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Home Studio Music Mix USB Playback in Tesla Model 3

ToyBox

Member
Nov 28, 2021
8
3
Nashville
I recently got a new Model 3 and decided to see if the USB drive would work for playing music. It works pretty great with a few limitations.

I have a home recording studio and so the most common use case for me would be to check my music or podcast mixes in the car using the USB drive.
We also have the option to stream the music or mix it directly off of the phone (mine is an iPhone 12 Pro with iOS15). So far I have been able to play audio from any phone app over Bluetooth. With that said the playback from the USB drive is slightly better than the Bluetooth playback, but the BT sounds really good, to begin with, higher quality than my previous car experiences and good enough for rock and roll as they say.

I have a Mac in my studio and was able to format a standard 15G USB thumb drive as MS-DOS Fat so that I could copy files easily from the studio to the thumb drive and play them back in the car. If the files are in a folder then Tesla will recognize them as an "album". It will also list all the songs in one big list, and it has a Genre tab but I don't know how to specify that in the files. It lists all the music files by name and doesn't seem to allow "most recent" which is a drag since I would almost always be looking for the most recent mix that I had created. The playback from the USB drive is very snappy and much easy to click on a song and have it play quickly from the USB than from any of the streaming services or even from my iPhone.

When you plug the USB stick into the USB C jack in the lower console it takes a moment to show up on the screen as a selectable music option. This is probably because it is loading the file names into the Tesla. If you have a big drive then it might take a while so be selective with how much of a library you bring. I'm not sure if it remembers the song names next time you get in the car if you haven't yet unplugged the USB drive.

I also tested this with an OWC Envoy Pro FX 1TB SSD which worked great! This has the Thunderbolt USB C cable on it and plugged straight into the TESLA USB C port no problem. For the smaller thumb drive I had to use an adapter to go from USB A to USB C but that worked great.

Next up I will test out the Strey video capture feature using these drives and see how that goes.
So far so good!

Cheers!
Lij Shaw
 
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Knightshade

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2017
14,137
24,826
NC
genre (as well as artist and various other things) would be among the metadata tags- unsure how to set those on a mac, you can just open the files properties on a windows PC though to do this (or there's various tagging programs to do it in bulk)

Also, USB should sound MUCH MUCH better than BT if you're using high quality lossless files like FLAC (and assuming your source is high quality of course)

If you're just ripping to 128kb mp3 or something then yeah might as well use BT.

And yes- if you leave the drive plugged in it doesn't need to waste time reindexing-- I've got a 256GB USB stick of music in mine and it's available basically instantly on turning on the car since it stays plugged in.
 
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ToyBox

Member
Nov 28, 2021
8
3
Nashville
Maybe you didn’t know this already, but playing USB media has been a documented feature of Teslas for years, though it has its quirks. I say that because your post implies that you tried this without knowing that it would work. If you meant something else, please clarify.
Thanks! I had seen posts saying that it should work. But saw mostly people asking about things maybe not working for them or trying to understand it. So I thought I would simply share my experience of getting it to work and what I encountered. I tried to write a post that I would have liked to find when I was searching here to find out if USB would work or not. As a newbie I really hardly know anything about what to expect from my Model 3 yet and am excited about every feature I discover. :)
 
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EVRider-FL

Active Member
Aug 18, 2015
1,285
766
South Florida
Thanks! I had seen posts saying that it should work. But saw mostly people asking about things maybe not working for them or trying to understand it. So I thought I would simply share my experience of getting it to work and what I encountered. I tried to write a post that I would have liked to find when I was searching here to find out if USB would work or not. As a newbie I really hardly know anything about what to expect from my Model 3 yet and am excited about every feature I discover. :)
USB functionality is covered in the manual, along with many other topics, so as a new owner I highly recommend you spend some time with the manual. You’ll definitely learn things you didn’t know about the car. You can find the latest manual on your car’s touchscreen and here: https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/files/model_3_owners_manual_north_america_en.pdf
 
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Keeta29

Member
Jul 26, 2021
11
10
Las Vegas
Thanks! I had seen posts saying that it should work. But saw mostly people asking about things maybe not working for them or trying to understand it. So I thought I would simply share my experience of getting it to work and what I encountered. I tried to write a post that I would have liked to find when I was searching here to find out if USB would work or not. As a newbie I really hardly know anything about what to expect from my Model 3 yet and am excited about every feature I discover. :)
If you are using a Mac, then just drag the files to the Music app (old iTunes) and right click the file, click get info, and set the genre there.
 

ToyBox

Member
Nov 28, 2021
8
3
Nashville
I recently got a new Model 3 and decided to see if the USB drive would work for playing music. It works pretty great with a few limitations.

I have a home recording studio and so the most common use case for me would be to check my music or podcast mixes in the car using the USB drive.
We also have the option to stream the music or mix it directly off of the phone (mine is an iPhone 12 Pro with iOS15). So far I have been able to play audio from any phone app over Bluetooth. With that said the playback from the USB drive is slightly better than the Bluetooth playback, but the BT sounds really good, to begin with, higher quality than my previous car experiences and good enough for rock and roll as they say.

I have a Mac in my studio and was able to format a standard 15G USB thumb drive as MS-DOS Fat so that I could copy files easily from the studio to the thumb drive and play them back in the car. If the files are in a folder then Tesla will recognize them as an "album". It will also list all the songs in one big list, and it has a Genre tab but I don't know how to specify that in the files. It lists all the music files by name and doesn't seem to allow "most recent" which is a drag since I would almost always be looking for the most recent mix that I had created. The playback from the USB drive is very snappy and much easy to click on a song and have it play quickly from the USB than from any of the streaming services or even from my iPhone.

When you plug the USB stick into the USB C jack in the lower console it takes a moment to show up on the screen as a selectable music option. This is probably because it is loading the file names into the Tesla. If you have a big drive then it might take a while so be selective with how much of a library you bring. I'm not sure if it remembers the song names next time you get in the car if you haven't yet unplugged the USB drive.

I also tested this with an OWC Envoy Pro FX 1TB SSD which worked great! This has the Thunderbolt USB C cable on it and plugged straight into the TESLA USB C port no problem. For the smaller thumb drive I had to use an adapter to go from USB A to USB C but that worked great.

Next up I will test out the Strey video capture feature using these drives and see how that goes.
So far so good!

Cheers!
Lij Shaw
Here’s a video I shot showing it working with the OWC Envoy Pro FX SSD. For anyone curious.

 

JimShaw

Member
Oct 10, 2019
78
129
Menifee, CA
ToyBox

Thank you, thank you for your post.

I had a 2019 SR 3 and used a flash drive to listen to my music and loved it.

I recently sold my SR and two days ago purchased a 2022 model 3. So. far I have not been able to make my flash drive work in the new car. Yesterday, a Tesla installer came to my home to install the Home Link. I told the installer that I was having trouble making a USB-c flash drive work on the ports. He told me the c-ports on the car are no longer data ports but power only. That's why I could not get them to work.

I have been doing a ton of research trying to find some way to play my music in the car BUT your post has given me great hope. Maybe the c-ports aren't power only.

I was trying to plug my flash drive in using the new 11 software update. If you have updated software, can you still use the c-ports as data ports?
 

JimShaw

Member
Oct 10, 2019
78
129
Menifee, CA
@JimShaw

The [front] USB-C ports on my ‘21 are definitely data and power ports and USB as an audio source has continued to work when I updated from V10 to V11. I haven’t seen anything online that suggests this has changed with MY22.

Thanks MaskedRacerX

I tested the two USB-c ports by plugging in my iPhone and it did not start charging. I placed the same phone on the charger pad and it started charging. So, possibly the c ports are not working.

I have Tesla stopping by on the 5th to take a look.
 

JimShaw

Member
Oct 10, 2019
78
129
Menifee, CA
Did you try a couple of different cables? Are you using a lightning_to_USB-C or a USB-A with an A_to_C adapter? Some of those adapters can be a little sketchy!
I was using a USB Female A to C Male

Plugged in my iPhone into the c port and let it sit for a while. After an hour, the phone's charge actually went down vs charging. I don't think the ports are working. I have Tesla stopping by on the 5th to take a look

BUT I did get my loved music that's on a flash drive to work by unplugging the flash drive in the glove department, plugging in a hub and then connect my drive with music AND the security flash drive.

They both work and seem to do it well.
 

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