Difference Between THX Ultra and THX Ultra 2?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Geoff S, Jun 26, 2002.

  1. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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    What are the differences??
     
  2. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    The biggest difference as far as I know:

    THX Ultra is only for 5.1 setups.

    THX Ultra2 is for 7.1 setups.
     
  3. Lyle_JP

    Lyle_JP Screenwriter

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    Incorrect. There are many THX Ultra (not Ultra2) 7.1 solutions currently available.

    THX Ultra2 gives you more 7.1 options. All THX Ultra2 units allow you to use a "studio extention" mode, which is nice for 5.1 sources that have a "collapse to rear-center" problem when played back in EX/ES mode. Basically it feeds the rear left and right with the same signal as the side left and right, respectively, which is just what movie theaters do with similar speaker setups.

    There is also the THX Ultra2 Cinema mode, which also addresses the "collapse to rear-center" issue in some non EX-ES 5.1 mixes, although this mode actually attempts to make a full 7.1 soundfield from the 5.1 source.

    I'm also pretty sure that 7x amplification is a requirement for THX Ultra2; no 6 channel amps or 5 channel amps requiring additional amplification for the rears will qualify.

    Lastly, receivers with THX Ultra2 will fully support all features of sub-woofers with THX Ultra2 certification, but I'm not really sure what those features are or what benefits they provide.

    -Lyle J.P.
     
  4. RichardMA

    RichardMA Second Unit

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    THX is basically a SCAM that gets applied to lesser and
    lesser products as time goes on. The fact they were just
    bought by "Creative" should convince anyone of that.
    You do get some rudamentary electronic "enhancements"
    with THX Ultra/2, but mostly what you end up doing is
    paying for very little gain. Put the extra money into
    better speakers.
     
  5. Lyle_JP

    Lyle_JP Screenwriter

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    [​IMG] Come on Richard, THX is what it is. It's hardly a scam. It's a minimum set of requrements that a piece of home theater equipment must meet. Yes, there are units that forgo THX certification that still meet most of the specs, but by and large I don't find that those units cost a whole lot less than their THX counterparts. In fact, many cost much more.
    At least with a THX badge there is no second guessing. You know it meausres up to a certain minimum standard (although the 'THX Select' stuff may be more "minimum" than a golden eared HT enthusiast would put up with).
    Basically, there are good receivers with THX. There are good receivers without it. There are bad receivers without THX. But I have yet to hear a truly "bad" sounding receiver wearing a THX badge (particularly a THX Ultra badge).
    I haven't even touched on the THX Cinema modes on these receivers, which do wonders for overly harsh and bright sound mixes.
    Clearly Richard, THX is not a "must buy" feature for you, and hey, it doesn't need to be. But I don't feel "scammed" by my THX receiver, and the THX label did not make my receiver choice any more expensive than other units with nearly equal feature sets available at the time I bought it.
    -Lyle J.P.
     
  6. DanielSmi

    DanielSmi Second Unit

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    I haven't heard of THX being bought by "Creative", but even if they were how does that make them suck, I'll site some ex. Mcintosh labs got bought out by Clarion the company that makes cheap car audio products does that make them suck I think not, Land Rover is now owned by Ford does that make their vehicles suck, Ford also owns Jaguar and their cars don't suck (except for their X-type), bet you didn't know this Best Buy owns Magnolia Hi-Fi a high end audio store in the NorthWestern US and they didn't start carrying KLH and GPX brand products. Have you ever listened to a movie with THX turned on it sound so much better, I listened to Armageddeon without THx turned and I swear my ears were gonna start bleeding everything sounded so bad. Anyways to answer Geoff's question. The THX Ultra2 specification provides uncompromised eight-channel playback of any multi-channel program, whether movie soundtracks or music over the widest possible seating area. In addition, all Ultra2 controllers and receivers incorporate component video switching capable of handling all wide-bandwidth sources, including HDTV and progressive scan DVD, without degrading the picture. THX Ultra2 uses seven channels of amplification to play back any multi-channel-encoded program through a single fixed seven-speaker/one subwoofer layout. In the new THX Ultra 2 Cinema mode or THX MusicMode, all program material with 5.1 channels or more is auto-detected and proprietary processing is applied that blends the directional and ambient surround information prior to replay through four surround speakers — two at the side and two at the back. Ultra2 receivers and controllers also feature switchable Boundary Gain Compensation (BGC) to alleviate "boomy" bass performance that can occur with near-wall listening positions because room bounaries or other characteristics (such as wall construction) may increase the perceived acoustics levels at low freqs. Depending on the listeners and the subwoofer's position the listener may experience an excessive bass effect. This feature is designed to operate when used with a subwoofer certified to Ultra2 Certification. Ultra2 also has "Advanced Speaker Array" (ASA) when you set up your home theater using all eight speakers outputs and the two Surround Back speakers are placed close together. ASA technology optimizes the surround sound experience using two new modes THX Ultra2 Cinema and THX MusicMode. The BGC, ASA and THX MusicMode are all new features to THX Ultra2. Also Ultra2 sets a higher standard for amps requiring them to drive sound up to 120db instead of 105db like Ultra does. Other than that that's about it.

    Daniel Smith
     
  7. GordonL

    GordonL Supporting Actor

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  8. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks everyone for answering as to the differences between Ultra and Ultra 2. The receiver I'm going to buy has THX Ultra, but Ultra 2 sounds like something I can hold off on.

    Personally I believe that THX is a good sign of quality equipment at the cost of... well more cost. It's like Lyle said:
     
  9. GordonL

    GordonL Supporting Actor

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  10. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with you on that Gordon. There are many different processes for remastering film to look as good as it possibly could from a 240 line source such as VHS other than THX. My only point/opinion was THX could decide what formats to touch and which ones not too based on their overall quality, and only going for those with high quality and applying the minimal requirements to its reproduction. However, I guess when there was VHS as the only way of reproducing movies in the home there wasn't much choice. I guess I'm looking for a certification process that'll make even true audiophiles say: "WOW! You've got ______ certification on that, awesome!" because the certification is so rare and distinguished. So that's why I'm deciding tonight to be so tough and critical on it.
     
  11. KlausWinkler

    KlausWinkler Agent

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    >What's wrong with having the best possible transfer on VHS?

    there's nothing wrong with it, but I think it waters down the value of THX.

    Back in the elder days it was
    "Meet the standards, or you don't get a THX certification"
    not it is
    "Can't meet the standards, let's create a new category"

    It's like creating "Michelin stars for Fast Food restaurants"
     
  12. PatrickTy

    PatrickTy Extra

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    I find the THX Ultra 2 certification for music to be odd... THX is all about the "orignal intent", etc... well, expanding a 6-channel DVD-Audio to 7.1 channels is NOT what the orignal mixer had in mind! To me, it looks like THX simply wanted something new to "sell." The fact that they came out with THX Select/Ultra PROVES that they are market driven and not quality driven as they claim. Still, THX Select isn't that bad - all spec's, EXCEPT for the power amps, are the same as THX Ultra (THD, S/N, etc) and the amp spec's are still very stringent if you don't listen in large rooms.

    I know many will disagree with me about Ultra2, but answer me this, who's "intent" is the music mode reproducing?

    Cheers!
    Ty C. :)
     
  13. JeffHayes

    JeffHayes Stunt Coordinator

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    Guys,

    Just FYI in regards to what Ultra2 certification buys you. Basically from my understanding, Ultra2 certified A/V products are REQUIRED to pass a full bandwidth (1080i) video signal WITHOUT any visible degradation. For some people, this is a "don't care" factor.


    For me... it is one of the singlemost reasons I have not purchased the Rotel RSP-1066 or 1065 receiver. I am actually kinda holding out hope that B&K will show a Ref40 or a 407 receiver sometime before the end of the year with Ultra2 certification. FWIW, the Ref30 and 307 and 305 receivers already supposedly pass HDTV signals through with no detectable degradation in picture quality. Videophiles & Audiophiles will vehemently argue that to pass a video signal through a primarily AUDIO device such as a pre/pro or receiver is tantamount to drowning cats for a living or worshipping your pet hamster, Beelzebub... i.e. something that is beyond comprehension. Myself, I tend to water down their fantacism with an ounce or two of practicality. Can I REALLY see a difference between the direct connect signal from my DVD player to the projector vs. when I run the video through my receiver... yes? no? Then who the hell cares? It's all in what you believe. If paying for a $3000 video switcher will give you peace of mind that you did the right thing in opting for a pre/pro that couldn't pass HDTV then by all means, DO IT. This argument is almost as old as the "Is 96kHz sample rate enough?" or "I can hear a difference when I use these $20/ft. cables vs. the $1.50 ones YOU use". If you can, fine... if not... so be it.


    Hope that helped,
    Jeff in Houston
     
  14. Geoff S

    Geoff S Stunt Coordinator

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    Doesn't Ultra and Ultra 2 give the video a "boost"? I thought I heard this somewhere.
     
  15. JoshK

    JoshK Agent

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    Very interesting discussion guys! I think Jeff has a point, in some ways ignorance is bliss! If you can't see the difference between p-scan and iterlaced dvd without having it pointed out to you, then don't bother finding out, it will only mean you have to spend more money.

    I have read through many of the threads on this forum and audiophiles would cringe at some of the things some say, but more power to them as they don't have to bail out the tons of dough to enjoy their music. Sometimes these hobbies can be a blessing and a curse. That being said, I am somewhat of an audiophile (in no way a videophile though), as a former musician I know what I am and am not suppose to hear.

    Seems to me this thread has pegged THX as simply a level of certification, but, correct me if I am wrong, I thought it was also a post-processing and re-equalization process too. I haven't heard it myself, but I was told by a local hi-fi rep that it is generally very welcome by audiophiles who can't stand how "bright" a lot of 5.1 DD mixes are. It does some re-eq'ing that is supposedly nice to the ears. Beats me if this is worth the price of admission or not.
     
  16. JeffHayes

    JeffHayes Stunt Coordinator

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    JoshK:
    Yep... totally correct on the re-EQ thing. "THX certified" and "THX processing" imply a couple different things. In MY warped mind, the "certification" part of being THX implies specific electronic and electrical conditions that must be met by the particular component in question. For instance, speakers can be certified THX and so can pre-pros, right? But it really doesn't make any sense to impose the "Must be able to transmit full bandwidth HDTV signals without visible degradation" on a subwoofer, now does it? On the other hand, the THX processing side of things requires several DSP-centric audio algorithms such as a bass management electronic crossover, speaker position time synchronization, a bass peak level manager, adaptive decorrelation, timbre-matching of speakers, and the Re-equalization as you mentioned.
    Hope that sort of clears things up. Basically you can find out most of this stuff on the THX home page.
    http://www.thx.com/consumer_products/home.html
    They haven't put up any info on Ultra2 yet, but I'm sure they will once more products with Ultra2 start showing up. As it is right now, I think only the Denon 5803, Pioneer 49TX and 47TX and one subwoofer and some in-walls and stand-alone speakers by Snell Acoustics are actually available right now with Ultra2 cert.
    Have a good one,
    Jeff in Houston
     
  17. Larry Becker

    Larry Becker Agent

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    Just to throw a wrench into the discussion...

    When I went looking for decent, affordable speakers to work with my Pioneer 49tx, I found only the Snell speakers that met the Ultra2 spec. WAY out of my league price-wise. The subwoofer spec was particularly opaque -- I could find NO ONE who could tell me what was going on with it outside of strict requirements for solid response down to 20hz (I believe). I decided that I could either wait until it became clear, or get some decent speakers that seemed to me to be inline with the THXUltra2 spec from what I was reading. I went with the Energy Veritas 2.3, 2.0C, 2.0R dipoles, and their killer Microstar 12.1 sub.

    Would I meet the THX specs in a lab with this setup? Maybe... Or in my livingroom? Certainly NOT. So, I went for sound, looks and price AT THIS POINT in the audio game.

    On THXUltra2 being a meaningless spec... I'm not so sure. When I was looking for speakers I walked into a store with my own DVD's and the sales guy said, "Oh, I see you brought your own software. Great!" I hadn't thought of it that way before. Our discs are just software and our receivers, DVD players, etc, are just decoding devices. The Ultra2 spec is a particular program for decoding the ENCODED DATA stream on the DVD's.

    When I use Adobe Photoshop, it's A LOT EASIER if the image is in a format that Photoshop can read and is color-balanced for my computer and printer. The color nuances of my system (how I'm set up to decode the image) make or break it, regardless of what's on the negative I scanned in. For me, how my receiver is set up to decode the software is very similar. The sound nuances can be very harsh, unbalanced or just odd. THXUltra2 does a very nice job in my system of decoding the software and sending the music/sound out to the speakers. It gives a much more balanced and integrated soundfield than the MANY other options my receiver offers. BTW, DPLII ain't bad, either.

    GEEZ, I'm wordy this morning. Sorry... :b

    Larry
     
  18. PatrickTy

    PatrickTy Extra

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    >>The Ultra2 spec is a particular program for decoding the ENCODED DATA stream on the DVD's.
     
  19. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  20. Larry Becker

    Larry Becker Agent

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    Sooo...
    Could one say, then, that THXUltra2 Cinema mode and/or MusicMode are programming overlays that the receiver applies when it detects an EX flag or when it's manually turned on and applied to 5.1 sources? (that's the way my receiver handles it, anyway)
    I wasn't trying to imply that the DVDs are coded FOR Ultra2 decoding. That may come (?) -- don't know. My point, apparently imprecisely made, was that this stuff is all code, and THXUltra2 is a particular way of decoding it, applying speaker and eq parameters to the signal.
    As far as the MusicMode or ANY of this stuff being what the original people had in mind... who the heck knows? These decoding techniques like EX or Ultra2 seem to me to be trying to recreate something believable, or at least approximating the theater or concert experience, in my livingroom. Using dipole sides and direct rears, it's a pretty good shot at it. Maybe "nice" wasn't an audiophile-approved term... Sorry to caused some to enter into flame mode. [​IMG]
    Larry
     

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