Manufactures,Tell us about your THX Certification process - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi
I Think there is a big misunderstanding about the THX
Certification process.I have seen it implemented and talked with several manufactures about it.What are your conclusions? and
how did it help you in development of your product? and what did you learn from the process. I have seen the size of final reports
you dang near need a fork lift to lift them:) About the same size as the Nations annual budget report :)
What are your thoughts? I will reserve mine as I am not a manufacture
Thanks Ray
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post #2 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 02:37 PM
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Actually, it is up to manufacturers to follow THX specs and then submit to the THX bench for specifications verification.

The product is then awarded a THX badge (Ultra or Sselect) or nothing at all.

However, maunfacturers must pay a fee for certification.

Jeff

Goodbye to a great audio and video genius and writer... JOHN GANNON. I enjoyed your friendship, wit and a nice long run we took around Indianapolis at CEDIA years back... and for buying my Runco 980 Ultra years back... you saved my ass! Rest in peace.
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post #3 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 02:44 PM
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IMO, THX has become another great example of George Lucas' marketing brilliance... what I am more interested in is how many companies don't have their products THX certified because they don't want to pay the license fee to Lucas... This is exemplified by the fact that Lucas came out with a 2nd THX standard with lower specifications so more affordable equipment can be branded with the little Lucas stamp of approval...

Case in point... my little Marantz MA-6100 is a $300 mono amplifier that is THX certified and produces 125 Watts of power. What does the fact that it is THX certified mean? Well, IMO absolutely nothing. Just because it has the little sticker on it doesn't mean that it sounds good or will perform well...
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post #4 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 02:48 PM
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There was a thread long ago regarding desires for a high performance surround processor/pre-amp which Buzz Goddard had started. Of course the THX certification process came up, and some healthy discussion resulted. Any outside certification and evaluation process can be of value depending on the talents of those performing the certification. My impressions are that THX has some serious understanding and knowledge of the surround decoding process. From what I have read here and elsewhere, THX also puts a processor through the paces in terms of general operation, and the products badged as such do tend to support this argument.

The above said, I am still looking into some of the other THX certification processies and details, but some of the products I see pass certification do raise a red flag or two in areas outside of surround processing. The recent Ultra2 specification has a specified low frequency response being 6th order, -6dB at 20Hz. While this will be of certain benefit to a large number of output limited subwoofers presently using heavy limiting, as of yet, I don't see THX pushing the state of the art at all in the loudspeaker and subwoofer arenas.

With certain aspects and a various performance levels of movie reproduction I would agree THX can offer a great deal of objective and competent critique, but I would point out they are working on a set of standards to meet, which I hope manufacturers will strive to exceed. In some cases by a great margin.

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post #5 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 02:54 PM
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No question money is the root of all businesses. I hope Lucas makes as much as he can off of me, you or anyone. It is his right!

That said, it is undeniable that between his ground breaking surround recording techniques for Star Wars in 1977 and the creation THX certification for consumer equipment, he has done more than any other to further this hobby.

Jeff

Goodbye to a great audio and video genius and writer... JOHN GANNON. I enjoyed your friendship, wit and a nice long run we took around Indianapolis at CEDIA years back... and for buying my Runco 980 Ultra years back... you saved my ass! Rest in peace.
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post #6 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 03:46 PM
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No question money is the root of all businesses. I hope Lucas makes as much as he can off of me, you or anyone. It is his right!
Yanno...I really hate to disagree, but this is something I actually know something about. I went through the certification process heavily with Fosgate Audionics in the early '90s, Citation in the mid-'90s, JBL Synthesis, and peripherally with Triad, who has only three out of forty products THX-certified. The Home THX Program has hemorrhaged money since day one. If you saw their elaborate facilities, and if you knew the piddly amount they charge to license, you'd be surprised. All of you. Here's the fact that some of the more cynical (include me in that fraternity) will not believe. George Lucas is an altruist, and his main motivation for having Tom Holman initiate the Theater and Home Programs was to standardize movie sound. They wanted uniform frequency response, power response, phase response, and they established subwoofer performance standards that, at the time, only a handful of subs could pass. Amplifiers were actually expected to drive speakers without melting down, as speakers were expected to present tame loads. No one cared much about accuracy, proper dispersion, minimum distortion standards until THX. All we had were the antiquated government-mandated and silly THD specs.

This isn't to say that all THX-certified speakers sound great, or that Marantz amp sounds like a Krell. But for only $300, that Marantz amp will drive a 3.6 ohm load, and when used with a THX-certified front end, it's frequency response will be ruler flat. And the amount of money Marantz sends to Lucasfilm for selling one of those amps will barely pay for a meal at a fast food drive-thru window.

Hey, the guy made his money making movies!!

Jeff, I'm not beating on you. You're one of the best contributors here. But I am an insider in this case.

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post #7 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 03:50 PM
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Could you kindly tell me what the T, H and X represent in THX?
Thanks.

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post #8 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Jeff, I'm not beating on you. You're one of the best contributors here. But I am an insider in this case.
Paul, methinks Jeff is agreeing with you.

Tony

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post #9 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 03:55 PM
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There are two answers to this question. George Lucas first film was THX 1138. Tom Holman told me it also means Tom Holman Experiment"...

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post #10 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 03:57 PM
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Well i just did some quick research and found this on the THX.com website (thanks for those that answered my question).....

***In 1980, Lucas set out to develop and implement a set of quality control criteria for theatres. His goal was to ensure that his films, as well as those of other filmmakers, would be accurately reproduced for moviegoers for whom sound was an important part of their overall film enjoyment.
Three years later THX, named after Lucas' first feature film, THX 1138, had been developed and THX systems were installed in two theatres for the premiere of RETURN OF THE JEDI. Today, more than 2000 theatres and dubbing stages around the world meet THX requirements. ***

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post #11 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi
I was hoping a manufacture would respond
I too have seen the testing facility and the testing
It is much much more than simply submitting a piece
and then receiving a badge or marketing hype
Paul did you change any thing from the first submission or
submissions? I attended Level 1&2 training in 98 and must say
I was very impressed with the testing facility.
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post #12 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 05:04 PM
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Paul did you change any thing from the first submission or
submissions?
You always have to change something! The testing procedures catch many design flaws in amps, speakers, and processors that manufacturers miss. In the Fosgate Audionics Model Three A Processor, we had a slight dropout in the bass in some modes, and they were all over it. We had a large peak in the Fosgate Audionics FS400 subwoofer that occured up in the lower midrange, and we didn't see why we had to deal with it because the sub was lowpassed at 80 Hz, but they insisted. It probably made a slight sonic difference. Sometimes they would get really picky, but the lengthy process made better products, and we would have had to spend at least as much doing the additional testing ourselves.

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post #13 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 08:29 PM
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"I think people would be amazed if some of well known and well accepted products in the market were submitted and the results were made public. You would be appalled!"

Buzz, wasn't quite sure how to take that. Do you mean that top names got knocked a lot, or what did you mean?

Very strange, I posted the above, and then looked and buzz's post was gone, lol. Oh well. :)

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post #14 of 36 Old 03-02-2002, 09:35 PM
 
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Hmm, looks like Buzz was a bit too open and honest and thought better of it.
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post #15 of 36 Old 03-03-2002, 09:40 AM
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Originally posted by Lex
"I think people would be amazed if some of well known and well accepted products in the market were submitted and the results were made public. You would be appalled!"

Buzz, wasn't quite sure how to take that. Do you mean that top names got knocked a lot, or what did you mean?

Very strange, I posted the above, and then looked and buzz's post was gone, lol. Oh well. :)

Lex
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That confusion is probably why Buzz deleted the post. ;) All that was meant was that there are many glitches or quirks to a product that the THX process can bring to light. Of course Buzz's most significant experience is regarding surround processors, but includes many other things. In the same line of thought, the audiophile community is in no way ready to see what their loudspeakers REALLY are doing. Again, most would be appalled if relatively unsmoothed, 3D data was actually provided. Marketing's "smoother line drawer" has spoiled us with smooth lines.

A manufacturer has to make a real decision whether or not THX certification is justifiable in cost to their products, and if the THX specification co-incides with their goals and budget. For larger manufacturers, I can easily see how it would be a no-brainer to use such a tool. For others that decision may be a matter of getting a couple products THX certified, or developing a new technology. Neither decision is right or wrong, and each company has to determine how much the THX process can offer beyond their own R&D. Seeing some of the really odd-ball designs on the market (no, no names) I wish some companies would decide to work with THX!

Regards,

Mark Seaton
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post #16 of 36 Old 03-03-2002, 10:11 AM
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I had a Fosgate 3A. Best analog processor ever (well I compared it only to the Lexicon CP-3 and Angstrom 100). I miss those pentagonal shaped LEDs moving with the soundtrack. Cool!

All in all I think THX has done a great service to our hobby. However, it carried much more clout 6-7 years ago when few products were THX spec.'d.

Jeff said:

.
Quote:
That said, it is undeniable that between his ground breaking surround recording techniques for Star Wars in 1977 and the creation THX certification for consumer equipment, he has done more than any other to further this hobby.
The technicalities are beyond my scope of knowledge. I am only commenting on Lucas' contributions seperate from the nuts and bolts of his operation.

Paul I am not trying to argue. I respect your first hand knowledge and expertise in this area. I only said that Lucas' state of the art recording techniques and the unimaginable concept of bringing the audio portion of Hollywood home was arguably the genesis and laid the groundwork for overwhelming success our hobby enjoys today.

He made us movie / audio buffs consider that a soundtrack could REALLY impact the realism and enjoyment of a film in its own right. It wasn't all about the large screen.

I remember owning my Fosgate processor, loving the sound and knowing that Lucas had something to do with it.

I think I paid $2700 for it 7 years ago. Chump change by today's standards

Goodbye to a great audio and video genius and writer... JOHN GANNON. I enjoyed your friendship, wit and a nice long run we took around Indianapolis at CEDIA years back... and for buying my Runco 980 Ultra years back... you saved my ass! Rest in peace.
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post #17 of 36 Old 03-03-2002, 11:27 AM
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...the audiophile community is in no way ready to see what their loudspeakers REALLY are doing.
This is the industry's Dirty Little Secret. Many "audiophile" designers "voice" their speakers for that desired "high-end" sound...recessed midrange; bloated mid-bass; and a rising high upper octave for "detail." Damn accuracy, they know the sound you should like!

thebland...I still have a Model Three A that I may actually use with one of my three Fosgate Audionics amps for my bedroom system. Now if I could only get that goddam remote to work! You are to be commended for recognizing how good that processor sounded at the time. Not until the Citation 7.0 many years later did anything sound better. (Still have one of those, too.)

The Model Three and subsequent Model Three A were early THX-certified processors, and we sent them back and forth to Marin for testing for a year. Having to do everything in the analog domain meant circuit changes. Being able to do it in the software today makes changes much easier. At the time, Buzz was my counterpart at Lexicon, and we battled for the high-end processor business with two great-but-flawed products...and we both got gobbled up by Harman. That's another story, though...

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post #18 of 36 Old 03-03-2002, 03:00 PM
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Paul,

I can't agree enough with your assessment of "audiophile" manufactured speakers. I won't mention any brands because (of course) the owners will come running to state how "accurate" their speakers are. However, voincing of speakers is a common practice among the upper bracket speaker makers. Some stand out from the crowd, but IMHO, they are in the minority.
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post #19 of 36 Old 03-03-2002, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Scarpelli

thebland...I still have a Model Three A that I may actually use with one of my three Fosgate Audionics amps for my bedroom system. Now if I could only get that goddam remote to work!
I actually thought mine was a giant paperweight until today... a friend mentioned to me today that he is out of s-video switching capabilities and is pretty bummed because he wanted to attach another piece of gear via s-video... That paperweight is finding a new home tomorrow as a video switcher... heh heh...
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post #20 of 36 Old 03-03-2002, 07:58 PM
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Hey Paul,

How are you, Tom from Chicagoland here. I used to speak with you while you with Fosgate, you were always patient and willing to answer a lot of questions, thanks. I recently spoke with Bob Poppin, he was another great Fosgate guy. I felt that with the Harmon K. buyout that signaled the demise of Fosgate, granted the Citation line was created ( and screwed up ) but as a former Model 4 guy I took a lot of pride in owning a Fosgate processor. Last month I finally traded in the 4, it was pretty hard to give up, I just was not getting enough use out of it. It was serving duty as a backup Preamp / Processor. I have to say I loved pulling it out of the box and hooking it up now and then. You still can't beat the 70MM mode. I heard a new Fosgate processor was due out, vaporware so far?
Speaking of THX, currently we are using the new Pioneer VSX-49TX. I have to say, if THX had anything to do with the wonderful performance of the 49TX, that would be a pretty nice statement of the THX process. The 49TX really sounds excellent, I really am not missing separates. Its good to hear your feedback on the THX program.
Oh! The Remote for our Model 4 always worked like a champ, the store where we traded it in asked me if it was working as he remembered the difficulties with them and I was proud to say yes! The were always asking me, " Are you sure you want to trade that in ( the 4), its hard to beat that incredible analog processing", that always made me feel good. What can I say, I loved that processor!

Tom


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post #21 of 36 Old 03-04-2002, 08:09 AM
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I heard a new Fosgate processor was due out, vaporware so far?
There will be a line of home theater components from Fosgate Audionics, now a subsidiary of Rockford Corporation, and they will be excellent. My old partner-in-crime at the old Fosgate Audionics, Charlie Wood, is a frequent poster here, and he'll keep us informed. I think the launch is imminent, but Charlie knows better than I...

Great hearing from you, Tom!

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post #22 of 36 Old 03-04-2002, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Scarpelli

You always have to change something! The testing procedures catch many design flaws in amps, speakers, and processors that manufacturers miss. In the Fosgate Audionics Model Three A Processor, we had a slight dropout in the bass in some modes, and they were all over it. We had a large peak in the Fosgate Audionics FS400 subwoofer that occured up in the lower midrange, and we didn't see why we had to deal with it because the sub was lowpassed at 80 Hz, but they insisted. It probably made a slight sonic difference. Sometimes they would get really picky, but the lengthy process made better products, and we would have had to spend at least as much doing the additional testing ourselves.

I've been through the same scenarios many times. Even when you've tested a product to death and all the beta testers are happy, having some smart guys, with good test equipment and procedures and perhaps most importantly, fresh eyes and thinking, look hard at the product, there will invariably be issues they find.

Think about this. I went through this many times at Lexicon as well as with Citation and TAG McLaren. EVERY time there were valid issues the folks at THX caught.
Now if very experienced companies like them had issues, imagine what less experienced companys do. There are many high end companies introducing processors into the market now. Virtually none of them have the experience nor the engineering staff, equipment, capabilities and know how, of say Lexicon. If you think all these other products have no flaws, well, that is at best wishful thinking.
As processors become more and more complicated, I believe even more strongly that the THX certification process is a very, very good idea. Bass management level controlling and time alignment, just to name a few functions, get quite complex with all the different formats, speaker configs and user settings.
There are plenty of screwed up products out there. Even though I rarely use the THX modes (except for RE-EQ) for one would be very reticent to purchase a non-THX certified processor as I know there will be issues effecting the system performance.


Don't ask for specifics, I can't divulge. But here's a good one.
I know of one processor that was all set to ship. Amongst its features was a handy self calibration routine. You placed a mic at the listening position, hit calibrate and the unit would generate pink noise test signals and increase or decrease the individual output levels to calibrate the system automatically. In the last bit of testing, they neglected to properly connect the mic.

The processor generated the test pink noise, received insufficient level on the mic input and duly started increasing the output level for that channel. And it kept increasing and increasing. And getting louder and louder. Only after the speaker was destroyed, (and the tester's hearing) were the able to shut it off and that was only by unplugging the processor (complete with a nasty turn off transient). There was no other way to stop the automated process.

Aren't you sorry you didn't get to experience that in your system?
:cool:

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post #23 of 36 Old 03-04-2002, 10:41 AM
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Paul & Buzz,

I find your comments interesting (and refreshing) because they reflect a point of view that seems to be a complete opposite of the view that I bump into quite frequently on the bulletin boards. That view being that THX certification is just a waste of money, a shiny logo to fill Lucasfilm's pockets so don't feel bad if your new ACME processor doesn't have it.

What's interesting is how you feel the THX certification process makes your products better even after all the beta testing and internal quality control.

Thank you for your comments, another reason why I love this BB.

All the best,
Ricardo
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post #24 of 36 Old 03-04-2002, 10:48 AM
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Ricardo...What a coincidence...I used to live on St. Mary's Road in Green Oaks. What a beautiful country town...

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post #25 of 36 Old 03-04-2002, 11:19 AM
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Paul,

I think I am one of the new Green Oaks residents that is reponsible for turning it into part of the Chicago Metropolis. I live in one of the new subdivisions between St. Mary's and I-94 where they poured concrete on a farmer's field and put up houses! But the huge lots around here are terrific and I love the area.

back on topic... If you read the George Lucas Biography "Skywalking" or catch the Biography Channel TV special on him you will note that this guy is not about the almighty dollar. His wise decision to reinvest his initial Star Wars money into his company is now many years later ironically making him personally very wealthy. But the initial motive wasn't to make himself rich. So it strikes me as odd when people speak about THX being just a marketing money making endeavor for Mr. Lucas himself.

All the best,
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post #26 of 36 Old 03-04-2002, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi
I would like to thank everyone that posted a response to this thread.I hope that this thread is read by many and that they
have a new perspective about the THX certification process
after the read
Thanks Again
Ray
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post #27 of 36 Old 03-04-2002, 12:33 PM
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Does anyone know anything about the OTHER THX certification processes? The one for car audio? Multimedia audio? Can anyone give a rundown on the differences between the various 'badges', and which ones are serious, and which ones are just kind of for marketing, and to what extent?

Eep!
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post #28 of 36 Old 03-04-2002, 01:11 PM
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I haven't submitted any components for testing in the multimedia nor the 12v program. However, I am familiar with some of the parameters of the program and know a little bit about both industries. I think it safe to say at least there will be some benchmark in each discipline now.
In these, perhaps more then home theater, it will be easy to surpass the standards set (simply connecting a serious home theater to a PC or visiting an IASCA sound off will demonstrate that. But, a standard benchmark in those wild and woolly frontiers will probably be a good thing.

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post #29 of 36 Old 03-04-2002, 01:26 PM
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Yea, I guess so.... with Multimedia, you know that the Altec Lansing ADA885 and 890's, and the Logitech z560's, and the Klipsch Promedia 2.1, 4.1, and 5.1 don't *suck*... sort of....

And I assume that Lincoln that they are going to certify first should have good sound...

Eep!
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post #30 of 36 Old 09-14-2002, 01:55 AM
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Manufacturers flaunt it to justify jacking up THEIR prices, people
who buy it say it's just great. The SAD thing is that THX does not
DISCLOSE the specifications products must meet in order to
"pass" those tests. Some have leaked out, such as the -6db
at 20hz spec for Ultra 2 certified subs.
But how can all those "emperor's without clothes" out there possibly
go on and on about how great it is to have THX certified products
when they haven't a CLUE as to what THX actually certifies?
And I am NOT talking about THX processing such as de-correlation,
I'm talking about the SPECS things like power amps must meet to
be awarded cirtification from THX.
Honestly, until they know what they are, how can people possibly
crow about them?

"If Blockbuster continues to offer ONLY Pan & Scan versions of major movies as rentals instead of correct aspect ratio (widescreen) versions,
please do not rent DVDs from them."
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