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New sound system

The old sound system had 11 speakers, this new one costs $1550 more and has 12; I was getting the system either way, but any thoughts from the audiophiles out there on the new design?

awesome information! thanks for pursuing that in such detail.

Like Amped, mine sounds pretty bad with Dolby on, but service and showroom folks chalk it up to a difference in taste. They have not sat in the car with me to allow me to demonstrate the huge difference between Dolby on & off. When I mention the bass and rear sound dropping, they assume I"m trying to bump 808 beats like a low rider. The party line is that Dolby is supposed to hit you from the front like you are at a live symphony performance....therefore there is minimal sound from the rear speakers and sub. The solution offered is for me to just appreciate how elegant and great Dolby is (and stop listening to my favorite artists).

With Dolby off, I actually really love the upgraded stereo. I can hear lots of details and elements of songs that I don't usually notice on my headphones or computer speakers (or the old Honda stereo). With Dolby off, the bass is stronger than I even realized. My girlfriend could hear me from 50 yards away when I pulled into her complex's lot. I only had the volume at 6 or 7.

Back to the OP topic of the new system... I'm happier every day that I bought when I did. I got lots of features that have gone up greatly in price since then, including the renamed stereo upgrade.

> ... they assume I"m trying to bump 808 beats like a low rider.

@EclecticCitizen - I have the upgraded stereo and Dolby on and I most definitely DO bump 808* beats like a low rider (much the the chagrin of my wife)... Though I usually run at a volume 8. 10 will just about make my ears bleed and 11, well, that just sounds horrible (bad distortion)...

* Well, lately it's been dubstep, actually.

To further add to the sound quality issues, Tesla uses different sound processing to compensate for vehicles with and without the pano roof. It's possible that the wrong profile was shipped with your vehicle, i.e., it's processing using the pano roof profile when you don't have a pano roof. If the sound processing is tuned specifically to each interior, as Tesla says, then a mistake at this step could easily be misconstrued as a bad sound system when it was just using the wrong sound profile.

@AmpedRealtor - Excellent point! The acoustics off the pano would be completely different. I imagine this is driven off the same global car settings the system uses to draw your car icon in the car.

@EclecticCitizen - Does it have the correct roof shown in the car drawings?

This might sound silly, but the upgraded sound is one of the reasons why I did not update to the new pricing and options. I wanted the upgraded sound, but could not bring myself to pay $2,500 for that was previously a $950 option. I thought I made my last stand over parking sensors, but it appears to have occurred over the sound package instead. LOL!

My Jetta V6 had an upgraded Monsoon sound system with subwoofer. While not the best system in the world, it sounded great to me. Then I replace the Jetta with a Prius Touring that came with the Harmon Kardon system sans subwoofer. Sounds totally anemic and pathetic. I have regretted for the last five years not getting an upgraded factory sound package.

I agree, that price hike seems way overblown. The only way I can think to justify that is they're trying to roll in all the R&D they did on the surround mode decoding profiles. There's NO WAY there $2,500 worth of upgraded hardware. $950, sure, good speakers and an amp aren't cheap, but they're not THAT good.

98 db for 15 minutes causes permanent occipital lobe damage in lab rats. Just sayin'.

typo: 95 db.

@Brian H - [cupping hand to ear] WHAT?

Can you really have a top end aftermarket sound system installed in a Model S for less than $2500? I was quoted $4000, installed.

Have had the car for two months, and the standard sound system has grown on me, seems quite nice. Rare occasions where it is just a little weak, not enough for me to care, or pay the extra $$.

The new cars in the showroom have a small grill in the front of the center console. Older cars do not have it. I was wondering if this is an additional tweeter in the new sound package.

The same is not true of human beings.
Osha standards say that humans (who have much bigger ears than rats,
can have 3 hours of continuous sound at 97 dBA, slow response mode with no long term damage. People should rightly be concerned about playing music too loud for too long. 105 dBA for only an hour is the Osha standard. Also tolerance to low frequencies is much higher, so if most of the loudness in the sound is low bass, there is much less chance of damage. I have measured sound levels in many different environments and for myself, 95 dBA slow response mode is quite loud, and 105 dBA is way louder than what I would play anything for more than a few minutes.
Many people have suffered permanent hearing loss from over exposure to loud sounds for too long.

DonS - I noticed the grill/holes yesterday too!

For those that haven't seen it, about 2 inches above the 12v power outlet in the center pedestal is a 1.5" inch diameter set of tiny holes in the plastic. This is on new cars just out of production.

I don't think it's a speaker as it's just a poor location for one. My guess is it is either a ventilation hole for a fan (there are some electronics in the pedestal), or perhaps a new temperature sensor for more accurate cabin temps. It could be a microphone, but I wouldn't expect the so many holes and the location doesn't seem right for it either.

Its vent wholes for the copmuter located in the centre console...I got a little curious two weaks ago.

correction: 'too' :P

Thanks michael1800, the sales people didn't know what it was for, and I didn't have the time to follow up. I'm just too curious for my own good!

I thought the center console was hollow at first and thought perhaps I could put it to use...that's definitely not the case (pun)!

I heard it was a temperature sensor.

I had a chat with a Tesla rep about this over email, she clarified:

The ultra high fidelity sound system listed in the design studio is the same technology (no changes) to the previously named Sound Studio option. Two of the three cars on the showroom floor in the Santana Row store have the ultra high fidelity sound system, and one car has the standard sound system. The ultra high fidelity sound system has:
· 12 speakers (8 speakers, 2 tweeters, 1 center channel, 1 subwoofer)
· Tuned to take into account roof materials
· It was designed in collaboration with audio experts and music producers to engineer concert-like listening environment

I think this answers most of my questions. I'm going to make a visit to Santana Row with a friend of mine who's an audio encoding engineer and see what he thinks. I'll update in a week or two with his professional observations and with my choice.

I agree with a few folks above, if you have a crappy sounding system, whether upgraded or not, you should take a Tesla rep for a drive in your car. If it sounds bad, it should be fixed.

michael1800 | August 9, 2013
Its vent wholes for the copmuter located in the centre console...I got a little curious two weaks ago.

Heh. Lots more corrections 4U !


This has been commented on elsewhere, but for those who may not have seen those threads: Source material is critical to best sound.

Lossless FLAC source material on USB stick (burned from CD for example) sounds quite good overall and better to many ears with Dolby On than Off.

Lossy source material (Slacker, Bluetooth, most sources in fact) does not sound nearly as good as lossless and is worse with Dolby On in the opinion of many who have A-B tested them. Keep Dolby Off with lossy source material.

I have the upgraded Sound Studio package. I think it sounds pretty good for a factory sound system. I've never really encountered any "upgraded" factory sound systems that I was that impressed with. That includes Mark Levinson and Nakamichi in Lexus, BOSE in Buicks and Porsches, and Hardon Karmon in BMW. Bang & Olufson's they put in Audi and MB are probably the best. The B&O system in MB is $5000!!!!! Every upgraded factory system runs around $2K+ in higher end cars. Tesla is just adjusting their prices to be on par with other highend car makers, or normallizing it so to speak. Such is the price of waiting on new technology vs being an early adopter. If you want a knock your socks off sound system, there is no substitute for aftermarket.

The internet radio is AMAZING. hundreds of channels for every music you like. You can even get radio feeds from other countries. I am a big fan of Sirius XM but don't feel like I need it in this car. Music options are near limitless.

Does the Sound studio really have the ability to store songs? I was told by a rep in Westchester that I can only play Music from My USB. So if my USB has 1000 songs, I can only play 500, does this sound right?

@agunloyefamily - No it does not sound right. If your USB can store 1000 songs, both the standard and premium sound system should be able to play all of them. For about two years, the Specs page advertised on board flash memory storage for music. That was never activated on Model S already delivered, and quietly went away a few weeks ago. It's unrelated to playing music from your USB.

And if your USB only holds 1,000 songs, consider an upgrade. I bought this 64GB "stick" on amazon for $40 and it is ideal for the console. It will hold 10,000 songs easily and is virtually invisible once you plug it in.

Follow up to earlier.

I brought a friend with me to the Santana Row store this afternoon. He has an M.S. in sound encoding, and is a professional audio engineer. It goes without saying, but there *might* be 50 people in the country who know as much about sound quality and production as he does.

We started with the normal car, sans Studio Sound. We both agreed that the system is quite nice. Not the nicest by far, but not at all bad. The fidelity, even with volume increases, was quite clear, even with a variety of high treble or higher base. Without a sub, the lack of lower base is noticeable, if you play that kind of music. We did notice that you had to turn the system up more to get it to play loud, but even when loud, the clarity was quite good.

We then moved to the High Fidelity system car. This was a noticeable upgrade. Whereas the low end car seemed to be "reaching" just a little to hit those high and low notes clearly, the high end system seemed effortless, and required far less volume to produce the same output. The sub made the bass lower, and the system itself had a slightly clearer high end.

Overall, my friend declared that both systems were "quite good," but that the HF system to be "extremely solid." He confirmed that if he were buying one he'd definitely go for the high end system, and thought it was worth the investment. Based on my own observations and his input I'll definitely have the high end system in my reservation when I make it...

I saw some folks complaining about the system being too "front-centric." This is as intended, but I agree that the system sounds better when moving the center towards the back. I found that moving the balance back about 11-12 units, which places the sound centered on the middle of the back seat, produced a very nice surround quality, where you were less bombarded with front orchestra. It made the system feel much more like it was all around you, rather than coming from the front.


Did you guys play with the EQ?

Yes, my friend was less than impressed with the equalizer, though he was quite impressed with the balancing system. In his words "If you're going to bother putting knobs, then put in knobs. Putting in 3 knobs is almost as pointless as putting in zero. It is odd given they put in a superb balancing system that they would only have a three input equalizer."

My only hope is that they do a software upgrade to improve the equalizer. He was quite sure the input capability is there on the back end; they're just not opening that capability to owners.

I don't know which I'm more excited about, my new S (and new sound system - to stay on topic) or my fake passport!

I'm not an audiophile, but music is the second most important thing to me after the quality of the ride as I travel quite a bit. I got the Sound Studio package, but found that the sound stage was not as broad and enveloping as I'd like. Certainly not up to the quality of the rest of the car. I heard about an aftermarket system on the forums and decided to give it a try.
Cliff from Reus Audio in Ca. installed the upgraded stereo system yesterday. The parts were shipped ahead of time so all he had to bring was his toolbox. The two tweeters in the front pillars were replaced & an additional tweeter was installed in the rear view mirror facing towards tghe windshield. Also I had a 10" woofer placed in the footwell in the back. This takes up about a third of the space. An amplifier was placed in the other compartment were I store the plugs. I have an adjustment knob in the side of my drivers seat in front of the seat controls to fine tune the bass response. Overall, the installation is invisible. All prior controls are still functional.The system sounds awesome. The car now has a stereo consistant with the rest of the car. The total cost, including travel expenses was around $4K. With the upgraded system now running $2500, for a bit more you can have a system truelly worthy of the car. I'd be happy to demo it for anyone interested here in No. Va.

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