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Lessons learned about USB audio

Discussion in 'Model 3: User Interface' started by Megapsychotron, Aug 18, 2018.

  1. Megapsychotron

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    #1 Megapsychotron, Aug 18, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
    Hi guys, I want to share what I've learned about getting my music to read correctly on the media player through my USB flash drive. It's taken quite a bit of trial and error to get the media player to read everything as it should.

    Disclaimer: this has worked out for me; and focuses on MP3 files (how my digital music is stored).

    I'm using a Samsung 128GB low profile USB 3.0 flash drive in my Model 3, with about 69 GB worth of music on it. With this drive and this amount of music on it, the car can take anywhere from 10 seconds to 3 minutes reading or caching it (or whatever it's doing) before it lets me access it. It seemingly needs to do this every time I start the car, regardless if anything on the drive has been changed or if it was left in/removed. I think this is an area that Tesla can improve.

    First thing, drives larger than 32GB are usually formatted in exFAT or maybe even NTFS, and drives 32GB and lower are formatted in FAT32. Modern operating systems and firmware don't usually have a problem with any of these formats. But our high-tech shiny Tesla vehicles, from what I've experienced, only recognize the ancient FAT32 format! (I find this laughable). I'm not an Apple or Linux user, I use Windows 10. And Windows 10 has ditched the ability to format flash drives and sdcards in FAT32. So what's a person to do? Google of course! There are several formatting programs that used to work in Windows 10, but it seems most of them don't anymore. Thankfully, I've found one that still works great, at least in my limited experience. It's called SmartDisk_FAT32_Tool from Verbatim. It's available here MEGA

    Once you've properly formatted your drive, you can add your music files onto the drive. But things are still not yet so simple.

    Normally, on my PC, phone, or my living room audio receiver, the music player software reads the ID3 tag to determine song order and album order. As such, the filenames of my digital songs weren't always so clean, but it was never a problem thanks to having organized IP3 tags. I use Mp3tag to organize my MP3 files. Tesla, for some reason, relies a lot on the actual filename to determine song order, and album order is ALPHABETICAL, which annoys me because I like seeing my artist discographies in order. The Tesla media controller is also a bit picky about how your numbers should be.
    If your filenames start with 1., 2., --10., 11., etc, your songs will be a bit out of order. You need to have a 0 in front of a single digit (i.e. 01., 02.) unless the album has less than 10 songs in it. Also, you can have the numbers formatted like so

    01
    01_
    01.
    01-
    and maybe other ways, and the order will be fine, as long as it is consistent throughout the folder. If your songs for some reason are labelled like this (say you downloaded a bonus track not available on your album and put it in the folder)

    08_
    09_
    10_
    11.
    12_
    you're likely going to have something out of order.

    To solve the album ordering problem, you can either rename the folders like this:
    01_"album 1"
    02_"album 2" etc.

    or label them with the release year
    1998_"album 1"
    2001_"album 2" etc.

    Album artwork needs to be embedded into the file itself to be consistently read by the media player. This is the ideal way to do it anyway, and how I already had my files tagged. Mp3tag does this easily. My go to place for album artwork is https://albumartexchange.com/ You need to register, but it's free. For CD ripping software, these days I use Foobar.

    So after painstakingly fixing the problems I had with the filenames of my music, I was all set, right? NO! Some of the albums or songs would have "Loading Error," even though they were MP3s and playing the USB drive on my PC didn't have any issues with these songs. So what was causing the problem? Using Mp3tag, I saw that these problematic MP3s, in addition to having ID3 tags, also had something called an APEv2 tag. These tags have never posed a problem in any other devices I've used for playback, but our shiny high-tech Teslas can't handle them. Using Mp3tag options, I was able to easily remove the APE tags from these songs and fix that problem.

    So there you have it. Learn from my experience to format your music correctly. I think the media player is ok, but there are definitely areas for improvement.
    I want to see:
    No need to recache everything from the drive if the drive was never removed from the car, so that it's instantly available. This should allow the car the ability to remember what song you were listening to and to resume
    Resume song from USB after you turn on the car needs to be here
    Scrolling titles while playing for long titles that don't fit
    GAPLESS playback
    and I would also like the option to see a larger version of the album artwork. My artwork is usually encoded at a minimum of 600x600, so it would be great to see that in much better detail in our cars
     
    • Helpful x 1
  2. ntam

    ntam Member

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    For best sound quality, you should put lossless compression files from your CD in the USB drive.
     
  3. Megapsychotron

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    I know about FLAC, I considered it. I rip MP3s in LAME v0 (high bitrate VBR), and to my ears I've not heard a difference between the MP3s and the original CDs on my audio setup. For a collection as large as mine, I'm happy using the MP3s.
     
  4. soulstar

    soulstar Member

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    Good read, thanks for the guide.

    I've ditched the USB for now. I prefer USB over bluetooth from my phone but I have a weird tendency to want to skip songs around depending on mood. Sometimes I shuffle the whole library and decide from there as I drive. I don't mind doing all the file renamings and tag removals but until they put some more flexibility on the USB media, I think I'll stay off.
     
  5. sduck

    sduck Member

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    I also gave up on the USB audio system, at least for the moment. I also sent a very detailed list of bugs and feature requests to tesla, and was assured that it is being worked on, and that a big update is coming. I hope that's actually true.
     
  6. Knightshade

    Knightshade Active Member

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    I have high hopes v9 of the software coming out next month will include a vast improvement in USB audio.

    Because it's by far the least-crap audio quality option on the Model 3 but the interface is awful.
     
  7. Megapsychotron

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    So recently, while my 3 was getting it's windshield replaced, I had a 2014 Model S as a loaner. Using my same USB thumb drive, the Model S flawlessly resumed USB playback every time I got back into the car. It even remembered my last USB position when I switched audio sources. It took longer to cache when I inserted the thumb drive; a good 10 minutes to read about 69 GB of music. But then it remembered and never needed to cache it afterward. The loaner appeared to have recent software.
    So hopefully this bodes well for a fix for our 3s in the future.
     
  8. SVDNN

    SVDNN New Member

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    Saw your discussion on similar thread but wanted to help you clarify by comparison...
    I have had no problems uploading 125Gb of FLAC files on 128Gb Sandisk USB in about 1-2 min in M3 on initial insert. I do not experience the USB having to reload files on restart.
    Would agree that the M3 does not startup at same USB song nor even have USB media input selected (defaults to bluetooth). Whereas, in my model S, it will resume exact USB track position and start music automatically on restart. But also has done this for at least couple years (not a part of recent software update). So, I would be optimistic that they will eventually send out software fix for M3.

    As to the issues you have for M3 reading your USB efficiently, sorry to hear. Just here to say... I do not have the same issues with twice the amount of data on USB. My USB files were created directly as FLAC files from CDs and no tweaking of file tags.
    Hope that helps to narrow down the issues toward a fix...
     
  9. Megapsychotron

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    Interesting. My music is in MP3. I'd be happier if at least my car didn't have to reload the thumb drive every time I got in the car. I wonder if getting a SanDisk thumb drive would be better in this regard. Still, makes me wonder why it works so great in the S and not the 3.
     

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