Audio Quality

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the audio quality of the basic vs the ungraded option. I would hope in a car of this quality that the audio would be comperable. I spend a fair amount of time driving and the audio quality is very important to me. I had a Hyundai Genesis with the Lexicon 17 speaker system that was phenomenal. Any audiophiles out there who can evaluate the quality of the 7.1 sound in the S compared to other high end systems found in Jags (B&W), Acuras (ELS) or Lexus (Mark Levinson)?

This is covered ad nauseous in existing threads...

Mark Levinson wins hands down.
Tesla premium sound doesn't even come close, unfortunately.

Thanks for being the "Forum Police" but I only found topics discussing the perceived problems with the sound system such as "too quiet in the rear". No discussion on the quality of the sound compared to "gas" vehicles. Anyone know who makes the components for their system?

I have the Premium Sound Package, and I think it's alright, not amazing. It would be nice if the bass was stronger.

There have been claims Tesla makes them itself, even the speakers.

I have the premium audio, it's just OK. The overall sound is OK, it's the front/rear balance that I have issues with. I like the sound to feel like it's balanced around me, and in the Model S, it feel very front-centered, like it's only coming from the windshield. Even when I've got the fader cranked to 8 in the back, it's still a very forward-directional sound. Don't love it, so I can't even imagine how sub-par the basic audio package is.

Not bad at all actually, but with the same forward bias. There's just not enough oomph in the back to give one that immersive experience. That said, the sound bounces strangely in the car. If I set the crosshairs in the center just behind the front seats I can improve the surround in the driver's seat considerably.

Ask Slacker for Learning to Fly by Tom Petty and shift the crosshairs from the driver center mass to the position above and see what you think.


Waiting to hear my Model S, but just wanted to comment that most audiophiles suggest that proper should be

"We leaned on Jeff’s ear to evaluate the soundstaging — he has 20 years of experience building car audio systems, and even trained as an opera singer. He listened to a music track after every test to determine where it seemed like the sound was coming from.

Ideally, it should sound like the band is on stage in front of you on the dash, just beyond the windshield. It creates the sensation that the music starts just outside the car. Look for the diagram below after each test to see how our soundstage is shaping up." (from )

So what you describe is right in line with that...

Pungoteague_Dave, no need to comment like you did... let is pass if it irtritates. The issue has merit to others.

I got the base audio, and to me seems somewhat average as car audio goes. I now wish I sprung for Sound Studio. When I ordered it there was no information other than going from 7 to 12 speakers and doubled the wattage (which is really a very small audible difference). The 12 speakers are larger, and it includes a sub-woofer in the rear. I'm now looking on how to retrofit a sub-woofer in to get a bit more bass and improve the sound of the base audio.

I'm not an expert, so I'm not criticizing Crutchfield Jeff's analysis, but instead, I'm asking an honest question.

Why is it ideal for the music to "sound like the band is on stage in front of you on the dash, just beyond the windshield"?

Is it because based on our audio technology and the biology of our ears and psychology of our audio perception that that produces the best quality sound? Or is it because it is considered good to make it sound like you're experiencing a live band in front of you on a stage?

Because I don't care about it sounding like a band is in front of me, if the only reasoning to do that is to recreate the experience of being at a concert. If there is some audio quality/preception reason, then I would be interested to read an explanation of it.

Also, there is this caption for an image in the article, "This represent's Jeff's ideal sound curve, one that helps overcome some of the limitations that appear when you listen to music in a moving vehicle."

Why the heck does it matter that the vehicle is moving, other than the fact that there might be external noise?

Some here have indicated a "weak" bass response. Such was my experience (it should be noted that I was in a showroom) since in AZ we cannot actually drive the cars. Nonetheless as I posted elsewhere I felt the studio sound was sub par "to my ear" when compared to the 300w 9 spkr. THX audio in my Town Car.

Voice and treble was too strong, bass was too weak, also front bias was observed which seemingly could not be overcome with a satisfactory result "sound reproduction wise" the equalizer. By that I mean though I was able to center myself in the sound it's quality diminished by doing so.

My final option was to go with it anyway and look elsewhere for a subwoofer add on.

I can understand some of you wanting another subwoofer- however I truly believe you'll encounter similar issues. This is because the system is simply not powerful enough- it is in desperate need of more power- hence the reason why I think much of the music sounds 'hollow'. You will require a separate amp. I had discussed my concerns in prior threads before I received my car- and it seems my concerns were realized. I guess I'm going to have to wait until someone more knowledgeable and daring than myself tackles the audio system- something I can't wait for it to occur- it would complete this car.

Found my previous comments in a prior thread:

After hearing the final sound system in my Tesla- I think the bass is now weak throughout. Also, the mids and highs aren't that great. Again, as noted before, if you've never heard an aftermarket system- you won't mind. But I have, and it's bothersome that the Tesla doesn't measure up. Much like many here note that they've been spoiled by the Tesla ride, and an ICE is clunky- the same holds true for me regarding the audio- I've been spoiled by a real audio system and the Tesla audio is clunky. Apart from the audio, the rest of the car is spectacular though.

After 7 weeks in my Sig with the Premium Sound Package I agree that it's just okay and I also wish it was more meaty. Be sure to turn off the Dolby Surround. That helps a lot. Didn't make sense to me that it was better in the off position, but it was. Agree with Robert22 as to where to set the crosshairs; that's where mine were when I checked with his recommended Petty tune.

Ugh. Ok, two perspectives.

1) On a personal factory tour last August 23 (2012), we were told the (then) audio system didn't meet Elon's expectations. So, (Paraphrasing now) Tesla engineers designed the audio system... and the sub-contractor (Bose, Alpine, ?) built what was required to spec.

2) This topic is highly subjective. Your age; your ambient sounds; your degree-of-audiophileness; your audio package; your neighbor's leaf blower, etc.)

Bottom line, do you like the sound system -- yes or no?

(It's all subjective.)

Yes, but I wish it was as good as the Bose System in my Infiniti '04 G35.

I agree! I drive an Infinity '06 G35 Sport Coup. I love the aspirated sound of the engine rev more than the interior acoustics... well, ok, they are both really good.

I'm not a real audiophile, so I'll just shut-up now.

Is there an EQ setting? It sounds like a lot of complaints could be remedied by adjusting the levels to the most popular setting (high level low frequencies, then troughing at mid frequencies, and going back up for higher frequencies). If the sound stage is indeed in front, then it was definitely tuned for the most technical audiophile as front stage in cars is also ideal in aftermarket stereos. I think what may be lacking is the rear fill that most people expect. Not all the sounds should be front stage, just mainly vocals and some instruments.

I think I'm going to get the premium sound and hope they improve the flexibility with software instead of risking adding an aftermarket system. Since aftermarket amps are generally triggered by a 12v signal I would be worried that improper signal tapping could drain the 12V battery in the car.

I think Tesla asked its engineers to design the most cost effective sound system that would result in the discussion we're having now.

@Robert22 *like*

It also depends on the source a lot.
Discussing the quality of sound while streaming over BT is kinda pointless.
Tesla doesn't have a built-in CD drive and doesn't play lossless compressed files like .flac (very surprising for a linux-based system).
You're limited to MP3s on USB and Internet streaming, both are lower quality sources.
And don't get me started on FM reception...

Does it play mp4 Apple Lossless (ALAC) on a USB drive?

Sorry, .m4a


As a reminder... I haven't heard the sound in a tesla yet (it's being made right now :} ) - so this is just some general notes on what they may have been trying to accomplish. That said, see the following site:

To your questions:

Since it's percieved that music should sound like it was recorded and generally that is the intended goal of the recording artist (or so I am told).

Mostly live band in front of you

I'll leave this the the referenced article...

I only referenced the Crutchfield article as I remembered where it was -- don't take it as the soul authority on the subject. So as far as the car moving bit goes, I don't have a clue :}


I wouldn't worry about the 12V turn-on line draining your battery - it sooooo small as to be unnoticable.

@sergiyz - My Lexus Mark Levinson system sounds slightly less good than my former BMW premium system, or than my wife's current premium system in her Mini, for that matter (despite Mark Levinson of course being a brand with half-godly status), so if Tesla's premium system doesn't even meet that standard, then that is not good news.

On the other hand, I very well remember that my BMW premium system sounded much better with all equalization/special effects OFF (by-passing all those sound filters). @cmlaff - less is often more in my opinion as well...

@all: which brings us back to the initial question: who A/B'd basic sound system vs. premium sound system before (or after) buying as is willing to comment on his or her findings?

I am not an audiophile but I find the upgraded sound system in my Model S to be on par with my home theater system playing classical music. My home theater receiver is a Yamaha RX-A3000 with M&K speakers. To play the CDs, I copied the wave files from the CDs on to a USB flash drive and so there is no loss of quality due to compression. Or it could be that my home theater system is not that good for music.


sergiyz - I agree the sound source is really important, which is true of any sound system. The model S DOES support lossless .flac, likely the best source you can get short of actual CDs.

You really can't validate how good or poor the system is using compressed sound files (mp3, etc.) and worse - running it through bluetooth, which only has lossy compression (and it may re-compress it to a different compression rate further muddling the audio).

I've converted most of my library directly from CDs to lossless .flac, and then stuck them on a 64 GB flash drive. This works great.

Of course we also need to keep in mind that a car is not an ideal acoustical environment, with wind and road noise have a larger effect when there is no engine noise.

As I stated earlier, for me the base sound system is average, but really needs a sub-woofer. I can't say how the sound studio improves on the base, but I've found most cars that do have a sub-woofer are underated and designed for low-cost and low-weight. I'm not looking for pounding sound, and I usually listen at moderate to lower levels, but this is where the bass often drops out without a bit more punch.

@tsx_5, thanks for the additional info. I made a note to read that article you linked later.

@tsx_5, My main concern isn't the remote signal draining the battery. But wether or not that signal turns off when the car locks, and if not the amp will remain on. That might drain the battery.

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