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Cabin Noise

I have now test driven the Model S Performance twice and haven't been impressed with the cabin noise at freeway speeds (70-80). Once you hit 60+ I was noticing a wine from the gearbox that gets really noisy at 80 (definitely, not the invert sound). There was also a surprising amount of road noise from the wheels in the rear. About on par with my Z4, which I found noisy. Our X5 and M5 (full leather which helps) are about twice as quiet at a similar speed (and trust me the M5 has much noisier tires than the Model S).

This similar with other's experience? Has me considering the vehicle or if to plan on an audio shop adding sound dampening... Just really surprised me as if it was me I would have made sure to have "owned" quiet if producing the vehicle. At lower speeds it's amazingly quiet just by being an EV before the road noise kicks in.

I haven't driven a performance version, and the 21" tires might make a difference as well, but I found the road noise was quieter than any other car I have driven at highway speeds -- however, it was more noticeable because you didn't have engine noise to hide the road/wind noise. Are you sure that isn't what you are experiencing?

I always have my radio on, but I find it to be quite quiet. Honestly, I am enjoying the drive so much, I really don't care if there is a little noise! But, when I open the roof and drive it really sounds loud, not sure the deflector is doing its job.

Was the test car a production model or a beta version?

I don't have my MS yet but I can imagine that in an otherwise quiet car (eg no engine noise) cabin noise at highway speeds might appear much higher. You should measure it. You might be surprised.

the car is really quiet. no two ways about it. if you think you can fly down the road at 90 mph and not hear something, well, your expectations may be off. i have had bmw's and lexus's for over a decade and this car beats them hands down. it's a joy. yes, little wind. yes, little tires. maybe even a little whine as you pump 500kW into the motor.. but you know... it's little. quiet. very. (performance, 21")

not 500kW obviously... it's late. lol.

I've seen others claim that so-and-so vehicle was quieter too. It would be interesting to have someone measure with a dB meter and post results. And if you could do it over the same road at the same speed with the comparison vehicle, so much the better.

@mrspaghetti - I think the point that you're elleuding to is that volume can be a matter of what we are used to hearing. I've never owned an EV before. So I'm sure ill hear the whine, at first.

There is a db phone app but it doesn't seem to work for me at all.

Try "Decibel 10th" (iPhone) -- it's free and emails a spreadsheet of the captured time series.

Some Roadster owners report hearing birdies tweeting while driving with the top down. Apparently they're not bothered much by it, though.

Here is my email to George Blankenship from about a month ago and the reply from TM about Active Noise Cancellation. Wind and road noise seem to be perfect candidates for this technology.

Hi George,

You’ve been very nice to read and reply to my emails, as you must get many from owners and potential owners like myself. I know the list of requested Model S software enhancements is long and that many of them are already in the works, but I’d like to add active noise cancellation to that list if possible.

Due to the lack of IC engine noise, some owners and reviewers have noted the “relative” noise of the wind/air and tires/roadway at speed. The absolute sound levels of these components are most likely the same as with any other premium car, but as you know there is no IC engine noise to drown them out.

Many car manufactures use active noise cancellation technology already: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/driveon/2012/09/26/cars-noise-c... and Bose will license their technology: http://editorial.autos.msn.com/blogs/autosblogpost.aspx?post=a5b6fb48-36... . The Model S already has a microphone to sample the ambient noise, and of course the necessary speakers, so I think this is a software-only fix/feature.

Since I know that everyone wants something (or more) for “nothing”, I tend to suggest things that are “win-win” for the buyer and Tesla Motors. Why not make this a feature that you get with the Sound Studio Package? That might drive up the adoption rate of that option enough to offset the Bose licensing fee, or you could just add their per-car fee into the SSP cost. Either way it’s a feature that many people would desire (and pay for) and it could increase the per-vehicle profit without a change to the car’s hardware. You could add “quieter than a Rolls Royce” to the list of Model S accolades!

Finally, congratulations on the Motor Trend Car of the Year award! What an achievement for such a young company.

Here's the reply:

George Blankenship forwarded your email to me. Thanks for your support and suggestion.

I agree that noise cancellation technology would be a nice addition to Model S so I forwarded your note to our infotainment team. One of the things we really like about the Sound Studio package is the value derived by engineering the system ourselves and avoiding licensing fees. But as you say, perhaps the sound improvement could warrant the added costs.

Thanks again, and Happy Thanksgiving.
Ted

Both Motor Trend and Inside line have already done noise checks. Both tests indicate state of the art quietness as far as the tests go. I don't remember what dB scale they used which could skew the results if dBA were used.
With the inside line check it came in LOWER than the Bentley BMW M5 and all the other tests I could find at 70mph and blows them away at slower speeds and acceleration.
Perceived sound is a strange thing. Humans pick up on certain types of sounds more than others even though the pressure is the same.
However, as Getting Amped Soon indicated a noise canceling system would not be out of the question for Tesla and may be desirable.

dtich, 400HP = 300kW (1HP=746W). That's still a lot!

I had a lot of cabin noise at over 50mph until Tesla adjusted the window on the passenger side.
I bet they will have to do it periodically since the windows are frameless and move up and down every time you open a door.
You can do a visual check and spot it fairly easily: look from behind and pay a close attention on how the windows align with the door frame and the roof.
I was able to see it sticking out a bit.
The adjustment was easy, they were done within 15 mins or so.

I test drove a production performance model in Seattle (Bellevue store) last month. City streets and two sprints to 70 on the freeway. I was sitting in back for 1/2 of the trip. It was extremly quiet and I did not hear any whine from the motor. I found a site that has a full list of car sound levels at various speeds. I don't know how accurate it is, however it does list the Model S. It can be found here http://www.auto-decibel-db.com/

I'll bet it wasn't the "gearbox"...

I did a quick sort of RAFellows link data, based on the 70 mph result. Here's the top 50 (sorry for the formatting):

Brand Model Spec Year dB at idle dB at 50km/h dB at 80km/h dB at 100km/h dB at 120km/h dB at 140km/h dB at 70mph
Dodge Ram 5.7 V8 2010 39,2 47,5 52,6 55,3 57,8 60,3 56,1
Mercedes E 63 AMG 2010 43,1 49,2 53,5 54,4 60,2 66,0 56,4
Acura TL 3.7 V6 2010 39,9 48,4 53,8 56,2 60,2 64,2 57,6
Lexus LS 600h 2008 38,7 48,6 54,8 58,1 60,4 62,8 58,9
Kia Sorento EX V6 2011 34,5 46,6 54,0 58,2 60,6 63,0 59,0
Kia Sorento V6 2011 34,5 46,6 54,0 58,2 60,6 63,0 59,0
Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT 2010 37,4 48,0 54,6 58,0 61,0 64,0 59,0
Cadillac CTS Stationcar 2010 42,2 50,7 56,2 58,7 62,0 65,3 59,9
Lincoln MKT 3.5 V6 2010 39,3 49,5 55,8 59,5 61,0 62,5 60,0
BMW 6 640i Gran Coupe 2012 40,4 49,9 56,1 58,7 63,2 67,8 60,3
Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 2010 37,5 48,6 55,5 59,1 62,4 65,8 60,3
Mercedes E 550/500 Coupe 2010 45,2 52,7 57,4 59,6 62,6 65,5 60,6
Nissan Altima 3.5 V6 2012 38,7 49,4 56,1 59,4 63,0 66,5 60,7
Lexus GS GS450H 2012 41,2 52,4 57,2 58,6 62,8 67,2 61,0
BMW 5 535i 2008 43,6 52,2 57,6 60,3 63,1 66,0 61,2
Tesla Model S Hybrid 2012 35,6 48,3 56,0 60,9 61,8 62,7 61,2
Honda Accord Crosstour 2010 42,3 51,7 57,6 60,7 63,1 65,5 61,5
Hyundai Equues 4.6 V8 2011 40,1 50,5 57,0 60,3 63,6 66,9 61,5
BMW X5 M 2010 43,0 51,9 57,6 59,9 64,7 69,5 61,6
Chrysler 300 2011 40,9 50,9 57,3 60,4 63,7 67,0 61,6
Audi A8 4.2 V8 FSI 2010 36,6 54,6 58,6 60,7 62,4 65,4 61,7
Bentley Continental GT V8 2012 47,6 54,3 58,7 60,2 64,4 68,6 61,7
GMC Terrain 3.0 V6 2010 35,6 48,4 56,4 60,8 63,5 66,3 61,7
Buick Verano Turbo 2012 41,2 51,3 57,6 61,0 63,5 66,0 61,8
Volkswagen Jetta 2.5 V5 2011 39,8 50,7 57,4 61,1 63,5 66,0 61,9
Honda Accord 2.4 2012 40,6 51,1 57,6 61,2 63,6 66,1 62,0
Honda Accord 3.5V6 2012 39,7 50,5 57,3 60,7 64,4 68,2 62,0
Hyundai Sonata 2.0T 2011 38,2 50,0 57,2 61,6 62,8 64,1 62,0
BMW 1 120d Coupe 2008 40,8 50,2 57,7 61,4 62,7 64,3 62,1
Citroen C4 2.0 HDiF 2008 40,7 50,1 57,6 61,6 62,6 63,9 62,1
Chevrolet Camaro 2LT V6 2010 43,0 52,2 58,1 60,7 65,0 69,4 62,2
Lexus LS 600h L 2009 32,9 54,5 60,2 61,2 63,1 66,7 62,3
Mercedes CL 500/550 2011 41,7 51,9 58,1 61,7 63,6 65,6 62,3
Nissan Murano 3.5 V6 2008 40,8 50,2 57,8 61,9 62,8 64,0 62,3
Kia Forte SX 2010 43,8 52,8 58,5 61,2 64,6 68,0 62,4
Citroen C5 2.0 HDiF 2008 41,2 50,7 58,3 61,2 63,5 66,0 62,5
Lexus LS 600h L 2010 41,2 54,1 58,1 60,9 63,6 66,5 62,5
Renault Laguna 2.0 dCI 2008 41,2 50,7 58,3 61,2 63,5 66,0 62,5
Dodge Ram 3.6 V6 2012 40,1 51,0 57,9 61,3 64,9 68,4 62,6
Peugeot 308 2.0 HDiF 2008 41,3 50,9 58,5 61,3 63,7 66,3 62,6
Audi A8 4.2 V8 2011 45,8 54,1 59,3 62,0 64,0 66,1 62,7
Audi RS5 2012 44,7 53,3 58,9 61,0 65,7 70,4 62,7
BMW 5 550i GT 2010 34,5 48,2 56,8 61,3 65,2 69,1 62,7
Buick Enclave 3.6 V6 2012 43,1 52,7 58,7 62,0 64,1 66,2 62,7
Nissan Pathfinder 3.5 V6 2012 39,9 51,1 58,1 61,8 64,7 67,6 62,8
Hyundai Azera 3.3 2012 38,9 50,6 57,9 61,6 65,3 69,0 62,9
Honda Accord 2.4 2011 44,8 53,7 59,3 62,3 64,4 66,6 63,0
Volkswagen Phaeton 4.2 V8 L 2010 44,5 55,4 59,8 62,1 63,7 66,9 63,0

For you German autobahn-ers, here's the data sorted on the 140 km/hr column:

Brand Model Spec Year dB at idle dB at 50km/h dB at 80km/h dB at 100km/h dB at 120km/h dB at 140km/h dB at 70mph
Dodge Ram 5.7 V8 2010 39,2 47,5 52,6 55,3 57,8 60,3 56,1
Lincoln MKT 3.5 V6 2010 39,3 49,5 55,8 59,5 61,0 62,5 60,0
Tesla Model S Hybrid 2012 35,6 48,3 56,0 60,9 61,8 62,7 61,2
Lexus LS 600h 2008 38,7 48,6 54,8 58,1 60,4 62,8 58,9
Kia Sorento EX V6 2011 34,5 46,6 54,0 58,2 60,6 63,0 59,0
Kia Sorento V6 2011 34,5 46,6 54,0 58,2 60,6 63,0 59,0
Citroen C4 2.0 HDiF 2008 40,7 50,1 57,6 61,6 62,6 63,9 62,1
Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT 2010 37,4 48,0 54,6 58,0 61,0 64,0 59,0
Nissan Murano 3.5 V6 2008 40,8 50,2 57,8 61,9 62,8 64,0 62,3
Hyundai Sonata 2.0T 2011 38,2 50,0 57,2 61,6 62,8 64,1 62,0
Acura TL 3.7 V6 2010 39,9 48,4 53,8 56,2 60,2 64,2 57,6
BMW 1 120d Coupe 2008 40,8 50,2 57,7 61,4 62,7 64,3 62,1
Audi A8 4.2 TDI Quattro 2010 41,7 51,3 59,0 63,3 64,1 65,2 63,7
Cadillac CTS Stationcar 2010 42,2 50,7 56,2 58,7 62,0 65,3 59,9
Alfa Romeo GT 1.9 JTDm Q2 2008 41,9 51,5 59,2 63,8 64,4 65,3 64,1
Audi A8 4.2 V8 FSI 2010 36,6 54,6 58,6 60,7 62,4 65,4 61,7
Mercedes E 550/500 Coupe 2010 45,2 52,7 57,4 59,6 62,6 65,5 60,6
Honda Accord Crosstour 2010 42,3 51,7 57,6 60,7 63,1 65,5 61,5
Mercedes CL 500/550 2011 41,7 51,9 58,1 61,7 63,6 65,6 62,3
BMW X3 xDrive 30i 2008 42,2 51,9 59,7 64,5 64,9 65,6 64,6
Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 2010 37,5 48,6 55,5 59,1 62,4 65,8 60,3
Mercedes E 63 AMG 2010 43,1 49,2 53,5 54,4 60,2 66,0 56,4
BMW 5 535i 2008 43,6 52,2 57,6 60,3 63,1 66,0 61,2
Buick Verano Turbo 2012 41,2 51,3 57,6 61,0 63,5 66,0 61,8
Volkswagen Jetta 2.5 V5 2011 39,8 50,7 57,4 61,1 63,5 66,0 61,9
Citroen C5 2.0 HDiF 2008 41,2 50,7 58,3 61,2 63,5 66,0 62,5
Renault Laguna 2.0 dCI 2008 41,2 50,7 58,3 61,2 63,5 66,0 62,5
Honda Legend 3.7 V6 2009 41,7 51,3 59,0 62,6 64,1 66,0 63,4
Mercedes E 300 2008 41,7 51,4 59,1 62,8 64,2 66,0 63,6
Seat Exeo 2.0 TDI ST 2009 42,2 51,9 59,7 64,1 64,9 66,0 64,5
Honda Accord 2.4 2012 40,6 51,1 57,6 61,2 63,6 66,1 62,0
Audi A8 4.2 V8 2011 45,8 54,1 59,3 62,0 64,0 66,1 62,7
Buick Enclave 3.6 V6 2012 43,1 52,7 58,7 62,0 64,1 66,2 62,7
GMC Terrain 3.0 V6 2010 35,6 48,4 56,4 60,8 63,5 66,3 61,7
Peugeot 308 2.0 HDiF 2008 41,3 50,9 58,5 61,3 63,7 66,3 62,6
Nissan Altima 3.5 V6 2012 38,7 49,4 56,1 59,4 63,0 66,5 60,7
Lexus LS 600h L 2010 41,2 54,1 58,1 60,9 63,6 66,5 62,5
Honda Accord 2.4 2011 44,8 53,7 59,3 62,3 64,4 66,6 63,0
Audi A6 3.0 TFSI Stationcar 2011 38,7 52,7 58,3 61,3 64,5 66,6 63,1
Mitsubishi i 0.7 2010 47,3 56,2 61,6 64,9 65,8 66,6 65,2
Lexus LS 600h L 2009 32,9 54,5 60,2 61,2 63,1 66,7 62,3
Mercedes ML 320 2009 46,0 55,3 60,9 64,3 65,5 66,7 64,7
Mercedes C 180 2008 41,8 51,4 59,2 62,2 64,4 66,8 63,4
Lexus GS 350F 2012 40,0 51,6 58,7 62,9 64,8 66,8 63,5
Hyundai Equues 4.6 V8 2011 40,1 50,5 57,0 60,3 63,6 66,9 61,5
Volkswagen Phaeton 4.2 V8 L 2010 44,5 55,4 59,8 62,1 63,7 66,9 63,0
Audi A7 3.0 TFSI Quattro 2012 40,6 51,7 58,6 62,5 64,7 66,9 63,2
Mercedes S 500 L 4 matic 2010 40,2 55,8 59,3 62,9 64,9 66,9 64,0
Chrysler 300 2011 40,9 50,9 57,3 60,4 63,7 67,0 61,6
BMW 7 750iL ActiveHybrid 2010 38,5 56,1 61,2 63,0 64,8 67,0 64,0
BMW 5 523i 2010 42,4 52,2 60,0 63,8 65,2 67,0 64,6
BMW 7 740d 2010 42,4 52,2 60,0 63,8 65,2 67,0 64,6

I have a performance S and it is really quiet at freeway speed, 70-90 even, and if you hear a lot of noise it might be something wrong with that particular car.
road noise from the tires depends on the road surface, good roads are really quiet. I would say the Tesla is one of the quietest cars I have driven (Mercedes Benz and Lexus GS among them)

Tesla Model S "Hybrid"?? -- I 2nd Fluxemag not likely the "gearbox"

That list can't be right for the Model S. It says the Model S idle is 35.6. That's 15th on the list. The only sounds we should hear at idle are external.

@gocken1

It also says Tesla Model S "Hybrid" which is of course not the case. Idle would be akin to sitting still in a luxury ICE with the engine shut off lol!!

Next time they test the MS they should tell the birds to be quiet.

There are sounds for the battery cooling system when "idle", the same as the LEAF, but I agree that sounds suspect and is more likely external ambient noise (I doubt they put the cars in a sound chamber for the measurement) or maybe they had the HVAC on.

Regarding "gearbox" - there is still a differential, which could be considered a gearbox.

It was a production car and not a beta. Although, perhaps an early production differs.

It's funny, I forgot to bring my dB meter with me (seriously meant to). I'm going with a friend on their test drive next week, so I'll bring it with me then. At least that will help me figure out if it's all in my head with decreased engine noise or not. Bit, frankly dB meter tests aren't consistent unless on the same road, etc. as the road surface vary so much in SoCal which affects the road noise.

As for the gearbox... Tesla isn't running a 1:1 from the motors to the wheels, so there certainly is a gear reduction gearbox that is part of the diff/drivetrain. And it definitely made noise at 70 when sitting in the back seat when the wife was driving.

Getting Amped Soon: You know it's funny on the sound test. I can at least verify that on that list the Dodge Ram is one of the quietest vehicles I own. Albeit, it's for towing and I don't feel like driving it all the time.

The problem is it's a little subjective as noise isn't noise to everyone... (as affirmed by all my arguments with my parents about AC/DC ;) ). Also, in the 1st test drive I didn't notice it so much, but the in the 2nd test drive I was being critical and was focusing on it as my father noticed it on the 1st test drive.

You might want to check the the decibel meter is set db-B setting. I believe this more accurately measures the effect of human perception within 55 and 85 db. DbA is better for quiter sounds and dbC for louder. Looking forward to your results!

Use speech interference level.... that's the most relevant. A 35 dB environment is VERY quiet. Remember the dB scale is logarithmic so a 10 dB change is LARGE.

I get noise from the road only when I am on dirty roads the little bits of loose gravel left over from chip sealing and such. Otherwise, the car is very quite in my opinion.


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