Earlier this year, McIntosh unveiled its first ever in-car entertainment systems; the McIntosh MX1375 Reference system featured in the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer and the MX950 system featured in the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer and 2021 Jeep Cherokee L. These vehicles made their public debut at the 2021 Houston Auto Show last week. I was very fortunate to be among the first people in the country to see and hear the MX1375 Reference System in the impressive 2022 Grand Wagoneer.
With Texas out of COVID protocols, I expected a modest crowd on the first day of the Houston Auto Show; one of the first of its kind in 2021. The midweek post-dinner visit to the NRG Center found a genuinely sparse crowd but all of that changed when I arrived at the McIntosh/Jeep booth.
McIntosh has a large following in Texas and the crowd surrounding the Jeep Grand Wagoneer felt more like peak Saturday afternoon than the end of the first day of the show. Jeeps and trucks are big sellers in Texas, but it was clear to me that the crowd was there to check out the McIntosh system and the beautiful new vehicle; the most expensive Jeep Grand Wagoneer ever offered.
The fully loaded 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer retails for $111,000 USD which puts it in the same category as the Porsche Cayenne, and SUVs from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
I was treated to a wonderful curated listening experience by Joshua Dellinger, Product Marketing Manager of McIntosh. We listened to a wide range of music from Bach to Dave Brubeck to Deadmau5. I was quite shocked by what I heard inside the Jeep Grand Wagoneer; premium high-end audio automotive systems have become a big business for manufacturers, and I was not prepared for the level of detail, transparency, and size of the soundstage.
It’s almost hard to believe that a car audio system can recreate the soundstage inside the confines of a really large SUV but listening to Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” was carved into space in front of me; the familiar sound of Joe Morello’s ride cymbal was placed perfectly before me.
On Deadmau5’s “Seeya,” the drop took me by complete surprise as the bass responded authoritatively. The 12-inch subwoofer got me feeling it a bit too. With a pop tune from London Grammar, I could hear every aspect of the production. As we adjusted the volume up and up, there was no distortion; if anything, the precision and natural dynamics of the sound were even more apparent.
The McIntosh MX1375 Reference System was engineered based on a McIntosh Reference room built in Detroit where the vehicle was developed. Engineers went back and forth between the Reference room and the test vehicle to ensure every aspect of the McIntosh experience was captured in the vehicle.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience a McIntosh Reference room locally at Houston Audio, which includes the XRT 2.1K speakers, MT10 turntable, and MC2KW amps among a host of other McIntosh components.
I’ll never forget listening to that system for the first time, hearing John Coltrane’s Blue Train as I never had before. In similar fashion, I won’t soon forget the experience of listening to the McIntosh MX1375 Reference System in the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
After hearing a few tracks, a simple thought dawned on me that I think epitomizes the whole experience — I forgot that I was sitting in a car. I was completely transported by my listening experience, taking note of every flourish in the music, seeing the stage laid out as different instruments filled the space around me. I was so deeply immersed that I was no longer cognizant of my surroundings and totally lost in the music.
As a music lover, there is nothing more that I could wish for in a listening experience. It left me feeling the same way I felt listening to a McIntosh Reference system at my local dealer. And with that, I think McIntosh have accomplished exactly what it set out to achieve in creating a stunning vehicle entertainment system that provides the listener with everything they love and expect from a McIntosh system.
My experience was also largely explained by a feature unique to the McIntosh MX1375 Reference system — its Adaptive 3D Surround Processing capabilities. The technology uses algorithms to “adapt” to the source material and apply an appropriate level of 3D effect.
It creates the perfect staging for the audio depending on what it is, whether it’s a full orchestra or singular spoken word, presenting a customized “sense of space.” With 23 speakers in 16 optimized locations, precise sound is delivered to every part of the vehicle to ensure every seat has its own “sweet spot.” And the 24-channel amplifier delivers up to 1375 watts of power.
Apart from the sound, every other detail was considered and implemented in the design of the vehicle. The control knobs to adjust volume or tune stations are the same metal ridged knobs you’ll find on classic McIntosh amplifiers and pre-amplifiers. The grille on the 12-inch subwoofer located in the rear of the vehicle is adorned with the same “Mc” logo as found on McIntosh monogrammed heatsinks. These are details that fans will most certainly notice and appreciate.
Unfortunately, I was unable to see the VU meters in action, as this first run of the vehicle did not have the software update required to run the McIntosh app. Once it is live, you need only open this app to play your music and watch the iconic blue meters dance as you drive. The incorporation of the color blue throughout the vehicle’s lighting system is one of my favorite features. Along with illuminated logos throughout, the overall feeling of the vehicle is unmistakably McIntosh.
Thank you to McIntosh for a fantastic evening experiencing the incredible MX1375 Reference system. It’s well worth the travel to your local auto show in 2021 if the Jeep Grand Wagoneer is on display at the show; McIntosh have created a new standard for high-end automotive entertainment systems that would make any drive a concert experience to remember.
Learn more: mcintoshlabs.com/automotive/the-systems