Pixel, Pitch, and Matrix Demystified

Pixel, pitch, and matrix are all terms referencing the size and picture quality of an LED sign. You can review some other basic information on the “Top 10 Questions” page from the “About Us” drop down menu, but this explanation will be a little more in depth. Though you may never need to use any of this information again, hopefully after reviewing it you will have a slightly better understanding for what these terms mean and how they relate to LED signs.

An LED sign; is comprised of a number of tiny diodes (the D from LED) that produce light in a variety of colors. For a monochrome sign, these diodes display various shades or either Red or Amber. For a full color display, these diodes show either red, blue or green light. The combination of these diodes will produce additional colors depending on how they are arranged and mixed.

These LEDs can be clustered together in groupings or can stand alone. These groups, of one or greater, are called pixels. The more physical pixels that a display has will directly affect the quality of the image. A higher number of pixels will allow for smoother lines and greater detail. A normal LED sign may have thousands of these pixels arranged across its displaying surface.

The distance between each pixel is called the pitch. The pitch is calculated from the center of one pixel to the center of another. The smaller the pitch is, the closer the pixels are together, and the greater the image quality.

As a reference, imagine that a pixel is a dot a pen makes on a piece of paper. Now imagine that you are asked to draw a lifelike image of another human being using only these dots. With a smaller pitch, or distance between dots, you would have a much easier time of accomplishing this assignment. If however, you were forced to increase the distance between the dots your image would become distorted and less recognizable.

For this reason, businesses or organizations that wish to display higher quality images for closer viewing generally lean towards a smaller pixel pitch. However, if a business or organization is only concerned with displaying text and not graphics or intricate animation, a larger pitch would be appropriate.

Lastly, the matrix represents the total number of pixels that live on a particular display. The matrix is expressed as (length or rows x width or columns). For example, one of the largest displays in the world at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, TX has a pixel matrix of 1,088 by 2,432. Now, this display is more an HD television than a sign, but for the purposes of explanation it will do. With 1,088 rows and 2,432 columns, that’s over 2 million pixels in one display!