THX is an audio-video reference certification standard of excellence based on a series of measurable performance criteria established by THX to ensure one simple but incredibly challenging objective: to accurately reproduce the filmmaker’s intended audio and video performance as it was originally created and intended for the audience experience. Accordingly, THX certified screening rooms must meet with rigorous room construction, noise reduction, and audio-video calibration specifications in order to receive THX certification. Furthermore, it requires that every aspect of the design and creation of a private screening room or home cinema seeking to achieve this certification must be engineered by, and the entire creation and installation process managed by a THX-certified professional theater designer and the final screening room is then measured for compliance by THX themselves.
The THX performance specifications were established in 1983 by Lucasfilm. While there were some standards for reference screening rooms within the film production industry, no standards existed to translate those performance criteria in commercial theaters. The end result was that there was no director, no sound engineer, nor any member of the movie going public who had a clue as to the quality of the presentation in any given commercial theater. These performance standards incorporated not only room acoustics; but, those engineering criteria necessary for electronic equipment, projection equipment and speakers in order to meet the performance and quality objectives of Lucasfilm.
Erskine Group is one of a select few home cinema design firms with the ability to create a THX Certified Screening Room. Our excellence matches with the desires of THX, and we can bring that excellence and performance to your home cinema.
Later in the evolutionary process, the challenge became how to convey that same experience in smaller rooms – those rooms more characteristic of a home theater. After considerable research, trial and error, a series of standards were developed for speakers, amplifiers, sound processors, and related equipment to achieve that goal. Lucas engineers didn’t only focus on the minimal performance requirements, but as well on the ergonomics of certain components. In the case of receivers, surround processors, and pre-amplifiers, these specifications translated into a body of specifications to allow these electronics to be properly calibrated. In the case of speakers, the THX specifications not only require proper frequency response and the capability to accurately reproduce the soundtrack (at appropriate volumes), but also addressed vertical dispersion (horizontal and vertical for professional speakers), “lobing”, tonal quality between speakers and off-axis response. In addressing picture quality, THX specifications were developed for not only quality control in the production process; but, also the uniformity and reflected color and contrast quality of screen material. An example of one such specification is the in-room ANSI contrast must be 150 or higher. That may seem like a moderate number to meet. The fact of the matter is it is an incredibly difficult metric to achieve.
It is important to understand that THX certified equipment, however, is not in and of itself a guarantee of the resulting performance of the completed theater as a whole – but it does mean that the theater designer has the assurance of knowing in advance precisely how speakers will perform and that the electronics have the means to tailor the system to the environment – which facilitates the ability to predictably optimize the room’s performance with regard to placement and design. Without it, the design becomes more difficult to implement. It also serves as your assurance as the customer that the equipment will reproduce the soundtrack accurately at all seating locations in a room. But most importantly, meeting the THX certification requirements for the theater room itself is ultimately what will determine the theater designer’s ability to achieve a true THX reference-level private cinema experience in your home.
THX certification can be viewed as the independent third party auditor which is your assurance you got the performance you paid for. A promise of a “WOW” experience, along with some combination of cool-named equipment, big amplifiers and loud sound is no assurance that the consumer is truly obtaining a result that meets the minimal reference criteria. The fact remains, homeowners can spend lots of money with absolutely no assurance that the end result is anywhere near a quality, high performance environment. As in the world of finance, your only fall-back is to engage an independent third party auditor to audit final results. The THX role in this process is really the consumer’s assurance that excellent value was received for the money spent on the project. With THX staff engaged at every step of the way, and where every slight oversight in the design process can easily be “one step forward, two steps backward”, you’re best advised to engage a designer with years of experience, high levels of professionalism and the “been there, done that” résumé.
Dennis Erskine, founder of the Erskine Group, is an accomplished, award-winning THX Certified Professional Theater Designer, Acoustical Engineer and is recognized industry-wide for his expertise in Sound Isolation, Quiet Rooms to NR20 (a critical attribute in achieving THX certification of screening rooms), Acoustics in the Built Space, Product Development and Project Management of turnkey high-end dedicated cinemas and multi-channel playback venues in private residences throughout the world. Equally to the point, he has been down the THX screening room path before and brings that very real, practical experience to bear.
When you hire us to create your THX Certified Screening Room, you will receive the highest level of service, our famous attention to every detail, and the comfort of knowing you have world-class experience driving your entire project. The end result will be an incredible room, which is both visually stunning and performs to THX perfection!
In addition to all the services we provide, we utilize the following checkpoints exclusively for our THX Certified Screening Rooms:
- On-site calibration and room measurements (includes calibration equipment)
- All plans submitted directly to THX for review and approval
- On-site final inspection and final analysis by THX staff
- Detailed engineering analysis
- Direct plan review and modifications
- Final plan complete audit
- Electronic component selection evaluation
- THX Certification plaque with all supporting documentation
To get started with your very own THX Certified Screening Room, please Contact Us today.