Tesla Model 3 Performance- Music System Review
To set the basic context right before we begin the brief review of the M3P Music system.
I’m an amateur audiophile and usually critical about the music quality that I listen to. And, I do listen to a lot of music. I roughly peg the time per day to about 2-hours of music during various activities like driving, biking, walking or just relaxing at home with my feet up. This average amount of time goes up when driving.
I’m making an effort to write a review dedicated to a music system
(which I never did in approximately 13 cars that I owned till date), so you can imagine the impact it made on me.
The only other time I made an effort was to install a full-on music system back in day in my Accent Viva CRDi
including damping the entire car and spent around INR 1 Lakh. Well, the story here is not about installing anything. But, about a stock music system that came with the car.
For me personally, driving and listening to music is an integral part of an overall driving experience ( Only times I switch off ICE is to enjoy the booming sound of B58 engine in my BMW).
I normally don’t focus on music system when I’m test driving a car and same happened with Tesla. However, when I happened to keep the Tesla Model Y performance over a 24-hour period of test-drive, I obviously listened to a lot of music.
It immediately left an impression on me as the music quality was superior than any other car that I ever heard till date.
Then I started doing some research on Tesla’s music system which strangely is not marketed at all by them as one of the stand-out feature in a Tesla. Tesla’s come with 2 types of Music systems : Regular Sound System :
9- Speakers, 1 Amplifier and 1 Woofer Premium Sound System :
15-Speakers, 2 Amplifier and 1 Woofer
Regular system is reserved for the basic model (RWD) of Tesla while the Premium Sound system comes equipped in Long Range & Performance models.
It's actually far more than a "sound system". Once combined with its 15” HD quality screen and video-streaming capabilities it's a full-blown theater system. Watching Fauda while waiting for wifey.. My favorite Breaking Bad- Video and Audio quality is surreal.
Premium Audio - 15 Speakers (Including Subwoofers and Amplifiers)
But seriously, 15 speakers - Hey, that sounds like some rock show staging. Driving and Listening to Music is Bliss Focus on the song and not the background in the video.
It’s a known fact that Tesla has hired Bang & Olufsen engineers and there is a claim that these are “unbranded” B&O system.
I have personally sat in or drove several high-end cars (Mercedes, Porsche and BMW’s). This is a system is superlative compared to any of those systems in those cars.
Mercedes uses Burmeister and BMW uses Harman. And, I read somewhere on Tesla forum that it’s actually a better sounding system than the $12,000 optional system in the Audi R8!
Tesla has also strategically placed the speakers to give a rich, surround sound and theater like experience inside the cabin:
2 Speakers on front A-Pillar (Near the Mirror Position)
2 Speakers on front A-Pillar (High Above which is used for “Immersive Sound”)
2 Speakers on either side of the dashboard
2 Coaxial Speakers on the front door pads
2 small sized amplifiers inside the front doors
2 Coaxial Speakers on the rear doors
2 Speakers on the rear end of cabin
1 Subwoofer in the rear right side of trunk
To connect to the vehicle’s audio system using your smartphone, you’ll be limited to using Bluetooth only – the USB Type-C ports are for charging only. And, until recently (December 2022), I was using the iPhone to connect to Tesla and listen to songs. However, in December they released Apple Music which is an APP on Tesla Infotainment. The music quality listening via. the app viz.a.viz bluetooth streaming is like chalk and cheese. I would say at least a 100 bit-rate improvement.
Apple Music, Tidal and Spotify music in Tesla at 356 kbps bit rate is surreal to the ears. I think Tidal streams at an even higher quality (Over 400kbps).
Tesla’s infotainment system doesn’t support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay which I used to think of as a downside.
Now in hindsight, it’s not really required as Tesla’s own system is so strong that there is no need for 3rd Party Platforms like Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
On the plus side, there is the option to plug in a USB drive – which must be formatted to FAT32 – where you’ll be able to playback MP3 and higher-resolution files, such as FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec File) and WAV formats – up to 24-bit 192 kHz is supported. This makes the Model 3/Y/S among a finite number of vehicles that support higher resolution playback – ideal for amateur audiophiles like me.
There is absolute no clear information either in Tesla Owner’s manual or the web with respect to full audio configuration, After reading on many forums, It’s worth noting that the 3 and Y used to have a 16-speaker (or 15+1) setup.
Tesla removed the centre 1″ 25W dashboard tweeter from its newer models, bringing the system down to 15 speakers including a subwoofer (14+1).
The sub-woofer in the boot is rated at 160W
The Bass, Treble and Vocals are delivered seamlessly and there is absolutely no cracks even at the highest volume range which is simply incredible.
As for its soundstage, it’s very impressive, whereby leaving the ‘Immersive Sound’ on ‘Standard’ provides both a reference sound and when you toggle them on and off, there is a remarkable difference in sound quality.
In comparison to the Model 3, however, Tesla’s larger vehicle has its rear speakers within the boot itself rather than the rear parcel shelf. This means sound has further to travel before it hits your eardrums. As such, the Model Y is slightly less engaging than its saloon alternative or other SUVs that have more audio drivers at the rear of the cabin. To counteract this, Tesla could release a firmware update to include a dedicated ‘Rear Surround’ setting, a feature that’s found within a few rival systems.
As per some leading articles, Model Y’s audio system isn’t actually of the speakers themselves nor the positioning but rather the cabin noise. Using a sound meter and with the larger 20″ ‘Induction Wheels’ fitted the following figures were recorded :
36 dBA at a standstill.
while driving at 20-30mph.
60-63 dBA, while driving at 40mph.
70-73 dBA when at 70mph. When the windows are brought down, the level increases by roughly 12 dBA.
While the Tesla’s are nowhere serene inside the cabin as a BMW but, despite the higher sound creep inside the cabin the sound stage is still mind-boggling even at higher speeds.
Videos like Youtube, Netflix, HULU etc can be played only when the car is stationary. With this type of audio speaker configurations, the soundstage is next level.
When I am waiting for someone (usually, it’s the wife) or charging the videos that I play makes me feel that I’m literally sitting in an IMAX theatre as the sound bounces off from all corners and makes you immersed in the happenings of the video. Audio Configurations :
It’s simple and can be configured by these sliders for various options like in-speaker bass, subwoofer, treble, mids and Immersive sound can be turned on and off.
Even with bass set to minimum levels the thump is incredible and as you rack up the bass the boom gets violent without any cracks which is simply commendable.
To summarize, No wonder the serious audiophiles all over the internet/YouTube are always raving about this system. I’m super impressed with Tesla’s music system which is at least 5X times better than the Harman system in my BMW.
Here are few pictures of the speakers positions and some sample audio/video links.
Cheers and Thanks for reading. Speaker on the top of the front window (both sides) Speaker on the roof (above the front window) on both sides- This aids in immersive sound stage. Large speakers on the bottom portion of the door panels (both sides). Closer look of the top speaker on front door. Passenger side immersive speaker. Front bottom speaker. Another view. Rear door Speaker. Rear Parcel Tray Speakers Rear Speaker. This is where the meat of the story is. The side houses a massive amplifier and a sub-woofer. I didn't want to meddle with flaps so didn't open them. Unrelated- Cute little trick that I got to know later. Sometimes ( Happened twice to me till date), the charging cable won't get unlocked automatically. I panicked and searched YouTube to find this trick. Just pull that cloth lever and the charging cable gets unlocked.