I have a good friend who is in a "knowlegeable" position in a loudspeaker company that sells several speaker lines that are THX certified. I e-mailed him and asked how much the certification adds to the cost of a product. He replied extensively, although he didn't, (and couldn't due to confidentiality issues), answer the question. However, he did provide some significant insight into the THX testing process. He has said I can post his response here, but that I should not identify him or his company. Here is the exchange I've had with him, (edited to remove any identifying information):
It was great meeting you at CEDIA last fall. I hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did.
I have a question for you about THX certification. About how much is added to the price of the a speaker system for them to be THX certified? I didn't think it was that much, but I was just curious.
Anyway, have a great day.
I apologize for the delay in answering. I was traveling for the past week and I haven't gotten to all my e-mails.
THX certification costs the manufacturer money, no question. The manufacturer makes a marketing decision about which products in their line will benefit from having THX certification and goes from there.
There is a cost involved in the actual lab testing by THX to run the evaluation. Most often, the product doesn't pass the first time out of the gate, so it has to be re-engineered and re-submitted. There are freight costs, engineering/time costs, additional lab costs, etc.
Once it receives THX certification, there is a per-product fee involved that the manufacturer pays to THX for each unit they sell. Some manufacturers consider this per-product fee as part of the product's material cost. When the manufacturer figures out their selling price vs. cost-of-goods, they factor in the THX fee, along with the cabinet, the crossover, the drivers, the carton, etc.
Some manufacturers consider the THX fee separately, apart from the cost-of-goods, so their selling price is based strictly on the actual material costs of the product. In that case, the THX fee is considered a marketing expense, like advertising costs or literature printing costs, or trade show expenses, etc.
So it will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer as to how they account for THX expenses and how directly those expenses impact the actual selling price of a given product.
THX is a very, very tough standard. They really hold your feet to the fire,' and their testing facilities and methods are first-rate. It is no rubber-stamp gimmie' that's available just by waving a few dollars under their noses, that's for sure!
Most manufacturers find that general market awareness of and customer/installer appreciation of THX certification occurs with the mid-high end products.
Thanks for the response. Very informative. To my original question, I realize you can't give exact figures, and that the costs are probably confidential. However, can you estimate a percentage cost, such as 5% or 10% of the total product cost? I'm just looking for an estimate.
Also, do you mind if I post your reply on-line? I won't if you would prefer, or I won't identify you as the source, if you would prefer that. There are some of skeptic's online stating that the value of THX certification is dubious, and that one can build a non-THX system that is at least as good for less money, or do better for the same cost. I am trying to express to them the value of the certification.
Thanks for your on-going help and support.
It would be difficult to assign a specific dollar figure or percentage of a speaker's cost to its THX certification, and in any event, our internal costs areas you observedconfidential.
But a speaker's retail price would certainly be in the exact same neighborhood, whether or not it had THX certification.
THX certification is not dubious, or suspicious' or nefarious' or underhanded' or anything else a skeptic' may assign to it. It is simply a very stringent performance verification that is confirmed by an independent testing laboratory, using industry-accepted engineering measurement/evaluation methods.
THX doesn't do or espouse anything weird' or strange or unusual. They measure frequency response. They measure dispersion, both H and V. They measure SPL output and distortion, and many other performance characteristics. Their test program and methodology is very strict, unrelenting and comprehensive. It's a matter of well-deserved professional engineering pride when a product is bestowed with THX certification.
If a particular company elects not to undergo THX testing/certification, that's fine. Good engineering is good engineering, and hundreds of truly excellent products are designed and produced each year that do not go through the THX testing/certification process. The decision of THX Y/N? is often a marketing decision, based on that manufacturer's customer base and what appeals to them.
As previously stated, the decision not to have one's products THX-certified is a decision made by any given company individually, based on their goals and needs.
But make no mistakethere is nothing about THX testing or THX certification that makes those products different' or strange.' But you can, absolutely, be certain that a THX-certified product meets very high objective standards of performance, tested in an industry-agreed manner. You can probably be certain that a non-THX product from a highly credible, long-standing manufacturer of unimpeachable reputation is also quite good. But you cannot be similarly certain about other products. Maybe yes, maybe no.
Cost is not a central, driving factor in the THX certification decision process.
You may post my responses, but do not use my name or company.
I thought a manufacturer's perspective on THX certification would be beneficial to the conversation.