According to Mr. Mark Levinson’s website, his team and Lexus have worked together side-by-side since 2001 spending countless hours of tailoring each sound system to each model. Hopefully this is more time than BMW spent with Harman Kardon to create the 3-Series’ system. In the IS’s case, this system contains 17-speakers putting out 1800 watts of maximum sound. That’s quite a number to advertise, but what we’ve learned from the Durango sound test is that numbers don’t reflect sound quality. So how does the Lexus IS Mark Levinson audio system do?
While Charlie conducted his test of the Lexus IS Mark Levinson system, he found the bass to hit very hard which is audible through his binaural in-ear microphones and felt through his seat. I guess Lexus customers don’t need to bother opting for massaging seats because Mark will do a nice deep tissue anyway. Available inputs for the IS are AM/FM/SiriusXM radio channels, Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, USB-A ports, a CD drive, and a 3.5 mm auxiliary input jack. Lexus includes just about everything one could want, as long as that’s not a USB-C port.
At the end of the test, Charlie gave Mr. Levinson a 9 to 9.5 out of 10, with Volvo’s Bowers & Wilkins being the only competitor to surpass him. The reason being Volvos are more sound isolated at highway speeds; it makes sense that a sound system can only be as good as the car is quiet going down the highway.
How We Test
Here at Daily Motor, we take sound systems seriously. We take every car, from a budget sedans like the Honda Civic to supercars like the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S, and put them through our in-depth sound-system testing. We use the same lossless, uncompressed WAV audio files on a USB stick plugged into the audio system so that every platform we test starts from the same baseline. To give a realistic impression for the sound test, we use high-quality binaural microphones for recording. We test every system with its sound settings set to their factory settings, since that is how the radio’s engineers designed it to sound, but we test all the sound settings on many types of music before performing these reviews. After demonstrating the sound settings, adjustments, inputs, speaker locations, and Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay functionality, we start out on the road to listen to our sample tracks at freeway speeds. Most vehicles can sound good while stationary, but road, wind, and engine noise can deteriorate music quality. At the end of the test, we give a rating based on sound quality and overall system usage as well as a subjective rating factoring in vehicle attributes and cost.