Ambient Light Rejection Screens

Evan Powell, March 3, 2016

Peak Gain and Relative Luminance

The eleven screens in this review vary in their rated gain specs from 0.8 to 1.4. In general, the higher the gain rating, the brighter a screen image will be for any given projector when viewed from the center, zero degree viewing axis. Since a higher gain screen is focusing more light directly back toward the center viewing position (thus making the picture appear brighter from that position), it is often true that the higher gain screen will have a more narrow viewing angle. So higher gain is not always desirable. If you need a brighter picture, your best solution might be to go with a low gain screen and a brighter projector.

For this test we measured the actual luminance at the center of a 100 IRE white pattern for each screen in order to have an exact measure of their relative brightness when viewed from the center position. The results from brightest to least bright are as follows:

Rated Gain
Measured Relative
Luminance (fL)
Elite DarkStar
SI Zero Edge Slate
SI Black Diamond 1.4
Microlite Black Crystal 1.2
Seymour Matinee Black
Elite EPV PolarStar
Stewart Firehawk G4
Draper MS1000X
Elite EPV DarkStar 9
DNP Supernova
Da-Lite Parallax 0.8

For the most part, the vendors' rated peak gain specifications had a general correspondence to the screens' relative brightness. The two exceptions were the SI Zero Edge Slate and Microlite Black Crystal 1.2. Both of these screens have a gain rating of 1.2, but in these ambient light conditions they appeared as bright from the center viewing position as competing products with 1.4 gain ratings.

Review Contents: Overview Contrast Half Gain Angles Black Levels
  Peak Gain Texture Artifacts Color Bias DaLite Parallax
  DNP Supernova Draper MS1000X Elite DarkStar Elite EPV DarkStar9
  Elite EPV PolarStar Microlite Black Crystal SI Black Diamond SI Zero Edge Slate
  Seymour Matinee Black Stewart FireHawk G4

Reader Comments(10 comments)

Posted Jul 27, 2017 3:45 AM

By Lee

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Is there a conclusion anywhere in the article? Great article, but would be great with a short summary section!

Posted May 11, 2016 11:04 AM

By Tuki

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It would be nice to include the high gain Vutec SilverStar 6.0. Thank you.

Posted Apr 9, 2016 12:18 PM

By Scott Tallal

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Hi Evan,

This review has been incredibly useful! We only wish you would have included at least a few of the high gain options, most notably the dnp SuperNova 23-23 and the Screen Innovations Black Diamond 2.7. Perhaps you can do a shootout between those and other high-gain options in the not-too-distant future?

Keep up the great work!

Posted Mar 31, 2016 8:09 PM

By Jason

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I'd also like to see the Elite Cinegray 5D does in the tests.

Posted Mar 17, 2016 4:22 AM

By Mishari

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I wish you added 2 points: - contrast measure at all lights off to see they have better contrast than white screen. Some of us do not want to have dark walls and ceilings. - Add Elite Cinegrey 5D, which is highly available to public and well reviewed.

Posted Mar 16, 2016 8:14 PM

By Tomas

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Hmm, how come here is missing Black Pearl HDR from SimPit? Unrestricted viewing angle, exceptional black levels and color ... and one of most affordable ALR screens as well

Posted Mar 13, 2016 8:04 PM

By Rob Hunt

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Excellent review, very detailed. However, i think it would benefit readers to have a large television also tested along side these screens, since that is the screens biggest rival. some 75 inch tv around the same price as a screen/pj setup. Then viewers could understand the magnitude of the benefits and drawbacks of a ALR setup.

Posted Mar 6, 2016 7:04 AM

By Hector

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Excellent review. I wished I was there while you were doing the reviews :) I have been looking for unbiased review on ALRsa d you have exceeded my expectations. Thanks again!

Posted Mar 4, 2016 5:12 PM

By Paul B

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What a great review of multiple ALR screens. I can't thank you enough as I am completing a basement remodel and have been searching for ALR screen reviews and challenged by the limited information, as well as critical details about how the products were tested. Having all of the listed screens objectively evaluated under the same standards is invaluable in assessing how the screens might work in my environment. Thank you for recognizing the critical need for this area of review. This is, by far, the best and most complete review of ALR screens. Keep up the great work!

Posted Mar 4, 2016 2:59 PM

By Matt Frazer

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Thank you so much for posting this extensive review of ALR screens, I have never seen anyone undertake this task and you should be comended for the effort. I currently use a Carl's place DIY ALR screen that I bought on a whim to replace my painted wall (following the projector central instructions when it was painted). I noticed a signifigant improvement in my tightly packed dedicated theater since the room is under 10 feet wide and I get light polution reflecting from the walls. It would be interesting to get this screen added since it is so cheap, to see if it can hang with these other options... Although after this whale of a test I wouldn't blame you if you never want to see another ALR again. Keep up the great work, it's reviews like these that keep me coming back.

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