TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

CD quality sound via FLAC files, my experience

Discussion in 'Model S: User Interface' started by EasyFish, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. EasyFish

    EasyFish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2014
    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Bellevue, Washington
    I am now the proud owner of a new Tesla for about a week. When I began researching the Tesla I was surprised that it did not include a CD player (I would love to see a study comparing the universes of people who can afford a Tesla with people who have a collection of CDs they would like to play in a Tesla) and initially this seemed like a deal breaker for me. My previous car came with a system that played MP3s and I found the sound quality unacceptable.

    My first thought was to see about having an aftermarket installation of a CD player, but then I discovered this forum and began reading to see if there were others with similar issues. That’s when I learned about FLAC files and how they might be the answer to my problems. FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. The important word in here is lossless. This means that there is no loss in audio quality when a CD is converted into FLAC files. The file size is also compressed somewhat, not at much as MP3, but with no loss in audio quality.

    Next there was the big debate about whether the Tesla could play FLAC files. No one at Tesla will say for sure, but the forum seemed to agree that as long as the file format was FAT 32 it should work.

    So, about a month before my Tesla was due to arrive, I decided to make a test FLAC file and take into the dealership (which for me was on the second floor of a shopping mall called BelSquare) to see if it worked.

    A little research showed that the preferred program for ripping CDs to FLAC was Exact Audio Copy(EAC). Unfortunately, my experience with EAC was not good. The website would not let me download the latest version; so I downloaded an earlier version. Setting up the system requires pages of decisions and even though I had some help from the internet, it was simply too complicated for me. I did rip one CD which took about 45 minutes, but it didn’t copy the track titles for reasons I did not understand. The web page for EAC did contain an ad for Easy Audio Copy which gave you 14 days before having to pay about $30. I was frustrated enough with EAC that I tried Easy Audio Copy and found it really was easy, probably too easy with too few ways to tweak the end product. However, it took me only 8 minutes to rip the same CD to FLAC.

    Next I got a 64 gig flash drive and tried to format it to FAT 32. I have a new computer with Windows 8.1 and it would only let me format the drive to exFAT. I thought, “well it sounds like it’s close to FAT and it’s my only choice; so why not.” I have a TV that has a USB interface and plays FLAC files; so I tested it and found that it worked! I went in to Tesla and tried the drive, but the car did not even recognize that I had a drive inserted in the USB port. Back to the drawing board. I did some more research and discovered that FAT 32 means that it is not intended for flash drives larger than 32 gigs. In fact when I inserted one less than 32 gigs, windows had no trouble formatting it to FAT 32, which, in fact, turned out to be the default format for the drive anyway. A tech person at the office formatted my 64 gig drive to FAT 32 with some external software and I returned to the Tesla store armed three drives, 4, 32, and 64 gigs respectively all with my CD copied to FLAC files. Surprise, it worked on all 3.

    I had only one problem. And this, to me, is the genius and frustration of Tesla. Someone decided that the track title displayed on the Tesla media screen doesn’t need to be longer than 25 or 30 characters. There is a giant screen with a lot of empty space and a track title in the middle that is simply way too short. It is clear to me that this programmer does not actually listen to music. Maybe there is a way to increase the number of characters displayed in the track title, but I haven’t found it. OK, that’s my rant. Let’s move on.

    Let me finish with a couple of things I have discovered about Easy Audio Copy. The good news is that it numbers the track titles so that the copied CD will play in the right order. If you have multiple CDs you can hold down the shift key while pressing the album cover and it will number the tracks for all the CDs so that they play in the right order. Also just before you start the copy process, it shows you what the track titles will look like. You can edit them from this screen and the results will show on the Tesla screens as well.

    So now I have a new Tesla that plays my CDs via FLAC files on my 64 gig drive. Maybe some day someone will publish Exact Audio Copy for Dummies and I will at last understand how to use this excellent, but too arcane for me, program.
     
    • Informative x 1
  2. LuckyLuke

    LuckyLuke Model S P85DL

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2011
    Messages:
    2,092
    Location:
    Eindhoven, The Netherlands
  3. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2011
    Messages:
    15,487
    Welcome to the forum, and to Model S ownership!

    For you and others that might be interested, lossless WMA files also play properly in the Model S. I was initially surprised because I figured licensing or whatever might be an issue.
     
  4. zwede

    zwede 2013 P85+

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    501
    Location:
    Plano, TX
    My USB flash drive is formatted with ext3 and the Tesla reads it. Not surprising as ext3 is a Linux file system. Max drive size for ext3 is 16 TB (16,000 GB). No problems fitting most people's music collection. :)

    Haven't tried the newer ext4 FS yet.
     
  5. ckessel

    ckessel Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Messages:
    4,266
    Winamp has, or had at least, a FLAC plugin/code/whatever you could install. That's how I've copied all my CDs for the Tesla.
     
  6. iadbound

    iadbound Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2014
    Messages:
    637
    Location:
    No. VA
    EasyFish -- an enjoyable first post. I converted most of my CD collection to FLAC as well. I would say that I don't think there was a debate about whether or not the Model S would play FLAC files, but that's not important.

    In any event, I found Exact Audio Copy to be complex, but not too difficult to use because I found an excellent set-up tutorial here: EAC Setup Guide and an operational guide here: EAC Ripping Guide. Despite EAC working well, I found the process to be endless because some disks ripped quickly and others slowly, and I didn't have long blocks of uninterrupted time to sit in front of the computer. On the upside, it's a do it once and be done exercise.

    One thing to note, like many others here, the car balked at first when starting up with the flash drive inserted. It seems to have stopped this behavior now.
     
  7. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,242
    Location:
    Southlake, TX
    Did we ever have a complete list?

    Lossless:
    FLAC
    AIFF
    WMA

    Lossy
    MP3
    M4A

    Others?
     
  8. R²B

    R²B All Star

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2014
    Messages:
    340
    Location:
    Waddell, AZ
    Giant post about audio file quality with no mention of the how the audio sounded...... :confused:
     
    • Funny x 1
  9. RichardL

    RichardL Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2013
    Messages:
    402
    Location:
    San Carlos, California
    FYI, the car will play FLACs in at least 24/96K format. I haven't tried 192K yet, so I don't know if it can handle that

    I use dbpoweramp to manage files and rip CDs, which works very well. It also allows you to Rip to both FLAC and MP3 at the same time, if you want to keep 2 sets of files for different players
     
  10. redi

    redi 2013 P85+ with HumanPilot Technology

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2013
    Messages:
    520
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    I've tried to compare and I can't really tell any difference - mp3 vs flac. Admittedly I've lost a bit of my high frequency abilities.
     
  11. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2011
    Messages:
    15,487
    There were various discussions. Here is one of them:
    Audio: Testing audio formats

    Some highlights from that thread:
    Audio: Testing audio formats - Page 4
    Audio: Testing audio formats - Page 4
    Audio: Testing audio formats - Page 7

    - - - Updated - - -

    We've had multiple threads about Model S audio. First step is "what will the car recognize, (decode,) and play". Second is what sounds better/best. Third was whether the upgrade was worth it. Fourth was aftermarket vs. OEM offerings. Fifth is people starting new threads instead of using the search function of TMC to find previous discussion themselves. ;)
     
  12. EasyFish

    EasyFish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2014
    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Bellevue, Washington
    Tesla sound quality

    I can see by this and other posts that I was remiss in not talking about my reaction to the sound quality. In my defense I thought the post had rambled on for way too long already. Still...

    I think the FLAC files sound exactly like CDs would if the Tesla had a CD player. I am still trying to adjust the sound (I did get the upgrade package) to my own personal likes and dislikes. I don't know yet if I will want to make tweaks to the system or not.

    I am currently listening to Mozart's Don Giovanni in preparation for the Seattle Opera production in 3 weeks. This is a great test of the system and it seems to be passing with flying colors. This is also the kind of music that really demonstrates what is wrong with MP3.

    In completely unrelated news. I tried to demonstrate the ability to find music on the internet to a passenger and entered the audio command, "Play Beatles." A lot of choices came up and I selected one at random. Turned out to be a group called Beatless. :mad: Sigh.


     
  13. S'toon

    S'toon Knows where his towel is

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2015
    Messages:
    1,978
    Location:
    SK
    Huh. I knew about the problem with the losses with MP3s. This has been kind of a slight frustration with me sometimes. I did not know about FLAC, or the other file types. Thanks.
     
  14. doctorwho

    doctorwho Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2014
    Messages:
    774
    Location:
    Eurobin, Victoria. Australia
    I use a portable 2TB Toshiba HDD formatted in FAT32. For those who use OSX, FAT32 seemed to be removed as an option with the 'upgraded' Disk Utility but the formal labelled as MS-DOS (FAT) is actually FAT32. It plays uneventfully although the car does spend ages reading the disk when it's selected for the first time after re-connecting. I mainly use flac level 0 compression and the sound is OK but really the (standard) Tesla audio system is fairly ordinary when it comes to resolution that this is the limiting factor rather than lossy or lossless music files.
    I had no luck with 192k music files.
     
  15. DiamondDave

    DiamondDave Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2015
    Messages:
    143
    Location:
    Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
    I was in the same position as the OP when my Model S was on the way. I guess my research was similar. I decided to rip my CDs to FLAC. I found EAC and bought a 64GB flash drive and started ripping. No problem ripping to the pc and transferring to the flash drive. I don't remember formatting it at all and it worked fine.

    It turns out I have hardly used the flash drive between Slacker, Tune-In, and a trial on XM radio. :rolleyes:
     
  16. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Messages:
    718
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    I have pretty good ears and even the upgraded stereo is just "good." I wouldn't call it great. I have tried A/B comparisons with uncompressed and compressed audio and the difference is almost inaudible. IMO not worth the effort/time... This could be because I can't get past the rattles and resonance issues especially in the front passenger woofer.

    Once the vehicle is moving at highway speed you get so much road noise it makes it even harder to tell any difference at all between lossless compressed, uncompressed, and compressed at anything above 192...
    The newer cars have more sound deadening materials and some stereo tweaks... my MS is a 2013 which I think is pretty much original so YMMV
     
  17. Blurry_Eyed

    Blurry_Eyed MS Sig #267, MX Sig # 761

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Messages:
    562
    Both the S and the X will play 192k/24 files. If you download quality hires music files the sound is great! I have a Reus aftermarket audio system in my S and when I play a good source material 192k file it is incredible.
     

Share This Page