On the Road Again

Driving from Las Vegas to LA, I had to stop and get a picture of my favorite highway sign, which marks the exit to Zzyzx, California, an unincorporated settlement in San Bernardino County and the former site of the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa that is now occupied by the California State University Desert Studies Center. My ride was a 2010 Lincoln MKZ on loan from THX so I could evaluate the car's THX-certified multichannel sound system. I played a wide variety of music on CD and DVD-Audio, including jazz, classical, and rock as well as two CDs I recorded—one with my wife, Joanna Cazden, and the other with my avant-garde trio Many Axes.

As in previous incarnations I've heard, the system sounded great, with one glaring exception—it was way too bass-heavy at the default settings. The system only offers bass and treble tone controls (I have long wished for a useful graphic EQ with more than 1-octave bands), but turning the bass down almost all the way and increasing the treble somewhat improved the overall sound quality quite a bit. And it can play LOUD without audible distortion, a hallmark of THX car-audio systems. Once I had the tone controls dialed in, it provided an excellent soundtrack for my trek across the gorgeous desert landscape.