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Mark Levinson With Is 250


mvinceable
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I recently purchased a 2011 Lexus IS 250 with the Mark Levinson option (factory ordered as the option wasn't available in stock). I've had the vehicle for about a month now and from listening to various audio sources (CD, SAT, FM, USB) I noticed that sound is biased towards the center+right channels, even though the balance setting is at exactly center. Does anyone know whether this is normal?

Since the ML option has a real physical center channel in the middle of the dash, I figured maybe if I sat in the front right passenger side, then I should hear the opposite with bias towards the center+left channels instead. That wasn't the case. While sitting in the front passenger side, sound seemed perfectly balanced between the right door and center channel.

From reading various topics on the internet, I'm thinking my left front channel is out of phase, causing it to be less audible when all the speakers are producing sound. So what I did was bring it in to Lexus for service and all they were able to tell me after looking at it for a couple of hours is that since all the channels are producing sound (which they are, technically), then there's nothing they can do. They can't go in and rewire, since that's how it came from the factory. They even advised I take it to a third party audio shop to take a look, or even try rewiring it myself!

One of the reasons I chose to order this audio-upgrade from the factory rather than aftermarket was the convenience of having Lexus honor its warranty should anything be wrong, but it seems like this situation is an exception. Anyone know how I should proceed with this? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

By the way, during the couple of hours Lexus had my vehicle for service I was given a loaner vehicle with the stock audio (non-ML) configuration. I listened to the same sources on the loaner vehicle and noticed that there were no balance issues, confirming my suspicion of balance or phase issues on my vehicle.

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That's a very interesting problem, and a new one. Never heard of it before.

When you talk about phasing and wiring problems, I am guessing you mean the reversal of the polarity to the speakers on the drivers side. Correct? That would seem to be a stretch given that all the audio system wiring is prefabricated harnesses. It would seem unlikely that such a harness with plug-in ends would be able to get mixed up in such a way that it would cause the phasing problem. BUT, anythings possible.

I do not have the ML in my 2010 ES, but in my 07' S80 VOLVO I have the premium DYnAudio system.(IMO better than Bang & Olfsun). Part of the DYn system is the ability to move the center channel to either a driver bias or a passenger bias. Also the surround feature can make the sound seem out of sync. sometimes and I prefer to leave it off. I don't know if your ML has the Center control feature, but if you haven't already, pour over your manual and check it out.

Don't give up! If the dealer can't help you, tell them to get someone in from Lexus tech support who can. If they want you to go to a third party, make sure you get a letter from them, on their letterhead, stating that this is their instruction and it will not interfere with the original warranty.

Paul

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Good point about the harnessing. Are the wires harnessed on both ends?

The Lexus does have full balance control (left-right-front-back) but it applies to all speakers, so any changes to it affects the volume of all the speakers. Any deviation from center causes the speakers it's moving away from to become quieter, and moving toward to sound louder. When I try to compensate the balance issues by moving the balance setting toward the driver, the surround experience sounds reduced and the sound on the passenger side is affected. Hence, I like to keep the setting at exactly center.

I'll try to talk to Lexus some more. Thanks for your help.

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Good point about the harnessing. Are the wires harnessed on both ends?

The Lexus does have full balance control (left-right-front-back) but it applies to all speakers, so any changes to it affects the volume of all the speakers. Any deviation from center causes the speakers it's moving away from to become quieter, and moving toward to sound louder. When I try to compensate the balance issues by moving the balance setting toward the driver, the surround experience sounds reduced and the sound on the passenger side is affected. Hence, I like to keep the setting at exactly center.

I'll try to talk to Lexus some more. Thanks for your help.

The wiring harness,(a bundle of wires) is bundled together at both ends. A plug end is used to snap on to the connections of the speakers in the doors, etc.

My 10' ES has the same balance capabilities as yours. If I understand you correctly, your listening with the surround feature on. Try listening with the surround feature off.

The dealer should be able to contact Lexus tech support by phone initially, and then in person if needed.

Let us know how you come out.

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Good point about the harnessing. Are the wires harnessed on both ends?

The Lexus does have full balance control (left-right-front-back) but it applies to all speakers, so any changes to it affects the volume of all the speakers. Any deviation from center causes the speakers it's moving away from to become quieter, and moving toward to sound louder. When I try to compensate the balance issues by moving the balance setting toward the driver, the surround experience sounds reduced and the sound on the passenger side is affected. Hence, I like to keep the setting at exactly center.

I'll try to talk to Lexus some more. Thanks for your help.

The wiring harness,(a bundle of wires) is bundled together at both ends. A plug end is used to snap on to the connections of the speakers in the doors, etc.

My 10' ES has the same balance capabilities as yours. If I understand you correctly, your listening with the surround feature on. Try listening with the surround feature off.

The dealer should be able to contact Lexus tech support by phone initially, and then in person if needed.

Let us know how you come out.

The sound-position-bias exists whether or not I have the "Surround" option enabled. I tried listening from various positions. In all cases (driver, front passenger, rear left, rear middle, rear right), sound was biased toward the front right.

What's interesting is, when the channels are outputted individually (using a DVD-Audio with a 5.1 channel test, for example), then they all sound of equal volume.

That's why I think either there are phase issues or ML is somehow wired to sound differently when using Stereo sources. I'm thinking of going to the dealer to listen to the ML in an ES model (since it's nearly impossible to find one in an IS) and compare. For now, I have my balance setting 2 ticks left and 2 ticks back to try to compensate for the imbalance.

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This week I was in the dealers showroom, and I sat in an ES with ML, and played around with the controls. After messing around for a while and trying different combinations, I came to the same conclusion that you have. Something has to be wrong with your system. The balance and fade controls are so easy it would be pretty hard to set them wrong.

Let us know what you find out.

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