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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.

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.

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.

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

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

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!!!



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.

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

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. ;)

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!

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.


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

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?

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

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!

@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?

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.

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

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.

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!

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.


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!

Wow 128 nice! S it supports USB 3?

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.

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

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.

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.

No bluetooth problems with my Galaxy S3, paired immediately, no glitches either playing back music via A2DP or calls via the hands-free profile. - Thank you for your post. I'm considering the Galaxy S3.

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.

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.