Thursday, July 29

What is THX? We explain everything about this certification | Digital Trends Spanish

Decades after its first rise in theaters with its iconic deafening crescendo, THX remains an enigma to most audiences. We conducted an informal survey of some of our tech-savvy (but not necessarily expert) friends and partners and asked if they knew what is THX or what it does.

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Answers included everything fromTh-what? Until “that company that has trailers that sound great before the movies. ” Some managed to get a little closer, suggesting that THX was the best sound format; very close, but not quite correct.

While many may associate the company with their trailers and shiny badges, there’s so much more behind the scenes. THX does not create what you see and hear, but generates characteristics and information that, directly and indirectly, enhance what you see and hear.

Because THX works its magic outside of the spotlight, few people understand how or why the company does what it does. That’s a bit unfortunate, as much of THX’s little-known work is just great.

But, to better appreciate where the company is and where it is going, it helps to first understand where it has been.

One of George Lucas’s best ideas

THX was born in the early 1980s when George Lucas, the creator (and for some “destroyer”) of the franchise Star wars, decided he wanted to make sure Return of the Jedi looked and sounded exactly as he intended in as many cinemas as possible. Tomlinson Holman, an audio engineer and technical director at Lucasfilm at the time, was tasked with making that happen.

… any detail that could take the viewer out of the magic of the movie had to be mitigated.

Holman was apparently dismayed when he surveyed the state of theaters at the time. Most of the rooms had not had updates since WWII. The images were of poor quality and the sound was terrible.

All the work and money that Hollywood invested in making movies look and sound incredible was being lost (no, rather disappearing) in these dilapidated cinemas.

Suddenly, Holman’s mission had a clear focus: to make the movie-going experience the best it could be; allowing people to watch and listen to movies the way the directors intended them to be seen and heard.

Holman set out to develop a set of standards that would address most of the problems plaguing those aging theaters. While Holman was unable to do anything about nasty people and sticky floors, he could develop a plan to address other issues.

Among the main problems to be faced were external noise leaking, internal noise generated by environmental controls, excessive reverb, inadequate sound, poor image brightness, poor viewing from certain angles.

In short, any details that might take the viewer out of the movie’s magic had to be mitigated. The resulting set of standards was named THX, a mix of Tom Holman eXperiment and Lucas’s debut as a feature film director, THX1138.

THX invades homes

Enclave Audio CineHome Pro all-in-one home theater sound system.
Enclave Audio

Over the next ten years or so, THX refined its standards to a remarkably granular level, a process that continues to this day, and began incorporating those standards into its certification program.

Phrases such as “improving” or “raising the bar” do not adequately describe the direction in which THX was taking the movie-going experience at the time. He was setting the rules on video and sound playback.

The THX researchers took care of everything from how many speakers were needed per cubic foot of space to how many degrees Kelvin colors needed to be measured for an image to be considered accurate.

Even if you watch movies in a non-THX certified theater today, you still have THX to thank for the picture and sound quality you experience, thanks to the company showing the world how good the movie experience can be. Once it did, the standards began to skyrocket across the board.

But changing the way people watch movies at the theater was not enough for THX. In a bid for total global dominance (we could be exaggerating a bit), THX began work on an entirely new program focused on certifying home theater equipment.

This was a tricky proposition because home theater systems are a long way from commercial cinemas, where everything from picture to sound to space size is so much larger.

THX had to figure out how to make sure the great theater experience was delivered to the home. So, a home theater was built on its premises, equipped with a number of extremely advanced electronic devices, and the investigation began.

He created a specification for performance and developed software for post-processing that helped translate the theater experience into the home experience through a modification of the actual movie soundtrack.

Finally, he created a set of standards for home audio equipment along with a testing regimen to assess how well manufacturers had managed to meet these standards.

Rather than tell companies how to make products that meet these standards, THX offered their advice and assistance. For brands looking to create devices with their certification, the company is involved from the development stage and partners with the product and engineering teams throughout the process until the final certification.

Beyond meeting THX performance standards, THX certified AV receivers have special THX listening modes, such as THX Cinema, THX Game, THX Music, and THX Surround EX. As their names suggest, they are designed to create optimized mixes based on content or activity.

But the move from THX to consumer products has been an uphill battle. THX badges, which are expensive to purchase, were initially found only on high-end gear, and the prohibitive cost put off shoppers on a budget. Also, many receivers sounded great without THX processing. To this day, is it worth THX? is still one of the most frequently asked questions on the A / V forums.

Many don’t see THX certification as necessary because there are so many high-end sound equipment options, such as A / V receivers and speakers, that sound great without THX certification.

Some even exceed THX standards, but do not seek certification because they do not pay the company to evaluate products that they know are up to par. THX never saw itself as a quintessential insurance policy, nor have its efforts been directed toward creating a sound style that people would like more.

But, by just setting a standard for performance, THX indirectly encouraged consumer electronics manufacturers to improve their products.

Tuned by THX

Platin Audio Monaco 5.1 Tuned by THX WiSA Wireless Speaker Bundle.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

For companies that want to develop products on their own, but also want to take advantage of THX’s expertise, there is an alternative to full certification: the Program Tuned by THX. The chart below illustrates the differences between full certification and “fit,” which really comes down to THX’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the initial production process.

To obtain full certification, THX should be consulted during the development stage so that the company can ensure that the methodologies and technologies used meet its standards. If a product has been tuned by THX, that simply means that it has been tested and optimized by the company’s audio engineers.

Chart showing the differences between Tuned by THX and THX Certified.

THX spatial audio

Even when THX doesn’t work directly with third-party audio technology, it continues to find creative ways to enhance your listening experience. The company recently developed THX Spatial Audio, with which it claims you can use your headphones to transform your ordinary laptop into a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system, all for just $ 20.

The surround sound app is available for Windows 10 And it’s a standard feature on the Razer Book 13 laptop. If you’re wondering what makes Razer so special, the Singapore-US store acquired THX in 2016 and wasted no time taking advantage of the company’s cutting-edge audio technology.

Stay in the market

Audio is not the singular focus of THX’s home theater certification program; the company too certify display technology, including televisions and projectors, although it has not been as successful with its video campaign as with its audio division.

A THX-certified display undergoes over 400 tests to evaluate and help improve things like color accuracy, panel uniformity, sharpness, and upscaling.

The company’s website lists a variety of THX-certified televisions. Most of these are Panasonic models that are not sold in the US, but their partnership with TCL has produced some interesting developments.

Together with the television manufacturer, THX has developed a THX certified game mode, which ensures that your screen’s color, refresh rate, and input lag are suitable for the “serious gamer.”

While most competitive gamers choose to play on computer monitors, TCL and THX believe they can deliver comparable performance on a much larger screen.

To end

THX isn’t just “that company that made that cool graphic that gets me excited when it comes out before the movie starts”; is a state-of-the-art team of technology that works tirelessly to give you the best possible theater (and home) cinema experience. Whether its certification is mandatory (or not) for hi-fi audio equipment is up for debate, but if you see that seal of approval, you can be pretty sure of the quality of the product that carries it.

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