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Black level issue


LucaBrazi80
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I upgraded from original Vive to Vive Pro 2. The black level is much worse on the Pro 2, it's like 50% grey actually, not black by a any stretch. There's not real black in any scene and everything is washed out. SteamVR Home looks the best but all games are horribly grey.

Is this a configuration issue or just a feature of the Vive Pro 2? God rays are also much worse on the Pro 2, so if these aren't fixable it's actually a much worse HDM than the original. Anything that could be done?

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Every headset has its compromises, and having multiple headsets, each serving a specific need is becoming more common.  The OG Vive is OLED and the Vive Pro 2 is LCD.  I experienced similar initial disappointment when I went from OG Vive to Index; however, the increase in resolution and field of view easily won me over in a short time, except in a few games--especially dark dungeon crawlers like Karnage Chronicles--where the contrast had made a significant difference.  In fact, I still have my OG Vive hooked up in a second VR room for playing such titles and for local coop games. 

Regarding the Vive Pro 2, it is a dramatic step up in resolution from Index with even more field of view, as well as better colors and contrast (than Index), though not OLED class.  It also does have the glare you speak of, though I'm rarely bothered by it once I'm actually playing a game and it isn't much worse than Index.  Having all three headsets, however, I use the VP2 95% these days since for me (especially in sims) resolution is king.  If you want contrast similar to what you're used to, then I believe your only upgrade choices are the OLED Vive Pro, with similar resolution as the Index, or the Varjo Aero with its micro LED LCD screens.  You could also wait a year and see what the PSVR will look like since it will have OLED screens (albeit at a resolution between Index and VP2), and we should be hearing more about the new Index by then too.  As for your experience, if you only play low-res titles where resolution doesn't matter much (like Beat Saber, VR Chat, etc.), then a VP2 will do little for you, but if you do high resolution gaming such as sims where you actually have to read cockpit instruments (XPlane, DCS, MSFS, Assetto Corsa), or other games where high res shines such as Alyx, Subnautica, ED, SWS, Skyrim (with 4K mods), etc., then the contrast (and to some extent glare) compromise is well worth the exchange--and of course, you still have your OG Vive for when contrast is all that matters, so just keep it available to be plugged in as well.  

Edited by Gildahl
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Thanks for the comment. I was a bit confused as some reviewers praised the VP2 blacks, but perhaps those were in comparison to some other headsets, not to OG Vive.

The resolution is indeed good and even the glare is not that big of an issue as I can only really see it in high contrast areas like bright text over a dark background.

But the black level is disappointing in titles like theBlu, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and OVERVIEW (A Walk Through The Universe) where deep black is important. What is strange that it feels like black is deeper in loading screens and for example the black wall in StreamVR Home, but going into a game it gets worse. I'm not sure if it just feels that way or if there's something going on that it's even more washed out after loading into a game.

I went and look at a through-the-lens video of VP2 on youtube and blacks look OK to me in that, but I'm not sure how accurate it is or if there's some white balance adjustment done by youtube or the video author. Is there any way to find out if I'm really getting the black level I should?

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5 hours ago, LucaBrazi80 said:

Thanks for the comment. I was a bit confused as some reviewers praised the VP2 blacks, but perhaps those were in comparison to some other headsets, not to OG Vive.

The resolution is indeed good and even the glare is not that big of an issue as I can only really see it in high contrast areas like bright text over a dark background.

But the black level is disappointing in titles like theBlu, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and OVERVIEW (A Walk Through The Universe) where deep black is important. What is strange that it feels like black is deeper in loading screens and for example the black wall in StreamVR Home, but going into a game it gets worse. I'm not sure if it just feels that way or if there's something going on that it's even more washed out after loading into a game.

I went and look at a through-the-lens video of VP2 on youtube and blacks look OK to me in that, but I'm not sure how accurate it is or if there's some white balance adjustment done by youtube or the video author. Is there any way to find out if I'm really getting the black level I should?

I have both... OG Vive was stupidly bright, very very high actually and almost hurt the eyes. Putting on the VP2 and it's definitely more dull, but the blacks are a little washed out. Remember it's not OLED, but for me, I can say the blacks are good enough with these LCD panels. Very difficult to guage these headsets without side-by-side comparison.

If I were you, have a go at turning off auto brightness.

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11 hours ago, LucaBrazi80 said:

Thanks for the comment. I was a bit confused as some reviewers praised the VP2 blacks, but perhaps those were in comparison to some other headsets, not to OG Vive.

The resolution is indeed good and even the glare is not that big of an issue as I can only really see it in high contrast areas like bright text over a dark background.

But the black level is disappointing in titles like theBlu, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and OVERVIEW (A Walk Through The Universe) where deep black is important. What is strange that it feels like black is deeper in loading screens and for example the black wall in StreamVR Home, but going into a game it gets worse. I'm not sure if it just feels that way or if there's something going on that it's even more washed out after loading into a game.

I went and look at a through-the-lens video of VP2 on youtube and blacks look OK to me in that, but I'm not sure how accurate it is or if there's some white balance adjustment done by youtube or the video author. Is there any way to find out if I'm really getting the black level I should?

The reason black level looks different is simply due to scene contrast.  If the whole scene is dark/dim (like the Abyss in theBlu) you'll see gray; however, if the scene has bright objects surrounding it or embedded in it, it will be perceived as black (like the black wall in SteamVR that contains bright text and exists within a bright field).  That's also why the black of space looks quite good in games like ED and SWS where you're in a well lit cockpit and often have lots of bright objects around to provide contrast.  This is also why turning off auto-brightness is a good idea as ATVR suggests.  Auto-brightness is supposed to help black levels by diming the screen in dimmer scenes; however, I find that because it can’t do local dimming (like say, a micro LED LCD can do), it ends up lowering contrast across the entire screen, which under most circumstances is not what you want since the perception of black is strongest when the brightness difference between floor-brightness and the brightest thing in a scene is greatest, and dimming the whole screen can actually work against this (and, in fact, IMO tends to crush the difference–especially in shadows–more than open it, thus lowering contrast). Which is why, I find keeping the overall brightness of the backlight at 100% to be better than dimming it since, even at the expense of technically higher black levels, it tends to stretch the overall contrast rather than crush it, resulting in a better *perception* of blacks.  OLED, of course, is still better than all this but fortunately it seems that recent titles tend to be tuned better to LCDs than older titles that were optimized back when OLED headsets like the OG Vive were more numerous, but there remain exceptions. So don’t throw out that OG Vive quite yet!

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Yea I won't be getting rid of the OG Vive, perhaps I should do the lens mod for it. Overall I might think that contrast and deeper blacks are even more important than pure resolution in darker games. It's still a bit of a mystery to me how it can vary so much. For example the default SteamVR background that pops up sometimes during loading isn't that bright but the blacks are a lot better there than in actual games with similar darkness level. Perhaps it's about how the game is tuned like you said.

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