According to Lexus, it's all about the interior.
The art of making a car's sound system sound good is exactly that: an art. Many different brands partner with different audio companies to make their sound systems sound the best. Mercedes has Burmester, BMW has Bowers & Wilkins, and Lexus has Mark Levinson. In addition to all of these sounding more like law firms than sound companies, each of these brands will tell you they're the best at what they do.
Lexus has been working with Mark Levinson for 20 years and says it has consistently been "raising the bar" with regard to automotive sound quality. Given our experience in both the Lexus LC500 and NX Hybrid, we're inclined to agree. The former even inspired an epic carbon fiber Fender guitar. Now, Lexus tells us how it does it.
Each new model gets its own tailor-made sound system. Obviously, the space that you hear your favorite sounds in can be greatly influenced by what's in it, hence the need to re-tune an audio system for each new Lexus model it goes into. Lexus also offers some presets tailored to the kind of music you might like, from simulating the sound of a concert hall to a stadium rock concert.
"Our team attaches great importance to learning early on what each model means for Lexus. Based on this vision, we develop a suitable system. We listen a lot - to the chief engineers, the factory employees, the dealers, and of course the car buyers themselves," said Savion Thompson, Acoustics Engineer at Mark Levinson.
While the Mark Levinson system in the NX is an option, Lexus uses that model as an example. Development for that car's audio system began five years before the car was even launched, again involving studying the car's interior to see how sound will interact with it.
"Space is always an important consideration, especially in a vehicle the size of the NX," explains Thompson. "Months of vehicle studies, many hand-made prototypes, simulations, measurements, and presentations were required for the perfect sound system. The team even stripped the vehicle down to the sheet metal and revised the manufacturing process to make room for innovation."
Lexus placed a total of seven 90mm speakers in the cabin with an internally coupled sub, 8x9 woofers in the doors, and a 12-channel amp. It used to be that was reserved for tuner cars with seriously tricked-out sound systems and subs in the trunk. Now, you can get it in a luxury crossover. So, next time you're in a Lexus, pay a little more attention to the music, because Lexus says it's worth it.