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Author Topic: THX and Eighth Day Sound  (Read 5746 times)

Stephen Kirby

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Re: THX and Eighth Day Sound
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2016, 10:07:14 pm »

Great, slap a label on it and take some money.  Convince people it's somehow better (emperor's new clothes) because the label is there.

When I worked at Dolby the THX stuff was kind of comical.  All of the theater alignment parameters had already been established as part of the installation of the Dolby cinema processor and calibration.
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MikeHarris

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Re: THX and Eighth Day Sound
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2016, 03:25:23 am »

Can we follow this up with THX certified mixing engineers ?
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: THX and Eighth Day Sound
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2016, 04:26:42 am »

Can we follow this up with THX certified mixing engineers ?

^^^ This ^^^

Most nights I hear *sound* come out of our systems.  On a few nights I hear *music* come out of our systems. A couple times a year I hear an *experience* come out of our systems that raises the hair on the back of my neck, makes my stomach queasy, releases some adrenaline and reminds me of why I got into this business 30+ years ago.  That "oh fuck yeah!" moment that lasts a whole set or maybe, if we're lucky, a whole evening.

That means we'll need THX certified bands, too.   ::)
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Simon Ryder

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Re: THX and Eighth Day Sound
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2016, 06:33:17 am »

Great, slap a label on it and take some money.  Convince people it's somehow better (emperor's new clothes) because the label is there.

When I worked at Dolby the THX stuff was kind of comical.  All of the theater alignment parameters had already been established as part of the installation of the Dolby cinema processor and calibration.

It is marketing only. There is no published technical standard for THX. You send them your product, pay your money and if they like it, you get to put THX on it.

The Emperor is suddenly feeling very cold indeed.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: THX and Eighth Day Sound
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2016, 07:25:07 am »

The whole THX certified (as far as I know) does not mean much of anything, except a minimum level of performance and you get to pay money to be "certified" and get to use the name-which some people associate with some level of performance.

I would LOVE to see the specs or details of how they think they could possibly do this with a live band with live engineers over a large area.

I don't think THX has anything to do with coverage of the speaker system or the balance of the actual mix.

To me (I could be wrong), it is nothing but a marketing gimmick with no real "result" for the audience.
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Ivan Beaver
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: THX and Eighth Day Sound
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2016, 09:04:29 am »

The one element that THX added to cinema over the existing Dolby standards for SPL, FR and distortion, was some basic speaker directivity specs.  Ostensibly to reduce sidewall reflections and improve clarity.  I think some of this carried over into their home theater "certifications", although as Ivan often points out, directivity at some convenient frequency is not the whole picture.
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Hyam Sosnow

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Re: THX and Eighth Day Sound
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2016, 05:05:53 pm »

The whole THX certified (as far as I know) does not mean much of anything, except a minimum level of performance and you get to pay money to be "certified" and get to use the name-which some people associate with some level of performance.

I would LOVE to see the specs or details of how they think they could possibly do this with a live band with live engineers over a large area.

I don't think THX has anything to do with coverage of the speaker system or the balance of the actual mix.

To me (I could be wrong), it is nothing but a marketing gimmick with no real "result" for the audience.

Back in the early 1990s when THX was part of Lucasfilm I worked for Kenwood, which manufactured THX-certified products. At that time there was indeed a set of very specific performance standards with which home theater products (back then it was limited to L/C/R speakers, surround speakers, subwoofers, surround processors and power amplifiers) were required to comply to earn THX-certification. I had a copy of this standards document at my desk (had to leave it behind when I left Kenwood in 2004), to which I continually referred when writing instruction manuals, brochures, training materials and other technical documents. I also passed several days of in-person training (Levels 1 and 2) at Skywalker Ranch. (The Level 1 training was supplied by Tomlinson Holman himself.)

I can tell you, at that time, the THX program was very serious about substantially raising the bar for home-theater performance. I think their ultimate success was limited by Lucasfilm's unwillingness to put enough of their cachet and marketing muscle behind the program, leaving it up to the product manufacturers and dealers to bear too large a part of the burden of educating the general public about the benefits of the program. (A Lucasfilm-sponsored TV campaign during the 1994-1995 timeframe could have done wonders to increase traffic into dealer showrooms, at a time when Lucasfilm's cachet and bankroll dwarfed that of the manufacturers and dealers.)

Eventually Lucasfilm eroded the program's credibility by relaxing certification standards and expanding the types of products they certified, and eventually Lucasfilm sold the program to outsiders. I was always saddened by what I considered a real missed opportunity that the original THX program had to get lots more people caring about superior sound reproduction, right at the very time when home theater was the fastest-growing segment of consumer audio.

And I'll add this: my properly-installed, THX-certified (original 1992-era THX specs) home theater system sounds so much better than a movie theater that I haven't seen a first-run movie in a theater in almost 20 years. (And there are no idiots in front of me yakking-away with their smartphones glowing, I get to control the volume and hit the pause button for bathroom breaks, and the popcorn is cheaper and it's fresh!)

Steven Kirby is right about directivity. The most difficult thing a speaker manufacturer had to comply with was the THX requirement for limited vertical directivity. Most manufacturers (including Kenwood) accomplished this by putting multiple dome tweeters between spaced woofers in a D'Appolito configuration, which limited directivity through destructive interference. (Sound familiar, Ivan?) Klipsch used a Tractrix horn to control directivity, which to my ears sounded light-years better, and those are the speakers I have in my home theater setup, along with a JBL 4641 THX-certified theater subwoofer.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2016, 06:16:16 pm by Hyam Sosnow »
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: THX and Eighth Day Sound
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2016, 04:55:12 am »

Trivia the THX comes from a movie THX-1138, Lucas's Sci-fi debut.

Wikipedia says it made it's debut in the third Star Wars franchise.  Long before multichannel digital surround, the trick setup of that time was Dolby matrix encoded surround. 

I remember the excitement of my first surround device.  It was a trick Yamaha preamp that had a real channel amp built in.  I remember buying the Yamaha and a Hi-Fi VHS deck, crawling in the attic and mounting the rear channel speakers over the couch. 

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Ivan Beaver

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Re: THX and Eighth Day Sound
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2016, 08:11:18 am »

Trivia the THX comes from a movie THX-1138, Lucas's Sci-fi debut.

Wikipedia says it made it's debut in the third Star Wars franchise.  Long before multichannel digital surround, the trick setup of that time was Dolby matrix encoded surround. 

I remember the excitement of my first surround device.  It was a trick Yamaha preamp that had a real channel amp built in.  I remember buying the Yamaha and a Hi-Fi VHS deck, crawling in the attic and mounting the rear channel speakers over the couch.
A "trick" I used in the 70s to get "surround sound" was to use 2 speakers (in the rear) and wire them in series, but out of polarity.  So the -'s would be hooked together.

The 2 +s would then go to the "hots" of the left and right main speakers.

So for all signals that were common to both left and right-no sound would come out of the surrounds.

But signals that were different would come out.  The bigger the difference-the more that came out of the surrounds.

Since they were out of polarity, the sound "appeared" to be different.

Nothing like true surround, but it did give a nice "effect" if you were trying to get a "big room sound" out of a small place.
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A complex question is easily answered by a simple-easy to understand WRONG answer!

Ivan Beaver
Danley Sound Labs

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