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Model 3 premium audio in RHD/UK

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,904
9,016
By the way, I had some issues with my OEM sub a long while back, and decided to try switching to a different sub just to see what would happen.

(The old OEM bass started to get weak, and it might have been a firmware/software issue, but it prompted me to try doing my own sub since the OEM placement seemed non-optimal to me.)


So, I cut a bigger hole in the rear deck and got to drilling and fabricating and ended up with this:

tegsub1.png

tegsub2.png

I don't do this sort of thing in a serious way, but I tend to just like to try things out to learn from experience.
When I first put the new sub (driven off the stock amp) it caused the metal screen above to vibrate at some frequencies. ( I used some bass sweep flacs to check it out.)
So I ended up applying some thick stick on foam sound mat onto the screen with cutouts for the new sub and stock midranges.

After all was said and done, I am happy with the results. I like the sound better in my 3 than stock 3s now. But I do tend to like "punchy" bass, but this "free air" set-up seems more uniform than the stock tuned-port.
Even though it can get loud, punchy bass, it seems fairly flat and clean (at least compared to stock.)

Anyways, not a "pro level" sort of effort, but thought you folks might get a chuckle from an amateur dabbling in this sort of thing.


Oh, and my new set-up is optimized for rear seats up, whereas I see some postings elsewhere suggesting to leave the seats down so that the stock sub can get more air pressure to you. Maybe more true on newer cars without the rear deck cut-outs. I don't want to have to leave my rear seats down...

This was done as a low budget exercise (spent all my savings on the car!). It was an inexpensive sub, but has a dual voice-coil that uses similar inputs to stock sub.

Now that my subwoofer is in the middle, I don't have to mention if my car is RHD or LHD since the experience should be similar for both driver and passenger.

Some related details on these threads:
Adding Aftermarket Subwoofer
Sound system lost it's "punch" after latest update
Back speakers and Sub not working.
 
Last edited:

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
the rear shelf sub thing can be really good but the front and rear compartments will leak air between each other due to split/fold rear seat so there will be some bass response issues that are different to stock but still issues.

Good work though on the modified bass effort, it’s always fun trying stuff and as I said at the start nobody is right or wrong it’s a very subjective subject.
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,904
9,016
the rear shelf sub thing can be really good but the front and rear compartments will leak air between each other due to split/fold rear seat so there will be some bass response issues that are different to stock but still issues.

I may do a little more to put some foam strips around the rear seat back edges to help get a better seal, but bass response is already plenty good enough as it is.

No system is perfect, and some effort is made to keep a collection of curated / optimized tracks on flash drive.

I still have the OEM sub sitting idle, and I have done some "bake-offs" comparing how various tracks sound using the stock sub vs my replacement sub.
(I need to move a few wires around to switch between them.)
 

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
... sorry I wasn’t completely clear there, when you have a folding seat there is no bulkhead, meaning the bass goes straight through the seats as well. The model 3 seats won’t stop stuff below 50-60hz passing through, meaning a confusion of front/rear wave from the sub when you try and use the boot/trunk as a box.

It’s a complete guess but I suspect a peak at 60-80hz and a dip at 35-45hz, it might work great due to random interaction with midbass but it would need measuring and some listening to see where the issues are.
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,904
9,016
Yeah, I can believe the really low end is a bit uneven due to assorted leakage and absorption.

Which is why some bass heavy tracks come through better than others.
I go back to mentally comparing to how things sound to studio monitor headphones...
 

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
Took the car out today and didn’t use the audio system, but did have the opportunity to listen to road noise.

Those wanting to calm down road noise from the rear - go and tap carefully on the paintwork behind the read wheels (Rear wing), in front of the charge port on left side and same the other side. Listen to how much resonance there is through those thin-ish panels.

Where I have added that closed-cell foam on drivers side it has dulled the noise right down. You can clearly hear the improvement on the right side and that means I’m going to carefully do sections on the left without interfering with charge port innards.

It’s a very noticeable difference - so from factory these cars are picking up resonance through those areas and then amplifying the sound in the boot, then you hear it as an underlying sound to the driving experience.

If you decided to sound deaden and apply adhesive foam to just these areas you would really quieten down the car, I’m quite shocked by the difference for just a small area and low cost of materials.
 

Columbo

Member
May 23, 2020
68
33
Uk
Took the car out today and didn’t use the audio system, but did have the opportunity to listen to road noise.

Those wanting to calm down road noise from the rear - go and tap carefully on the paintwork behind the read wheels (Rear wing), in front of the charge port on left side and same the other side. Listen to how much resonance there is through those thin-ish panels.

Where I have added that closed-cell foam on drivers side it has dulled the noise right down. You can clearly hear the improvement on the right side and that means I’m going to carefully do sections on the left without interfering with charge port innards.

It’s a very noticeable difference - so from factory these cars are picking up resonance through those areas and then amplifying the sound in the boot, then you hear it as an underlying sound to the driving experience.

If you decided to sound deaden and apply adhesive foam to just these areas you would really quieten down the car, I’m quite shocked by the difference for just a small area and low cost of materials.
What type of foam would you recommend?
 

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
Literally any self-adhesive stuff 12mm or even 10mm (thicker the better)

Amazon has loads of cheapo Chinese stuff with a few weeks lead time, I used DodoMat stuff but only because it was 12mm instead of 10.

You are looking for closed-cell adhesive foam for thermal/acoustic deadening.
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,904
9,016
So after reading this thread, I decided to remove the stock subwoofer (that I no longer use), and put some (more) sound foam in the wheel well behind it.

Getting it out was a bit of a pain as the amp is attached to it with star nuts on multiple sides. A bit of creative hand tool contortions later, I got the whole thing out.

Here are pics of the sub removed:

sub1.jpg

sub2.jpg

sub3.jpg

sub4.png
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,904
9,016
The wheel well already had some kind of stick on sound dampener, but only in a small section on top.

Also, the bottom of the well (under the subwoofer box) has what appears to be some kind of vent to the outside.
well1.jpg


well2.jpg
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,904
9,016
So I got some peel and stick sound foam sheets, and covered the other parts of the wheel well before closing it back up again.
sound1.jpg

sound2.jpg
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,904
9,016
I think I will be hard pressed to notice any difference as I didn't have complaints before. I just did this in case it may help a little, but I don't notice any major difference. Hard to do an A/B comparison because I can't switch it back and forth.

Given that I have an aftermarket sub in a non-stock location now, my experiences are not totally relevant to those with stock subs.
 

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
Update on listening preference / settings, I have yet to tackle the front door cards to calm those down.

Currently running fader fully forward to stop the rear mids confusing things, and left a touch to stop the right front midbass dominating

Sub -1.5
midbass -1.0
Mid 0
Upper mid -0.5
High 0.5

The main issues that keep making themselves obvious are a lack of body/depth to lower midrange, a lack of top-end “sparkle” (not helped by increasing the highest EQ point), plus anything below 40-50 hz is lacking in output. I reckon the stock sub rolls off a cliff at 45hz, maybe 40 at a push.

However that is being very critical and for general listening you can crank it right out and smash out whatever floats yer boat, like all systems it starts to run out of talent at about 75-80% volume which is plenty for most listeners.

More to follow when I’ve had a go at those pesky resonating front door cards.
 

Rob R

Member
Oct 7, 2017
308
164
Dundee, Scotland
Thought I’d get some opinion out there for folks to discuss/ridicule/disagree with as they see fit around the audio system in the model 3. I’ll cover why I’ve put RHD/UK in the title shortly.

Background

Quick bit of context - I spent 5 years getting quite involved in the car audio scene, focussing on sound quality instead of boom boom shake the room - and did pretty well as a competitor, winning UK championships with a couple of different cars and then moving onto judging sound quality in UK and German championships. Plus have a couple of 3rd place trophies at EuroFinals level which is basically top 2 cars from all Euro countries fighting it out once a year.

It’s an intense and very competitive scene, and was fortunate enough to have some really knowledgable and experienced people around me, including some serious build work and great pairs of ears on hand to tune the car systems plus help me learn, this meant I picked up a lot of knowledge and make me think very differently about audio in cars.

A taster of the sorts of installs (under the covers) that make up a highly competitive sound quality or SQ vehicle - we worked extensively without speaker boxes, mostly breathing to the outside of the vehicles using steel rings welded into the vehicle chassis and cutting lots of breathing holes.

View attachment 590971 View attachment 590972 View attachment 590973 View attachment 591003

Model 3 Premium Audio

Onto the Model 3 audio system. It promised a lot having read various reviews and watched reviewer YouTube videos.

The basic layout of the car is pretty standard - with 3 exceptions.

Firstly the sub is in the rear corner of the car, firing backwards with a ported design. It’s interesting as it has clearly been designed to work with the environment not against it.

Next the higher frequency speakers at the front of the car have been covered with a treated cloth material which is very unusual in a mass-market car. Somebody somewhere decide traditional plastic and very restrictive (for higher frequency sound) grills were bad. I like that thinking.

Finally the front stage is significantly weighted towards midrange being pushed way forward and firing up into the windscreen. This is both good and bad but I competed with a setup like this for some time and the sound stage benefits are pretty strong.

Other equipment notes - I don’t know the actual manufacturer of the components/electronics behind the audio system and it doesn’t really matter, the rated power numbers aren’t all that impressive so they don’t seem to have chased mega numbers. For example I used to run more power on my tweeters than the midbass in the model 3 gets - but it doesn’t matter. What is very impressive is the way the system has clearly been designed by someone with good ears and they haven’t bowed to packaging/marketing folks when finalising the build design.

Onto the sound, I’ll get onto areas for improvement shortly but first the stuff that is good.

Higher frequencies - overall the highs are solid for any sort of factory install. There is detail and a decent balance.

Midrange - Some good feeling of there being a real “body” behind people, instruments and some decent attack in how stuff plays back to you. The front mids firing up are helping bring things to life due to the windscreen glass being in play.

Midbass - pretty decent punch and a really good effort, they match some of the attack of the mids and speed is pretty good - not as good as a true infinite baffle setup but very commendable

Sub-bass, pretty good integration into the mids (see below), it’s hard not to find fault as you know it’s a small speaker, overall I would say it sounds like a half-decent home cinema sub.

Areas for improvement :

Isolation - the sub and front midbass in particular are losing energy into the car as they flex the factory metal and plastics. More isolation from the mounting points and more treatment of immediate areas would work wonders here, I may have a go at some of that. Plastic chassis, box and mounting points are a disappointment but I appreciate mass-manufacture inevitably leads here. A shame though as with more solid mountings it would be a serious improvement.
The plastic sub box is a bit crap and needs to be much more solid. I’m going to remove mine, isolate into properly from mounting points and then sound-deaden it to see what a quick effort can achieve.

Sub position - this is a real bugger to get right. Every car has peaks and troughs in how we hear lower bass and how the sub integrates into the midbass. It gets a bit hit and miss here but they have at least tried to make it work. I would want to measure frequency response but there are 2 things that’s old work to improve the factory sub - firstly adding a thick plate of alloy or steel around 2 inches from the sub speaker face to “front load” the wave - however could be tricky with the ported design, secondly to change the orientation of the speaker/port to see if that altered the response to the driver position. It can be real trial and error just like with home listening room sub placement but it can be improved with some creativity and patience.
P.s. the reason I put RHD/UK in the title is that bass to LHD drivers will sound different to us in RHD. It matters where you are sitting as the peaks/troughs in sub response will differ for LHD vs RHD drivers with this sub position.

Midbass > sub overall sound - there is a muddiness/confusion where the 2 speaker types try and come together (see below).

Midbass peak 300-500 hz somewhere in that region - this is inevitable with the speaker position, angle and centre tunnel distance. To eliminate this you would either need a speaker that has a deliberate dip in response at that level (unlikely) or to change the angle of speaker mounting significantly. Or a dedicated EQ, but that brings more technical problems so just have to live with it. Not ideal. It’s simple physics that at this frequency range you will get either cancellation or amplification due to the wavelengths involved. Big peaks are not good anywhere but it is a very common car related issue.

Midrange could sound a bit more open and life-like if being really critical but I find bringing the upper mid response into play with the surround-setting helps a bit. Not purist but again a very good effort at increasing system enjoyment in a car.

Mid>High / High - there is a peak around 8khz that gives a slight unpleasant edge to the sound, and makes true highs feel like they are lacking a bit. It might also be that the very highest stuff above 12-14k is rolling off and the tweeters just aren’t that good. Again would need to measure this to understand more.

Minor adjustments to EQ. So far I’m happiest with a reduction on Sub -1.5, reduction on midbass -0.5 and a reduction on upper mid by -0.5. Doesn’t sound like much but so far it adds up to a more balanced sound and allows volume increase. For my personal preference I also shifted fader forward by 3/4 and to the left by a few notches to avoid the RH midbass taking over and dragging the sound down. I may revisit these settings after isolating the lower frequency speaker surrounding panels.

Conclusion

Hope this is a useful take on the system and a helpful perspective. Now for the honest bit - there is no right and wrong and my opinions may completely differ from yours - am completely good with that and appreciate every has a preference / hears differently / has their own take on what they want from audio.

What I will say as a summary is that overall it’s a really excellent and slightly disruptive effort by Tesla on this system, it has some real flair and is a bit embarrassing for all those B&O, Dynaudio etc type options that cost £5-6k on the more established brands.

With some more DSP capability, and better physical mounting construction it would be even better. Something like the DIRAC Live setup with user-configurable setup could really knock your socks off if combined with this overall design. Oh and ditch the plastic speaker mounts in favour of aluminium or good old fashioned steel :)
My last car was an Audi A8 with the optional super-premium 1000 Watt B&O sound system (£5,500 new 12 years ago, though I got it in a 4 year old car for nothing). The two systems are fairly comparable (to this listener). The Audi went louder, but at mid-volume the Tesla seems a little purer and better controlled. Incidentally, the Tesla still goes loud enough to make my ears buzz a little after max volume rocking out, so no complaints.
 

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,215
Wales
^^ A8 definitely the car to have that option in :)

I am guessing the high highs in that system were more extended and sweeter sounding than the model 3 tweeters. We’re into daft audio language now but more “airy sounding”.
 

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