There’s no question about it, cars have gotten more and more expensive over the years.. And even when you find a car that fits your budget, it’s easy to start checking off option boxes and add another $5K+ to the base price before you know it. So you’ve really got to pick and choose which options are most important to you.
This begs the question – Is it worth getting the upgraded sound system that many car companies offer? In the case of my 2011 Subaru WRX, absolutely not, as the “upgrade” consisted of a crappy Kicker subwoofer that was overly bass-y and drowned out the music. Thankfully, I was able to listen to a car with one before making my decision. Otherwise, my wallet would have been $400 lighter.
But if you’re thinking about purchasing a Lexus, upgrading to their Mark Levinson Premium Audio System will take your listening experience to a whole other level (as well it should, considering that their NAV / Audio Package will set you back $2,550 in the RC). Frankly, it’s hard to believe that they can achieve this kind of audio performance in something as acoustically unfriendly as a vehicle.
While I have spent quite a bit of time in both the Lexus LC 500 and Lexus RC F, I never really focused on the merits of their audio systems, instead enjoying the glorious sounds coming from their throaty V8 engines. But they deliver superior acoustic technology as well, and to illustrate this Mark Levinson recently brought us out to their headquarters in Northridge, CA so that we could learn more about their world-class car audio systems and see what makes them so special.
Our morning started with an audio demonstration in a fleet of Lexus vehicles. I hopped into the Lexus RC 350 (one of my favorite Lexus vehicles), and one of the Mark Levinson audio engineers took me through a demo of their system, playing a variety of tracks to demonstrate the accuracy of the system, along with it’s ability to reproduce subtleties and nuances that you’re not normally able to hear in a car. It’s hard to put into print how something sounds, but I was absolutely blown away by how precise the music sounded. WOW!
The car is an extremely challenging environment, as you’re working with a small space, with a lot of reflective surfaces, and it’s also hard to get the listener in “the sweet spot” between speakers. But the Mark Levinson engineering team spends years designing individual sound systems for each Lexus vehicle, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. In the Lexus RC I drove, a 7.1 surround sound system pumps out 835-watts of crystal-clear sound from 17 speakers, allowing you to experience the soul of the music in a 360-degree spatial environment.
As I drove the car, I was encouraged to turn up the volume up higher and higher, to levels that I would never dream of doing in my own car for fear of the speakers blowing up, not to mention distortion like you wouldn’t believe. But even at a volume of 40 (which is LOUD), the music was perfectly clear, thanks to the fact that Mark Levinson systems have 0.1% total harmonic distortion, compared to the industry standard of 1.0% THD.
In addition, an Automatic Sound Leveler adjusts your tunes to the perfect volume to compensate for ambient sound in the vehicle cabin, a Quantum Logic Surround system that identifies and re-authors individual voices and instruments into a precise multi-channel soundstage, and the Clari-Fi music reconstruction technology restores the true sound of your compressed audio tracks and instantly bring music back to life.
Overall, I cannot say enough good things about the Mark Levinson audio systems that are available in Lexus vehicles. Their car audio systems offer audiophiles and music enthusiasts alike a truly remarkable listening experience on the road. So if you’re considering purchasing a new Lexus vehicle in the near future, make sure you spring for the Mark Levinson Premium Audio System. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!