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What is THX Display

What is THX Display

THX certified audio and video specifications….

THX is an acronym synonymous with cinema, but what does it actually mean? And what exactly are you paying extra for when purchasing a THX certified sound system?

THX is set of audio and video standards that ensure movie’s are reproduced with the same stunning clarity and high-fidelity found in the filmmaker’s studio. Nowadays THX is typically found in many high-end home theater, studio and gaming products as an out-of-the-box setting that can be switched on at the touch of button to enjoy a cinema quality experience.

The THX certification was developed by George Lucas in 1983 in order to create a standard for cinema quality audio and video. At first the certificate was only given to movie theater systems however, as technology progressed and home theaters became more popular, the THX standard soon made its way to products on the consumer market.

thx certified cinema

THX Certified Cinema

Image Credit: THX, 2011.

Now with HDTV being the new standard in video and 3D slowly implanting its roots on the market, THX have introduced new standards for its home 2D and 3D HDTV home theater systems.

In order to meet THX requirements, a product must undergo 400 benchmark tests for accurate video processing, imagery, color reproduction, viewing angles, and sound reproduction.

THX Sound Specifications

THX sound guarantees 7.1 cinema surround sound. Building on Dolby’s 5.1 surround sound, THX blast audiences with sound from 7.1 locations; 2 x front, 2 x side, 1 x center, 2 x rear and one sub speaker. As well as providing a wide field of sound than 5.1, THX also allows sound engineers more room to work and be more creative.

“These standards extend the frequency range of cinema loudspeakers, resulting in an even distribution of sound throughout the auditorium. They also allow sound designers to extend the dynamic range of sound effects and create a more enveloping presentation.
THX also sets guidelines for room acoustics, reverberation time and background noise, and noise isolation to ensure that every detail of the sonic presentation is accurately delivered the way the filmmaker intended. But it’s not just about sound. THX sets standards for viewing angles, projectors and onscreen lighting levels, to make sure that the best possible image is always displayed.” [THX]

THX Video Specifications

HD Guru’s Michael Fremer, who visited THX’s San Rafael headquarters firsthand to gather all the technical details, broke it down into these 7 main specifications:

  • Master to the Rec .709 Standard; primary and secondary color points must be within ±0.005 of the white, red, blue coordinates, and ±0.010 of the green coordinate.
  • Panel Reflectance; must be more than 2% to ensure dark images stay dark in moderately lit environments.
  • Uniformity; no light or dark patches – a problem to which many LCDs and LEDs are prone. Black and white uniformity must be >80% in luminance and within ±0.004 in color.
  • Off axis color accuracy; color and uniformity must be within ±0.004 and >75% when measured 45 degree off center – another problem that plagues LCDs.
  • Image Retention; images must recover leaving no residual image – a problem often found in plasma displays. A static black and white checkerboard pattern is displayed for two hours, the retained image must recover >98% within ten minutes.
  • Overscan; the panel must have an accurate 1920 x 1080 native resolution to ensure that no scaling occurs during playback.
  • Video processing: evaluates judder, deinterlacing, bob and weave switching time, contouring and smoothing to ensure that signal processing delivers accurate playback.

thx video calibration

THX Video Calibration

Image Credit: THX, 2011.

THX 3D Specifications

With 3D becoming a little more prominent on the market, especially when it comes to the movie theater, the THX certificate now includes benchmarks tests to guarantee the performance of 3D displays. All 3D THX displays undergo the same bench tests as 2D models; they must also undergo additional tests which include:

  • 400 Bench Tests: To ensure accurate images and video processing in both left and right eye images.
  • Accurate Color Reproduction: 3D makes it harder to achieve accurate color. The THX 3D specification ensures accurate HD color for left and right eye images in both 2D and 2D.
  • Simplified Set-up: Must be precalibrated with easy switching between 2D and 3D modes.
  • Sharper Pictures: Must have improved 2D and 3D de-interlacing and jaggies, to ensure sharp images.

All-in-all, the THX certificate is sign of high quality high-definition video and audio. Products with mediocre components simply cannot meet the requirements set by THX, therefore any product boasting the certificate is sure to be a top-quality unit that accurately reproduces cinema quality audio and visuals right out of the box.

Related Posts:


  1. Michael Fremer: WTF is a THX certified display? HD Guru, 05/04/2010.
  2. The THX Story. THX, 2011.
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