Dolby Vision Issues (Look Dark, Too Bright Checked Out)

You turn to HDR because you want the best quality TV viewing and fantastic bright colors. If you have enabled Dolby Vision and have noticed that the shades are darker, you want to know why and how you can adjust it to improve your cinematic experience.

So, why is Dolby Vision so dark? In most cases, Dolby Vision displays dark images due to the TV’s default settings or the system’s inability to accommodate the high-end HDR capabilities. The screen may look dull when the TV cannot achieve Dolby’s brightness levels. If incapable, it must compensate by tone-mapping to balance the settings. Other TVs also return to their default backlight and contrast levels; you need to readjust them to achieve full brightness.

Since its launch in 2014, Dolby Vision has aimed to provide optimization of video quality through HDR (High Dynamic Range). You can now find the technology in many TVs, but it can be disheartening when your pictures are too dark, which beats the purpose of HDR.

Dolby Vision can get darker than usual due to the TV’s default settings or as a mechanism to deal with Dolby’s configurations. Some TVs purposely darken or revert to their default brightness when something is wrong with the system.

If the display cannot reach Dolby’s brightness levels, tone-mapping occurs to balance the settings and compensate for the inabilities. Consequently, some TVs default to their backlight and contrasts in HDR, brightness levels that cannot increase unless you make necessary adjustments.

Typically, the shows you watch on TV are in SDR (Standard Dynamic Range), and the picture quality can be dim, with the maximum achievable level going up to 100 nits. In contrast, the modern LCD versions feature top-of-the-line tech, reaching 300 nits on SDR.

If you are watching the TV during the day and the room is well-lit, you only have to increase the backlight to improve the picture quality and brighten the highlights. On the other hand, HDR is a more high-tech advancement in picture quality.

According to the name, HDR offers a broader range between the dark and bright aspects of the scene. Compared to LCD TVs, the highlights can reach a whopping 1000 nits or go higher based on your TV.

Modern devices with the best technologies make this contrast better, and you can tell while comparing various scenes. However, it doesn’t mean that HDR makes the entire image brighter, only that the highlights appear better.

HDR issues

On the downside, HDR may look dull in some TVs when the system defaults to the highest HDR contrast levels, and it becomes impossible to increase the brightness like you would with SDR. In other instances, some TVs make the image darker to deal with their inability to achieve high HDR qualities. If HDR fails in the system, the TV will default to dark picture quality, usually in cheap or old TVs. You can also expect it in midrange models with brightness issues.

Dolby Vision HDR features a broad palette that may be overwhelming for lower-end TVs to accommodate, and the system, by default, will have to cope with it by turning darker. The TV does tone-mapping when it cannot match Dolby Vision’s expectations.

For instance, if your TV’s HDR can attain 300 nits and there is a scene whose highlights have 1000 nits, the system will adjust to the level it can accommodate, which is 300 nits.

Incorrect TV settings may also be responsible for the reduced Dolby Vision brightness. If you have made any configurations on the TV’s contrast, it may interfere with Dolby Vision’s capabilities, and you will need to turn off the settings first. Some users often run into setting challenges with Dolby, and in most cases, it helps to leave the defaults intact unless you use expert calibration tools and relevant software.

Luckily, Dolby uses algorithms to prevent clipping on TVs. The company works with manufacturers to ensure that the default settings can house the content since, currently, no TV is fully capable of achieving Dolby’s maximum brightness.

TVs must balance the quality by clipping whites and darkening the entire image. Some users would instead adjust their TV settings, but it is advisable to leave Dolby Vision’s configurations intact.

Is Dolby Vision Brighter Than HDR10 and HDR10+?

High-quality images improve your experience by making shows look better, keeping you glued to your screen. HDR10 and HDR10+ are some of Dolby Vision’s most significant competitors, and as a curious user, you may wonder which HDR offers the brightest picture quality.

Dolby Vision displays unmatched brightness levels better than HDR10 or HDR10+. The HDR can support brightness of up to 10,000 cd/m2 (candelas per square meter) while the HDR10 and HDR10+ trail behind, offering a maximum of 4,000cd/m2, which is lower than half of what Dolby Vision delivers. Moreover, it can help your images play out better thanks to elements like bit depth and metadata that enhance the contrasting look of all images displayed on the screen.

Dolby Vision tops the list of all the HDR formats in enhancing the image quality through color dynamics. It beats all the other significant types by offering the most impressive immersive display. Dolby Vision and the HDR10 series compare in numerous ways.

For starters, Dolby offers the brightest images you can find on a monitor or television and gaming platforms, but more distinguishing features make them each stand out.

Bit depth is the number of colors your TV, monitor, or whatever content you are watching can display. A more comprehensive bit depth offers you more color shade options, resulting in a better and brighter image.

Dolby Vision uses a 12-bit color depth, which maxes out to over 68 billion hues making the images more colorful and vivid. On the other hand, both HDR10 and HDR10+ use the 10-bit color technology, allowing the formats to display over a billion colors.

Metadata is the design that enables the HDR format to display the contents received on the monitor or television. It deals with the display’s contrast, brightness, and tone-mapping, and each HDR has its metadata.

For instance, Dolby Vision uses dynamic metadata, meaning that it can adjust images frame by frame or scene by scene for the best results. HDR10+ uses the same technology, unlike its counterpart HDR10, which employs static metadata with its brightness and contrast constant throughout.

Dolby Vision limited availability

Besides all the upsides of Dolby Vision, it remains limited in the market because it is not an open-source tech, unlike free HDR10 and HDR10+. Therefore, it is not common in most devices, although it is scaling up and competing with the most common format, HDR10. Unfortunately, the HDR10+ is trailing the list in terms of popularity besides being royalty-free.

It may be because most video contents come in DV and HDR10, making it challenging for more users to adopt. Dolby Vision carries the day considering brightness, dynamic metadata, and color options.

It is also available on major streaming platforms, including some of your best and most popular TV brands. The other HDR formats offer equally impressive picture qualities, and some find them effective in matters of brightness for daytime viewing.

Note that you can still watch the same content on other HDR formats (HDR10 or HDR10+) if your gadget doesn’t support Dolby Vision since streaming platforms can offer a single movie or show in multiple HDR formats. HDR10 is the most common of the three because it is widely available, but it doesn’t dispute that Dolby Vision tops in brightness and impressive displays.

Dolby Vision is your best bet if you need images with impeccable contrast. Thankfully, some modern TVs can display HDR10+ and Dolby Vision with backward compatibility for HDR10. Hence, you can still achieve the ultimate experience without struggling to find a compatible display. However, remember that Dolby tops in quality performance, followed closely by HDR10+ and finally HDR10.

How To Make Dolby Vision Brighter?

You may have invested much in HDR TV and expect only the best cinematic experience. If you have struggled for a while with Dolby Vision being dark, especially for daytime viewing, you need to know about all the practical solutions to help restore the picture quality.

You can make Dolby Vision brighter by first checking whether the system needs upgrading, which usually solves common issues. If done or there are no available updates, the only way out is to make some adjustments to the TV settings. You can start by increasing the backlight and local dimming and resetting the Gamma to 2.0 or less. Alternatively, if these tweaks fail, you can adjust the TV to Cinema Home or use the last resort to revert to SDR for daytime viewing.

The first remedy to try when the Dolby Vision is too dark is to check the TV’s firmware for pending updates. Sometimes, the system may be acting up because it is outdated, and a simple upgrade can solve the issues.

You will realize that updates usually improve the picture quality but be careful not to interfere with the firmware if it means a downgrade. You can check online for users’ experiences with new TV updates and avoid them if they reduce the video output.

If there is no difference after updating the system, the next step is to tweak the picture modes, preferably starting with resetting to defaults. You can then start with playing in HDR before trying the following adjustments.

  • Increase the Backlight

Doing this is usually the initial setting for most users, but if you have not done it yet, you can go to the TV settings and increase it. Most importantly, this applies only to the backlight calibration, and you don’t need to tweak the brightness level, which is advisable to stay in default.

When you increase the brightness, the screen will get lighter, but at the expense of the shadow detail. Note that while some TV models will allow this tweak, others will not accept the backlight to increase in HDR mode.

  • Set Local Dimming and Gamma

The system usually sets this calibration, but you can confirm it to be sure. Go to the Local Dimming settings from your TV’s picture to adjust it. Sometimes the defaults make the image seem dull to maintain the blacks, which may be unnecessary during daytime viewing.

Additionally, if your TV allows for Gamma adjustment, it may be preset to 2.2, but you can reduce this level to 2.0 or less to help increase the picture’s brightness.

  • Adjust TV’s Presets

Some users configure their TVs to Cinema Mode to achieve the best picture quality, but this setting can make the screen too dull for daytime viewing. Movie mode works best for dark rooms or the nighttime.

However, you may need more adjustments to make it brighter when the room is well-lit. You can adjust to Cinema Home if your TV has this setting, which is more vivid than the standard Cinema mode. You can also select Standard Picture mode for additional brightness.

  • Revert to SDR

If none of the above remedies work, the last resort is to return to SDR mode for optimal daytime viewing. Some users admit that HDR is most effective for dark rooms and the nighttime, and you can try SDR to see whether there is a difference.

From the menu, go to the display settings and tweak off HDR. The best part about this is that you can use SDR in your well-lit room during the daytime, then switch on HDR for dark rooms or nighttime viewing, which takes only a few seconds.

The objective is to keep playing with the settings until you achieve the best picture quality and cinematic experience. If nothing seems to work and you don’t want to try switching to SDR, you can seek a calibrator’s services for the perfect settings. On the other hand, the best way to go is to change your cheap or old TV to a more recent model; it may be more expensive but worth the great experience.


Dolby Vision is designed to offer the best picture quality to provide you with an unmatched cinematic experience whether you are watching at night or during the day in a well-lit room. However, if you notice that your HDR is darker than usual, it may be due to the TV’s default settings or incapability to level up to Dolby’s capabilities.

You can adjust this by tweaking the settings to improve daytime viewing. If none of the discussed remedies work, you can also revert the system to SDR, which is effective for bright rooms. Regardless, users love that Dolby Vision is the most reliable HDR that guarantees vivid images, much better than HDR10 and HDR10+.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is a technology expert based in the UK, with experience across a number of technology areas from phones, tablets, computers to gaming.

Recent Posts