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March 2012
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The Sound Garden
Mark Levinson’s new audio system is better, greener, and coming to a Lexus near you.
by Lexus magazine (lexus.com/magazine)

Let’s talk a little bit about sound quality.

If you own a Lexus, then you already know what it means to have a truly superb sound system—not just a good system, but one that approaches home-theater quality in a vehicle (no exaggeration).

Lexus’ sound quality, of course, is the result of a 12-year-old partnership between the automaker and Mark Levinson[1], which makes some of the best home-entertainment systems in the world. Over the years, Lexus engineers have worked with Mark Levinson sound specialists (even bringing in noted musicians on occasion) to tailor the ideal speaker arrangements for each Lexus model’s acoustical qualities.

Lately, Lexus’ mission has been not only to improve in-vehicle sound—Lexus’ constant goal is “flawless realism,” like a personal concert—but also to reduce power consumption, heat, and weight. The CT Hybrid’s bamboo speakers are a good example.

So with the 2013 GS arriving in February, Lexus and Mark Levinson decided to go big with this concept—an entirely new 835-watt[2], 17-speaker[3] Mark Levinson Premium Audio System (optional) built with what’s called GreenEdge components.

2013 GS 17-SPEAKER

> Five Unity Extended Bandwidth speakers (two speakers in each: a 90 mm midrange and 16 mm tweeter)
> Two 180 x 250 mm HiE woofers with aramid composite cones and neodymium magnets
> Two 25 mm titanium dome tweeters with neodymium magnets
> Two 170 mm HiE midwoofers
> One 250 mm double opposing magnet subwoofer with aramid composite cones
> Plus: an 835-watt Class D DSP amplifier

The system is essentially the LED light bulb of the audio world: it delivers twice the performance at half the energy.

From the driver’s perspective, “twice the performance” means richer musicality, lower sound distortion at all listening levels (low volume and high volume), and reduced sound loss.

Sound output is also higher, so it adds to the effects Lexus and Mark Levinson have already achieved with previous systems: a “three-dimensional” sound that doesn’t seem to come from the footwells, the ability to clearly pick out individual instruments, and passenger-enveloping, live-performance-like sounds throughout the cabin.

On the “half the energy” side of things, there’s reduced electrical load on the vehicle’s alternator, lower audio-system operating temperatures, and less componentry weight, all of which contribute to the vehicle’s overall efficiency. To quote Mark Levinson, the GreenEdge set-up “can play 3dBA louder with 74 percent less power consumed” than previous Mark Levinson audio systems.

All of this is the result of several engineering breakthroughs, such as new high-efficiency speaker transducers that produce higher-sound pressures at lower power levels. Right now, these are the highest-performance loudspeakers available for automotive original-equipment use.

Other breakthroughs include Mark Levinson’s Unity Extended Bandwidth transducers; they have just one motor but two speaker diaphragms, which, when compared to a typical coaxial speaker, run cooler and about 50 percent more efficiently.

The 2013 GS sedan’s Mark Levinson Premium Surround System also employs the GreenEdge technology’s new high-voltage amplifier design, first used in top-tier Mark Levinson home entertainment systems.

These next-generation amplifiers put out a remarkable 125 watts per channel while operating on less power than previous amps, and are combined with a new “Spectral Manager” software designed to sharply capture sudden changes in music levels, like cymbals crashing or drops to a low bass guitar riff.

Of course, hearing is believing—the 2013 GS arrives in dealerships in February, so the next time you’re in, just pop into a new GS driver’s seat and have the dealer show you the new available audio system.

Legal Disclaimer
[1] Mark Levinson® is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Inc.
[2] Continuous average power, all channels driven, at less than 0.1% THD; 20–20,000 Hz.
[3] Including Unity Extended Bandwidth speakers, which have the equivalent performance of coaxial speakers.

Article written by Brian Gill

Published by Lexus of Lansing
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