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Discussion in 'Talk About the Show' started by THX1138, Apr 14, 2011.



  1. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    Though I've been a registered member for 996 days, this is my first posting to this forum so, hello everyone.

    After scouring the threads, I discovered none devoted to the subject of home theater in general, and Home THX in particular. I realize that the vast majority of users are here to learn/discuss Apple products/services, but it might be interesting to have, say, Laurie Fincham of THX Ltd. on the show to discuss the advantages of THX processes and certification for the various categories (room acoustics/audio/video/car audio/computers) of consumer electronics and how they facilitate the only truly accurate translation of professional/commercial presentations of film sound & image and music to the home environment. I am more than a novice in this area myself, but to have the current top technologies man from THX on the show would be a special treat.

    As an alternate for Mr. Fincham, Tomlinson Holman (the "TH" in THX) - the original creator of the specifications for the mixing stage/commercial cinema/home cinema THX certification programs would make an excellent choice for guest, as well. Would that I dared hope for both, I would take either.

    I trust that my suggestions will not be deemed 'out of place,' here.
     
  2. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Not at all. Besides, we're using a THX certified mic these days. :)
     
  3. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    Yes, didn't I hear you refer to it as "Yeti?"
     
  4. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Yes, from Blue Mic, the Yeti is THX certified. :)
     
  5. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    And the Blue Yeti Pro isn't. But it seems to sound the same.

    The Yetis are now the official mics for the two shows.
     
  6. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    At first blush, that seems peculiar, doesn't it - and that one would be inclined to think that it would be the other way 'round? Actually, the only "good" reason for it (in my personal opinion) is that the manufacturer (in this case Blue Microphones http://www.thx.com/test-bench-blog/on-the-record-with-blue-microphones/) simply did not submit their professional version (the only real difference between the two models seems to be that the pro version sports an professional XLR connector for use in an pro recording environment, in addition to it's USB connector) of what, I'd wager, are exactly the same "guts" in both mics (which would explain your observation of no noticeable deviation in tonal quality between them) for THX testing and certification. That little THX emblem comes at a premium but, in most cases, for a very good reason. This choice saves Blue Microphones money, and those savings often "trickle down" to the consumer at the checkout.

    I own several (and have owned several other) pieces of THX Certified consumer electronics and loudspeakers down through the years - always the ones where the THX certification matters most and derives the most "bang for the buck" over competing non-certified consumer brands. For instance: some ten years ago, I purchased a Rotel RSP-985 Surround Sound Processor http://www.rotel.com/NA/Products/ProductDetails.htm?Id=194&Tab=2&Pic=1 (or "controller," in THX parlance) firstly, because it is a THX Ultra certified Preamplifier/Processor (or, Pre/Pro) thereby offering a performance advantage over comparable machines that did not provide the patented THX "post-processing" (which is the only accurate way to translate film sound tracks originally mixed for proper playback in large cinemas, to the much smaller environment of a typical domestic space) provided in the Rotel Pre/Pro. Secondly, it was the least expensive Pre/Pro on the market at the time which (for me and my money) made it the obvious choice.

    Another piece I own is a THX Certified 5.1-channel, analog (so-called "constant-Q") graphic equalizer (or EQ) the "The Bijou" Theater Series Home Theater Equalizer by AudioControl http://www.audiocontrol.com/19888/products/THX-Equalizer----The-Bijou.html Though slightly "dated" yet serviceable, still in production and selling, it offers precise (by comparison to non-constant-Q EQ topologies) +/- 6 decibel's (or dB's) of cut/boost frequency control from 80Hz to 800Hz in 1/3 octave-spaced bands (over eleven, uniformly spaced, frequency points) for the front three channels - Left, Center, Right (or LCR) - 1 octave-spaced bands (over eight, uniformly spaced, frequency points) from 100Hz to 6,300Hz for the stereo surround channels - Right Surround and Left Surround (or RS and LS) and very narrow (for an analog graphic EQ) 1/6 Octave-spaced bands (over twelve, equally spaced, frequency points) from 22.4Hz to 80Hz for the subwoofer/Low Frequency Effects (or LFE - the .1 in 5.1) channel where the majority of the most troublesome room resonances occur (nostalgically speaking, er, typing - at the time of it's initial release, the The Bijou was the only consumer EQ available with these narrowly spaced 1/6 octave adjustment controls for the subwoofer/LFE channel). At the time of purchase (about twelve years ago) I was obliged to also acquire a professional AudioControl Industrial SA-3051 http://www.audiocontrol.com/t37/60172/19939/Stand-Alone/Real-Time-Spectrum-Analyzer-SA--3051.html 1/3 octave, Real Time Analyzer (or RTA) in order to correctly fine-tune the equalizer because, without it, the EQ would have been, for all practical intents and purposes, otherwise valueless. These turned out to be the single best purchases I've ever made for the improvement of my listening/viewing room's acoustics, following acoustic wall treatment and careful placement of the loudspeakers and furniture, that is.

    Nowadays, most of the newest Audio/Video Receivers (or AVR's) and Pre/Pro's offer some form of digital Automatic Room Correction (or ARC) solutions by several competing companies such as Audyssey MultEQ - in it's five various flavors http://www.audyssey.com/audio-technology/multeq, Trinnov Audio Optimizer http://www.trinnov.com/en/optimization/more-info/how-it-works/acoustic-correction and Anthem Sonic Frontiers International Anthem Room Correction http://www.anthemav.com/download/an...d2v-technical-briefs-arc-1-data-sheet/details (to name only three of the many that are available) all of which employ sophisticated, proprietary algorithmic DSP with slightly dissimilar implementation methodology (no surprise there) between competitors, each inherently designed to "ideally" achieve the same, or similar, results - for the most part. These systems are capable of performing correction in the "time-domain," as well as the "frequency-domain," and at much higher resolution, meaning many more, extremely narrow, individually adjustable frequency points per audio channel than any analog EQ. That is to say, (in terms of, say, Audyssey MultEQ XT32) an analog EQ with anything less than, like, a thousand frequency band controls per channel (which would be highly impractical) could ever hope to approach, and still would do nothing in the realm of early reflection time domain correction.

    The down-side of this seeming technological improvement (not that I'm putting it down, because this is truly useful, highly sophisticated, and extremely powerful DSP) is that the arbitrary room correction (and this is what any and all audio frequency equalizers correct for - room - not system - frequency aberrations, regardless of design philosophies) calculations they arrive at (even though those calculations are derived from in-room calibrated microphone measurements taken using a method called spacial and temporal averaging in conjunction with test tones played back over the loudspeaker system) are automatically derived, and therefore, in the absence of an high-resolution RTA on hand such as True Audio's TrueRTA http://www.trueaudio.com/rta_abt1.htm to verify the validity and accuracy of the changes imposed by the algorithmic parameters of ARC, one can never be completely certain or trusting that the algorithm has performed the corrections accurately and to best effect. At any rate, when the results of these systems have been analyzed, most of them (though not all, or consistently from manufacturer to manufacturer) have shown to be reasonably accurate. I'm such a "gear-head" though that, if I didn't own equipment to perform an manual analysis after one of these Automatic Room Correction sessions, I literally would not be able to sleep nights for not "knowing." No joking - I've lived it. . . Alright, so I suffer from OCD. . . I'm okay with it.

    At last, this brings me to the subject I've been striving for from the start. . . THX Ultra certified loudspeakers. The inclusion of the word "Ultra" indicates that THX Certified loudspeakers sporting this "post-designation" are suitable for use in rooms of up to and including 3,000 cubic feet in volume, which corresponds to a fairly good sized domestic space, and are identical to the original Home THX Sound System specifications. In the wake of the original specifications, other certification specs were created - for instance THX Select identifying those loudspeakers suitable for use in smaller rooms (such as "efficiency"-style apartment living rooms, bedrooms, dorm rooms, etc.) of up to and including 2,000 cubic feet in volume. THX I/S Plus (I/S standing for "Integrated System") is intended to sell as a "turn-key" system solution, and is performance categorized under the THX Select room volume specifications of up to 2,000 cubic feet. There exists new certification specs called THX Select2 Plus and THX ULTRA2 Plus that include some extra, and useful, DSP functionality, loudspeaker and specification modifications beyond the original incarnation. All of the currently available THX Certification Performance Categories for Home Theater can be found here:
    http://www.thx.com/consumer/home-en...ter/thx-certification-performance-categories/

    I purchased my dream-system loudspeaker package, the S-5000THX http://web.archive.org/web/20041022014314/http://www.mksound.com/s5000.htm (these were the very same model loudspeaker chosen by Dolby Laboratories for their research and development of the "lossy" AC-3 Perceptual Audio Coding scheme now commonly known and referred to world-wide as Dolby Digital http://www.dolby.com/consumer/understand/playback/dolby-digital.html#) manufactured by a now defunct pro-sound company called M&K Sound Corporation. These consumer loudspeakers are firmly rooted in professional audio, as they are highly sought after by both sound professionals and audiophiles alike. M&K Sound was supplying practically all of the major Hollywood Film Studios the world over with their professional work station and dubbing stage monitoring systems when I made my purchase some eight years ago, now. They were the first officially licensed Lucasfilm Home THX Sound System certified loudspeakers available to the public. In fact, many of the movies and television shows you've seen over the last fifteen-or-so years were likely mixed and mastered using professional M&K Sound monitors and powered subwoofers, and several of these film soundtracks were Academy Award winners for best sound - including films like James Cameron's TITANIC and Peter Jackson's KING KONG.

    Suffice to say that I'd coveted these loudspeakers for ten years (lust is a powerful, pitiless emotion, isn't it? ) Well, as fate would have it, my S-5000's were among the very last batch made by M&K Sound before the company was forced to file for chapter eleven protection, and close their doors for good. This was (sadly) precipitated by a sudden surge of cheap, inferior Chinese knock-off imitations flooding the market (I have this on good authority directly from Mr. Kreisel personally, by the way) an increasingly all-too-common scenario perpetrated against American manufacturers across the board these days in an attempt to force them to either move their manufacturing operations over seas in order to remain competitive, or suffer the consequences of choosing to keep American jobs here in America, where they belong.

    The demand for M&K loudspeakers had always been high, due in part to the fact that they were hand-made-to-order, and that each and every driver and fully assembled loudspeaker were thoroughly tested before they were allowed to leave the M&K factory in Chatsworth, California -http://web.archive.org/web/20050207133126/http://www.mksound.com/kenmessage3.htm a necessary business model for a (realistically speaking) small manufacturer (and by "small" I mean by comparison to their competitors' virtually unlimited capitol resources and fully stocked warehouses) by master craftsmen, technicians and veteran loudspeaker designer Ken Kreisel - the "K" in M&K (the "M" in M&K was D. Jonas Miller - now deceased - making the full, official company name Miller & Kreisel Sound Corporation, not that any of this matters at all any more. :(

    My M&K surround loudspeakers are of a THX endorsed "Tripole" design. A design proprietary to M&K Sound (this post is already too long for me to dive into a lengthy, technical explanation as to exactly what comprises this loudspeaker design and the psycho-acoustic theory upon which it is based, and I'm not sure that anyone would care to read it if I did) though they are not THX Certified loudspeakers - but, I knew that going in. M&K did make a THX Certified Tripole - the SS-150THX - http://web.archive.org/web/20051114.../spec_mains/MK_SS150thx_speaker_specsheet.pdf) with a total of four drivers mounted in a rigidly-constructed trapezoidal-shaped (form dictated by function) cabinet. The Non-THX Certified model that I purchased (the M&K Surround-200 Mk II Tripole http://web.archive.org/web/20051102...ec_mains/MK_Surround200_speaker_specsheet.pdf) is essentially the same design - only on steroids. It uses the exact same midrange/tweeter-combo drivers and separate dome tweeter as the certified version mounted in a similarly shaped, slightly larger, more robustly constructed cabinet to accommodate a larger bass driver (a 6.5" woofer opposed to the 5.25" woofer used in the certified model) which extends the loudspeaker's low frequency reproduction to below what THX certification requires for surround loudspeakers, thereby "besting" the THX Certified design by, essentially, providing more of a good thing. M&K refers to this loudspeaker as the "step-up model" from their SS-150THX, and it includes an equivalently high quality, more advanced, internal frequency crossover network and a total driver count increase to six versus only four in the certified model which, when combined, increases power handling capacity due to a greater over-all efficiency, expands the loudspeaker's usable frequency and dynamic ranges, while simultaneously improving it's maximum attainable output Sound Pressure Level (or SPL). From an engineering viewpoint, all desirable, achievable and, ultimately, attained qualities.

    So finally, after all this, my remaining, long-lingering question is: Could these loudspeakers (just as I suspect of Gene's Blue Microphones Yeti http://www.bluemic.com/yeti/manual.pdf and Yeti Pro http://www.bluemic.com/yetipro/manuals/YetiPro_manual_English.pdf have passed spec-testing by THX Ultra certification standards? As over-built as they are I have no doubt that they could have, but M&K made the decision to not pay the extra cost involved in the certification process for this particular loudspeaker model (which, I am told, is not inconsiderable) and it is my personal belief and opinion that it is for the reasons I sited at the very beginning of this post when I set out to type what turned into this overly-lengthy reply so very, very long ago.

    P.S. If you stuck with me for the duration, you have my thanks (and sympathies) for reading. If not, well. . . then you'll never know that I said "thanks all the same."
     
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  7. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Wayne, I'm an old time audio hound, and thus I enjoyed your commentary. Way back when, I did a brief stint as an editorial assistant for The Audio Critic, published by Peter Azcel, and I even wrote manuals for two of Bob Carver's companies, being Carver and Sunfire. In fact, we're going to be doing a segment soon about the changes in the home audio scene over the years. I'll let you know the guest list soon as we finalize a few things.
     
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  8. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    Gene, I think that you and I could become friends. :) Thanks very much - I look forward to it.
     
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  9. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Well, I like to think we're friends now. :)
     
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  10. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    Guess that settles it then. :cool:
     
  11. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    Bob Carver (do you know him personally?) is a legend in his own time. His power amplifiers are truly audiophile grade, world class designs. The Sunfire Theater Grand amplifiers http://www.sunfire.com/productdetail.asp?id=2 and processors http://www.sunfire.com/productdetail.asp?id=2 particularly.
    I have never heard any of his loudspeaker or powered subwoofer designs http://www.sunfire.com/products.asp but I've read some good things about them. I certainly will audition them if ever I have the opportunity.

    How did you manage to land that gig?
     
  12. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    I owned several Carver and Sunfire products, including the Amazing loudspeakers (the big, piano black versions). They sounded wonderful, but we sold them a few years ago when downsizing. We have no more room for such large gear.

    As to Bob: I wrote an article about him, and, to my surprise, he telephoned me a short time later. We began to talk and became friendly. I haven't heard from him in several years, though. He's currently working with a new business partner, building high-end tube amplifiers. Check Bob Carver.com : The Vacuum Tube Amplifier Company for more information. Sunfire was sold, but continues to license his designs.
     
  13. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    Thanks for the link. What do you have for a sound system today, Gene?
     
  14. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Nothing elaborate. No room. Just a Bose 3-2-1 GS home theater system, which includes the AM/FM tuner. We have a Panasonic plasma TV with Blu-ray player, which we use for our CD collection. But, other than TV, I listen to most musical material on my iMac, equipped with a Bose Companion 5 speaker system, which also fakes surround sound.

    In both cases, the systems were acquired because they are not expensive, take up very little space and sound decent for the price. I think most people these days favor convenience over sonic perfection. High-end audio has a difficult road in this climate.
     
  15. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    Ain't that the (unfortunate) truth?

    I have a Sony HS-20 2-D LCD front projection system with a 92" (diagonal) screen and an Outlaw Audio Model 755 five channel power amplifier (class A/B) that delivers a conservatively rated 300 watts per channel into 4 ohms (my loudspeaker's impedance). I also have 2 M&K MX-5000THX http://web.archive.org/web/20031216151028/http://www.mksound.com/mx5000.html powered subwoofers at 400 watts RMS and 700 watts peak and 115 lbs. I also have a tactile transducer called "ButtKicker" http://www.thebuttkicker.com/ powered by a 1,000 watt mono professional Carvin Power amplifier.
     
  16. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Nice setup. I'm jealous. :)
     
  17. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    You're welcome to come over any time for a flick. :)
     
  18. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Depends on what part of the world you're in, of course.
     
  19. THX1138

    THX1138 Technology Advocate

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    :eek: Northern NY State. . ?
     
  20. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Ah, a little distant from my normal traveling locales.
     

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