Bose, Lexicon, Mark Levinson: comparing premium car stereo systems
The 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo in the Lexus RC 350 is an example of hi-end audio found in today's vehicles. Photos by Benjamin Yong.
With the overall fit and finish of new models produced by automakers at an all-time high, it’s easy to take the audio systems in vehicles for granted. It wasn’t so long ago that swapping out a lackluster OEM head unit and speakers for aftermarket replacements was almost a no-brainer — but now, many manufacturers across the board are partnering with high-end sound specialists to bring you a premium auditory experience straight from the factory. These are some of the best examples out right now.
The 2015 Genesis debuted in Canada at this year’s Toronto Auto Show, and one of the highlights is a standard 14-speaker Lexicon surround sound system. Buyers opting for the 5.0-litre Ultimate trim receive an upgrade to 17 speakers and 900 watts. If you don’t recognize the name Lexicon, it is part of Harman International Industries — often known for its Harman/Kardon product line — that provides OEM audio technology for multiple automotive brands.
A car as visually stunning as the Lexus RC luxury coupe needs an equally sexy stereo. That’s provided in the form of a 10-speaker in-house Lexus system, or an available 17-speaker Mark Levinson package. Both use Class-D amplifiers and a centre-rear mounted subwoofer for deep bass.
High-end audio guru Mark Levinson founded the company in 1972, which is also now run by Harman. The equipment, possessing a signature exterior black anodized finish, is used in several Lexus vehicles including the IS, ES, GS and RX, to name a few.
Mazda is proving you don’t need to drive a luxury car in order to enjoy a luxury listening experience. Going with the American-based Bose Corporation as the provider of its audio hardware, the 11-speaker system in the Mazda6 GT is more powerful and 20 per cent lighter than the one found in the previous generation, fitting perfectly with the brand’s SKYACTIV philosophy of increasing both performance and efficiency.
A new low-energy-consumption amplifier drives the setup, featuring Centerpoint digital signal processing and AudioPilot 2 that utilizes a microphone in the cabin to monitor ambient noise, automatically compensating for unwanted sound coming from the road or engine.