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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)?

For those of you who are concerned with the bass response, in my non-scientific testing, the bass response is very dependent in the Model S on where your head position is. This is probably true for all cars as well, but I have't really critically listened to other car audio systems as much as I have my Model S. Try this experiment in your car:

Play a very bass heavy track through the audio system that you are familiar with. Adjust the bass EQ through the equalizer on the touchscreen to +12.0 dB. Set the master audio volume level in the car in the range of 5 to 7. Then slowly move your head towards the front of the car and towards the rear. See what happens to the apparent bass level when you do that. I find that the bass response just a few inches from the instrument cluster is quite good. Not teeth rattling, but much stronger than my normal seat position.

The sub-woofer may be placed in such a way in the car that the bass wave propagating from it creates a node (weak bass level) in the front drivers seat that just happens to be where a vast majority of people place their head (I'm 5' 10", average build, so I suspect my seat position is probably fairly typical). I haven't tried sitting in the front passenger seat or the rear seats to see how the bass response is yet. May try that at a future point.

I'm actually fine with the Sound Studio audio, as I get enjoyment out of listening to music through the system. I do hope there are tweaks to it in the future to improve it. I think some of the issues with it can get better through software, but the bass node issue will be challenging to overcome without re-positioning the sub-woofer and/or providing a beefier sub-woofer/amp if the sub-can't be re-positioned.

Would love to hear feedback from other owners if they experience this same effect in their cars.

When people say they perceive the music as weak or hollow, that means they are missing the low base that you get out of a big subwoofer. High and mid frequencies are easy to reproduce. It is the low base that has trouble because: big speakers are needed to move a lot of air (i.e. volume) at low frequencies, it draws a lot of power, and the wavelengths are long enough that your position can cause noticeable differences. It is a challenge.

No car has an ideal sound stage for all 4 seating positions. Sound volume decreases by inverse cube of the distance, so the one or two speakers really close to you are always noticeably louder. Adjust fade to improve the driver's perception and all the other positions get a lot worse.

I am not sure who sits in their parked car just to pretend they are in a concert hall, but that is the only time the audiophile details matter. A moving car has significant ambient noise, so the S/N is dominated by that. Lossless vs lossy compression in a car? Who cares, no one can tell the difference. Audio defects have to get pretty bad to be noticeable in a noisy environment.

I am not in a position to evaluate the Tesla system yet. Hope to soon. However, being an audiofpile I can attest to the fact that most people like too much mid bass. This often causes speech to sound bloated and many instruments to not sound real.
A truly good subwoofer that integrates well to the rest of the system is VERY hard to do. To me it is better to have a bit less bass than have it muddy up the mid range.
Additionally, don't expect truly highend sound in a car because our ears percieve sounds differently depending on how loud it is and the level and spectrum of backgroumd noise.

Also because a car cabin is an echo chamber from hell. It produces nodes and dead spots that change when a passenger moves a few inches.

My gripe isn't about the quality of the sound but the sensitivity of the radio reception. Both am and fm have significant signal weakness compared to my other cars. What's worse, as the signal ebbs and flows, there's and odd eq shift going on. On fm, as the signal weakens, you lose much of the "definition" of the sound... Kinda like listening to a telephone vs a live conversation. As you regain signal strength, the sound returns to normal. This is very annoying! Occasionally, I also hear an echo of the signal as well. Unless you have a full strength signal, it's an unpleasant listening experience.

Ps... I still love this car! Just have to get USB sound source files.

I need to finalize soon and the audio upgrade is my only question mark. I can put a pretty sweet aftermarket system in for $1k (already have the sub for the frunk). SiriusXM adapter, 600W 4 channel amp, front and rear door speakers, 600W mono amp, 1F capacitor and the sub.

My concerns are about how the higher powered system will impact my range and the 12V battery. Also, it would drive me nuts if the SiriusXM adapter couldn't be integrated into the factory display. The biggest problem I have is the thought of an installer disassembling my car, one that he has surely never seen before and probably with very little literature online to help.

I think I just talked myself into the sound studio option. Maybe add the extra sub later with its own amp.

My home stereo is 1200W Pioneer Elite amp and Klipsch Reference Series speakers, which are the best thing I've ever heard. My wife's Lexus is terrible, but mostly on XM, it's much better on bluetooth. My G37 also is quieter and not as good of quality on XM compared to all other sources (ok, maybe better than AM).

@fluxemag | JANUARY 24, 2013: Also, it would drive me nuts if the SiriusXM adapter couldn't be integrated into the factory display.

You're not missing much from the XM integration in the car as it currently stands. You have your basic channel selection like an AM/FM radio by scrolling through channel numbers (not channel names) You can browse by categories. You are limited to 6 favorites (which you can't select from the steering wheel). There are no station logos displayed and no automatic cover art (like they do for Slacker).

They may be adding additional features in the future, however. Still it's nice, I guess, to have it integrated with one less external device to deal with.

Perhaps Tesla should partner with someone like Jawbone to develop an unparalled audio system. One does not want something that draws too much power.

I heard one of Jawbone's products recently and could not believe the sound quality. I have never heard anything like the big JAMBOX, and it runs wirelessly for about 8hrs. I do not own it, but it is on my shortlist of useful gadgets to consider.


You might do a search of these forums regarding after-market audio. I know that the idea was being entertained a few months ago by some early owners but there were concerns about integration with Tesla's electrical system. I am not sure how that all played out.

You can search these forums for those discussions by going to

I may have seen these discussions at instead, so try there too.

How could they not get the sound package right!
Creating a system, for any vehicle is a possible task.
From most of the posts it seems like TM needs to get on this.


I tried playing .flac and it wouldn't...
What software version are you on ?
I tried it before the upgrade to 4.1, haven't tried it since.
My whole collection is in both .flac and apple lossless (so I could use iTunes playlists on ipad/iphone).
If Tesla can play it now, that's awesome news.

I only had v4.1 (and as of last night 4.2), and lossless .flac has worked great. I have 2000+ .flac songs on my 64GB USB stick and so far it's been working fine. Perhaps 4.0 didn't support .flac? I used MediaMonkey to rip CDs into .flac to try and get the cleanest sound. The Tesla examines and sorts through all the files and gives you lists by album, by genre, and a few others? No option to read playlists yet and no random play, but I'm sure it will come.

Mark2131 - I haven't used FM much, but it seemed to work ok for me. The weird sound changes you hear are likely switching from stereo to mono when the signal is weak - something most radios do. It may add some filters too when going to mono, as weak signals can be noisy too (but better than no signal).

Anyone know if jpeg4 and flac formats are supported at higher sample rates than 44.1 and 16 bit red book standard? Hope so.

@ Frank2

Have you tried lossless FLAC music with DTS 5.1 discrete channels?

Captain_Zap - for DTS 5.1, I've not tried it. I have basic audio, so I believe it is not supported on my car (and I don't have anything in 5.1). Not sure about Sound Studio.


If your ultimate source is a CD, it won't help to have better than 44.1 and 16 bits because that's all CD's have AFAIK. I tried a FLAC file ripped from a CD today and copied to a flash drive - and it sounded great!

I asked TM a few quick questions, they emailed back very quick.
I got your question about the Sound Studio Package and wanted to get back to you. It does include a subwoofer that would not be there otherwise that helps round out the sound system. The subwoofer is located on the passenger side in the back of the car. I do not have access to whether it is on a dedicated amp or not though.

Perfect, tried it with .flacs, works like a charm with 4.1.
Disabled Dolby, sounds better w/o it.

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