Have you ever wondered what THX is and why it’s important? Wanting to know just what powers our Speaker System Z906 and Speaker System Z623, we talked with Matt Severaid, Senior Manager of Partner Marketing at THX, to find out more about what it takes for home speakers to be THX certified, and why you should care.
L: Why did THX develop a certification category for multimedia speakers?
M: THX recognizes that many consumers utilize their desktop and laptop computers for personal entertainment. These experiences typically occur in a near-field environment where the viewer is within one meter of the screen. Even at such a short distance, THX and the filmmaking community were greatly disappointed with this entertainment experience. The most obvious letdown was the limited audio performance of typical desktop and laptop speakers. Recognizing that their performance could be greatly improved, THX launched the Multimedia Certification program in 2001.
L: What can a consumer expect from a THX Certified multimedia speaker system?
M: Simply put…the most truthful audio experience possible. The mission of THX has, and continues to be a truthful delivery of the artist’s vision. Whether it’s a videogame mixed in a THX Certified PM3 studio or a blockbuster film that premiered in a THX Certified Cinema, THX’s work with content creators defines the performance standards necessary to accurately reproduce the experience at home – as close as possible to what was heard in the studio when the content was created.
L: What are some of the performance characteristics of a THX Certified multimedia speaker system?
M: One of the most important factors is the speaker system’s ability to reproduce a wide range of frequencies. Given the compact physical size of multimedia speakers a smooth frequency response ranging from the lowest contrabass note to the highest cymbal can be very difficult to accomplish. THX mandates that all certified multimedia systems play down to a frequency of 35 hertz and up to 20,000 hertz ensuring an accurate reproduction of the audio mix.
Another very important performance characteristic is the speaker’s ability to deliver THX Reference Level volume without any audible distortion. THX Reference Level is the volume at which audio content is mixed in THX Certified studios. THX Certified multimedia speakers must play at 85 dB output plus another 20 dB of headroom (105 dB) at a listening distance of less than one meter. This stringent specification guarantees a full impact experience during even the most intense action scenes and explosions.
THX specifications also mandate that the system produce zero audible electrical or mechanical noise. This includes everything from electronic clicks, pops and random noise (hiss) to turbulent airflow due to subwoofer port design or air trapped within the speaker’s mechanical assembly. Any additional noise can be a distraction that diminishes the entertainment experience.
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