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Audio Mods to Improve Sound and Presence

Discussion in 'Model S: User Interface' started by majorlance, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. majorlance

    majorlance Member

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    Keeping with the theme that a high performance, tech savvy, state of the art electric car needs a great audio system, I'm looking for suggestions on high impact mods to Tesla's HD audio package.

    Background:
    I ordered my 2014 D with the Ultra High Fidelity audio system. I then added the Reus Systems upgrade that included upgraded A pillar speakers, tiny speaker in front of the mirror and two subs in the rear cargo area including high fidelity crossovers and amps.

    The result was dramatically improved mid and high treble response in the front and a bone rattling bass in the rear for (mostly recent) songs that were mixed to include subwoofers. I've adjusted the settings to slightly boast the bass and treble and slightly pull down the mid-range with the built-in equalizer.

    All of my testing is done from a flash drive that has either high quality AAC files or (mostly) flac files ripped directly from the CD. Lately, I've started to add HD flac from HD Tracks or Pono Music World with even "better than CD" tracks. Some remastered but all with more bits. (The mastered tracks always sound better than the standard CD tracks to my ears.)

    The overall results are improved but:

    - The sound stage is biased to the front with little coming from the rear when sitting in the drivers seat.
    - Bass response is great if the song was mixed for really low end subs (less than 75 hz- just a guess). Otherwise, there is no kick...
    - Many older songs (think Grateful Dead, Beatles, Allman Brothers, any 60's to mid-70's songs) lack in the bottom end and sound a little muddled in the mid-range.
    - I'm like a larger sound stage (balanced between front and rear) but my car sounds like it only has front speakers with a little support from the rear. The exception to this is if the song has a strong, low bass line which thens makes the audio sound more spatially balanced.

    Goals:

    - Improve the mid-range response with a more crisp, defined sound.
    - Widen the sound stage by boasting the rear speakers for mid and high sounds.
    - Reduce mid-range muddle.
    - Improve the punch of older songs that don't really kick the dual rear 10" subs.

    Any thoughts, real world experience or suggestions are appreciated. (Also, any shops in the Washington, DC area that could help with this!)

    Best!
     
  2. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

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    I'm on the same page. I have the P85+ with upgraded sound. I can say that the 6.2 update really did seem to make a difference. I am surprised. But the system is biased WAY to the front, which I do not like. So I need to fiddle with the very-hard-to-manipulate balance controls, which are simply maddening. I have been able to both move the sound more effectively to a center biased stage and open up the stage in general. But it is not easy to do and I find that, from song to song, it moves all over the place. It just drives me crazy. I just spent literally days remastering all of my music and getting it all onto the USB stick and can say it sounds better. But I have not had a lot of time with it. I have not done the Rues upgrade yet, which I really want to do. But it's not in cards right now.

    But I can say this: the system is no Burmeister, B&O, HK or even Bose. Not by a long shot. Unfortunate. Of course, some of those cost as much as a small compact car! Unfortunate, considering what I dropped on the car. But honestly, I didn't buy it for the HiFi. I bought it for the tech and our future.
     
  3. majorlance

    majorlance Member

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    Agree on all points. It really bugs me that my brother in law commented that his harmon karden in his Mercedes sounded better and I had to agree with him. It does... And it is the stock system In his SUV.

    My Reus upgrade is tapped into the front speakers, so moving the fader back lowers both the front sound stage and the rear subs. Not helpful!
     
  4. Tdriver

    Tdriver Member

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    There has been other recent threads that came to the same conclusion about the sound staging. Sounds like Reus needs to add some beef to the rear door speakers....maybe even add some tweeters in the B pillars or upper doors.
     
  5. Ghia64

    Ghia64 Member

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    I think first of all it is necessary to identify what type of sound one is looking for. I always get confused when people add speakers to the rear doors etc. If a perfect soundstage is requested in a car, in my opinion it's only perfect in one spot. Same as for a home audiophile system. You will have your sweetspot where everything falls into place. It is possible to get the same experience in a car with a "simple" setup of Right/Left speakers and subwoofer
    After speaking to a reputed car audio installer here in Sweden I decided to give it a shot. Setup is as follows:

    Source:
    -Tesla HU (FLAC on USB)
    -Mobile device with OTC capability -> USB to Optical converter -> DSP

    Front Amplifier / DSP:
    - Mosconi D2 80.6 DSP

    Front Speakers:
    -Dayton Ribbon Tweeter
    -EAD 2" Midrange
    -Dayton 6.5" Midbass

    Subwoofer Amplifier:
    - DLS Reference CC-1000

    Subwoofers:
    2 x Dayton Titanic 10"

    Front amplifier fits in stock amp location next to the steering wheel. We tap in to the High level speaker cables from the Head Unit. From Mobile device we go directly to the DSP (this options sounds WAYYYY better than Tesla HU)
    Front amplifer is 6 x 80 Watts, and each front speaker is driven by a separate channel. Everything is actively DSP:ed & time aligned so phases are correct in Driver Seat. So far everyone who has listened in my car have been dead certain I have a center channel installed.... :)

    This is of course not for everyone, as this type of "Sweetspot" listening isn't as fun in the passenger seat. You can of course create different presets for different occations, depending on how many people are in the car, but if a perfect soundstage, depth, ambience etc is your priority you need to work with DSP on all speakers to get them correctly aligned. And I can guarantee you it's worth it....

    Good Luck in your Quest for a better sounding driving experience! :wink:
     
  6. 100thMonkey

    100thMonkey Member

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    I suspect this is more of an issue for those of us who are tall and put the seat back. it is surprising to me that the sound system would be so front heavy. Tesla's attempt at saying that is "concert hall" like is kind of lame, IMHO. I've been playing around with sound at home, it's not that hard to make it sound great without spending a fortune. I've got four Sonos speakers in my bedroom, not talking super high end here, two 3's toward the head of the bed and two 5's in the back corners with a sub on the floor and honestly, it sounds amazing with the fade adjusted just right... something I can never really achieve in the Tesla and it bugs me. I couldn't care less about "surround sound" or dolby, I just want a fully saturated feel, I don't want to be be in front of the stage, I want to be in the sound studio with headphones on! it's kind of a let down that even after a Reus upgrade that folks are still experiencing this.
     
  7. majorlance

    majorlance Member

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    100thMonkey- Yep, the sound stage is all up front, even with the Reus upgrade (which really does a great job with the mid-highs and the low end bass. But my stereo still lacks and sounds muddy in the midrange on older stuff. And front-loaded.

    Ghia64- What is "-Mobile device with OTC capability -> USB to Optical converter -> DSP"? I'm not certain what OTC is (but I'm certain it's obvious!). I think the system you installed is very interesting. From my perspective, the optimal soundstage position is the middle of the car. I really like to have the overall enveloping sound that 100thMonkey (that's a take off from the movie 12 Monkeys?) describes. It's what I've had before and enjoy. I like the parts you installed and will try to find a local shop that has done at least one other Tesla. I called a local dealer for DLS amp (good reputation around DC) and they said they'd never done a Tesla but would certainly give it a try... Hmmm.

    Also, I assume when you work with the DSP you're bypassing the Tesla head unit completely and going directly to your amp? And that this means you lose the controls, display etc?

    Thanks again for both of your feedback!
     
  8. AmpedRealtor

    AmpedRealtor Active Member

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    I've found the sound quality since 6.2 has dropped for me. I have the upgraded sound, but bass seems to be less than before. I've rebooted. Sound feels like it's mostly in the front and doesn't sound as rich and deep as under 6.1 or earlier. Dolby is off.
     
  9. Ghia64

    Ghia64 Member

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    Hello!
    Sorry I misspelled, I meant OTG. "On The Go" functionality is an interface that most Mobile Phones and tablets use today. It means that you can connect to the phone through it's USB interface (or the Iphones interface) and connect for example a keyboard, mouse OR retrieve your mobile music (Spotify, Losless files etc) as a digital untouched signal. Well, almost untouched anyway. It seems that the Android platform resamples the files to higher than 44.1kHz. At the moment, Music is delivered from the phone (USB) to a IFI Ilink (http://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/micro-ilink/) and then forwarded to the DSP inside the amplifier.

    The internal DSP works on both Teslas Head Unit and my "Pure Direct" OTG interface. When working on the high level input from the Head Unit, it uses an Analog to Digital converter first, so that's not an issue. This is how I usually uses the system when I'm driving. So far I have only used the OTG connection in a Sound Quality Competition.

    This system is built the same way they set up Audio Competition cars. Soundstage is supposed to be in front of you, over the dashboard. Voices should be in the same height as your eyes. Left and right speakers clearly defined so that you can pinpoint each musicians position. Trying to achieve this with surrounding speakers is not possible unless you run multichannel recordings. Even in that case you still need to have the ability to align your speakers (time alignment), so that the sound from each speaker reach your ears at the same time.

    Majorlance - it seems that the Reus system does what it is supposed to do, adding a Front stage. I believe the mudiness you hear might be due to the Tesla Head Unit, and the recordings you play? When I play FLAC files from USB through teh Tesla HU compared to OTG connection this is exactly how I experience the sound. It lacks the "crispyness" and the "awareness".
    In my experience, first thing that happens when you have installed a Above Premium sound system is that a lot of the music you might have listened to before doesn't really sound that nice anymore. In my case it is usually due to bad recordings. One of the drawbacks of having a system that is transparent and clearly show you all the flaws of a bad source.... :smile:

    But, as I mentioned in my previous post. What is considered to be good in one persons ears doesn't mean that it is what you are looking for. But to do a correct playback of a 2 channel recording, you need to use two channels. And believe me, doing this right and you will never miss the other speakers..... :wink:
     
  10. majorlance

    majorlance Member

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    Ghia64,

    Thanks! About half of my music is flac ripped from my original CDs. I'll listen more closely to the sound stage. You're correct that is how the Reus system is setup- front forward.

    The songs that sound muddy or lack punch (compared to my other cars in the past) tend to be older ones. Late 60s and the 70s. Ironically, more recent music, even at 256 Kbps AAC from the Apple Store csn sound really good. And remastered, 96/24 bit songs like Crosby stills and Nash first album sound great too.

    Im going to find a local shop. Your shopping list gives me a start!
     
  11. Trustno1

    Trustno1 Member

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    I can confirm what Ghia64 says here. Adding frontstage (and frontstage only) is the way to go if you want sound quality.
    Using a DSP with time correction is essential to get each speaker in a car in sync. As he said, if this is done right it will sound like you have a center channel. But this will only work from the configured sweetspot.
     
  12. Knobby

    Knobby Member

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    Hi did you actually install these speakers in the doors, A-pillar etc? can you share anything about that? How it fits? Thanks.
     
  13. Ghia64

    Ghia64 Member

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    Hello Knobby!
    Yes, this setup uses OEM locations behind stock grills. Front amp fits (with some minor modifications) in stock ultra HIfi amp location. 2" EAD drivers need modification to fit on the dash, and the 6.5" midbas units need a new baffle, as stock door speakers are molded together with their baffle. But everything can be returned back to stock if needed.
     
  14. Knobby

    Knobby Member

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    Thanks Ghia64! Very interesting. Can you say which Dayton 6.5", and how you made (or obtained) the baffles? EAD E60?
     
  15. ToddRLockwood

    ToddRLockwood Active Member

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    My 2013 P85 had issues with the Dolby Surround audio processing since I took delivery in March 2013. I could hear audible distortion when the Dolby was turned on. (I'm a former recording engineer and have had experience with several of Dolby's professional products.) One of the recent firmware updates (6.1 or 6.2) finally corrected the problem. Now I actually prefer to have it turned on.
     
  16. Ghia64

    Ghia64 Member

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    It's the RS180P-4. The baffles are made from MDF (Medium density Board) which is then plasted to seal it from any moist or humidity that might find its way into the door.... I will participate in few more competitions this year, trying to improve the system as we go. Mainly it's in the person adjusting the DSP (not me :biggrin: )
     
  17. Tdriver

    Tdriver Member

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    The surround mode in the Tesla tries to take a 2 channel stereo recording and make it into a "fake" 5.1 surround mode. I have found that these "fake" modes vary greatly in their ability to create a high quality surround mode. My home Sunfire receiver does a great job, the Tesla, not so much. The key is to keep the vocals center front and divide everything else up between the remaining speakers. I don't know if Tesla can improve this with an update or whether its buried in a chip behind the dash. You can have great speakers and amps but the DSP is the key to good surround sound.

    My favorite showoff recording is Madonna's Vogue........big wide sound stage and high quality recording.......also true for most of her music.
     
  18. EarlyAdopter

    EarlyAdopter Active Member

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    Try it with Dolby on.

    6.2 brought with it a dramatic improvement. From really awful before to really good now.
     
  19. AmpedRealtor

    AmpedRealtor Active Member

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    Thank you. Yes! You are so right... I had Dolby off because it sucked before, but now it sucks without and turning it on brings back the great sound that I remember.
     
  20. Knobby

    Knobby Member

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    Thanks for the info Ghia64.
     

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