Any car can get an audio boost with better speakers and/or more power via an additional amplifier. The Model S/X/3 has two audio systems in the past, Standard and Ultra High Fidelity Sound (originally called Sound Studio) which adds a larger amplifier, 7.1 channels, and more speakers that are also upgraded from the standard. In 2018, the UHFS became standard in the Model S and X.
|Speaker Location||Standard||Ultra-High Fidelity Sound (S)|
|Dashboard||1 – 3″ center channel||3 – 3″ left, right, center channel|
|Windshield Pillars||2 – 1″ left, right tweeters||2 – 1″ left, right tweeters|
|Front Doors||2 – 6″ left, right mid-woofers||2 – 7.9″ left, right mid-woofers|
|Rear Doors||2 – 6″ left, right mid-woofers||2 – 6″ left, right mid-woofers|
|Trunk Passenger Side||1 – 7.9″ subwoofer|
|Liftgate||2 – 3″ left, right|
Check out our detailed DIY instructions:
If you have the standard system, you could elect to add a sub-woofer and related amp. NVX offers a subwoofer designed specifically for the Model S that fits on the driver’s side rear area. They also offer a combo package of the Tesla specific Sub and a class D mono-block amplifier and installation kit: Tesla Model S B.O.O.S.T Powered Loaded Enclosure Package. Note the package does not currently provide Model S specific amplifier installation instructions.
Installing audio upgrades in the Model S is not for the faint of heart. You’ll need to contend with a number of difficulties, such as where to install the amp, getting an amp that doesn’t overload the electrical system, snaking wiring through difficult places, and connections to speaker amp outputs or line-level outputs.
Some general installation tips:
- Amplifiers are typically installed in the frunk, where you’ll have somewhat easier access for power. There is one usable space for a small amp inside the driver’s side dash if you don’t have the Ultra High Fidelity Sound. On pre-refresh model S, If you don’t have dual chargers there is fairly large space under the rear seat, drivers side.
- As for power, Tesla doesn’t state how much power can be drawn from the 12 V system. The 12 V battery is charged through a DC to DC converter which uses a 250 amp fuse. Standard audio is on a 15 amp circuit, and the Ultimate audio adds a second 15 amp circuit. What this means is you can’t use a huge amp that can draw 200 amps or so or you could damage the power system. We’d recommend you only use Class-D amplifiers, as these are the most efficient and have the bonus of typically being the smallest size for the power.
- The Model 3 has a more limited 12v system, and larger amplifiers may not work at all.
There are audio specialists that have done a number of audio upgrades on the Model S and X. Upgrades are not cheap, but they do require a lot of work and expert knowledge that most audio shops just don’t have. Two shops we know of in the USA that owners have indicated do great work are:
Additional Tesla-specific audio products:
- Light Harmonic – produces Tesla specific high-end amplifier/speaker packages
- Aux Connector – allows for a 3.5mm line-level stereo input
I have a 2015 MS with the standard stereo and was encouraged by the information here to add an eBay-sourced OEM sub (I swapped to a better speaker for it).
As I had found the speaker outputs (I tapped into the rear high-level speaker lines to help with balance) and had an old 5- channel Sony amp in the shed I kept going and added the two mid ranges in the tailgate (sourced on eBay also from a dismantler) and two high-end surface mount tweeters on the rear flanks of the rear seats.
While adding those speakers I spotted a small tweeter in the middle of the grille area that I found was the speaker used for announcing the tailgate opening and closing – which I found quite annoying. So, I disconnected it and instead decided to set it up as a center rear tweeter (I simply used the two + terminals from the two midranges). It makes for a great high-end speaker as it happens! (One could also dual-purpose this speaker with much trouble)
With the volume controls and High and Low Pass Filters built-into the amp, balancing outputs was straight forward. The overall sound shape is still managed through the original system’s EQ and Fader.
Finally, I added a high range tweeter to the front centre dash as I found the highs quite lacking from the existing (and hard to get to) center speaker.
So from a 7-speaker set-up to a 14-speaker set up that now sounds awesome with a full and rich sound that doesn’t have to scream to be enjoyed – and all of that without a high price tag.
Again, thanks for the inspiration and critical information I needed!
Has anyone added amplifiers to the UHFS system? It seems like aftermarket audio shop want to add DSP units with additional amps. I’ve been told by doing this you will not have eq, balance, and fade control unless you use a remote DSP controller.
I did add a subwoofer amp. Full details here: https://teslatap.com/modifications/sub-woofer-and-amplifier-installation/
Not sure how anyone could install a DSP unit prior to the Tesla DSP unless they rip out the MCU and cut traces and solder wires inside the MCU (a very non-trivial task that would void the MCU warranty, and one I’ve never heard of being done). Sounds like the shop has never done a Tesla installation, and I’d be very leery of that shop. The Tesla is quite a bit more complex than most other cars as connection points are not the easiest to get too. If you’re not doing the work yourself, I’d look for a shop that has done a few Tesla upgrades in the past. One that often gets high recommendations from owners is Reus Audio, who have been doing Tesla upgrades for 4+ years now.
Thanks for the reply. Apparently the shop I went to did not realize I had the UHFS system even though they say they’ve work on other Teslas. Guess they’ve only worked on the standard systems. Also contacted Jl Audio and they suggested installing the VX600/6 to power the speakers I’m replacing.
A little background, I’m in he process of replacing some of the speakers and was concerned about the lack of power.
Late to the thread but does anyone know if a digital output for the Tesla head unit has been found?
I’m not aware of an accessible digital output. Third party amps are often connecting to analog speaker outputs (not ideal) or in some cases, with ultra audio, you can tap into the line-level audio between the MCU and the 2nd Tesla amplifier (slightly better). Both methods are problematic because each amp output is tuned to the speaker location – Tesla has a seperate amp for each speaker (except non-ultra shares an amp between the front door speaker and the front tweeter). Sub-woofer additions have their own unique issues. See Sub-woofer installation
I’m going to replace the Tesla sound system by audiophile level high end components, but need to know what amperage the Tesla can take for the amps I need to install.
Of course I can choose between AB class or D class amps, but even 2 big D class amps can put a load on the 12V system.
Tesla doesn’t provide any clear details on how many amperes can be safely ‘added’ to the current circuit, but perhaps anyone has experience with adding an aftermarket stereo system?
I obviously don’t want to kill the 12V circuit of the car….
Any help/info is highly appreciated.
First I’d go with a D class as you get more output speaker power for the limited input (12v) power. I’ve never seen a Tesla published limit on the 12v circuit, but (from memory) the entire 12v system is fused for 250 amps. The standard audio is fused for 15 amps, and the Ultra audio’s extra amplifier is fused for 15 amps. When I installed the subwoofer amp (without ultra) I reused the unused ultra amp fuse, but changed it to 30 amps. The big question is how much more you can push it. I suspect 50-80 amps is the most you should go, but without any Tesla guidance this is a guess. I know many super-high-end systems want 100-300 amps or more, but it would be unwise to go to these levels. Good luck!
I’m assuming the speakers are all 4 ohm? Do you have any idea on the amplifier specs? watts and ohms? I’m much more likely to notice new speakers vs new amp, but it would be handy to know what kind of specs in case its’ really wimpy.
Actually the speakers (in the doors) are 2 ohms. I don’t have any additional specs on Tesla’s amps beyond what Tesla states in the specifications. They are not blast level amplification, but I’ve found them satisfactory for me (except for low bass, in the non-Ultra sound system).
Does anyone know the max mounting depths for the front speakers?
When buying my Tesla, I would like to replace the standard set with a 3-way system and would need to know max depth for woofer and mid-range.
As well, does anyone know if the space to add a 3″ mid in the dashboard is already there, even if you don’t take the upgrade to Ultra Hifi? I would not need to the Ultra Hifi speakers, so I would not take this upgrade, but would need the space to build in my own. So I would like to know if the covers and space are also there without the speakers installed, when you take the standard audio set.
You’ll need a fairly narrow speaker and note that Tesla mounting is tricky at best. Depth is about 2.5″, but angled so a large magnet might require a shallower design. See https://teslatap.com/modifications/upgrading-rear-door-speakers/ for how to do it and some speeaker suggestions. The front doors use the same speakers/spacing as the rear doors if you don’t have the ultra sound.
I’m 95% sure the holes for the front dash ultra speakers are in place if you want to add speakers. It looks to be quite hard to disassemble enough of the dash to get to these areas.
Does anyone have specifications on each of the speakers?
I don’t think Tesla has published any specifications. When I removed the 6″ speakers they are marked as 2 ohms, but no wattage ratings. I’ve replaced the rear door speakers with 4 ohm speakers without any problems. I wrote up the entire process in case you’re interested at: https://teslatap.com/modifications/upgrading-rear-door-speakers/