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Easy DIY Improvement of Audio for a Few Dollars

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by Saimaannorppa, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. Saimaannorppa

    Saimaannorppa Member

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    I installed Light Harmonic upgrade over my standard audio on Saturday. It is clear improvement to the cheap lightweight speakers, but you can only go so far by replacing the elements. The door card and attachments are clearly not too well designed and resonate even on moderate sound levels so much that it causes easily audible distortion (a second culprit was found, though). As comparison, my year '00 Audi A8 door cards do not resonate on touch at all (and I mean nada) before reaching distortion levels from the Bose head unit. That is a design released in '94... Bass is nice and firm without subwoofer for my needs, which is rock music.

    I saw this video today and got inspired (starting 1:40)

    1st finding: speaker grille pops out easily. 2nd finding: they had added some cellular plastic around speaker bodies, and I thought that might be worth trying. Oh yes it was!

    I had some Armaflex (19mm) cell rubber insulation lying around, and I cut 2 inch wide strips, which I tucked in the gap between front speakers and door. I used same interior vinyl tools for tucking as with the door card removal. Be careful when doing this, as it would be very easy to make a dent in the speaker cone, as you'll need to apply force. I left upper part without armaflex, as it seemed risky to tuck it blindly behind the door card. If I'd remove the door card, it would be easy to do around the whole speaker (I'd use glue)..

    I also applied Stp Black Gold (aluminium laminated butyl) on all surfaces, including inside of grille smooth parts and inside of door card, for the small area accessible through the grille. I had already put this on the metal parts of door (but not on the door card) while doing the LH upgrade.

    One of the major culprits of the boomy, resonating bass was found: there is a bass port hole behind the grille! I tucked these full of armaflex. In fact there was already a small piece of some kind of softening material in rear port holes. If you do nothing else, try at least this! It can be done and undone in 5 minutes. You can see the hole open in the video, and tucked in my photo.

    20170918_202054 (1).jpg

    For rear speakers, there is no gap visible through the grille, so covering around them would be needed to be done when the card is removed. Since I just did the LH upgrade on 2 days ago, didn't have the motivation right now (plus it is night time over here). Port hole armaflex and Stp treatment did some good though.

    All this really made a difference to the firmness of the bass and lower mid range. Resonation is less and bass distortion from the porthole is less evident. The sound is no longer tiresome, especially after toning down upper bass with EQ (a DSP would really do the trick here). Now I'd say it has been upgraded from standard audio poor level, and LH acceptable level to ok/good level. I can now listen on level 6 or 7 without annoyance, before it was 3 or 4).

    For how easy this was, and for estimated cost of 5 euros for material, the improvement is even better value than LH upgrade, which cost about 1k€, no doubt. Same trick could be tried for the UHFS or standard audio as well with what I expect would be an improvement in each case. I think they should supply this stuff and instruction with the LH kit!
     
    • Like x 1
  2. scottm

    scottm Active Member

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    I have standard audio and stock Tesla speakers all around. Looking for small improvements in anything for cheap is fun.

    All I can find locally is armaflex 1/2" pipe wrap foam lengths with self-adhesive strip, which I happen to have some at home.
    Same material? I could cut this lengthways to make strips.

    Instead of tucking around speaker/door gap, why not pull speaker out, make a gasket and put speaker back on... would that be better?

    Did you literally plug the front port hole full of material so no air passes through? Are you saying stock Tesla speakers should not be ported design in the first place?

    ..thanks
     
  3. jelloslug

    jelloslug Active Member

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    A "cheap" upgrade would be the front door speakers from the premium system. You need the two speakers and the mounting rings (with the screws). It's a bolt in swap and the speakers plug right it with no modifications needed.
     
  4. Saimaannorppa

    Saimaannorppa Member

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    Don't use armaflex with self adhesive if you want to tuck it in, I'm sure it won't go. Or maybe you can leave the adhesive strip on...

    Sure pulling speaker out is better option, but that requires door panel removal. Upper torxes are behind upholstery. Tucking you can do by just popping out the grille.

    I'd like to hear someone try this with standard and UHFS audio. With LH upgrade it made a positive difference. Surely the bass is also a matter of subjective taste, but I do not like distortion, which ports do create by default. And this is not a high end port design.
     
  5. Tiger

    Tiger Member

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    Please post detailed images of the process?
     
  6. scottm

    scottm Active Member

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    Has anybody done just a port-plugging to compare the sound of standard grade speakers?
     
  7. Saimaannorppa

    Saimaannorppa Member

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    Finland
    #7 Saimaannorppa, Sep 19, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
    Here are the step by step instructions with pictures.

    All you need is:
    - a piece of insulating material. Armaflex or similar seems to work well. Any rubber cell mat would probably work. Thickness used was 19mm (0,75 inch), and that was just about right to fit firmly.
    - vinyl interior prying tool. Or any flat stick :)
    - optional: noise dampener material which you can stick on plastic surfaces (e.g. silent coat). I recommend something that is easy to shape and even peels off cleanly if necessary (Stp Black Gold was great). Amount used was about a square foot.

    Picture of 120mm diameter pipe armaflex piece used below. You'll need to cut away about 1/3 in order to do it safely through the grille hole, but you can do it as you are already installing the stuff, so no exact measurement is needed.

    20170919_191109.jpg

    Step 1:

    In the front: Remove speaker grille. It comes off when you pull firmly and directly away from door. Do not twist. Clips are metal, so they can take it. You'll need two hands and a firm pull at both ends.
    20170919_174703.jpg

    Step 2:

    Start tucking the insulating material in the gap around the speaker. If the material is same thickness I have used, it will be tight. You can assist with a tool, as here I am doing with a vinyl interior clip prying tool. This needs patience and care because it would be easy to damage the speaker cone or cone surround rubber.

    20170919_175023.jpg

    Step 3:

    Cut a suitable size piece from insulating material to be inserted into the port hole. You can also test other materials or for right amount of stuff for your preference. You'll find that you can add EQ for the bass, and you'll get same level of bass as before, but much less resonance / distortion.

    20170919_175120.jpg

    Step 4 (optional):

    Coat the backside of grille, and door plastic in front of speaker with dampener. Avoid coating the clips so it fits right back in.

    20170919_175140.jpg

    Step 5:

    Repeat on the other side. In the back, there is no room for the around speaker insulation through the grille hole, but bass port hole should be dampened nevertheless.

    You're done!

    It is a fast tweak and can be undone easily. Let me know how you like the improvement?

    Personally, spent today a little more time listening, and once I found good EQ settings (add bass, tone down lower mid-range, leave higher frequencies to 0, moved "fader" quite a lot forward), I have to say I am really happy with the result! I'm sure the LH speaker spiders are still breaking in as well, and improving the effect.
     

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