Sound System Issues

Sound System Issues

So I received my Model S Sig (VIN 651) on Tuesday night and for all of you who are still waiting.... Be patient and it will pay off. The car is a gorgeous beast of a machine and will knock your socks off beauty and performance wise. As much as I am in love with the car, I am distraught at the quality of the sound system. I am currently fiddling with the equalizer/ fade to get the best out of it, but the sound seems thin at best. Honestly, my 2010 Prius V has a better quality stereo. I hope I can dial it in to where it sounds better. Many of you may not listen to AM stations, but my local sports station sounds horrible and has a lot of buzzing, and it cuts out when going under even the smallest of overpasses. The bluetooth connection with my IPhone 5 is terrible. It is constantly loosing connection while streaming music and calls over bluetooth. I helps a LITTLE bit to put the phone in the cubby under the screen, but I would consider it a failure in terms of satisfaction as compared to other manufacturer's offerings. If anybody has any ideas, please help me out.

Michael23 | 28 novembre 2012

Did you try turning the Dolby off? I tested with it off and I liked it better. It did seem thin, but I like bass so bumped it a bit. Maybe I'm brainwashed by bass heavy car systems, but I mostly use shure headphones which are very clear and still the s did seem thin in my mind like you said. Would also like to know other people's settings.

stevenmaifert | 28 novembre 2012

Ephraim - What you are describing about the AM sounds like the AM antenna may not be connected. That would account for the severe fading of the stations when going under overpasses. The buzzing could be electrostatic noise being generated by other electronics in the dash which would overpower the front end of the receiver if no AM antenna were connected.

Brian H | 29 novembre 2012

Definitely a service call is in order. A genuine warranty issue, IMO.

georgevet | 29 novembre 2012

I test drove a car out of Santana Row (11/18) with the Sound Studio Package. Switched drivers midway between me and my wife. When I sat in the back seat I immediately noticed that the sound was heavier up front rather than balanced between front and back. Essentially, the music sounded far away from the back seat. I immediately thought the fader was off but it wasn't. The Tesla representative with us stated that most of the speakers are mounted closer to the front. We set the fader towards the back seats and it kinda/sorta helped. I am still going to buy the package because from the front seat it sounded great and I can always fade it back to minimize the imbalance for when I have passengers.

-George V

Ephraim | 29 novembre 2012

I appreciate the comments... Does anybody know how to check if the antenna is connected? Im in Buffalo, NY and the nearest showroom is 90 miles away in Toronto. And has anyone figured out how to improve the bluetooth connection with the iPhone streaming music or phone calls? Thanks you so much for your help!!!


Jewsh | 29 novembre 2012


Congrats on your new rig. Why not come to Toronto. It is a great city, but then again I am biased.

Good luck with your AM reception although I'm sure it can be fixed.

hammy16 | 29 novembre 2012

We have noticed less than sterling AM radio reception as well even in the dense signal environment
of Silicon Valley.

Epley | 29 novembre 2012

Your prius sounds better? Really? Seems a bit of an exaggeration. The system in my car sounds great, not just good, but great. Have a service center check your car out. Bring your prius for comparison. ;)

Stark | 29 novembre 2012

Hey Ephraim,

I live in Burlington Ontario and will gladly drive down to Buffalo and swap you my Chevy Equinox for the weekend and take your S in for service ;) I had my test drive in Toronto last week and can't wait to get back into an S... still working to convince my wife to release funds for the reservation!

kent | 29 novembre 2012

Hey Stark,

Tell your wife it's your Christmas present. I'm sure she will go for it. It's my mid-life crisis and I couldn't be happier.

mrspaghetti | 29 novembre 2012


And make sure you convince her to release those funds by the end of the year :)

village33 | 29 novembre 2012

Will the sound system be able to store large amounts of music or does that have to go on a USB stick? If the latter, does the port support USB 3.0 64GB+ 190MB/s flash drives/sticks?

Michael23 | 29 novembre 2012

It has internal memory, but coming in an update. Not sure if it sports USB 3.0 but I hope so

Stark | 30 novembre 2012

Believe me guys, I'm trying... at least I can talk about the car again after the test drive... she banned me from talking about all things Tesla a few months ago, apparently I sounded a little obsessed! Slow and steady wins the race right? I like the Christmas and mid-life crisis strategies, thanks for the advice, I’ll try those too!

stephen.pace | 30 novembre 2012

@Ephraim: On more thing to try is turning off HD. If you are right on the border of an AM HD signal, the car will keep switching back and forth. When an HD signal is present, it is significantly better (I keep mine on most of the time), but when I was driving to another city, I noticed that right on the edge of range, quality suffered due to switching. If that doesn't help, I vote for the antenna issue, either not connected well or broken. How is your FM quality?

Captain_Zap | 30 novembre 2012

I got word that Tesla is working on the Fade/Volume issue that some of us are experiencing and we may be hearing an improvment with an upcoming firmware update. If you have noticed that the power from your rear seems weak unless you fade to rear and then turn up the volume, you should let ownership know your status if you haven't already.

I found that once I balanced out the sound between the front and rear using fade, and then turned up the volume, the music went out of balance again.

The system does sound better with Dolby off for everything that I have listened to. Source made no difference.

georgevet | 1 dicembre 2012

Thanks Captain_Zap!

I heard what you are describing during my test drive. Hopefully, it will be fixed once I receive my car - projected Q1.

-George V

Michael23 | 1 dicembre 2012

Yes Dolby off is better which begs the question why Dolby is a perk of the sound upgrade at all? You can't watch movies anyway.

Getting Amped Again | 1 dicembre 2012

Tesla Motors - we need Surround not Dolby! Dolby 5.1 decoding requires a sound track that has been encoded specifically for Dolby 5.1, and that's usually a movie soundtrack, not music from broadcast or recorded sources.

"Surround" is a DSP-created sound environment that mimics the experience of a concert hall or similar venue by subtlety changing the phasing of the front and rear speaker output.

You are paying Dolby licensing fees for nothing without benefitting the audio experience of Model S owners. Thanks in advance for being responsive to your customers like no other automaker!

RZitrin1 | 1 dicembre 2012

There was another thread that got me turning off my Dolby, which fixed the back seat problem. Of course, there's no Dolby. Supposedly a software fix is forthcoming.


TikiMan | 1 dicembre 2012

I'm currently running a 128GB USB flash-drive in my S. The sound is better than what you get via blutooth from an iPhone5 running iTune, or internet radio. So far I have noticed some songs sound better with Dolby on, however, overall most rock, pop, and R&B sound better with it off.

What would be really cool is if Tesla could license BBE's sonic maximizer technology in the system...
I have been using an old analog BBE unit in my home system for well over two decades now, and what it does to music is beyond amazing!

Michael23 | 1 dicembre 2012

Wow 128 nice! S it supports USB 3?

TikiMan | 1 dicembre 2012

I'm not sure if it's a USB 3, however, I just bought it at Best Buy a few weeks ago, and downloaded my entire MP4 iTunes library to it.

I am looking forward to the more recent car's software upgrade, as I have read that they have upgraded the way you can search for songs, etc on a USB flash-drive.

BTW... I actually prefer using the a USB flash-drive over a iPod, because the flash-drive is so tiny, it's harder to see it in the car, compared to an iPod sitting on the center-floor area ripe for a thief to see.

Vall | 1 dicembre 2012

USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and tesla is very unlikely to have support for USB 3.0. Even if you plug in a USB 3.0 flash drive in a 2.0 port, you will still get a reasonable transfer rate, up to 30 MB/s read and write depending on the drive. The higher transfer speeds of 3.0 don't really benefit model S in any way, since it has no internal memory to speak of, it had something like 2 or 4 GB if i remember correctly, which probably means the write and read speeds are around 6-10 MB/s based on experience with mobile phones, the NAND chip inside can't be much different. So even if your stick was 3.0 and the car had a 3.0 port, and you wanted to copy to or from the car, the bottleneck is the internal NAND flash. Playing content directly from a USB 2.0 port is also a non-issue, even bluray video has a bitrate of 4.5 MB/s, plus 4MB/s for uncompressed LPCM audio... and you can't even play the video part. It is also very unlikely that tesla will add support for DTS-HD Master audio, with bitrate of 25 Mbit/s (3 MB/s) used on bluray. Even if they did it would be well in the specs of usb 2.0

Michael23 | 1 dicembre 2012

Thanks Vall. I'll probably use USB just to transfer songs to the car once they open up the internal hd, but great to know I can use a big one.

rd2 | 9 gennaio 2013

Regarding the iPhone Bluetooth connection - I am having similar problems. I have an iPhone 4S. Occasionally, I will make a call through the car interface, and suddenly the bluetooth will fail as soon as the call connects, and I'm forced to reconnect the BT manually. Very strange. Also, while the incoming BT audio quality is perfect, my outgoing voice/audio quality is scratchy and breaks up constantly, according to several people I've called.

Has anyone else experienced this? I have a service appt pending at Menlo Park to investigate.

jat | 9 gennaio 2013

No bluetooth problems with my Galaxy S3, paired immediately, no glitches either playing back music via A2DP or calls via the hands-free profile.

stevenmaifert | 9 gennaio 2013 - Thank you for your post. I'm considering the Galaxy S3.

Getting Amped Again | 9 gennaio 2013

This feature should work with all mainstream phones, especially the big players like Apple and Samsung. I'd like to hear from more iPhone owners if possible? Thanks.

DennisM | 9 gennaio 2013

IPhone4S. No problems at all after most recent (4.1) update. Good quality sound on both ends. Had the occasional pairing failure before 4.1 but not since.

Getting Amped Again | 9 gennaio 2013

Thank you DennisM. Let's hope 4.1 puts this to bed.

@rd2 - can you tell us your software rev. level please?

rd2 | 9 gennaio 2013

Yes, I only have 4.0 right now, so hopefully, 4.1 will resolve some of these issues. Thanks for the feedback!

Getting Amped Again | 9 gennaio 2013

@rd2 - here's to hoping! If you would, please let us know if that helps.

kublai | 9 gennaio 2013

iphone 5 with latest ios 6.0.2 working just fine on my car running v4.1.

DouglasR | 9 gennaio 2013

@Getting Amped,

I noted this in another thread, but my iPhone works great over Bluetooth, not only for phone conversations, but for any sound that would ordinarily be pumped out of the iPhone's internal speakers. So, for example, I can get audible turn-by-turn navigation directions using the new Google Maps app. My Rhapsody music service sounds great over the car's speakers, and I get play-pause-skip controls on the touch screen, as well as album art. Etc.

rd2 | 13 gennaio 2013

DouglasR - what software version are you running, 4.1??

BTW - my BT problems persist and no 4.1 update for me yet. THe call dropping is getting to be more and more frequent. Probably 50% of my call (incoming and outgoing) are completely dropping my BT iPhone connection and I either lose the call, or I hurriedly switch the iPhone to take the call on my phone.

If I'm not quick enough to do that, the car reestablishes the BT connection, and that is awkward as the audio suddenly switches back on in the car, and the caller is completely confused.


I have read that further rollout of 4.1 is on hold because of problems with the car not starting up properly from sleep mode. Anyone know more about this?

DouglasR | 13 gennaio 2013

@rd2, I have 4.1, but as far as I can recall, the BT has worked fine since the beginning. The album art on Rhapsody may have been implemented with 4.0, but I can't be sure.

dtesla | 13 gennaio 2013

iPhone in pocket: problems.
iPhone on shelf under 17" screen: no problems.

rkang | 31 gennaio 2013

This might be an issue with only certain iphones. My iphone 5 pairs superfast and i can play all media and stream Bloomberg radio, etc. But when music is streamed from my gf's iphone 5 it keeps skipping and breaking up.
I have an android phone with the latest OS and that can't stream certain apps like Bloomberg radio. For some odd reason.

Superliner | 31 gennaio 2013

Anyone "successfully" paired any Motorola "Droid" or other Android powered device?

sdalton | 31 gennaio 2013

No problems with my HTC Evo 4G LTE. Phone and Music work fine. As an aside - the Tesla App is now out on Android.

reitmanr | 31 gennaio 2013

Paired my Droid with no problems.
My wifes clam shell Samsung has not paired yet after many tries. Don't know why.

mbcaffe | 31 gennaio 2013

paired Galaxy S3 no problem

Mark15 | 31 gennaio 2013

The player needs a lot of upgrades. Art needs to enlarge if touched. Need AIFF lossless file comparability. Better ability to create playlists. Where is Pandora, Rhapsody and the ability to download directly to and play from hard drive. Love the car but the "tech pack"is weak as far as stereo and player goes. I think some of us hoped for a lot more.

Getting Amped Again | 7 marzo 2013

I bumping this thread because TM needs to address the lack of Surround Sound in the Model S. After three weeks of driving I love my S like no other car I've owned, but I implore TM to update the Studio Sound system (and standard system for that matter) to have Simulated Surround Sound!

The Studio Sound system sounds like a nice car stereo from 1985! It's front biased and two-dimensional - left and right.

TM: nobody plays source material that is encoded for Dolby 7.1 playback unless they're listening to the soundtrack from (insert recent movie here). We need digital signal processing that simulates surround sound from stereo sources. These guys figured that out in the 20th Century!

TM: The vast majority of us owners listen to stereo sources, not Dolby 7.1 sources. Please give us Dolby Pro Logic IIx so we're not stuck in 1985, ok?

Captain_Zap | 7 marzo 2013

I was wondering if I have an audio problem specific to a component in my car. I have to have the fade 80% to 90% to the rear for most music. Dolby makes things sound even worse.

I listen to lots of music that was recorded for 5.1 surround trying to listen to that with the sound sytem is even more frustrating than stereo.

I haven't had the time to take it in to service to get analyzed but it is definitely an outstanding issue that tops my due list.

Getting Amped Again | 7 marzo 2013

@Captain_Zap - I wasn't aware that Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 source material sounded bad also - shoot. I just assumed those sources sounded fine. Having to set the fader to 80%-90% rear is bad as you know; most of the expensive speakers are up front.

I'm actually fine with the quality of the speakers themselves (at least the front), it's just that I've become accustomed to simulated surround sound in my other cars. This issue has been talked about ad nauseam, but it needs some resolution.

AJC | 24 marzo 2013

Ephraim, thanks for starting the thread.
As for problems with AM reception, the postings seemed to have veered away from the issue.
I posted the message below on another thread and am reposting it here because the only suggestion I got was to find out if my AM stations are available on Tracker,etc. My position: In my high-end car I should not have to subscribe to a separate service in order to hear a 50,000 watt strong station free from static and underpass fading.
My 60KWH silver/black S-Car has met my expectations and I'm enjoying the impromptu tour groups that gather, even at the Senior Center.
Charging is simple and fast in my garage, the acceleration is remarkable (former car: Civic Hybrid) and storage is ample.

The not-so-good news is the radio reception. Unlike the 20-somethings at Tesla who decided no one listens to AM anymore, I have talk radio on whenever I drive. One 50,000 watt station in LA has just enough power to overcome the S-radio's deficiencies, but the other stations have no chance. The radio in the Civic ($24K SRP)pulled in LA stations throughout Orange County down to San Diego. S-Car ($72K N-NRP*)radio is staticky and weak on the same stations.
I don't expect sympathy from the smartphone/sattelite/USB set, but I'd like to bring up my problem to TMC, so my question is: Anyone else bothered by an inferior radio in such a superior vehicle?

*Non-Negotiable Retail Price

Brian H | 24 marzo 2013

Does the Civic have an antenna sticking up from the fender/frame?

DR R | 24 marzo 2013

just got my SP85 a week ago....i've noticed am reception not nearly as good as my other cars....also....electrical interference picked up when accelerating...?? radio not shielded adequately....or may be two separate problems..