Lexus and Mark Levinson: A sound partnership

Since 2000, flagship Lexus models have benefited from a premium sound system by renowned audio manufacturer Mark Levinson Audio Systems.

Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the company with whom we have formed a renowned partnership.

Who is Mark Levinson Audio Systems?

Mark Levinson Audio Systems is a California-based company that produces sophisticated sound equipment.

The company was founded in Middleton, Connecticut in 1972 by the eponymous sound engineer who was a sound mixer for the legendary Woodstock music festival of 1969.

What products is Mark Levinson known for?

Mark Levinson is especially well-known for its high-end domestic amplifier and preamplifer products, prices for which are measured in tens of thousands.

The product that made Levinson’s name was the LNP-2 low-noise preamplifier of 1973.

The slimline cuboid unit pertained circuits constructed from solid materials. It proved that such a set-up could meet and exceed the aural performance offered by products constructed using the more established ‘tube’ circuit method, in which a current is passed through a vacuum in a sealed container.

When and why did Lexus and Mark Levinson form a partnership?

The partnership between Lexus and Mark Levinson was formed in 2000 for the launch of the third-generation LS.

The model went on sale in the UK on November 6 2000, badged LS 430, and featured a custom-designed amplifier and eleven specially developed speakers. The speakers were spread over seven locations and linked to an AM/FM radio system, cassette and CD player with an in-dash 6-CD auto changer.

The LS 430 was not only the first Lexus to feature a Mark Levinson audio system, it was the first car.

Lexus and Mark Levinson were founded upon similar principles and consequently seemed well placed to collaborate. Lexus relentlessly pursues perfection in all of its vehicles – the unit of measurement for which is the five Lexus musts – while Mark Levinson strives to ‘overcome any known limitations in playback’.

The company says: “The relationship between Mark Levinson and Lexus is built on simple shared values: both companies are obsessed with detail and both demand the highest results from their products. It’s these simple facts that have made Lexus and Mark Levinson ideal partners through the years.

“For years, no automaker could provide the superior acoustic environment necessary for premium Mark Levinson audio systems. But Lexus – scientifically engineered for a quiet and refined ride – was the first who could.”

Which models in the current UK Lexus line-up feature a Mark Levinson audio system?

The following UK Lexus models feature the premium Mark Levinson audio system as standard:

1. CT 200h Premier, 13 speakers
2. IS 250/300h Premier, 15 speakers
3. GS 300h/450h Premier, 17 speakers
4. RC F Carbon, 17 speakers
5. NX 300h Premier, 14 speakers
6. RX 450h Advance and Premier, 15 speakers
7. LS 460 Luxury and F Sport grades, 19 speakers
8. LS 600h L Premier, 19 speakers

The Mark Levinson audio system is available as an option on the following UK Lexus models:

1. IS 250/300h F Sport
2. GS 300h/450h Luxury and F Sport grades
3. RC F (standard)
4. RX 450h F Sport

What are some of stand-out features of the Mark Levinson audio systems that are fitted to these Lexus cars?

The positioning of the rear speakers in the CT 200h Premier is of note; a pair are placed at the top of the rear pillars to lift sounds upwards and create an arena-like ambiance.

In the IS 250 and 300h Premier models, the Mark Levinson audio system features an auto volume system that automatically adjusts the volume for each track played to ensure normalized volume levels on all tracks.

Audio track monitoring is taken a step further in the NX 300h Premier, which marries a 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with Clari-fi™.

Clari-fi™, from Mark Levinson’s parent company Harmon, uses a series of pre-coded algorithms to analyze audio signals of compressed digital tracks in real time. The technology then replaces the aural subtleties which are lost when downloads are rendered usable on smartphones, tablets and mp4 players, for perfect playback.

In the same way that the LS 430 was the first car to feature a sound system by Mark Levinson, the NX represents the automotive debut for Clari-fi™.

Today’s LS continues to innovate; it boasts an incredible 19 speakers and was born out of 2,000 hours of laboratory and on-road testing. The speaker-set comprises seven 25mm tweeters, seven 100mm midrange units, two 150mm x 230mm woofers, two 165mm woofers and one 250mm subwoofer.

Where can I find out more about Mark Levinson?

Further information about Mark Levinson and its products is available on the company’s official website. We have prepared a detailed history of the company here.

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