Know That THX 'Sound' Before Movies? That's Actually 20,000 Lines Of Code

Apr 11, 2015
Originally published on April 11, 2015 9:04 pm
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Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

(SOUNDBITE OF ORIGINAL THX SOUND LOGO)

RATH: Don't get excited. NPR is not coming to you now in 7.1 surround sound, although that would be cool. Actually, we wanted to play you the new version of that THX sound logo you hear before movies. The company says the new version is intensely more complex, taking the audience on an epic sensory journey.

(SOUNDBITE OF UPDATED THX SOUND LOGO)

RATH: But I think the original is more impressive, since it was so much harder to create. Digital audio engineer James A. Moorer created the new sound and the original back in 1982. Back then, if you wanted a digital editing system, you pretty much had to build the software and the hardware.

In an account on the UK blog Music Thing, Moorer wrote that the music was really 20,000 lines of code in the simple, old-fashioned programming language known as C. The program generated frequencies, which were sent to an oscillator that produced the sounds. Moorer picked the best sounds that got generated, but essentially the program wrote the music.

(SOUNDBITE OF ORIGINAL THX SOUND LOGO)

RATH: Not bad for 1982. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.