Home Modifications Music Connections – Why USB may be best

Music Connections – Why USB may be best

The current options for music is either using the car’s cellular connection with a service such as TuneIn or Slacker, a Bluetooth connection to a device such as a cell phone with music files or having a USB flash drive with music files. Here is our take on the advantages and disadvantage of each option:

Music Connection Method Advantages Disadvantages
Cellular through Car
  • Customized DJ type services such as TuneIn or Slacker
  • No need to load library
  • Lossy compression reduces quality
  • No music if cellular unavailable
  • Data costs may be expensive (after 4 year free period)
  • Single library of music
  • Supports Apple DRM music from iPhone
  • Must preload music
  • Bluetooth always requires lossy high compression that reduces quality (no matter what resides on device)
  • Fairly limited capacity – typically 8-32 GB
  • No music if device missing or dead
  • Interference can drop Bluetooth connection (rare)
USB Flash Drive
  • Supports lossless file formats for best quality
  • Supports low-compression for better quality
  • Huge capacity, 128 GB or more (2 TB max)
  • Always available
  • Must preload music
  • Might require two libraries (phone and USB drive)
  • Extra cost for drive (typically under $100)



Steve V 15-Jun-2019 - 10:17 am

I purchased a 64GB SanDisk USB drive. It came already formatted for FAT32. I formatted my music library to FLAC. It’s less than 1,000 songs. I loaded the music onto the USB drive and plugged it into a M3 USB port. First try: it loaded, but none of the songs would play “loading error”. I unplugged the drive and tried again. This time the screen went black. I rebooted. I unplugged and tried again: this time the loading wheel just spins and spins. What am I doing wrong?

Moderator 16-Jun-2019 - 8:24 am

Steve, sounds like you did everything right. While rare, I wonder if the drive may be bad. Did you buy it new, in Sandisk’s original packaging? Many drives purchased from eBay are counterfeits and/or fake drives, and have all sorts of issues. A quick test is to play music from the drive on your PC/Mac. Try one of the first songs you added and one that you think was last added to the drive. If both these work, the drive may be fine.

Another thought is what model car do you have? The Model 3 SR does not support USB music, so that could be the issue.

If you have another drive laying around (any size), I’d try that as well. Also try the other front USB port. Note that the rear ports do not support music, but it wouldn’t have shown you loading had you tried that.

If any of these suggestion solve it, I hope you’re return and let us know!

James Henry 4-Jan-2015 - 4:35 pm

I would like to add a standard analog stereo audio jack into the Model S audio system

Moderator 5-Jan-2015 - 8:28 am

I don’t know of any points that are accessible (or if they even exist) to feed an analog signal directly into the Tesla audio system. There was a bit talk about some USB device that would accept an analog signal, but I suspect the Tesla would not recognize it. One concept is to find a Bluetooth device that accepts an analog input (I haven’t checked if such a device exists or not), and hope that it will pair with the Tesla. Be aware Bluetooth forces a high-compression rate, so the quality could be less than you desire. If you find a solution, we’d love to hear about it.

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