Article and images by John Grafman
Creative professionals are frequently sharing a common concern. Often the final product is far removed from what the artist originally envision, and more often than not the end result is a compromise. In the world of automotive design the sketch and rendering must yield to packaging and safety regulations, let alone customer clinics, and all the rest. What can start off as a brilliant concept doesn’t hit the mark when the actual consumer version arrives. Lexus is more than a little aware of this.
Fortunately, in the case of the Lexus LC 500, while the entire design was refined for production, the final result was remarkably similar to the concept.
In the world of music, the artists create one thing, and sound engineers, producers, and a variety of other forces tweak it further. However, it doesn’t stop there. How the music is presented, like over terrestrial radio, satellite, CD/DVD, or streaming, can dramatically affect the sound. And, then there’s the playback with receivers, amps, electronics, and speakers, all of which can twist the tune.
Lexus is keeping true to the artist intent
Lexus, in an effort to keep true to the intent of the artist, is offering a Mark Levinson Reference System in all of its cars and SUVs. While that might not initially mean tons to the average person, those that have tasted the goods can vouch for the quality. The Mark Levinson brand uses the artists’ intent as the backbone of the company’s efforts.
Harman International, the parent company of Mark Levinson, employs a cadre of talented engineers that forge the sound of each brand. Each of those has a goal that stand apart from each other. The purity of the Mark Levinson Reference System amps and speakers are what separates this upscale audio equipment. This sets the bar up high for competitors.
Thousands of man-hours have been invested in creating the best possible reproduction of sound within the cabin. Is this the pinnacle of the mobile audio? We can leave that question to audiophiles to answer. Suffice to say, 99-percent of the population will love the sound quality at any volume level.
What makes this tick? The Mark Levinson 7.1 channel system has an 835-watt amplifier along with an advance discrete DSP amplifier for the 13 speakers.
The technology encompasses Automatic Sound Leveling (ASL) that compensates for ambient noise, and Quantum Logic Sound that identifies and clarifies individual voices. Additionally, the reference system includes Clari-Fi Music Reconstruction Technology, which restores true sound of audio tracks, and High Efficiency Greenedge Technology that improves sound performance while reducing power consumption, weight and heat generation.
In total, the Mark Levinson systems in the Lexus products have a remarkable 0.1% total harmonic distortion. This is roughly one-tenth of what can be found in other mobile audio products. No surprise it sounds crisp and clear.
The designers at Lexus did an artful job of incorporating all of this into the interior. The Mark Levinson brand identity is evident, but in a rational sense.
The challenging question for drivers will be, should one listen to the satisfying roar of the powertrain or the sound system? In the case of the Lexus LC 500, it’s a toss up!