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THX Certification Opens New Doors

by September 03, 2008

Serious Materials has announced a new product for you high-end home theater installs called QuietHome THX certified, soundproof doors. The product will join its other interesting THX certified home improvement product – QuietRock THX certified, soundproof drywall. Has THX certification jumped the shark? It better be a THX certified shark or you could be robbed of the acoustic qualities the shark-jumper intended.

Editor's Note: We love the guys at THX, but if we want to analyze the precise moment they "jumped the shark" it would be when they embarked on a quest to THX-certify cables.

The new doors from Serious Materials feature a high STC rating of 44 that measures just under two-inches thick. STC rating is the numeric rating given to a material’s ability to prevent sound transmission, the higher the better it is at soundproofing.

According to Serious Materials standard hollow-core doors only have an STC rating of 15 and solid doors can get you up to an STC rating of 27. Of course Serious Materials recommends using two QuietHome doors with a three-foot gap in between for the ultimate performance in sound suppression.

With a suggested retail price of $1,495 to $2,495 for Serious Material’s QuietHome doors you have to ask yourself – am I really that serious about my THX certification?

George Lucas, the famed filmmaker that gave us the Star Wars universe, started off with a noble ambition back in 1980. He asked technical director of Lucasfilm, Tomlinson Holman to come up with a set of criteria for movie theaters that would standardize movie theater sound, bringing it closer to reproducing exactly what the director intended. Today there are some 3,000 THX-certified movie theaters.

Soon the standard was being peddled to the high-end home audio crowd. In 1990 the Home THX certification program was introduced. Companies paid Lucas to have their gear licensed to bear the THX stamp which ostensibly meant a mark of quality. Most serious A/V enthusiasts take THX certification with a grain of salt, especially since fragmenting into so many pieces. Today THX has around eight designations that claim standardized quality for everything from desktop PCs up to Ultra 2 Plus for home theater viewing distances of 12-feet and beyond.

It’s safe to say that THX certification has lost something along the way. You’ll see the certification on equipment in a variety of price categories, evidence it’s a once proud designation as a mark of elite equipment. Now that we’re seeing THX certified PC speakers, HTiB systems and now building materials we have to wonder if THX draws the line anywhere? How about THX certified furniture? THX certified wall decorations and a popcorn maker could add the finishing touches to your home theater.

But providing the certification to building materials points to one of the most overlooked aspects of acoustics – the room! It’s arguably the most important element next to your speakers. When you listen to your sound system what are you really hearing? You’re hearing a complex interplay between your speakers and the room in which it reproduces sound.

Most Audioholics readers have probably spent time inside audio auditioning chambers to hear incredible quality speakers, even if they are out of our price range. You may have even experienced a notable set of refined speakers reduced to a harsh, thin shadow of acoustic quality because they had the misfortune of being played back inside a tiny room with glass walls.

Clearly room acoustics cannot be understated. But when you’re building a room’s interior for sound, do you need near professional studio room acoustics? Achieving an STC rating of 44 from your doors is as much a matter of installing them correctly as it is the quality of the doors themselves. A perfect install might not be something the average weekend handyman can do. But do you even need to spend thousands on an STC 44 or better set of doors for your home theater?

Much of the high-end room acoustics, complete with THX certification, is likely being miscast as a home entertainment solution. Sure, you’ve read about the amazing results achieved in professional recording studios. But do you really need a professional acoustic environment to watch Predator on DVD in your newly renovated den? Well, this is Audioholics. OK, I guess we can't argue with that.

Important to note is the fact that most home theater speaker manufacturers don’t engineer products with recording studios or anechoic chambers in mind. They build speakers that will reproduce pleasant acoustic quality in a living, and often imperfect, environment. It’s more proof that achieving that perfect sound might be more about unlocking your own doors of perception rather than throwing money at costly STC 44 doors.

About the author:

Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

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yettitheman posts on September 05, 2008 04:23
Hmm… $2k for a door made out of 5" thick sponge….

Maybe I'll start making some
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