The 2009 Lincoln MKS is the world's first vehicle to offer the THX II Certified 5.1 Surround sound system, which allows customers to play DVD-Audio discs and DVD movies in true discrete surround sound, as well as listen to CDs, satellite radio and MP3s through a 600- watt, 16-speaker premium automotive entertainment system.

DVD-Audio is a specialized digital format known for delivering high-fidelity audio content and is cherished in the marketplace by audiophiles and musicians alike.  The exclusive format is offered only by artists seeking to provide listeners with the ultimate musical experience.

"When you listen to music in surround sound it feels more immersive, as if you are right in the middle of the recording session with the artist," said Todd Rockwell of THX's car audio team.

Compared to a CD, which only offers stereo or two-channel recordings, DVD-Audio provides more space on the disc to allow for more multi-channel tracks.  That means recording artists can use the additional channels to encircle the driver and passengers with musical instruments and other ambient sound elements.  In audiophile-speak, the DVD-Audio format is 24 bits at 192 kilohertz (kHz), while a CD format is only 16 bits at 44.1 kHz.

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Although DVD-Audio content is limited in the marketplace, popular artists ranging from country idol Toby Keith to hard rock icon Metallica and the Tuscan tenor Andrea Bocelli have created unique surround sound mixes and special tracks specifically for the format.

"With the addition of DVD-Audio playback, the THX II Certified 5.1 Surround system in the Lincoln MKS provides the driver and passengers a wide range of audio features to match their musical tastes," said Rockwell.  "Today, a lot of audiophiles listen to their favorite music on their home theater systems.  Now we are offering them the same high-quality sound experience in their vehicle, where many people are spending more and more of their time."

According to a 2008 Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) study, people spend more than 16 hours per week in their vehicle.  During those hours, the driver uses the vehicle's premium sound equipment 91 percent of the time, the survey said.

Join the Jam

With the THX II Certified 5.1 Surround system, Lincoln MKS customers can throw in a DVD-Audio disc or hook up their MP3 player and feel as if they are a part of a private jam session in the comfort of their own car.

The home theater-like sound is provided by a 12-channel amplifier that delivers 600 watts to 16 strategically placed speakers within the cabin, including a 10-inch subwoofer.  In addition, the system includes a hard drive jukebox, allowing customers to store up to 2,400 of their favorite music tracks, all of which can be accessed hands-free using Ford's voice-activated next-generation navigation system.  The 5.1 system design features THX Slot Speaker technology in the dashboard, which allows for unmatched sound distribution.

"The THX Slot Speaker technology lets us distribute sound through a very narrow opening on the Lincoln MKS dashboard, allowing for a wider and more spacious sound image in the vehicle cabin," Rockwell said.  "The result is an acoustical experience that makes the MKS feel like a larger THX Certified home theater."

Because the sound system is included as part of the MKS navigation system package, drivers and passengers also can watch DVD movies on the navigation system's LCD screen – when the vehicle is in park – and hear the audio in full-blown THX surround sound.

More for the Money

While other standalone audio systems can cost as much as $6,000, the Lincoln MKS offers the exclusive THX II Certified 5.1 system as part of its navigation system package for less than half that price.

The great value – not to mention the desire for an exceptional in-car audio experience – hasn't been lost on Lincoln MKS buyers.  To date, the total take rate of the THX II Certified 5.1 Surround system on the Lincoln MKS is above 70 percent.

"The Lincoln MKS offers the largest selection of comfort and convenience technologies and features of any luxury sedan in its class," said Pei-Wen Hsu, Lincoln MKS Marketing manager.  "The THX II Certified 5.1 Surround system adds to the allure and exclusivity of the MKS and customers are quickly capitalizing on all the extraordinary, yet affordable technologies this vehicle has to offer."

Adds Rockwell:  "For the price point, the THX II Certified 5.1 system on the Lincoln MKS is one of the best on the market in terms of quality, capabilities and value."

The introduction of the THX II Certified 5.1 Surround sound system on the Lincoln MKS is the most recent value-add of the Lincoln/THX partnership, which began in 2002.  Since then, the collaboration has produced award-winning THX Certified in-car audio systems that have been hailed by audiophiles and auto critics alike, including PC Magazine, Wired and CNET.