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Summer Schedule: We will be closed from July 22 through July 26. If you need to receive an order during that time, please order before Friday, July 19.
MediaLight or LX1: Which should you buy?

MediaLight or LX1: Which should you buy?

We manufacture three distinct lines of bias lights:

  • Good: LX1 Bias Lighting, our lowest cost option with a CRI of 95, and LED density of 20 per meter
  • Better: MediaLight Mk2, our most popular option, with a CRI of ≥ 98, and LED density of 30 per meter
  • Best: MediaLight Pro2, our premier product, with new emitter technology and a CRI of 99, and LED density of 30 per meter. 

And the fact is that any of these lights is accurate enough to use in a professional setting or with a calibrated TV at home.

However, we receive a lot of emails and chat requests asking which unit to buy. I’d like to share my own thoughts on the subject along with what we learned from customers who made the choice. 

Think of your TV in terms of “good,” “better” or “best” and make your buying decision accordingly. 

We recommend the “10% rule,” or keeping the cost of accessories like bias lighting to 10% of the price of the TV or less.

Through customer surveys and web chats, we learned that customers don’t want to pay more than 10% of the price of the TV on accessories. In other words, customers don’t want to put $100 lights on a $300 TV. 

This sounds arbitrary, but it generally works as a "golden rule” because TVs in the “good” category incorporate various trade offs to reach their target price. This trade off might be a lower contrast ratio or more more severe blooming issues due to fewer dimmable zones. TVs in this category stand to benefit a lot from bias lighting due to the reduction of blooming and improved contrast that are among its most-noted benefits. 

As a company, we recognized that TVs, including the value-performance models at lower cost, were growing in size. We had to find a way to modify our specification to provide the accuracy that we’re known for, but at a more attractive price, particularly in the longer lengths that were becoming more popular. 

We did this by lowering the LED density, or number of LEDs per meter, on the LX1 to a density that is closer to what you’d find on lower-cost USB-powered LED strips. When customers would ask why MediaLight was more expensive, we’d often answer that we had better quality LEDs, and more of them per strip. We had to create the LX1 line of bias lights to escape that specific requirement, which has no impact on the quality of light as long as there is enough room for the lights to diffuse on the wall. 

The ColorGrade LX1 LED chips are manufactured at the same time as the Mk2 chips. We separate the best of the best — any LEDs with CRI ≥ 98, and use them in the Mk2. The other chips, with the same chromaticity coordinates, and with a CRI between 95 and 97.9, are used in the LX1. They are, for all intents, “a match.” You could use them in the same installation. 

So, is the MediaLight Mk2 better than LX1 in terms of performance?

Yes, it is objectively more accurate.

If you measure the bias lights under a spectrophotometer, you will find that CRI of the LX1 is slightly lower than the Mk2. However, in practical terms, not everyone will benefit from this improved accuracy. This is more dependent on the individual. If you know yourself to be very demanding, the Mk2 probably makes more sense. If you are having your display professionally-calibrated, the Mk2 probably makes more sense. If you spend a lot of time in front of your display, the Mk2 probably makes more sense in terms of accuracy and the longer warranty period (5 years versus 2 years for LX1). 

If you are the type of person who says, and I quote, “I‘ll never forgive myself if I don’t get the best gear available,” it might make sense to get the Mk2. (But just know that you probably would be fine with the LX1). 

The same goes for TVs with very flush mounts. The higher LED density on the Mk2 will provide a more even dim surround in these cases because there is less distance between each LED. 

OK, so where is the MediaLight Pro2 in this discussion? 

Just as building the original MediaLight Pro taught us how to improve our yields and accuracy to make the MediaLight Mk2, we believe that our future products depend on us being able to achieve better yields and scale with newer technologies. That’s why I say that the MediaLight Pro2 is our forward-looking product. Our job, over the next 12-18 months, is to narrow the performance and price gap between the MediaLight Mk2 range and the Pro2. 

Currently, The MediaLight Pro2 costs more to manufacture and would exceed the 10% rule in many cases, particularly for longer strips on larger displays. However, at $69 for a one meter strip, the Pro2 still fits the rule for many computer monitors. 

The MPro2 LED chip itself is gorgeous. The quality of light was described as “sunlight on an LED strip” by one impressed visitor at NAB 2022, owing to its very high spectral similarity index (SSI) to D65 (the spectral power distribution looks more like sunlight, without the blue spike that is found in most LEDs) . In a grading suite, particularly with an extremely capable display, the MediaLight Pro2 would be a very nice addition. 

To recap, all of our bias lights are accurate enough to use in a professional environment. All of them exceed industry standards as set out by organizations such as ISF, SMPTE and CEDIA. 

The “10% rule” reflects reality. It’s simple. Potential customers told us that they weren’t buying our products because of the price, but that they wouldn’t hesitate if we could keep our accuracy at a lower price. We listened, and created LX1 Bias Lighting to do that. 

One more question that we get a lot:

Why didn’t we call the LX1 “The MediaLight LX1?”

We wanted to avoid confusion.

We were concerned that retail arbitrageurs would try to pass off our LX1 as a MediaLight. They could buy an LX1 for $25 and try to pass it off as a $69 MediaLight Mk2. Both Mk2 and LX1 are made side-by-side, but there is a difference in LED density and CRI. We didn’t want their customers to pay for MediaLight standards and wonder why there were fewer LEDs on each strip than before. 

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