Dreaming In Traffic With The McIntosh MX1375 & Jeep Grand
As the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer cut through Manhattan on its way to the Holland Tunnel, Joshua Dellinger gently raised the volume on the McIntosh MX1375 Reference Entertainment System and it became abundantly clear why the folks in Binghamton and Detroit decided to make this project a reality.
After our coverage of the 2021 Houston Auto Show where we were given one of our first opportunities to experience this system, there was a surprising amount of pushback from audiophiles who could not understand why the most successful and respected brand in high-end audio selected Jeep as the showcase for their statement automotive entertainment system.
Maserati Grecale Trofeo in Italy
Critics pointed to the collaboration between Sonus faber and Maserati as a partnership that made sense. The Italian loudspeaker manufacturer is part of the McIntosh Group and why couldn't McIntosh develop a system for the Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade.
We recently took the Maserati Grecale Trofeo equipped with the Sonus faber system for a long drive through the Italian countryside and returned stateside with a deeper appreciation for what both Italian companies were trying to accomplish.
McIntosh Group is uniquely positioned to develop state-of-the-art automotive entertainment systems and after close to 80 years of success — can select any partner it desires to deliver something very different inside the confines of a vehicle.
Both McIntosh and Jeep are iconic American brands, and those of us old enough to remember learning how to drive in a 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer with wood paneling felt more than just a little nostalgic when we received early hints about the project.
2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer in NYC
The life of a journalist does not afford me the financial freedom to purchase an oversized SUV like the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, but having experienced more than my fair share of $100,000+ automobiles, McIntosh knows exactly what they are doing with this partnership. They really know their audience.
Driving around my neighborhood, the driveways are filled with Range Rovers, BMW X5s, Audi Q7s, Porsche Cayennes, Ford Broncos (four-door), and 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneers.
The average age of the driver is 40 and they are schlepping around 4-5 kids from Yeshiva or private schools here on the Jersey Shore. Spending $100,000 to $200,000 on a vehicle is part of the lifestyle.
I can barely navigate the parking lot of my local Target without counting more than 4-5 new Jeep Grand Cherokees, so it is not really that surprising the the McIntosh MX1375 was designed around the Grand Wagoneer. Jeep is really popular again.
The typical Jeep owner is also younger — and let's not forget that the McIntosh MX1375 is also a marketing opportunity for a brand that never misses an opportunity to make a really strong impression.
High-end brands that are able to create something unique for luxury automakers are building brand awareness and using their technology in the venue where people listen to the most music to sell themselves.
Exposure breeds familiarity. Having a positive experience creates the desire for a similar experience again. Possibly even in the living room.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer Interior
After helping my wife into the Grand Wagoneer, I walked around the vehicle (always look both ways kids when walking down Broadway) and stepped up into the cabin and a rather firm seat. When you charge almost $110,000 for an SUV, the interior needs to feel like something you are afraid to let your children touch. Sorry kids.
Jeep have really taken a huge step forward in terms of the interior finish of the Grand Wagoneer; the middle row is separated by a very deep console with multiple storage areas and a lovely wood finish. It doesn't feel like an American car — and you won't find the Jeep logo plastered all over the interior. I don't recall seeing it anywhere inside the cabin at all.
Jeep Grand Wagoneer Interior
The two LCD screens mounted on the rear of the two front seats are options and not part of the MX1375 system. Your local Jeep dealership can provide you with pricing for the touch screen system but my best guess is around $2500 for both.
Midtown traffic was a tad chaotic as we made our way down Broadway but that was just fine because we really didn't want to get out of the car after the first ten minutes of listening.
The MX1375 employs 23 specifically tuned speakers, including one of the highest performing 12-inch subwoofers in the industry, and is powered by a 24-channel 1375-Watt amplifier. Exclusive to the MX1375 is unique Adaptive 3D Surround Processing capabilities for an immersive listening experience. It will be available exclusively in the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
To ensure the luxury home audio experience was carried into the Grand Wagoneer, McIntosh's acoustics experts worked on a prototype of the vehicle cabin and had free rein to create the best possible audio system design that envelops all passengers in a live music experience.
Engineers from both companies spent countless hours studying the vehicle's interior to fine-tune the MX1375 Reference Entertainment System.
One of the first things that I noticed about the system was the multitude of USB inputs and a single HDMI port below the dashboard touchscreen.
My wife laughed when I suggested that one could connect portable gaming devices or a laptop to the panel and play the audio throughout the car — but that's exactly why they are there.
McIntosh speaker in driver's side door
The front passenger seat also has the benefit of a surface-mounted LCD touchscreen on the dashboard that can be used as a control panel for attached devices or as a private television screen.
That individual can also use the interior Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities to stream audio to a pair of Bluetooth headphones — and not interfere with the driver or any other passenger who may want to listen to something else.
iPhone and Android smartphone users can connect with either a wired connection or wirelessly. A wired connection will allow you to stream at 24-bit/44.1kHz and wireless can deliver "CD" quality.
We ran through a number of TIDAL playlists and the system handled everything rather smoothly.
Another really interesting feature is the use of ANC throughout the vehicle; there are multiple mics integrated into the ceiling and their impact wasn't subtle as we drove through rather congested NYC streets and construction. Manhattan is really loud and it was quite strange to not notice the constant honking and rumble of trucks and work crews.
Driving in Manhattan
We drive through Manhattan at least twice a week and I am very aware of the sounds of the city; I had to open my window to remind myself that anyone was there and that was without any music playing.
If you open your window, the ANC loses some of its effectiveness but it still keeps the cabin quiet enough that the music is very clear and present and the conversation quality is superb.
"When we were developing the MX1375 Reference Entertainment System, we set up a McIntosh Reference room next to the Wagoneer team's facility to ensure the best parts of the home system experience made it into the Grand Wagoneer. It was fascinating to hear the progression as the vehicle started to take on qualities of the Reference Room itself. I can't wait for customers to hear and feel it for themselves."
-- Charlie Randall, President of McIntosh Laboratory, Inc.
The MX1375 system only utilizes a single subwoofer, but you really don't require anything more inside the cabin of the Grand Wagoneer. Bass has a lot of impact and force, but it is extremely well controlled and there is zero bloat or bleed into the upper bass or lower midrange.
Regardless of how loudly we listened — the system never lost its focus or sense of control.
Metallica was necessary sitting in traffic as we finally crossed into Jersey City and "Master of Puppets" filled the Grand Wagoneer with fire and brimstone in the Upside Down.
I knew the McIntosh MX1375 system was doing something special when my wife put down her iPhone for almost 30 seconds and listened to Dave Brubeck.
Why is that important?
Over the past 19 years, she has never listened to any piece of jazz for more than 30 seconds before leaving the room or making a weird face. Jumping out of the Grand Wagoneer would have been both rude and somewhat imprudent.
When Joshua Dillinger switched the system into its surround mode — she looked at me rather incredulously as the music filled the car and one could actually discern a soundstage with both depth and width.
The was definitely weird for me as well. That sense of spaciousness and rock-solid imaging that one rarely hears in a car audio system.
Vocals had texture, detail, and so much presence; Elvis filled the entire cabin with "Fever" and I'm pretty sure we left him on the corner of 9th Avenue and W. 21st to get a free COVID test.
I really need a third job. Well done McIntosh and Jeep.
For more information, please visit McIntoshLabs.com and Jeep.com.
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