Lucid Air aftermarket Hifi upgrade summary (and quality / configuration of the factory audio)

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Hi All, I recently had a HiFi upgrade done on my Lucid. To give you a sense of budget envelope, it was low 5 figures. So a serious upgrade.

I will be sharing learnings, pics, my experience thus far so hopefully other owners can benefit from understanding "what they will get" with the Atmos Surreal Sound system and likely what to expect with the Standard Stereo system. Also what's practical for audio upgrades.

The work was done by Sound Innovations here in the Bay Area, they specialize in Car Audio / Hifi systems. I'm a past customer (They did my Model S) so i knew what to expect. This was their first Lucid Air, so i was the guinea pig , that said they did an excellent job. (AFAIK no one else has posted a professional HiFi aftermarket implementation so maybe I am the first?) I know some Garage engineers have done some work on the Bass side.

Instead of doing a mega post, I will build the thread out over several sections so hopefully run the thead in more of a Q&A fashion. We will start with what you get with the factory system.

What you get with the factory system
  • Excellent speaker placement for a car. The location of the of individual speaker components were extremely thoughtful to minimize standing waves, reflections, reverberations etc (in laymans terms it means that the speakers are not fighting each other when playing music). It was clear the audio system was part of the system design and not just an afterthought of (where do i jam these things into the car?)
    • Particuliarly, as others have noted, the front stage mid-bass drivers are in the footwell panels (it's actually around the level of the dashboard, which makes it expensive to modify since the dash would need to be disassembled to access the mid-bass drivers) This positioning is ideal for imaging since it's wide and deep and not in the door panels which would narrow the stage and doors are notorious for footwell standing wave issues and imaging problems.
  • Dual DSP Ampliiers (SSP)
    • The Base Audio system basically has a single Class D DSP/Amplifier. The channels are actively managed so no passive crossovers in the car. The SSP audio system adds an additional DSP Amplifier to cover the Atmos channels primarily. Note the label for "BASE" and "PREMIUM" on the amps.
    • IMG_0782.jpeg
  • Quality "OEM" Drivers.
    • The drivers are quality on par with OEM upgraded European sound systems. E.g. B&O or Burmeister for Mercedes. Pressed metal chassis and ferrite magnets. (The Sub / Midbass have plastic chassis). The cones are paper / poly. If you were to buy then off the shelf they are equivalent to $50 drivers in terms of quality. All serious aftermarket drivers with neodymium magnets, textile/metal driver cones, metal chassis will perform on another level.
    • IMG_0692.jpg
    • IMG_7871.jpeg
      IMG_7869.jpeg
  • Factory Tuning
    • The tuning that was measured was for the stereo configuration as the Atmos system is harder to effectively play sweeps / tests for. What's interesting was that the output from the factory head units had very little correction put on the signal.
      • This is either because the stock speaker placements were so good that little needed to be done OR they tuned for atmos and stereo was an afterthought.
    • The "Subwoofer" in the back is basically an 8 in midbass driver with dual voice coils. Apparently it was crossed over quite high, running as high as 250hz down to 30 hz. This tune caused some phase issues with the front midbass drivers since they overlapped in frequency much more than typical for a subwoofer.
    • The installer will share the test sweeps he did on the factory system / aftermarket system later this week so I can share then.

Notes for consideration
  • If you opt for SSP, you are basically paying for the atmos license, an extra DSP amp and the height channels. (Maybe they downgrade the drivers too, we'll see)
  • I think that where Atmos mastering is at today is kind of like when 3d movies first came out (and before James Cameron got his hands on it) kinda interesting, a little gimmicky because artists / engineers haven't figured out what to do with it, but has potential to do new and different things. Will take some time for things to catch up.
  • If you plan to just run Stereo (and plan to do aftermarket work) the base system is fine since you'll end up replacing most of the components anyways.
I will follow up with more on the test sweeps, tuning notes, and then my build later in the week. Hope this is insightful to folks!
 

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This looks like it will be a very interesting thread. Thanks for posting in such detail. Looking forward to what comes next.
 
I am a rookie, but can you replace those drivers with better neomy-something drivers while keeping the rest of the speakers intact?
 
Super-dee-duper! Excited for this…

What do you think of small mod… replacing 8” “sub” with better driver and Cap to set lower top end?
Are there any obvious places we can tie into the system analog or digitally as in to tie in our own dsp?
 
Would be interesting if you could take the total power output of the items you took out and compared it to the items you replaced them with. More power = more battery resources which then can impact range.
 
Hi All, I recently had a HiFi upgrade done on my Lucid. To give you a sense of budget envelope, it was low 5 figures. So a serious upgrade.

I will be sharing learnings, pics, my experience thus far so hopefully other owners can benefit from understanding "what they will get" with the Atmos Surreal Sound system and likely what to expect with the Standard Stereo system. Also what's practical for audio upgrades.

The work was done by Sound Innovations here in the Bay Area, they specialize in Car Audio / Hifi systems. I'm a past customer (They did my Model S) so i knew what to expect. This was their first Lucid Air, so i was the guinea pig , that said they did an excellent job. (AFAIK no one else has posted a professional HiFi aftermarket implementation so maybe I am the first?) I know some Garage engineers have done some work on the Bass side.

Instead of doing a mega post, I will build the thread out over several sections so hopefully run the thead in more of a Q&A fashion. We will start with what you get with the factory system.

What you get with the factory system
  • Excellent speaker placement for a car. The location of the of individual speaker components were extremely thoughtful to minimize standing waves, reflections, reverberations etc (in laymans terms it means that the speakers are not fighting each other when playing music). It was clear the audio system was part of the system design and not just an afterthought of (where do i jam these things into the car?)
    • Particuliarly, as others have noted, the front stage mid-bass drivers are in the footwell panels (it's actually around the level of the dashboard, which makes it expensive to modify since the dash would need to be disassembled to access the mid-bass drivers) This positioning is ideal for imaging since it's wide and deep and not in the door panels which would narrow the stage and doors are notorious for footwell standing wave issues and imaging problems.
  • Dual DSP Ampliiers (SSP)
    • The Base Audio system basically has a single Class D DSP/Amplifier. The channels are actively managed so no passive crossovers in the car. The SSP audio system adds an additional DSP Amplifier to cover the Atmos channels primarily. Note the label for "BASE" and "PREMIUM" on the amps.
    • View attachment 9417
  • Quality "OEM" Drivers.
    • The drivers are quality on par with OEM upgraded European sound systems. E.g. B&O or Burmeister for Mercedes. Pressed metal chassis and ferrite magnets. (The Sub / Midbass have plastic chassis). The cones are paper / poly. If you were to buy then off the shelf they are equivalent to $50 drivers in terms of quality. All serious aftermarket drivers with neodymium magnets, textile/metal driver cones, metal chassis will perform on another level.
    • View attachment 9418
    • View attachment 9424View attachment 9425
  • Factory Tuning
    • The tuning that was measured was for the stereo configuration as the Atmos system is harder to effectively play sweeps / tests for. What's interesting was that the output from the factory head units had very little correction put on the signal.
      • This is either because the stock speaker placements were so good that little needed to be done OR they tuned for atmos and stereo was an afterthought.
    • The "Subwoofer" in the back is basically an 8 in midbass driver with dual voice coils. Apparently it was crossed over quite high, running as high as 250hz down to 30 hz. This tune caused some phase issues with the front midbass drivers since they overlapped in frequency much more than typical for a subwoofer.
    • The installer will share the test sweeps he did on the factory system / aftermarket system later this week so I can share then.

Notes for consideration
  • If you opt for SSP, you are basically paying for the atmos license, an extra DSP amp and the height channels. (Maybe they downgrade the drivers too, we'll see)
  • I think that where Atmos mastering is at today is kind of like when 3d movies first came out (and before James Cameron got his hands on it) kinda interesting, a little gimmicky because artists / engineers haven't figured out what to do with it, but has potential to do new and different things. Will take some time for things to catch up.
  • If you plan to just run Stereo (and plan to do aftermarket work) the base system is fine since you'll end up replacing most of the components anyways.
I will follow up with more on the test sweeps, tuning notes, and then my build later in the week. Hope this is insightful to folks!
Thanks for posting this, very informative. I was in touch a Lucid employee involved in the design of the audio system but he couldn’t disclose anything (he asked but they said no). I also appreciate you not taking the tone of “this system sucks it has no bass” like some do, but rather are just after market modifying it because you prefer that type of system.

The pics are helpful too, another pic had looked like the cones were Kevlar to me (like KRK studio monitors) but they are in fact paper. I discussed some of these details with my friend who’s an acoustics engineering professor and mastering engineer, and he was impressed with the sound quality given the subs are 8 inch instead of 10, he thought you’d need 10 to get the frequency curve this car has down to 40hz, but they appear to have placed the speakers in just the right to maximize the cabin gain effect.

And you’re correct about Atmos, it’s intent was a film format, but lately music has jumped on the bandwagon and done some cool mixes and remasters but it’s in its infancy. What I’m not sure of with the car is how the DSP chooses to send stereo/non-Atmos tracks to which speakers. It’s definitely not just front left and right.
 
Just FYI… paper cones combined with good motors are typically faster and provide better dynamics… check out spatial audio lab speakers for example…
Also he doesn’t have to increase power much if he’s using drivers with greater sensitivity.
 
Would be interesting if you could take the total power output of the items you took out and compared it to the items you replaced them with. More power = more battery resources which then can impact range.
You’re talking watts, not kW, I’d be surprised if switching to slightly higher power system would affect range much if at all.
 
I am a rookie, but can you replace those drivers with better neomy-something drivers while keeping the rest of the speakers intact?
You can. Here's food for thought.

1.) You will likely need to make adapters to get them to fit the factory holes. Sound innovations has a CNC Laser and 3d printer / scanner (as probably most hifi shops now) so making them is quite easy for them. DIY means probably tracing a template and routing them by hand.

2.) Typically upgrading the drivers alone will be a - your mileage will vary. There are reasons for this.
  • Whatever aftermarket drivers you use may have different sensitivity / impedance to the stock drivers, so the same output signal will play differently and probably won't be the same balance to the rest of the system.
  • Higher end drivers are more transparent / accurate. Sometimes the OEM tunes the system knowing the drivers are of lower quality to squeeze the most out of them. (e.g. think Bose whose reputation is relatively lower quality hardware and a lot of signal modification to get it to sound a certain way.) This factory tune may not have the desired effect when paired with better drivers since the better drivers will play the exaggerated signal accurately.
  • Higher end drivers typically can accept more power and stay controlled all things being equal, so if you don't upgrade the amps with it, you are leaving potential on the table.
  • That said, the Lucid Stereo setup seems relatively vanilla. My installers said when they hooked up the aftermarket drivers to the stock amps, it did sound "better" but left a lot on the table between better and amazing. My take is, if you enjoy DIY it's probably possible to make better without additional DSP / better, just the ceiling will be limited.
 
Super-dee-duper! Excited for this…

What do you think of small mod… replacing 8” “sub” with better driver and Cap to set lower top end?
Are there any obvious places we can tie into the system analog or digitally as in to tie in our own dsp?
I will post more on the build later. Basically the approach was to take the amped signal from the factory dsp and run it into an aftermarket dsp/amp. I did upgrade the 8 driver and amp. It's definitely better but potential will be limited by physics. I decided not to do a more extensive bass mod because of the space it would take in the trunk.
 
Thanks for posting this, very informative. I was in touch a Lucid employee involved in the design of the audio system but he couldn’t disclose anything (he asked but they said no). I also appreciate you not taking the tone of “this system sucks it has no bass” like some do, but rather are just after market modifying it because you prefer that type of system.

The pics are helpful too, another pic had looked like the cones were Kevlar to me (like KRK studio monitors) but they are in fact paper. I discussed some of these details with my friend who’s an acoustics engineering professor and mastering engineer, and he was impressed with the sound quality given the subs are 8 inch instead of 10, he thought you’d need 10 to get the frequency curve this car has down to 40hz, but they appear to have placed the speakers in just the right to maximize the cabin gain effect.

And you’re correct about Atmos, it’s intent was a film format, but lately music has jumped on the bandwagon and done some cool mixes and remasters but it’s in its infancy. What I’m not sure of with the car is how the DSP chooses to send stereo/non-Atmos tracks to which speakers. It’s definitely not just front left and right.
When in stereo, the center channel is mixed to mono. Assume the height and rear channels are L/R but tuned down to act as rear fill. I can see if my installer tested this.
 
You’re talking watts, not kW, I’d be surprised if switching to slightly higher power system would affect range much if at all.
I am running a high efficiency set of class D DSP/amps. They are small. System output between the two is probably comparable to the factory system. 400+600 watts RMS max. I did not prioritize raw power, especially with just an 8 in sub, you don't need a 500 watt amp for the bass, just can only take so much. I was tempted to do the A/B amps... i have one for home audio, but those things are space heaters.
 
When in stereo, the center channel is mixed to mono. Assume the height and rear channels are L/R but tuned down to act as rear fill. I can see if my installer tested this.
That wouldn't make sense as there is no center channel data encoded in a L/R stereo mix, so perhaps the DSP sends some data that is panned center (which is mixing is actually equal left/right amplitude) to the center channel but that is actually not equivalent to center. Two channel L/R even if it had identical signal levels and identical data would sound very different to the ear than mono center channel.
 
I will post more on the build later. Basically the approach was to take the amped signal from the factory dsp and run it into an aftermarket dsp/amp. I did upgrade the 8 driver and amp. It's definitely better but potential will be limited by physics. I decided not to do a more extensive bass mod because of the space it would take in the trunk.
Thank you for all this. Sound Innovations are spectacular; Ernie and his team are among the best in the biz. They did my radar/laser install and I came away insanely impressed.

I was *this* close to listening to your system before you got it back, heh, but I’m traveling out of country through 3/17 and didn’t get a chance to make it in.

Want to meet up sometime after 3/17? :)
 
Thank you for all this. Sound Innovations are spectacular; Ernie and his team are among the best in the biz. They did my radar/laser install and I came away insanely impressed.

I was *this* close to listening to your system before you got it back, heh, but I’m traveling out of country through 3/17 and didn’t get a chance to make it in.

Want to meet up sometime after 3/17? :)
Oh you were you were the radar guy! Haha Small world. Envious of the travel, hope you are having fun. I have a 2 month old and 3 year old so that kind of travel will need to wait a bit.

Hit me up when you are back. What part of the bay are you in?
 
Do you happen to have pictures and dimensions of the rear subwoofer? I find the system to be acceptable but the subwoofer is very lacking for me. I would love if someone would create a replacement subwoofer that would fit in the factory location. For a $5000 upgrade I think Lucid could have done a much better.
 
Do you happen to have pictures and dimensions of the rear subwoofer? I find the system to be acceptable but the subwoofer is very lacking for me. I would love if someone would create a replacement subwoofer that would fit in the factory location. For a $5000 upgrade I think Lucid could have done a much better.
Here's a better view of the pattern, it's pretty easy to get to if you want to get a measurement. Just pull down the trim panel from the trunk area. Note, it's not a simple bolt hole pattern to mount it. The left plate is the adapter that was made for the new sub.
IMG_0747.jpeg
 
Part 2 - Power Amplification

For this next part, i will review things to know about the power amps. As stated before, the factory system consists of 2 Class D DSP Power Amps. One for the base system and one for the premium system. The factory system is fully active crossovers for each channel at least for the premium system. For the Base system, it's unclear if they will simplify the setup with some passive crossovers to save discrete channels. I suspect to the "Detuned" systems that have all the hardware but will be software limited, they will basically program it to kill the atmos functionality and the height channels but use the same power amplification. Not sure how thoughtful they will be about the tune from there. You will see below the factory amps alongside the aftermarket amps. For this build we used the Mosconi Pico series. Each amplified channel is mapped to an input side on the mosconi pico, and from there can be signal corrected before being re-amped to the drivers.

IMG_0783.jpeg

To allow mounting of the aftermarket amps in the same positions as the factory amps (so as to use the factory cables back to the drivers, a mounting plate was created to "shift" the factory amps over to the side. The offset levels were required to clear the other rear surround drivers.

IMG_0787.jpeg
IMG_0788.jpeg


You will see the final mounting positions of the factory and aftermarket amps here inside the trunk. This setup is clean, consumed no extra trunk space and fit within the existing trunk trim. Elegant!

IMG_0817.jpeg

As mentioned elsewhere the Lucid Air actually has 2 low voltage batteries. One somewhere under the seat and one in the trunk in the compartment under the tow hook. It's not clear why they did it this way, but there probably was a reason. (maybe packaging? maybe to reduce the likelihood of total low voltage failure if a single battery failed?) They apparently operate in parallel, so it's easier to access the trunk battery to tap it.

IMG_0818.jpeg


Still waiting to see if i can get the RTA / Sweeps from the factory system.
 
It looks like you are not using your own interface/preamp but did you see any way to tie in your own input either digitally (usb) or via analog (2.5mm)?
 
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