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THX II 5.1 Audio System in the Lincoln MKS Review

February 9, 2010 By Geoffrey Morrison

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Lincoln MKS
Lincoln MKS THX II 5.1 Audio Interface and center speaker
Lincoln MKS THX II 5.1 Audio Interface and center speaker
Lincoln MKS THX II Audio System, trunk mounted subwoofer
Lincoln MKS THX II Audio System, A-Piller tweeter and dash-mounted mid-range

Sync Sounds

I don't drive big cars. Hate them. In my book, if a car's going to weigh 4,300 pounds it better have a second car sitting on top of it.

And despite all that, I was sad to see the MKS go. It's a fantastic ride, mostly due to the THX sound system and, gasp, Microsoft's Sync.

I'll spare you most of my thoughts on the car itself, as I'm sure you're more interested in how the audio sounds, how Sync works and so on. If you want read me indulging in my inner car reviewer, I put all that on page 2.

Lincoln MKS


THX and Ford have been working together for some time now, and like high-end car audio on a whole, each generation keeps getting better. It's as if with each new model THX can get a little better placement, a bit better drivers (the audio kind), and a little more concession from the car engineers as to weight, power, and so on.

Lincoln MKS Center StackThe result in the 2010 MKX is a 16 speaker audio system with 600 watts of power. You get a slot speaker in the center dash, mid-range drivers in the dashboard up by the windows, and tweeters in the A-pillars. The doors and rear parcel shelf have mid-range/woofers. That same shelf holds a 10-inch woofer.

Sound quality is outstanding. It's better balanced than other high-end car audio systems I've heard. At any volume, all the frequencies come through with none of the coloration you may expect from a car environment. At highway speeds this is also true, though I found on louder roads (concrete and such) I would have liked a little more volume.

Bass response is tight and controlled, with no boominess. Perhaps even better is how deep it goes while retaining its composure. Playing some organ music, the pedal tones were strong, never overwhelming, and most impressively, it didn't rattle anything or bottom out at high volumes.

The surround sound aspect was less pronounced than I've heard before, which isn't really a big deal in my book. Enabled, it spreads the sound more across the front soundstage, creating a better stereo effect than it did in "stereo" mode. That soundstage is centered mid-dashboard. Many car audio systems have the soundstage below the dash or above it, which is unnatural in my book.

While my testing was mostly with my iPod and CDs (there's a 6-CD changer in dash), you can also hook up via Bluetooth to your phone and any music there, as well as an internal 10-GB hard drive. Not a ton of storage capacity, but certainly enough for your favorite driving discs. It even plays DVD-Audio, and DVDs if you're parked.

Not surprisingly, THX has designed an excellent audio system definitely worth the upgrade money. Not sure why you have to get the nav system with it, but so it goes.

Lincoln MKS THX II Audio System, A-Piller tweeter and dash-mounted mid-range


As great as the audio system is in itself, it is only part of the story. Microsoft and Ford developed Sync, and if that isn't enough to have you terrified, I don't know what is. Other's have made this joke before, but blue screen of death has a whole new level of meaning when you're driving at 80 miles an hour. And while it's not perfect, it is nothing short of awesome.

It goes something like this. Plug your iPod in via the USB slot in the center armrest. After a few moments, the THX II/Sync system registers it. Now you set off, and you think of a song you want to hear. Every other car would make you scroll through your 5000 songs or hundreds of artists. Not exactly what you should be doing when you're driving. With Sync, you press a button on the steering wheel and then you and your car have a little dialog:

DING "Please say a command."
DING "USB, please say a command."
"Play Track 'For Emma'"

And then it goes and plays the track. Simple right? The way every car should work, right? Absolutely. Once you get used to it (all of 60 seconds), you realize that every car, every device should work like this. It goes further, in all the ways you'd expect it to work. You can pick artists, switch to satellite radio, etc.

Lincoln MKS THX II 5.1 Audio Interface and center speaker

And then there's the navigation. Go though the same process, just saying "Navigation" instead of "USB." Then it prompts you for the address where you're going. Pretty much every aspect of the car is available via voice prompts, and while it is often slower to do some tasks via voice (like dialing in the temperature), it seems to be safer and orders of magnitude cooler.

But as I said, it's not perfect. Occasionally I'd have to repeat what I said, though not nearly as often as you'd expect. In the week I had the car, I had to repeat maybe four of five times, and usually it was me just not enunciating and it picking a track that sounded similar. My biggest problem was talking before the car was ready with its little DING chime. In reality, given that it's hearing my voice and without programming knowing what I'm saying, well I can't complain too much. I mean short of flying cars, that's just living in the future.

Talking to your car, and having it do what you ask, is such a delightful hybrid of KITT and Star Trek that I think the only way it could be nerded up any more is if it had a Mr. Fusion on the back. (Please note that coming from me, "nerded up" is a compliment, not a pejorative.)

In all seriousness, every car company should have a system like this.

And, for what it's worth, if any car company gets William Daniels to be the voice of their car, I'll buy it. Laugh all you want, you know you would too.

$2,500+Car ($41,270 for 3.7 N/A V6)
$3,500+Car ($48,160 for 3.5 Turbo V6) (Included in Navigation Package)

CONTACT: THX.com / Lincoln.com


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