THX Unveils Speaker Bar Program, MD Partners


Indianapolis - THX (booth 1543) is announcing at CEDIA Expo a home-theater technology certification program for soundbars, and it revealed that Analog Devices, Sigma Designs, Silicon Image and Quantum Data will provide silicon solutions and HDMI protocol testing to support implementation of THX Media Director  technology into system components.

THX Media Director (MD) is a system that enables a home-theater system to automatically select the most appropriate playback settings and modes specific to each piece of content and source device.

The new silicon solutions and testing solutions will help manufacturers of Blu-ray Disc players, A/V receivers, TVs and projectors more easily implement the MD system into their devices, THX said.

The system transforms movies, music and other digital media into metadata or "smart content" that lets A/V components auto-select the most appropriate audio and video playback settings to preserve the content creator's artistic intent.

"With support from worldwide leading chipmakers Analog Devices, Sigma Designs and Silicon, THX is further extending the foundation of its THX Media Director platform," said Rick Dean, THX senior VP. "CE manufacturers will now be able to source these chips for THX Media Director enabled devices, such as Blu-ray players, A/V receivers, TVs and projectors."

THX said Analog Devices, Sigma Designs and Silicon Image have enhanced their products to support industry standards CEA-861 and HDMI and features multiple Vendor Specific InfoFrame processing (VSI) for easier implementation by CE manufacturers.

Analog Devices' ADV7850 HDMI complete A/V front-end chip supports the implementation of MD in all commonly used interfaces associated with HDTVs and home-theater applications, the companies said.

Sigma Designs has similarly developed several system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs for Blu-ray players, set-top-boxes and AVRs that enable CE manufacturers to rapidly introduce MD products.

Silicon Image has announced MD support in seven HDMI port processors and transmitters that can be implemented into end-to-end solutions for a variety of digital TVs and home theater consumer devices.

Quantum Data joined MD's growing list of partners to implement Media Director compatible tests that will verify, test, simulate and validate that  manufacturers' products are in full compliance with THX's technology.

Meanwhile, THX announced that "Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray" will be the first MD enabled Blu-ray Discs.

The six-disc collection will implement MD as the titles roll out across several territories, including USA/Canada.

THX and Lucasfilm worked closely to identify and preserve the best picture and sound playback settings, THX said. THX said additional MD titles will be introduced in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, THX's new Speaker Bar Certification program was said to have been developed to enhance home display audio within integrated speaker and subwoofer combination systems.

Teufel, Europe's leading direct seller of loudspeaker systems, will distribute the industry's first THX Certified speaker bar, the Cinebar51 THX, across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, THX said.

"With the speaker bar market growing so quickly, it is critical that THX defines a performance benchmark for both quality and simplicity," said Mike Del Santo, THX certification testing manager. "As with all THX Certified speakers,  THX Certified speaker bars undergo a rigorous testing process to ensure they deliver production studio reference level sound pressure and fidelity with low distortion and noise, and only the top 10 percent of today's A/V components have what it takes to be THX Certified."

THX said it has developed customized standards and benchmarks specific to meet the growing market demand. With a recommended viewing distance of up to 6 feet from the screen, THX Certified speaker bars deliver optimized sound for flat-panel displays. This includes improved spatial acoustics for wider listening area, flatter frequency response for improved dialog clarity, higher acoustic output with minimal compression and limiting for decreased distortion at higher volumes, proper acoustic blending between satellite bar and subwoofer components, and lower crossover point to minimize voice/instrument location changes.

The new THX Certified Teufel Cinebar 51 speaker bar features two 4-inch woofers and a 1-inch titanium dome tweeter per side integrated into a sleek, wall-mountable aluminum enclosure.


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