"THX stands for Tom Holman's eXperiment. If you are a fan of George Lucas, you might recognize ‘THX’; it is part of the name of Lucas’ first feature length film, named THX 1138."

Home THX- The Best of the Best

Patrick Roberts

Home THX- The Best of the Best
by Patrick Roberts

"THX stands for Tom Holman's eXperiment. If you are a fan of George Lucas, you might recognize ‘THX’; it is part of the name of Lucas’ first feature length film, named THX 1138."

Patrick Roberts is a junior at Cascia Hall Preparatory School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has been involved in the home theater industry for about four years and has been installing and designing them for about three years. Patrick is co-director of the audio and visual crews at his school and looks forward to a career in Communications or Computer Technology. His personal website, The Definitive Home Theater Website, has been devoted to the development of home theaters and their technology.


THX is a wonderful experience. Personally, I think that no home should be without THX. However, many people do not really understand THX and how it works. I have had a THX home theater for awhile now and it is great. Having the ability to wake up the neighborhood and make the dogs start barking is a power not many people have. With a THX sound system, you can do this (movies sound really good with it too).

THX is a sound system developed by George Lucas (a.k.a. The guy behind the blockbusters Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and Tom Holman. George Lucas wanted to give the audience the chance to watch a movie in all of its true splendor. THX was the very first attempt to bring dubbing stage quality sound to the movie theaters (and the home).

George Lucas found that movie goers were not experiencing the movie as it was intended to be experienced. In 1982, Lucas commissioned Tom Holman (at the time Lucas’ technical director) to create a movie theater sound system that would re-create what Lucas and the directors experienced in the dubbing stages. THX stands for Tom Holman's eXperiment. If you are a fan of George Lucas, you might recognize ‘THX’; it is part of the name of Lucas’ first feature length film, named THX 1138.

Tom Holman was successful in creating Lucas' new sound system. THX began making standards for power amplifiers and speakers as well as wires and room acoustics. But in 1986, home video sales rivaled that of movie ticket sales. Lucas recognized this as a chance to extend the capabilities of THX and thus Home THX was born. By 1995, more than 1,000 movie theaters nation wide had THX installed.

Home THX is fairly new. It has been available for a few years. Home THX is comprised of:
  • A THX certified controller
  • A THX certified speaker system
  • Wires that meet THX certification

When THX was developed Lucas and Holman had to address a couple of problems. For instance, movie theaters had the benefit of a large auditorium and usually had many surround speakers. Lucas and Holman had to recognize that home theaters usually won't consist of 10 to 20 surround speakers. So they developed decorrelation.

Decorrelation is the process by which the THX controller sends the surround speakers out of phase signals. This makes it hard to localize any surround speaker (which creates the randomness and ambiance of a theatrical experience). In simpler terms, it messes with the sound a little bit to make things exciting.

Lucas and Holman also recognized the design of the speakers themselves. They realized that many home theater buyers do not use the same brand of speakers. What this really means is that when you are using different "types" of speakers, the character of the sound can change. For example, if in the movie, the action begins to pan (moving from left to right or vice versa), un- matched speakers will change the sound or tone of the material that is coming out of them. THX controllers apply Timbre Matching to compensate for mismatched speakers. Timbre Matching makes the sound move smoothly left and right and from front to rear and back.

If you are interested in buying a THX home theater, you will have to keep certain things in mind. First and foremost, it can be expensive. You need to budget yourself. Secondly, you really need to devote a room in your house to THX. Don’t have kids room/home theater room. If it is possible, designate a room as the ‘theater’. If you have not read the THX installation guide or have extensive knowledge on setting home theaters up, I wouldn’t attempt to install it yourself. It is worth the extra money for a professional to came in and set it up for you. The professional will also calibrate and tonally check everything for you to optimize your system.

THX is like Dolby Digital and DTS. It has six channels, three fronts, two surrounds, and a bass channel. It is important to buy THX certified speakers because they have undergone strict testing to gain the title ‘THX Certified. They are built to THX specification. Also, the THX receiver (or preamp and amp combo) is a technological marvel. Many things go into making a THX certified controller. The THX amps have to meet certain specifications to be passed onto us as ‘THX Certified.’ All of this together makes one heck of an experience. Believe me, I am hooked. You will be too. If you aren’t, stop by your local home theater dealer and see if they have a THX setup, it will blow you away.

Lets all thank George for such a great idea.

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