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What are Model X Stereo Upgrade Options?

Baxterdown

Xtatic!
Feb 4, 2021
104
84
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Hi everyone,

I've been doing research for upgrading the stereo in my MX. I've been driving a loaner with Premium Sound for three days and IMHO there is a huge difference between it and the standard audio on my car. I'm wondering if you guys wouldn't mind chiming in with your thoughts on the following:

I would like more bass and more treble than what I've got. I like to listen to pop and dance music and while the standard system is not horrible, coming from my Range Rover's Merdian 825W system and now experiencing the loaner's better stereo, I see where my car falls flat.

Here's the biggest challenge. I am looking for a more immersive experience. Turning Dolby Surround on/off on the loaner makes a HUGE difference in how music is piped through the system. So my first thought is that no matter how much base and/or treble I'm able to add to the car I'll never accomplish the "sitting in the middle of everything" goal because the system will never have a surround option, which brings me to my first question:

  • Does Tesla offer an OEM upgrade option? If so, I would prefer to go this route.

Searching threads around the forum I gathered the following:

  • There seems to be one vendor of choice: Reus. Unfortunately, they are in CA and I'm in FL. Also, from what I read in one thread, their upgrades seem to be beyond what I want to spend ($3k-$5k). I'm still going to reach out to them and see if they have any less expensive options.
  • I read in some threads that NVX makes a custom sub, but from what I saw on their website is specifically designed for the MS and they have no MX option.
  • It looks like Tesla doesn't use standard speakers. Is this so? I'm no expert but I remember reading one thread that said the installer had to make bases for the replacement speakers.
  • Light Harmonic seems to be out. I read some bad experiences from forum members with them. Unless you guys can share something different (must be recent), I'm not taking a chance.
  • I'm scared to give the car to a "regular" stereo shop. Standard stereos in ICE cars all seem to be built similarly and easy to upgrade. I've gathered Tesla stereos are very tied to the MCU (and integrated to the car's electronics) that unless you have a ton of Tesla experience, you could screw up the car. Is that right?
  • I read a thread where the owner was asking if cutting into the car's harness to add the sub and amp would void the warranty. There was a lot of discussion but no clear conclusion. I'm wonder if anyone has had any experience with this.
Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Jose
 
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Reactions: woodychau and fr100

elguapo

Supporting Member
Apr 24, 2013
1,105
2,181
Maryland
There’s no OEM upgrade offered by Tesla. Their speakers are somewhat “non-standard” from what I understand and do require experience to work with - but that’s from two audio shops in my area who would not touch it.

To your point, I wouldn’t let anyone touch it who doesn’t have at least 3+ references of successful Tesla audio upgrades.

Sorry I don’t have a better answer.
 

elguapo

Supporting Member
Apr 24, 2013
1,105
2,181
Maryland
Thanks @elguapo

I forgot to ask. Is the car pre-wired for the sub and additional speakers? I'm wondering if I could by the parts from Tesla.
Definitely not pre-wired for the sub. Not sure about anything else.

Sorry, Tesla really didn’t want people circumventing their offerings, it would appear. There are expert shops who can do it though.
 

ngng

Member
Jul 23, 2018
822
353
Bay Area
Definitely not pre-wired for the sub. Not sure about anything else.

Sorry, Tesla really didn’t want people circumventing their offerings, it would appear. There are expert shops who can do it though.

I don't suspect it would be too difficult: Run your power, ground, switched 12v. Adds ome type of a line audio converter for input. Build a box. done.
 

Tahoebum

Member
Jan 8, 2015
9
3
Minnesota
I'm doing an upgrade to my Model S stereo system in a couple of weeks now that the HV Battery has been replaced under warranty, and I've decided to keep it for at least another few years. I've found a local shop in Minneapolis that has done a couple of dozen Teslas and is comfortable working on them. The owner and installer both have over 30 years of experience in car audio. They'll be putting in an Audison Bit Ten processor, JL Audio XD7005V2 5 channel amp, JL 10" or 12" sub, upgraded front component speakers, and some sound deadening. I haven't finalized what sub and front speakers I will install, but the estimate with tax, parts, and labor is $4,500 with labor being $1,600, an allowance of $900 for front speakers, and $400 for sub.
 

Baxterdown

Xtatic!
Feb 4, 2021
104
84
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Hey @woodychau, funny that you say that. I just drove a loaner for a month (don't ask why!) with premium sound. At first I was like wow! What a difference. But very quickly realized that the premium sound's only real advantage is the Dolby Surround option. If you turn off Dolby, it sounds just like the base system. The extra tweeters and subwoofer put out just marginally better sound. And in the end, it all gets gobbled up by the horrible cabin acoustics.

I kept running experiment after experiment throughout the month with different music and different sources. I even made a USB drive with my "test song" which is an old song in Spanish from the 80s that puts any stereo's tweeters and bass to the test. I'm gonna digress for a second--My first luxury car I ever owned was an Infiniti J30 back in 1993 (I think). For some reason this song's CD sounded INCREDIBLE in that car's Bose stereo. From that moment on I've always popped that CD into every new car I've ever owned to test the stereo :) I know it's silly and I'm sure totally subjective, but my ears are now trained to look for all the subtle notes in the song's guitar, bass, and voice. By listening to that song I know when a stereo is/is-not good for my taste.

Ok, back to regular programming!

I played my test song on Spotify, and via the USB drive and I didn't hear any difference in quality. I did this to test if streaming music was lower quality than the USB, but it wasn't. At least, not that I could hear. Other experiments I ran were turning Dolby on and off regularly. The main difference was that when Dolby was on, I felt the sound all around the cabin (i.e. I was surrounded by sound). When it was off, the sound felt like it was mainly coming from the front speakers (like those old radios in cars without rear speakers).

When I got my car back I definitely noticed a difference. But it wasn't necessarily sound quality. It was that the base system's sound is all in the front of the car.

So I ran one last experiment. I set the equalizer like this 8.0 | 6.0 | 5.0 | 8.0 | 8.0. Then, I moved the balance almost all the way back. For reference, the slider sits on top of the rear seat's headrests. And finally, I cranked the volume. What a difference! The sound now feels immersive, the rear speakers do a decent job with bass and the front speakers still have enough power going to them that treble comes through nicely. I know the setup is extreme and not what anyone would think is good equalizing, but the system is so inferior that this was the only way I was able to get any umph out of it. The only drawback is that I have to set the volume much higher than normal, but that's a small price to pay.

I am still considering an upgrade, but Reus Audio is crazy expensive; it starts at $3,000 excluding travel (I can only image the cost to fly someone from CA to FL to install it) and Light Harmonic speakers mainly pump sound in the front, not the rear (lots of posts about this), so I'm not sure that will solve any of my personal issues. If I find someone to split a Light Harmonic buy, I might go for that (2 speakers each).

I'm gonna stay put for now. It's no Range Rover Meridian or Ford Bose, but I'm enjoying how the system sounds now that I've made these adjustments.

Jose
 

woodychau

Member
Mar 28, 2021
22
6
Vancouver Canada
Hey @woodychau, funny that you say that. I just drove a loaner for a month (don't ask why!) with premium sound. At first I was like wow! What a difference. But very quickly realized that the premium sound's only real advantage is the Dolby Surround option. If you turn off Dolby, it sounds just like the base system. The extra tweeters and subwoofer put out just marginally better sound. And in the end, it all gets gobbled up by the horrible cabin acoustics.

I kept running experiment after experiment throughout the month with different music and different sources. I even made a USB drive with my "test song" which is an old song in Spanish from the 80s that puts any stereo's tweeters and bass to the test. I'm gonna digress for a second--My first luxury car I ever owned was an Infiniti J30 back in 1993 (I think). For some reason this song's CD sounded INCREDIBLE in that car's Bose stereo. From that moment on I've always popped that CD into every new car I've ever owned to test the stereo :) I know it's silly and I'm sure totally subjective, but my ears are now trained to look for all the subtle notes in the song's guitar, bass, and voice. By listening to that song I know when a stereo is/is-not good for my taste.

Ok, back to regular programming!

I played my test song on Spotify, and via the USB drive and I didn't hear any difference in quality. I did this to test if streaming music was lower quality than the USB, but it wasn't. At least, not that I could hear. Other experiments I ran were turning Dolby on and off regularly. The main difference was that when Dolby was on, I felt the sound all around the cabin (i.e. I was surrounded by sound). When it was off, the sound felt like it was mainly coming from the front speakers (like those old radios in cars without rear speakers).

When I got my car back I definitely noticed a difference. But it wasn't necessarily sound quality. It was that the base system's sound is all in the front of the car.

So I ran one last experiment. I set the equalizer like this 8.0 | 6.0 | 5.0 | 8.0 | 8.0. Then, I moved the balance almost all the way back. For reference, the slider sits on top of the rear seat's headrests. And finally, I cranked the volume. What a difference! The sound now feels immersive, the rear speakers do a decent job with bass and the front speakers still have enough power going to them that treble comes through nicely. I know the setup is extreme and not what anyone would think is good equalizing, but the system is so inferior that this was the only way I was able to get any umph out of it. The only drawback is that I have to set the volume much higher than normal, but that's a small price to pay.

I am still considering an upgrade, but Reus Audio is crazy expensive; it starts at $3,000 excluding travel (I can only image the cost to fly someone from CA to FL to install it) and Light Harmonic speakers mainly pump sound in the front, not the rear (lots of posts about this), so I'm not sure that will solve any of my personal issues. If I find someone to split a Light Harmonic buy, I might go for that (2 speakers each).

I'm gonna stay put for now. It's no Range Rover Meridian or Ford Bose, but I'm enjoying how the system sounds now that I've made these adjustments.

Jose
Thank you i will definitely try your set up once i get my car back.. i miss my car because the loaner is using MCU1 and chill mode... moreover it was dirty when they pass it to me... the only advantage is the free super charge that i can use while i have the car... the music was good but MCU1 is so slow that making changing station a tough task!
 

doctoxics

Member
Mar 26, 2014
526
991
Davis, CA
I was disappointed with premium sound in my 2018 Model X. High resolution files in the car were poor compared to a high quality stereo system. The Tesla speakers are special to Tesla from a company in Germany (I forget the name). The one way I found to improve the sound quality is to play through a Slakker plus account that provides a higher bit rate. This costs $4/month.
 

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