December 20, 2007 – Torrance, CA - The introduction of the 2008 Lexus LX 570 all-new luxury utility vehicle, afforded Lexus' exclusive entertainment system partner, Mark Levinson, the opportunity to implement a discrete 5.1 surround sound system equal in both luxury and performance to the vehicle in which it will be housed. The result was Mark Levinson Reference Surround, a 19-speaker, 450-watt audio system initially designed for and launched on the 2007 LS 460 and now available for the first time in the all-new 2008 LX 570.
What Constitutes "Reference Surround?"
Mark Levinson Reference Surround was conceived and designed specifically for Lexus' flagship LS sedan. Building on the foundation of Mark Levinson's "next generation" Premium Surround Systems that have been firmly established in the marketplace by the new Lexus GS, IS and ES, the designers and engineers from Mark Levinson identified the differentiating performance objectives necessary to legitimately earn the "Reference" moniker: Timbre Accuracy, Timbre Matching and Dynamics.
Timbre Accuracy required the engineering of a new four-inch midrange transducer with an extended low-frequency response. The full fundamental bandwidth of a vocal tenor, for example, can be reproduced by this single midrange transducer without introducing timbral colorations and time-alignment problems typically encountered when using multiple transducers.
Timbre Matching is achieved by mating this new four-inch midrange with a one-inch titanium dome tweeter to create a high-performance, two-way system. Identical two-way systems are then employed in all seven channels, ensuring timbral matching. This creates a well-integrated, seamless 360-degree sound space in which the individual speaker locations seem to disappear, each performer is reproduced with full-range realism regardless of channel assignment, and the spatial intentions of the artist and engineer are made apparent.
Professional mixing engineers, endorsed by several academic acoustical organizations, have been utilizing the technique of identical speakers for all channels since the introduction of discrete surround sound.
Dynamics, the realistic contrast between the loudest and softest musical phrase or movie sound effect, are difficult to capture and reproduce without introducing compression and distortion. Mark Levinson engineering overcame this performance obstacle by designing all-new woofers and a subwoofer for the Reference Surround system: high-power, long-excursion 6x9 woofers for the front doors; 6.5-inch metal-cone woofers for the rear doors; and a 10-inch cast-basket high-power subwoofer housed in a 22-liter enclosure integrated into the rear passenger-side cargo area sidewall trim. All utilize powerful yet lightweight neodymium magnets. The new ML3-16 processor/amplifier, designed for the Reference Surround system, is configured to provide two bridged channels, 100 watts, to each of the front-door woofers and the integrated rear subwoofer. The combination of available power and transducers custom designed for this application successfully results in effortless and complete reproduction of the low-frequency portion of dynamic passages and movie effects with minimal levels of distortion and coloration.
Mark Levinson Reference Surround delivers the harmonic richness and superb musicality previously available only in high-end home and studio-reproduction applications. The emotional resonance and unerring clarity of your favorite musical and cinematic performances are reproduced effortlessly and faithfully, further enhancing the exceptional experience of owning and driving the all-new 2008 Lexus LX 570.
Mark Levinson Reference Surround Feature Highlights
19 Speakers – The LX 570 features seven one-inch tweeters, seven four-inch midranges, two 6x9 woofers, two 6.5-inch woofers, and one 10-inch cast basket subwoofer. The midranges, woofers and subwoofers were all custom designed specifically to achieve Mark Levinson Reference Surround's rigorous performance specifications.
15 Channels, 450 Watts – The all-new ML3-16 Mark Levinson Digital Signal Processor/Amplifier in the LX 570 produces a total power output of 450 watts, all channels driven, 20-20kHz @ less than .1% Total Harmonic Distortion. Retaining the high-performance design philosophy of Mark Levinson Power Amplifiers for home use, the amplifier circuitry in the ML3-16 is discrete, utilizing individual transistors, capacitors, and resistors. This technique provides a level of electrical and sonic performance not available from the integrated power circuits typically used in automotive audio systems.
Proprietary Metal-Cone 6.5-inch Woofers, Midranges, and Tweeters – Metal-cone and dome geometries offer greater cone rigidity and lower mass. Rare earth neodymium magnet/motor structures provide higher magnetic flux levels in a smaller and lighter transducer package. The sonic benefits of both technologies include the following:
– Lower distortion – higher resolution,
– Greater sound pressure levels – natural dynamics,
– Extended frequency response – harmonic richness and musicality.
10-inch High Power Subwoofer – Providing the deepest bass fundamentals from the most efficient, heat dissipating design possible, this neodymium magnet subwoofer is housed in a 22-liter enclosure, which allows the cast basket subwoofer to utilize 100 watts of low distortion power in the reproduction of high-energy, low-frequency effects and bass passages without taking up cargo space.
Discrete 5.1 Playback in a 7.1-Channel Surround Sound Speaker Architecture – Separate side and surround channels provide an extraordinary sense of envelopment and depth for front- and rear-seat passengers.
Mark Levinson Surround (MLS) Audio Software – This innovative, proprietary software intelligently creates a large sonic "sweet spot," positions phantom center-channel material within the soundstage as intended, and provides the full discrete 5.1 surround-sound experience to the rear-seat passengers. MLS also provides a surround-sound experience for stereo-source material such as CD, FM and satellite radio. MLS is the only expression of surround sound that has been specifically designed and optimized to overcome the acoustic obstacles of presenting surround sound in an automotive passenger cabin.
Media Compatibility – CD, CD-R, DTS 5.1 CD, DVD video, and DVD audio discs.
Format Compatibility – Two-channel stereo (analog and PCM), two-channel Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, MP3, WMA, and an auxiliary input for mobile audio products, enabling an iPod or other device to be connected directly to the LX audio system.
All-Digital Signal Path – Fragile audio signals are often transmitted from the front to the back of the car in an analog format, subjecting them to sonic degradation from noise and magnetic interference as well as numerous conversion processes between analog and digital. To avoid noise pickup and unnecessary, potentially degrading conversion steps, Mark Levinson Reference Surround transmits digital information from the disc to the discrete-topology power amplifiers via SPDIF (Sony Philips Digital Interface Format); 24-bit word lengths are supported.
The LX Voicing – Over 4,000 man-hours of laboratory and on-road voicing optimize Mark Levinson Reference Surround for the specific acoustic characteristics of the LX 570 passenger cabin.