Does anyone feel the Sound Studio Package is underwhelming?

Does anyone feel the Sound Studio Package is underwhelming?

The Sound Studio Package supposedly has a 580 watt, 12 speaker Dolby ProLogic 7.1 system in the Model S, but it sounds like no better (perhaps not even as good) as a standard am-fm radio with 50 watts of power... i never had to crank up the volume when i was driving my ICE BMW-X3, but in the Model S i always have to crank it up to 80% of the volume to hear an acceptable volume ... does anyone else have similar experience?

docdac | 8 July 2013

Agree. Not terribly impressive, but still it does sound very good. Plenty loud for me. The subwoofer is underwhelming, but that varies quite a bit with content. Part of the problem is that Tesla built their own speakers to avoid the large expense of installing Bose or other high end car speakers. I guess if you can wrap wires to wind an electric motor you can wind a voice coil on a speaker. (That was probably the reasoning - speculation). I paid for the upgraded sound system mostly to get XM radio, who' s programming I really enjoy.

blisSfullee | 8 July 2013

This won't help but I didn't buy the sound studio package and am very happy with performance. I love my music but am not an audiophile.

inverts | 8 July 2013

You set it to volume 8? This will pop out my eardrums. I set it between 3 and 4 on freeway, lower on in-town traffic. If you have to set it to 8, then something else is going on. Not sure what, but it is not the lack of power of the SS.

If you use you BT device, then the volume level on the BT device can affect signal strength of BT signal. Certainly true on my iphone5.

jeremythehunt | 8 July 2013

I'm definitely underwhelmed but Sound Studio Package. The stereo in my '08 Infiniti is much better. It's not bad, just sounds very average.

Jewsh | 8 July 2013

Indeed. I love the car but the sound system could be better. Oh well. I still think Tesla put the money where it needed to go in the car. | 8 July 2013

If you're listing to AM radio, you could have a single 2" mono speaker sound about the same as the best stereo system money can buy. If you have a crappy source, don't expect the sound system to improve it.

FM is better, but is usually compressed and frequency limited from the source. Use lossless FLAC or WMA on a USB stick to get the most out of the car audio system.

I don't have Sound Studio, and usually have the volume at 7-8, and occasionally on 9 with a low volume source material. Never needed 10 or 11. If you never get to 11, then the level is fine for you. If you do get to 11, then a third-party solution (amps/speaker replacement) may be what you need.

In hind-sight, I should have bought the Sound Studio for the improved amps/speakers. Didn't need XM or 7.1 sound though. Anyway, I replaced the rear door speakers to improve the sound a bit. Not dramatic, but is better, especially for the rear seat passengers. Project is at:

phat78boy | 8 July 2013

I'm not an audiophile, but I appreciate a good sound system and went with the upgrade. I did a lot of research and most seemed to happy with it. I hope, for both you and me, there is just a problem with your specific system.

Please let us know if you have it looked at and what the outcome is.

mdherbst | 8 July 2013

I have the premium sound package, and I found that I like the sound better when I turn off Dolby.

DigitalSavant | 8 July 2013

I opted for the Sound Studio package, and I have been quite satisfied with it. For the first time today, I got a chance to experience the standard audio system. Now THAT is underwhelming. There might be better premium sound systems out there, and I am also no audiophile... but the Sound Studio package is DEFINITELY an upgrade from the alternative standard option!

MichaelN | 8 July 2013

Agree - not exactly what I expected - I also am not an audiophile, but when listening the sound seems thin, not rich - however, I did not buy the car for the stereo system, and I love the car - that said, in retrospect I probably would be happy with the standard sound system -

kback | 8 July 2013

I've been impressed with the sound from the Sound Studio package, but only when using my own music from the USB thumb drive. The signal from FM is fairly bad for me, and even when it comes in the quality is poor. XM has always seemed a bit compressed to me, and again the Tesla reception is not as good. Slacker and Tune-in are pretty good when there's a good AT&T signal around, but with the USB drive, the music sounds great. I've never needed to go up over 6, so if you're needing 8 or 9, I suspect there is a problem with your system.

defmonk | 8 July 2013


On the money. In general, the Bluetooth sources sound underwhelming, the USB stick depends on the filetype and Slacker and FM HD sound awesome. As to genre, the Sound Studio is great for pop and dance. Way below expectation for classical and not enough bottom for hiphop.

KOL2000 | 8 July 2013

I love it. When I play Gangham style for my kids it sounds like the Korean dude is singing next to me and chicks in second row. Sounds awesome!!

Julian | 8 July 2013

My biggest issue with the Sound Studio is that the rear speakers are very underwhelming. Even with the fader centered on the rear set, it sounds as if the vast majority of the sound comes from the front. Do other people experience this or do I have a problem with my rear speakers?

AmpedRealtor | 8 July 2013

Unless you are playing content encoded in Dolby 7.1 surround, you should NOT use Dolby. Using Dolby on non-encoded material will send the majority of the sound to the front speakers. This is not due to a fault in the system, but due to the fact that Dolby 7.1 is looking for rear channel sound info where none has been encoded. | 8 July 2013

@Julian - I think that's true of both basic and Sound Studio. I replaced the rear door speakers and it seemed to open up the sound a bit.

I forgot to remind those Bluetooth users, that Bluetooth forces a fairly high compression rate on any audio, no matter what the original quality of files or streams you have on your phone. It was designed for phone calls, and music really pushes the limits. This has nothing to do with Tesla's audio system.

thatryan | 8 July 2013

Is there a subwoofer in the upgraded audio?

Brian H | 8 July 2013

Yes, near the rear, passenger side. 10", IIRC.

lt | 8 July 2013

Underwhelming! But most disappointing is we were supposed to get space to store 500 songs. When is that coming?

weeandthewads | 8 July 2013

My biggest complaint is they haven't delivered on the initial configuration promised with the first orders. Still no internal storage, no ipad integration, no ability to create play lists and maintain them. No wifi access only USB. I think the sound is fine, the functionality of the system is lacking.

cfOH | 8 July 2013

Does either the base system or the Studio sound system offer a traditional 3.5 mm mini-stereo plug input for AUX sources?

EMDoc | 8 July 2013

Hi all! I just read the posts and they are exactly my complaints when I initially got the car. However, all of that has changed. A third party does make the speakers for Tesla, and with the studio sound they are quite good (believe it or not). The biggest complaint I had was setting the fader to the rear as the sound didn't seem "full."
The biggest thing you can do is actually use 320kbps files. Re-rip cds if you have to. That will make the biggest difference.
I upgraded the sound and added an amp to power the sub, and now the sound is so much more full as the system is not "stressed" as much. Makes a huge difference. Refer to the threads on for more info. Here is a link to the current thread. Hope this helps..!

narkose | 8 July 2013

Reus Stereo has a wonderful ~$4900 package. Put one in after reading other happy S model owners.

GeekEV | 8 July 2013

@docdac - "... Bose ... high end ..." - ROTFLOL !!! Also, Tesla does NOT build their own speakers in the sense that you and others are thinking. They buy off the shelf speaker cones and coils, but the baskets and enclosures are made in-house to fit the car and keep weight down. So they "assemble" their own speakers, but that's it.

@AmpedRealtor - I wish we could get clarification from Tesla, but when they say Dolby Surround, I always assumed they mean Dolby ProLogic II. As you say, Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 makes no sense in a car withough special encoded sources. With ProLogic II, it will extrapolate surround channels from ordinary stereo material. HOWEVER, there are two modes "movie" and "music". If you use movie mode with music, it will sound center heavy. Music mode, however, usually works great and creates a broader sound stage. Initially this did not work so well in my car, but two or three software updates ago it improved tremendously - at least with Slacker.

@everyone - I wouldn't call myself an "audiophile" either, but I am a home theater aficionado with more than my fair share of knowledge about what makes for good sound. I've not had any high-end cars before, but the Sound Studio package in my Model S is hands down the best of any car I've had. Is there better out there? I'm sure there is, but it would cost you more than the $1,000 package cost to do much better. Even my brother, who does car audio for a living, was quite impressed with the system.

GeekEV | 8 July 2013

@cfOH - No, but there are a multitude of A2DP blutetooth adapters you can get for ~$25.

TikiMan | 8 July 2013

I have found that the quality varies greatly, depending on the audio source. So far Slacker and or high bit-rate mp4 files playing off of a USB flash drive, are the best quality (FM radio, and or mp3's via blutooth from a smartphone no so much).

Also, if you really want to system to crank, you have to really up the EQ to almost the highest levels.

If you are a 70's rock-music fan (like me), and like the band 'Rush', try upping the EQ, and playing the song 'Limelight' off of either Slacker or an mp4, and you will see what I mean.

Eitherway, it is a good system, however, it could be much better with better tweeters up front, and a larger sub with a larger amp in back.

Brian H | 8 July 2013

Song storage is cancelled, as it is now dwarfed by the capacity of USB memory sticks.

defmonk | 9 July 2013

@Brian H

Where did you get that information? How was it corroborated? Is this based on information posted by another user or did you acquire it first hand?


cfOH | 9 July 2013

@defmonk See this thread:

It could happen, but it's sounding increasingly unlikely as flash drives get bigger and cheaper all the time.

defmonk | 9 July 2013


Yes, I know the source. I just think the proper way to share this information is to attribute it to the original poster or refer to the source, rather than posting bare assertions as fact. The quality of information on this forum is generally poor because folks read stuff in one thread and post it as fact in another.

J.T. | 9 July 2013


You'd want corroboration if Brian said that water is wet.

wheatcraft | 9 July 2013

I am somewhat of an audiophile, and i give the Sound Studio Package a "very good" - just short of "outstanding". Like any system, it depends on the content that you deliver to it. Lots of folks listen to Slacker which is compressed audio with limited bandwidth. Don't expect it to sound very good on this system. Sirius XM sounds noticeably better. If you want the best sound you can from this system, download high-bit, high-sampled "HD audio" (e.g, 24-bit, 96 kHz) from a site such as Save them as flac files, put them on a flash drive and load them one of the USB slots on the MS. One of my favorites to demo is Hotel California (available in flac at 24/96 from With this kind of source material, the Sound Studio Package comes very close to outstanding.

weeandthewads | 9 July 2013

When will the iPod integration be available? If they are not going to provide playlists creation, then the iPod - iTunes is the only way to create the playlist. I am very disappointed in the functionality, it was sold as a system that would allow you to copy 3,000 songs and slice & dice however you felt like.

AmpedRealtor | 9 July 2013

If Tesla is going to start storing maps offline, it is going to need to use up all of that flash memory or a big chunk of it. I believe that is the reason why they are not supporting song storage - they need it for something else. And when you can fit all the songs in your universe on a single USB stick, it's a non-issue.

Brian H | 9 July 2013

Typical troll tactic: demand sources for everything, ignore and disparage sources when given. Boring.

stimeygee | 9 July 2013

I like it. Its better than the upgraded stereo in my 2007 3 series BMW. Much better.

defmonk | 9 July 2013

@Brian H

Really? Typo corrections are less boring? ;-)

Not trolling. I simply don't understand how you can scrape information from other folks and then present it as your own first-hand account. It's not just you. Someone reposted a picture that I posted and then reposted it as their own together with commentary and "facts."

Brian H | 9 July 2013

Who said anything about a 1st hand account? Another arbitrary "requirement". | 9 July 2013 - iPod integration?

I've never seen any official indication that there will be iPod integration. I don't think it was anything promised or even suggested by Tesla, although I could be wrong on this. It doesn't mean it isn't desired and I'm sure Tesla may have it on a very long like-to-do list somewhere. I expect first up are going to be features that have already been promised like WiFi.

lnxcar | 9 July 2013

As a number of folks here said, turn off dolby helps and there's typically no need for dolby to be on anyway. I have the SS and I've been quite happy with it. Whether it's slacker or xm or just my iphone playing, it's been great. I am glad I got the SS option.

RanjitC | 9 July 2013

The i-pod is dead everybody now stores their music on their phones. Cheapo's like me get it free off the net and store it on a USB stick.
I have the upgraded system, and, am an audiophile,it's just OK.

Captain_Zap | 9 July 2013

It definitely leaves me wanting more.

I've tried just about every format out there. My USB drive now holds FLAC HD and it just isn't playing all the music. I know it can be better. I thought that improvements were still forthcoming along with the firmware updates. There were regular improvements for a while. It is better than it was. It seems that updates are coming out less frequently now that the "vampire" issue is at the top of their list.

rodf | 9 July 2013

It would be great if at a minimum we would be able to shuffle songs played off the USB.

mikefa | 10 July 2013

Why insist Tesla to install a mini thumb drive or hard drive to store your personal songs when the prices of those USB drives are constantly dropping where anyone can get a 64-GB thumb drive for about $49 from Walmart? Com'on folks we need Tesla engineering to tackle more important features than offering storage space for songs.

TikiMan | 10 July 2013

The biggest issue that I hate with the USB thumb-drive is; if you put songs into playlist folders, the album art doesn't show up.

Also, for some reason if I go out to the root, it keeps repeating songs over and over, as if I copied the songs multiple times onto the USB drive (which I didn't).

rallykeeper | 10 July 2013

If sound storage truly is cancelled, then count me as disappointed. USB storage would be just fine if Telsa had placed the USB ports in a less conspicuous place. I'm all for bringing your own storage, but every other car I've owned hides its USB port.

I realize this is somewhat subjective, but any stick other than the SanDisk Cruzer Fit is simply ugly. They are all too big and stick out into the car too much.

Maybe the SanDisk Cruzer Fit will improve, but currently they only offer 32 GB of storage per stick. That's nice, but when you're using lossless audio, even 2 sticks don't hold that many songs. (Not to mention, the two sticks annoyingly show up as separate audio devices).

I had been (and still am) holding out hope that at least I could dump another 500-1000 or so lossless tracks onto the onboard storage.

More on topic, though, the Sound Studio package seems pretty useless unless you're using lossless audio. There's no other way to deliver lossless audio to the system other than through USB. Bluetooth is compressed as well.

If you're considering a new car, unless you're willing to use FLAC or worse WAV (since Tesla hasn't adopted any other lossless format), I wouldn't pay for the upgrade.

Frankly, had I not ordered my car basically sight unseen, I probably wouldn't have paid for:

- Sound Studio (I am an audiophile, but use Bluetooth more frequently than onboard since I can managed playlists, use Spotify/MOG, etc)

- the parcel shelf (I have kids seats)

- maybe the kids seats themselves (no vents) or

- Twin Chargers.

Guess that's the price of being an early adopter... | 10 July 2013

@rallykeeper - let me fix a couple of minor inaccuracies -

In addition to FLAC, it supports WMA lossless.

The original plan was for 500 compressed songs to be stored locally - they never said anything about lossless storage internally. The amount of compression was never stated either - so it might be highly compressed.

The internal Tesla memory is only 16 GB for standard and 32 GB for Sound Studio. This is for everything - maps, cover art, etc. I'd much rather they use it for maps, than holding a few songs that are easier handled on a USB drive.

For the people (like me) that don't like the USB drives sticking straight out, get a left-angle adapter - less than $10 and makes it look much nicer.

Need lots of lossless music? - go with a 128 or 256 GB flash drive, or a USB hard drive. You'll need the storage. I'd also recommend getting a USB v3.0 drive (even thought the car is 2.0). Most 3.0 drives have a much faster transfer rate. The speed is so much faster, that even with a 2.0 interface, it will load in seconds (in my tests, 100 GB of files are scanned in about 10 seconds).

One new undocumented feature of v4.5 - when you insert a USB drive, and it scans to collect meta data, it shows a progress indicator.

Alex K | 10 July 2013 | JULY 10, 2013: One new undocumented feature of v4.5 - when you insert a USB drive, and it scans to collect meta data, it shows a progress indicator.

Off topic, but I noticed this with importing phone contacts under 4.5. Maybe this was always there, but I just noticed it yesterday.

Hodas | 10 July 2013


Kingston DataTraveler is even lower profile than the Sandisk Cruzer Fit and goes up to 64GB at present. I got my 64GB KDT on amazon for $39.99 last week and it is working great.


trsnow | 10 July 2013

I just got my Model S with the performance/tech and "Studio Sound" package two weeks ago. Having been in the music/recording business all my adult life I expected more than a 3 band equalizer. The "Studio Sound" tag is a little on the hyped side of advertising, which I found disappointing. While the basic sonic characteristics are fine they hardly rise to the level of a sound studio. I have to admit that my previous car, 2007 Chrysler Pacifica, substantially outperforms the "Studio Sound" system. Also owned a M6 which beats the Tesla system by a good margin. Having said that I'm not ready to run out and spend 5k on an aftermarket upgrade. I just wish Tesla had been a bit more accurate in naming the product.

BTW- The Dolby setting only enhances Dolby encoded sound sources. Best to use normal stereo for FM and streaming radio.


Tom Snow