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incremental premium audio upgrades?

blecchus_rex

Member
May 23, 2018
113
106
Texas, USA
I've premium audio in my Model 3 but would like to conduct incremental upgrades to the audio system w/o too much complexity, dissassembly or cost involved (e.g ideally wouldn't require addition of amps, crossovers, et cetera). Has anyone simply replaced the factory speakers (or a subset of them... say the front door woofers & tweeters, and dash speakers)? If so, was the effect noticeable and what was the nature of the change? I've seen a variety of threads where folks have impressively undertaken comprehensive upgrades... that's not what I'm after. A series of lower cost and effort incremental DIY upgrades that have sufficient value in the effect on sound is the goal. What've you experienced... what'd you suggest? Thanks!
 

PNWLeccy

Active Member
Jul 11, 2019
1,293
1,116
Seattle
If you want the easiest improvement, according to many people, replacing your 12v battery with a lithium battery (https://www.ohmmu.com/) improved their sound and subwoofer performance.

There is lots of debate about if this could actually result in improved sound or if it's simply placebo, that technical argument is frankly over my head, BUT all of those who have replaced their battery seem to agree it has helped.

While this is the easiest, it is not cheap @ $440 for the lithium battery.
 

blecchus_rex

Member
May 23, 2018
113
106
Texas, USA
Thanks - I’m highly skeptical, but would love to see the technical argument for what’s essentially the stock system (benefit w/ aftermarket subs seems more plausible)

Anyone upgrade speakers sans amp changes? And did it make a meaningful difference?
 

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
You are more likely to make it worse than better by fiddling around with aftermarket speakers. Several folks will tell you they have made it “sound much better” by replacing speakers in stock locations but the reality it is will just sound different, not necessarily better.

If you really must change something, things like improving power supply by whatever means will help in those situations where the amp is under heavy load, so this could be a +1 for battery/power improvements.

For speaker swaps, you need to be matching amplifier ohms loads and things like the FS of speakers (or at least know what you are doing with those things), as random speaker X will not always do what you expect.

If you class yourself as a true expert on audio in cars, you would potentially get to a position where you do the swap and end up admitting to yourself that it’s worse than stock. Very hard for people to do, you need to find a way of measuring an improvement and knowing why it got better. Or indeed worse.

Always a very opinionated and emotional subject, the hardest bit to learn about sound in cars is usually most folks don’t know what they are doing and usually you can be told something is better and believe it because your brain tells your ears to believe it.

First try and be really clear with yourself on what it is you are trying to improve.

The speaker positions dictate a lot about how the sound will behave - side window reflections, windscreen reflections, bass frequency gaps due to sub location, lower vocal capabilities due to separation of midbass/midrange etc. If you really want to deliver a proper improvement you have to match products to these constraints, not just pick random bits of kit.

Honestly, I would leave it alone - but maybe If you have to play with it - on a car like the model 3 I would go for battery strengthening, improved deadening/dampening and finding a way to integrate a full DSP/processor into the OEM electronics. Then it can only be your own fault on setup of the sound, not related to any particular product that someone told you sounds better.

Once I get my model 3 I’ll do as unbiased a review as possible on the sound characteristics and where the strengths/weaknesses lie, I don’t mind sharing this output, kind of missing not having time to compete in and judge sound quality competitions any more. However this will just be an opinion and not a definitive guide as we all hear differently and we all have different opinions/emotions about what sounds good or bad.

I have not been much help to you there ... lol.
 

Idkorcare

Member
Nov 3, 2019
178
143
Atlanta
Mine is an SR+ and kinda did what you asking as I replaced my system in stages over a few weeks.

for all of the 4” speakers (dash, rear doors, rear deck)your mostly adding a tweeter by changing them out you should get more clarity and highs.

unless you amp them the door woofers are probably not going to make much a difference changing out, the door tweeters you might notice a change but probably also not needed unless you also amp them, there are so many speakers the others will mostly drown them out

I changed out and connected all 4” speakers except the center dash to an amp, left the door woofers alone, wired the A-pillar and door tweeters thru a crossover and ran them off the old L/R dash speaker outputs and added 2 10” subs off an amp


As for the battery, Ive already had this argument and personally I cant see it doing anything. There was nothing I tested that should be improved my changing it out. If you pull any significant power directly off the 12v the car thinks its bad and stops supplying power off the DC-DC to keep it charged. Also my opinion its there more as a backup incase the penthouse fails since if you suddenly lost power from both I can imagine it be bad especially on autopilot. I will say one other guy didnt believe it would make a difference also and came back and felt it made a minor difference but not worth the price tag.
 
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LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
There may be other things you can do for the 12v power supply, for example adding additional Ah, segregating the audio supply feed onto another 12v circuit etc. It doesn’t necessarily involve spending megabucks on a panacea replacement battery. Even something as simple as improving the cabling/grounding connections may help. Although I haven’t investigated the OEM construction of those circuits so maybe they are all grade A perfect already.

On another note - having one amp do the entire Premium sound system is going to be a weakness unless they have some pretty cool power supplies onboard the amp / multiple supplies for the multi-channel amp.

amplification for sub and midbass may be an area to look into but now we are into replacing more and more bits, so not where I would start. Firstly I would want to critically listen and then listen again in loads of different situations to see where the weaknesses really are. Pretty confident the car environment itself combined with speaker locations/surrounding environment will have the most impact. That is usually the last thing people attempt to understand, I would start there.
 

grmdl3

Member
Apr 21, 2020
154
112
Oregon
I wonder about phase issues, too. For example, my guess is that most of what we hear from the speakers in front is reflected off the windshield. Is it in phase with other sources? And I still don't know how bass gets to the front seats all the way from the sub when the rear seats are up.

But yeah, replacing speakers especially with inexpensive prosumer parts is iffy at best in my experience. I have the premium sound system, and it's not too bad with the right EQ settings. But it lacks midrange clarity and punch. That's part of my concern about the phase.
 

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
This could get very complex very quickly ....

Sound is in phase if sound waves hit your ears together, with each other, for the frequencies being played.

So your question is a tough one, as when you position yourself in different seats it by definition changes the way sound waves are hitting you.

Maybe the simple answer is to say no, windshield-reflected sound is not in phase with the other sources unless you happen to be in the perfect spot for this to be true. I’m willing to bet from factory that it is not true, as for higher frequencies moving your head just 1-2 inches can change the entire behaviour of how you hear what is being reflected. If you have speakers several feet apart you would need some very complicated crossovers / digital crossovers and perfect time alignment to get it perfect.

Regarding bass - the wavelengths below 70Hz are bigger than the car, so it’s normal for “bass” to propagate through all the interior. My guess would be below 40hz the bass will be weak (bass speaker too small), then for the driver/front passenger there will be a hole at 50-55hz because of sub positioning/mounting angle and probably also a gap at 80-120hz due to the way door-mount midbass and sub integration behave together in this type of configuration. Most people try and fix this by adding more subs / increasing amplifier power / swapping speakers for “better ones”, but it may just create different problems that you choose then not to hear. You just spent a load of money on new kit, so it sounds better yes ?

Regarding midrange clarity and punch - this will be between 180hz and 600-800hz. Exactly the frequencies that will be all screwed up by having a midbass in the door and a midrange in the dash. Plus in this range the frequency length is affected by the width of the car, which means side reflections as well as the positioning issues.

Might have to start a separate thread on this once I’ve had chance to listen and pick apart what the system does well and badly. None of what I’m writing here is based on the model 3 - just how sound works in metal/glass boxes on wheels.

I am intrigued to know what having a large dense battery slung below what is usually a thin floor does to what I know based on all the other ICE cars I have listened to. Unlikely to completely change the rules but it’s interesting especially for midbass behaviour.
 

grmdl3

Member
Apr 21, 2020
154
112
Oregon
Well, to me midrange extends well into the area approaching 2kHz. The wavelength at 440Hz is 30", and at 1kHz it is a little under a foot.

The other acoustical issue to contend with is the big arched glass area on top, which usually is covered by at least a little bit of sound-absorbing material that helps keep high frequencies from bouncing around.

I do wish we had something like a 5-band PEQ, or even a 12-band GEQ instead of the five that we have currently. If the EQ is implemented right, it can make up for a good deal of flaws in the speakers, even if it's not the ideal.
 

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
The glass roof really interests me as well, this with the windshield being used to reflect the mids could either make or break the whole sound.

Absolutely the mids extend into the 2-3k bracket, then upper mid 3-6k - but the definition of vocals and “body” starts down where most cars due to packaging reasons will fall down - in that 180-800 range.

If they’d put the midbass up in the dash next to the mid, also firing up, now we would be in real interesting territory ....
 

dmurphy

Buster: 11/25/14 - 6/20/21. So sorely missed.
Supporting Member
Dec 7, 2018
3,818
5,370
New Jersey - Morris County
I'm going to get a bunch of "disagrees" here, but don't care ...

The audio in Model 3 is pretty damn fantastic.

I think you're worried about a whole lot of nothing. You've got a very complex car with a very complex set of power and entertainment systems, which already has some pretty fabulous sound.

Monkeying with it will be a lot of pain for very little gain.

It's just not something worth screwing with in my book. The power budget in the car, if you will, is very tightly calculated and controlled. By screwing with that, you're inviting a world of gremlins to chase, all to replace pretty great parts with other parts that may or may not be as good.

I've left this to the guys with the acoustic chambers. It's abundantly clear that Tesla took the time to REALLY invest in the audio system development and deliver something special. Your shadetree mechanic isn't going to beat that.
 

grmdl3

Member
Apr 21, 2020
154
112
Oregon
I tend to agree with dmurphy. As I said, better EQ control with good minimum-phase PEQ would make it pretty easy to dial in good sound here. Not "shake the windows next door" sound, if that's what you're after, but good enough. It's already not bad. I think the crossover points are likely presenting some issues in the mid to mid-bass transition.
 

blecchus_rex

Member
May 23, 2018
113
106
Texas, USA
I've left this to the guys with the acoustic chambers. It's abundantly clear that Tesla took the time to REALLY invest in the audio system development and deliver something special. Your shadetree mechanic isn't going to beat that.

I've had the vehicle for ~18 months now and agree it's quite good... alas there are deficiencies. IMO some of the more significant ones aren't in the audio itself (rather in the "control plane"... e.g. bluetooth stack, UX, et cetera). But those are out of our hands and there's room for improvement in some of the audio reproduction as well. I'd hoped folks might chime in w/ experiences of having achieved decent gains w/ marginal investment. That or perhaps news of aftermarket engineered solutions I wasn't aware of - something like an integrated upgraded plug-and-play amp & sub that fills in some of what's missing at the low end would fit the bill. But it doesn't appear there's much of a middle ground between factory premium and a good sized investment in time / $$s. BTW, thanks to everyone for the responses!
 

dmurphy

Buster: 11/25/14 - 6/20/21. So sorely missed.
Supporting Member
Dec 7, 2018
3,818
5,370
New Jersey - Morris County
I've had the vehicle for ~18 months now and agree it's quite good... alas there are deficiencies. IMO some of the more significant ones aren't in the audio itself (rather in the "control plane"... e.g. bluetooth stack, UX, et cetera). But those are out of our hands and there's room for improvement in some of the audio reproduction as well.

Wholly agreed. The good news, though, is that's almost all stuff that they can fix in software. Over the air. While I sleep. For free. To vehicles bought years ago.

Still amazes me what this platform can do -- there are rough edges for sure (BT is a big one) - but since the rest of the package is so good, I'm willing to give a lot of leeway. :)
 

ycnibrc

Member
Jan 29, 2020
16
17
Irvine california
Lol tesla dash speaker is paper cone and dime size magnet compare to after market speaker. If you are in oc ca go to socal tesla tea i let u listen to the upgrade speaker then u can decide but trust me the tesla stock sound can improve vastly
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