Hydrogenaudio Forums

CD-R and Audio Hardware => Audio Hardware => Topic started by: evgenetic on 2019-05-18 19:59:17

Title: Is THX specification in loudspeakers meaningful and reliable?
Post by: evgenetic on 2019-05-18 19:59:17
Hi,
I was wondering if anyone has a good info about what this (let's say THX select) certification actually means when it comes to objective speaker performance. Do speakers with this stamp actually measure well or is this simply a marketing shtick?
On their official webpage (https://www.thx.com/certification/loudspeakers/) they do mention actually meaningful and important parameters when it comes to speakers, like on/off axis response and distortion, but without details it's hard to know what their standards are.
Floyd Toole often talks about the problem of lack standardization in speaker assessment, but it looks like THX is something of the sort, at least on paper. So I wonder what's your take on this.
Title: Re: Is THX specification in loudspeakers meaningful and reliable?
Post by: Fairy on 2019-05-20 13:24:40
IMHO a THX specification is meaningless as far as deciding if a speaker with a specification is better than one without.

I've seen small creative pc speakers with THX specification and large B&W floorstanders that have no THX specification as far as I know, but those are in a whole other league. They don't care about THX.

Maybe to compare 2 speakers that both have specifications, but I usually don't pay any attention to those specs. Most of it is a matter of taste, budget and the purpose of the speakers.
Title: Re: Is THX specification in loudspeakers meaningful and reliable?
Post by: dc2bluelight on 2019-06-24 22:17:38
THX specifications are different for 4 levels of speakers: Compact, Select and Ultra, and Dominus.  There's really no point in comparing THX Compact Speakers with anything in the Ultra or Dominus class, much less other non-THX products in the same general product/price category. 

THX Ultra specifications (formerly THX Ultra2, formerly Home THX) were written with regard to optimizing the HT experience in a 3000 cu/ft or greater multi-purpose (non-dedicated) room.  Some of what's included (like controlled vertical dispersion) is not as applicable in an acoustically treated space, for example.  Other aspects, like sensitivity/efficiency, are pretty important in spaces greater than 3000cu ft.   The THX Ultra certification assures you that you're getting speakers that will have certain performance aspects that will work better than average in a room above 3000cu/ft.  The specifications are not published, but certification is not easy to obtain.  The specifications do not specifically indicate how a speaker will sound, only that certain aspects are within the THX spec. 

THX Select is for products in rooms 2000-3000cu/ft, and was initially introduced because there are far more installations of this size, and the cost of Ultra products is much higher.  The specifications are much more relaxed, though key aspects, like the ability to reach the proper volume with low distortion, are still present.  Compact speakers must obviously carry a completely different set of specs.

Just as there are a few THX Ultra speakers that may not be the greatest sounding, there are also non-THX speakers that perform quite well.  I wouldn't call the certification meaningless at all, but you need to understand what it is they are certifying, and understand that choosing speakers is still subjective, and ultimately is about listening, not just specs.

One of the harder things for an Ultra product to do is to achieve controlled vertical dispersion, low distortion, high efficiency, and smooth off-axis response, all happening together in one product that is still at a reasonable price point.  Those things take a significant amount of engineering that simply isn't applied to non-THX products.  And worse, you won't find any specifications at all about non-THX speakers that indicate their spatial performance, likely not distortion either.  You'll find power handling and sensitivity only, and barely that. At least with a THX Certified product you know it's met specs that matter to your room volume, and that just to achieve certification there had to be a high level of engineering and product design.  There simply cannot be a THX Ultra speaker that is badly designed and built.

Part of THX is an assurance of a certain level of quality that generally must exceed the typical.
Title: Re: Is THX specification in loudspeakers meaningful and reliable?
Post by: DVDdoug on 2019-06-25 00:51:30
Quote
THX specifications are different for 4 levels of speakers: Compact, Select and Ultra, and Dominus.
I'd say that's not a good thing.

Quote
The specifications are not published
To me that's a BIG PROBLEM.
Title: Re: Is THX specification in loudspeakers meaningful and reliable?
Post by: dc2bluelight on 2019-06-25 09:15:18
Quote
THX specifications are different for 4 levels of speakers: Compact, Select and Ultra, and Dominus.
I'd say that's not a good thing.
I also have mixed feelings about that.  However, each is for a different application.  If Dominus was the only spec that would be like forcing everyone to buy a 1000W bulb when a night-light would do.
The specifications are not published
Quote
To me that's a BIG PROBLEM.
Yes, I agree 100%.  It's always been that way.  Some of the spec is revealed when you take the THX Tech courses...at least, it used to be.  But the other way of looking at it is that not having the spec only causes a problem if you're trying to build a THX product.  And for those people, they are provided with goals to shoot at. 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a THX fan-boy, at least, no longer.  I passed my Tech II cert years ago.  THX lost its way, a felt, about the time they certified a type of dry-wall product, and then a USB microphone.  They've suffered from lack of clear identity since the beginning, and even reinforced their own identity crisis with marketing phrases like "Let's see it in THX!" .   And then, tried to explain that THX isn't a "format".  The initial theatrical sound system and mandatory trailer made it pretty clear what THX was about.  Home THX was also pretty clear.  Then they fired the founder and it got screwy.  Lucas sold it off, and it remains screwy to this day.  Consumers have no idea what THX is/means, and why they should pay extra for "it".   And there's now issues with their technology being...um...well...yeah.  The speaker spec and amplifier/AVR specs are one part I have no real issue with.  The rest is a confused mess.
Title: Re: Is THX specification in loudspeakers meaningful and reliable?
Post by: Porcus on 2019-06-25 21:23:42
and then a USB microphone.

Why not?
Title: Re: Is THX specification in loudspeakers meaningful and reliable?
Post by: dc2bluelight on 2019-06-25 21:48:48
and then a USB microphone.

Why not?



Because it was stupid.  The entire THX concept was to provide a means to identify high quality in a sea of mediocrity with regard to sound and picture reproduction.  The stand-alone bluetooth mic market, at the time, was tiny, specialized, and to this day has no impact on general sound and picture reproduction.  Certifying that mic only served to further confuse an already confused marketing image.  Even the dry-wall cert made more sense. 

Then they developed their own surround speaker plan with proprietary processing, "game mode", and other processes, so now THX other things entirely beyond just certification.  And some of those things are in themselves difficult to define.  The stupid animated "Tex" character in the trailers only made it worse, and while the self-spoofing trailers were funny, the market already had no idea what THX was, and THX never cleared it up. 

About the only thing most people got for sure was THX=$$$.  
SimplePortal 1.0.0 RC1 © 2008-2019