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THX Ltd.
IndustryMotion picture industry
FoundedMay 25, 1983; 38 years ago (1983-05-25)
FoundersGeorge Lucas
Tomlinson Holman
United States
Key people

THX Ltd. is an American company founded in 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 not a recording technology and it does not specify a sound recording format: all sound formats, whether digital (Dolby Digital, DTS, SDDS) or analog (Dolby Stereo, Ultra Stereo), can be "shown in THX". THX is a quality assurance 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, 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 videogame hardware company Razer Inc., with Razer owning all of THX and its intellectual property.[1][2]


In 1982, George Lucas and his company Lucasfilm were working on Return of the Jedi when a major situation began to rise. The team 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. Their 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.[7] 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.[8]

In 1990, THX unveiled the Home Audio System at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago.[9] That year, a demo LaserDisc dubbed Wow! was unveiled. It featured various clips from Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Willow.[10] Three years later in 1993, The Abyss was released on LaserDisc, making it the first time THX was used on that device.[11] In 1995, the Star Wars trilogy was released on VHS and the entire trilogy would now be THX digitally mastered. This would be the first THX VHS release.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14]

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 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 audio produced for video games. Electronic Arts would be the first company to achieve the game certification. This move helped improve game sound, measuring credibility to 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.[15] In 2020, THX Certified Game Mode was introduced. This mode enhanced contrast and color while simultaneously reducing input lag.[16] On August 3, TCL Technology revealed the first television to include THX Certified Game Mode, a 6-Series TCL Roku TV.[17]

In 2006, the newly released Blu-ray device began to use THX sound, starting with Terminator 2: Judgment Day.[18]

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. This app let the general consumer use an iOS device to adjust their TVs, projectors and speakers to get the best performance and enjoyment from their entertainment system, regardless of brand and price. Bonus features included the trailers, Deep Note, Moo Can and Ask Tex options.[19]

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.[20]

THX introduced Spatial Audio in 2018, a new positional audio solution that was designed to create an immersive sound experience through headphones and speakers.[21] The technology would be used on the Kraken gaming headset, which did a great job of delivering simulated 7.1 surround sound. These headphones were included with a Spatial Audio app. This would be later used on Windows 10 devices.[22]

On May 2, 2018, it was announced that each of the Cinemark XD locations 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.[23] The first THX Ultimate Cinema debuted at Regency Westwood Village in Los Angeles in 2019. This theater provided exhibitors with the solution they had been looking for, which was a branded and differentiated PLF offering that included best-in-class projection technology from Cinionic, as well as an immersive audio system, acoustics and auditorium specifications that met THX certification standards. This was also coupled with the added benefits of flexibility and favorable economics for the exhibitor.[24]

In September 2020, Walmart stores began to sell Gateway laptops and tablets, which were tuned by THX, which ensured brighter contrast with more 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.[25]

THX premiered their first consumer electronic product called the Onyx in 2021. This product was a mobile headphone DAC/Amplifier that packed a sonic wallop with the award-winning THX AAA technology.[26]


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.[27]


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.[28]

THX Certified Ultra[edit]

THX Certified Ultra products bring the cinematic experience to larger home theaters, 3,000 cubic feet in size, with a viewing distance of 12 feet or greater from the screen.

THX Certified Select[edit]

THX Certified Select products are for medium-sized rooms, up to 2,000 cubic feet in size, with a 10-12 foot viewing distance from the screen.

THX Certified Compact[edit]

THX Certified Compact products for smaller sized rooms, up to 1,000 cubic feet in size, with an 8-foot viewing distance from the screen.

THX Certified Dominus[edit]

THX Certified Dominus products are for expansive home theater spaces, 6,500 cubic feet in size, with a 20 foot 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.[29] and Enclave Audio."Enclave Audio CineHome PRO Wireless Home Theater System Review". Sound and Vision. Sound and Vision. Retrieved 13 May 2020.

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.[30]

The first DVD release to include the THX Optimode was 20th Century Fox's Fight Club, which was released on June 6, 2000.[31]


THX's mascot is a robot named Tex. Tex was created by John Lasseter, at the head of Pixar Animation Studios, responsible for, among other things, for animated films. He first appeared in the trailer called Tex 1, which premiered in theaters on July 3, 1996 with the theatrical release of Independence Day. The second trailer called Tex 2: Moo Can premiered in theaters on November 26, 1997 with the release of Alien Resurrection.[32] Less than a decade later on June 9, 2006, the Tex 3: Action trailer premiered with the release of Cars. They were later seen 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 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. Later seen in Toy Story "10th Anniversary Edition" DVD on September 6, 2005.

Tex appeared in the Genesis trailer, which was released on August 20, 2019.[33] In April 2020, THX released coloring sheets of Tex.[34] Two months later in June, the company unveiled a new Spatial Audio trailer with Tex and a drone.[35]

The logo and the Deep Note[edit]

The THX Deep Note

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.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ "5 Reasons to Choose a THX Certified Cinema".
  8. ^ "Star Wars - Return of the Jedi: a new THX experience".
  9. ^ "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".
  10. ^ "THX WOW Laserdisc Star Wars - Original Trilogy".
  11. ^ "The Abyss Special Edition".
  13. ^ "DVD Reviews - Twister (original & SE) - The Digital Bits".
  14. ^ "Lincoln to Be the First With THX(R) Certified Premium Car Audio Systems".
  15. ^ "Movie sound company THX steps into video games".
  16. ^ "THX Certified Game Mode for TVs debuts at CES 2020".
  17. ^ "TCL to Launch World's First Television with THX Certified Game Mode".
  18. ^ "THX Certification of High-Def Discs Comes to Europe; Is U.S. Next? (Updated)".
  19. ^ "THX releases iOS app for calibrating your home theater's visuals and audio".
  20. ^ "Razer's new Blade Pro is the world's first THX-certified gaming laptop".
  21. ^ "THX Announces New Spatial Audio Platform".
  22. ^ "Now any Windows 10 user can grab Razer's THX spatial audio app".
  23. ^ "THX and Cinemark Announce Certification of Over 200 Cinemark XD Screens in the United States and Latin America".
  24. ^ "World's First THX Ultimate Cinema Set to Open at Regency Westwood Village Theater".
  25. ^ "Iconic Cow-Spotted Gateway PC Brand Returns with Full Line of Laptops Sold Exclusively at".
  26. ^ "THX Onyx brings portable hi-fi audio to the masses".
  27. ^ "Self-guided tour" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2013.[failed verification]
  28. ^ "THX Certification Performance Categories". THX Ltd. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  29. ^ "Onkyo HT-S9300THX Integrated System review". Sound and Vision. Sound and Vision. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  30. ^ "THX Certified Plasmas, LCD TVs & Projectors". Home Entertainment. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  31. ^ "Lucasfilm THX's Optimode Makes HT System Calibration Easy".
  32. ^ "THE ULTIMATE TOY BOX: - CineNow".
  33. ^ "The latest trailer of the 2019 version of the THX logo that flows with `` buzzing sound before the movie screening is released".
  34. ^ "Entertain the kids with a Tex coloring book".
  35. ^ "THX Spatial Audio for video games - Enhance your experience".

External links[edit]