You’ve decided you want a digital sign, and in your research, you’ve seen the word pitch floating around. This is one of the many industry terms that get thrown around when you look into digital signage. All the jargon can get confusing. When it comes to your business, an understanding of pitch can make the difference between the right sign and a very costly mistake.
So what is digital signage pitch? What does it do? And why should you care? We’re going to break pitch down and help you understand why it’s important when you’re choosing a sign.
What is Pixel Pitch?
Let’s start with a technical definition, then we’ll break it down to make it easier. On a digital sign, the pixel is the actual LED. Pitch is how far apart each “pixel” is on your sign. These pixels make up the image you see. A 12mm pitch sign has every LED 12mm apart, and a 6mm has every LED 6mm apart. The pitch directly impacts the resolution of images and text on your sign. Less space between pixels equals a clearer image. The tighter the pitch, the higher the resolution.
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So lower numbers are better?
Yes! While higher numbers on a TV are better for resolution, smaller numbers on a digital sign are better for roadside signage. Just like how an old CRT tv won’t look as good as a 4K flat screen, pitch determines how crisp your sign will look. A 6mm sign will look sharper and show images more clearly at a closer range than a 12mm. The pitch of your sign will make a difference in what you can show and what will look good.
Another way to think about it is by how many pixels per square foot you get. Here’s how it shakes out for Cirrus signs:
- 12mm: 576 pixels per square foot
- 9mm: 1024 pixels per square foot
- 6mm: 2304 pixels per square foot
- 4mm: 4096 pixels per square foot
You can imagine how much sharper the 6mm would be than the 12mm when you have literally four times the number of pixels to show it. This is especially important to understand as you consider how far away your average audience is from your display when they see it. A smaller sign will typically have a shorter viewing distance than a larger sign, so the pitch will need to be tighter from the get-go.
Think about the signs you see as you drive down the road; if you encounter a lower resolution (higher pitch) sign, it won’t look as good when you get closer. Meanwhile, a large sign viewed from farther away might be fine with a lower resolution, such as a billboard along a highway, as you will never see it close enough for the resolution to look grainy.
Remember, the higher the pitch, the farther away the LEDs are best viewed and the fewer pixels there are per square foot.
Here's what it looks like in practice. We set up our 6mm, 9mm, and 12mm with the same content so you can see how it affects resolution in motion.
So, why would anyone go with a higher-pitch digital sign?
There are a couple of reasons someone might choose a higher pitch sign:
- You’re purchasing a billboard or a large sign near a highway
- A higher pitch sign can be cheaper than a tighter pitch one
Billboards and Large Signs
Digital billboards or large highway signs are a good reason to choose a higher pitch sign. The average distance people will see it from is larger, so the image will stay sharp. In these cases, you can get away with a higher pitch without much risk of your content appearing grainy or low-resolution. Just be careful how high a pitch you choose. If you choose a 16mm pitch or more, your sign may not look as sharp compared to other large digital signs in the area.
The Cost of the Sign
As for cost, there are a couple of things to consider. You’ll want to look at the price per pixel of your sign and the overall cost of the sign. If you’re comparing two manufacturers, what is the difference between the two? In some cases, you will get a high-quality sign, in a tighter pitch, for less than a higher pitch sign with another company. We recommend you look into the quality of the product in your comparison as well – buyer beware, be sure to look into the manufacturer of the sign before you commit; some cheaply priced signs may not hold up as well in the long term. Ensure the warranty they offer protects the hardware, and consider a labor warranty to protect your sign in case something goes wrong with the installation. Always make sure you do your research, it can pay off in the final price.
You should also look into payment options. Are you required to pay for the sign upfront? Or can you pay for it over time? Some sign companies offer financing so that you can pay over time. But with traditional financing, you accrue interest and pay more over the loan than the actual cost of the sign. Cirrus has a subscription program that offers you the best of both worlds – without the interest. You subscribe-to-own, and there is no interest, just your monthly payment. Cirrus tries to keep it simple, you know the total cost upfront, and you pay the same monthly cost. By paying monthly, you likely can afford a tighter pitch sign that actually fits what your business needs without breaking your budget.
Want to know more?
Hopefully, you now feel armed with the information you need to have a deeper conversation about digital signage. If you’re ready to go digital or want more information about Cirrus and our signs, please reach out. Our signage experts would be happy to talk to you about what you’re looking for in a sign and if our signs might be a good fit.