Sound Studio Package

Sound Studio Package

Can anybody comment on the difference between the "standard" sound package vs. the sound studio package upgrade for $950?

jat | 27 February 2013

I can't tell you the difference since I haven't ever been in a car with the standard one, but I am happy with the sound studio package. Note that if you care about XM you need it.

bonforte | 27 February 2013

I have the upgraded sound. To my ears it is quite mediocre. My Prius JBL system was better.

stuberman | 27 February 2013

My standard sound package is better than the premium sound package in my, admittedly older, BMW 540i (2000).

baddtz | 27 February 2013

I've heard both in the showroom. The sound studio has much better bass. I wish I ordered the sound studio after hearing it.

froggytown | 27 February 2013

I completely disagree that the upgraded sound system is mediocre. It's extremely clean and crisp. As others have mentioned - it's far better than many luxury brand premium sound packages.

JDster | 27 February 2013

I was at Tesla Menlo Park last weekend to configure my car. I also asked the same question and the Tesla rep said standard system does not have a subwoofer meaning no bass. Once I heard that, I spent the $950.

biggator | 28 February 2013

My wife didn't want it.. hope that wasn't a mistake. Didn't realize that you couldn't get XM without the upgraded sound - but I guess with internal storage/bluetooth/etc it won't be such a big deal.

fluxemag | 28 February 2013

You can always add a subwoofer and XM aftermarket. I debated getting the standard stereo (without actually hearing either), but ultimately decided to go with the sound studio just for simplicity. I will be adding the aftermarket sub though, because I already have it.

docdac | 28 February 2013

How would you add XM aftermarket? I know you can plug a portable XM receiver into one of the inputs, but what would you use for an antenna? The antenna on portable/handheld XM receivers are pretty poor, especially when used in a car.

jat | 28 February 2013

I disagree that the upgrade sound is mediocre -- I was listening to an acoustical guitar track the other day, and it really felt like the artist was sitting in the car with me. That plus the fact that the car is so much quieter than a typical ICE, so you can enjoy the dynamic range in the music much better.

gcylam | 28 February 2013

For the upgraded package - does the subwoofer take up much space at all? Is it in the trunk or in the frunk? It'd be pretty interesting to hear the boom from the front and not the back. If it was an ICE car, you'd think the engine's busted, lol.

jat | 28 February 2013

@gcylam - I haven't tried to find it, and since bass is omnidirectional I haven't noticed a particular location where it is coming from. But it certainly isn't something that sticks out.

mikeadams | 28 February 2013

If walking up to a car where it is not known if it has the upgraded sound, is there an easy way to tell visually (i.e. where the additional speakers can be seen in the car for the upgraded sound package)? Just curious. Want to ensure I have the correct package actually installed. I know one can check for XM in the music selections, but would like to confirm both in the software and hardware.

Brian H | 28 February 2013

Right rear. Diagonal opposite corner to driver.

GeekEV | 28 February 2013

You guys also need to take into account that speakers do have a break-in period of a few hundred hours before they start to sound their best. So, depending on how long you've had your car, give it a bit before passing final judgement.

Brian H | 28 February 2013

Geek EV;
Well spoke! Er, I mean speaked. -- Well speakered. ;)

EclecticCitizen | 28 February 2013

I just got a chance to test drive in DC, and their car had the standard stereo. I had previously heard the upgraded stereo in the display cars in the Scottsdale store. I noticed a significant difference and am glad I went with the upgrade when I configured.

If you aren't really particular about music, I'm sure you would be fine with the basic stereo. It gets fairly loud, but the balance of tones is not there. Minimal bass, so no richness. Surprisingly, it didn't sound any better to me than my basic stereo in my 1999 Honda. I've been content with that for years, but was ready to upgrade. I really enjoy music and want it to sound full and as intended by the artist, so I'm glad I dropped some extra money on the upgrade.

jbunn | 28 February 2013

Wish I would have gotten the upgraded sound package. The standard is clear, and it can be lound, but it's sound is a little thin. No booty bass.

Amped | 28 February 2013

Brain is correct, the sub is in the right rear, it’s integrated inside the well & you cannot see it.
My big gripe is that the sub is not on a dedicated amp, s/b for $950.

I don’t see how you’re going to add aftermarket with everything driven by the touch screen.

Sound package has an extra strip of speakers at the bottom of the hatch glass.

fluxemag | 28 February 2013

There are ways. You can splice into one of the speakers and use a line level converter to RCA input for an amp, which is the easiest way IMO. No way to know for sure, but I would imagine the touchscreen has inputs for the XM module even on the standard version. This is how it's been on all of my previous cars, being wired for options even when you don't order them.

If I can get through the frunk "fire wall", I'm going to put the amp and capacitor in the frunk, and wire the sub back to the rear hatch. My installs were always half a@#$%@% so I pay someone these days.

Musterion | 28 February 2013


Check out this great speaker diagram showing explicitly the difference between standard sound and studio option:

Also on TMC is huge thread debating the differences and optimum settings:

GeekEV | 28 February 2013

@Amped - It's possible (probable?) that the head unit does have a dedicated amp for the woofer. Or do you think/know it's being driven off the speaker-level outputs from the other channels? That would be kinda lame...

RobS | 28 February 2013

In a meet-up of MS owners I was able listen to slaker playing acoustic jazz in my MS with the standard sound system, and another MS with the premium package. I thought the standard system sounded just as good, even the bass. I didn't listen to other styles of music and it was at a volume of about 6. I imagine if you like to turn it up or have different tastes in music, you might come to a different conclusion.

lightly | 28 February 2013

Everybody needs to be aware how important good the source material is.
As a perfect example I think xm sound quality is crap because its way too compressed.

I have the JBL package in my Prius and I listen to mediocre sound of XM almost all of the time and get used to it.
Once in a while I will throw in a CD and am floored by the difference. It sounds like a Mark Levinson audio system and blows me away. I know I'm fooling myself its only "Junkie But Loud"

So as long as you have high bit rate MP3's on a thumb drive I think either package will sound decent. I haven't heard slacker long enough to hear how good the bandwidth is.

Just my .02

Musterion | 28 February 2013

Pardon my first attempt at posting images.


1st is standard sound system; 2nd is studio sound system.

Source for images: KenEE at TMC,

Chuck Lusin | 28 February 2013

The sub should be a 12 inch, a 7.9 is not a sub in my book!

jat | 28 February 2013

@nnt - it is good to know your "expertise" extends into amps as speakers as well as door pockets and cup holders.

Many people making speakers will be glad to know they can just put out whatever crap they like and it won't matter if you use a good amp.

GeekEV | 28 February 2013

@nnt - There may not be on high end speakers like one would typically use with a MacIntosh, but there sure is with others. I've heard the difference myself. And I've seen it mentioned many times in my Home Theater magazine as well. It may even be there with high end speakers too, but that they're pre-broken in at the factory. Tires need breaking in before you get the best mileage/range of of them. Engines need breaking in too, why wouldn't speakers? If the speakers you've heard didn't need breaking in, then my money's on them already being broken in. But hey, everyone's free to believe what they want...

GeekEV | 28 February 2013

@Chuck - I think ~8" is pretty typically for stock systems. A 12" is huge. You'd definitely notice that.

Amped | 28 February 2013

@Geek, Stone S. a TM HQ product specialist only confirmed that it's a single amp system.

I read somewhere that they make speakers in house.

GeekEV | 28 February 2013

@Amped - They make their own speakers? Why on EARTH would they do that? Let others do what they do best while you do what you do best. Maybe they assemble the enclosures themselves because of aesthetics, but I hope they don't make the speakers themselves...

Amped | 28 February 2013

I hear you (bad pun) but the poster noticed on a factory tour.

Brian H | 28 February 2013

Could be that it's not technically tough, and the markup on them is excessive.

GeekEV | 28 February 2013

Well, I'll be picking up my car and taking the tour on Sunday. I'll watch for that and post back what I learn.

jat | 1 March 2013

@nnt - you think most amps have 5-20% THD??? What, are you looking at the Walmart $20 special?

gocken1 | 1 March 2013

nnt can you give us retail examples of amps with a THD over 1%. I searched and could not find any.

hsadler | 1 March 2013


"My brother P85. I going to ask him to check the Model S amp. I report back with the THD in 2-3 weeks"

Funny being a Stereo guy for so many years and not listening to your brother's MS system in any of the many times you drove it. Perhaps you were too distracted by the other shortcomings to bother listening.

Unless your brother is also in the industry, his evaluation would not mean much - especially for you, an expert in that area.

On another note - when did Mcintosh switch to solid state?

RedShift | 1 March 2013

Nnt is back.

THD less than 10% cannot be heard by most people?

A good amp can make up for average speakers?

Do some more googling before making stuff up.

RedShift | 1 March 2013

NNT, see what good Internet research gets you?

Keep it up. Next time, read at least 3-4 websites, then let your imagination run wild.

It will make better reading for all of us.

Chuck Lusin | 1 March 2013

Alpine less than .005 THD

At least it does not look like a tube amp, with old school VU meters!

jat | 1 March 2013

@nnt - frequently low-end manufacturers advertise the rated power as the output level at which it gets 1% THD, but AFAIK the accepted value for inaudible distortion is below .1% THD. So, you only get high THD when you drive the amp to clipping, and what you actually care about is what power level you can get continuously, across the whole range of desired frequencies (such as 20-20kHz) while keeping THD below .1%. Even $50 amps claim their rated power at 1% THD, so you would have to drive them well above their rated power to get worse.

The fact that you would even consider 5% THD acceptable is all we need to know about your credentials in this matter. At that level of distortion, you are talking about guitar amps where the distortion is *desired*.

GeekEV | 1 March 2013

Giving NNT the benefit of the doubt here, he MAY be talking about distortion at full volume...

craig.tesla | 1 March 2013

@Geek EV: Is "full volume" = 10? Or.... 11!?

GLO | 1 March 2013

For those worried about the XM, the delivery specialist indicated that all you need to do is get the App for it and it will blue tooth for you.

I find the sounds systems quite similar so am glad I did not order the upgrade though I am tone deaf so am happy...LOL

GeekEV | 1 March 2013

@GLO - Sure, you could the XM app. If you don't mind it only working where there's cell coverage and if you don't mind it eating up your data plan...

Amped | 1 March 2013

@CraigH, Ah, Marshall. That's what MS needs is a nice full stack.

@Geek, Congrats on pickup!

Klaus | 2 March 2013

Yes, it is definitely not Macintosh.

gasnomo | 2 March 2013

While I appreciate the audiophile comments on here, for those of us with tone deaf ears (likely most of us), and myself included, I purchased the studio package for:

1. More speakers
2. Bigger hard drive (which disappointingly isn't active yet)
3. XM/Sirius

That said, I am not all that impressed. Sitting in the front, to actually get the sound to feel as though its 'enveloping' me, I have to turn the balance way towards the back speakers (which blows out the ears of those sitting in the back). So while at the end of the day, the upgrade, as a percent of the car is small, I haven't noticed any real difference, speaking as a non-audiophile.

hsadler | 2 March 2013


It's Mcintosh, not Macintosh.
One is an esteemed audio company - the other a computer.

You did not say when they switched to solid state - always wondered.

RedShift | 2 March 2013


NNT only posts what he can google. I have asked him to be more thorough from now on.

NNT, please research and answer this question: when did Mcinosh switch to solid state?

Also, if you can post a 'hello' on the owners only thread created specially for you, ((called the smoking gun) that would be great.