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Stock stereo differences - regular vs. Mark Levinson

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Old 01-18-16, 03:47 PM   #1
deepdish
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Default Stock stereo differences - regular vs. Mark Levinson

Hi All,

For 2001 to 2005 2GS car stereo : Can you buy a Mark Levinson stock head unit and swap it in for an existing standard (Pioneer) stock Lexus head unit?

I have a (regular) stock Lexus Pioneer head unit in my 2001 GS430, which looks old and LCD lighting is burned out on one side. I want to add Aux In for my smartphone. So I bought a Mark Levinson head unit on Ebay in near-mint condition for $130, it's bench tested and should work great. I'm planning to send it in to "FactoryRadioService" (as discussed on other threads here) to get the Aux In added. After that, I think the head unit will just plug and play into my GS430, right?

I've read several threads about the differences here on CL, and I know that the amp and the subs and speakers are all different. But what about the head unit itself? Are the two stock head units identical for 2001 to 2005 2GS except one has a "Mark Levinson" logo pasted onto the front? And maybe the difference is simply the amp/speakers? If so then I could probably just swap it in with no problem. Any advice is appreciated, Thanks!

- Joe in Los Angeles
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Old 01-18-16, 05:52 PM   #2
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So, you've already bought the ML head unit? Why not just plug it in and see if it works? 10 minute job (maybe 20, the first time), and you can let us know what you find out.

I don't see why it wouldn't work, from an input/output perspective, but the ML system's processing may not jive as well with the signal coming from the Pioneer head unit. As far as sound quality goes, I mean. How bad could it be though?
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Old 01-18-16, 07:16 PM   #3
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Hi there. Sounds like you are guessing the ML head unit has different processing inside it, and it's not just the amp/speakers that are different on ML systems. I guess I'll just have to wait and see how it sounds.

The ML head unit will arrive in about 5 days, then another week or two to have the Aux Input inserted, then I'll go ahead and swap it in. If it fails, I'll send my current head unit out to have the Aux Input installed, and list the ML head unit with Aux Input installed for sale. In 2016, every one of these head units should have Aux Input anyway

I'll definitely post my findings back in this thread. In the meantime, if anyone has ever swapped a non-ML head unit for the ML version in 01-05 then please let me know how it worked out. Thanks!
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Old 01-22-16, 04:47 PM   #4
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Hi All,

I just spoke to the owner at Factory Radio Service, and he says that he thinks the Mark Levinson head unit is 100% identical to the regular (Premium Sound) head unit. He said the only difference is the logo printed on the front. This is surprising to me. However, the amp and speakers for the Mark Levinson system are totally different. I guess this means I could someday upgrade my stock (Premium Sound) amp and speakers and probably get really great sound, even though I'll have a smaller number of speakers compared to the full Mark Levinson system. So in summary : For 2001 to 2005 GS, feel free to buy ANY 2001 to 2005 stock Lexus head unit when you are replacing yours, whether it's Mark Levinson or not. Hope this helps somebody.

After I put in the new ML head unit I'll test the new AUX Input and post back here to confirm that everything worked, and confirm how the Aux Input sounds compared to my CD changer.

Joe in Los Angeles
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Old 01-22-16, 07:37 PM   #5
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That's good news for both non-ML owners who want to put in an ML unit, and ML owners who can't find an ML head unit replacement.

Thanks for digging into that for us!
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Old 01-22-16, 10:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepdish View Post
Hi All,

I just spoke to the owner at Factory Radio Service, and he says that he thinks the Mark Levinson head unit is 100% identical to the regular (Premium Sound) head unit. He said the only difference is the logo printed on the front. This is surprising to me. However, the amp and speakers for the Mark Levinson system are totally different. I guess this means I could someday upgrade my stock (Premium Sound) amp and speakers and probably get really great sound, even though I'll have a smaller number of speakers compared to the full Mark Levinson system. So in summary : For 2001 to 2005 GS, feel free to buy ANY 2001 to 2005 stock Lexus head unit when you are replacing yours, whether it's Mark Levinson or not. Hope this helps somebody.

After I put in the new ML head unit I'll test the new AUX Input and post back here to confirm that everything worked, and confirm how the Aux Input sounds compared to my CD changer.

Joe in Los Angeles
I stopped reading after you said the guy thinks...
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Old 01-25-16, 09:06 AM   #7
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Hey deepdish. if you go the route of having an Aux input installed from Factory Radio Service can you review the process for us and how it all goes down. Factory Radio Service now offers Bluetooth Audio in place of the Aux input which would be something like the GROM setup I assume...something to consider.

I've read not only on Club Lex forums but also on Audi and BMW forums that Factory Radio does great work.

http://factoryradioservice.com/bluet...ion-p-229.html
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