Establishing a new benchmark for multichannel sound, Lucasfilm THXÆ announced at the CEDIA Expo í99, September 24-26, THX Surround EXô, a home theatre application of the cinema surround sound technology that made its theatrical debut with the opening of ""Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.."" THX Surround EX is an enhancement to digital sound that decodes a back surround channel in a film soundtrack allowing for dramatic 360? surround sound effects that are smoother and more accurately placed either directly behind or directly beside a viewer. THX Surround EX is available exclusively through THX Ultra licensees in selected certified products, with the first introductions and demonstrations appearing at CEDIA Expo í99. Demonstrated products include an updated JBL Synthesis SDP 3 controller, the Lexicon MC-1 controller (M&K Room), and the Onkyo Integra Research RDC-7 controller. In addition, Lexicon had upgraded versions of the DC-1 and DC-2 on display and new THX licensee Mark Levinson unveiled the No40 controller. Among other licensees, Pioneer Elite plans to include the technology in its next generation of products.""Weíre very excited to be one of the first to offer an advancement to home entertainment like THX Surround EX and to bring this technology to consumers so soon after its theatrical debut,"" said Wayne Morris, President of Lexicon Inc. ""Compatibility with THX Surround EX will allow consumers to take full advantage of these specially encoded soundtracks while adding value to our products."" Current Dolby Digital - Surround EX encoded feature films include ""The Haunting"" (Dreamworks SKG), ""Austin Powers ñ The Spy Who Shagged Me"" (New Line Cinema) and ""Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace"" (Twentieth Century Fox). And additional films are due in theatres over the coming months ñ ""Toy House"" (independent production), ""The Messenger: The Joan of Arc Story"" (Sony Releasing), ""The Fight Club,"" ""Minority Report"" (Twentieth Century Fox), ""The Bone Collector,"" ""End of Days"" (Universal), and ""Pitch Black"" (USA Films). The first Dolby Digital - Surround EX DVD title to be released will be ""Austin Powers - The Spy Who Shagged Me"" (New Line Cinema) slated for November availability. ""Filmmakers' are embracing this new technology because it's a powerful new creative tool for producing realistic soundtracks,"" said Monica L. Dashwood, Lucasfilm THX General Manager. ""Now THX Ultra products with THX Surround EX bring it into the home, providing the best and most accurate way to enjoy a film."" All THX Surround EX hardware will be backward compatible, with the ability to play any 5.1-channel source. To enhance 5.1 music recordings, THX expects many licensees to add their own DSP modes to take advantage of the extra two channels THX requires in these products. For optimum results, THX recommends the use of two THX Ultra certified dipole speakers for the THX Surround Ex (Surround Back Left and Surround Back Right) channels, in addition to the dipoles for the left and right surround channels. However, for those who prefer it, a pair of direct radiating speakers can also be used for the back surrounds under a new THX specification.THX in conjunction with Dolby Laboratories developed Dolby Digital - Surround EX last year to address the needs of Academy AwardÆ-winning sound designer and Director of Creative Operations for Skywalker Sound (Lucas Digital Ltd., LLC), Gary Rydstrom. The technology raised the bar for cinema sound quality by providing filmmakers greater flexibility and moviegoers a visceral experience that is of the highest quality.