Standard vs Premium sound system

Standard vs Premium sound system

I just placed an order for a Model S and am in my 2 week change period. Anyone with advice on the standard vs premium sound system? Is it worth the extra $2500?

Tâm | August 31, 2013

If you want more power, more speakers, and especially a subwoofer, then yes.

If you only listen to AM radio, talk on blue tooth, then you don't need a subwoofer, then the answer is no.

earlyretirement | August 31, 2013

I'm not quite sure how the normal ones are but I upgraded to the premium and the sound is totally decent for me. The sound is great in my P85 and I don't regret upgrading.

DallasTXModelS | August 31, 2013

Also if you want XM.

earlyretirement | August 31, 2013

Yep. Dallas is right. That's also why I got the upgraded system. I use XM.

Cindy I II III | August 31, 2013

I did't upgrade as I listen to audiobooks, Spa and piano solo music. Did play rock music on it - it's OK surprisingly. But if you care for base, perhaps upgrade should be done. It depends on how much you care vs how much budget constraints that u have.

cwmenne | August 31, 2013

Love the premium sound in my MS. Definitely worth it. Haven't heard the standard system, but without the sub woofer, I think it would suck.

Sanjuro88 | August 31, 2013

I have a standard stereo & it is perfectly adequate for me. Since Model S is so fun to drive, I tend to turn off the music & enjoy the drive, to be honest.

Also, you should know that no engine sound = you can hear the music much better.

It comes down to how much you want to spend for extra goodies. I'm a semi-audiophile, but I decided that the standard is good enough... and it is.

TikiMan | August 31, 2013

If you love music, and own a nice Dolby 5.1 theater sound-system at home, go with the studio-sound system.

Otherwise, if talk-radio is more your thing, and or a you typically listen to music via a small table-top system at home, then the standard-sound system will serve your needs.

ddruz | September 1, 2013

I have the Sound Studio in my car and consider it worth the $950 it cost at the time. However I do not consider it worth the $2500 it costs now. Were I to order now it would be with the standard sound system.

I drove a loaner with standard sound again last week for a couple days. I spent a very long time playing around with the sound system this time, comparing it to my car's system and tweaking it for best all around sound on a variety of genres. My source was lossless FLAC via USB.

I have been blessed with a good ear and appreciate distinctions important to audiophiles. IMO the standard sound system sounds best with both bass boost and to a lesser extent treble boost to compensate for its speaker configuration. But it should do a creditable job for most non-audiophiles.

FWIW these are the system settings that I now prefer with the standard sound system. You see a lot of people crank up the equalizer across the entire spectrum of bass, mid and treble but that is not much different than just increasing the volume.

7.5 Bass
0.0 Mid
3.5 Treble
0.0 Fade
0.0 Balance

What is needed with this system on most source material is compensation in the lows and highs relative to the mids. Increasing lows and highs also compensates for the human ear's decreasing sensitivity to highs and lows at lesser volumes which is an added benefit.

If you do this type of compensation with the system's equalizer and are not an audiophile or a titanic volume meister you should be able to save $2500 and be plenty happy with this system.

mumanoff | September 1, 2013

Love mine but I only paid 950 for upgrade..have not listened to the base system. Best car I have EVER owned!!

Dripps | September 1, 2013

We have the upgraded sound system (now called Sound Studio Pkg) in my husbands Sig MS. The sound is terrible from the rear speakers, especially if the Dolby is ON. We turn the Dolby off and it's ok. Yes, the subwoofer puts out more bass.
BUT I just got the regular system for my MS and I'm pleasantly surprised. The sound is really good and I don't miss the XM. I use Slacker and Tunein for my radio selections almost always. I use the bluetooth and my iPhone to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I'm not disappointed at all with the regular sound.

Cattledog | September 1, 2013

ddruz - Do you recommend those equalizer settings for the folks (include me) that have the original +$950 system? Thanks for your input.

ddruz | September 2, 2013

@Cattledog - For the Sound Studio I use and recommend the following:

Lossless FLAC USB sources (my mainstay)
Dolby ON
+10.0 Bass
+ 0.0 Mid
+ 2.5 Treble
- 7.0 Fade
+ 0.0 Balance

All other lossy sources
Dolby OFF
+8.0 Bass
+0.0 Mid
+2.5 Treble
-7.0 or more Fade
+0.0 Balance

Lossless FLAC sources are improved with Dolby ON. There is a richer bass and a more nuanced, open, breathing sound field. The rear speakers are intentionally not so loud. Their primary function is to provide simulated reflected sound off the walls of the concert hall.

Non-lossless compressed sources (Slacker, streaming Bluetooth, FM, etc.) sound much better with Dolby OFF, however, IMO. The bass is louder though not clearer, the volume is louder, and the sound stage shifts more to the front compared to Dolby ON.

So when switching from FLAC lossless to lossy media I turn Dolby OFF, lower the volume a bit, drop the bass a couple notches and sometimes even move the fade back a bit more.

If I to listen to FLAC lossless with Dolby OFF I use the same settings as for lossy media with Dolby OFF.

pvetesla | September 2, 2013

When I dropped my car off for service I got a loaner with premium sound.

I was concerned for a while that I made a bad choice going cheap and not getting the upgraded sound since I love driving my MS everywhere.

Good news though....I get an extra storage spot in the trunk for my vacuum (where the sub woofer is) and the music from slacker didn't sound any better to my "untrained" ears.

I'm glad I didn't spend the extra $$$$$

tes-s | September 2, 2013

I'm regretting not getting the upgraded sound. AM and FM radio reception is poor, and sound (even adjusting the equalizer) is mediocre. My Prius has much better radio reception and sound quality.

AmpedRealtor | September 2, 2013

You cannot activate Dolby for internet audio (Slacker, TuneIn) or for HD Radio.

Those who are judging the audio system using sources from Slacker may wish to use different material. Slacker is compressed and so is anything you stream via BlueTooth. Compression takes its biggest chunk out of the low end/bass response, so it's only natural that streamed sources are going to sound anemic on any system.

mdemetri | September 2, 2013

I used @ddruz's recommended settings for the standard system and it made a huge huge improvement. I had been having regrets that I did not upgrade, but not anymore. I am no audiophile but I am now very very happy with the standard system in my P85.

I would definitely not upgrade for $2,500; for that price you would be better off spending a little more for an after market system like Reus.

AmpedRealtor | September 2, 2013

@ ddruz - Are you sure about those bass values? I can't turn my bass up more than +3 without it beating like a drug dealer's hoopty. At +8 to +10 on the bass your car must hover! :P

GeekEV | September 2, 2013

@AmpedRealtor - Absolutely not true. It's only AM*/FM*/XM that you can't turn Dolby on. I use primarily Slacker and Dolby is most definitely on and sounds great. Yes, it's compressed, and yes, and uncompressed source would sound even better.

* and their HD radio equivalents

Dreamknightmanga | September 2, 2013

I just don't see it worth $2,500. I would have been in for $950. I just listen to music on low most of the time. Is there any after market systems?

sunrunner | September 2, 2013

My only regret about my car is going with the standard sound system.

It's hard to upgrade later cause nobody knows what they're doing aftermarket when it comes to the cars electric system. $950 was definitely worth it. $2500 I'm not sure about (all they added was the subwoofer). But I'd probably still do it.

rbgliny | September 2, 2013

If the only reason for upgrading to the premium sound is for xm then there is a work around for xm. If you already have an xm subscription for another $3/mo you can get xm via the Internet. Load the xm app to your phone and you can listen to it via Bluetooth in the car. I've already checked it out in my S with the sound upgrade. Since this approached worked we didn't order the sound upgrade for my wife's S. She primarily listens to talk. Delivery in 3 weeks.

Dukecat | September 2, 2013

Follow up to earlier comment in this thread from @pvetesla: Does the location of the subwoofer with the Ultra High Fidelity Sound package impede capacity that would otherwise be available? Just want to make sure that with the subwoofer, I can still keep my golf clubs in the back without having to make any seat adjustments.

MichaelN | September 2, 2013

where exactly is the subwoofer located in the trunk? I have the premium sound package but don't see a subwoofer that PVETESLA talked about but I do have an indented space, one on each side of the trunk? Asking because I thought that perhaps Tesla mistakenly left out the premium sound in our - just chenking - love the car anyway the stereo sounds -

stuberman | September 2, 2013

Hint: Try for access to many other threads on this topic.

My son is the only one to have used the back seat and he says that the standard sound doesn't reach back there. In the front seat the sound is better than my BMW 540i "Premium" sound was.

hfcolvin | September 2, 2013

There are a couple of threads on the Reus sound upgrade which people rave about. I think it cost about $4000 for East Coasters, which included travel/shipping for the guy coming from California. For myself, I'm no audiophile and I've been happy with the standard sound. My impression is the true audiophiles have been unhappy/underwhelmed with the Sound Studio upgrade.

kickgas | September 2, 2013

If I were buying the MS now, I'd get the base system & upgrade to an aftermarket system. I'm on the East Coast & had the Reus System installed. Sig improvement.

GeekEV | September 2, 2013

@sunrunner - The subwoofer was there before in the old premium sound package too. There is no functional change between the old Sound Studio Package and the new Ultra High Fidelity Sound Package (or whatever they're calling it now).

unclegeek | September 2, 2013

I listened to both systems before I locked in.. I bought the standard system and I'm totally delighted with it. I have to "smiley up" the 3 band eq a lot.. in order to get decent bass and highs.. and it doesn't blast quite as loud as the premium system.. but for me.. the delta in cost did not anywhere NEAR justify the delta in sound.. I don't care about satellite radio, we have plenty of HD radio stations in Phoenix and the reception has been perfect! no problems whatsoever with the tuner in this car for me. (must be the antenna ground issue being resolved). I stuck a 64GB USB stick in full of my best collection and with that and slacker, etc.. I have PLENTY to listen to! Spend the money on other options.. or just save it to help pay sales tax. :)

sunrunner | September 3, 2013

Details regarding your aftermarket system?

chrisdl | September 3, 2013

Haha! Learned a new word, thanks to you. I had no clue what a hoopty was :)

ddruz | September 3, 2013

@AmpedRealtor - Absolutely sure about the bass values in my posts above. If your bass is overly loud at those values it may be in your source material. Compressed sources are extremely variable. Try some lossless FLAC sources ripped straight from a CD and see what you think.

ddruz | September 3, 2013

@AmpedRealtor - Note also my Fade setting of -7 for Sound Studio. If you use Fade closer to 0.0 the entire spectrum, including bass, will be louder.

kickgas | September 3, 2013


They replace the two speakers in the front pillars, add a tweeter to the back of the rear view mirror facing the windshield, added a 10' sub in the back in the footwell and added an amp in the space above the driver rear wheel. Totally seamless except for the speaker in the rear view mirror. Much larger, enveloping sound experience. Stereo is very important to me & has been a welcome addition.

AmpedRealtor | September 3, 2013

@ GeekEV - Thank you for the correction, you are correct. Dolby is not available for AM/FM/XM and their HD equivalents, however Slacker and TuneIn can utilize Dolby.

I've found that music sounds better with Dolby on. When I disable Dolby, the sound field collapses and feels rather flat and shallow. Also compared an old 90s song (Heart's "Alone") through Slacker and from iTunes. Slacker compression removed most of the bass response and the sound felt very flat. The same song from iTunes blew the doors off. We have to make sure we don't judge the quality of the sound system with poorly compressed source material.

pvetesla | September 3, 2013


If you are facing the trunk (if you have premium sound) you will not have a cubby hole on the right side like you do on the left side (driver side).

Mine has 1 hole on each side.

Brian H | September 3, 2013

facing the trunk from outside the car. :)

amirm | September 3, 2013

Audio is very personal and most model S owners are happy with either the standard or the upgraded version.
I had the standard but was not satisfied with it so I did the Reus upgrade last week and love it.
My assumption was that at $2500 for the factory upgraded system it will be difficult to justify an additional $3500 to do the aftermarket upgrade compared to those who bought the standard and basically pay a $1000 extra for a very high end system. I was surprised to find out that out of the 30 Model S upgrades Reus did so far, only 4 were standard audio.
I recommend that you take a USB stick with the music you like in either WAV or FLAC format and test it on both a standard system and an upgraded system. What other people think may not be compatible with your personal preference.

TomasT | September 3, 2013

For whatever is worth, I'm a record producer so my ears have gotten used to listening through really great speakers in great studios. I've not heard the Premium system but I must say that the standard system on my Model S is probably the best car sound I've ever owned. It is a relatively flat and full sounding system that sounds good in pretty much any style of music.
As a criticism, I do think a subwoofer would make it much better. The speakers don't produce any of the the sub frequencies. (You can boost however much Lo's you want to with the EQ, you'll only boost the low midrange frequencies, because the speakers just don't produce the real sub bass, it's not there.)
Also, if you like to listen real loud, you might not be satisfied with the Standard because although it is very good sounding, it's not really loud.

The reason why I didn't get the Premium was because I couldn't listen to it at the showroom and in my experience, premium sound systems tend to favor big lows and airy highs, to the expense of the midrange frequencies, which is where most musical instruments live, (guitars, vocals, piano, snare drums, etc).

If the Premium sound system sounds the same as the Standard system but louder and with deeper subs, then it must sound amazing. I just did not want to spend the money when the standard sounded so great to me already.

silbenny | September 4, 2013

@kickgas @amirm
Does Reus use the additional amp to power all the speakers or do they simply add an amp that powers the improved subwoofer. By retaining the EQ on the touchscreen, I'm assuming they didn't add a separate sound processor.

kickgas | September 4, 2013

You are correct. The amp powers the sub only, but this takes the load off Tesla's amp to only power the remaining speakers @ higher crossover points.

sunrunner | September 5, 2013

What speakers did you have installed in the pillars? I'm gonna have to think of a different configuration overall, cause my car has the rear facing seats. I'm not sure an amp would fit where it did in your car and the footwell sees regular traffic thanks to three children vying for 2 spots. Thanks for your input.

kickgas | September 5, 2013

Can't tell you the brand of speakers, don't know. Not a name brand. They often have components made to their specifications. They do have a special configuration for vehicles with rear facing seats however. Would suggest contacting them.

AmpedRealtor | September 5, 2013

Some people aren't happy unless they spend $4,000 on an aftermarket sound system. Whatever floats your boat.

kickgas | September 5, 2013

@ AmpedRealtor
You must have a lot of spare time on your hands to be making judgmental, unuseful comments on the forum

do it | September 5, 2013

Yes, please upgrade to the premium system sound way better... cheers

brooklynrab | January 20, 2014

Other than upgrading with this Reus fellow for 4K, has anyone done an upgrade of the standard sound system, and know how hard it would be, with regard to finding the right harness etc?

steveisserman | July 15, 2014

I would definitely get the upgraded sound system. Did and AB comparison at the dealership (showroom I should say) and the difference was significant. It really starts to matter if you listen to good quality music files such as FLACs. Even just listening to the Slacker free streaming one can appreciate more detail and bass with the upgrade.

AdamFawsitt | July 15, 2014

@ ddruz - thanks for your suggestions re Bass and Treble for the standard system, much better!

I am waiting for my car to have an aftermarket system fitted by AutoAudio in London who have done a lot of work with Roadsters.

stephen.kamichik | July 15, 2014

My MS85 has the standard sound system. Today I am driving a loaner MS85 with the premium sound system. I cannot hear any difference between the two systems.