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Is-F 2011 Poor Audio Quality


ISFBloke
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Hi All,

I know I am not the only one with this concern but I'll ask the question anyway.

Are you happy with the sound quality of the ML audio in your IS-F 2011 and up?

I jumped from my old 08 into my new 2011 and was very surprised to hear the difference in audio quality. The 08 was rich and loud but the 2011 lacks punch and is way quieter. It is very clear but lacks the punch needed for this kind of system especially with upgraded exhaust.

They must have changed the audio processor as with some original CDs only the front speakers are on but with MP3 all are fine.

I am interested to hear/see some simple solutions or upgrades to correct this issue without having to put a huge sub and amp in the boot.

Cheers

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Not sure as I my only experience is with MY12, but what I can say is that even 320kbps MP3 lack body and weight when played via the USB connector -much better via CD (and for those that aren't sure a 320kbps MP3 should rival CD for quality i.e. most people cannot pick the difference.

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Lots of owners complain int the US too. My old 08 sounded a lot better. Proper CD is definitely better than 320 MP3 and yes MP3 via CD sounds better then off the stick which should not be the case with this sort of premium audio.

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Lots of owners complain int the US too. My old 08 sounded a lot better. Proper CD is definitely better than 320 MP3 and yes MP3 via CD sounds better then off the stick which should not be the case with this sort of premium audio.

oh ok - what I meant was MP3 USB vs CD audio - haven't actually tried MP3 on cd.

The surround sound on music is quite good, immersive and detailed and all in all I judge it to be pretty good audio system, but agree that I'm actually convinced there's no sub in there - there is a sub in the MY12 ISF isn't there?! :(

My point of reference isn't extensive for car audio (my last was 7 speaker Bose with sub factory system) but I have some half decent hifi stuff in the house that listen to.

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yeah see the problem is ML claim that the reason for a low bass volume is because they intended the music to be heard exactly as the musician wanted us to. Well that's all fine but than the same system in the 08 had much more bass and was louder but it had the same clarity, Why??

The sub is in the rear as shown here:

http://www.marklevinson.com/lexus-isf.html

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I had a new GS250 as a loan car and it had the new Mark Levison in it. My god it sounded fantastic!!! Bass was deep and audio was super crisp and sharp. I think they realised how *BLEEP* the ML system is in our ISF's and did something about it for the new Lexus line up's.

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Unfortunately you are correct the new line up is much better. RC-F's audio is something to behold. The IS-F's system is great too but lacks punch, looking into replacing the sub that should solve the problem. I was hoping someone has done it here already.

Danny are you around??

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Well I'm glad I'm not the only one. I've got a 2006 is250 sports lux and it has more bass. Not clarity though, and yes ML, your ISF system is crystal clear. It just has NO bass unless you turn up the volume to a stupid level. If I was an Opera House dwelling fanatic that just happened to decide to purchase a 300+kw sports sedan instead of the GS or LS then I may have appreciated the clarity of your system. But.

In the 250 it was 10-12 on the volume range was enough. In the ISF via USB or Aux it is 30+ to get even a decent volume and still the bass is lacking on music that IS bass heavy. And I'm not talking trance/dance etc but some esoteric tracks and the like. I know they have bass from listening to them from my bloody damn expensive home system.

Poor effort there ML and Lexus given the $ shelled out. I for one, was very disappointed as I love my music even more than the rumble and roar from that great V8.

I'd just like some more oomph from the stereo from a $126k + car. Seriously...First we have to redo the exhaust etc to get it up the the competitors and then the stereo also lacks. Learn Lexus learn.

Just glad the RCF at least has a decent set of balls to begin with though the new C63 throws down the gauntlet. But that's another topic.

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For those of you that can tell the difference between pre-2009 IS ML sound systems and those produced in 2009 and later, you will find the cause and solution in this thread:

http://au.lexusownersclub.com/forums/topic/12532-sub-woofer-info-modding

Edited by Lexus Nerd
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Thanks Nerd, While it does not detail how it was done my suspicion was correct. We need a second sub. I DO NOT want a box in the back but it seems it can be mounted elsewhere. I am on my way to an audio shop. Will post back.

Wamsi while you are right about the audio lets not go that far with the other parts of the car, I rather like that it start quiet and have the option to make it louder. I wouldn't be happy the other way around.

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First we have to redo the exhaust etc to get it up the the competitors and then the stereo also lacks. Learn Lexus learn.

Not for me, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde attributes are exactly what attracted me to the ISF - refined at cruise, noteworthy when you want it to be is just fine by me. A decent sub is missing though.

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Not for me, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde attributes are exactly what attracted me to the ISF

Obviously each to their own and I was looking for something a little different therefore a good whack more snarl and grunt was called for! My baby's got it in fistfuls!

Back on topic, I was listening to some fairly bass heavy "electronic" music today and I only noticed bass from the door speakers. Rear...might as well have been unplugged. And these tracks I know make any speaker thump. I guess if any, the upside is that I get to listen to the chorus from the engine/exhaust more.

And off topic I know, but the other day (Monday or Tuesday) I was coming down Victoria road leading onto Anzac bridge and I saw a blue ISF with personalised plates. Wasn't sure if it was someone from here.Anyhow....was a good day as I saw a few ISF's that day and that's rare.

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been reading the US forums EVERYONE complains about the lack of bass except the 08 owners, but that is pretty much the only part of the car they complain about. I've got the headers fitted currently with stock exhaust and I have to say I do like the way it sounds subtle rumble but still louder than stock but put your foot down and she shouts. Today I am getting new intake and my old Borla fitted so lets see if I am gonna like it any better I have to admit I do like that i can relax in the car when I feel like it rather than have it shouting all the time. Anyway at the same I will discuss the sub upgrade options with the service manager. Yes I've also noticed that with some music especially if played from USB or AUX the bass is just not there at all. It is sort of easy to correct make sure mid is a notch below midpoint, speaker balance 2-3 notches to the back and turn off surround as that's what makes the processor analyse the music differently. Also purchased some original CDs and the quality is day and night even over 320MP3.

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OK, so swapped out the sub with an 08 and guess what no difference whatsoever. So it seems the system as the whole has been calibrated differently. Conclusion: the only way to improve is to get a new sub and amplifier. Quite disappointing.

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  • 3 months later...

There's a post in the regular 2IS section. Someone added a second sub (not in the boot) to their 350 & it improved. I'm considering following suit down the line. I had an 08 250 & the ML audio was MUCH better than my ISF. Night & day. Funnily enough, I found my Dad's 2013 350's ML system is better than my ISF's but not as good as my 08 250 was.

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well now I can confirm that nothing will really help. I've swapped out most of the speakers and no difference whatsoever it is now evident that they have changed the head unit calibration on models 2011 and up and is a big bloody shame, just had an RX 270 courtesy car and it sounded way better and as you say my old 2008 IS-F sounded VERY good.It seems Lexus have upgraded the 2011 models but went backwards with audio big time. Go figure. Damn shame in a $100K plus car you get audio worse than in $15K KIA. Quite upset about this.

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OK so it seems I have found a solution, well a workaround I should say. So, since its the processor that is producing the poor sound quality and the speakers are just fine I thought it might need uncompromised external high quality audio and as it turns out it worked. Just got a new Sony Xperia phone today and while I was playing with it noticed it produces sound quality beyond any portable device I've experienced in the last couple of years (I am an audiophile, HTC or iPhone do not match it) so I went ahead and used gold plated cables to hook it up to the car and guess what the sound quality was miles ahead of that of the original CD discs in the car. Played with the settings on the phone and now finally it sounds as it should, I can now compare the experience to what I've recently heard in the RC-F, Only downside is I need to control the playlist via the phone and the volume needs to be high as the AUX input volume is low but that I can live with.

So the conclusion is if you hook up a VERY high quality external device chances are it will sound as it should. Shame Lexus did not optimize the head unit.

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Interesting....what kinda gold plated aux cables are you using? I've tried a few unsuccessfully but didn't think the top quality stuff would make any difference. I'll go buy em straight away based on what you're saying. Yeah, I know the mp3 file quality would have to be good. My Galaxy Note outputs well.

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using the cable that came with these: http://worldwide.bose.com/axa/en_au/web/quietcomfort_20i/page.html

The best money can buy. While the cables make a difference it is the quality of the input source that matters most. I've tested the latest HTC, Samsung and Apple products and none come close to the Sony. The reason is simple, three key features that put the Sony above the competition:

- proper manual sound equalizer. (not the preset unchangeable crap that we get these days such as in the IS-F)

- has a feature that upscales low quality files to beyond CD quality (I would say around Blu-Ray quality sound).

- has pre-calibrated headphone optimizations for many different types of headphones so you can pick the one that sounds best with your equipment.

Since the issue with car's processor is that it filters and processes any input you use except the AUX which is normally a "straight through" type hence the only way to have decent quality coming out of the speakers. But since there is no additional amplifier in the line the volume input is low so the need to crank up the volume and the quality entirely depends on the source which is why is extremely hard to have decent quality throughput.

Unfortunately I suspect you won't get the sort of quality with the Samsung device I am afraid as I've just tested the Samsung S6 but hope you prove me wrong.

I suspect a very high quality portable music player with manual equalizer would be the only option such as the new Xperia phones.

Also happy for you to listen to my setup if you are around.

I've heard there is a new BT streaming device for the IS-F so looking into that as well so can control the playlist through the steering buttons etc..

Hope this helps.

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  • 1 year later...

Ok old thread but what model Sony are you using, and has anyone had any success using any mini tablets cheers.  There are many different Sony xperia models.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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