Lexus ES Issues with 2019 Lexus ES 350 Stock Audio System

MAH

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The fader in my ES 350 is definitely not working. Neither is the surround on/off button. Like others, I can only hear sound coming from the front speakers. This is a DEFECT, not a design choice. The whole purpose of the fader is to allow the user to adjust the balance. If someone actually prefers to only hear the front speakers, then they can adjust the fader. Lexus may want you to think that this bias is by design, but that is ridiculous. If they really thought people only wanted to hear front speakers, why put in rear speakers???? What are they for -decoration?

I think everyone needs to keep calling Lexus and asking for a fix. Faders have been around a long time. How hard could it be to fix it?
 

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squeaky wheel is the only way if its an issue. Remember the RX hesitation issue, that started with one person, and Lexus eventually fixed it.
 
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Hi All, I'm about to lease a 2019 Lexus ES 350 and I saw this thread the night after my first test drive. I'm interested in the Mark Levinson system so I came armed today for my second test drive with a number of well recorded CDs to put the audio system through it's paces. After a small amount of adjustment (Treble -1, Mids -1 and Bass +1 with the fader set one click towards the rear) I found the system to sound quite good with the wide variety of music I played - even at high volume levels. Bass was pretty tight and went fairly deep, mids and highs were spacious, with good tonal quality that was relatively smooth and non-fatiguing. The system does have limits as far as volume as well as quantity and depth of bass response so it may fall short of the expectations of some listeners who listen to bass heavy music at high volumes. The system is certainly not the last word in resolution but it is relatively revealing so it will show the shortcomings of recordings that are not the best. The worse the recording the worse the system will sound (and vice versa). That is not a fault of the audio system so please don't blame the messenger. All in all, the Mark Levinson system does sound rather good and is worth the upgrade.

Just as a point of credibility: I have been a music lover, musician and audiophile all of my life and have been a professional in the audio industry for over forty years. For over thirty years I've been creating and designing high performance audio equipment for the company I own. My award winning products are sold in major retailers such as Audio Advisor, Guitar Center, Musician's Friend, Amazon, etc. as well as worldwide through our distributors. Of course, all of my comments above are my personal opinion and I do respect anyone else's opinion even if it differs from mine.
 
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MAH

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Did you happen to listen to the standard stereo too just see if you agree with what others are saying?
 
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Did you happen to listen to the standard stereo too just see if you agree with what others are saying?
I did not listen critically to the stock 10 speaker "Premium" system. I will bring my CDs to my next dealer visit and see if I can adjust the stock audio system to sound better than previous posters have described.
 
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I did not listen critically to the stock 10 speaker "Premium" system. I will bring my CDs to my next dealer visit and see if I can adjust the stock audio system to sound better than previous posters have described.
A lot of us are eagerly awaiting you putting the stock system thru the same paces and your informed opinion. For $900 extra, the ML should naturally have better sound output; however, the big issue with the stock system is balancing, side-to-side and front-to-back and the monoral sensation from the front center speaker. Looking forward to your comments.
 
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I did test drive an ES 350 that had the stock "Premium" stereo. I was listening more for road noise than the audio system so the volume was off for most of the test drive. I did casually listen to the stock stereo for a little bit on various on Sirius XM stations and did not say to myself "Wow, this isn't very good." so there may still be hope yet. :- ) I did notice that the fader did not operate the way most do and that fading all the way to the rear provided limited volume from the rear speakers. It's important to keep in mind however, that apparently Lexus places the rear speakers in the rear doors and not in the rear package shelf as most other cars do. That may account for people not finding the fader to work the way they've come to expect based on their previous experiences.

I also noticed that the image seemed to be placed right in front of me as though there was a speaker placed at that position on top of the dash. There also did not seem to be a lot of stereo separation or surround effect. Almost everything seemed to be coming from the spot directly in front of me. I'll try to determine where all ten speakers are placed in the cabin to verify all of these issues and then give my opinion of the Premium stereo system after my next test drive.
 
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I stopped by a Lexus dealer today for the sole purpose of evaluating the stock "Premium" sound system in the 2019 ES 350 and to see how well I could make it perform. Let me start by saying that in my humble opinion, the Premium system is definitely NOT a bad sounding car audio system. After adjusting the settings as best as possible I found the audio quality to have a number of rather positive sonic attributes although the system's design has limitations and several idiosyncrasies that can be challenging.

Settings: The best sound was achieved by adjusting the Treble -2, Mids -1 and Bass +1. On some recordings I could set the Treble to -1 but on other recordings there was too much treble so I settled on -2 overall. The Mids might have been a little better at -1.5 but you can only change by whole steps so -1 was the best compromise. The bass also might have been better at +1.5 (+2 seemed to be too much for most recordings) so +1 was the best compromise. The fader made the system sound best when set to three clicks towards the rear. When the fader is set to the center position there is far too much volume coming from the front compliment of speakers. It makes the system sound "aggressive" and restricts the ability of the system to exhibit adequate spatial (or surround) qualities. The further toward the rear you set the fader the more the spatial qualities of the system become evident. The problem is however, that every click towards the rear restricts the overall volume capability of the system to a greater degree. I found the best compromise to be -3 (three clicks toward the rear). This setting "opened up" the spatial qualities significantly and still provided adequate overall volume levels. Even so, the maximum volume level these settings provided did keep the system on the more "polite" side and I would think that the peak volume when set this way might not get loud enough for some listeners. Four or more clicks to the rear just seemed like there was too much volume restriction overall. It's possible that if I lived with system for a while the final settings might be slightly different.

Tonal Quality: With the above settings (Treble -2, Mids -1, Bass +1, Fader 3 clicks toward the rear) the system sounded fairly good to my ears. The mids and highs are not that "transparent" and can sound somewhat harsh, edgy and aggressive depending on the recording. Bass was okay. The system is not outstanding but I think it's pretty adequate.

The ten speaker positions seem to be:
Dash: Right, Left and Center = three
Front Doors: Low and high in each door = four
Rear Doors: High in each door = two
Subwoofer in the rear package shelf.

The complaints about the fader are probably (as I mentioned in my previous post) because people are used to hearing the mids and highs coming from the rear package shelf when fading toward the rear. The ES 350 rear mid/high speakers are instead placed in the upper forward part of the rear doors and the majority of their sound is blocked by the front seats when you're the driver or front passenger. It's possible that the high in the door positioning of the rear speakers is better for the rear passengers although I didn't sit in the back seat to check that. Additionally, the volume restrictions that occur when fading toward the rear can make using the fader frustrating for many listeners - especially if they are expecting it work similarly to other car stereo systems they've had in the past. Even with the above settings, the center image seemed to be optimized for the driver rather than for the front passenger as the image was primarily centered in front of the driver position as opposed to being somewhat more diffuse and in the center of the dash. I verified this by switching seats to the passenger side. I suspect there may some intentional manipulation of the phase aspects of the audio between the front center dash speaker and front driver's side dash speaker to provide this effect. It's also possible that the center dash speaker and driver's side dash speaker are angled somewhat inward toward each other so that their output converges at the driver's head position causing such a tight image.

All of the comments above are my opinion but I have extensive experience with high performance car audio having had many elaborate custom systems in my vehicles since the mid 1970s (Nakamichi, Rockford/Fosgate, A/D/S, Infinity, Alpine, Pioneer and many other top brands). Please let me know your thoughts and whether or not you agree with any of my findings.
 
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I stopped by a Lexus dealer today for the sole purpose of evaluating the stock "Premium" sound system in the 2019 ES 350 and to see how well I could make it perform. Let me start by saying that in my humble opinion, the Premium system is definitely NOT a bad sounding car audio system. After adjusting the settings as best as possible I found the audio quality to have a number of rather positive sonic attributes although the system's design has limitations and several idiosyncrasies that can be challenging.

Settings: The best sound was achieved by adjusting the Treble -2, Mids -1 and Bass +1. On some recordings I could set the Treble to -1 but on other recordings there was too much treble so I settled on -2 overall. The Mids might have been a little better at -1.5 but you can only change by whole steps so -1 was the best compromise. The bass also might have been better at +1.5 (+2 seemed to be too much for most recordings) so +1 was the best compromise. The fader made the system sound best when set to three clicks towards the rear. When the fader is set to the center position there is far too much volume coming from the front compliment of speakers. It makes the system sound "aggressive" and restricts the ability of the system to exhibit adequate spatial (or surround) qualities. The further toward the rear you set the fader the more the spatial qualities of the system become evident. The problem is however, that every click towards the rear restricts the overall volume capability of the system to a greater degree. I found the best compromise to be -3 (three clicks toward the rear). This setting "opened up" the spatial qualities significantly and still provided adequate overall volume levels. Even so, the maximum volume level these settings provided did keep the system on the more "polite" side and I would think that the peak volume when set this way might not get loud enough for some listeners. Four or more clicks to the rear just seemed like there was too much volume restriction overall. It's possible that if I lived with system for a while the final settings might be slightly different.

Tonal Quality: With the above settings (Treble -2, Mids -1, Bass +1, Fader 3 clicks toward the rear) the system sounded fairly good to my ears. The mids and highs are not that "transparent" and can sound somewhat harsh, edgy and aggressive depending on the recording. Bass was okay. The system is not outstanding but I think it's pretty adequate.

The ten speaker positions seem to be:
Dash: Right, Left and Center = three
Front Doors: Low and high in each door = four
Rear Doors: High in each door = two
Subwoofer in the rear package shelf.

The complaints about the fader are probably (as I mentioned in my previous post) because people are used to hearing the mids and highs coming from the rear package shelf when fading toward the rear. The ES 350 rear mid/high speakers are instead placed in the upper forward part of the rear doors and the majority of their sound is blocked by the front seats when you're the driver or front passenger. It's possible that the high in the door positioning of the rear speakers is better for the rear passengers although I didn't sit in the back seat to check that. Additionally, the volume restrictions that occur when fading toward the rear can make using the fader frustrating for many listeners - especially if they are expecting it work similarly to other car stereo systems they've had in the past. Even with the above settings, the center image seemed to be optimized for the driver rather than for the front passenger as the image was primarily centered in front of the driver position as opposed to being somewhat more diffuse and in the center of the dash. I verified this by switching seats to the passenger side. I suspect there may some intentional manipulation of the phase aspects of the audio between the front center dash speaker and front driver's side dash speaker to provide this effect. It's also possible that the center dash speaker and driver's side dash speaker are angled somewhat inward toward each other so that their output converges at the driver's head position causing such a tight image.

All of the comments above are my opinion but I have extensive experience with high performance car audio having had many elaborate custom systems in my vehicles since the mid 1970s (Nakamichi, Rockford/Fosgate, A/D/S, Infinity, Alpine, Pioneer and many other top brands). Please let me know your thoughts and whether or not you agree with any of my findings.
Sounds like speaker placement may be the main issue here rather than something electronic in the amp or fader. I was hoping that some electrical component could be swapped out to solve the problem for current owners and 2020 models. As for repositioning the speakers, that is likely a tooling issue on rear panels and adjusting the wiring harness to new lengths. Lexus has known about the complaint for long enough since 2018 to make repositioning corrections for the 2020 models. But for existing 2019 owners, it looks like the only practical remedy available is to tweak the direction of speakers (shimming?) or utilize more efficient speakers to overcome the obstacles arising from initial placement.

I wonder if Lexus might consider making the base system 17 speakers to correct the problem and utilizing the same interior panels. This would eliminate having to stock two sets of panels to accommodate each system.
 
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Sounds like speaker placement may be the main issue here rather than something electronic in the amp or fader. I was hoping that some electrical component could be swapped out to solve the problem for current owners and 2020 models. As for repositioning the speakers, that is likely a tooling issue on rear panels and adjusting the wiring harness to new lengths. Lexus has known about the complaint for long enough since 2018 to make repositioning corrections for the 2020 models. But for existing 2019 owners, it looks like the only practical remedy available is to tweak the direction of speakers (shimming?) or utilize more efficient speakers to overcome the obstacles arising from initial placement.

I wonder if Lexus might consider making the base system 17 speakers to correct the problem and utilizing the same interior panels. This would eliminate having to stock two sets of panels to accommodate each system.
It may be possible for Lexus to change how the power is distributed so that the fader does not cut the rear volume so drastically. That alone would probably offset many of the issues.

Current owners may be able to have an after-market amplifier wired in-line with the rear door speakers to increase their volume output. That may be a relatively inexpensive fix depending on the amp and ease of installation.

An even more elaborate alternative would be to have speakers added to the rear package shelf and it would be best if those speakers would have an additional dedicated amplifier with a gain adjustment so they can be dialed in properly to the rest of the system. Unfortunately, it would not be that inexpensive considering the cost of the speakers, amp and installation.

After-market solutions may void the Lexus warranty.
 
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The ten speaker positions seem to be:
Dash: Right, Left and Center = three
Front Doors: Low and high in each door = four
Rear Doors: High in each door = two
Subwoofer in the rear package shelf.
Hi everyone

(Sorry for my english, I'm not native.)

The speakers positions are, as I could see in my euro unit:
Dash Right and left: 2 mids + two twitters (4 speakes)
Dash center : 1 mids (1 speaker)
Front door: two bass speaker, without any mediums sounds coming from those. (2 speakers)
Rear doors: two mids 9cm with only a very few power for those (2 speakers)
1 subwoofer in the rear self (1 speaker)
Total 10 speakers.

So what is terrible wrong with this setup, under my opinion?

Those speakers setup is similar as a home cinema 5.1. But this system can't play any kind of multichannel format like DOLBY / DTS etc. Only pure stereo CDs, MP3 and FLAC files (i've tried it).
Center dash speaker reduce a lot the stereo feeling. I don't know who this system could extract a "center" image from a stereo font without embarrasing it.
Dash left and right speakers are not directed to the ears, but to the windshield, provoking reflections.
Front doors speakers only provide low bass. There are not any medium from those speakers. AND when you adjust the fader some to the rear, you reduce those bass speakers sound power too.
Rear doors speakers have only a very low powe ampr, and does not have any tweeter on its (verified!). Too I can't imagine how in the hell the sound system could extract a "rear sound" from the stereo sound to those "pseudo rear speakers".

As I say before, I'm electronic engineer, whit some experience in sound systems (not as profesional ). I am making some measurements with my technical equipment (oscilloscope, audio generator, calibrated microphone, ROLAND sound card, + REW software). My first findings after some measures confirm my suspects: See this graphic, taken from my own car:

There are not good deep bass sound ( only from 70/80 Hz ) , (Where is that "great" subwoofer?????)
And the highs fall tremendously from 8 Khz, although adjusting the high tones do not correct it. Possibly because tweeters are not good, nor their position.
There are some valleys here and there (ok, it's a car). But result are not bad in mids. So someones find this system as "sound enough goog for me"
And this is only from the band pass perspective. No any other analisis here, like stereo separation, distortion etc.
PS: I believe that Lexus originally design was to put a 5.1 sound system here, but last (when doors pannels, chasis, cabling etc are yet in production) they have reduced the car cost putting a stereo with a "pseudo" 5.1 that does not run at all.
And as I could see the audio system is PANASONIC, and speakers are PIONEER. So this confirm too my theory.
 
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Hi Rigarba,

Thank you for measuring the Premium audio system. I do agree that Lexus could have done a better job with the design and architecture of the system. At the very least, they could have more fully explained their design philosophy of attempting to create more of a "Home Theater" experience rather than a "Car Stereo" experience to their salespeople and customers so that there would be somewhat less confusion and frustration all the way around.

I would make a general comment about speaker measurements: Trying to accurately measure the acoustic response of a system in a small environment such as a car's interior is not as straightforward as it may seem. There are so many reflections (off of both hard and soft surfaces) of the speaker's primary wave launch that often significant amounts of gating or windowing may be required for a meaningful result. In addition, the low frequency wavelengths are physically much longer than the acoustic space available inside the vehicle. If you look at some of John Atkinson's speaker measurements in Stereophile magazine for example, the low frequency portion of the spectrum is measured separately and then the two graphs are spliced together as a composite for a full spectrum response graph. Your measurements may very well be showing the actual acoustic response of the system but that may explain why the bass response seems to drop off so rapidly in your graph. To my ears, the system does have response below 70 Hz.
 
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I know that measure any room, and specially a car, it's a very dificult task. I have done about 20 measures, changing mic position and orientation, adjusting bass/treble/highs, and all measures reflect a similar behaviour. I could provide some .mdat REW files if anybody have interest.
Really BASS are not bad at all, (we have 3 bass speakers here!) but lacks a "punch" that you feel on other cars with or without subwoofer. I'm 54, so my ears can't listen those bass frecuencies, I believe ;-).

The Y axys division in my graph are 5dB each. ( is writed on it). Click to see it in detail.

A question to everybody: It's posible to take access to some technical manual or electrical schematic for this car?
 
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Today I picked up my new 2019 ES 350 Ultra Luxury with the Navigation / Mark Levinson system. Wow - what a beautiful vehicle!

I just took a drive and experimented with more audio settings. At the moment, I've set Treble -2, Mids -1, Bass 0, Fader -3 (3 steps to the rear). I was only listening to various stations on Sirius XM. Even though I don't normally listen to the "Pitbull" channel, I must say, I heard some impressive low end coming from the system when I had the volume set from 40 - 44 depending on the song. Other channels sounded good as well and the difference in recordings was apparent. Some recordings sounded quite good and others not as much. It's a positive attribute that the system lets you hear the variations in recording quality.

I found as I backed off the Treble and Mids I could play the system at higher volume levels before things would get too harsh or edgy. This allowed the bass to be more prominent overall which I thought put things in better balance. I do believe that an audio system needs to be played for fifty or more hours at higher volumes before it "breaks in" and I'm hoping some of the forwardness I'm hearing will be greatly reduced when that happens. Things are sounding pretty good now, though.
 
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This thread is about the standard sound system with 10 speakers. Of course the "Mark Levinson" will sound better, mainly because they have a better arrangement of the doors speakers.
And I don't think that ever exist a "break on period" in any audio system. This is an extended belief among audiophiles. There is nothing that can be adapted or improved with use in an audio system. The only thing is that the ear gets used to the different sound with time.
In other forum I have seen that in US you could download and update the software version of the sound system by your own, and that there are a new software version for the panasonic audio system from April 2019. I have downladed it but its not valid for my european version.
@Barryadko, As your car is the most newest: What software version do you have in your car? You could see it in "config"
Mine have this version
 
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Under Setup / General / Software Update it did show:
3406

The system is set to automatically update.
My vehicle has a manufacturing date of 4-19.
Interestingly, I have only a Surround on or off setting. In a tutorial video there was Surround 1 and Surround 2 available. It's possible the video was from an LS model, not an ES.
 
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I just had a "pre-production" amplifier put in my 2019 ES by the dealership. They are working on a fix. The new amp makes it 100% better--I can now hear some sound from the rear speakers without the fader being set all the way to the back and turning off the front ones. It's not perfect, nor even great, but better. I have provided my feedback to the dealership and I think they are working on a fix. Now, I believe the speakers may also need to be upgraded--they likely weren't designed to have any power delivered to them, and I can tell there's not much depth to the sound--certainly not on par with the sound from the front. No, they will never admit there's a problem, but they are apparently listening to customer feedback/complaints, because they aren't doing this just for me!
Thanks for this info.
 
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