If Acura has best Car Audio, which model is the best of the best? RDX? MDX? TLX?

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jwckauman

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The consensus on this forum is that Acura is the best at delivering high quality car audio, with it's famouse ELS lineup of audio solutions, right? If that is the case, does anyone have an opinion as to which model automobile is the best of the best? Between the RDX, MDX and TLX? They all seem to run the same ELS 3D Premium Audio system, so does it come down to speaker numbers, placement and positioning? Has anyone ever gotten to hear all three in recent models? and any thoughts on the MDX Type S with a whopping 25 speakers (IIRC)? Thank you! I am in the market for a new Acura, and sound system is a key criteria for choosing.
 

LennonCobain

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I don’t know if the Acura ELS audio system is necessarily the best, but I think you’d be hard to find a comparable system that essentially is a standard feature on all trim levels other than Base (which no one buys). Many other manufacturers offer premium audio systems that are typically very expensive options and/or only available on the highest trim level(s).

As an Acura owner, I can tell you that the ELS 3D system in my 2022 MDX A-spec is the best sounding system I have had in any Acura. I previously owned a 2019 RDX that also had the current ELS system (though it wasn’t the 3D version).

If you want an Acura, my advice is to prioritize the vehicle you want as opposed to buying a MDX over an RDX based on a suggestion that the audio will be better. Once you have settled on a particular model, then try to get the 3D version (which comes with higher trims) if your budget allows.
 

tarkusnj

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I have a question for those of you that have an OEM DVD-Audio system in their car. I started using the Panasonic CQ-DVR909U about 20 years ago then switched to the JVC KD-AVX33 and 38 in multiple cars. Does anyone have the part numbers for Acura head units and the compatible displays? I was wondering if I could ever install that in my car. I installed a JVC unit in a friends Audi TT around 2010 and that was a real bitch. It took me quite a while to get BOSE documentation on the unit to allow me to properly connect the wires to the JVC harness. The reason I am looking into the Acura models is the JVC is getting more difficult to obtain. I am not sure the Acura system is as versatile as the JVC but I need a back-up for when my last JVC bites the dust. I have a separate JL Audio XD600/6v2 6-channel amp with four component speakers for fronts and rears, two 12-inch subs and a center channel speaker that I made using a Mark Audio 5 full range speaker. It sits on my dash facing straight ahead. I have installed the JVC in about 6 different cars and had a few spares but foolishly sold them...new in the box...on eBay about 7 years ago.
So what Acura unit could I use? Unlocking the unit would not be a problem...I hope!
Thanks
 

LennonCobain

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I have a question for those of you that have an OEM DVD-Audio system in their car. I started using the Panasonic CQ-DVR909U about 20 years ago then switched to the JVC KD-AVX33 and 38 in multiple cars. Does anyone have the part numbers for Acura head units and the compatible displays? I was wondering if I could ever install that in my car. I installed a JVC unit in a friends Audi TT around 2010 and that was a real bitch. It took me quite a while to get BOSE documentation on the unit to allow me to properly connect the wires to the JVC harness. The reason I am looking into the Acura models is the JVC is getting more difficult to obtain. I am not sure the Acura system is as versatile as the JVC but I need a back-up for when my last JVC bites the dust. I have a separate JL Audio XD600/6v2 6-channel amp with four component speakers for fronts and rears, two 12-inch subs and a center channel speaker that I made using a Mark Audio 5 full range speaker. It sits on my dash facing straight ahead. I have installed the JVC in about 6 different cars and had a few spares but foolishly sold them...new in the box...on eBay about 7 years ago.
So what Acura unit could I use? Unlocking the unit would not be a problem...I hope!
Thanks
You can probably find OEM part numbers on a variety of websites that sell auto parts. For example:
 

tarkusnj

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I have looked parts but I am confused as far as which year models were DVD-Audio capable and also most sold on eBay for example are sold as two parts-the head unit and display are separated so I would have to match them up. The head units are surprisingly cheap. I want to know which year is the preferred model of I can get feedback.
Thanks
 

Bob Romano

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I don’t know if the Acura ELS audio system is necessarily the best, but I think you’d be hard to find a comparable system that essentially is a standard feature on all trim levels other than Base (which no one buys). Many other manufacturers offer premium audio systems that are typically very expensive options and/or only available on the highest trim level(s).

As an Acura owner, I can tell you that the ELS 3D system in my 2022 MDX A-spec is the best sounding system I have had in any Acura. I previously owned a 2019 RDX that also had the current ELS system (though it wasn’t the 3D version).

If you want an Acura, my advice is to prioritize the vehicle you want as opposed to buying a MDX over an RDX based on a suggestion that the audio will be better. Once you have settled on a particular model, then try to get the 3D version (which comes with higher trims) if your budget allows.
I would agree that the sound system in the 2022 RDX is the best I have ever had in any of my cars and i have been with Acura since the first DVD-A system in 2004. I had a 2017 RDX which I traded for the 2020 and most recently the 2022 Advanced package. It has the ELS 3d system and it sounds amazing. I thought I would miss having discs in the car but it is no issue with a 1TB SSD drive. My only beef with the system is that it is not gapless. The delay between tracks is slight but still noticeable when playing Live stuff or Dark Side Of The Moon etc.
 

Bob Romano

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The consensus on this forum is that Acura is the best at delivering high quality car audio, with it's famouse ELS lineup of audio solutions, right? If that is the case, does anyone have an opinion as to which model automobile is the best of the best? Between the RDX, MDX and TLX? They all seem to run the same ELS 3D Premium Audio system, so does it come down to speaker numbers, placement and positioning? Has anyone ever gotten to hear all three in recent models? and any thoughts on the MDX Type S with a whopping 25 speakers (IIRC)? Thank you! I am in the market for a new Acura, and sound system is a key criteria for choosing.
I think the reason for 25 speakers is due to the amount of room inside the MDX. Not sure that it would give you any better sound than the 16 that comes with the RDX but, then again, I haven't driven one. I know that it is quite a bit more expensive then the RDX though.
 

LennonCobain

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@tarkusnj Acura phased out DVD-Audio playback after 2015 model year in most cases. You might be better served finding the most compatible unit/display rather than seeking the “best” year and model as that is very subjective. You should also consider the age of the unit and display and may want to consider the most recent ones.
 

ddahl44

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The consensus on this forum is that Acura is the best at delivering high quality car audio, with it's famouse ELS lineup of audio solutions, right? If that is the case, does anyone have an opinion as to which model automobile is the best of the best? Between the RDX, MDX and TLX? They all seem to run the same ELS 3D Premium Audio system, so does it come down to speaker numbers, placement and positioning? Has anyone ever gotten to hear all three in recent models? and any thoughts on the MDX Type S with a whopping 25 speakers (IIRC)? Thank you! I am in the market for a new Acura, and sound system is a key criteria for choosing.
I would suggest taking in a flash drive to the Acura dealership and listening yourself if the sound is the only deciding factor between the three. I chose the ‘21 TLX because I have a pickup for rare snow days, towing and hauling. I have an hour round trip commute so sedan drivability obviated looking at the RDX or MDX. The sound is fantastic.
 
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tonyE

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....

As an Acura owner, I can tell you that the ELS 3D system in my 2022 MDX A-spec is the best sounding system I have had in any Acura. I previously owned a 2019 RDX that also had the current ELS system (though it wasn’t the 3D version).
...

I dunno, but that Krell system in the RoLeX was extremelly good sounding.

After that, I'd have to give dibs to the 8150 rpm redline of our 94 GSR. VTEC switched in at 4400 rpm, great... but THEN, at 6000 rpm ( or so ) the short intake tracts opened up and it was a mad rush to the redline. That powertrain hit redline on all five gears! You want a subwoofer? Heck, I had a B18C1 sub woofer, woofer, mid range, tweeter, four channels, eight channels, seat massager, you name it. I think that car had a CD player... I honestly don't remember, and I put like 75K miles in that car. ;-)

You want to hear audio.. how about the day I decided to see how fast she'd go, on an empty interstate, hit 137 mph and then simultaneously the CHP officer by the side of the freeway and yours truly saw each other. I didn't get a ticket, didn't get pulled over, very long story... Let me tell ya, I was sweating in that car at 55 mph on cruise control for many miles with the CHP cruiser sitting on my tail, just waiting for me to do 56.

I was a'swearin' n'a'sweatin' n'a'cursin' in full surround mode.

Oh, the TSX Tech wagons DVD-A had really good sounding audio. I liked the fact the rear speakers were up in "pods" at the top of the D pillars. So, they imaged extremely well. They threw a very good stereo signal and did surround quite well, at least from the front seat.

One of the things I've always noticed with ELS systems is that you can crank them to 40. You know, while the Lexus and Benzes only go to 35, the Acuras go to 40.

You know, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? Put it up to FORTY.

Oohh... like the first time I actually drove our TLX SH-AWD Tech. We'd had the car for two weeks but it spent most of its time in the shop getting the factory defective NAVI replaced. We picked up the car on Thursday and on Friday we went on a 3000 mile Xmas trip. Anyhow, I learned how to drive SH-AWD that night around a very rainy and foggy Mount Shasta. I was tired and entered a turn a bit "too" fast. Aw Shit. I swore we were gonna eat that concrete barrier, but, heck, I had this fancy SH-AWD and I had READ about it... so, I figured I had nothing to lose... no brakes... give it gas.. steer..... Up the mountain I learned how to drive it.

I was singing the praises of the SH-AWD in full surround.. My wife never knew, I think she slept most of the drive.
 
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HomerJAU

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Why would you limit your car the DVD-Audio playback.

The newer Acura, Audi etc models can play multichannel FLAC. You can rip any of your discs to FLAC. Now you can play surround content from your: DVD-A, SACD, BDA, DTS- CD discs and legacy LP and Tape conversions.

You can fit 500 albums onto a usb drive. You couldn’t fit 100 DVD-As into your glove box or find one you want to play from your boot while driving :)
 

tonyE

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I got rid of my DVD-A.

Yep, yours truly, who has kept faithfully the 4000 LPs, 200 Laserdiscs ( about to sell the 700 CDs though )... got rid of the DVD-A.

I even had the full blown recording set up so I could make audio DVD-As from the 24/96 recordings I've been making from my LPs.

Now then, I don't do FLAC. I've been doing WAV (audio) and MP4 (video) even though there is no metadata for WAV.

I have Tidal HiFi... and a 512GB flash card in my phones and tablets. That pretty much stores way more than 400 downloaded 'master' quality files. So, I use Android Auto to play them back. I know, it's not quad, but I enable the front center channel and tilt the image forward so I get a reasonable soundstate across the dash.

Besides, given the sad state of auto manufacturing, we've had the same cars now for 3 and 4 years. Normally we swap them every two years. The audio in the Passport Elite is OK. Comparing to ELS... it's like comparing a good 70s Sansui set up to a modern Pass Class A amp. The Sansui is OK, it does OK, the Pass is awesome. But neither of them is Bose! :p
 

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Why would you limit your car the DVD-Audio playback.

The newer Acura, Audi etc models can play multichannel FLAC. You can rip any of your discs to FLAC. Now you can play surround content from your: DVD-A, SACD, BDA, DTS- CD discs and legacy LP and Tape conversions.

You can fit 500 albums onto a usb drive. You couldn’t fit 100 DVD-As into your glove box or find one you want to play from your boot while driving :)
I was so done with having 100 DTS CDs in my Acura. I finally gave in and am listening to 5.1 in a lossy format (that's all the 2015 TLX will support for files), but at least it was a quality source and it's multi channel and there is enough road noise and old age that it doesn't matter.
 

Infomas

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Oohh... like the first time I actually drove our TLX SH-AWD Tech. We'd had the car for two weeks but it spent most of its time in the shop getting the factory defective NAVI replaced. We picked up the car on Thursday and on Friday we went on a 3000 mile Xmas trip. Anyhow, I learned how to drive SH-AWD that night around a very rainy and foggy Mount Shasta. I was tired and entered a turn a bit "too" fast. Aw Shit. I swore we were gonna eat that concrete barrier, but, heck, I had this fancy SH-AWD and I had READ about it... so, I figured I had nothing to lose... no brakes... give it gas.. steer..... Up the mountain I learned how to drive it.

I was singing the praises of the SH-AWD in full surround.. My wife never knew, I think she slept most of the drive.
I took a drive with my new 2015 TLX with SH-AWD from So Cal to Denver back in 2015. I didn't think about having to go through Aspen in May. The snow disabled all of the high tech monitoring and lane control stuff, but the TLX handled the snow like a dream... And I was blasting Kamasi Washington as I flew through there. Memorable!
 

tonyE

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I took a drive with my new 2015 TLX with SH-AWD from So Cal to Denver back in 2015. I didn't think about having to go through Aspen in May. The snow disabled all of the high tech monitoring and lane control stuff, but the TLX handled the snow like a dream... And I was blasting Kamasi Washington as I flew through there. Memorable!

You know, SH-AWD and iVTM4 are the same system nowadays, the main difference being that the Acuras are more rear biased for a sportier feel, while the Hondas are more FWD biased.

After our RDXs ( non SH-AWD ) we went to a RL and Passport. IMHO, in bad weather, snow, ice, rain, mud, etc... both versions work equally well, only in the dry does something like the TLX sport tuning shine through. Being lower and more RWD tuned, in dry weather it's flat out amazing. The only fly in the ointment, as in all V6 Hondas with the doggone AT9, it's the 4th to 5th gear dog clutch that screws it up... on a downshift you get a bit of freewheeling in lieu of the expected to get some engine braking.

Audio?

Yeah, the Acuras shine, rain or shine.

BTW, the first gen RLX, and the first two years of the TL SH-AWD had the all mechanical SH-AWD with a planetary gear, instead of the north/south clutch. Consequently it can drive almost all torque back ( instead of just 70%) and it can do it forever, whereas the clutch can only do it so long since it heats up. The Holy Grail Acura is the TL SH-AWD 6MT Tech. It was listed as a model but they didn't make many. It was worse than our 93 Vigor 5MT LS which took us a month to find in all of North America, which is remarkable as the Vigor was made in Japan while the TL was made in Ohio.

The '12 TLX SH-AWD 6MT is an honorable mention, except I disliked that bucktooth grill. A hated it, actually. Even as it had a better stereo.

Speaking of the Vigor. Did you know that the Vigor GS had a five channel surround set up? It used a center speaker at the base of the rear view mirror as the front channel. It synthesized the surround system since it only had a stereo cassette and AM/FM radio. Unfortunately, there were NO 5MT GS cars in North America, so we had to do with the one and only available Vigor 5MT, an LS.
 
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marpow

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Ahh, try this. Sorry, just had to. I built my own 5.1 quite good.
IMG_1533.jpg
 

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The only fly in the ointment, as in all V6 Hondas with the doggone AT9, it's the 4th to 5th gear dog clutch that screws it up... on a downshift you get a bit of freewheeling in lieu of the expected to get some engine braking.
The ONLY thing the bugs me about my TLX is that damn transmission. If I'm on the freeway and stuck behind a slow car, when I punch the accelerator and don't use the paddle to change gears, I can change the CD, adjust my mirror, take a shot of tequila, kiss my wife, give her a shot of tequila (maybe not in that order), put the tequila back in the trunk and the transmission still hasn't figured out what gear I should be in.
 

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I have no idea what an Acura is ; they don't exist here and from the demographic raving about them I assume they are a US only thing .

All I can say , from the perspective of someone who has spent a lifetime almost exclusively with Mercedes-Benz is that 'our' cars always had decent audio , all the way from my 1957 Ponton , which had an early self-seeking Becker valve radio , to my current W140 , which was the first car to have an audio system designed specifically for it by Bose .

Of course there have been high end car stereos for many years , and I still have three sets of Sony 'Mobile ES' systems which have been transplanted from one car to another down the years , along with amplifiers and speakers by Sony , JBL and others , speakers have included Kef Kar , and B&W automotive units .

For many years John Peel , the radio 2 dj , espoused that his Mercedes 190E 2.6 had the best acoustics of any car ever , and he kept his for many years , resolutely refusing to change it . I have also had three 190s , including a 2.6 and I had my Sony system with Kef speakers in mine - very fine it sounded too .

With the birth of my son in 2008 , the 190 wasn't big enough for all the baby paraphernalia , so I upgraded to a W126 500SEL ( I'd previously had a W116 , first generation S Class some years before ) and installed the Sony / KEF system in here ( with the bigger car there was space for two B139 units in the parcel shelf , using the boot as an infinite baffle enclosure , and I replaced all the original Blaupunkt speakers with a mixture of Kef Kar units and a couple of JBL +1 units , with the DSP , twin CDX-91 changers and a large JBL multi channel amp in the boot - that was a fine system .

I've had three W126s , countless W114/5 cars , W123s , W124s , W201s , R107 and R129 cars , up to the current W140 which still has the factory Bose speakers and amplifier ; I did replace the old Blaupunkt cassette/radio with a modern Sony CD unit with Bluetooth , but at some point I will rip it all out and put in one of my Mobile ES systems , unless I first get my hands on an XES system , which was Sony's flagship system .

I have also played with various Nakamichi and Alpine units , but I still rate the Sony CDX-910RDS as the best head unit ever .

MDX , incidentally , is the nomenclature for a Sony Minidisc car changer / head unit , such as MDX 4000RDS
 

soesbeout

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It's not MC but the 650W Rockford Fosgate Unit with 9 speakers and a factory SW has sounded good in my Eclipse Spyder.
 
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