all, there is no accounting for taste.
However, placing color behind the display alters our perception of what is on the display. This is just how our eyes and brains work. A warmer color like orange or red behind the display will make everything on the screen look bluer. A cooler color temperature like blue, will make everything look more red. This might not be disastrous when watching The Bachelorette, but you wouldn't want to do it in your coloring suite or while watching Breaking Bad.
Are the MediaLight Bias Lights exact D65?
The MediaLight Bias Lighting system offers an extremely accurate D65 simulation. When you do read marketing language that promises "perfect" or "absolute" D65, proceed carefully.
There are no actual D65 light sources, only simulators. The quality of a simulator can be assessed with the CIE Metamerism Index. The full spectrum, ultra-high CRI ColorGrade™ LEDs in our MediaLight Bias Lights represent the best of what is currently available.
We're a bit wary of companies who call their products "perfect" or "exact D65" to charge more and prefer to not to engage in this practice. Our products are compliant with industry standards. We're pleased about how well we stack up and the Imaging Science Foundation agrees. We're ISF-certified and our lights are tested for color accuracy. We prefer to underpromise and overdeliver.
Why does my Lumu meter give me measurements that are off by 300-5000K (in either direction?)
According the LUMU manufacturer support pages, lower CCT measurements on the Lumu device can be off by as much as 300K and higher CCT measurements can be off by up to 3000K. Our lights are in the middle of those two extremes at 6500K and our binning specifications are much tighter than the tolerances of the Lumu device.
Simply put, we are sorry if you are receiving inaccurate results on your Lumu. Our lights are reviewed throughout the production process, and independently verified in the lab of the Imaging Science Foundation. We don't modify our lights so that they measure differently on a particular model of meter and there are factors that can impact the measurements taken outside of a lab environment.
Some have asked, "Why do they make a meter that is incapable of precise measurements?" Our answer is that precision, in some fields, is relative and the wavelengths being measured also fall into different ranges of color temperature and spectral power distribution, which may be measured more accurately by certain devices.
In photography, the difference between 2300K and 2400K is much more noticeable to the human eye than the difference between 6500K and 7000K and the use of tungsten-based or equivalent lighting in film is usually in the 3200-5000K range. This is, per the Lumu website, where the results on devices like Lumu are most accurate.
The meters used in our production and testing processes, however, are capable of more-precise measurements in the higher CCT range than a $200 iPhone dongle. While one light might give you a result that is closer to 6500K on one of these devices, the device is relying on assumptions about the spectral power distribution of the lights that are beyond its measurement resolution and capabilities.
How many lumens do your bias lights emit? Are they bright enough for HDR displays?
5v 1a lighting can’t exceed a theoretical maximum brightness of about 400 lumens. This is far brighter than in should be, and you will still need to dim your lights significantly to achieve reference levels. Larger 5v strips simply spread the light over a larger area — they are not brighter, with a few exceptions. For example, a 6 inch strip will be brighter than a 4 inch strip.
If you need brighter lights, our 800 lumen MediaLight bulb or our 12v and 24v light strips offer far more brightness. However, our 12v strips don’t sell nearly as well as the USB-powered lights because the extra brightness is not needed, and most people prefer to power from the TV.
Our MediaLight single strip outputs a theoretical maximum of approximately 400 lumens (42 LED's at roughly 20lm each). This is on par with what a popular fluorescent bias light would output. We use only 5050 (5x5mm) LED's, not the smaller and weaker 3528 (3.5x28mm) variety. These are not commodity LED strips. They are built with LED's that we source. There are, however brightness limitations when running off of USB power. However, because most bias lighting is run with a dimmer, you will not likely encounter these limitations in normal use.
Our MediaLight Quad outputs approximately 400 lumens at maximum brightness. There are, however, brightness limitations when running off of USB power. However, because most bias lighting is run with a dimmer, you will not likely encounter these limitations in normal use.
Regarding HDR, yes they are bright enough. HDR video uses brightness regions to help make video look more like reality. The MediaLight exceeds the output requirements for an HDR display bias light.
Is the MediaLight powerful enough for my monster 85" TV?
Yes. It sure is. You will probably need to dim it with the included remote dimmer. If your TV is on a wall mount, you probably want the 5m or 6m Mk2 Flex.
My spouse won't let me paint the walls white or a neutral shade of grey, what do you recommend?
This works pretty well. :)
In all seriousness, there are other solutions, such as placing a neutral backdrop (wall cling or fabric) behind the TV.
Can the strip be cut?
Yes, you can cut between the copper contacts anywhere on the MediaLight strip.
Does The MediaLight bias light emit a blueish light?
No. Our bias lights are truly 6500K and CRI 95 CRI for our standard MediaLight models and 99 Ra for our MediaLight Pro line. Sometimes we think that LED bias light manufacturers just guess at 6500K because the measurements during our tests were universally and outstandingly bad. We verify all of our components with state-of-the-art instrumentation and then we ensure that we don't mess them up while assembling the light strips. These are not aquarium light strips repackaged as bias lights.
One reason why we use a black strip instead of a white strip, which would be more efficient, is that white strips can interfere more with the color temperature than black PCB strips, especially as they age. (Look at the white finishes of electronics that sit out for any length of time).
Experts agree that a bias light should be the color of sunlight on a hazy day, or something called the CIE D65 standard illuminant. We used a calibrated Photo Research SpectraScan PR-650 and Sekonic C7000 to measure our component light emitting diodes. Our partners then test them on their PR-670 to verify our findings.
If a better solution existed, we wouldn't have come to market with The MediaLight. Simply put, none of the other LED-based light kits on the market even come close to 6500K, despite what they say on the tin. The Antec light that we tested was over 9500K, which is practically sky blue. Another popular brand was shockingly over 20,000K! Ours are 6500K, and we mean it. Put them side-by-side and see for yourself. Better still, shine them on a neutral grey card and take a measurement with a calibrated probe. You will be pleased.
Our lights are not only accurate enough for home use, they are used by professionals who color grade the videos we enjoy on our home theater systems. In fact, if you are a professional with an account with Flanders Scientific, we highly recommend buying The MediaLight from them.
What is the color rendering index (CRI) of your LED's?
As of 2018, all of our LED's have a CRI of at least 95 Ra. Our popular MediaLight Pro has a CRI of 99 Ra -- an industry first.
Are your Bias Lights D65 compliant?
Our bias lights are very accurate - more accurate in fact than fluorescent bias lighting solutions -- with a high CRI and a correlated color temperature of 6500K.
Nevertheless, we don't believe that any of the bias lights on the market, including our own, should be marketed as D65. The CIE D65 standard illuminant is derived from sunlight in a slightly hazy sky. In our view, any artificial bias light is "simulated D65," and has different spectral power distribution than natural sunlight.
So, yes. To the extent that an LED is capable of simulating the CIE D65 standard illuminant, The MediaLight is a very accurate solution. Of course, you will immediately recognise a fluorescent or LED light source under a spectrophotometer. A properly-filtered (removing excess infrared) tungsten halogen bulb would be closer to the spectral power distribution of D65, but the form factor, heat output, energy inefficiency and short lifespan limit the use of tungsten bulbs.
Can I buy the MediaLight without a dimmer?
In a word, no, but it's because good bias lighting needs to be adjusted.
The SMPTE Recommended Practice document says the brightness of a bias light as reflected off the surface behind the TV should be less than 10% of the peak white level on the viewing device. Without a dimmer, LED strips are blazingly bright. This can result in crushed blacks, an extreme halo effect and negate some of the benefit of using bias lights in the first place.
Additionally, there are situations where you may have a white wall behind a TV instead of the recommended neutral grey. By adjusting the brightness of the lights you can ensure that they don't exceed the maximum recommended brightness for ambient light.
Other systems, such as fluorescent bias lighting systems are not dimmable, but are used in combination with baffles and/or neutral density filters to achieve the ideal level of illumination.
The wire to the remote looks awfully short...
The remote control is wireless. :-) What you are seeing is the wire to the dimmer module. The length doesn't matter because the remote control works from 15 feet away. There are an extra 6 feet of wire lead that connect to the lights. Once you connect the dimmer module you won't be needing to touch it again.
What about your company? What expertise do you bring to the bias light space?
BiasLighting.com is a division of Scenic Labs. Founded in 2009, we are the publishers of the Spears & Munsil Benchmark. Before that, our founders worked in the same industry and video calibration industry for another decade, publishing Digital Video Essentials. So, you could say that we live and breathe home theater reference standards in everything we do. Thanks to our specialty we have access to the domain expertise of some great imaging scientists, as well as some really cool lab tools.
The bias light space has been a pretty sleepy affair over the last few decades. Aside from a few bright spots, such as one of our favourites -- the now-discontinued Ideal Lume (fluorescent) lights, most of the products on the market were either overpriced, cheap garbage, or overpriced garbage. We liked the accuracy of the fluorescent systems but wanted to combine accuracy with the convenience of LED's.
A similarly-priced set of bias lights from Amazon claimed to be 6500K, but the LED's were not accurate at all! They looked green and blue! How do I know that your bias lights are any different?
All white LED's are driven by a an underlying blue diode (Please note, here in 2018, our MediaLight Pro is driven by a near-violet diode with no blue spike). The diode directs photons at a blend of phosphors and those phosphors, in turn, glow white. When the blend of high-quality phosphors is just right, you get the color temperature that you need based on how the human eye sees color.
You can take a closer look at the spectral qualities of light by studying it under a spectroradiometer. A tell-tale sign of white LED lights is the blue spike above (all lights have their own characteristics - tungsten, fluorescent, sunlight, neon, etc). While it looks like this would result in a blueish light, this is actually the spectrograph of one of our extremely accurate LED's. The other colors are present in just the right balance to result in a 6500K color temperature and CRI of 95+. Of course, the measurements were taken in a controlled laboratory setting and taken off of a neutral grey card as is necessary for an accurate and consistent reading.
Measurements of the BiasLighting.com MediaLight
on a Photo Research SpectraScan PR-650
You've gotta have standards.
Much of what we do isn't very hard or exciting, we're just very methodical about it, and this helps us to develop accurate products. When potential suppliers sent us subpar components, they didn't make the cut. After literally hundreds of LEDs, we found suppliers who could deliver what we needed. We developed best practices to avoid contamination and ensure that the premium LEDs we were buying remained true to their color temperature even after they were mounted and assembled.