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Lexus ES 350 XM and Sirius

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  • hesstonhesston Posts: 1
    We had XMS installed on our 2007 Lexus ES350, AM, FM, sound quality is great when we switch to XM the volume immediately goes down and the quality of tone is flat. Antenna is installed outside trunk, has anyone else experienced this and if you have a solution, please let us know.
  • XM radio in an ES350: The Lexus kit is manufactured by Pioneer and consists of an XM receiver, antenna and interface cable harness to connect to the factory-installed wiring. The vehicle is pre-wired to accept the receiver. The Lexus instructions call for mounting the antenna on the right side of the trunk lid. This is simply a matter of convenience for the dealer: the XM receiver is mounted in the right, rear, wheel well. The antenna will work perfectly well in other locations. If it is mounted on the trunk lid, make sure there is a rainstop device mounted just inside the trunk lid to keep rainwater from traveling along the antenna wire. The rainstop will force water to fall into the channel that normally carries away water entering the edges around the trunk lid.

    Mounting the antenna inside the car at the back window is perfectly acceptable. If you are installing a SIRIUS radio, the reception inside the window would not be quite as reliable as XM because SIRIUS does not have ground repeaters and always needs a clear shot of the southwest sky.

    Unfortunately, the wizards that designed the ES350 headin unit and radio/amplifier set all the inputs at the same attentuation "level". This means the CD, FM, AUX, AM and XM inputs are not attenuated to account for different signal strengths. The radio and amplifier are one unit and neither it nor the Pioneer XM unit have any attentuation controls to set different sound levels. The result is that when changing from FM to XM, etc., you'll have to change the volume to achieve the same sound level.

    This is a lousy and inexpensive setup for a luxury vehicle. If you look at the radio/amplifier and the XM receiver, they are TOYOTA parts made by Pioneer. There is a company, called VAIS (vaistech.com) that manufactures audio interface devices to seamlessly connect aftermarket electronic devices with factory headin units. They specialize in Toyota/Lexus and will be releasing a new product, called the SLXI SoundLinQ that will interface between a TERK XM receiver and the factory wiring harness for the ES350 and allow you to set the audio levels for each input as well as have remote control capability of your IPod. The factory XM receiver will not work with the SoundLinQ SLXI but the Terk unit only costs about $50 and the SoundLinQ will be around $300 MSRP. The dealer cost of a Lexus XM radio alone is around $590.

    The result will be that you can customize each input on the LCD screen, setting audio levels, etc., and matching volume levels between inputs, avoiding having to change volume levels when switching between inputs. In addition, you can control your IPod onscreen. Most Lexus technicians that install the Lexus XM radios are familiar with other SoundLinQ products and will be able to install the new system for you, when available.

    I wish every ES350 owner would send emails to Lexus and complain about the cheap XM audio setup (yes, even the Mark Levinson)installed in Lexus vehicles and the poor sound quality along with having to constanly change volume levels when switching between inputs, especially with the XM radio installed. Lexus will never do anything about the system until there are enough complaints to warrant a "fix". The Pioneer XM radio is a cheap unit and will only work with a Toyota/Lexus. If you ever decide to switch to another brand of vehicle, you can't take your XM radio with you. Right now, the Lexus attitutde is, concerning the XM radio (paraphrased): "that's the way we designed it, so, live with it or don't buy it".
  • psychdocpsychdoc Posts: 147
    ***If you are installing a SIRIUS radio, the reception inside the window would not be quite as reliable as XM because SIRIUS does not have ground repeaters and always needs a clear shot of the southwest sky.***

    Not true. Sirius DOES maintain ground repeaters and you can ascertain the relative contributions of the satellite and the ground repeaters on any Sirius receiver by pressing the "signal" button. It will show you a bar graph of the satellite strength and a separate bar graph for the repeater strength.

    Sirius rules!!!

    After all, where else can you hear Howard Stern?
  • scmanscman Posts: 9
    XM radio is being installed in my new ES-350 today at Lexus of Glendale (Calif). I requested an inside antenna mount and was told, "no problem" as this is the way they have been installing them.

    On a related note, I traded in a Honda Accord with XM. I just recently extended the service for a year on that radio. How does XM handle this? Will they apply my remaining "credits" to the new XM Radio. Will they waive the activation fee (they should)?

    Too bad there are variable volume problems with this unit, but I can't live without XM regardless.....I just hope I don't get blasted out of my seat when hitting the Mode button on the steering wheel.....
  • meadoelmeadoel Posts: 18
    I got an email from Lexus yesterday that said starting in October Lexus will be providing Factory Installed XM. It seemed that the LS would be first... I wonder if that will fix any of these issues.... assuming it will be available in the ES 350.
  • zekeman1zekeman1 Posts: 422
    They credit remaining time on the recently extended unit on to the ES350 unit...in my case, they also added the 3 months gratis "trial" subscription Lexus gave me, to my account also.
  • scmanscman Posts: 9
    I just had the XM radio activated. The antenna was installed on the back deck, inside the vehicle and is identical to the picture posted here by someone else.

    XM simply transferred my account over to the new radio. Nothing was mentioned regarding an additional 3 months or free trial - oh well - but they did try to sell me an additional portable XM receiver - no thanks!!

    The satellite radio performance is about what I expected. There is most definitely a volume difference between XM and FM, but I can live with that. I found the ML sound system with XM can be a little more "full" by setting the speaker balance adjustment a little more to the rear than using the default speaker balance. XM sounds not that much better than FM, but I think that is a result of the after-market approach to XM that Lexus is now doing.

    As far as the overall sound system goes, you really can't appreciate the ML sound system until you play a DVD audio or video disk. Like home systems, the audio system in this vehicle is better when using better source material. For instance, I placed a DVD of Spielberg's A.I. in the CD changer and WOW. Great depth of sound and detail (I haven't yet played a CD in the system). You might want to try this.

    Commercial video DVD's will play on the navigation screen only when the parking brake is on. If you release the parking brake, the video disappears but the audio continues to play. It's a safety feature that, I suppose, could be easily defeated, but then why chance hitting a telephone pole in your new Lexus while watching "The Lord of the Rings?".....
  • zekeman1zekeman1 Posts: 422
    Nothing was mentioned regarding an additional 3 months or free trial

    The 3 months free trial was given to me by Lexus, not XM. Sorry, the way I wrote it did sound misleading.
  • maximafanmaximafan Posts: 592
    I have been a bit curious about the sound
    quality of the current cars that have
    satellite radio integrated with the factory
    stereo system. I'm currently using an XM
    Roady portable receiver which is played
    through the cassette player on my 2002
    Maxima. It sounds as good as the CD Player
    and, in fact, the volume comes in louder than
    the CD player and much louder than the radio.

    I think I'd like to hear the actual sound of
    the satellite radio on these new cars when
    I seriously start looking for my new car.
  • thaisharkthaishark Posts: 19
    Hello Everyone!
    I just put a deposit down on a UL Es350 I'm looking to get the Smoky Granite. I have a week or so before the car gets to Port so i am debating whether to get XM or not. I have seen a number of isssues here with regards to the volume and/or sound quality Does anyone have XM with the ML system?
    Has the dealer or Lexus been able to offer any solutions regarding the voume issue? and finally for those that do have the XM are the problems making you rethin your decision to get it?

    Thanks All
  • Right you are psychdoc, SIRIUS rules and here is a list of SIRIUS repeaters: http://scb147.home.comcast.net/sirius_repeaters.html

    But it is a moot point for dealer-installed XM radios in ES350 cars. There is no current SIRIUS, dealer-installed, radio. The only unit being installled is a Pioneer XM receiver that plugs directly into the factory wiring harness via a cable that is part of the kit.
  • zekeman1zekeman1 Posts: 422
    I wonder if the volume problem is one created by dealers who install? I have XM in my Avalon & 350, both installed after the fact (although integrated into the radio) and both work fine, with no loss of volume when switching from AM-FM-CD. Each XM station comes in just fine. :confuse: :confuse:
  • carlady2carlady2 Posts: 7
    I had Sirius in my old car (we installed it) and loved it. Lexus said it would be available on my new ES350 but I have now found out that there is no date determined and it is on hold. Anyone have any information on this?
  • dave4449dave4449 Posts: 4
    meadoel: Somehow your message just seemed too good to be true, and it prompted me to make an independent inquiry of my own to the official Lexus e-mail site. Here's my question: "Does Lexus plan on installing XM satellite radios at the factory in the foreseeable future? It seems that the installation would be cleaner and more integrated, especially in terms of displaying programming content. Thanks." Here's the official answer: "Thank you for contacting Lexus Customer Satisfaction. We are dedicated to providing superior service. We apologize information regarding the future intentions to install satellite radio at the factory is not available at this time. [italics mine] We make every effort to manufacture a quality product by researching, testing, and constantly monitoring performance. Consumer opinion and perception also play an active role in our ongoing efforts to lead the automobile industry in quality, innovation, styling, and liability. It is through communications such as yours that we become aware of the reactions and expectations of our customers." :confuse: :( Could you please provide us the exact reply you received from Lexus to compare notes? Thanks.
  • dave4449dave4449 Posts: 4
    All of the postings discussing the best (or preferred) placement of the antenna for the XM satellite radio prompted me to seek an official decision. After searching the FAQs on the Lexus website, here's what I found out:
    Subject: Satellite Radio Antenna Placement.
    FAQ: "Could you speak about the differing antennas available, and why Lexus chooses to use the trunk mount instead of the roof antenna?"
    Lexus reply: "Reception quality varies in the different areas of the country. From a continental US national perspective, the trunk mounted antenna provides the best XM satellite radio signal reception for sedans as does the front window mounted Sirius antenna. For SUVs, the antennas for both XM and Sirius are mounted on the roof. Installation of antennas in areas other than those recommended by the manufacturer could lead to a degradation of satellite signal and poor reception. The Genuine Lexus satellite radio kits include wire harnesses specific to each model that allow for the recommended installation placement of the antenna."
    FAQ: "Can the antenna be placed somewhere else, other than the trunk?"
    Lexus reply: "From a national reception quality perspective, we cannot recommend that the antenna be placed anywhere other than the installation instructions specify. Installing it elsewhere could lead to a degradation of the satellite signal and poor reception. For sedans, the XM antenna should be installed on the trunk lid, while the Sirius antenna should be installed behind the rear view mirror on the front windshield. For SUVs, the antennas for both XM and Sirius should be installed on the roof."
  • meadoelmeadoel Posts: 18
    The information I posted wasn't in response to an inquiry. It was an unsolicited email FROM Lexus. I subscribe to a Lexus mailing list where they send me spam once every few weeks. Any dealer who tells you this isn't happening is either un-informed or lying.

    You can find an archive of their mailings here: http://www.lexus.com/pursuit_archive/?s_ocid=Pursuit:0606:Main:Archive

    The email was from "lexus@lexuscommunications.delivery.net"
    The Subject line was "Lexus Pursuit: Partnering with XM(R) Satellite Radio"

    Here's the relevant text:

    We're proud to introduce an exciting new addition to our vehicles—available XM® Satellite Radio [1]. At Lexus, we focus on carefully crafting every facet of the driver and passenger experience. And now that same level of precision extends to in-vehicle entertainment.

    This October, we're raising the bar on car audio again by offering factory-installed XM Satellite Radio [1], allowing drivers to access and enjoy more than 170 channels of music, talk, sports and specialty programming—all with unmatched digital clarity, and easily controlled through their vehicle's existing audio system. The 2007 LS [2] is the first Lexus that will offer this option, but soon all our vehicles will offer the choice.

    There was also this interesting tidbit:
    Another benefit of XM service is the available XM NavTraffic® [3], the nation's first satellite traffic data information service. XM NavTraffic enhances the Lexus voice-activated HDD Navigation System [4] with continually updated traffic information in many of America's largest cities. With more information at your disposal, you can avoid traffic congestion, accidents, road construction, and find the best route to your destination, in real time. All of which means you can get there faster. Though we'll certainly understand if you'd rather take the scenic route in your Lexus.

    Our partnership with XM Satellite Radio [1] is just another example of Lexus' passionate pursuit of the perfect sound
  • dp5dp5 Posts: 55
    I have the exact car that you have ordered and I added the XM radio. Yes, the sound is substantially lower and requires you to increase the volume when switching to XM. No, it is not a problem. Having all of the programming options available through satellite radio is still well worth the additional money.

    I sometimes think our generation is a bunch of whiners. It is not difficult to turn the volume up and down when switching from different audio inputs. If you decide to get XM, I think you will be very pleased with it overall.
  • svwsvw Posts: 12
    Thank you so much....it's good to see the official word on this. Though I wish the antennae could be mounted 'inside' the car, I've gotten past the placement on my trunk and I am enjoying the talk shows and music.
  • thaisharkthaishark Posts: 19
    Thanks for the reply, I am leaning towards getting it anyway and your right, turning the volume up should not be that big a deal, although it would be nice if Lexus fixed this. But that seems unlikely in the short term anyway.
  • scmanscman Posts: 9
    Having XM in the ES-350 for over a week now, I can definitely recommend this option. While it is true you will have to adjust the volume, the sound quality is better than FM overall. The bass response and tonal clarity of the ML sound system really shows XM off to it's best. You won't regret it.....
  • thaisharkthaishark Posts: 19
    I was wondering if you have the antennae mounted inside or out?
    And for anyone else who have the antennae mounted on the back deck as opposed to the trunk mount, what part of the country do you live in?
    From reading above i see Lexus' recommendation is the trunk mount but i would prefer it mounted inside if there is not going to really be a reception issue.
    I live in the NE near Philadelphia.
  • zekeman1zekeman1 Posts: 422
    Mine is mounted inside the back window on my ES350 - no problem with reception.

    It's mounted next to the defroster vent on the dash on my 05 Avalon LTD - no problem with reception.

    Used to live in D.C. area with antenna mounted inside back window in an ES300 - never a problem with reception.

    If you want it mounted inside near the back window (or on the dash next to a defroster vent) just tell them to install it there and quit wringing your hands!!! If they say install instructions say you can't do it that way, have it installed elsewhere - it CAN be done and lots of people have done it...the dealer is just jerking your chain and wanting to have it his way!
  • dave4449dave4449 Posts: 4
    Thanks for the feedback. Interesting. Is the issue at hand an example of "One hand not knowing what the other is doing" in the case of Lexus? Or, in the case of prospective buyers, is it an example of "It's better to have only one clock. With two or more clocks, you'll never know what time it is." Anyway, I'm planning on waiting several more months anyway before making a purchase. Even with Lexus's vaunted track record as being just about the most reliable automotive builder, I'm awfully leery about buying a new model early in the production cycle.
  • maximafanmaximafan Posts: 592
    Lexus is probably following what XM has
    suggested is the best placement of the
    antenna. I have the Roady portable receiver
    which I play through the cassette player in
    my Maxima. I remember when reading the
    installation instructions from XM, they did
    recommend placing the antenna on the outside,
    either on the trunk, directly in the middle
    (I used to have mine installed on the trunk
    and it ended up causing a lot of scratches
    due to it being a magnetic antenna, and the
    car wash people would just swipe at it when
    drying the car off.) I have now moved it
    to the right front on the roof(by the right
    passenger door). No problems.

    Anyway, I recall the XM installation
    instructions saying that installation of the
    antenna on the inside of the car, i.e, dash
    area, rear deck area would diminish
    reception. So that's probably why Lexus
    "insists" on this type of installation.
    But it's good to hear no one is having
    reception problems with their antenna
    installed inside.
  • tnfantnfan Posts: 18
    I had XM installed several weeks ago. The antenna is inside on the rear deck. I have had absolutely no reception issues. I am located in Nashville. I will be taking a trip to Atlanta next weekend and will see how it performs on the open road and in Atlanta. Got a feeling it will work just fine. :)
  • dp5dp5 Posts: 55
    My XM antennae was installed on the rear deck. My salesman said that this is where the dealership always installs them and they have had no reception difficulties. To be honest, I've never looked at the antennae so I am just assuming that they installed it where the salesman said it would go. It is so unobtrusive that you can't see it with normal use of the car. I know that it isn't on the trunk lid. I live in Houston, TX and no reception problems at all. Maybe it would be different in a rural area (less repeaters?) but I don't think so.
  • pjaypitpjaypit Posts: 1
    I just ordered the ES and had the same issue. I researched it and spoke to several dealers. This is a national issue and supposedly is due to people having reception problems with the factory installations. So they stopped installing Sirius in early June.Hard to believe Lexus can't figure this out. My Ford Explorer rental car had no trouble last week.

    My resolution was a well done after market installation that sits right where the ashtray is. Only downside is that it is not as "clean" and integrated as a factory install would be. There is a possibility that they will solve this problem and if they do you can always have it installed later and the add on removed. Have the dealer agree to do this at cost - mine did. Good luck. If you need anything else, I'll try and help. This was almost a deal breaker - I've had Sirius for 18 months and love it.
  • maximafanmaximafan Posts: 592
    tnfan, I can tell you, there's nothing better
    than having satellite radio, whether it be
    XM or Sirius, for those nice, long trips.

    I've been an XM member for over two years now
    and I've taken my XM Roady2 with me either in
    rental cars or my own car. It makes the
    trip go by even faster and it's just a joy!
    I get to listen to songs from "back in the
    day" that you couldn't even hear on regular
    radio "back in the day", maybe songs I used
    to hear in the clubs. The only minor
    downside is when I rent a car, which usually
    has no cassette player, I have to use the
    wireless function. There's no comparison,
    because with the wireless, you have to tune
    in to a station that has no competition with
    a local station, and you end up getting
    interference. But with the cassette adapter,
    it's fabulous, no interruption, crisp, clear
    sound.

    I couldn't imagine going on any road trip
    without my XM Roady. I do think that the
    auto dealers should give us a choice of the
    XM or Sirius. I don't care for the ones that
    only permit one or the other to be installed
    in the car. Anyway, XM Rules!
  • maximafanmaximafan Posts: 592
    Zekeman, where did you get your satellite
    radio installed? Also, where did they put
    the antenna for the satellite radio? Thanks.
  • zekeman1zekeman1 Posts: 422
    XM installed by the dealer, integrated into the unit and the antenna is inside the rear window of the car next to the third light. See pix of it in My CarSpace which I posted yesterday.
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