New sound system

New sound system

The old sound system had 11 speakers, this new one costs $1550 more and has 12; I was getting the system either way, but any thoughts from the audiophiles out there on the new design?

TommyBoy | 3 agosto 2013

The last speaker added costs $1550. It is gold plated.

yodasminion | 3 agosto 2013

My point was not that one more speaker is a lot more, but rather this likely means they've re-designed the entire sound system, and if that's the case, I can't wait to hear people's opinions on the new design.

There were mixed reviews on the old design, though I thought it sounded quite good the one time I heard it. Wonder if the new design is much improved...

GeekEV | 3 agosto 2013

What I find interesting is all the talk about the highly customized digital signal processing developed with help from record producers, etc., etc. I wonder if they can apply some of what they've learned and developed to the older Sound Studio package with a software update. OK, let me rephrase that, I'm sure they CAN, but WILL they?

JonathanL | 3 agosto 2013

Go to the showroom and check it out. The "old" premium sound system will sound like you have no subwoofer and only front speakers with the fader and balance set to even. For the extra $1500, they better have done more than just add a 12th speaker. My guess would be they did since there were a lot of complaints about the sound system. I saw a Tesla sales rep at a farmers' market last week and she told me I should come to the store this week because they might have something new to see. I never made it but will go next week and see if they have one with premium sound and if I can notice a dramatic difference.

cwmenne | 3 agosto 2013

I have the "old" studio sound pkg and while it's not quite as good as the $3,500 Logic 7 system I had in my BMW, it is pretty good. No complaints here.

ian | 3 agosto 2013

Was XM satellite radio part of the old studio sound package?

I didn't realize they added a speaker. That's certainly worth $1550!

unclegeek | 3 agosto 2013

The new "Ultra fidelity sound system" for an extra $2500 is the same "sound studio" system as before... just a major price hike. This according to my local rep at the gallery in Scottsdale.

AmpedRealtor | 3 agosto 2013

The Sr. DS who spoke with me today said that the new sound package is the same as the old sound package. Maybe she is mistaken, this is all pretty early, but just sharing.

JonathanL | 3 agosto 2013

I believe XM was part of the upgraded sound. I only listen to music and I prefer Slacker's music offerings to XM (especially the ability to skip tracks) so I never got an XM subscription.

AmpedRealtor | 3 agosto 2013

The "old" Studio Sound package also had 12 speakers if you include the subwoofer. It would appear that Tesla is just including the subwoofer in the total speaker count now versus not doing that previously?

ATX | 3 agosto 2013

According to a post circa 2011, here is the description of the original upgraded sound system, also know as the "Sound Studio" . Seems to have the same number of speakers, wattage...

If you seriously care about the quality of the sound in your car, then you’ll be happy to know that while the Model S already comes with a 200-watt 7-speaker stereo system that include AM/FM and even HD radio, as well as dual USB ports and storage for up to 500 songs, you can upgrade beyond that. For an additional $950, you can add on the “Sound Studio Package.” This package improves the quality of the sound with a 580-watt 12-speaker Dolby ProLogic 7.1 system. It even offers 16GB of storage for up to 3000 songs. If you are buying a Signature Model S, this is included as standard feature. Is the price worth it? We’ll have to hear for ourselves and determine that later, but I’m guessing that it will sound great.

TommyBoy | 3 agosto 2013

Sorry minion...was a tongue-in-cheek response....

yodasminion | 3 agosto 2013

I would be kind of surprised if they didn't do an overhaul, especially given all the complaints about the old sound system...

No offense taken Tommy, if they haven't made any changes at all then I'm gonna want the new one to have a gold sub dammit:D

Getting Amped Again | 3 agosto 2013

$950 was a fair price for the Studio Sound package. It's pretty good, not great - all well documented. I'm happy with what I got for the price.

I would have been really pissed off if I paid $2500 for it though. Think $1500 would have been more in order if a price increase was necessary.

EclecticCitizen | 3 agosto 2013

I hope they made a complete redesign and upgrade for that price. I agree that the old price is closer to fair, but I would be really mad if I paid $2500 for what I got in the Sound Studio package--especially because they have still not activated the advertise hard drive feature etc. Also Dolby messes up most music because it only works with specifically encoded audio---more appropriate for a home theater and movie tracks than the audio on your phone or a USB stick. Slacker and FM are not Dolby encoded either, so the Dolby feature remains off most of the time to preserve rear channel sound and bass. I'm sure Tesla paid huge licensing fees for the Dolby usage; it would be smart if they dropped it.

I hope the newer owners who take delivery with the new system get their money's worth if they opt for the upgrade. If it is actually the same system as my Sound Studio, $2500 is highway robbery. Get the standard stereo and then pay a professional to do a custom upgrade.

my 2 cents

Getting Amped Again | 3 agosto 2013


cwmenne | 3 agosto 2013

I leave my Dolby feature turned on all the time and use Slacker 99% of the time and when I compare Dolby on/off, on sounds better to me. Not a huge difference, but it does sound like the cabin is "bigger", like listening in a theatre.

Brian H | 3 agosto 2013

Gold is so soft a speaker made of it would twist itself into a pretzel. Bad idea.

Dripps | 3 agosto 2013

I was told it's the same of the previous Sound Studio Package. They re-evaluated and realized it was priced too low.

unclegeek | 3 agosto 2013

@Dripps Ditto.

wonger000 | 3 agosto 2013

I believe it is the same studio sound package. Although I'm glad I order mine and picked it up my vehicle a few months back, I shake my head on how every option that was included is now added costs for new buyers.

I can't imagine paying an extra $650 for interior décor, $500 for interior lights, +$1550 for studio sound, +$1000 for glass roof, and $1500 for wrap around leather on the front dash and doors when it was all included with various options at a lower price in the past.

Finally, I'm still disappointed that they have no ETA to enable on-board music storage as part of studio package. Talk about marketing bait and switch.

GeekEV | 3 agosto 2013

IIRC, they were calling it 11.1 speakers before. So, yeah, I agree it's the same number of speakers, they're just including the subwoofer now in the count because 11.1 probably confuses people not into home theater terminology. Also, the previous comments about Dolby Surround only working on specially encoded material is flat out wrong. Volkerize some of my previous comments about Dolby Pro Logic.

EclecticCitizen | 7 agosto 2013

@ GeekEV I Volkerized and re-read some of your postings on the topic and both you and AmpedRealtor agreed with what I said about Dolby, so what made you change your mind?

"GeekEV | JULY 8, 2013

@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."

It is also the explanation that I got from Tesla directly. Subjectively, having Dolby on greatly reduces the level of sound coming from the rear speakers and subwoofer for most tracks (sometimes down to nothing). Service evaluated it and said it is performing as designed. Unless you have Dolby 7.1 encoded music tracks, they said you should not have Dolby turned on. That was their final answer.

I make no claims to know the ins & outs of Dolby or other encoding, but I know when Dolby's on, my music including Slacker sounds hallow with no rich lows, and almost all volume is coming from the front & doors. If you or anyone has a different answer than service based on objective facts, I'm definitely open to it. Service has been wrong before and I found real solutions here on the forums.

let me know

GeekEV | 7 agosto 2013

@EclecticCitizen - Changed my mind? From my original posts where I said it wasn't working well and sounded front heavy? At the time I posted those, it was true. But the answer to what changed my mind is there in the later post you quoted: "initially this did not work so well in my car, but two or three software updates ago it improved tremendously - at least with Slacker."

> Subjectively, having Dolby on greatly reduces the level of sound coming from the rear speakers and subwoofer for most tracks (sometimes down to nothing). Service evaluated it and said it is performing as designed.

For the rear speakers, that's true. That's the way Dolby ProLogic music mode works, it is designed to simulate a concert experience, in which most of the sound stage is in front of you. The rear speakers are for ambiance effects only. But it should not reduce the subwoofer and most certainly does not on my car. It's pretty bumpin'...

> Unless you have Dolby 7.1 encoded music tracks, they said you should not have Dolby turned on.

I think they're just plain mistaken about that. How many of the service people are audio specialists? I think they're making the same assumptions that many people on the forums are making which is that when they hear "Dolby" it's usually in reference to Dolby 5.1 or Dolby 7.1 soundtracks on their DVDs...

I'll email ownership and try to get a definitive answer about that.

TikiMan | 7 agosto 2013

I'm sure it's the same system as what was released with the original Signature MS's.

I have found that if you boost the three-band EQ up to almost the highest levels, and play mostly only USB sourced mp4 and or Slacker music, the system really ROCKS! It also really helps if you own the parcel shelf, and some Luxe Lloyds car mats, as they help tighten the EQ a bit more, and absorbe some of the reflection.

The 8" sub has problems handling some super-low bass sounds, thus it's not the best system for Hip-Hop / Rap music. However, most pop, rock, country, techno, jazz, classical, etc really has a full sound quality with the Dolby turned on.

Yes, it could be better, however, I am happy with it, and if I am ever concerned someone can't hear my MS, I just turn up to 9 or 10, and trust me, only a deaf person won't notice you.

GeekEV | 8 agosto 2013

Alright everyone, I've asked some very clear specific questions about the Dolby Surround features to ownership and here's the definitive answers from Tesla. Specifically, see the last question and answer. Perhaps that accounts for much of the confusion here.

Q: Both the car and website simply reference "Dolby Surround". Specifically, what Dolby mode(s) are implemented? Dolby Digital? Dolby TruHD? Dolby ProLogic? Dolby ProLogic II? Dolby ProLogic IIx?

A: Model S with the Ultra High Fidelity Sound package features Dolby ProLogic IIx.

Q: If one of the Dolby ProLogic II types, do you implement the Movie or Music mode?

A: Model S uses Music mode as a bases, but [our] ProLogic IIx is specifically tuned to Model S. In fact, we have different tuning with or without the panoramic roof.

Q: Some people are asserting that they've been told by service that they need specifically encoded multi-channel audio sources in Dolby Digital 7.1 and that the Dolby Surround ON setting is only useful in those scenarios. Is that true?

A: This is not true. The purpose of ProLogic IIx is to convert 2 channel sources into multichannel sources. There is no need for the customer to provide multichannel media. That said, Dolby is not available with AM, FM, or XM sources, which is displayed in the vehicle.

GeekEV | 8 agosto 2013

One more Q&A:

Q: Aside from a name (and price!) change, is there any difference between the old Sound Studio package and the new Ultra High Fidelity Sound package?

A: There is no functional difference. We’ve modified the price to reflect current costs of manufacturing and cost of goods. Also we’ve re-designed the package description to better reflect value. Prior to the new options, the sound system was underpriced.

Amped | 8 agosto 2013

Wow, if it's Pro IIx then something is seriously wrong.
It sounds better when Off
I'm on the current update and it hasn't gotten any better since Apr delivery.

TommyBoy | 8 agosto 2013

I passed on it. I absolutely hate Sirius/XM. They screwed me so badly a few years ago on a renewal that I vowed never again to use them. I did like Howard Stern but all of the music was repetitive and not close to what you can get today with Pandora, TunIn, iHeartRadio, etc. And now Stern is only on like every other Monday for 4 hours with commericals (remember those days? Sirius - you'll never listen to a commercial again!) every ten minutes. In other words, I don't care about XM.

That leaves 380 watts and 5 speakers for a $2500 premium. I did not like the Sound Studio package in my two test drives and I just couldn't justify it for my purchase. When I heard that Tesla was making their own in-house speakers that was the last straw.

I've actually never heard the base stereo but then again, I'm not paying for it. If I don't like it I have a shop here in LA that can upgrade the hell out of it for under $3K with some real subs and name-brand speakers and amps. We'll see, maybe I'll just listen to TuneIn and my old San Jose talk radio stations!

GeekEV | 8 agosto 2013

@Amped - Maybe there is something wrong with your car. I believe it's entirely possible that there are some cars out that there just don't sound right. Mine didn't either at first but a software update took care of it. I'd imagine there's a separate DSP chip that gets flashed with decoding logic and perhaps during your update that flashing didn't take properly. I'd take it to service and have them check it out with you. Maybe they can fix it.

> When I heard that Tesla was making their own in-house speakers that was the last straw.

@TommyBoy - That's also a myth that's been swimming around here. Tesla does NOT make the speakers themselves. Those are purchased as OEMs from another manufacturer. What they DO, however, is assemble their own enclosures and speaker baskets to fit the car's design and weight requirements, etc., which is not an uncommon thing to do. I think the myth about them making their own speakers started from someone on a factory tour who saw them assembling the speakers and posted that he saw them "making their own speakers". I asked about this specifically when I took delivery of my car and that's what I was told. But email Tesla yourself and ask...

EclecticCitizen | 9 agosto 2013

awesome information! thanks for pursuing that in such detail.

Like Amped, mine sounds pretty bad with Dolby on, but service and showroom folks chalk it up to a difference in taste. They have not sat in the car with me to allow me to demonstrate the huge difference between Dolby on & off. When I mention the bass and rear sound dropping, they assume I"m trying to bump 808 beats like a low rider. The party line is that Dolby is supposed to hit you from the front like you are at a live symphony performance....therefore there is minimal sound from the rear speakers and sub. The solution offered is for me to just appreciate how elegant and great Dolby is (and stop listening to my favorite artists).

With Dolby off, I actually really love the upgraded stereo. I can hear lots of details and elements of songs that I don't usually notice on my headphones or computer speakers (or the old Honda stereo). With Dolby off, the bass is stronger than I even realized. My girlfriend could hear me from 50 yards away when I pulled into her complex's lot. I only had the volume at 6 or 7.

Back to the OP topic of the new system... I'm happier every day that I bought when I did. I got lots of features that have gone up greatly in price since then, including the renamed stereo upgrade.

GeekEV | 9 agosto 2013

> ... they assume I"m trying to bump 808 beats like a low rider.

@EclecticCitizen - I have the upgraded stereo and Dolby on and I most definitely DO bump 808* beats like a low rider (much the the chagrin of my wife)... Though I usually run at a volume 8. 10 will just about make my ears bleed and 11, well, that just sounds horrible (bad distortion)...

* Well, lately it's been dubstep, actually.

AmpedRealtor | 9 agosto 2013

To further add to the sound quality issues, Tesla uses different sound processing to compensate for vehicles with and without the pano roof. It's possible that the wrong profile was shipped with your vehicle, i.e., it's processing using the pano roof profile when you don't have a pano roof. If the sound processing is tuned specifically to each interior, as Tesla says, then a mistake at this step could easily be misconstrued as a bad sound system when it was just using the wrong sound profile.

GeekEV | 9 agosto 2013

@AmpedRealtor - Excellent point! The acoustics off the pano would be completely different. I imagine this is driven off the same global car settings the system uses to draw your car icon in the car.

@EclecticCitizen - Does it have the correct roof shown in the car drawings?

AmpedRealtor | 9 agosto 2013

This might sound silly, but the upgraded sound is one of the reasons why I did not update to the new pricing and options. I wanted the upgraded sound, but could not bring myself to pay $2,500 for that was previously a $950 option. I thought I made my last stand over parking sensors, but it appears to have occurred over the sound package instead. LOL!

My Jetta V6 had an upgraded Monsoon sound system with subwoofer. While not the best system in the world, it sounded great to me. Then I replace the Jetta with a Prius Touring that came with the Harmon Kardon system sans subwoofer. Sounds totally anemic and pathetic. I have regretted for the last five years not getting an upgraded factory sound package.

GeekEV | 9 agosto 2013

I agree, that price hike seems way overblown. The only way I can think to justify that is they're trying to roll in all the R&D they did on the surround mode decoding profiles. There's NO WAY there $2,500 worth of upgraded hardware. $950, sure, good speakers and an amp aren't cheap, but they're not THAT good.

Brian H | 9 agosto 2013

98 db for 15 minutes causes permanent occipital lobe damage in lab rats. Just sayin'.

Brian H | 9 agosto 2013

typo: 95 db.

GeekEV | 9 agosto 2013

@Brian H - [cupping hand to ear] WHAT?

herkimer | 9 agosto 2013

Can you really have a top end aftermarket sound system installed in a Model S for less than $2500? I was quoted $4000, installed.

Have had the car for two months, and the standard sound system has grown on me, seems quite nice. Rare occasions where it is just a little weak, not enough for me to care, or pay the extra $$.

DonS | 9 agosto 2013

The new cars in the showroom have a small grill in the front of the center console. Older cars do not have it. I was wondering if this is an additional tweeter in the new sound package.

kheadrick | 9 agosto 2013

The same is not true of human beings.
Osha standards say that humans (who have much bigger ears than rats,
can have 3 hours of continuous sound at 97 dBA, slow response mode with no long term damage. People should rightly be concerned about playing music too loud for too long. 105 dBA for only an hour is the Osha standard. Also tolerance to low frequencies is much higher, so if most of the loudness in the sound is low bass, there is much less chance of damage. I have measured sound levels in many different environments and for myself, 95 dBA slow response mode is quite loud, and 105 dBA is way louder than what I would play anything for more than a few minutes.
Many people have suffered permanent hearing loss from over exposure to loud sounds for too long. | 9 agosto 2013

DonS - I noticed the grill/holes yesterday too!

For those that haven't seen it, about 2 inches above the 12v power outlet in the center pedestal is a 1.5" inch diameter set of tiny holes in the plastic. This is on new cars just out of production.

I don't think it's a speaker as it's just a poor location for one. My guess is it is either a ventilation hole for a fan (there are some electronics in the pedestal), or perhaps a new temperature sensor for more accurate cabin temps. It could be a microphone, but I wouldn't expect the so many holes and the location doesn't seem right for it either.

michael1800 | 9 agosto 2013

Its vent wholes for the copmuter located in the centre console...I got a little curious two weaks ago.

michael1800 | 9 agosto 2013

correction: 'too' :P | 9 agosto 2013

Thanks michael1800, the sales people didn't know what it was for, and I didn't have the time to follow up. I'm just too curious for my own good!

michael1800 | 9 agosto 2013

I thought the center console was hollow at first and thought perhaps I could put it to use...that's definitely not the case (pun)!

AmpedRealtor | 9 agosto 2013

I heard it was a temperature sensor.

yodasminion | 10 agosto 2013

I had a chat with a Tesla rep about this over email, she clarified:

The ultra high fidelity sound system listed in the design studio is the same technology (no changes) to the previously named Sound Studio option. Two of the three cars on the showroom floor in the Santana Row store have the ultra high fidelity sound system, and one car has the standard sound system. The ultra high fidelity sound system has:
· 12 speakers (8 speakers, 2 tweeters, 1 center channel, 1 subwoofer)
· Tuned to take into account roof materials
· It was designed in collaboration with audio experts and music producers to engineer concert-like listening environment

I think this answers most of my questions. I'm going to make a visit to Santana Row with a friend of mine who's an audio encoding engineer and see what he thinks. I'll update in a week or two with his professional observations and with my choice.

I agree with a few folks above, if you have a crappy sounding system, whether upgraded or not, you should take a Tesla rep for a drive in your car. If it sounds bad, it should be fixed.

Brian H | 10 agosto 2013

michael1800 | August 9, 2013
Its vent wholes for the copmuter located in the centre console...I got a little curious two weaks ago.

Heh. Lots more corrections 4U !