Studio sound package - only 3,000 songs? Actual HD or SSD?

Studio sound package - only 3,000 songs? Actual HD or SSD?

I was a little surprised to hear that the studio sound package only lets you store 3,000 songs on the "hard drive". As I've got nearly 11,000 songs in my iTunes collection, all of which fit into my 80 GB iPod, it struck me that that seems like a rather small amount.

If they're using a real hard drive (with platters, etc), that doesn't really make sense, but I wondered if they are using an SSD drive - all solid state. For reliability, that would be superior to a conventional drive. Since SSD drives are more expensive than physical platters, it would also explain the size limit.

Anyone know what the hardware actually is? This stumped the product specialists at the Portland showroom.

Doug - #10,751

kublai | 1 August 2012

I would think SSD. There is a rumor that OCZ is partnering with Tesla. OCZ makes SSDs.

Michael23 | 1 August 2012

Sad would be great!

David70 | 1 August 2012

Yes. I have OCZ SSDs in both of my tower boxes.

Schlermie | 1 August 2012

I can't imagine why they would use an actual hard drive. A flash drive would be much more appropriate. I'll bet the 3000 number is also a lowball number. That's not much storage capacity. Of course, they're probably assuming most people with any high capacity needs will be using bluetooth with their mobile device, which is probably true.

Michael23 | 1 August 2012

True 3000k songs is like a 16gb micro sd card which comes with phones.

James13 | 1 August 2012

Is there any reason one could not run Rhapsody thru the touchscreen interface? Solves all storage problems.

Timo | 2 August 2012

Normal HD with spinning disks don't like vibrations and you get lot of vibration in a car, even as smooth to drive as Model S. SSD or flash is pretty much what it must be.

IIRC that disk was tiny, as in really tiny in any modern standards. Standard is even smaller, it says in specs page that it has flash memory for up to 500 songs.

Did a fast search for OCZ 60GB SATA II SSD, and it looks like it costs about 60EUR. Actually 50GB is about the size where you get about 1EUR=1GB ratio and that ratio goes up to around 250GB and then it starts to get worse. Also lower than 50GB gets you weaker ratio for money used.

Depending of the song quality 60GB should be able to hold around 8000 relatively high quality three to four minute songs. 3000 is then about 25GB. 500 is about 4GB. 4GB is pretty much smallest disk size you can possibly find in these days.

I hope later upgrade for that disk is easy task (standard disk component, just open the box and change disk when needed), because those things don't last indefinitely. Computers break, about 10 years is max what you can expect for well kept computer before it starts to fall apart.

Timo | 2 August 2012

Rhapsody is online service. You need good online connection to use it, and that's not possible everywhere. OTOH I don't see why you couldn't use it anywhere where you have good signal quality.

TikiMan | 2 August 2012

I am more concerned about what some folks here are saying about the lack of a sub-woofer speaker in the 'studio sound package' for high-quality low frequencies.

Anyone know more about this? Is this true?

SMOP | 2 August 2012

will apps/other media and updates eat into the song storage capacity or is this dedicated storage for songs?

jerry3 | 2 August 2012


From the comments I've read about the sound system, I'm not particularly concerned. Some say it is great and some otherwise. But it seems to me that there are several revisions of the sound system in the various cars and the source material is varied. In many cases it's doesn't appear to be known if the sound system in a particular car is the premium sound system or not. I don't believe there have been any critical listeners (in the audiophile sense) with known-good sound tracks to really evaluate the system. I suspect we won't know until more cars are out there and folks have a few hours to play with the sound system.

I'm inclined to give Tesla the benefit of the doubt until then..

jerry3 | 2 August 2012


It's almost certain that the sound system storage is dedicated for the sound system. Automotive electronics are not like your desktop or laptop. Instead they consist of a number of ECUs (embedded computing units) that work together to provide the functionality and the cross checking (the 2004 Prius has 13 or 14 depending upon the options installed). For safety it's imperative that the systems controlling the car's basic functions are separated from the accessories so that a problem in one does not compromise the basic functionality.

stevenmaifert | 2 August 2012

I don't recall on any TM Webpage where they say Model S has a hard drive, whether for the infotainment system or the audio system. The specs page says the audio system uses flash memory. It would be more meaningful if they would specify the size of the flash memory rather than say how many songs it will hold. That number depends on which compression format and bitrate you use for encoding. Higher bitrates equal better fidelity, but larger files for each song, and fewer songs in the flash memory.

BYT | 2 August 2012

@stevenmaifert, some of us who have been here on the site back before the internet was invented by Al Gore recall is specifically saying there was an HD as part of the Tech. Package.

SMOP | 2 August 2012


I am curious as to why anyone would store music on the head unit? wouldn't it just be easier to go buy a 32gig USB Stick and load all the songs on this and be done with it?

BYT | 2 August 2012

@SMOP, that is what I plan on doing, I have all my music on my iPhone already, why hassle with copying it over? Maybe if I get high quality versions of some songs to put on that drive to show off the audio system, but otherwise... ehhh

jerry3 | 2 August 2012


I'm guessing they provide that for the people that don't have iPhones. Also, if you are on a long trip, you don't have to continually charge your iPhone in the car while playing.

I'm also guessing that memory size, etc. was done in 2009 and has never been changed since because it's pretty minor and because, like you say, most won't even bother with using what's there. In 2009 that amount of memory for songs would have been considered more than adequate.

There may be some other reasons that aren't obvious because no one has had more than a few minutes with the audio system.

BryanW | 2 August 2012

If you connect an iPod via the USB port, can you choose your songs / play lists from the 17" main screen and steering wheel controls?

BYT | 2 August 2012

@BryanW, if you can't on day 1, I bet it get's pushed out in a software update in the future.

MandL | 3 August 2012

If there wasn't on-board music storage I can almost certainly guarantee that there would be several threads about how Lexus and BMW have it and since Tesla doesn't dozens of signature holders will cancel their reservations and only a tiny fraction of future buyers would even consider looking at the car.

SMOP | 3 August 2012


I think that is an unfair assessment, from the inception of Model S everyone knew that it would have a hard disk. The questions are pointed at HDD technology and space and why on-board space may not be an issue (with advanced connectivity issues it is not a problem to have a significant amount of on-board storage). The Roadster 1.5/2.0's w/nav package had onboard storage the 2.5's did not.

To address the tongue in cheek portion of your comment; the main problem, is the removal of features (that are listed on the Specs site) after people lock in. Customers have every right to question Tesla or any other car company if they are locked in to buy a car and the equipment list changes. With regards to your hypothetical "if on-board storage was not included" people would have every right to be angry because this was listed on the specs page in 2009 and was on the specs page when many of us "locked in" earlier this year. If it was never listed on the specs page; then you may have a point, removing items after the fact is what irk people.


Most major auto manufacturers share the hard disk with music and navigation data. I wonder if Model S' without the tech package will have the capability to hold more songs?

stevenmaifert | 3 August 2012

Buying Model S is a bit like going to church. You put your money in the plate when it's your turn and hope for the best in the end.

Specs page:

Teoatawki | 3 August 2012

I hope the internal music storage is bigger than we currently expect or easily upgradable. This is one place we don't want Tesla to be like Apple. With 2 USB ports, I don't really want to dedicate one to music storage on a USB key.

TikiMan | 3 August 2012


Thanks for the reply. Yes, I agree. I have been in six different S's, and all of them appeared to not have a final sound-system (most didn't even work). I got the feeling in my most recent test-drive that the rep who was with me in the car, didn't really want to show me the system, and came up with an excuse when I asked to hear it (i.e. "it's broken right now").

One thing I do remember most during early descussions about the Model S, was that a lot of priority was put into it, because the car would be so quiet. So, I got the impression it was going to be outstanding on a VERY high level (including full surround-sound, with Theater-sound quality).

I will admit, this is of huge importance to me, as I am a real music and audio critic, and work in an audio related field. Thus, in other words... if Tesla considers a Bose theater system good, I am worried!

Michael23 | 3 August 2012

So it wasn't a final system in a test drive? But what about the customers who are already driving around with premium audio systems? Shouldn't it be final by now? I'll check on the 11th when I drive one.

Teoatawki | 3 August 2012

The test drive cars may or may not have had final audio systems. Plus, since some tinkering is still going on as these cars come off the line. I wouldn't consider the sound system "final" until you actually have your car, and not necessarily then.

Michael23 | 3 August 2012

This sounds good!

"I just got back from our local store this afternoon, testing the sound system with some music I brought in... and we pushed the system, even testing it for over loading in the bass range. It blew me away, it could take everything we through at it, and it was articulate, never muddy, just accurate sound across the spectrum. My DTS is pathetic in comparison.

The key here, is tuning the 3 band EQ to the way you like it, but also making sure you have the F/R fade and L/R balance set to zero. That's when the stereo is absolutely best in class.

The Tesla rep with me took notes to send back, about how the system needs to be tuned for proper performance when you drag the fade and balance to center the sound on the driver's position. This should be a simple programmable fix for a future firmware update.

Is it worth $950 more? I haven't heard the stock/base system for compairson yet, but I can say, you can't create the premium sound system much cleaner and accurate in sound reproduction, across the entire audible range. I think the value is there."

From SCW-Greg

jerry3 | 5 August 2012

TikiMan -- if Tesla considers a Bose theater system good, I am worried!

I hear you :-) However, I'm guessing that the person who said that wasn't an audiophile and only knows audio from listening to commercials.

Superliner | 5 August 2012

Hmm.. wondering if Motorolas "Zumocast" will allow throughput via my handset to stream to the Audio system in the car?? Or if the Internet capability in the car will allow me to log into the service directly therefore giving me access to the entire music library of my desktop @ home

Jason S | 5 August 2012

Internet capability = internet... so "Zumocast" away.

Also the car has bluetooth stereo, so you could stream from your bluetooth device(s) (handset) if you wish.

I plan to just use the storage in the car, maybe a USB stick if I want something else or a friend wants to bring music. I can rig up a USB hub if I really need more USB connections for some reason.

Volker.Berlin | 6 August 2012

Michael23, "3000k songs" would certainly be enough for me. ;-)

Schlermie | 6 August 2012


I am more concerned about what some folks here are saying about the lack of a sub-woofer speaker in the 'studio sound package' for high-quality low frequencies.
Anyone know more about this? Is this true?

I don't see how they could advertise the system to be a Dolby ProLogic 7.1 system if it didn't have a subwoofer. By definition, 7.1 surround has a subwoofer.

Furthermore, I think the premium sound is very likely to have a subwoofer, because we know the standard sound system is a 7-speaker system, including the center channel. The premium sound system is a 12-speaker system, so the way they went from an odd number of speakers (7) back to an even number (12) is likely from the addition of the subwoofer.

BYT | 6 August 2012

@Schlermie, I'm liking your logic and references to the Dolby ProLogic 7.1 system certification preferences. I think this would be a great question for Rob and Barb as they have taken delivery and can possibly respond about the premium audio (since every signature will come with it by default configuration).

Rod and Barbara | 6 August 2012

@ TikiMan, Schlermie, BYT – I’m not sure if I will be able to help much as I am not an audiophile, but I do enjoy listening to music. My wife thinks our premium sound system sounds great. My first impression was that it did not envelop me in sound nor did it have as rich a sound as I expected. However, when I adjusted the system to center the sound source on the drivers seat the sound experience was greatly improved (for me, but probably diminished for the other occupants). I have listened mostly to HD FM radio. I have had the sound volume turned up to maximum volume (setting of 11) on several occasions and the sound was not overwhelmingly loud, which surprised me. I do not know what audio source would be best to evaluate the quality of the sound system. If there are any particular objective tests you would like me to conduct, let me know. If any audiophile lives near Newbury Park, CA, maybe we could meet for a test drive and audio screening.

BYT | 6 August 2012

Sorry Rod and Barbara, I kept calling you Rob, I apologize and thank you for all the feedback as you know how HUNGRY we are for all of it from a real life owner until we can join you as Model S owners as well.

Red Envelope 7826 | 6 August 2012


As they are using an Nvidia Tegra VCM - a similar contraption to what you might find in your smartphone - I would bet it is neither a HDD nor an SSD, but rather a microSD card (also similar to what you'll find in a smartphone).

HDD is out of the question, SSD is more likely, but they add weight and space when you can achieve the same goal with a memory card. Also, SSDs have high failure rates ( (I should know, every one I've bought (out of 6) has needed a replacement).

My guess is they refrain from using the term "Memory Card" because that sort of implies that it is removable, and it very well may not be, at least easily.

At least that's my best guess. :)


David70 | 6 August 2012

After how long RE? As boot drives,I have one on each of my two tower computers. One is about two years old, and the other about one year.

Michael23 | 6 August 2012

Sounds like the stereo doesn't go loud enough for how many amps it has if people can tolerate 11. I can only listen to mine halfway most of the time in current car before it starts to hurt my ears, but it's nice for lower volume sources to turn it up higher.

SMOP | 6 August 2012

Most car manufactures with integrated storage use platter Hard Disks (usually PATA). I would guess that it would not be a "Memory Card" because they do not have a stellar reputation with sustained reads/writes.

DrJ | 7 August 2012

I asked my rep about the possibility of TM adding Spotify as an app, as it has MUCH better sound quality (320 kbps) than the two that Tesla is providing (Slacker (128 kbps) and Tune In (about 50 kbps)). He said we would have to stream Spotify off the phone. I'm disappointed by that. I hope they come up with a Spotify app for the Tesla, seems silly to have to use my iphone to play quality music that my giant 17" Telsa computer can't do.

BYT | 7 August 2012

Or DrJ, we can do it when Tesla Motors release the SDK which they said they will do... Just not for a little while!

Timo | 7 August 2012

Also, SSDs have high failure rates [...](I should know, every one I've bought (out of 6) has needed a replacement).

That's a bit small sample to make any conclusions. My university has bought computers with SSD in thousands and had no problems this far. Early SSD:s did have problems, but that's pretty much same as with any memory, USB flash had that same, first ones broke really fast, new last a lot longer.

Vall | 7 August 2012

Most likely the moemory will be flash, single chip, like on iphone and most other smartphones, soldered directly on the mainboard or on top of the tegra processor. If it fails, it may be cheaper for them to change the whole board. Without a display and batery, the board itself cannot be more than $100 in parts and manufacturing. Another option is to have a mini-PCIe SSD on a slot, so that it can be changed easily

but this is just more expensive for them. And I don't believe it's that critical to have a huge drive, the system needs some space for caching maps and logging data and so on, but there are so many ways to get music on. Any android or blackberry smartphone has a microSD card slot, 32 GB cards are pretty cheap right now, and the smartphine can be used as a USB mass sotrage device, so hopefully the system will recognize it. I think iphone connectivity was mentioned somewhere, and even a simple USB stick is not a bad solution, for those that don't have a smartphone or don't want to use it. For me a good option will be to use a stick in one of the USB ports, and if there is ever a spotify app, to have it sync offline playlists on that USB stick. You never know if the 3G connection will be good enough on a longer trip.

jerry3 | 7 August 2012

SMOP -- I would guess that it would not be a "Memory Card" because they do not have a stellar reputation with sustained reads/writes

There are several levels of memory cards. Using industrial grade memory rather than consumer grade would be one option, but even consumer grade these days is fairly reliable. I don't see a problem with memory cards.