THX’s 40th Anniversary Celebrates 4 Decades of Sound Innovation

It is hard to believe that THX has been a part of the cultural lexicon for 40 years. THX has influenced movie production, consumer electronics, and the movie-going experience. 

A Brief History of THX

George Lucas founded THX as a branch of Lucasfilm in 1983, in partnership with Tomlinson Holman. Not being satisfied with the inconsistent audio experience in movie theaters across the country, THX went on a crusade to develop consistent standards. This program evolved into a certification program for both commercial cinemas and consumer home theater products. 

For movie viewers, the THX Deep Note trailer(s) shown just before a movie notified viewers that they were about to have a THX Certifed Cinema experience. 

Tip: THX officially stands for Tomlinson Holman Xperiment as a recognition of distinguished audio engineer Tomlinson Holman and his contributions but is also a nod to George Lucas’s first full-length theatrically released film “THX 1138“.

In mid-2002, THX separated from Lucasfilm with the majority (60%) ownership purchased by Creative Technology Limited, a company more commonly known as Creative Labs and their line of SoundBlaster sound cards for PCs.

The THX certification program expanded to several consumer product categories including amplifiers, speakers, soundproofing, HDTVs, Home Theater projectors, integrated home theater systems, computer-related audio products, and more…

In addition to hardware, THX also provided its certification label for select Blu-ray Discs

How THX Certification Works

The steps that THX developed to certify products include:

  • A prototype product is designed to meet THX specification requirements.
  • Upon submission to THX testing begins.
  • If the product meets THX specifications for a specific category is labeled as THX certified.
  • The product is mass-produced with the THX Certification standards.
  • Sample products from the assembly line are re-tested to make sure they adhere to the approved THX standards.
  • The THX-certified product is made available to consumers.

For AVRs, in addition to certification, compliant units may also include one or more THX Listening Modes

  • Cinema 
  • Game
  • Music 
  • Surround EX
  • Loudness Plus

Tip: THX Certification isn’t free, a fee must be paid to enter a product into the THX Certification Program. This has created some confusion as many manufacturers offer components that meet or go beyond THX Certification requirements but don’t submit their products to get the THX-certified label. 

THX Tune-Up App

In early 2013, THX unveiled a mobile app called THX Tune-Up. This allows anyone to check some back audio and video performance parameters to get better performance out of any TV or speaker setup. 

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THX Tune-up

THX Sold To Razer

In 2016, ownership of THX was purchased by Razer, Inc. The development of THX Spatial Audio and Razer Leviathan V2 gaming soundbar are two things that came from this new ownership. Also, the first THX-certified Laptop, the Razer Blade Pro, was announced in 2017. 

Razer Leviathan V2 THX Spatial Audio Soundbar
Razer Leviathan V2 THX Spatial Audio Soundbar

THX also announced its first consumer electronic hardware product in 2021. The Onyx is a mobile headphone DAC and amplifier using THX AAA technology.

THX Onyx Portable DAC Dongle with Smartphone
THX Onyx Portable DAC Dongle with Smartphone

THX has continued to certify products and develop product partnerships. Check out our Related Reading section below to check out our comprehensive THX news coverage. 

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