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GlennA

Poor Quality Sound from THX Sound System

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I found on my 2010 with the THX system I have the base at -2 and the treble all the way up and the sound is pretty good. The problem I have is unacceptable radio reception to the point that I only use Serius or CD's. Anyone else have this problem?

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I don't have the THX system but, as far as FM reception I have issues with "some" HD stations but I'm sure that's due to the stations location. Otherwise the reception is fine.

 

I'm in the NY Metropolitan area (Westchester County) and you're way up in Dutchess County, so it could just be the stations in relation to your location. How is FM reception on your local stations if there are any nearby?

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Joe I am comparing this car to other cars I have and there is a big difference in the reception. Radio is basically unusable it is so poor.

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Michael,

 

I live in the Atlanta area and have absolutely no issues with reception on the radio (AM/FM/HDFM). We are about 45 minutes outside the city (most of the radio towers are located in the city proper). Compared to my former Audi A4, the MKz get's better reception in both the AM and FM bands. FYI.

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Window tinting can have an effect on radio reception... depending on the film that is used

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Hook up a portable DVD player to the system, buy a audio dvd disc and the sound will blow u away

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Believe me I've tried. Was so dissappointed I couldn't play a true surround source on my "THX 5.1 Surround System" I bought a portable dvd audio player (not a simple find cause a special codec is needed to access the advanced resolution surround layer of these discs. Anyway, it outputs 3 sets of RCA's so its not like us can just use the line out which is basically just for an mp3 player with a headphone jack. On my 15 Navigator the HD radio really does rock though.Plays much louder than the cd for some reason. The usb barely plays mp3 and I've tried the scandisk cause its used for the navigation. The system can sound pretty darn good in the front seat using cd or especially HD radio with the fader set midway between the second and first row, DSP on surround (to make use of the center channel). In the back doesn't sound too bad but not nearly as good so acoustics have been optimized for the front for sure. Lol...wouldn't be such a big deal if I hadn't been so deyermined to hear some damn surround music in my car. Unless scandisc supports Flac or wav files there is absolutely no way to play a true 5.1 source on the newer 5.1 surround systems. Ironic huh, if they had just kept the quality amplifier, jukebox, and dvd player and then added hd radio the system would be the best. Are you listening Lincoln? I want the system eveyone used to rave about. I want the system I thought I was buying based on your very own advertising!

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There is a setting for speed compensation that increases the volume when you accelerate so look at your sound settings. Try your hd radio and cd. Much better sound than XM which is highly compressed. Bluetooth audio isn't bad either.

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Does my 2010 MKZ with the THX system and dvd player receive HD radio?

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Does my 2010 MKZ with the THX system and dvd player receive HD radio?

No. Not available for 2010.

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I own the 2014 with THX and its by far the worse sounding system ever! The subs are a joke (non-existent) and the highs sharply just drop off short of the mark. Then you have to deal with a seriously unbalanced center speaker that is way too loud and has no tone quality what-so-ever. Poor design and poor sound quality. My Fusion has a stock low grade standard sterio and it sounds way better! So does the base stereo in the MKZ. THX system=downgrade from standard

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I own the 2014 with THX and its by far the worse sounding system ever! The subs are a joke (non-existent) and the highs sharply just drop off short of the mark. Then you have to deal with a seriously unbalanced center speaker that is way too loud and has no tone quality what-so-ever. Poor design and poor sound quality. My Fusion has a stock low grade standard sterio and it sounds way better! So does the base stereo in the MKZ. THX system=downgrade from standard

What source are you using for the audio? I have none of those issues when I play a CD or use USB High quality lossless WMA. I do see that issue when using Bluetooth audio/Sirius/or lower quality mp3's.

 

Not saying this is the case, but sometime a better sound system amplifies the crappy audio sources/mp3's we tend to use...

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I really don't get all the hate. Maybe I'm too young for this car, but I've never needed to go above half volume even with the pano open (my speed comp is on the highest however)

 

The Sirius radio sounds compressed and kinda crappy but the HD radio and CDs sound outstanding.

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I've decided my issue with the THX sound system is related to our 2013 MKZ having a Panoramic roof.  We drove a 2013 MKZ with the THX sound system but regular instead of Panoramic roof and it sounds much much better.  The bass is much deeper and sounds so much better (and even louder)  I don't know if they needed to use a different THX sound system in the vehicles with a Panoramic roof or it's just the way it sounds different because of the roof.  I know it sounds crazy but we had a chance to test it in a few different cars and IMO,  the Panoramic roof made the difference in the THX sound system.  Even the simple regular 2013 sound system sounds better (without Panoramic roof )  than the THX sound system with a  Panoramic roof!   

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First post here, and reviving an old thread, but this is why I came here.  I traded in my 2012 Lacrosse daily driver on a low-mileage MKZ Select (with the Panoramic roof preferred package) and I was extremely disappointed in the billion-speaker million-watt THX sound system.  I'm a big audiophile and as such, I know that an automobile is among the worst environments available to engineer a quality sound system for, but it can be done at least to the point where it sounds pleasing to the ear.  The MKZ is not one such example.  Granted, i'm coming from the Buick Harman Kardon system which, to date, is hands down the best system i've ever heard in an automobile (and this includes Cadillac, BMW, Lexus, Infinity, and Porsche which all have pricey "premium" audio), however I never expected the MKZ's system to compare to that HK system.  Even with lowered expectations, i'm extremely disappointed.  It's unacceptable for it to be this bad.  The 4-speaker "monsoon" system in my 1996 Grand Prix had better sound quality.

 

Objectively - the crossover frequencies are far too high and the EQ is lacking enough range and resolution to fix anything.  As a result, you can't adjust bass without seriously muddying the midrange and you can't help ANYTHING by adjusting the treble.  Basically the treble adjustment is there to temper the insanely harsh metal-dome tweeters.  Currently I have the midrange setting all the way up with the treble at 0 and the bass at roughly +2.  This has gotten me to a point where it sounds like there is a thin pillow over the speakers (as opposed to a pile of feather pillows...or perhaps listening with the tweeters half-submerged).  There is just enough bass for some punch, but if I turn up the bass any higher those feather pillows come back, and if I turn down the midrange or turn up the treble the tweeters take knives to my ears.  

 

This system needs fabric-dome tweeters and at least a 5-band EQ with 2x the range (even more would be best).  Hopefully with a 5-band they could get the dividing frequencies closer to ideal.  I'm going to be looking into aftermarket options.

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TheRaven, I enjoyed reading your post.  My expectations are pretty low for car audio systems to the point I should probably just wear ear plugs that block road noise. When arriving at a gig, I find that my ears are fatigued from highway driving, even with the radio off.

 

Back to the topic, I agree that audio systems can sound "slow" (inadequately damped), or muddy. For 10 years, I have field tested pro-level bass guitar amplification gear for a well-known company that prove proper engineering and calibration is possible. In contrast, consumer grade amplifiers are voiced to sound "loud" which to my ears is bassy, boomy, or boxy.  Large concert venues bother me. I imagine auto interiors suffer from wave cancellation and such.

 

Our 2015 MKZ was just acquired so it will be a few days before we can play with the THX....or not :-D

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Progress!!

 

So i've been researching using everything I can find on this sound system.  Not surprisingly, complaints are plenty, so I knew that if I searched enough, I would find other audiophiles who chose to do something about this system.  I found a hint in one driver's evaluation where he said it sounded like the center channel level was just too high.  Then I evaluated same on my own system and realized that it did indeed seem as though the center channel was overpowering everything.  This was reinforced by the fact that as I faded the sound to the rear, it started to sound better. 

 

So I decided to take a look at what lays under that trapezoidal grille.  Turns out theres actually an array of speakers under there.  two 2.5" drivers and what appears to be a tactile transducer of sorts...all this covered by a heavy gauge steel plate?  Tough to wrap my mind around this design - take two low-quality, tiny speakers, cover them with a steel plate, and expect good sound?  Perhaps there is some magic here but it's tough for me to see.  I decided to test my hunch and simply disconnect the whole mess.  So after taking apart the entire center section of the dash, I was able to access the wire harness and disconnect the speaker.  Guess what?  MAJOR improvement.  I rebalanced the system (ended up with fader at -2) and re-tuned using the crappy EQ, and I now have passable sound!  It's still very meh for what is billed as a super-high-end system, but it's at least meeting modern standards.  I can live with this.

 

The next issue that I plan to tackle is the super-harsh metal-dome tweeters.  I'm not positive the issue lies completely with the tweeters themselves, but swapping them for fabric dome units with better range can only help.  Then I will find out if there is in fact an underlying crossover issue.  

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