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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well , I am biting the bullet and puttting in a sub-stantial upgrade to my premium stereo. I really like the CT200h but even the premium stereo is just so-so . My wife's Prius has better stereo, my son's Acura TL has better stereo. The Optima hybrid at the auto-show had better stereo. What is the deal with Lexus? Maybe the ML version would have been okay, but it is not available in the states.

I am getting amps and speakers to improve my sound at a high end car audio dealer.

Just put in LED fog lights; they are awesome. Be careful on the brands, some will not fit. One recommended in this forum is too big http://www.ebay.com/itm/2-Pcs-Car-H...=140547481904&ps=63&clkid=5516453939273110653
 

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What brand did you use for your LED Fogs?
 

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SMD led's are dirt cheap on eBay. I suggest not paying high prices for a name brand.
They are just as likely to fail prematurely as a no name brand. I say this from
Personal experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
What brand did you use for your LED Fogs?
I went with 96 SMD HID Xenon White H11 H8 H9 LED Driving Lamps Fog Lights Bulbs $45.99 LEDs are long life especailly the light emmitting diodes. What typically fails is the physical infrastructure: solder joints, constuction or the resistors. There is a difference in quality. I bought some 120 SMD lights from China on an eBay special for less than $10, but they were very poor constuction and even though sold as H11 were too large to fit in the refector hole; one broke trying to install, got a refund. Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

My only issue with my LED fogs is they are so white,I "might" have to replace my 4300K HID headlights with 6000K because now the 4300K and LED running lights look a little yellowish when the fogs are on. :rolleyes:
 

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I am sure you will be pleased with the audio upgrade. Before I bought my CT last month, I researched the audio option and decided the Premium Audio wasnt worth the $1100, so I choose the base audio and applied the $$$ to an upgrade at my local installer. No regrets on that decision at all!!

The stock head unit was retained, but two amps were added....one specifically for the subwoofer and the second for an Alpine midrange and tweeter to replace the 6x9 in the front door. The dash speakers and rear door speakers were retained with the OEM amplifier. An 8 inch sub was placed in the spare tire area. The car appears perfectly stock, except for a small volume control for the subwoofer located under the steering collumn.

The clarity and dynamics of the sound is now what one would expect from a "premium" sound system. Voices are much more clear (even on AM talk radio there is a profound difference) and the high end is distinct and clear without an electronic buzz that existed before. No, I don't listen to rap, but the low end from acoustic instruments now is present without being overbearing. The factory dash speakers and rear door speakers, powered by the factory amp, sound horrible so we adjusted the gain on the new amps and faded out the factory speakers.

Let us know how yours worked out, but I am sure you will be pleased. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
emejay,

Very pleased with my upgrade, now the sound is phenomenal. Concerning premium, it is a prerequisite for any features at all and I wanted Nav.

Installed Hertz HSK 163.4 3 way system, JL Audio HD750/1 amplifier.

I replaced the 3 dash speakers, front tweeters, front door speakers. This maintains a significant upgrade in the front sound clarity and presence and maintains timbre. The new speakers are 3-way and add significant deifintion and brightness. I left the rear speakers as is since the only provide presence to the sound stage. The rear subwoofer was retained but is now driven with signifcantly more power and with more bass is coming from the front sound plane the lower frequencies are noticable. Much more clarity in AM, FM news channels, and especially CDs. I dropped XM because their Nav Traffic analysis was worthless and they are price gougers.

Mark Levinson eat you heart out, my system is better :p
 

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midcow - Great news. Would you be able to share how much something like this cost you to do?
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Care to list what size the front seven speakers are? Also, what brand did you go with and how did they fit?
I had it installed and it took them 8 hours actual installation time. The speakers were from www.hertzaudiovideo.com, the 300W 3-way high energy HSK163 system which included the following:

Three Front Speakers (if you want really good sound you HAVE to replace these speakers) - 3 1/2" HL70 Neodymium REN cone midrange

Two Tweeters -1" HT Neodymium REN Tweeter.

Two Front Door Speakers ( original speakers 6 x 9) 6 1/2" HV 165L woofer DIN. Even though the front door speakers are large they are not placed well to provide good sounds; they are two low in the sound plane and off-axis.

The cross-over is at 500 hZ and 4.5KHz. The speakers are 4 ohmn and rated at 300 watts peak and 150 watts RMS. They are very high efficiency at 92 dB /SPL.

To answer Jimmy's question, the installation was very pricey, but well worth it to me. The two other cars they were working on were a Ferrari 360 and a Porsche 911. I would highly recommend this place for audio upgrade. if you are interested in very high quality audio. Check it out online at http://www.customcarstereo.com/
 

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I had it installed and it took them 8 hours actual installation time. The speakers were from www.hertzaudiovideo.com, the 300W 3-way high energy HSK163 system which included the following:

Three Front Speakers (if you want really good sound you HAVE to replace these speakers) - 3 1/2" HL70 Neodymium REN cone midrange

Two Tweeters -1" HT Neodymium REN Tweeter.

Two Front Door Speakers ( original speakers 6 x 9) 6 1/2" HV 165L woofer DIN. Even though the front door speakers are large they are not placed well to provide good sounds; they are two low in the sound plane and off-axis.

The cross-over is at 500 hZ and 4.5KHz. The speakers are 4 ohmn and rated at 300 watts peak and 150 watts RMS. They are very high efficiency at 92 dB /SPL.

To answer Jimmy's question, the installation was very pricey, but well worth it to me. The two other cars they were working on were a Ferrari 360 and a Porsche 911. I would highly recommend this place for audio upgrade. if you are interested in very high quality audio. Check it out online at Welcome to Custom Car Stereo!
Thank you, I appreciate the information.
 

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emejay, no chance you're located in socal are you? I would love to find an installer who has at least worked on one CT. Noticed that midcow's shop is in TX, one hell of a drive even in a mpg saver like the CT!
 

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emejay, no chance you're located in socal are you? I would love to find an installer who has at least worked on one CT. Noticed that midcow's shop is in TX, one hell of a drive even in a mpg saver like the CT!
Yep, I'm in OC. South County Mobile Electronics in San Clemente are the guys who did mine.
 

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I had it installed and it took them 8 hours actual installation time. The speakers were from www.hertzaudiovideo.com, the 300W 3-way high energy HSK163 system which included the following:

Three Front Speakers (if you want really good sound you HAVE to replace these speakers) - 3 1/2" HL70 Neodymium REN cone midrange

Two Tweeters -1" HT Neodymium REN Tweeter.

Two Front Door Speakers ( original speakers 6 x 9) 6 1/2" HV 165L woofer DIN. http://www.customcarstereo.com/
No, um, actually, you don't have to replace the stock 3-ways. Simply adding a quality subwoofer and amp to the premium system does the trick.

I've got old school CDT Audio 3-way seperates and a Zapco 7 channel amp sitting in the garage from a previous vehicle. If there were even one erg of improved SQ, they'd be in there at literally no cost.

But augmenting the 'Premium' system with a JL Audio 10w6 & Arc Audio 500.1 is really all that's needed.

(Note: My audiophile pedigree only goes back about 30 years. Current HT system is a Sherwood Newcastle P965 preamp w/Rotel 1077 7x100 all class D digital amplifier, Klipsch reference speakers all around, etc.). And one of my best buddies um, well, kinda, developed THX a few years back.)

YMMV
 

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I am sure you will be pleased with the audio upgrade. Before I bought my CT last month, I researched the audio option and decided the Premium Audio wasnt worth the $1100, so I choose the base audio and applied the $$$ to an upgrade at my local installer. No regrets on that decision at all!!

The stock head unit was retained, but two amps were added....one specifically for the subwoofer and the second for an Alpine midrange and tweeter to replace the 6x9 in the front door. The dash speakers and rear door speakers were retained with the OEM amplifier. An 8 inch sub was placed in the spare tire area. The car appears perfectly stock, except for a small volume control for the subwoofer located under the steering collumn.

The clarity and dynamics of the sound is now what one would expect from a "premium" sound system. Voices are much more clear (even on AM talk radio there is a profound difference) and the high end is distinct and clear without an electronic buzz that existed before. No, I don't listen to rap, but the low end from acoustic instruments now is present without being overbearing. The factory dash speakers and rear door speakers, powered by the factory amp, sound horrible so we adjusted the gain on the new amps and faded out the factory speakers.

Let us know how yours worked out, but I am sure you will be pleased. :)
Agreed, I sat in and tested the CT with the $1,000+ premium stereo upgrade and it wasn't worth the $1k in the diff between the base radio. Better off spending $1k at a an aftermarket shop with a good reputation that will do the job right. It will sound much better for the same $$.
 

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Agreed, I sat in and tested the CT with the $1,000+ premium stereo upgrade and it wasn't worth the $1k in the diff between the base radio. Better off spending $1k at a an aftermarket shop with a good reputation that will do the job right. It will sound much better for the same $$.
Pure speculation until you've listened to both, I have personally listened at length to the stock base system, stock premium system, premium system with a very powerful sub added, and a full aftermarket system. Jumped back to back from Premium + sub to full aftermarket and they're neck and neck.

Premium with proper sub is extremely close to full aftermarket, and can be done literally in minutes for far less money.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
sub is only part of the equation

Pure speculation until you've listened to both, I have personally listened at length to the stock base system, stock premium system, premium system with a very powerful sub added, and a full aftermarket system. Jumped back to back from Premium + sub to full aftermarket and they're neck and neck.

Premium with proper sub is extremely close to full aftermarket, and can be done literally in minutes for far less money.
I respectfully disagree. Yes, the premium sub is weak, but low frequency is only a small part of the equation.

Even the speakers in premium system are pretty cheap and do not have that good of audio quality. I kept the OEM premium speakers and if I get some time I took some close-up pictures of the OEM premium speakers which are posted below; then you can judge for yourself. I replaced the whole front plane with a lot higher quality speakers; the three front speakers, the two front tweeters and the two front door speakers.

I am pretty much of an Audiophile as reflected by my home theater system, Definitive Technology 7002 front Towers, Definitive Technology 3000 C/L/R center, four Definitive Technology UIW PB/A ceiling surround speakers SVS PB12-PLUS Subwoofer, Marantz SR8002 Receiver/ Amplifier, Pioneer Elite PRO-151FD 60" plasma monitor.

Pictures of the OEM Premium CT200h speakers

front dash speaker:



side view front dash speaker:


3 front dash speakers:



front door speaker:



front door speakers:



front tweeter:



front tweeter:






 

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I respectfully disagree. Yes, the premium sub is weak, but low frequency is only a small part of the equation.

Even the speakers in premium system are pretty cheap and do not have that good of audio quality. I kept the OEM premium speakers and if I get some time I took some close-up pictures of the OEM premium speakers which are posted below; then you can judge for yourself. I replaced the whole front plane with a lot higher quality speakers; the three front speakers, the two front tweeters and the two front door speakers.

I am pretty much of an Audiophile as reflected by my home theater system, Definitive Technology 7002 front Towers, Definitive Technology 3000 C/L/R center, four Definitive Technology UIW PB/A ceiling surround speakers SVS PB12-PLUS Subwoofer, Marantz SR8002 Receiver/ Amplifier, Pioneer Elite PRO-151FD 60" plasma monitor.
Again, I say without actually listening to a 'Premium Audio' system augmented with a proper subwoofer, anything else is speculation.

Even if the 'Premium' speakers LOOK cheap, this doesn't equate to poor SQ. The ML guys got a hold of this car, and produced some pretty darned epic tweet/mid/midbass speakers coupled with their class-D amplifier. I don't think they really cared about 'looks' for speakers hidden behind grills, they spent their time/money on quality. But there are severe space limitations in the CT200h, as I'm sure everyone is aware of. They didn't have room to put in a 'proper' sub/amp, and did the best with what they had to work with, with what Lexus let them have.

Again, anyone who hasn't listened to the 'Premium Audio' system with a solid sub, you should take a listen, before dropping thousands of dollars needlessly.

No speculation, just experience. Judge for yourself. Nothing is better than your own ears with your own music. I've invited EVERYONE to come listen to my system and not one person has been less than amazed. (From CT200h owners to musicians, Alastair Greene, lead guitar with The Alan Parsons' Project, Lawson Rollins, epic spanish guitarist, using HIS music, Jeff, a friend who has worked for Dolby Labs for 20+ years and well, kinda helped develop THX, if these guys don't know audio, who does?)

Car Audiophile pedrigree: 1979 Toyota Corolla, purchased for $275. Soundstream D200 Mark II amp feeding 4xAVI 8" subs in a sealed enclosure, Alpine 7909 head unit, Nakamichi 3-ways in the doors). $275 car with over $3,000 in audio.

1988 Mazda RX-7, Trust exhaust, migrated most of the Toyota system over to this vehicle.

1993 Mazda RX-7 twin turbo w/400hp, migrated over the D200s, Alpine 7909 (still epic to this day), the Naks, 'upgraded' to a Soundstream 12" sub.

I've done system after system in every performance car on the planet, from that lowly '78 Corolla to my old 700hp 2002 Corvette Z06. And to be honest, the 'Premium System' augmented with a proper 10" sub and amplifier is more than enough for 99 percent of folks, everyone but the 1 percent.

If the 'Premium Audio' plus subwoofer doesn't float you're boat, well, then, add more.

I go with Colin Chapman, add lightness, then simplicate.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
I'm thinking of doing the same - I moved from NYC to Sugarland and don't know who to have do the upgrade.
Great idea. The original Premium speakers are pretty weak in sound quality and midrange and bass capability. The premium subwoofer is okay but not great. The solution is not to add another subwoofer,; this just masks the problem. First step is to add amplifiers; the current speakers are under driven. The next step is to replace the current speakers with higher quality. The key to good sound is high quality speakers with the proper amount of amplification. Just putting a solid sub with the existing premium speakers is not even a good first step; subwoofers are way, way overrated. The premium speakers will sound better with more amplification; the stock Ct200h premium amplification is barely adequate. The next step is to get some better speakers with better frequency response in the mid-range and bass. Once you have proper amplification, you should invest the majority of your money in speakers. You should maintain timbre in the front plane, especially if you listen to news and talk stations. There is a difference in quality of speakers; you typically get what you pay for. Now finally , as a last step look at the subwoofer; remember a subwoofer is only for the lower bass frequencies. typical the crossover is around 100 Hz. Yes, if you turn up the gain on subwoofer, you can feel the vibrations which is sometimes falsely equated with good music. A better step than replacing the sub, is to put a couple of co-axial speakers in the front doors; this will provide better midrange and bass response. I challenge anyone's system against an unbiased third party sound test; my system will blow the others away.
 

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Great idea. The original Premium speakers are pretty weak in sound quality and midrange and bass capability. The premium subwoofer is okay but not great. The solution is not to add another subwoofer,; this just masks the problem. First step is to add amplifiers; the current speakers are under driven. The next step is to replace the current speakers with higher quality. The key to good sound is high quality speakers with the proper amount of amplification. Just putting a solid sub with the existing premium speakers is not even a good first step; subwoofers are way, way overrated. The premium speakers will sound better with more amplification; the stock Ct200h premium amplification is barely adequate. The next step is to get some better speakers with better frequency response in the mid-range and bass. Once you have proper amplification, you should invest the majority of your money in speakers. You should maintain timbre in the front plane, especially if you listen to news and talk stations. There is a difference in quality of speakers; you typically get what you pay for. Now finally , as a last step look at the subwoofer; remember a subwoofer is only for the lower bass frequencies. typical the crossover is around 100 Hz. Yes, if you turn up the gain on subwoofer, you can feel the vibrations which is sometimes falsely equated with good music. A better step than replacing the sub, is to put a couple of co-axial speakers in the front doors; this will provide better midrange and bass response. I challenge anyone's system against an unbiased third party sound test; my system will blow the others away.
"it's not that liberals are ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." -Ronald Reagan

The hilarious part is all of the above is theory, pure speculation, building on what someone else has told you. I'm guessing you're religious too, you believe in god because some Rabbi/Priest/Imam says it's so, and you just accept it on faith.

I'm different. I go on fact. I test things, test everything, and over the past 30 years in high-end audio my knowledge is built on real world experience, working along side of some of the top experts in the world. I don't take credit for developing THX with my buddy Jeff over at Dolby Labs, but he's the guy I have testing the system out looking for ways to improve it. Another chap I hang with, a customer/friend of mine, is Sam Runco. The guy who kinda, well, like invented the projector back in the day. Just inducted into the CES Hall of Fame.

Then you're scoffing at the guys at Mark Levinson. Trust me, these guys are good. Very good, or Lexus wouldn't be working with them, they'd still run with Nakamichi (are they still around?).

THEY designed and tested the premium audio system, they have done all the tests, and the premium system they designed is pretty darned good. Speaker placement is excellent, they went by the numbers and dialed it in nicely. The only thing they couldn't do is put in proper bass due to space limitations.

'The Key to good sound is high quality speakers with the proper amount of amplification'. Well, that's a start, that's just the minimal tip of the iceberg. When you move into the car environment a huge number of variables are introduced that we don't run into with home audio. Do you know what type of amplification they used? Class-D. It's pretty nifty, I've been running a Rotel 1077 Class-D 7x100 amp in the home theater system for about 5 years now. Small, lightweight, runs cool to the touch, absolutely perfect for a fantastic mobile system. Very expensive.

Do you know what type of speakers they used? Bamboo charcoal resin speakers. This is a technology Panasonic has patents on going back 20+ years, in 1997 they started making them, and this is the first automotive application (AFAIK). They are lighter, stronger, have a wider sound range and crisper treble. Also very expensive.

Ok, so we've got great speakers, we've got great amplification, but we don't have space for a proper sub. That is the one limitation they couldn't overcome while staying within Lexus' guidelines. The answer, therefore is to take out the stock sub, drop in a solid sub and amp, and work WITH the ML guys who really developed a fine system. SYSTEM. Take their great work, and augment it just the right way. Stand on the shoulders of giants.

You've got to realize that the bass region is one of the crucial keys to fine sound quality. Reproducing the tones below 100hz accurately takes POWER, and SPACE. There are some tricks to produce more bass in a smaller space with less power, such as a simple ported enclosure where the rear wave from the speaker cone is routed through a tube to reinforce the waves from the front of the speaker by 3dB, and there are 6th order enclosures, etc. But when you get back to basics it's a quality speaker, quality amplification, and a simple sealed enclosure just plain works.

Reproducing the rest of the frequencies is far easier, you can get away with simple 1" dome tweets, a 3" mid, and 6.5" mid-bass in the doors. Use a quality speaker, quality amplification (don't let the amps get into audible distortion, class-D is perfect for this), get the placement right, dial it in for the interior of the car, and you're good to go.

Or, just throw everything out, start over fresh, with 'quality' components not matched to the interior of the car or tested by any real engineers, and assume that you know better than everyone else because you spent a lot of money.

Yeah, ok kid, I get it. Your system sounds great, just like any other properly done aftermarket system with high-end gear. But you cannot make the conclusion that it's incredibly BETTER than the stock premium system w/sub unless you've done back to back testing.

It's all conjecture, speculation, on what you think you know.
 
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