Sony Hi-Res Digital Media Player Powers the Magic Bus

Sony Electronics - 06/01/2016

HOLLYWOOD, Calif., June 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Sony Electronics announced today an exclusive cross-promotion agreement with Whitledge Designs, which combines Sony's latest Hi-Res Audio Digital Media Player and the award-winning demonstration vehicle, the Magic Bus. The new endeavor - which was unveiled during a special Hi-Res Symposium at Capitol Studios in LA - is designed to bring studio-quality Hi-Res Audio to music enthusiasts everywhere.

The Magic Bus features Sony's RSX-GS9, the industry's first in-dash Hi-Res music player, which has been specifically designed to withstand the numerous challenges posed by the mobile environment. The GS9 can reproduce Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files, as well as virtually every other digital format, with unprecedented accuracy and amazing clarity.  

"Sony is committed to bringing high-quality sound products to consumers wherever they listen to music," said Takumi Sasaki, Director of Car Audio, Home Entertainment & Sound at Sony Electronics North America. "By utilizing unique audio technologies, the RSX-GS9 can bring listeners closer to the spirit and intention of the artist's original performance. It joins a growing line of Sony Hi-Res Audio products that are designed to deliver a more immersive music experience, at home or on the go."

A Bus Like No Other ...

The Magic Bus was designed by noted engineer, Jon Whitledge, who has over 27 years of experience in applied research, manufacturing, and product development. Whitledge Designs, which was founded in 2004, specializes in designing, fabricating, and tuning state-of-the-art audio systems for automobiles and homes.

Since its inception, the Magic Bus has been highly acclaimed by numerous musicians, experts, and executives from across the industry. Additionally, it was the first automotive audio system to be reviewed by The Absolute Sound who called it "the world's best car stereo" and acknowledged the vehicle for its "ability to create a three-dimensional soundstage" that is "outstanding even by home audio standards." 

"The Magic Bus is the culmination of my ongoing efforts to build the world's finest mobile music system," stated Jon Whitledge, President, Whitledge Designs. "For nearly 10 years, it has been both a labor of love and a rolling laboratory to expand the art of sound.  So it's only fitting that Sony's RSX-GS9 Hi-Res Audio player assume its proper place in the ultimate showcase for premium car entertainment."

In its latest incarnation, the Magic Bus has been totally enhanced and redesigned to take full advantage of the outstanding performance of the RSX-GS9's 32-bit D/A converter from ESS Technology, Inc. The player achieves an impressive dynamic range of up to 135dB, along with extremely low noise and distortion (-120dB).  Additionally, all of the RSX-GS9's primary components – from the operational amplifiers to the clock generator – have been optimized to minimize electro-magnetic noise and time-based errors ("jitter"). 

Over the past few years, the Magic Bus has been exhibited at many top industry venues including CES, Rocky Mountain Audiofest, and Cars and Coffee events. The RSX-GS9 will make its debut with the Magic Bus at T.H.E. Show Newport, which will be held at the Hotel Irvine from June 3rd thru 5th.

For more information on the RSX-GS9, please visit
For more information on Hi-Res Audio see

Upcoming Shows:

The Magic Bus to Exhibit at La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

SAN DIEGO, CA – MARCH 13, 2017 - The world-famous Magic Bus, sponsored by Sony Electronics, will make its first appearance at the 13th Annual La Jolla Concours d’Elegance on April 9th, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance features various types of fine automobile gems. Past years have showcased horseless carriages, Italian marques, British marques, Woodies, 50’s classics, and American sports cars. Spectators from all over the nation come to the breathtaking shores of La Jolla to view their favorite classics.

Since its inception, the Magic Bus has been highly acclaimed by numerous musicians, experts, and executives from across the industry. Additionally, it was the first automotive audio system to be reviewed by the abso!ute sound® magazine who called it “the world’s best car stereo” and acknowledged the vehicle for its “ability to create a three-dimensional soundstage” that is “outstanding even by home audio standards.”

The Magic Bus features Sony’s RSX-GS9, the industry’s first in-dash Hi-Res music player, which has been specifically designed to withstand the numerous challenges posed by the mobile environment. The GS9 can reproduce Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files, as well as virtually every other digital format, with unprecedented accuracy and amazing clarity.

As a special treat, Meghan Andrews, from Los Angeles, will make a guest appearance at the Magic Bus. Meghan is a singer and songwriter whose music and lyrics modernize the folk spirit of the sixties by encompassing the world around her into a new contemporary sound. In 2014 Meghan won the West Coast Songwriter’s Award and came to the attention of producer, Cookie Marenco. While performing coast to coast, Meghan has managed to release live tracks for a Blue Coast Records special event while recording her third album, entitled "Just Let Go.” Her second record was recorded at the legendary Sear Sound in New York City.

The Magic Bus will feature Meghan’s recordings from Blue Coast Records’ Special Event 43, rendered using a new, state-of-the-art, high-resolution digital format - 5.6 MHz DSD. Meeting Meghan, experiencing her angelic voice, and learning first-hand about the recording process, will be a truly unique and special experience.

The Magic Bus’ 4,620-Watt audio system features nine loudspeaker transducers, nine monoblock amplifiers, cutting-edge (96 kHz-32 bit) digital signal processing, pure silver audio signal cables and connections, and a large bank of batteries to power it all. The scientifically designed, and computer-optimized, acoustics inside the Magic Bus are studio quality. To extract maximum performance from the GS9, leading-edge products by Kimber Kable, WBT,, Dynaudio, Genesis Car Audio, Audiotech Fischer, Cascade Audio Engineering, Neutrik, XS Power, and many more, were used. SMc Audio and the Amp Doctor provided system voicing services and amplifier modifications, respectively. For about the last ten years, the 3,300-pound audio system in the Magic Bus is Jon Whitledge’s culmination of ongoing efforts to build the world’s finest mobile music system, and both a labor of love and a rolling laboratory to expand the art of sound.

Notably, the Magic Bus is extensively autographed by GRAMMY and Emmy award-winning, and otherwise famous and talented musicians. The list includes San Diego’s favorite musicians and others from around the world. To date, over 250 musicians' autographs have been acquired, and more continue to be added. The Magic Bus is a “rolling shrine” and a tribute to the musicians who light up our lives with harmony and sound.

For more information about, and tickets for, the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, please visit

For more information on the RSX-GS9, please visit

For more information on Hi-Res Audio, please visit

For more information about Meghan Andrews please visit

For more information about Blue Coast Records please visit

For more information about the Magic Bus please visit

Show Report: T.H.E. Show Newport 2015
click here for the full show report published on July 25, 2015


Seminar Video: Too Much, Magic Bus! A Retrospective of Milestones in Mobile Audio
click here to start the video


Pre-show press release:

I’m pleased to announce that the world-famous “Magic Bus” will be available for you to see and hear at The Home Entertainment Show Newport, or "T.H.E. Show Newport" for short, at Hotel Irvine in Irvine, CA, on May 29-31, 2015, inclusive ( T.H.E. Show Newport is a consumer-friendly event and especially welcomes the general public! I cordially invite you to experience the ONLY mobile audio system in the world to appear on the cover of the abso!ute sound® magazine as “The World’s Best Car Stereo”.

As an added bonus, Larry Mitchell, GRAMMY award-winning producer, and guitar virtuoso (, will be the featured artist at the Magic Bus exhibit delivering the world’s first “silent concert” at a mobile audio system. As a world-famous guitarist who plays Ibanez, Knaggs, and Godin guitars, Larry has toured with Ric Ocasek, Tracy Chapman, Billy Squier, and many others. Larry tours all over the world conducting guitar clinics, and took time from his busy schedule to support the Magic Bus!

The silent concert will present Larry’s performance in two unique ways – outside the Magic Bus rendered through state-of-the-art headphones, and inside the Magic Bus rendered through it’s revelatory audio system. Outside the Magic Bus, Larry will play his custom-made Ibanez guitar fed into a Fractal Audio Systems ( Axe-Fx™ II Preamp/FX Processor, in conjunction with high-resolution backing tracks from Astell&Kern’s ( AK120 II high-resolution portable player. The backing tracks and Larry’s guitar will be mixed and distributed to Astell&Kern’s superb AK T5p headphones powered by Woo Audio’s ( WA7d Fireflies headphone amplifiers, and to the Magic Bus’ audio system. Inside the Magic Bus, SMc Audio’s Flex-Connect ( will isolate and transform the simultaneous guitar feed into the Magic Bus’ stunning audio system. Don't miss this rare opportunity to experience live, uncompressed, electric guitar like you’ve never heard before!

For those unfamiliar with my work, the Magic Bus is my lifetime masterpiece, and considered by many to be a mobile audio system without rival ( The Magic Bus' audio system, installed in an unconventional, but acoustically favorable, Mercedes Sprinter van, was designed purely for sound quality and comprises of nine Dynaudio ( loudspeaker transducers, powered by six Genesis ( amplifiers capable of producing 4,620 Watts! Each of the six loudspeaker transducers (two Esotar2 110 tweeters, two MW150 midranges, and two MW180 woofers) in the two-channel, three-way, stereo front sound stage are powered by a dedicated monoblock amplifier and actively controlled by a dedicated channel of the 48 kHz - 24 bit digital signal processor (Alpine’s F#1 Status PXI-H990). The mono subwoofer comprises of three large Dynaudio Esotar2 1200 subwoofer transducers powered by three Genesis Dual Mono Xtreme amplifiers capable of producing 3,300 Watts! The 300-pound subwoofer enclosure was laminated from multiple layers of Baltic birch, and resides on properly tuned military-grade generator mounts. A seventh channel of the digital signal processor actively controls the subwoofer system, which has full and proportional output down to 10 Hz! All of the audio signal cables and connections were handmade using the finest products from Kimber Kable (, (, and WBT (

As most audiophiles know, audio systems are only as good as the room in which they are installed. The scientifically designed, and computer-optimized, acoustics inside the Magic Bus take mobile audio listening to a new height with an unprecedented balance of studio quality reverberation times. This remarkable achievement was made possible by an industry-first use of 54 acoustically functional panels, consisting of 34 Helmholtz absorbers and 20 binary amplitude diffusors, resulting in what surely must be the highest performance mobile listening room ever built. The use of Cascade Audio Engineering’s ( automotive audio enhancement and noise control products contributed significantly to the unprecedented performance of the listening room and audio system. Furthermore, to combine functionality with aesthetics, a prominent interior designer coordinated the colors and fabrics for the Magic Bus’ interior, which includes suede-covered headliners, custom carpeting, and acoustically functional draperies and window valances. The entire audio system, its supporting infrastructure, and the acoustical treatments weigh over 3,000 pounds! Although the interior of the Magic Bus, and its audio system, were meticulously tuned using state-of-the-art computer-based measurement systems, Steve McCormack (, legendary audio component designer, performed the final system voicing by ear. The audio system took more than 14,000 hours to build and tune over the course of more than six years

Notably, the Magic Bus is the only audio system in the world (to my knowledge) that is extensively autographed by GRAMMY and Emmy award-winning, and otherwise famous and talented musicians. To date, I've acquired over 250 musicians' autographs, and continue to acquire more. I consider the Magic Bus a “rolling shrine” and a tribute to the musicians who light up our lives with harmony and sound.

Because most of you will have traveled from all over the world to see and hear the Magic Bus, I feel you deserve the best listening experience possible. Therefore, I'll be conducting one-on-one listening sessions at approximately 15-minute intervals. That means only about 40 lucky people per day will get to experience the Magic Bus. Feel free to bring your favorite audiophile recordings on CD (44.1 kHz - 16 bit) or DVD-Audio (96 kHz - 24 bit). As a special treat, I'll be playing selected, recently recorded, ultra high-resolution (192 kHz - 24 bit) BluePort Jazz ( recordings. The realism of these recordings is simply jaw dropping! Once you hear these, you won't want to listen to CDs anymore!

Robert Harley, Editor-in-Chief of the abso!ute sound® magazine, heard the newly completed Magic Bus at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach (June 2011) and wrote in his show highlights,

Jon Whitledge showed the latest incarnation of his ‘Magic Bus’, a van that houses what I called ‘The world’s best car stereo’ when I heard it five years ago. Since then, Whitledge has taken the system to an entirely new level of performance. The design, construction, passion, and dedication that went into the Magic Bus are unprecedented, and it showed in the sound quality. The system had effortless dynamics, very high resolution of low-level detail, and tremendous timbral fidelity, throwing a soundstage that rivaled that of a well-set-up home system.

Other prominent home AND mobile audio industry veterans have also heard the Magic Bus and commented on its performance ...

Perfection on wheels.
-- Earl Zausmer / mobile audio legend

The Magic Bus by Jon Whitledge defines a new standard for mobile audio. I had the pleasure, via my company Straight Wire, of being involved with many of the top sound quality competition and demonstration vehicles since the mid 90’s. The Magic Bus is a testament to Jon Whitledge’s vision and great efforts to produce a moveable high end aural experience that will captivate all who have the pleasure to listen.
-- Steven Hill / President / Straight Wire

Sound like none other - ‘music from the inside’ - the goal of those with ears and hearts that care for what is left on earth as truth and beauty!
-- Jim Merod / Writer & Reviewer / Positive Feedback & Enjoy The Music

Absolutely phenomenal - both in terms of the result, and also the fantastic amount of work he has put into it.  His ‘Magic Bus’ audio van is far and away the highest-performance audio system I have ever heard on wheels, but more importantly, it rivals the best home systems in many ways.
-- Steve McCormack / Designer / SMc Audio

Audio References for me are based on tonal quality, stage height, width and depth and install quality. And until recently, there was not one vehicle that encompassed all of these characteristics. So I guess you could say I had many references. Jon’s van encompasses all of these, and even raises the stakes by smacking around many of the high-end home systems I’ve heard. Jon has worked, and will continue to work, very hard to achieve unparalleled excellence in his designs. This vehicle has been regarded as the best sounding vehicle many of the home and pro audio guys have ever heard, and they are a hard bunch to convince.
-- Paul Messett / Sales and Marketing Manager / Cascade Audio Engineering

It is always a pleasure when you discover someone focused on following his or her passion.  As a musician & producer, I have learned to gravitate towards people like this, for there is where you find the single-mindedness necessary to create the very special things in life.  ...Jon Whitledge loves musical performance. He has devoted himself to creating the ultimate automobile audio system. Armed with his extensive knowledge, ingenuity and attention to detail, along with the dedication of countless hours, he has produced a mobile listening environment that rivals the experience of being present when the music was created.  …In these days of minimization, compression and dithering, it is a pleasure to come across someone interested in bringing out all the fullness and nuances of musical performance. On his system, my own recordings sounded as I remembered them in the studio.
-- Chuck Perrin / Musician / Producer

Absolutely, positively the best bass I've ever heard in a car.  …The noise floor in the system is as low as it gets.  …It sounds like you're listening to a stereo in a bank vault. No electrical noise, and the isolation from the rest of the world is remarkable.  …the Magic Bus isn't about bass, or soundstaging, or tonality. It's about EVERYTHING. So there are certainly car systems which will get louder, but I've never heard one that was as pitch-perfect in the bass. And there are systems with 'stealthier' installs, but none that can image like this. It's made me think about what's important in audio reproduction.  …definitely a system for the most discerning listener.
-- Patrick Bateman / respected forum member

The first thing it does better than any vehicle I have ever listened to, is that it so easily shows you the differences that exist between various recordings, whether subtle or readily apparent. Jon played a disc that had two songs on it (Rebecca Pidgeon's 'Spanish Harlem' & Patricia Barber's 'Smash', each back to back - each recorded in standard 16/44.1 resolution, and 24/176.4 resolution. The higher rez versions displayed an openness and transparency that the redbook offerings simply couldn't match, and Jon's Sprinter easily showed the differences.  …Also very notable was how delicate cymbals were reproduced, with the detail and proper decaying that I would expect from a carefully assembled home rig, but so rarely have heard from a car. This bus can do delicacy and thunder in the blink of an eye - and do so without a hint of effort.  …The stage was rear-view mirror height, width was pillar to pillar when the recording called for it, and front to back imaging cues were easily discernible. Even though the left A-pillar pod was fairly close to the listening position, it never once gave away its location - in fact, none of the drivers gave away their physical locations.
-- Bob Smith / respected forum member

Jon's attention to detail is on par with the best I've seen, and I enjoyed his unrelenting no-compromise approach in the materials used.  …the binary amplitude diffusor panels and other acoustic treatments were effective in balancing the decay times of the listening space. I don't think many people would immediately notice this because the treatments simply do their job, and it is difficult to notice the absence of problem. Simply talking to each other while sitting in the front seats is plenty to notice this.  …The noise floor was undetectable even during quiet passages at high volumes and there was not a hint of distortion or strain. The words effortless and transparent come to mind, as the system did not seem to contribute anything onto the material being played.  …It has a level of transparency that is uniquely high, and I was able to hear new details (and new artifacts) on tracks I am very familiar with.
-- Justin Zazzi / Radio Broadcast Engineer

And check out these video testimonials ...

 "Earl Zausmer Listens to the Magic Bus"
-- Earl Zausmer / Legendary mobile audio competitor / Industry consultant

“Rebecca Pidgeon Listens to, and Autographs, the Magic Bus”
-- Rebecca Pidgeon / Actress and Singer-Songwriter

"ANT Listens to the Magic Bus"
-- Anthony Collova / Owner / DIYMA Car Audio Forum

"Dan Brooks and Alan Clark Listen to the Magic Bus"
-- Mobile audio industry veterans

"The Magic Bus, Jon Whitledge, Larry Mitchell, and Alan Childs at 2013 T.H.E. Show Las Vegas"
-- Peter Breuninger /

"Alan Childs Listens to the Magic Bus"
-- Alan Childs / Drummer in Rock of Ages at the Venetian / drummer for David Bowie, Julian Lennon, Rod Stewart, and more

To learn more about the Magic Bus, you are cordially invited to attend my one-hour seminar entitled, “Too Much, Magic Bus! A Historical Retrospective of Milestones in Mobile Audio” on Friday, May 29, 2015, at 12:30 p.m. PST.

As a lover of music, I’ve attempted to build an audio system that re-creates that special moment in time when the music itself was created. With live music as my benchmark, I’ve engaged faithfully in the challenging and virtually impossible task of re-creating it. Larry and I cordially invite you to experience the sonic thrill of the Magic Bus and hear for yourself what others have said. We’d be honored to share it with you.

Warmest Regards,
Jon R. Whitledge
April 11, 2015

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