Sound System, is it final and has anyone played with it?

Since I think everyone will agree that the sound system in the Model S will be important as the car will be near silent, has anyone actually listened to it? Anyone tried to bring their own music on a USB stick?

Do we know if the beta cars have the final system installed and are all the signature beta cars equipped with the premium sound system?

Anyone look "under the hood" and see the amps installed?

I heard the upgraded sound system on the Beta in Boston. In short, it was breathtaking. Listening to classical music (on those days when you are in that mood) will be just mesmerizing. I am completely sold on the upgrade.

However, I do not know how the sound system performs.

~ Prash.

At some point, maybe on these forums, I heard "Alpine" mentioned as an OEM but I really don't see how the components matter since this is a system built especially for the car. Keep in mind the only audiophile guy I know calls Bose systems 'mostly junk with only a couple exceptions' and has always given me great advice.

The one beta I sat in was 'on loan' from the 'sound system guys' waay back in November. You could tell they were still tweaking things and significant work was being done on the sound system.

I expect the base system to be as good as anybody's premium system and the premium system to be spectacular, frankly.

I heard the upgraded sound system on the beta in the DC store. Very impressive. Worth the upgrade IMO.

Ug, need to edit myself more before posting because that was almost pure rambling. =P

Here's the bottom line: I think they're rightly proud of the sound system and I have the highest expectations for it.

I wasn't planning on upgrading the sound system until I sat in the Beta at the Santana Row event a few weeks ago and heard it. Now I think I'm going to save up my allowance for it. It was very loud but with very little, if any, distortion. Sounded great! I really don't think I could go back to the standard system now.

I believe you when you say that the upgraded system is nice but am wondering how much nicer is it than the 200 watt system.

Has anybody been able to do a side by side comparison of the upgraded system and the default system? If you haven't, how do you know it is worth the upgrade if you don't know what you are upgrading from?

1+ clea. I don't think we will be able to establish if the upgrade is worth it until being able to compare the standard and the upgraded systems side to side. The standard system could very well be great to the ears of many.

I agree, I too am very curious to see how well the "standard" system performs and how big the different in quality is between it and the upgraded version.

Anyone have any feedback on the standard sound system?

@all: Thank you for the feedback on the upgraded system so far

I asked my rep about a side by side comparison of the sound system options a couple of months ago and the answer was basically no. He said they could talks us thru the options but it didn't sound like side by side comparisons would be easily available, if at all.

and all sigs will be equipped with the upgraded systems so we may not be able to see (or hear) a basic system for evaluation until after summer ... compared to the other option choices this is probably the one i will agonize over until the last minute.

At some point, maybe on these forums, I heard "Alpine" mentioned as an OEM but I really don't see how the components matter since this is a system built especially for the car. (Jason S)

You heard it here first:

I was fortunate enough to visit the Santana Row model this week- beautiful car and I'm a believer so far. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the sound system. Believe me, I will be in the minority though. I have an aftermarket system in my current car- kenwood excelon deck, hertz hsk tweeters, ck6 mids (decided to use these over my hertz mids!), eclipse amp, and infinity kappa sub- dynamat throughout. By no means a competition worthy car- but descent enough. Compared to my current car- the upgraded sound system sounds muddled. It simply isn't clear- bass is too heavy up front masking the highs from shining properly. Now, I didn't bring my own music- there were some songs already uploaded onto it. Again, this will only be an issue if you've experienced a proper aftermarket system. If you've only listened to factory car stereos, you will be impressed. I can only hope that the car will be accessible enough to be able to add aftermarket components. I would have liked a little more time to play with it, but didn't want to blast it too loud. I'm someone who prefers clarity over that booming rattle your windows bass- the current stereo doesn't pass.

Now that's a respectable review.

Sounds like the system could use some tweaks. Prolly good enough sounds system for most folks...

Did you get a chance to adjust it some? Maybe it was tweaked for heavy bass.

I do wish I lived in the area- I was passing through on my way to San Fran, so couldn't play with it as long as I wanted. I've heard those premium luxury sound systems from other cars and they were amazing- that's until I heard an aftermarket system- it was night and day. The jump was more that going from a normal family sedan to a luxury car sound system. I just wanted to fall asleep in the car listening to music all day. It really is that much of a difference to me. The difference will only be there is you've experienced a proper aftermarket system. However, when I tried to show my girlfriend the difference, she couldn't really hear the difference as much as I did- some ears just don't hear the difference, some do.
At Santana Row, I didn't tweak it- however, if you've ever played with treble and bass on a regular factory system- it simply doesn't do the trick. You need a full equalizer with a 'clean signal' to do a proper job. The issue with most factory systems is that the built in amp and equalizers are already tweaked and tuned a certain way. The output simply isn't a 'clean' signal. The clean signal is the sound that the original recording was meant to have. You want the amp and equilizer/deck to do the processing to a clean signal to what your ears prefer, adding treble, bass, surround sound, raising and lowering the soundstage, etc... Most factory systems already have that built-in processing that has limited clarity and too much bass- making the sound muddled. You need power to do this and factory systems don't dedicate enough electrical power for this- hence the amp connecting directly to your battery in an aftermarket system. When I tweak my system to enhance the bass or turn the gain up going to the sub, you can still hear clarity in the tweeters and make out the mids, the bass simply becomes louder and can distort if too high, but the mids and high maintain their clarity. This isn't something that adjusting treble and bass can fix in my opinion.
What I imagine needs to occur, is to use a JL audio cleansweep device and then add in your own speakers and amp and equalizer in order to keep the 17 inch screen intact- but then again, without taking a look at the internal specs I could be very wrong.

My advice would be to strongly consider the premium stereo if you haven't heard an aftermarket. If you have the money upgrade yourself. People hear loud bass and immediately think- what a great system. It's clarity that counts- you want to believe that the instruments are sitting right in front of you.
Think of it this way, ever go into a car with someone who plays music you don't like- they turn it up and it literally will start hurting your ears (ear fatigue). You'll clench your teeth and cover your ears.
Go into a proper aftermarket system car- pop in the same CD, and you'll say- don't like this band, but the music is still pleasant. It really is like that. The quality of the sound system will make all forms of music shine. I'll pop in CDs of band are don't like, but can still appreciate their music.

As much as I appreciate your putting things into perspective, I would be reluctant overrating the experience you had in a single, unfinished, beta vehicle.

It would be nice if the "Sound Studio Package Perfect for the music lover." option is as good as a (not indecently priced) aftermarket system.

Though I'm not expecting the S to be silent (the Roadster isn't), I hope for a nice clear sound to go with the nice clean lines of the car, even at volume and speed, respectively.

Adding to EdG's quote, from the "Options and Pricing" page on this site. "Perfect for the music lover. Gives you the exhilaration of a front row concert seat with a 580 watt, 12 speaker Dolby ProLogic 7.1 system, storage space for over 3,000 songs, and XM Satellite Radio preparation."

I was told it would be studio quality and well worth the additional $950 and that's what I expect. I'm more a videophile then an audiophile but will be listening closely for the difference in the two options. Because of the DJ at the Santa Row event and constant doors opening and closing I was unable to gauge the quality of the system there. I should have gone super early or rather late and not mid-afternoon on that Saturday. The Hard Drive is tiny and the Satellite Radio is something I will never use personally so I am hoping to be blown away by the 580 watt, 12 speaker Dolby ProLogic 7.1 system to make the additional $950 worthwhile.

The best system ever could be made to sound crappy by having substandard source recordings. Poor mp3s, poor sources on slacker etc. So many variables. The standard system will never be better than the upgraded system. So anyone who cares about audio should just spend the money. You're adding 1% to 1 1/2% to the price.

The best system ever could be made to sound crappy by having substandard source recordings. Poor mp3s, poor sources on slacker etc. So many variables. The standard system will never be better than the upgraded system. So anyone who cares about audio should just spend the money. You're adding 1% to 1 1/2% to the price.

Volker.Berlin and David M. and absolutely correct. The beta model could have not been ready for prime time yet. Also, I tried to figure out whether the uploaded songs at Santana Row were 320kbps or lower. Couldn't really figure it out.
In my system, using poor mp3s and radio quality music sounds bad. The system amplifies a crappy recording- not a good thing. Radio sounds better in my girlfriend's Mercedes than it does in mine- the amplified bass covers up the flaws. Pop in a CD and it's no contest- can't stand to listen to CDs in her car.

I too want the premium system to be a Sound Studio package- I cringe thinking about opening up the car and adding aftermarket components- who knows what complicated electronics are going to be in there. There's no way I'm interested in opening up those doors.
One side note, its funny to hear the system having a Dolby Pro Logic 7.1 system or a 5.1 system- we aren't watching a blu ray in the car! A CD or mp3 just isn't made for 7.1 system. Seeing how its illegal to have a movie playing up front- I can't see how this really means anything. It just sounds cool. Now I know that it has internet connectivity, etc... But unless you're going to sit in the parking lot or L.A. traffic- watching a movie up front isn't going to happen.

Silbenny. Thank you for an interesting evaluation. I have two questions:

1. How much did your aftermarket sound system cost (installed)?

2. Is there a factory unit (BMW, MB, Jaguar, Lexus, Infinity, Bentley, RR) that
meets your quality and performance standards?

The answer to the second question will help me, so I can compare apples to apples or should I consider #1?. Again, thank you.

Number 43 didn't have the upgraded system. The rep told me to not even try to crank it because it was not up to his standards. He had some speakers turned off cuz they didn't sound good and was still under development.

Maybe TM knows something I don't, but does anyone know of a source for Dolby ProLogic 7.1 sound other than Blu-ray movies? The bandwidth requirements would seem to put it out of reach for Internet streaming or even Sirius/XM.

Future proofing is what I'm thinking... ;)

The additional details are interesting. Sounds like the system is in the running for what most premium sounds systems do -- make most sound sources sound ok, but lack the pure clarity required for the next level of experience.

And that's prolly fine for most folks.

An analogy using in-ear headphones: most folks will be amazed by the sound coming from UE 2 or 3s (Ultimate Ears, now under Logitech brand -- good headsets for the money) but others use something like JH Audio 12s or 16s (JH Audio makes custom fitted headsets for 5x the cost of the UE sets). But if the source is compressed (most MP3s) or the driver isn't the best (iPhone, for instance) then the difference is minimal -- better speakers can't make up for normal amps or source.

So the sound system will prolly suit me just fine. I like my UE 2s, can't stand the iPod headphones and won't change my source material to match the quality needed to show the clarity of JH 16s tho I still consider getting them because they won't make it sound worse.

Which is why his reviews are valuable to me. Puts it into perspective.

As an audiophile I suggest that even in the quietest car rolling down the highway that it would be nearly impossible to tell the difference in digital compression in anything better than mp3. Thus Apple files would be as good as needed in any car. The background noise is simply too great except for the 30 seconds stopped at the light to hear a difference.

The equipment certainly makes a huge difference. I would go with the upgraded system and hope it is good enough. If not, hope the speaker wires are good enough and put your new system in the empty space in front of the cup holders.

In reference to peteros question- my system was a mix of professional installation and installation done by my friends and I. I can say that you can find great deals on speakers on audio car forums like diyaudio. These folks know there audio gear- I'm a novice compared to some of these guys. If you have the time, go read the forums- it'll become a second hobby in no time! You'd be amazed that you don't have to spend $$$$ to get proper sound. They have speakers that are a fraction of what you may spend in high end stores (sometimes they are new and direct from the manufacturers and sometimes used, which isn't bad because they are 'broken in' already and will sound better than new ones). My initial system consisted of A/D/S speakers- got these new off ebay for less than $200 (don't recommend this anymore given the influx of chinese knockoffs lately), eclipse xa4000 amp that drove all the speakers and the sub for less than $500 off electronic online stores, wiring for $100 off ebay, I recommend not using a separate headunit for this car. Made the MDF subwoofer enclosure myself- these can be bought for $200 made for you. There are additional small item components that can be had for less than a $100. Now installation is tricky- have no idea what this car will entail- will likely run you 400-1000- depending on how ambitious you get. We first have to know what Tesla is putting in their car- and then match the speaker dimensions and determine how to get at the speakers. Most likely won't be using that center channel- again, you aren't watching a movie, so the door speakers may be easier to get at. In all honesty, that "center channel" is technically to the right of you as the driver anyways. These car installation guys charge just like mechanics- $75 hour for labor or a flat fee for something like installing a back up camera. I would recommend professional installation with this car of course.
As for your second question- can't say I'm fortunate enough to have sat in a bentley. The infiniti's use Bose- which are awful. I have yet to hear a factory system that matches my aftermarket, which isn't really a high end aftermarket system to be honest. However, my friend who helped me install the cars did note that Lexus's Mark Levinson's premium system was close as he's ever gotten. I would check out their system in a Lexus GS and see what you think.
If you're serious about this, best thing to do is to go around to car installation places, and ask them to hear a real audio system- most of these guys are nice and would love to show off their audio gear in a car- not in the showroom- make sure that it's a system for clarity with good discrete bass- you will become a believer. Bring your own CD or better yet, pop in a true quality version of Sarah McLachlan Black and White song- it feels like the song will engulf you. That song just shines in my car for some reason- and I listen to everything- trance, U2, hip hop, etc. Do this if you're serious about the audio system, because you'll want it (again, the final version of the Model S may break the mold so we may get lucky). I don't mind my drives to work because it gives me an opportunity to listen to great music. And I drive on those awful white concrete highways. I hear a difference with my upgraded audio, and I expect the Model S to be quiet- you will hear the difference while moving. I've added some soundproofing material to my normal family sedan to give it 'luxury quietness'.

In my opinion, factory car audio is like those factory navigation systems- I hate them, even in luxury cars- they simply don't look as good as your $200 garmin system. I'm sure that they will soon, but not quite yet. Its the same with car audio- just not quite there yet.

Jason S makes a great point- the ipod sounds great with normal headphones- pop those same headphones in a proper audio CD source and they'll buckle under the pressure.
I know I'm long winded, but I'm passionate about my audio- it is integral in my drive to work. If you spend a lot of time in the car- you owe it to yourself to make it pleasant as possible. It may cost you, but it will be worth it. Music is important in our lives- the luxury car manufacturers should step up to the plate and gives us quality IMO.

I might just pull out of the lot on delivery day to "Black and White". Good tip.

Idealy, a factory auto sound system is designed around the interior volume and shape, interior materials, speaker angles, and the volume of the sealed or ported speaker enclosure and should sound better than a slap-dash approach. Ideally.

I'm hopeing they put a lot of dampining material in the car. I would be happy with silence when the radio is down, as well.

To all the knowledgeable audiofiles: Since we will not be able to play CDs in Model S, what will be the highest quality source material and how will we load/play it? How will Internet radio compare? How will Bluetooth streaming from iPhone or Android compare? Thx.

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