Harman Demos 192k Playback in Lincoln Continental

When I entered the Hi-Res Audio pavilion, my eye was immediately attracted to the Lincoln Continental parked there. This $70,000 vehicle is a luxury looker, and since it was sitting in an official Hi-Res area, I suspected it would sound good too. My suspicions proved correct.

If you follow car audio, you are probably already familiar with the Revel Ultima sound system in the Continental. This Harman system is state of the art and compares favorably with any other high-end vehicle sound system.

In particular, this optional system features 19 speakers driven by a 20-channel hybrid amplifier; this includes Class D channels for the mids and lows and Class A/B channels for the highs. The front doors hold a 25mm tweeter and 80mm midrange high up in the doors with a 170mm woofer below. The center channel uses the same 25mm/80mm combo. The rear doors repeat the same duo with a 170mm woofer below. The rear package tray holds a dual voice-coil subwoofer as well as the duo combos for left and right surround. The front-end electronics use the SYNC 3 platform.

Harman engineer Brandon Wheeler took me through a number of tracks using the stock stereo playback system. Although my time was limited, I was impressed by the sound quality. Over the years, I have critically listened to more Harman systems than I care to admit. But this is one of the better ones. I was particularly impressed by its spatial response; the soundstage width and depth over the IP was exactly dialed in. Very nice. During the playback, QLS and Clari-Fi were turned off; this is the mode I prefer to listen to in Harman systems.

Then Wheeler switched over to demo mode, jacking a 192-kHz source into the stock system. This concept tuning (not currently available) provided a great demonstration of how good hi-res audio can sound in a vehicle. Too often, the advantages of a hi-res file are obscured or lost entirely in the labyrinths of a typical room's acoustics. But in a vehicle, where the playback system has been specifically tuned for the local cabin acoustics as well as seating position, the sound quality can be unobstructed.

For this demo, Wheeler tuned the tweeter's EQ curves above 40 KHz. Does the high end of 192 kHz sound better than some lesser bit rates? That is for each listener to decide. It sounded absolutely terrific to me. One thing is for sure: there is no question that a vehicle such as this the perfect place to audition a high quality file.

It is a truism that for many people, the best sound system in their lives is the one in their car. The Revel Ultima system in this Lincoln again shows just how true this is.

fredmant's picture

I can only imagine how wonderful music sounds with Revel speakers! Must visit a dealer.