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THX Ltd.
IndustryMotion picture industry
FoundedMay 25, 1983; 39 years ago (1983-05-25)
FoundersGeorge Lucas
Tomlinson Holman
Key people

THX Ltd. is an American company founded on May 25, 1983 by George Lucas and headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops the "THX" high fidelity audio/visual reproduction standards for movie theaters, screening rooms, home theaters, computer speakers, gaming consoles, car audio systems, and video games. THX Ltd. is a subsidiary of Razer Inc.

The current THX was created on June 12, 2002, when it spun-off from Lucasfilm Ltd.[3] 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. THX was named after Holman, with the "X" standing for "crossover"[4] or "experiment" as well as in homage to Lucas's first film, THX 1138. The distinctive glissando up from a rumbling low pitch used in the THX trailers, created by Holman's coworker James A. Moorer, is known as the "Deep Note".

The THX system is a quality assurance system, not a recording technology. All sound recording formats, whether digital (Dolby Digital, DTS, SDDS) or analog (Dolby Stereo, Ultra Stereo), can be reproduced in a THX 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, non-parallel walls (to reduce standing waves), a perforated screen (to allow center channel continuity), and NC30 rating for background noise ("ensures noise from air conditioning units and projection equipment does not mask the subtle effects in a movie's soundtrack").[5]

In 2002, THX was owned by sound card manufacturer Creative Technology Limited, which held a 60% share of the company.[6] The company has had a long history with Creative innovation and special effects technology, which was responsible for the creation of the first THX-certified audio card for computers, the Sound Blaster Audigy 2.

In 2016, THX was acquired by the videogame hardware company Razer Inc., with Razer Inc owning all of THX and its intellectual property.[1][2]


In 1982, George Lucas and his company Lucasfilm were gearing up to release Return of the Jedi, the third film in the Star Wars Trilogy. A new building had been constructed in San Rafael, California, where Industrial Light & Magic and much of Lucasfilm occupied a series of work bays and office complexes along Kerner Boulevard. Known as the C Building, the structure boasted a shooting stage, editing facilities, rooms for computer servers, and a large theater designed as a state-of-the-art sound mixing room. That same year, Lucas and his team were working on Return of the Jedi when a major situation began to arise. They brought their film to test in a commercial theater to find out that much of the audio detail and quality they mixed for countless hours in the studio was simply missing when played back in the cinema. Lucas's team was unable to hear the classic Princess Leia theme, as well as the famous Star Wars soundtrack and sound effects. And if that weren't bad enough, the background noise in the theater had become much worse, muffling most of the film's sound while playing through the theater's commercial sound system. During this time, many movie theaters all over the world had poor room acoustics with mono surround sound.[7] The vision sounded one way in the studio and differently in the theater. To fix the problem, Lucas would establish a quality standard for commercial theaters that would utilize the best technology to consistently translate filmmakers' work to the big screen.[8] Tomlinson Holman, a skilled audio engineer and scientist largely responsible for the design of the theater became an employee of Lucasfilm two years earlier in 1980. In the process of enhancing the setup for the new Sprocket Systems theater, Holman and Lucas invented a complex system that arranged speakers to best fit the architectural space within the theater. Using an intricate crossover network that integrated equipment with the room's unique acoustics, it became perhaps the best quality system anyone could remember hearing. Sprocket Systems mixed the Return of the Jedi sound in the room, the first Lucasfilm production mixed in Northern California. Visiting filmmakers and studio executives were astounded at what they heard. Jim Kessler, who hired Holman, thought of calling the system "Tomlinson Holman's Crossover", or, as originally abbreviated, "XVR". He then changed the "VR" and turned it into "TH", but he realized that was the name for George Lucas' first film, THX 1138, and found that would be a very appropriate name. They eventually changed the "X"'s meaning to "experiment".[9] Four movie theaters in the United States would fully install their own THX sound system, becoming the first THX certified theaters. To introduce the new system, James A. Moorer created an ear-catching sound called the Deep Note.[10] THX was dedicated on May 20, 1983, and the first trailer and Deep Note premiered on time with the release of Return of the Jedi in theaters five days later. It was billed as the first advance in the motion picture loudspeaker systems since 1948.[11]

In 1990, Lucasfilm unveiled the Home THX Audio System at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago.[12] That year, a demo LaserDisc dubbed Wow! was unveiled. It featured various clips from Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Willow.[13] Three years later in 1993, The Abyss was released on LaserDisc, making it the first time THX was used on that device.[14] In 1995, the Star Wars Trilogy was released on VHS and the entire trilogy would now be THX certified. This would be the first THX VHS release.[15] Two years after that in 1997, THX began to use the audio on the newly released DVD device. Twister became the first DVD release to be digitally mastered by THX for superior sound and picture quality.[16]

In early 2002, it was announced that Lincoln would become the first auto company to offer THX-certified premium car audio systems. A concept sound system for the Lincoln Blackwood would showcase the potential for in-car multi-channel surround sound, which could be seen and heard at the THX booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The license would ensure that high-performance audio systems in Lincoln vehicles met the exacting sound quality and performance standards of its new THX Ultra Premium Car Audio program, beginning with the 2003 Lincoln LS, which was introduced later that year.[17]

THX separated from Lucasfilm and became an independent company in June 2002. The company would continue to be based in Marin County, California, with offices in Burbank and plan for international expansion. It would expand into gaming and car audio systems. On the professional front, THX planned to continue the expansion of its theatrical certification programs as it became more involved in digital cinema.[3]

On September 30, 2003, THX announced that they would begin branding seals of approval to the audio produced for video games. Electronic Arts would be the first company to achieve the game certification. This move helped improve the game sound, measuring the credibility of games at a time when the industry saw itself as being important to the entertainment landscape. Five games by Electronic Arts, including Need for Speed: Underground, Medal of Honor: Rising Sun and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King would carry logos on their box and pre-game trailers upon their release.[18] In 2020, THX Certified Game Mode was introduced. This mode enhanced contrast and color while simultaneously reducing input lag.[19] It also delivered fast response time and the most optimal viewing experience, allowing games to be experienced the way they were intended by the creators with richer vibrant colors and better contrast in crisp 4K HDR resolution. When customers selected the THX Certified Game Mode in their TV, they would know that the performance of every setting had been carefully calibrated and optimized to deliver impactful visual performance to reveal vivid detail in a game while keeping the fast responsiveness that serious gamers demand.[20] Furthermore, THX Certified Game Mode even featured judder and smear reduction, meaning that the picture stayed crisp and a quick rise time between dark-to-light transitions.[21] On August 3, TCL Technology revealed the first television to include THX Certified Game Mode, a 6-Series TCL Roku TV.[22]

In 2014, THX began to certify Blu-ray discs; the first THX-certified Blu-ray was for the film The Swan Princess.[23]

A 3D product certification called THX 3D Display premiered in 2010. The first 3D television to feature this technology was an LG Infinia PX950 Plasma HDTV series. To earn the new THX 3D Display Certification, the PX950 passed more than 400 laboratory tests evaluating left and right eye images for color accuracy, cross-talk, viewing angles, and video processing performance. In addition to the THX 3D Display Certification, the PX950 had to pass THX certification for picture quality in 2D, which must be achieved before passing THX 3D certification. Viewers could select THX 2D or 3D cinema modes for 2D or 3D movie experiences from broadcast sources and Blu-ray discs.[24] Four new THX-certified 3D JVC projectors were unveiled during this time. These were the Reference Series DLA-RS60 and DLA-RS50, marketed by JVC's Professional Products Company, and the Precision Series DLA-X9 and DLA-X7.[25]

In early 2013, THX unveiled a new app called THX Tune-Up in time for Super Bowl, available on App Store and Google Play. It was billed as the company's first mobile app.[26]

On March 14, 2013, THX filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc., alleging patent infringement, Bloomberg L.P. prior to a federal court in Northern California.[27]

THX expanded to China in 2014 with new offices in Beijing and a partnership with China Film Group Corporation to redefine the cinema experience. The first THX Certified China Giant Screen (CGS) auditoriums opened Shanghai in September of that year.[28] In December 2014, THX teamed up with Warren Theatres, opening a large theater complex opened in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on December 23. Each of the 18 auditoriums in this theater was THX certified and two new Grand Infinity Auditoriums were introduced. They were designed by Bill Warren to revolutionize the large format movie-going experience. These auditoriums featured THX Certification, patented deep curved screens, 64-channel Dolby Atmos sound and the first and only 4K laser projector in the United States.[29]

The company was acquired by Razer Inc. in October 2016.[1]

The first THX-certified laptop was released in 2017 dubbed the Razer Blade Pro.[30] THX introduced Spatial Audio in 2018, a new positional audio solution that was designed to create an immersive 360-degree sound experience through headphones and speakers.[31] The technology would be used on the Kraken gaming headset, which delivered simulated 7.1 surround sound. These headphones were included with a Spatial Audio app. This would be later used on Windows 10 devices.[32]

On May 2, 2018, it was announced that over 200 Cinemark XD locations in the United States and Latin America would feature a THX sound system. These auditoriums featured enormous wall-to-wall screens, crisp, clear digital projection with 2D and 3D capabilities, immersive, surround sound audio systems that enabled customers to hear the movies as the filmmakers intended, premium seats with Luxury Lounger electric recliners, and THX Certification.[33] Both companies first announced the partnership a year prior in 2017.[34] The first THX Ultimate Cinema debuted at Regency Westwood Village in Los Angeles in 2019. This theater provided exhibitors with a branded and differentiated PLF offering that included projection technology from Cinionic, as well as an immersive audio system, acoustics, and auditorium specifications that met THX certification standards.[35]

In September 2020, Walmart stores began to sell Gateway laptops and tablets, which were tuned by THX, ensuring brighter contrast with more rich vibrant screen colors. They combined style, performance, and value in a wide range of products for consumers, students, and creators. The laptops featured THX Spatial Audio that delivered an authentic 7.1 surround experience through built-in speakers and attached headphones.[36]

THX premiered their first consumer electronic product called the Onyx in 2021. This product was a mobile headphone DAC/Amplifier that utilized THX AAA technology.[37]


Norris Cinema Theatre, on the University of Southern California campus, where THX was first developed and installed.

The first theater THX was used in was the University of Southern California's Eileen L. Norris Cinema Theatre, a part of USC's film school.[38]


THX Certified Game logo commonly used on some THX-certified video games.

THX has created a certification process for additional products including home audio, home theater, video, and automotive sound components and products. THX certification extends to home audio receivers, speakers, desktop systems, soundbars, acoustic materials, microphones, and HDMI cables.[39]

THX Certified Ultra[edit]

THX Certified Ultra products bring the cinematic experience to larger home theaters, 3,000 cu ft (85 m3) in size, with a viewing distance of 12 foot (3.7 m) or greater from the screen.

THX Certified Select[edit]

THX Certified Select products are for medium-sized rooms, up to 2,000 cu ft (57 m3) in size, with a 10–12 foot (3.0–3.7 m) viewing distance from the screen.

THX Certified Compact[edit]

THX Certified Compact products for smaller sized rooms, up to 2,000 cu ft (57 m3) in size, with an 8 foot (2.4 m) viewing distance from the screen.

THX Certified Dominus[edit]

THX Certified Dominus products are for expansive home theater spaces, 6,500 cu ft (180 m3) in size, with a 20 foot (6.1 m) viewing distance from the screen.

I/S Plus Systems[edit]

THX's I/S Plus systems include an AV Receiver + Speaker Bundle and are certified to fill a small home theater or dorm room where the viewing distance from the screen is 6–8 feet (1.8–2.4 m). These THX certified home theater in a box systems are so far exclusively made by Onkyo.[40] and Enclave Audio.[41]

Multimedia products[edit]

THX Certified Multimedia Products are designed and engineered for PC gaming and multimedia on the desktop.

THX Certified Optimode and Optimizer[edit]

THX Certified DVD and video displays (plasma display and LCD or LED flat panels and projectors) including THX Optimode and Optimizer which allows users to see a program or the movie as originally intended. Some tests required the use of special "blue filter glasses," which would either be included with the Optimizer disc, or sold separately on the THX website at the time.[42]

The first DVD release to include the THX Optimode was 20th Century Fox's Fight Club, which was released on June 6, 2000.[43]


THX's mascot is a robot named Tex. Tex was created by John Lasseter, the head of Pixar Animation Studios, responsible for, among other things, animated films. He first appeared in the original Tex trailer, which premiered in theaters on July 3, 1996, with the theatrical release of Independence Day, in which he fixes up the THX logo. A second trailer called Tex 2: Moo Can premiered in theaters on November 26, 1997, with the original theatrical release of Alien Resurrection.[44] Less than a decade later on June 9, 2006, the Tex 3: Action trailer premiered with the release of Cars. They were later seen in some prints of early Pixar animated films on DVDs including Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and Cars. In 2005, the trailers were not shown in the original home media on another Pixar animated feature film, The Incredibles which used the Cavalcade trailer instead. The Moo Can trailer was also seen on some 20th Century Fox DVDs, such as Speed 2: Cruise Control and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

On April 16, 2012, THX announced that they would be hosting an online photo contest called Where in the World is Tex. Running from April 23 to May 13, this event challenged fans from around the world to capture and upload their best photo of Tex in and around local THX certified cinemas or well-known city landmarks near those cinemas, and then share them on THX's Facebook page. Photos with Tex would earn fans a chance to win a number of prizes, including one year's worth of movie tickets (24 tickets total), cinema gift certificates, the Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray Box Set from 2011 and a variety of THX branded items, such as THX gift bags containing a THX branded hat, a messenger bag, a vintage t-shirt and a water bottle. Between May 14 and May 25, 2012, Facebook fans would vote by number of likes for one of the five finalists within each of the three contest categories to select the winner.[45]

Tex appeared in the Genesis trailer, which was released on August 20, 2019.[46] In April 2020, THX released coloring sheets of Tex.[47] Two months later in June, the company unveiled a new Spatial Audio trailer with Tex and a drone.[48]

Deep Note[edit]

Waveform of the Deep Note

The Deep Note is the sound trademark of THX Ltd., being a distinctive synthesized crescendo that glissandos from a relatively narrow frequency spread (about 200–400 Hz) to a broader frequency spread (of about three octaves). It was created by James A. Moorer,[49] a former employee of Lucasfilm's Computer Division in late 1982.[50] The sound is used on trailers for THX-certified movie theaters, home video releases, video games, and in-car entertainment systems.

The Deep Note was partially previewed on the opening track of the 1983 album The Digital Domain: A Demonstration, where it was included among sound effects that were combined with the Deep Note itself. The Deep Note debuted later that same year at the premiere of Return of the Jedi in Los Angeles.[50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Razer buys audio-visual firm THX to cash in on growing Chinese cinema market". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  2. ^ a b "A New Beginning for THX: Why I Sold My Company In My First Year - Medium". Archived from the original on 2017-02-01. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  3. ^ a b Crabtree, Sheigh (2002-06-12). "Lucas' THX stakes out new galaxy". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2002-08-11. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  4. ^ Rinzler, J.W. (2010). The Sounds of Star Wars. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-8118-7546-2.
  5. ^ "THX Certified Cinemas". THX, Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  6. ^ Hoppel, Adrian (2013-03-20). "Law & Apple: iFone Defeats iPhone, THX Targets Apple". MacLife. Archived from the original on 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2016-10-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ "Star Wars, George Lucas & A Disappearing Cello: The Story of THX Cinema Certification". February 21, 2017.
  8. ^ "5 Reasons to Choose a THX Certified Cinema".
  9. ^ "Q&A with Tomlinson Holman, Pioneer of THX".
  10. ^ "Lucasfilm Originals: THX".
  11. ^ "Star Wars - Return of the Jedi: a new THX experience".
  12. ^ "The Home Audience Is Listening : Technology: George Lucas' THX sound system has made its way from movie theaters to living rooms. Cheap it's not. - Los Angeles Times".
  13. ^ "THX WOW Laserdisc Star Wars - Original Trilogy".
  14. ^ "The Abyss Special Edition".
  16. ^ "DVD Reviews - Twister (original & SE) - The Digital Bits".
  17. ^ "Lincoln to Be the First With THX(R) Certified Premium Car Audio Systems".
  18. ^ "Movie sound company THX steps into video games".
  19. ^ "THX Certified Game Mode for TVs debuts at CES 2020".
  20. ^ "THX Intros New Certified Game Mode For Large Televisions At CES".
  21. ^ "TCL's next 6 Series TV has a THX-certified gaming mode".
  22. ^ "TCL to Launch World's First Television with THX Certified Game Mode".
  23. ^ "THX Certification of High-Def Discs Comes to Europe; Is U.S. Next? (Updated)".
  24. ^ "LG Introduces First 3D TV With THX 3D Certification".
  25. ^ "JVC Announces World's First THX 3D Certified Home Theater Projectors".
  26. ^ "THX releases iOS app for calibrating your home theater's visuals and audio".
  27. ^ "George Lucas-founded THX takes Apple to court".
  28. ^ "Official Debut of THX in China Launches a New Era of Movie-Viewing".
  29. ^ "THX Certification Featured In Groundbreaking Debut Of First Ever Grand Infinity Auditoriums At Warren Theatres Broken Arrow".
  30. ^ "Razer's new Blade Pro is the world's first THX-certified gaming laptop".
  31. ^ "THX Announces New Spatial Audio Platform".
  32. ^ "Now any Windows 10 user can grab Razer's THX spatial audio app".
  33. ^ "THX and Cinemark Announce Certification of Over 200 Cinemark XD Screens in the United States and Latin America".
  34. ^ "Cinemark Partners with THX to Certify XD Auditoriums".
  35. ^ "World's First THX Ultimate Cinema Set to Open at Regency Westwood Village Theater".
  36. ^ "Iconic Cow-Spotted Gateway PC Brand Returns with Full Line of Laptops Sold Exclusively at".
  37. ^ "THX Onyx brings portable hi-fi audio to the masses".
  38. ^ "Self-guided tour" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2013.[failed verification]
  39. ^ "THX Certification Performance Categories". THX Ltd. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  40. ^ "Onkyo HT-S9300THX Integrated System review". Sound and Vision. Sound and Vision. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  41. ^ "Enclave Audio CineHome PRO Wireless Home Theater System Review". Sound and Vision. Sound and Vision. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  42. ^ "THX Certified Plasmas, LCD TVs & Projectors". Home Entertainment. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  43. ^ "Lucasfilm THX's Optimode Makes HT System Calibration Easy".
  44. ^ "THE ULTIMATE TOY BOX: - CineNow".
  45. ^ "THX Announces "Where in the World is Tex?" Online Photo Contest to Begin on April 23, 2012".
  46. ^ "The latest trailer of the 2019 version of the THX logo that flows with `` buzzing sound before the movie screening is released".
  47. ^ "Entertain the kids with a Tex coloring book".
  48. ^ "THX Spatial Audio for video games - Enhance your experience".
  49. ^ "James A. Moorer Personal Website". Retrieved December 3, 2006.
  50. ^ a b "About THX". THX Ltd. Retrieved January 4, 2018. THX Deep Note was composed by Lucasfilm sound engineer Dr. James ‘Andy’ Moorer and was screened at the start of the 1983 premiere of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.

External links[edit]