Sony recently showcased its new BVM-HX3110 mastering monitor to What Hi-Fi? at its Yokohama office. While the monitor won’t be available to the general public, Sony wanted to highlight its breakthrough feature of displaying 4000 nits brightness. This breakthrough has the potential to impact consumer TVs, as content creators may choose to master their movies and TV shows at these super-bright levels. In order to fully experience this content as intended, viewers would need a TV with similar brightness capabilities.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a nit is a measure of brightness, equivalent to the amount of light generated by one candle per square metre. Most TVs on the market today range from around 300 to 400 nits for cheap LCD TVs, 800-1000 nits for standard OLED TVs, 2000 nits for MLA or QD-OLED, and 3000+ nits for high-end Mini LED models.
Sony’s BVM-HX3110 mastering monitor stands out because it can produce 4000 nits brightness in a 10% window indefinitely. This is achieved through a combination of factors including a dual-layer LCD panel, advanced local dimming, high power draw, and cooling fans. While there are already mastering monitors capable of reaching 4000 nits, Sony’s monitors are more popular and likely to have a greater impact.
Contrary to expectations, 4000 nits of brightness is not blindingly dazzling, even when viewed at full blast in a dark room. The advantages of this extra brightness were demonstrated through a comparison with older models, showing that the BVM-HX3110 could display rectangles of brightness more accurately.
To handle content mastered at 4000 nits, TVs typically use tone mapping to bring down the highlights within the TV’s limitations. However, as content creators increasingly master their content at higher brightness levels, the gap between the intended and displayed image on average TVs will grow. This may lead to a need for brighter TVs, potentially impacting OLED technology.
The question remains whether content creators will adopt mastering at 4000 nits. While some pioneering filmmakers may embrace the opportunity, it is uncertain if established directors will follow suit. It may take some time before AV enthusiasts feel the need to upgrade to significantly brighter screens, but it seems likely that this will eventually be the case. The availability of brighter OLED or Micro LED displays and the resurgence of backlit TVs may also play a role in the future of TV technology.