New THX Spec for Home Theater – THX Loudness Plus

THX LogoTHX just announced a new specification for home theater: THX Loudless Plus. My initial thought was, “I bet this means yet another new THX equipment specification.” Well, yes, it does. The benchmark specification for all future receivers will now be THX Ultra2 Plus and THX Select2 Plus. But this is not a bad thing; this specification addresses a real need in home theater: consistent surround sound levels regardless of the listening volume.

 

 

Currently, the best way to reproduce a movie sound track is to calibrate your speakers to a certain reference volume level and make sure the volume knob is always at this position. Unfortunately, if you decrease the volume level, your ears perceive the changes in the different channels differently than the front speakers. Because the 3 front speakers (left, center, front) contain most of the sound information, they appear to become relatively more loud as compared to the surround channels; this is true for teh subwoofer as well. The result is that you lose the surround sound effect.

 

 

Even existing receivers that have a Midnight Theater mode do not fully compensate for this. They compress the dynamic range of all speakers by the same amount. In other words, the loud scenes are not as loud and the quite scenes are not as quiet, but the relative volume levels between the channels is not adjusted and the frequency curve is not adjusted, so the surround channels sound quieter than they should. THX Loudness Plus solves this by making two adjustments: 1) applying a volume gain curve to the surround and sub speaker levels, maintaining the proper balance regardless of where the volume knob is set, and 2) applying a frequency correction curve to the high and low surround frequencies to better balance with the main front speakers.

 

 

For anyone who wants to enjoy surround sound with the volume turned down (or really at any setting), this is a feature to consider during your next receiver upgrade.

 

For those of you keeping track of the THX certifications, here is the history:

  • THX certification for home theater was launched around 1998
  • THX certification became THX Ultra (high power amplifiers required) and THX Select was introduced (lower amplifier power requirements)
  • THX Ultra2 and THX Select2 replace the previous Ultra/Select in 2005, adding more surround modes and better 7.1 support
  • THX Ultra2 Plus and THX Select2 Plus replace the previous Ultra2/Select2 and add loudness compensation

 

 

Here are some quotes from the THX website giving more detail:

THX Multi-channel Spectral Balancing: adjusts frequency response to counter the perceptual loss of low and high frequency sound in all channels. Begins with a flat response at Reference Level, and continually adjusts the response as the user selects lower listening levels. The equalization is applied to all channels in a multi-channel listening environment.

THX Dynamic Ambience Preservation: Surround channel processing preserves the spatial detail that is lost when listening below Reference Level. It automatically shapes the output on surround channels to maintain the perceived balance in the original mix.

 

 

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11 Comments »

  • Jyon Kun says:

    what are the pros and cons to owning a THX reciever? What is a good reciever that would be comparible to a THX system?

  • Carlton Bale says:

    The only con of a THX-certified component is the general higher price vs. non-certified. Denon and Yamaha receivers are generally great brands for the price.

  • spencer says:

    We just upgraded to lucasfilm THX SELECT2 PLUS and we love it and especely for blu-ray content the problem with blu-ray and thx is that blu-ray has a very harsh signal strangth problem so on some movies we found that if you play at commercial theater refrance it was between 105-120db that is way too load so ilike this new certification it was a good idea because now you can play back any content rather its movies music games at any volume level

  • spencer says:

    Another thing that the new THX SELECT2 PLUS certification offers is THX PLL2 MUSIC MODE THX SELECT2 GAME MODE THX SELECT2 MUSIC MODE! with DDPll2x thx music mode you can now play back music exacly the way the recordist intended and whats nice about thx music mode is you can use 2 channal recordings with it so not all your music has to be recorded in 5.1 to make this new prossesing mode work! the way it works is it takes the audio and expands it to 5.1-7.1 playback the same thing for THX SELECT2 GAME MODE it plays back gameing sound tracks which most are recorded in 2 channal stero in 7.1 channal thats cool! We spent 30,000 on this new certification thats on THX SELECT certified speakers and recever commercial ERK-54 seires midatlantic rack adioquest cinemaquest cabeling and acousticly made the room corect i love it what people need to realize is that THX is a CERTIFICATION not a surround sound

  • spencer says:

    Another thing to consider if you want to do thx certification is the power and performance of your system i would recomend that you use tripplite UBS systems with the power managment issue tripplite has automtic voltage regulation and battery backup system this will insure you have the right power levels and porformance for your system and if the power goes out the UBS will back your system up long enough to power down corectly you also need them because thx requires alot of power anyway to even begin to hit commercial theater refrance level!!!!

  • spencer says:

    On december 8th I was talking about thx and certification and so forth but its not just the equpment its the display to i would recomend for a projector the mitsubushi HC3800 this new projector has a 4000:1 contrast ratio and is capable of doing a format called 2:35:1 cinemascope thats with a anamorphic lens and screen the reason i say this is because most movies and i mean 80% are all recorded in 2:35:1 cinemascope so if you have about $10,000 than its a good idea if not than onkyo and integra recevers have a new zoom mode called WIDEZOOM which takes 2:35:1 content and zooms it to fit a 1:85:1 screen without artifacs or distortion of the picture so if you run into movies that are recorded in 2:35:1 which are the black bars on top and bottom of the screen and are anoying than the wide zoom mode is a good thing to have. Another thing about the HC3800 is it is a native 1080p projector and also it has the latest advanced DLP chips and prosessers in it and it has a razor sharp picture and its only $2200.00 which is cheap the cheapst cinemascope home theater projector before this one came out was the HC6800 which retalled for about $4000.00 so this was a good move by mitsubushi.

  • Spencer says:

    A good receiver to use with thx select2 plus certification is the TX-NR807 it has plenty of power and is DLNA certified this receiver is loaded with features like dolby true HD dts HD it also has audussey Multi XT and audussey dynamic volume control technology this technology turns the front speakers down and then turns the back channel speakers up and then re equilizes the room when the reference volume is turned down on the receiver you don’t lose the integrity of the audio this technology is pretty cool you can now play back any content at any volume level! the TX-NR807 was replaced by the TX-NR808 it is a 3D receiver or HDMI version 1.4 certified receiver which is a input and output capable of playing 3D video and audio if set up for it in your home theater but 3D on a projection sense it pretty expensive at least $10’000 or more for the projector so the 3D spec on a thx home cinema is not feasible to most people! if wondering what kind of bluray player You should by I would recommend the BD-SP808 it is THX certified and is equipped with a Marvell QDEO video prosessor for the most life to life like images you have ever seen! We had the BD-SP807 but the BD-SP808 is going to a giant leap forward in video and audio processing technology The BD-SP808 is still HDMI version 1.3 certified so it’s not going to play your 3D content but that’s not a big deal because like I said before it is not possible in a home cinema setting for under $10’000 but according to all the specs I have read and all the recherch√© iv done on the BD-SP808 it is highly recommended you get it it will be a giant leap forward in home cinema technology.

    • Carlton Bale says:

      Wow, it looks like Onkyo is paying people to post positive reviews of their products on blogs. I’m pretty sure I’m not in favor the run-on-sentence-use-no-periods approach, nor the strategy in general. Period.

  • Spencer says:

    So are there flaws in 3D technology I think so because for one thing there isn’t a lot of 3D content in the first place and it may be possible with a 3D television but not with a projector the reason is the cost it would be possible or feasible not including the THX thing as in a THX situation be prepared to spend at least 15,000 on a projector or even 20,000 on a 3D RUNCO projector that’s just starting price and if you want anamorphic 3D projection than be prepared to spend between 8-15,000 on a anamorphic lens and multi format masking projection screen but there is also another way some receivers have what you call wide zoom mode it takes the image with the annoying black bars of by stetting the image horizontally and vertically to fit a 16:9 1:77:1 or1:85:1 screen this is a Much cheaper way to get rid of those annoying black bars then going the anamorphic lens thing most of Onkyo receivers have this feature and also the receiver has a bult in 480i 480p 720p 1080i 1080p 1080p 24 scailer so you can scale your old DVD content so that’s the scoope on 3D content hope you enjoy!

  • Spencer says:

    Acording to the HD technicians 3D distracts you from the cinematic immersion experience as in a home cinema experience but in a commercial theater experience like IMAX it works pretty good I personally have experienced a IMAX 3D experience and it was astonishing! They have one in Denver Colorado we go there a lot for vacation! the amazing thing about that theater was how deep the blacks were in the screen it was almost like a true night image and it wasn’t distracting at all and was a pretty neat picture but the sound didn’t Mach a sound like thx has it was close but not close enough! I actully have a THX certified home cinema and it is unlike anything I’ve ever here’d before the dynamic range of the audio is superb and life like it’s that accurate I have people come over to my house every night and watch movies and satilite tv and movies and they tell me they rather come over to my house than go to a commercial cinema! Everything in my room is THX certified down to the design of the sound system it was $40,000 and it was worth every penny everything is presented exactly how the film maker intended it to be presented the sound pressure level is a perfect 85db with 20db’s of head room so it goes up to 105 db or higher we used sonance cinema select thx select certified speakers and a 7.1 speaker configuration and velodyne DLS 4000R subwoofer or distortion limiting system (DLS) we also used 7 35′ runs of audioquest type 2 speaker cable for each speaker and configured the speakers exactly how THX specifies but every speaker has to match exactly to get the perfect theater reference sound pressure level. Onkyo is not a bad product but I wouldn’t recommend going below the 808 series I had the TX-SR707 and it clipped every time we watched a movie right in the middle of it so I pulled it out of the rack and put in and Onkyo TX-NR807 and that receiver was a great upgrade and I have not had any problems with it at all. The TX-NR807 has a lot of power and is a great receiver! It has more power on the transformer than the TX-NR808 it has only 7.5amps and the TX-NR807 has 8.1 amps! The cabling in this THX home cinema is all Audioquest and Cinemaquest and is very high quality the distortion rating is very very low and is recommended on high grade home cinema!

  • whatsupwithdat says:

    I just found this website and can do nothing but laugh at Spencers post. Sorry about that but I have to agree with Carlton on this one. Why don’t you go post this info on the AV Science forum and see how people respond to your infinite knowledge and see how many responses you get. A quick description and link to the website would have been fine.
    So really congrats on your overpriced theater… So your telling me a $40,000 system with an Onkyo 807 driving it ? You can’t be serious. How happy your installer must be. I have to call BS on this one. Sorry to be rude but just think if you go back to school you can use your 5000 word response for an SA. Did I really apologize to you for you hijacking ? So weak 8).. Now respond back and tell me you were just using the 807 for a processor and you have a 10,000 watt Pyle amp driving the speakers. Sooo weak. .Sorry Carlton I don’t want to start a war but this 16 year old started it.

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