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farting noise in "Studio Sound" package - NORMAL!

I'm a sound engineer and I work IN a Sound Studio all day. (Haven't got a Tesla yet but it's in my plans) My fronts are Miller & Kreisel MPS-2510P mains and the sub is an MPS-5310. (look them up) I have metering on the source signals, and the room is appropriately damped for listening.

I just took a listen to "deadmau5 hr 8938 cephei" and "Kanye West I wonder" on Spotify to learn more about the problem. I can say both of those tracks made my subwoofer jump like a recruit whose pissed-off drill instructor just shouted "drop and give me fifty!!" LOL

Both tracks are authored to hold as much low-frequency bass as possible. It is critical that the clearest possible source material is used for these... lossy digital compression does not hold bass very well (or rather, bass that has other frequencies in it too). Also, both of those tracks are mastered at almost the top limit of the transport mechanism (16-bit digital audio). It's funny... you could deliver these tracks 6dB lower (one digital bit) and I don't think anyone would notice... or care.

It is difficult for a lossy compression algorithm to do its work when the music extends out to the outer limits of the transport, and also when there is so much bass along with the other frequencies. Put simply... distortion is added to the authored music.

On top of that, if ANY other complex digital processing is carried out by the car's systems... (Dolby what?) additional distortion will be added.

It's unfortunate that Tesla's Sound Studio package doesn't include a CD player! That would be a no-brainer. Lots of people interested in music still like to use CDs. Anyhow, using PCM tracks, or tracks compressed with a lossless algorithm is one of the only ways you can help this process.

In short, Tesla's built-in processing might be doing something to ruin the signal.

Firstly, I would recommend generally NOT turning up the bass or treble up or down on music. Car designers typically maximise the capabilities of their amplifiers, speaker cones, crossovers and vehicle acoustics based on level settings. They use a variety of different music for testing. As soon as you tinker with the EQ you are risking the chance of not receiving the maximum benefit of the Tesla designers' work. Turning up the bass on those two tracks = pointless. They're loaded with enough bass out of the factory, so to speak, and there's no way to get them more bassy than they are. Keep it at neutral... the bass and treble controls are there to EQUALIZE program material that started out inadequate in some way.

Secondly, if there is anything else going on like a surround mode, turn it off. Keep it as pure as you can get it.

Thirdly... play source material that has no lossy compression. A CD player would be perfect for this... but if you can use FLAC, Apple Lossless, Windows Media Lossless or even just PCM WAV files, do that.

In closing, it doesn't matter what car you're in... using lossy-compressed versions of those tracks and turning up the bass setting and then the volume of the amplifier... is just plain asking for trouble.

Hope I didn't sound preachy or verbose.
 

dsm363

Roadster + Sig Model S
Moderator
May 17, 2009
18,280
162
Nevada
@Todd... Hmmmm.... worrisome!

I'm going to the local showroom on Sunday and scheduling a test drive, so I will take some test files on a memory stick.

In Austin? It is illegal for them to give test drives but you can listen to music in the showroom. There are a number of owners in Austin who I'm sure could meet you at some point as well.
 
There is quite a conundrum when it comes to audio equipment.

Years ago I purchased a set of high quality headphones to use with my MP3 player and was shocked to discover they actually sounded worse than the cheap set which came with the player. Turns out the included set had been optimized for lower-bitrate, lossy music (The kind most people would have on a portable player at that time). The high-end headphones were not "optimized" and treated every track equally. The result was they brought out all the flaws in the lower quality tracks so they ended up sounding worse to my ear. Since most of my music at that time was in lossy form, I returned the high-end headset and put the $500 to better use.

Point is, it sounds to me like the Tesla system isn't necessarily poor, just poorly optimized to hide the weaknesses in lower quality tracks. A good-sounding system isn't necessarily high-quality, it just does a good job hiding its flaws. Since the model S accepts all forms and qualities of music (from low-bitrate radio rips up to studio-quality lossless tracks) it may have been impossible for them to optimize the system for all types of files. It seems like they could have done a better job optimizing for low-quality tracks, though. The high-quality ones wouldn't need any trickery to sound good; they just would. Perhaps better optimization could be added in a future software update.
 

Andrew

Member
Supporting Member
Mar 11, 2013
436
210
Santa Monica, CA
Here are my observations on our car with the Sound Studio package. (I may not have professional ears like VaG, but I do have some experience with high end audio and have had the good fortune to listen critically to home stereo setups that cost as much as a fully loaded Model S...)

1. It's way, way too bright. I find the treble incredibly fatiguing - to the point where I just want to turn the damn thing off and listen to the birds - so I've dialed it down to -3.5. That's definitely helped. I leave the bass and mid at 0. I suppose this is similar to what others in this thread have done (dial up the base a lot, the mid a little, and leave the treble alone) - but to my ears, boosting the base like that makes things rather muddy.

2. Dolby surround is awful. Imaging gets all weird and muddy, and it feels like everything is being compressed, losing detail and differentiation between instruments. (Completely agree with Vag about less processing = better.)

3. FLAC is significantly better than MP3 or Spotify, or iPhone bluetooth. I completely agree with VaG and Mayhemm that the system is likely revealing the flaws in the tracks. The brightness is also less challenging on FLAC. Of course, there's only so much that Tesla will ever be able to do to improve this, as MP3 and (I assume) Spotify are both lossy by nature.

4. And to bring it back to the OT: My speakers don't necessarily "fart"..but occasionally it does sound like the metal speaker grills are buzzing/vibrating on some lower frequencies. I think it's coming from the lower speakers in the front doors, but not totally sure. I've got an appointment with the service center for them to take a look at this.
 
I think it is 'decent' for $950 but the front pillar speakers should be different or have different grills or something.

+1. this. my only really complaint has been odd frequency resonances with the door/grill on the door speakers... some bass-y stuff triggers it, and some electronic tracks, like various radiohead, can pick it out of a haystack. really odd. i do not, honestly, hear it very often, but when i do it gets my attention because it does sound scarily like a blown driver. but.. i don't think it is. the air is just moving kinda weird in there.
 
My previous car was a 2012 Acura TL with the Tech Package, which could play CDs and 5.1 DVD Audio discs. The ELS sound system had supposedly been engineered by Elliot Scheiner, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliot_Scheiner. It also had a 20GB hard drive that you could rip CDs to. I think that relatively modest Acura system sounded significantly better than the Studio system in my Model S. I would liked to have seen a universal optical disc player option in the MS, that let you play CDs, DVD-A, and SACD discs.

FWIW, I think it is usually a big mistake to use the equalizer to try to make a stereo sound "better". As long as you have decent components (especially speakers), turning the volume up rather than messing with the equalization generally gives better results IMO.
 
I think the car is well thought out as an electric vehicle and ahead of everything else out there in that respect. However when it comes to the interior tech items it is like going back several years. The sound system is mid level at best, the navigation is antique compared to my smartphone, the voice controls are extremely limited, you can't even auto dial a contact without having to touch the screen. The car is fantastic as an all electric drivetrain but terrible as far as personal tech is concerned.
 
I think the car is well thought out as an electric vehicle and ahead of everything else out there in that respect. However when it comes to the interior tech items it is like going back several years. The sound system is mid level at best, the navigation is antique compared to my smartphone, the voice controls are extremely limited, you can't even auto dial a contact without having to touch the screen. The car is fantastic as an all electric drivetrain but terrible as far as personal tech is concerned.

I'm possibly too optimistic, but this where I believe Tesla will shine. Most things you mentioned can and have been updated. No other car manufacturer provides updates to a vehicle like this. They can, and I believe will, update the voice controls and navigation software. Already, several functional changes have been implemented and I don't see the developers stopping anytime soon.
 
I think the car is well thought out as an electric vehicle and ahead of everything else out there in that respect. However when it comes to the interior tech items it is like going back several years. The sound system is mid level at best, the navigation is antique compared to my smartphone, the voice controls are extremely limited, you can't even auto dial a contact without having to touch the screen. The car is fantastic as an all electric drivetrain but terrible as far as personal tech is concerned.

+1 And it is not just missing features that can be updated by software in future. Power folding mirrors, better lighting (frunk/trunk/vanitiy mirrors/LED headlights), interior storage improvements (map pockets, storage nets behind front seats, fold-down rear armrest, ski-bag option) or safety features (hud, night-vision, collision avoidance, adjustable headrests, etc.) all are not updateable without changes to the hardware of the car.

I hope Tesla will improve with future models (X, Gen III), as a matter of fact I am sure they will. It is just that the Model S (even though I was always extremely enthusiastic about it before it came out, to the point of colleagues/family being annoyed with me for my fascination with Tesla/the Model S shining through at every opportunity) so far hasn't lived up to what I thought it would. Perhaps my test-drive in September will at least convince me that it is the greatest driving machine that happens to run on batteries...

- - - Updated - - -

In my opinion, ancillary features are not technical advancements to the core competency of a car.

If that were the case than we have hardly seen any technological advancement in car tech in the last hundred years :rolleyes:
 
Agreed, I've not bought or played an actual CD in years. However, I would like the sound system optimized for the way that the vast majority of people will listen to music in the Model S, i.e. via OTA streaming or Bluetooth-tethered devices, rather than the current setup that's apparently designed for lossless playback from a USB source.
 

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