I am going to go the long way around to tie everything together in my story title together. This week, I am reviewing the Acura RLX. It is the flagship Acura, and to let the cat out of the bag, the NVH levels (or lack of them) are superb. This is one of the most comfortable long-range highway cruisers out there. Since when did Acura build a Grand Tourer? Moreover, it does so with decent fuel economy (I’m getting around 25 MPG).
Back to the story… So Shakespeare writes The Tempest. And that play became the impetus for the 1950s sci-fi thriller Forbidden Planet. That movie features an advanced race of people known as The Krell. And that leads us to the audio system in the 2013 RLX.
I first encountered Krell through catcher Mike Piazza of the New York Mets years ago. For those of you who do not know, Mike’s knowledge of obscure heavy metal borders on OCD, and he could give Eddie Trunk www.eddietrunk.com a run for his money. But Mike appreciates nuance along with raw power. He discovered Krell amplification.
Krell has been around since 1980, and you can read the glowing reviews through the years in Stereophile and other high-end hi-fi buff books. But now Krell has decided to make the jump into the automotive world, and the Acura RLX is the first time the company has partnered with an automaker. The system is relatively simple. A set of expensive-looking woofers mounted in the lower doors, a tweeter on the sail panel, a center channel, another set of speakers in the rear doors, and an 8″ subwoofer. Kudos to Krell for figuring out that simple is better to achieve realistic sound in a vehicle. The amplifiers have been designed and hot-rodded by Krell. And the expensive-looking speaker grilles are worth the price of admission. The package goes for about $2000.
Because of economies of scale, there is no way you are going to able to touch audio performance like that for $2000 in the aftermarket. All of the tuning details have been painstakingly adjusted by Krell to work specifically in the RLX. So how does it sound? Tonally, it is magnificent. There is a clear, coherent center image, but the soundstage is a bit narrow. However, I cannot blame Krell entirely. Acura had to give them specific real-estate to work with as far as speaker placement. Separating the woofer from the tweeter typically narrows the soundstage and makes weird things happen because of unequal path-length differences. But if this system were designed with kick-panel mounting locations from the get-go, it would be untouchable. But that would encroach on passenger comfort. Acura is going after the luxury segment. So someone misses out. But, if you are looking to get audiophile quality sound without leaving your vehicle at the best car audio store in town for a week, check out the Acura RLX with the Krell system.