• Ryan M. Pierson

What Do Different THX Home Theater Certifications Mean?

The history of THX is often debated by different multimedia enthusiasts, as the origins of the name have been rumored to been lifted from one of any number of sources, including the name of one of the founders, Tomlinson Holman. Another rumored source of the THX brand is an early George Lucas movie from 1971 titled THX 1138. Whatever the case may be, THX certification has been an ongoing standard in the multimedia industry since 1983. During the release of Star Wars IV: A New Hope, George Lucas was insistent that the theaters that would feature the space western would need to live up to a specific set of requirements. In order to provide some consistent level of quality for movie goers, Lucas and his team developed a set of requirements for these theaters. This set was branded THX, and the standards exist to this day (with some minor modifications).



THX Ultra2 This certification refers to home theater equipment that is intended for use in larger home theater systems. These home theaters have an average viewing distance of at least 12 feet and are roughly 3,000 cubic feet in size. This may also include small private theaters used by companies to preview and screen their productions in a way that mimics the experience of a theater setting prior to release to the public.

THX Select2 This certification applies to equipment that is intended for use in a decent-sized home theater that is roughly 2,000 cubic feet in size and a viewing distance of 10-12 feet from the screen. In many cases, this would be a medium-sized living room or conference room.

THX I/S Plus Systems These systems refer to bundled receivers and speakers that are powerful enough to fill a small living room or dorm room with a viewing distance of 6-8 feet. Equipment with this certification is generally suited for budget users that don’t have a lot of room to set up a larger home theater.

THX Certified Multimedia Products Products with this certification are generally intended for close-range use at a computer or during gaming. These may include computer speakers, game consoles, sound cards, and other similar equipment.

While the THX stamp of approval can certainly evoke a warm and fuzzy feeling about a particular product, the lack of a THX symbol on the packaging doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting bad equipment. This is simply a standard for which the manufacturer has had its product tested and approved. Any multimedia equipment made from any standard, be it Dolby or otherwise, can apply for THX certification. It simply means that the product is given the nod of approval and has demonstrated a specific level of accurate recreation of the experience the content creator intended the listener to have.

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©2020 by Ryan Matthew Pierson.