News / 2014 T.H.E. Show Newport / Announcement

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 Beach, or "T.H.E. Show Newport" for short, at the Hilton Hotel in Irvine, CA, on May 30 through June 1, 2014, inclusive ( The Magic Bus will exhibited out-of-doors on the tennis court along with other exotic cars. There will be plenty of signs and personnel available to direct you to the Magic Bus! 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”.

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 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 9,800 hours to build and tune over the course of 6-1/2 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 5-minute intervals. That means only about 80 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!

Here are a couple of videos that demonstrate the power of the subwoofer system:

An amazing subwoofer demonstration:

An amazing subwoofer demonstration, Part II:

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

… I would like to say thank you to Jon for building the Magic Bus because he brought into the world something truly special … . I would have to say this is #1 on my list of vehicles I've listened to and it is by a decent margin. … this is one experience that was just awesome and I will remember for the rest of my life. The Magic Bus is a reference….PERIOD.  … Jon and the Magic Bus are the real deal, if you get a chance to hear and experience the Bus do it and leave your ego aside. -- Russ Balazs / renowned mobile audio fabricator (Octave Audio, Orlando, FL,

And check out these video testimonials ...

Earl Zausmer Listens to the Magic Bus:

-- Earl Zausmer / Legendary mobile audio competitor / Industry consultant 

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

Frank Martin listens to the Magic Bus:

Brian Levy listens to the Magic Bus:

-- Brian Levy, Ph.D., Faculty Member, New England Conservatory

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. I cordially invite you to experience the sonic thrill of the Magic Bus and hear for yourself what others have said. I’d be honored to share it with you.

Warmest Regards,
Jon R. Whitledge  
April 13, 2014

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