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My perforated, soft multipattern seats ruining the soundstage of my premium audio????

Discussion in 'Model S' started by calisnow, Aug 27, 2017.

  1. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    Okay so this is weird - my 2016 S with leather next-gens and the base sound system has quite noticeably better sound than my 2017 S with the premium audio system and the perforated premium seats. The difference is quite dramatic - the 2016 with base audio has a larger soundstage and I have a hard time isolating the speakers. The premium audio in the 2017 has a tiny sound stage and no matter what I do the sound seems to be coming from the front dash.

    Before you say I'm nuts - FWIW although I am no sound engineer I have been into home theater as a hobby for many years, and I have a dedicated blacked out room devoted to a front projection system. Over the years I have tinkered with the room and acoustically treated it with both diffusion and absorption according to some basic acoustic principles. It's my understanding that most music is mixed with engineers expecting a certain amount of diffusion/reflection to be present in the listening space and to help contribute to the perception of ambience and space. Therefore the usual idea in a room is NOT to overly treat it with only absorptive panels but to also add diffusive panels.

    It seemed quite counterintuitive to me that my premium audio system would sound worse than my base audio system (except for more bass - clearly present in the premium system). Except for the fact that my 2016 seats are very taught, firm, solid leather next-gen seats which might well reflect a significantly higher amount of acoustic energy - vs my 2017 perforated seats that are much softer. If you over-deaden a room you collapse the soundstage and isolate the speakers - which is exactly what is happening in my 2017. The S cabin is quite small and the seats occupy a significant fraction of the surface area.

    I'm nuts? You agree? Anyone else notice this?
     
  2. TaoJones

    TaoJones Beyond Driven

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    Not nuts. What happens if you move the center point back a foot or so (fader)?

    One of the things I noticed when downgrading from an AP1 car (w base audio) to an AP2 car (w premium audio) was that the sonic hole in the middle of the car was filled with something that resembled a center channel.

    Caveat: Within a week of two of picking up both chariots at the factory I had both cars Reus-ified which among other things further improved the center and crossover aspects. But the few times I've ended up with a loaner, I am reminded of the stark differences.

    I have the perfed seats. Not a fan for other reasons but haven't noticed them being a problem with regard to audio.

    There's an unsubstantiated audiophile's opinion floating around that today's premium sound package is less than yesterday's premium sound package. I have no easy way to test that opinion.

    Maybe do some A/B testing with your favorite USB stick of uncompressed goodness during the next gathering of yer local owners club?
     
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  3. PeterHG

    PeterHG Member

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    Like you, I'm fluent in home hifi (though I'm focused on stereo for music).

    Are you using exactly the same music? The characteristics of the original recording and the source (FM/XM/Slacker) can have huge impacts on sound quality.

    I recommend a track on your iPhone that know sounds good on a good system. Also--please don't take offense--but if you haven't paid attention to music formatting, you might not have a good track on your iPhone. MP3, just for example, is unlikely to sound good anywhere. Slacker will be even worse.
     
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  4. mrElbe

    mrElbe Active Member

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    You can always Duck tape the seats to cover the holes.
     
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  5. mblakele

    mblakele radial cross member

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    I've noticed that many people seem to care about bass and are prepared to pay for more of it. But often they don't seem to pick up on other characteristics like detail or soundstage. Maybe Tesla optimized the sound for that preference?

    When I was test driving in 2016 I wasn't impressed with the premium audio, so I went with the standard system. I haven't regretted that choice. Sure, it doesn't sound as nice as my home stereo. But to my ear it does pretty well: fairly neutral and mostly accurate.

    Maybe that was all a little off-topic — sorry. Let's say the seats are the problem. What happens if you put people in the seats, in both vehicles? What if you throw blankets over the seats?

    Come to think of it... if your seats make a difference, then my multi-pattern cloth seats should sound a little different than either solid or perforated leather.
     
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  6. Vortexx

    Vortexx Member

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    I am highly confident that you have another problem with the audio in your car, based on your observation. I have a P100D with perforated seats and UHFS. I have been in several Model S, with non perforated seats and the standard audio system. At this very moment, I have a base loaner car (it has cloth seats, so different absorption profile) but it sounds the same as the other base cars I have listened to. Absolutely every aspect of the standard audio system is substantially inferior, including the soundstage. If your UHFS system is sounding worse than a base system, it is a problem with the system, not the absorption difference of the seats. The perforations may make a very small difference in reverb times, frequency response characteristics and tonal balance, which all play a role in the soundstage, but it is minor. You could easily prove this to yourself by simply temporarily putting something over your seats. Note that when you are sitting in the car you are covering one of the seats, and if you have a passenger you are covering both seats. The rear seats are mostly irrelevant in this discussion. If you are hearing major differences, you probably have another issue - in a home system the symptoms you are describing are often a result of a wiring issue causing one driver to be out of phase, or altogether not working. Although this is less likely in a car system due to the wiring harnesses, its still possible. There could also be a bug, or one bad tweeter driver or a bad amp channel driving one of the tweeters. I would recommend starting with ripping one of the many test discs available to a USB drive and doing some careful listening to identify the problem. Listen to the same tracks in your car, and another car with the same UHFS. Pay careful attention to the phasing and soundstage tracks. Just for the purpose of clarifying that I am speaking with knowledge on this subject, my business (AUDIOVISIONS) revolves around designing, installing and integrating and calibrating high performance audio systems in luxury estates and yachts. I read this forum frequently, but rarely post unless I feel I have something valuable to add to the discussion, but felt it was worth posting here. Hope this helps.
     
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  7. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    Thanks to all of you, and especially you. You are all correct that I need to get more scientific on this. Unfortunately my cars right now are in different states as I fly back and forth for work. Maybe my ears are no good. But I do have a mic a laptop and roomeqwizard - I should do some sweeps.l and also listen at identical volume to identical music. My comparison is based on my preferred streaming stations only so far. The 2017 sounds quieter on the road to me also - which my girlfriend agrees with. We have both wondered if Tesla increased the damping material in the car somewjere to keep out road noise. The builds are almost 14 months apart.
     
  8. conman

    conman Member

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    How long have you had your model S with premium audio? I found the sound quality in the premium audio changed dramatically over the first 100 hours of listening. There is a very distinct burn-in period for the audio, likely the drivers specifically.
     
  9. Tiger

    Tiger Member

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    Normally, once you have accepted delivery of your car, you have nothing bad to say about it, as you become a fanboy.
     
  10. Ramon_E

    Ramon_E Member

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    I too have the upgraded sound and the perfed seats. Although I'm definately not an expert regarding this area I did notice a significant increase in quality bu turning off the Dolby Surround feature. Although you most likely allready tried that.
     
  11. conman

    conman Member

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    #11 conman, Aug 28, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2017
    Not true. I was trying to find something helpful to say about the sound from my own experiences. I have had posts deleted for them being considered inflammatory.

    I have high quality audio at home and I would consider the sound from my premium audio system in my Tesla by comparison the equivalent of the quality required for background music for the toilet.
     
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  12. PeterHG

    PeterHG Member

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    Whoa--streaming in a car will almost never have a good soundstage. When files are compressed in order to get the bit rate down to something that will play without interruption, it's the nuances of the original recording that are lost. These nuances are critical to the music sounding natural. A person who is not paying attention or in a loud vehicle might not notice. But virtually anyone can hear a real degradation if they are paying attention. I purchased the premium sound system just so that I could play XM (which is not great, but OK in terms of sound quality) instead of Slacker (which is terrible).

    For those who doubt, here's a fun test--use the streaming feature in your car to find the web version of your favorite local FM station, then toggle back and forth between FM and streaming. Even on NPR news, you'll shake your head at the difference.

    It's really sad that we've sacrificed so much sound quality in order to increase convenience and quantity. You don't need to be an audiophile to know instantly that Tesla, Apple and many others are purveying a pale imitation of music.
     
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  13. ShockOnT

    ShockOnT Quickish

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    I've become a convert to flac files on USB.
    I remember arguing on this forum many moons ago that Spotify was perfectly fine.
    Of course, I then tried for myself and had to eat my words. A huge difference in detail and range.
     
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  14. PeterHG

    PeterHG Member

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    Yes! FLAC is excellent, as are AIFF and Apple Lossless, though you need to check the compatibility of your various players to insure compatibility.

    If you appreciate range, check out the Dynamic Range Database, link below, for help in finding CDs and downloads with best dynamics. Unfortunately, recording quality in recent years has been marred by "The Loudness Wars" in which engineers have steadily sacrificed fidelity for volume. Best illustration is by picking a great artist from the 70s, say Bruce Springsteen or Steely Dan, then comparing the dynamic range of early versions of CDs to later versions. Sob

    Album list - Dynamic Range Database
     
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  15. J1mbo

    J1mbo Member

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    Same observations as tbe OP (going from 2014 P85 to 2017 90D with perferated seats).

    I wonder if extra soundproofing in the car is making a difference by absorbing some frequencies better. There has been a big reduction in road noise between the two cars (both on 19s and SAS), and it wouldn't surprise me if this is why playing around with the EQ doesn't resolve it completely.
     
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  16. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    Yes but it's still apples to apples in that respect.
     
  17. mblakele

    mblakele radial cross member

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    I don't dispute your premise: you're right about streaming quality, especially over 3G/LTE. But that A-B test is difficult because of volume differences between sources. In my car the FM is much louder than any stream. Often louder will sound better, and louder always sounds different.
     
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  18. daktari

    daktari Member

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    I would also bet play-in time. Maybe 50-100 hours on a loud volume.
    And of course you checked the equalizer settings are normal set up?
     
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  19. conman

    conman Member

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    Glad someone agrees with me. I've burnt in enough hifi components over the last few years to know that it's futile trying to gauge sound quality for at least the first 100 hours on speaker drivers. They have the most dramatic burn in of any component. Bass extends and tightens, sound stage opens up, instrument localisation focuses, and the top end most dramatically changes from almost inaudible furry sounding (like a lisp) to whatever its final resting place is.
     
  20. boaterva

    boaterva Supporting Member

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    Having read this thread, I didn't see any discussion of the roof... are the the same on the two cars? Both sunroof or pano? If one is metal (headliner), that is a difference in reflection/absorption from the glass of the sunroof/pano, of course. Or maybe it wasn't mentioned because both are the same.

    If that's the same, I vote for changes have been made over the years in the 'upgraded sound system'.
     

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