THX is a trade name of a high-fidelity sound reproduction standard for movie theaters, screening rooms, home theaters, computer speakers, gaming consoles, and car audio systems. The current THX was created in 2001 when it spun off from Lucasfilm Ltd. THX stands for Tomlinson Holman's eXperiment[1] and is a throwback to George Lucas's first feature film, THX 1138. THX was developed by Tomlinson Holman at George Lucas's company, Lucasfilm, in 1983 to ensure that the soundtrack for the third Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi, would be accurately reproduced in the best venues. The distinctive crescendo used in the THX trailers, created by Holman's coworker James A. Moorer, is known as the "Deep Note".

The THX system is not a recording technology, and it does not specify a sound recording format: all sound formats, whether digital (Dolby Digital, SDDS) or analog (Dolby Stereo, Ultra-Stereo), can be "shown in THX." THX is mainly a quality assurance system. THX-certified theaters provide a high-quality, predictable playback environment to ensure that any film soundtrack mixed in THX will sound as near as possible to the intentions of the mixing engineer. THX also provides certified theaters with a special crossover circuit whose use is part of the standard. Certification of an auditorium entails specific acoustic and other technical requirements; architectural requirements include a floating floor, baffled and acoustically treated walls, no parallel walls (to reduce standing waves), a perforated screen (to allow center channel continuity), and NC30 rating for background noise.


The first theater THX was used in was at the University of Southern California's Eileen L. Norris Cinema Theatre as a part of USC's noted film school.[2]

THX sets strict standards for high quality sound and images.

According to Tomlinson Holman, the inventor of the THX system, the name of the technology was deliberately chosen because it contained both a reference to his name, and to Lucas's early film THX 1138.Template:Citation needed The original name was "Tom Holman's Crossover" (Crossover being sometimes referred to as Xover) or the "Tom Holman eXperiment."

THX Ltd., the company that licenses THX and the associated technology, is based in San Rafael, California, but has offices in Burbank and Hollywood.

THX launched a certification program for HD video products to ensure HD projectors, LCDs, plasmas and DVRs meet high standards for quality. The TiVo Series3 HD DVR and a number of projectors from Runco and Vidikron became the first THX Certified HD products.

The THX II Certified Car Audio System can be found in many Lincoln automobiles produced since 2003. The system was recently recognized among the Best Car Audio Systems of 2006 by the editors of CNET.

THX Ltd. started a licensing program for home screening rooms in 2005, which requires standards similar in concept, though not in detail, to its cinema certification program; before this happened, there was a very small number of (very expensive) home theatres which were actually constructed to THX Cinema standards, most notable of actor and comedian Eddie Murphy.

The world's largest THX cinema is the Colosseum Kino in Oslo, Norway.

The Logo and the Deep NoteEdit

THX first began to appear in Theaters, in which their logo would be seen before the start of the film that was playing. As with that THX was recently created for motion picture quality, the very first film to show THX would be the film Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, from its theatrical debut on May 25, 1983. From there, THX began to appear before all movies from July 1, 1983, until August 30, 1997, when THX was no longer classified as a "motion picture sound system". At that point, THX had certified VHS/home video releases (as well as Laserdisc at the same time, and later DVDs, after 1998) beginning in 1995. Prior to September 1, 1997, as with no longer being known as a "sound system", THX was removed from all theaters, with the exception for a couple of trailers that THX had then-recently created (such as its own mascot, Tex the Robot) in 1996, would vaguely be seen in theaters. Also, in 2000, based on the long-lasting "Broadway" logo, a new logo called "Broadway 2000" could be seen in theaters.

The distinctive crescendo used in the THX trailers is known as the "Deep Note".

This same "Deep Note" sound effect is almost identical to the opening sound effect in the song "Countdown To Zero", by the progressive rock group Asia. It was released on their 1985 album Astra.

The character in the THX trailers is called "Tex" and was created by John Lasseter at Pixar.

The THX trailer entitled "Cimarron" which first appeared at the start of the 1988 film Willow, used music composed by James Horner which featured a variation of the "Deep Note".

The THX broadway logo on the DVD releases has a lower-pitched deep note, while the VHS/Laserdisc logo had a higher-pitched deep-note that was similar to the "Wings" logo from its theatrical debut in 1983. The Deep Note was remixed and "pitched" a numerous amount of times between its debut in 1983 and today. While the long-well known crescendo was used as well, it became shortened once THX had "graduated" to VHS/DVD/Laserdisc releases of certified features, along with the Deep Note, and its pitch. However, beginning in 2007, with its creation of the "Amazing Life" trailer, the Deep Note was extremely cut short to the one pitch(where both synth notes are in one pitch), following a variety of instruments playing a short tune that plays in the trailer. With the release of Terminator 2 on DVD, the Deep Note was slightly remixed, which was also in the same form in the Broadway 2000 logo.

Other Tom Holman innovationsEdit

THX inventor Tomlinson Holman has continued his work in entertainment technologies under his current company, TMH Corporation.

While distinct from the THX Certification, the 10.2 surround sound system has also been spearheaded by Holman. 10.2 includes a front-left, top-front-left, front-right, top-front-right, surround-left, top-surround-left, surround-right, top-surround-right, center, "god" (top-center, above the screen), and front and back subwoofers. A 10.2 surround system is currently installed at the Integrated Media Systems Center at USC and at Bjorn's Audio Video retail store in San Antonio, TX in the Bjorn's "Ultimate Theater Experience" demonstration room.

See alsoEdit


  2. USC Self-Guided Tour, University of Southern California, Accessed June 8, 2009.

External linksEdit

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