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Premium Sound - Weak Rear Sound

Discussion in 'Model S' started by David100, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. David100

    David100 Member

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    Hello happy Tesla owners (will join in June - can't wait).

    I know there are already many threads about Premium Sound VS Standard Sound.
    This is why, in this thread I would like to focus on Premium Sound only.
    Not debating whether it is worth upgrading or not.

    I would say I have a fairly good experience about what hi-fi sound can be.
    I am a long-time Hi-Fi enthusiast, have a deep-in-the-5-digits-range set-up at home and owned several cars with high end sound.
    For most Hi-Fi enthusiasts (including me), premium sound is not about booming sound but immersive and true-live sound.
    The absolute set-up would be the one where you cannot tell anymore if the band is playing for real around you, or if it is just your set-up playing.

    It is also very important that you cannot tell anymore where the speakers are - they have to completely blend away.

    With closed eyes it should become impossible to tell where the speakers are with a true hi-fi set-up, when you are in the sweet spot.
    Well, now, back to the Tesla hi-fi premium sound, using uncompressed hi-res flac audio files on USB key.

    Of course, I understand a car hi-fi set-up can not beat a premium home set-up, nor can a 2.500 € car set-up beat a 10.000 € car set-up.

    But still...

    To my ears, the Tesla premium sound is not immersive enough.

    I hear way to much the sound coming from the driver side speaker, and from the front in general.

    For testing purpose, I played pushing the sound into each corner of the car.

    When the sound is fully pushed to the back speakers the problem seems quite obvious.
    The sound is very weak back there, even when pushed to max volume.

    Again, I am not talking about booming sound, but all-range sound.
    And I am not talking about lound sound neither but good balanced sound.

    This is to the point where I am wondering if the back speakers are working or are defective, or are they massively underpowered ?

    I feel a very obvious Front/Back Balance problem.
    Is it just me, or was it a bad car (I did this test in a demo car - my S85D will be delivered (with hi-fi sound) in early June (in Europe)).
    Have I not played enough with the settings (I have played quite some time though).
    Have I not found the child protection back sound security switch level ?
    Is this better in more recently built cars (some components changed in stealth mode) ?
    Will the new Codecs change something (I guess not, since it was a stereo recording so the codecs are not involved in front / back distribution) ?

    I hope it was just a defective car.
    Do you experience the same thing (Try maxing rear volume, compared to front).Or not ?

    Thanks a lot.

    Of course, I am still very enthusiast about the car in general - and the wait becomes exponentially painful.
    But obviously... this sound thing bothers me somehow.
     
  2. 1NJ85D

    1NJ85D Member

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    Precisely my opinion!!
     
  3. mgboyes

    mgboyes Member

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    I'm not an audiophile and have not tested my premium audio system in the sort of ways that you describe.

    But from a purely practical point of view, for example when the kids are listening to their music or to the soundtrack of a movie, I agree 100% that if you push the fader all the way to the rear of the car the quantity and quality of the sound output are both extremely lacking.

    This is made all the more strange by the fact that the subwoofer is physically in the trunk - yet if you push the sound to the rear it seems to be completely unused.
     
  4. Trustno1

    Trustno1 Member

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    Hello

    This is my first post on theese forums, but have been a long time reader.

    Since I have been a car audio enthusiast for many many years, I thought I could pitch in here.

    What you are expiriencing is the lack of "time correction" in the Model S' audio system.
    In any car audio system you will never sit in the true sweetspot, so this has to be manipulated electronically. What a time correction does, is to delay the sound from the closest speaker so that it matches when the sound arrives from the furthest speaker.
    This combined with slightly lower volume on the closest speaker will make the impression of you sitting in the sweetspot.

    Personally i would just fade out the rear speakers completly. Music is allmost allways just recorded in stereo, and to get good focal points for the sounds, you need just two speaker points to replicate this sound. More than this will just make the soundstage more difuse and not match each other.

    The big problem in the Model S is how you can achive this electronically manipulated sweetspot. This is usually done with a DSP (Digital sound processor) however, it will need some tinkering with the audio system to implement it.
     
  5. David100

    David100 Member

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    Dear Trustno1,

    Welcome and thank you for your input.
    But even without 'DSP time correction' (which would further improve the experience for sure) there is something obviously going with the plain and simple rear VOLUME.
    As Mgboyes, mentions, in every low-price car with basic 4 speaker set-up, it is convenient to push the sound a little more to the back when children are listening to the music in the back and parents are talking in the front.

    This is simply not possible in this 100k car.

    There is something obviously going very wrong with Tesla Sound.
    I am pretty sure the back sound volume is just not working as it should.

    Back volume seems to be close to muted. I cannot imagine it has been designed purposely this way in the first time.
    As for most obvious problems, a simple and easy fix should solve the problem.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Typo correction : there is something obviously going wrong with the plain and simple rear VOLUME.
     
  6. Trustno1

    Trustno1 Member

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    Ok, I see I havent really answered your question.
    I have really not tested my rear speakers, since I dont have childeren and rarely have anyone in the back seat, but I see your problem.
    I dont think they should be that weak, that you barely hear them
    I cant test right now since I'm inbetween cars atm (sold my P85, getting my P85D in 4 days :) ), but I can test when I get the new car

    However there could be a couple of explainations:
    1. The speakers are not propely broken in. You have to play speakers at higher volume for some time to get them to perform optimally. However if you barly hear them I doubt this may be the case
    2. There may be bad connection in the speakerwires to the hatch/reardoors

    As I said earlier, I really not have bothered with the rear sound, so I havent really given this much thought, but I think there is both rearspeakers in the rear doors, and the rear hatch. Is this correct? Do you have problems with the sound from both?
     
  7. David100

    David100 Member

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    Trustno1,

    The lack of break-in could be an explanation - but I would say not to that level of lack of Volume.
    I was in a demo car, standing still at the Service Center. I do not know how old the car was, but I guess old enough for due break-in (it was a pre-"D" car).
    The problem was general from all rear speakers - I have not checked more precisely speaker by speaker.
    I hope indeed it is something like bad connections - and not something more problematic.

    Thank you for testing this (push all sound backward) in your new P85D - congratulations by the way :) ).

    And thank you for anyone willing to test this. Choose a volume - high enough - push everything to front, then back, then front, then back.
    Do you hear a huge difference in front / back levels (back MUCH weaker than fronts).
     
  8. Pollux

    Pollux Member

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    Hi, @David100,

    I believe I observe reduced sound levels from the rear speakers, as you describe. (I, too, have the premium audio.)

    Some people swear by the Reus package. I don't know if the Reus folks do business in Europe. Here in the US, they travel around the country doing installation parties. 5-10 Tesla owners get together to have their Reus systems installed at the same time, and Reus sends a guy out for a day or two to do the work.

    If your car hasn't gone into production yet, you may still have time to modify the order to delete the Tesla audio and use that money for a third-party system later.

    I am not unhappy with the Tesla audio, I just see the same problem with it that you apparently do. I am not an audiophile, so it's not a deal-breaker for me. But, having said that, when I buy my next Model S (order will be placed around July, 2016), I will think hard about whether to invest in another Tesla OEM audio system or in a third-party system instead.

    Alan
     
  9. Lawsteve

    Lawsteve MCATDT

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    #9 Lawsteve, Mar 25, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
    Funny to see this post, as I posted about the same exact problem over a year ago:

    Audio: Sound System Quality? - Page 44

    i actually took my car into the service center and had them check the connections and the amps that powered the system. The result was being told "this is just the way the system is built."

    Sorry to see that the newer cars have not received any improvements.
     
  10. David100

    David100 Member

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    Hi Pollux,

    Well... I would preferably not upgrade to aftermarkt systems and stick to pure Tesla.

    I am already in the beyond the upper range of what I am willing to spend on the car (I thing I understood the Reus Package is another 3.5 to 5 k€).
    Also, I am not expecting my Tesla to have incredibly stellar sound. I just want the Premium Sound to be fair for 2.5 k€.
    What I am expecting is really basic here : normal back and front balance.

    The lack of volume in the back seems to be so obvious that it should easily be fixed by Tesla : connection issue, back amp or speakers to be upgraded or something obvious in the sound system that is defective.

    Also I do not remember (and can not find anymore) the amount of watts the Tesla Premium system has built in - but it is fairly massive.
    With that amount of power, it is not possible that the rear speakers would have such a low volume by design.

    I am hoping that there is something obviously wrong, for which an easy fix must exist.

    ps : Not a deal breaker for me neither - I am sure I will enjoy the remaining of my Tesla so much. Wonderful machine. Anyway, I keep hoping that this sound issue can be solved.

    - - - Updated - - -

    @ Lawsteve,

    I agree - What you describe reflects exactly my experience.
    We are in the same boat here.
     
  11. mgboyes

    mgboyes Member

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    Seems to me that it may be as simple as the fact that the subwoofer is driven in proportion to the volume of the front speakers.

    So when you fade all the way to the back (-20 on the display) the small speakers mounted on the inside of the trunk lid are active, but nothing else. The result is barely better than using the iPad's built in speaker.

    As mentioned in the other thread, if you disconnect the subwoofer completely the difference is huge.
     
  12. krisg81

    krisg81 Member

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    It could simply be the way Tesla is outputting the sound to the rear speakers in the console itself, using a DSP setting.

    anyone who has a Home Audio receiver may understand this. I think what is occurring is the rear speakers are more of a background/ambience volume level in the software, like listening to music through Dolby ProLogic on a home audio receiver (also, with premium sound, turn OFF Dolby Audio for a better sound stage).

    On my Yamaha Aventege receivers I have at home, I have the same issue when playing music- nice loud sound in the front channels, low volume in the rear. When I switch it to 7 Channel Stereo mode, since music is always recorded in stereo, it then outputs that audio to the rear channels in stereo, the same way it matrix's sound to the front speakers- the result is a perfectly balanced 7 channel stereo sound no matter what speaker the music is playing from.

    Tesla just needs to add a way to output audio in a similar way, output stereo to all channels and not output rear music as background filler like Dolby ProLogic. I am thinking this was done just for the listeners in the front seat to create a decent sound stage, but in a perfect world, the audio settings should allow multiple DSP settings like most home audio receivers.
     
  13. David100

    David100 Member

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    @krisg81

    Encouraging - Thanks !
    Let's just hope this can be handled by software upgrade indeed - and that it is not a matter of rear amps or speakers being genuinely too weak.
     
  14. Tampaukfan

    Tampaukfan Member

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    I sat in a P85D with the upgraded sound and it sounded great, car was one of the first P85Ds (low 6 vin). I then sat in a S85 D that had just a few hundred miles with the same sound system and it sounded like crap.
    So its either a break in issue, setting issue or software...
     
  15. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    There have been these complaints of huge discrepancies between sound car-to-car for years. Several times updates have supposedly improved the situation for those with poor audio quality, but I've been pretty lucky in that I "got a good one." I ran a back-to-back test with 2012s and 2013s of varying ages (we have a number of Teslas in my apartment complex so we got together). There were substantial differences between the vehicles.

    The general points stand, though. Tesla has definitively taken the "concert hall" approach to car audio where the single most important aspect of the sound is the staging. The front speakers are good and provide a nice stage directly in front of the driver. Immersion suffers horribly in this pursuit, as noted, because the rear speakers are of relatively low quality compared to the fronts.

    I've been able to dial in my system to reduce the effect, but it's still apparent. Ultimately this involved a partial fade to the rear to bring up the rear levels, but not so much as to overload them. I lose a bit of maximum volume performance, but immersion is substantially improved. I'm not a fan of the "concert hall" approach to sound design. I mostly listen to studio albums, I want them to sound like I'm standing amongst the band in the studio, not out in the audience of a concert.
     
  16. nrcooled

    nrcooled P#8946 VIN 03225

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    I'm an early adopter (#3225) and, at that time, for $990 the premium sound is well worth the upgrade. For $2500...I'm on the fence. I will say that I do enjoy the sound of my music in the car and find that the levels are pretty decent. With that said, the volume levels of my USB music seems to be a bit low and I have observed the same things you have in regards to sound levels from the rear (these are m4p and mp3 files at 328 or higher I don't have any flac files).

    Oddly enough, using Bluetooth 4.1 and streaming I am able to adjust the levels using the "AudioFX" on my phone and I can artificially boost the levels to compensate. Using that and by using the balance/fader to focus the sound on my driver's seat does bring about a more immersive sound stage. Leaving the Balance/Fader set to the center gives too much power to the driver's door speaker and thus you can distinctly pick out the one speaker as being too "bright".
     
  17. 1NJ85D

    1NJ85D Member

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    Expanding on my previous post.

    I have an 85D delivered in February in the USA with the Ultra High Fidelity Sound.

    In summary, I strongly agree with what is being documented here. I reported the problem to my SC and after checking out the car, they told me that "the system was operating as designed".

    I have the impression the sound is coming from under the dash, in the direction of my right knee.

    As posted above, no matter what I do (fade, bass, treble), I can't get the sound to be immersive and fill the cabin.

    My impression is that the front speakers provide a decent frequency coverage (from lows to highs) except for the very lows (sub-woofer). On the other hand, the rear speakers (except for the sub-woofer) provide only mid and high-frequency coverage. No low frequencies.

    Try putting everything back to center/neutral and walk around the car trying to listen to the sound coming from the different speakers. You will probably notice, like me, that the front door speakers cover a decent range but the rear door speakers are pathetic. We need better rear door speakers.

    It appears to me, in lay language, that Tesla has made sure that the sum of the audio coming from the 12 (!) speakers provides a proper "curve" but did not take into consideration the position of the speakers.

    With the material difference between front/rear speakers, it becomes impossible to achieve the immersive / fill-the-cabin experience we can get on cheaper cars ...
     
  18. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    Tesla won't be much, if any, help on this. At least one owner has even received the "operating as designed" response with a blown speaker. They don't appear to have the tools or interest to diagnose audio issues.

    That said, I'm surprised you find your stage so low. It makes some sense as they fitted the best speakers in the front doors, but mine seems notably higher. Could be EQ-related, as the dash has 3 mid-range speakers and 2 tweeters. The more bass-biased your settings, the lower your stage will be, most likely.

    Anyway, this is an interesting read on the Tesla's collaboration with s1nn to design the system (scroll down for English):
    http://www.s1nn.de/system/uploads/attachment/file/548ed54bbfc4384f1f00000b/Tesla-TechnischeInformationen_deutsch_englisch.pdf
     
  19. Sigma4Life

    Sigma4Life Member

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    Did anyone try disabling the Dolby surround setting? That makes a noticeable difference in how the sound system functions.
     
  20. Nevek

    Nevek Overt Member

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    #20 Nevek, Mar 25, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
    Great find! With all the questions about standard vs premium sound, I have never found a definition of what is added for the extra $2500. This excerpt from your link spells it out:

    "The sound system hardware in the Model S will impress even the most discerning mu-sic lover. The basic version of the sound system generates 200 watts, with 40-wattspeakers (160 mm) incorporated in all four doors and two passive tweeters (30 mm) inthe A-pillar. A mid-range speaker (80 mm) located centrally on the dashboard adds afurther 40 watts. In the premium version – which around 70 percent of Tesla customersopt for after listening to demo systems – the sound system has an output of 560 watts.Two tweeters (30 mm) in the A-pillar each deliver up to 20 watts and two mid-rangespeakers (80 mm) each add a further 40 watts. Two 80-watt woofers (200 mm) are fittedin the front doors and two 40-watt speakers (160 mm) in the rear doors. Three 40-wattmid-range speakers (80 mm) complete the surround sound system. One special featureis the 80-watt bass box. Comparable models have boxes with a volume of eight totwelve liters, but the Tesla Model S has a 25-liter bass box for a particularly impressivedepth of sound. The sound aspect is extremely important to Tesla. This is demonstrated by the fact that the premium automaker strengthened the sheet metal and claddingaround the speakers especially for the sound system. This reinforcement gives the sys-tem an exceptionally dynamic and distortion-free high-definition sound."


    The hardware sounds like it could be worth the cost, although the results seem to be in question.
     

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