2019 Acura RDX: ELS 3D Studio 5.1 Surround Audio System

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keywhiz

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I test drove a RDX sport edition yesterday. Pretty happy with the car! Handles nicely in the sport mode. Not a bad ride at all. Didn't get a chance to test out the surround really. I'll have to download some files to FLAC and go back for another test.

I told the salesman that while I was looking to upgrade my 2013 RAV4 to a more luxury model of SUV, I was interested in the RDX specifically because of the sound system. He told me there were only a few songs available in surround so far. I tried to explain to him that surround sound recordings have been available for years and that there are literally thousands of albums and tens of thousands of songs that could be played but with this new system, it was more a matter of converting what exists on hard disc to a format that can be played via a thumb drive. His eyes started to glaze over, I think. Or maybe they were just fogging up from the mask he was wearing lol.

At one point he offered to download some songs so I could hear it (I guess they have something available on line for the dealers to use for demo purposes?) But I declined as I was running out of time and I worried he wouldn't be able to figure it out quickly and told him I'd come back another time with my own music to play.
 

J. PUPSTER

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I test drove a RDX sport edition yesterday. Pretty happy with the car! Handles nicely in the sport mode. Not a bad ride at all. Didn't get a chance to test out the surround really. I'll have to download some files to FLAC and go back for another test.

I told the salesman that while I was looking to upgrade my 2013 RAV4 to a more luxury model of SUV, I was interested in the RDX specifically because of the sound system. He told me there were only a few songs available in surround so far. I tried to explain to him that surround sound recordings have been available for years and that there are literally thousands of albums and tens of thousands of songs that could be played but with this new system, it was more a matter of converting what exists on hard disc to a format that can be played via a thumb drive. His eyes started to glaze over, I think. Or maybe they were just fogging up from the mask he was wearing lol.

At one point he offered to download some songs so I could hear it (I guess they have something available on line for the dealers to use for demo purposes?) But I declined as I was running out of time and I worried he wouldn't be able to figure it out quickly and told him I'd come back another time with my own music to play.
Go back and blow his mind with great surround!
 

Royboy3955

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Jul 22, 2020
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Denton, Texas
FOLDER CONSTRUCTION AND PLAYLISTS

The system will recognize folders for artists and normal file structure. Here is a look at my current USB stick using Windows File Explorer (This is the top portion, you get the idea):

View attachment 34623

Once you layout your tunes, the system will read in the data and will automatically index the artists and the albums. You can search and select by touch pad, steering wheel or voice. The voice recognition is pretty impressive and it has always gotten stuff right. If I am listening to the radio and say

"Play USB Great Pagoda of Fun"

The radio will stop and within seconds I will be listening to Donald Fagen. Pretty cool.

As for playlists, they are pretty straight forward. The way I've been doing it is to have Foobar load my USB file structure, then create the playlist. Once it's done and saved to the root of my USB stick, I edit it to add the ".\" to the front of each line.

View attachment 34624


Here's an example of a few lines from my current playlist:

.\Dire Straits\Brothers in Arms\04-Your Latest trick.flac
.\Steely Dan\Countdown to Ecstasy QUAD\05-Show Biz Kids.flac
.\Donald Fagen\Morph the Cat\05 - The Great Pagoda of Fun.flac
.\Chicago\Chicago VII\07-Happy Man.flac
.\Elton John\Goodbye Yellow Brick Road DVD-A\01-Funeral-Love Lies Bleeding.flac
.\Porcupine Tree\Lightbulb Sun\04-Shesmovedon.flac


You get the idea. The system does have its quirks. I have had times where it plays the playlist the way I created it. I have also had times where it reads it in alphabetical order. Also, on occasion, if I scroll through my playlist and play a song, the following song will be the next song on that album - not the next song on the playlist!!! :eek:

It appears to be happiest when you start the playlist at the top and let it go. There must be some logic to this, but I have yet to figure it out. o_O



FINAL THOUGHTS FOR NOW

Well, first off, with HiRez (24/48) 5.1 audio that's mastered well, the system sounds incredible. If you put good stuff in, you hear good stuff. However, when you listen to SiriusXM, or regular radio, the system does not sound AS GOOD. It doesn't sound crappy, it's just that the HiRez 5.1 spoils you to the point where you don't want to listen to anything else.

There are "issues" inherent to a brand new system. Sometimes during playback the system will lose sync and the music will turn into a tone of some sort and move on to the next song. If you reverse to the same song again, it will play fine. It's not your file, it's the system. This can be jarring at times. (Fixed with a software update)

Also, if you are going to play 4.0 (Quadraphonic) material in the car, you have to add a silent Center and LFE channel or the system will not decode it properly. This adds time to your file creation. Another thing I've noticed and it does not happen very often, but with a Quad source file with empty C and LFE channels, on rare occasions the system will hiccup and lose either the fronts or the rear channel audio until the next song! This is really weird, but being the quad wacko I am, I kinda like it as I get to hear the remaining channels on their own which is always an interesting experience. When the next tune plays, it's back to all channels. (Fixed with a software update)

I am telling you it's not easy being a surround fan. Not only do we have to have access to the source material, now we have to have a digital workstation to convert that material to the very specific specifications in order to experience that material properly in the car. The average Joe and even the above average Joe is not going to leap through the hoops they would have to leap through to be able to hear what this car is capable of. Heck, they can't really buy much of the source material these days anyway!

So, how many Acura drivers will ever hear their ELS 3D systems the way they were meant to be heard? Well, I have to say even LESS than those out there today with DVD-Audio and DTS CD systems because at least with those systems there were discs that you could just pop in and play (even though hardly anyone did).

Since the ELS system debuted in 2004, there are probably MILLIONS and MILLIONS of 5.1 systems out there on the highways, driving around listening to podcasts, iPods, AM sports, SiriusXM, and every other kind of audio other than HiRez 5.1 sound. They just don't know what they have. Today's RDX drivers won't know either.

Only the .00000009% will go that extra mile to get the sound that's amazing. It's kind of sad, really. But, and there's a big but (but, not butt, stop it snood :) ) at least the ELS folks went the extra mile and maintained the 5.1 compatibility so wacko's like me can still enjoy real surround audio in the car, because face it - that's where I listen to the most music. I was spoiled back in 2004 with DVD-A in the car and I can't go back.

So, that's it for now. Post your findings and test drive results. Thanks for listening.
Hi, I am new to Els, but would love to try it. How do I get that type of music on a usb drive. I don’t have a demo disk, so is there a site I can download the 24/48 music files?
 

JonUrban

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Hi, I am new to Els, but would love to try it. How do I get that type of music on a usb drive. I don’t have a demo disk, so is there a site I can download the 24/48 music files?
You really can't buy it anywhere legit. The way we all do it for ourselves is to convert our purchased DVD-Audio, SACD and BluRay Audio discs, along with older quadraphonic records and tapes.

It's a sad story but I've tried to get places like HDTracks hooked up with major labels to do 5.1 downloads but there just is no interest in doing so. I can't understand why they just won't try with some can't miss titles.
 

Royboy3955

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Jul 22, 2020
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Denton, Texas
You really can't buy it anywhere legit. The way we all do it for ourselves is to convert our purchased DVD-Audio, SACD and BluRay Audio discs, along with older quadraphonic records and tapes.

It's a sad story but I've tried to get places like HDTracks hooked up with major labels to do 5.1 downloads but there just is no interest in doing so. I can't understand why they just won't try with some can't miss titles.
Thanks Jon for the information. I downloaded a program called dbpoweramp, then ripped a couple of dvds to flac and it works great in my car. Much better sound. I’m sure there are better music that I can rip, but at least I got my feet wet, so to speak. Thanks again for you come back!
 
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