you every stopped and thought about how amazing the human
ear is? Despite the fact that there are only two of them,
and that they're theoretically much too close together to
be effective, they are able to convey sound information
to the brain in such an accurate way that the it can the
calculate exactly where that sound came from. Left or right,
well that's easy because the sound arrives at one ear before
the other, but how about directly above, or below? How about
dead center and in front or behind? No problem! Those two
odd looking growths on the side of our heads funnel pressure
waves down the ear canal into what is essentially a quite
primitive mechanism from where the magical signal processing
simple enough, but the amount of processing that goes on
in the brain is phenomenal! Even if you're lay down you
can judge sound direction, yet in this situation the calculations
required are completely different. Not only does your brain
need to process the sound, it also needs to factor in your
head's position in 3D space. Tilt your head and in theory
you screw up the entire process, yet the brain compensates
in milliseconds, recalculating the data and correcting the
results. Scary huh!
this explains why it's so difficult to fool the brain when
it comes to creating believable positional audio. Now I
might be in the minority here, but I have never sat in front
of two speakers supposedly creating any kind of virtual
surround sound and heard a sound that I could honestly say
came from behind me, above me or below me. Maybe I have
an odd shaped head? Maybe my ear canals are too short or
too wide, or my ears are at the wrong angle, but the only
way I can hear realistic sound from behind me is if that's
precisely where it came from.
love to hear real virtual surround from two speakers. For
a start it would save me having to completely ruin the look
and the ergonomics of my room by having speakers stuck on
stands in the middle of the floor, but for me virtual surround
just doesn't happen, and I'm guessing it doesn't happen
for a lot of other people too.
far the best way to generate 3D positional audio is from
multiple speakers sited around the listening position, and
you'd imagine the more you have the better it sounds. Well,
that's one of the questions I hope to answer today as I
look at Creative's high-end THX certified 7.1 speaker system.
Known as Gigaworks, these speakers come with a spec list
that has all the credentials to activate the drool glands
of even the most choosy audio user.
the tale of the tape, and to save you having to add it up
it totals 700watts!
Watts RMS per channel (7 channels)
Watts RMS subwoofer
Response: 20Hz ~ 40kHz
limited hardware warranty
wall-mountable two-way satellite speakers
Audio Control Pod
wireless remote control (Batteries included)
speaker desktop stands
monitor stand (Downward facing)
10ft / 3m cables for front speakers
16ft / 5m cables for side speakers
23ft / 7m cables for rear speakers
and Technical Support leaflet
we move on let's just take a look at this mysterious THX
certification and what it means.
in 1983 by George Lucas, THX was created to "provide
technologies and performance standards to ensure the vision
of filmmakers and artists is accurately presented to cinema,
home entertainment and automotive consumer audiences."
Lucasfilm Ltd. protecting its reputation by maintaining
standards or is it spinning out a money-making marketing
to begin with I believe the intentions were entirely honorable.
George Lucas is a fastidious filmmaker who was simply not
happy with the quality of the sound in some cinemas so he
introduced a scheme whereby certain standards could be applied
that gave a consistently high quality experience from one
cinema to another. In 1983 THX was born, and the name cane
from his first feature film, THX 1138. Whether that same
motivation drives THX today is unclear, but ask a genuine
audiophile to listen to some of the poorer THX certified
speakers on the market and they'll tell you that the standards
are pretty low.
is the rather vague statement covering multimedia products
from the THX website.
have a product THX Certified a potential client approaches
THX with a wish list including type of product, market position
for the product, available vendors for components, price
target and a desired introduction date. THX then advises
the client during the design and development of the product
to achieve the best possible audio or visual performance
taking into consideration all the stated criteria. THX is
unique in that our business is with the entire entertainment
industry from creation to presentation in all media and
venues, giving us the broadest possible view of the market
and the potential for applying innovative technologies that
may have escaped the clients notice.
the requirements for Home Theater, Studio and Cinema categories
it seems there are no real guidelines covering what a PC
based system needs to deliver in order to become THX certified.
It seems you simply have to work with them in order to iron
compatibility problems between the computer and its subsystems,
complicated set up procedures, non-intuitive user controls
and subsystems with performance potential that is unmet"
might be reading between the lines here but what that says
to me is that a THX certified speaker system is as good
as it can be, not that it's necessarily good, if you see
what I mean.
thing seems certain, getting your PC line of audio equipment
THX certified is a lot easier than it is to do it with cinema,
studio or home theater system. It's probably quite expensive