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2019 Acura RDX - USB 5.1? VERIFIED!!

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JonUrban

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I know it's probably hard to compare, but would you say equal or better than the same DVD-As in your previous Acuras?
I would definitely be considering one of these but my 2-year-old Tesla Model 3 reservation finally got activated and I bit the bullet and got the 3. Great car for driving and my first EV experience.
But soundwise it's OK. There is something called "Immersive" sound that can be turned up to high for streaming music, but I wish Mr. Musk was a true 5.1 aficionado...
Maybe I can talk my wife into an RDX in a year or two. Or maybe Acura will add the USB 5.1 to all their models.
Tesla Model 3 is cool! Very cool!

I have to say first off that the ELS 3D Studio system in the 2019 RDX completely and utterly blows away the DTS-CD system in the last generation of Acura's. I was so saddened by the shitty sound in my last RDX that I honestly thought about trading it in on a low mileage RDX with the DVD-A system still installed. But this new ELS system takes the cake, I believe, even over those older DVD-A systems. Even though the current limit is 24/48, the 700+ Watts of power through the 16 speakers is pretty impressive. I still am not sure how the 5 channels are distributed among the 16 speakers, but test files play perfectly so whatever they are doing is working. Like I said elsewhere, I have been living with a "Gaucho/Two Against Nature/Everything Must Go/The Nightfly/Kamakiriad/Morph the Cat" USB stick ripped from my DVD-A's, and everyone that hears it has thought it sounded great. What gets them every time is the solo cymbal in the intro of Babylon Sisters that comes from the rears. I can't tell you how many people have gone "I've never heard that cymbal before.

The next generation TLX will have this system as will the new MDX. This will be in most of the Acura's going forward. The good thing is that even the lower level ELS system will play the 5.1 USB sticks, so you don't need the ELS 3D system for 5.1.

Anyway, enjoy the Tesla Model 3. It's a very cool machine.
 

johnrd

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It was quite a few years ago, but I think the original prototype for Tesla actually featured a JVC branded DVD-A unit in the dash.
 

JonUrban

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Do you know what filesystems are acceptable? It's fairly easy with SoX to simultaneously merge multiple FLACs into a single WAV while also downrezzing. The catch is that the resulting files may still be bigger than 2GB, which will mess you up if the USB stick needs to be formatted as FAT32 (which is common).

Here's hoping they aren't limitations of the chip(s).

When I get a chance, I'll see if I can put together a Windows script together for you or anyone else who needs it. I've got one that works under Linux, but I know that only helps weirdos like me.
Yes, the USB's must be FAT32 but I think I tried extFAT32 and it worked in my early testing but I will verify that this week. I believe extFAT32 will take bigger files.
 

atrocity

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Yes, the USB's must be FAT32 but I think I tried extFAT32 and it worked in my early testing but I will verify that this week. I believe extFAT32 will take bigger files.
Looks like you're right about exFAT: http://www.ntfs.com/exfat-comparison.htm.

Here's a script that runs from the Windows command line. It's not especially elegant, but it works:

Code:
ECHO OFF

rem - Create a sorted list of FLAC files and output to a new text file
dir /B *.flac | sort > tmpFile.txt

rem - Make sure FileList starts off empty
set "FileList="

rem - Create a list of quoted file names
for /F "usebackq delims=" %%A in (tmpFile.txt) DO (call :concat ^"%%A^")

rem - Write the list to the screen for visual validation
echo %FileList%

rem - Pass the list of files to SoX to create a single concatenated WAV file
"C:\Program Files (x86)\sox-14.4.2\sox.exe" %FileList% --norm=-3 -r 48000 -b 24 FullAlbum.wav dither

rem - Delete the no longer needed text output file
del tmpFile.txt

:concat
set FileList=%FileList% %1
goto :eof
You shouldn't need to install anything new other than SoX (free!), which can be found at http://sox.sourceforge.net/. Be sure to get 14.4.2 because the prior Windows release didn't understand FLAC.

To use it:

1. Copy the code above into a plain text file and save it with a ".bat" extension, e.g., "FullAlbum.bat" or whatever you like.

2. Edit the text between the quotes in the "C:\Program Files (x86)..." line to reflect where you installed SoX. Alternatively, just install SoX in the same directory the script already references.

3. Open a Windows command line.

4. Browse to the folder containing the album you wish to process.

5. Execute the script by typing its name and hitting Enter. You'll probably also have to fully qualify it with the disk and directory name, unless you saved it somewhere that's already in your PATH. e.g. "C:\Users\Jon\Documents\FullAlbum.bat"

It'll probably take a couple minutes, but you'll wind up with a 48k WAV file named FullAlbum.wav. Of course, you can change the script to call the output file anything you want. Or you could even add a step to prompt you to input an output file name at run time. If you want a different sampling rate, just change "48000" to whatever you need.

Oh, yeah, very important: The script assumes that your FLACs are named in such a way that they sort in playback order! I assume most of us do that. When you run the script, it will show you the files in the order that it's merging them so you can verify that it's what you want.

I tested this with Anne Murray's DVD-A, which is apparently loud enough that I got a warning about clipped samples and a suggestion that I lower the volume. The "--norm=-3" parameter reduces the volume, but if you don't feel you need it you can delete it. Or if you use it consistently, it should effectively act as ReplayGain. "-3" may be more than necessary, I only used it because a local community radio station I occasionally help uses that value for all their files.

Lastly, I prefer using batch/script files like this because I just have to figure the gibberish out once, then I can revert to ignorance and blissfully use it forever. But if you'd rather use a GUI application, Foobar2000's convert feature will also allow you to do the same thing as this script. It's just a lot more clicking and more steps to remember...with the advantage that it probably makes a lot more sense while you're doing it.

If Lexus fixes the FLAC issue but (as I suspect will be the case) can't fix gapless playback, all you'll need to do is change the output file extension in the script, that is, where it now says "FullAlbum.wav", just change it to "FullAlbum.flac" and SoX will do the right thing.

Nerd rant: Doing this same thing in Linux requires a mere four lines.
 

JonUrban

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So let me get this straight, because I am old and a little confused.

So I can take, say, the 10 .flac files that make up an album. Tag them with the track/title/artist/graphic info, then run them through the directions above and the result will be a single wav file that will include all of that data and be recognized as a wav file by the system in the car?

o_O
 

atrocity

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So let me get this straight, because I am old and a little confused.

So I can take, say, the 10 .flac files that make up an album. Tag them with the track/title/artist/graphic info, then run them through the directions above and the result will be a single wav file that will include all of that data and be recognized as a wav file by the system in the car?

o_O
Because there's no universal standard for WAV tagging, the track/title/artist/graphic unfortunately won't transfer over. But you will get a single WAV file at 48k that the car will theoretically recognize. As long as the original files are named sequentially, the big output file will have all the songs in the correct order.

If Acura fixes the FLAC issue but you still need to use this technique for albums like "Love", then yes, a few minor modifications to the script would allow tagging and art. Sadly, you still wouldn't get individual track titles because the entire album would be a single file. Well, unless the system accepts cue sheets, but that seems like a real stretch.

I was thinking earlier that the script could also be modified to add dummy channels to 4.0 material if you need to do that some day.

I was trying to make it as execute-and-forget as possible, but maybe it would be better to have it ask questions so you could easily select the output file name, format (FLAC/WAV), sample rate, channels, whatever.
 

LennonCobain

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If the new ELS Studio system will support playlist files like .m3u, then perhaps it will also support .cue files. Theoretically this should result in gapless playback of a single large WAV or FLAC file.

For my current 2016 RDX, I had created a DTS CD of The Beatles - Love exporting the entire album as a single DTS WAV file and burning to disc using a .cue file. However, there are still slight gaps during playback.
 

jamesc

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Mar 29, 2015
Messages
15
Important news for members testing the car. I have discovered why I was so confused the first time I tried a USB in a dealer demo.

The 5.1 files MUST BE 24/48 to play properly. If you use a 24/96 5.1 .wav file, it will play alright, but it will sound like crap. Why? Because in the system as the files are downsampled the rear channels are merged with the fronts!! I put a bunch of files on a USB stick and could not figure out why some sounded good and others not so much. Then "Year of the Cat" came on and that tune starts out totally in the rears for the first minute or two. But the piano was coming from the front of my car! I thought maybe I saved it as a 4CH file, not a 6CH file, and that was the issue, but I checked that file in Sound Forge and it was a 6CH file with empty center and LFE channels. Then I saw that it was 24/96.

I then created the two attached files and proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. If anyone tries the car, or gets one, download this little zip file. It contains 2 wav files, one 24/96 the other 24/48. It's got a dude identifying each channel with his voice. The rest is self explanatory.

HERE IS THE ZIP FILE (Right Click and 'Save Link As')
Jon, so glad you got your new RDX! That A-Spec is so sharp looking compared to the Advance model.

You're describing the same behavior I saw when I was testing various files at the local unveiling last month. I only had 24/96 5.1 files and they would play back but in stereo, not surround. The system seems to be pretty picky about file type but glad you cracked the code!

I test drove a Tech model last week and brought an updated FAT32 USB stick along to test the system. I can confirm that the base ELS system found in the Tech will decode 24/48 5.1 wav files discreetly and it sounded excellent. It also played back stereo 24/96 flac files just fine. I know it was displaying album art with some of the files but I wasn't paying attention to which ones. MP3tag is an excellent piece of free software that will tag wav files, including album art but I'm not sure if the ELS will be able to read it. I can upload a sample tagged 5.1 file if you'd like to test but you should check out MP3tag if you haven't seen it already: https://www.mp3tag.de/en/ It works with every audio file type I've thrown at it.

I'm in the same boat as elroy and unexpectedly received the email for my Model 3 reservation so I'm debating what to do but looking forward to your full review.
 

JonUrban

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James,

I do have, and did try, MP3tag on the wav files. The car doesn't see that info though.

I have an ongoing dialog with the ELS folks over at their FB page (and I hate FB) as they are still claiming that 5.1 .flac's work, so there must be a disconnect somewhere.
I was waiting for this resolution before I did the thread on the system but I may just do it anyway this weekend.

Don't let my review sway you from a Telsa 3. I saw one in a parking lot cruising around today and it was sweeet! :)
 

Marplot

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Because there's no universal standard for WAV tagging, the track/title/artist/graphic unfortunately won't transfer over. But you will get a single WAV file at 48k that the car will theoretically recognize. As long as the original files are named sequentially, the big output file will have all the songs in the correct order.

I was trying to make it as execute-and-forget as possible, but maybe it would be better to have it ask questions so you could easily select the output file name, format (FLAC/WAV), sample rate, channels, whatever.
Or have the 48k, 24bit, wav be default and accept command line arguments that allow you to override them.
 

jamesc

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James,

I do have, and did try, MP3tag on the wav files. The car doesn't see that info though.

I have an ongoing dialog with the ELS folks over at their FB page (and I hate FB) as they are still claiming that 5.1 .flac's work, so there must be a disconnect somewhere.
I was waiting for this resolution before I did the thread on the system but I may just do it anyway this weekend.

Don't let my review sway you from a Telsa 3. I saw one in a parking lot cruising around today and it was sweeet! :)
Ah cool, I figured you've used MP3tag before. That's disappointing but hopefully the ELS team can sort out the little bugs. Honestly, I'm thrilled it has the ability to play lossless 5.1 files... the rest is just icing on the cake!

I finally got to see the Model 3 in person today. There was a local meetup group that had an event so I got to check out several. Very sharp looking! Didn't get to check out the stereo but it's supposed to be pretty decent sounding. The RDX would be more practical for me and ELS is what brought me back to Acura and the first gen RDX but the Tesla is very tempting too.
 

atrocity

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Or have the 48k, 24bit, wav be default and accept command line arguments that allow you to override them.
That's a good idea. Would also be nice if it could analyze the input file, report how many channels it currently has and ask how many the user would like in the output. If I get time, I'll take a shot at it, though I'm currently in day three of an annoying partial electricity loss I'm trying to pin down.
 

LennonCobain

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I went to my Acura dealer this morning for service and brought a USB drive to test out the new ELS Studio system in the 2019 RDX. The dealer only had Tech trim models in stock (12 speakers, no A-Spec or Advance models with 16 speakers).

The Tech trim does playback in discrete 5.1 surround. The system was unable to playback any 5.1 FLAC files (although the track with album art and tags did appear), but did playback 2.0 FLAC files. The system also played 5.1 WAV files, but did not display album art or tags.

The 5.1 FLAC files were a mix of 16/44, 24/44, and 24/48 to see if any would work. Hopefully Acura provides an over the air software update soon to fix this issue.

The album art and tags from FLAC look fantastic and results in the WAV files looking like eyesores on that nice display.
 

JonUrban

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I tried every type of 5.1 .flac I could create and none played. The people on the ELS site claim they play, so maybe there is a software disconnect where the first cars do not have the same software as the systems in their labs. I have an ongoing (sorta) communication with them, so time will tell.
 

atrocity

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I tried every type of 5.1 .flac I could create and none played. The people on the ELS site claim they play, so maybe there is a software disconnect where the first cars do not have the same software as the systems in their labs. I have an ongoing (sorta) communication with them, so time will tell.
You've probably mentioned this already, but this thread has now gone to ten pages, so I'm going to be lazy and ask: What do you use to create your FLAC files? If it's not the official FLAC encoder from the format's inventor, you might give it a try: https://xiph.org/flac/download.html.

I seriously doubt it will make a difference in practice, but it might prevent them from trying to say "It's something weird you did!" I've read complaints about some encoders not always working in every situation, but I've never experienced that myself and am not sure it's actually A Thing.

One thing I did briefly experience with the Logitech Squeezebox until a firmware update fixed it was bad performance on FLACs created at the best compression settings. The workaround was to go no higher than 5, but that was years ago.

A simple command to use the simplest compression would be:
Code:
flac -0 --verify "Some File.wav"
You don't even really need the "--verify", it's just a nice-to-have that does exactly what it sounds like: Verifies that the FLAC file that's created is good. You also don't need to quote the input WAV file unless it has embedded spaces.
 

JonUrban

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You've probably mentioned this already, but this thread has now gone to ten pages, so I'm going to be lazy and ask: What do you use to create your FLAC files? If it's not the official FLAC encoder from the format's inventor, you might give it a try: https://xiph.org/flac/download.html.

I seriously doubt it will make a difference in practice, but it might prevent them from trying to say "It's something weird you did!" I've read complaints about some encoders not always working in every situation, but I've never experienced that myself and am not sure it's actually A Thing.

One thing I did briefly experience with the Logitech Squeezebox until a firmware update fixed it was bad performance on FLACs created at the best compression settings. The workaround was to go no higher than 5, but that was years ago.

A simple command to use the simplest compression would be:
Code:
flac -0 --verify "Some File.wav"
You don't even really need the "--verify", it's just a nice-to-have that does exactly what it sounds like: Verifies that the FLAC file that's created is good. You also don't need to quote the input WAV file unless it has embedded spaces.
You've probably mentioned this already, but this thread has now gone to ten pages, so I'm going to be lazy and ask: What do you use to create your FLAC files? If it's not the official FLAC encoder from the format's inventor, you might give it a try: https://xiph.org/flac/download.html.

I seriously doubt it will make a difference in practice, but it might prevent them from trying to say "It's something weird you did!" I've read complaints about some encoders not always working in every situation, but I've never experienced that myself and am not sure it's actually A Thing.

One thing I did briefly experience with the Logitech Squeezebox until a firmware update fixed it was bad performance on FLACs created at the best compression settings. The workaround was to go no higher than 5, but that was years ago.

A simple command to use the simplest compression would be:
Code:
flac -0 --verify "Some File.wav"
You don't even really need the "--verify", it's just a nice-to-have that does exactly what it sounds like: Verifies that the FLAC file that's created is good. You also don't need to quote the input WAV file unless it has embedded spaces.
You are a GENIUS!! After digesting this post, I tried to download the official windows .flac thing, but it was giving me errors, so I went back to Foobar, set the compression to ZERO, added the tags and all, and went down to the car expecting another failure, then BOOM!!

IT WORKED!! 5.1 24/48 .flac playing in the car with the album graphic and information!!! Unreal! ELS was right, they just did not give us the specs needed for the file. Zero compression is fine with me, I can always buy more USB sticks. Having the graphics and album data just finishes it all off so nicely.

THANKS!!!! Now I can do my write-up/review!
America 1.jpg
America 2.jpg
 
Last edited:

LennonCobain

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Very much looking forward to more details. Curious about things like playlists, etc.

FLAC playback (or lack there of) is disappointing. Maybe the system is particular about the compression level used?

WAV files can supposedly be tagged using certain software. I’ve not tried it myself.
Looks like I was on the right path regarding compression. Now I can buy the RDX without worries! Thanks Jon for the update.
 
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