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Audio Systems for the Tesla Model S and Model X

Our latest analysis includes the all Model S and Model X audio systems through 2018.  We’ll continue to update this analysis should Tesla make further changes. As of mid-2018, all Model S and X vehicles include the Ultra High Fidelity System (UHFS).

System Features
FeatureModel S
Standard
Model S
Ultra High Fidelity*
Model X
Standard
Model X
Ultra High Fidelity
RadiosAM/FM-HDAM/FM-HDFM-HDFM-HD
Internet StreamingYesYesYesYes
USB Ports for media2222
USB Ports charging only2****2****33
XM Radio**n/aYesn/aYes
Discrete Channels2525
Midrange and Tweeters611911
SubwooferNoYes, 8”NoYes, 8”
Door/Hatch Chime1155
Speaker MagnetsUnknownNeodymiumUnknownNeodymium
Total Amplifier Power***200 W560 W200 W560 W
Dolby Pro-LogicNoYesNoYes

*Originally called Sound Studio
** In mid-2018, XM is included in all vehicle configurations. Prior to mid-2018, it required a Pano roof, as the XM antenna needs to go through roof glass. Cars in 2012/2013 without pano roof could have XM, as the antenna was mounted in the hatch glass on these older vehicles. North America Only.
*** Not stated as RMS, so presumed to be peak power, typical of vehicle audio specifications.
**** Refreshed Model S only, manufactured April 2016 and later

Speaker Components
TypePart NumberSizeImpedance
Subwoofer Bassbox1004833-05-C25 liters
Subwoofer1004833-07-A8” (200 mm)1 ohm
Mid-woofers1004833-03-A8” (200 mm)1 ohm
Mid-woofer1004933-02-A6” (160mm)2 ohm
Mid-range1004833-01-A3” (80 cm)2 ohm
Tweeter1004833-00-A1” (30 cm)2 ohm

 

Speaker Locations
LocationModel S
Standard
Model S
Ultra
Model X
Standard
Model X
Ultra
Front Dash2 – 1” tweeters
1 – 3” mid-range
2 – 1” tweeters
3 – 3” mid-range
2 – 1” tweeters
1 – 3” mid-range
2 – 1” tweeters
3 – 3” mid-range
Front Doors2 – 6” mid-woofer2 – 8” mid-woofer2 – 6” mid-woofer2 – 8” mid-woofer
2nd Row Doors2 – 6” mid-woofer2 – 6” mid-woofer2 – 6” mid-woofer2 – 6” mid-woofer
3rd Row, Rear Hatch2 – 3” mid-range
1 – 8” Subwoofer
 2 – 3” mid-range2 – 3” mid-range
1 – 8” Subwoofer

 

Amplifier and Speakers

Amplifier and 7 Speaker placement for Model S with Standard Sound

 

Amplifier and 12 Speaker Placement

Amplifier and 12 Speaker Placement for Model S with Ultra High Fidelity Sound

 

Amplifier and 17 Speaker Placement for Model X with Ultra High Fidelity Sound

Amplifier and 12 Speaker Placement for Model X with Ultra High Fidelity Sound and 5 Chime speakers

 

Inside Tesla’s Audio System

The audio systems for both the Model S and Model X were originally designed by s1nn. Harman International Group acquired s1nn in early 2015. Harman owns major brands such as Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon and Mark Levinson. They also produce high end vehicle audio systems for a number of vendors including Audi, Bentley, Porsche and now Tesla.

The audio system is integrated into the MCU by Tesla and manufactured by Tesla. The primary amplification module in all cars resides as the back part of the main display and provides 200 watts of power.

Rear of main display module with amplifier heat sink

Rear of main display module (MCU1) with amplifier heat sink

 

In the standard system, each of the four 6” door mid-woofers and the 3” center mid-range get a separate 40-watt A/B amplifier (5 total). The tweeters are passive on the standard system and are likely powered from the two front door speaker amplifiers.

Ultra gets an additional 7 channel 360-watt class A/B amplifier that resides below and behind the instrument display. The Ultra configuration moves two of the 40W channels from the primary amplifier’s front doors to the two additional 3” dashboard mid-range speakers. The added amplifier provides 20 watts to each of the tweeters, 80 watts to each of the larger 8” front door speakers, 40 watts to each of the 3” rear hatch speakers, and 80 watts to the rear 8” sub-woofer.

The sub-woofer is mounted in the right rear corner, and is not directly visible. Tesla uses a custom designed 6.6 gallon (25-liter) enclosure for improved low-end response. This enclosure is considerably larger than most other sub-woofer equipped luxury vehicles.

Delving deeper into the design, the audio path uses a DSP (Digital Signal Processor) to better control the sound dispersion in the car for all occupants. This DSP is software controlled allowing the designers a great amount of flexibility to tune each speaker to the car.

It was reported by s1nn that the Tesla system includes Volume Management. This automatically changes the volume and bass level based on the vehicles speed (i.e. noise from outside) and the climate control’s fan setting (inside noise) to maintain clarity as these noise sources get louder or softer. My own analysis with a spectrum analyzer did not see any volume changes at different frequencies with fan speed changes, so s1nn may not have actually included this feature on our cars. This test was done with 7.0 software and a MS with the standard audio package for 800 Hz to 8 KHz.

Signal sources include Internet streaming via WiFi/Cellular, FM and FM HD Radio, AM Radio (Model S only), XM Radio (in the North American Ultra package), Bluetooth (compressed), and via the USB ports (MP3, FLAC, AAC, WAV, etc.). Tesla includes a DAB/DAB+ radio in most cars outside North America as standard. Prior to md-2015, DAB/DAB+ only came with the Ultra package.

The Audio amplifiers are made in Hungary, while the speakers are made for Tesla in China. Most of the equipment appears to be created specifically for Tesla and are not some rebranded product. Tesla logo appears not only on labels, but molded into plastic parts such as the polycarbonate speaker baskets.

The tuner module for FM, FM HD and AM radio is built by Panasonic Automotive in China. It is located under the dash on the far left. Ultra systems have a different module that adds in XM radio. Outside North America the module includes the DAB/DAB+ radio.

Audio Optimization

Tesla offers a Dolby ProLogic Surround option with the Ultra system to convert stereo source maternal into surround sound. The general opinion is this distorts music more than it helps, and should be left off. A software improvements was made in late 2017 that improved the quality, such that some owners now like the option. The system only supports stereo source material. For example, FLAC files supports up to 8 channels, but only 1-2 channel mono/stereo files can be used from USB files.

Tone and Balance Controls

Use the tone and balance controls to adjust the system to your personal preferences. For example, if you have some hearing loss in the upper frequencies you might increase the treble. If you listen to books or talk shows, you might increase the mid-range to improve vocal clarity. Be aware that other passengers may not have the same hearing desires as you so sometimes a compromise will be necessary.

While you can jack all the tone controls up to increase the volume, unless you really need that extra volume, it may add distortion between the bands. It’s is best to have a least one tone control set to zero and adjust the others to get the overall effect you want.

Depending if you have any passengers, you may want to adjust the balance to the center or favor the front or rear soundstage. A standard system has weaker rear speakers, so you may shift the fade further back than those that have the Ultra system.

Faders and 5-band Equalizer

Faders and 5-band Equalizer

 

More on Audio

USB Flash Drives for Music
Streaming Audio

Audio Enhancements
Project: Adding a Subwoofer (Model S)
Project: Upgrading Rear door speakers (Model S)

Press Release: S1nn (archived, scroll down below German version for English)
HIS Teardown (October 2014)

2 thoughts on “Audio Systems for the Tesla Model S and Model X

  1. Mehdi says:

    My Model S produced in October of 2017 has 2 additional USB ports built into the rear of the center console (between the front seats) for rear passengers.

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