Probably this has
been done before, but I've never seen it. In order to demonstrate the quality of the optional Mark Levinson 7.1 surround sound stereo available in the 2012 GS
, Lexus yoinked out a full set of the individual components, screwed them into some boxes and let us listen to them in a hotel meeting room.
And just for comparison, the peeps at Mark Levinson had brought along one of their home audio systems as well. With a ballpark retail price of over $100,000...
Not only have I never heard of a car manufacturer going to such lengths to prove the quality of its audio system before, I've also never listened to a $100,000 'stereo' (it was in fact a 5.1 system complete with HD video). Both were suitably impressive – and while there was a palpable difference in the quality, what really struck me was the similarly warm tonal quality of the two, creating a sense that the Lexus really does give you a Mark Levinson sound.
Minor geeky details about the GS system includes the use of a 7.1 layout – that's seven main speaker channels plus a sub, two more than ordinary surround sound – in order to create the impression of a larger space. Handy in a car. The gear also uses the latest Harman GreenEdge Technology in order to produce more sound while drawing less power.
There are 17 speakers in total, and the amplifier that powers them generates up to 125 Watts per channel with an 835 Watt peak. That's an increase of 75 and 505 Watts, respectively, yet it consumes just 6.5 Amps – less than a quarter of the power demanded by the previous GS Mark Levinson system.
Honestly, it's pretty awesome for the £1,000 extra it costs – especially since that price includes an upgrade to the biggest central display screen in a car today (a very widescreen 12.3-incher) and some additional aluminium cabin controls. Which nicely complement the billet alloy clock.
Awesome enough that the guy on hand from Mark Levinson itself likes to joke you buy the stereo and get a car for free.
And you know what, I bet it actually works out like that for some customers.