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XM Radio Review - thumbs down - Page 3  

post #61 of 110
And your 30,000 home theater system ( which by definition isnt set up for music anyway) has home depot wiring at 5 cents per square foot? Just curious.
post #62 of 110
Originally posted by Rysa4
so you dont like how Fox news sounds through the polk?
Good one! Actually, for voice, DirecTV sounds better. It was very easy to A/B XM & DirecTV tonight. It looks like DirecTV is about 15 seconds or so ahead of XM.

A year or so ago, the compression on XM was so bad that I almost got rid of it all together. I made a lot of phone calls to XM complaining and a lot of others must have done the same thing. They got a lot better as time passed.

Remember, I LIKE XM. It's just not up to par for serious listening at home.

Someone asked me if I used Home Depot cables. Not hardly. I went to Altex Electronics in Dallas and bought bulk 100-foot rolls of their biggest oxygen-free cables. Basically monster cable without the monster price. These cables are 10 gauge. I had some pretty long runs so I used very heavy cables. About 75-cents a foot.


Remember, you want as little resistance as possible between your amp and your speakers. (For a real letdown, open up your speakers and look at the cables they use inside ...:mad: ) I am getting off topic here but someone asked. Sorry.
post #63 of 110
It's achilles heel is that it sounds like a high-class cell phone.
Thats alittle harsh.....
post #64 of 110
Originally posted by bhummel2001

(For a real letdown, open up your speakers and look at the cables they use inside ...:mad: )
I have. Oval Plus wiring. You are right. Off topic.
post #65 of 110
remember guys it's only $10/month!! and for that it does have a great
selection of music!!!!! just hook up an EQ to it and it does sound better!!
post #66 of 110
i'm just pissed i missed out on this stock when it was at 4.70... but i was able to pick it up at 5.20 and today: hovering at 7.50; going to be a short ride for me but i'm going to dump it at 15 which, at this pace, would be sometime in january = plasma tv and then some! :D
post #67 of 110
I have to agree that the XM sound quality is cell phone quality at best for talk radio stations. It is fine for music but it is obvious that they are overly compressing the talk stations. If you don't listen to talk radio then XM is perfect. However, if you do listen to talk radio then no equalizer is going to fix an overly compressed signal. The voices sound like they are in a tin can. I worked for a cell phone manufacturer in their acoustics department and they wouldn't even let compression go that far. For me the sound quality is a deal breaker!
post #68 of 110
I bought XM for the sports talk line up and the comedy channels. I listen to these stations the most. The music stations are decent, but I figure they will be adjusted over time the more people complain and give there opinions. I like the XM players more than the Sirius players also. I have the roady 2 and it sounds fine in my care, i have a decent souund system, and using the tape players almost sounds as good as when i'm playing CD's. I also hook it up to my yahaha receiver at home and it sound fine also. I think a lot will depend on your equimpent.
post #69 of 110
XM came installed in my car. I upgraded the speakers. I am very satisfied with the sound quality and content of music stations on XM radio. IMO, the sound quality in the car for music is superior to both FM and MP3. Uncompressed CD's have greater dynamic range (DR) than satellite radio and therefore, sound slightly better in the car.

My comments in this response are only related to music stations since I do not listen to talk radio on XM radio.

Many people on this thread have discussed sound compression or DR and frequency response. My question is, do those people have sophisticated measuring devices in their cars to measure this stuff or are they just "shooting from the hip?" My guess is that its the latter. I LOL when people make comments like "I can't hear anything over 17khz." I guess those people don't realize that FM radio has always had a hard frequency cutoff at 15khz. Those people have been missing high frequency content forever on their FM radio, but only realized it when they hooked up the satellite radio system. Considering the inherent road and wind noise in a car, the very limited sound output of music above 15khz (from any source), I doubt anyone can hear much high frequency output anyway!

Based on my experience in my car, I think most of the problems expressed in this thread related to sound quality is due to equipment and/or installation issues.
post #70 of 110
I've had XM in my car for over a year now, it's a Sony ES deck with the XT-XM1 tuner module and it definitely sounds "better" than FM does, and the ES tuners are pretty good.

Now, I put better in quotes for a reason-- basically most people will tolerate the digital artifacts of satellite radio over the shortcomigs of analog broadcast because the increased dynamic range is far and away better and this usually translates to a signal most people will agree is better than anything FM has to offer.

It's best to listen for yourself as in my experience it really is the minority a person who truly thinks an MP3 or XM Radio sounds worse than FM because of digital compression--but it happens.

Finally, the $10/month is for the variety and convenience much like paying for TV. Ofcourse you can get it for free, and those are the people who don't think the $10 will be worth it and will live happily every after (until digital terrestrial commercial broadcast becomes a reality maybe--then you can equate it more to OTA vs. sattellite HDTV). But for those who maybe value their time on their 15 minute commute to work a little more will be willing to pony it up to never hear a commercial again! :)
post #71 of 110
Yeah I have a Sirius connect tuner hooked directly to my Alpine unit--it does sound good, but has a flat 2D quality to the music--I wonder if the technology will ever get to real CD quality...
post #72 of 110
Hi all. My first post here at AVS :)

After reading the posts in this thread I'm glad to finally confirm that I'm not the only one that finds the sound quality lacking. On the bright side, I can't get regular FM in my building with any clarity, so XM was a real step up.

My friend is running it through a nice Denon receiver to awesome B&W speakers. When he told me the sound quality was 'excellent', I figured he knew what he was talking about. Apparently not, which I found out shortly after getting my XM SkyFi? unit. I was so let down when I realized the technology had shortcomings. I was honestly expecting CD quality, however foolish that was...

It's great for all the channels available, but for music here's what gets on my nerves:
-all channels lack the quality I expected from a Sat unit
-sound varies in volume, clarity, etc (ie. 'The System') depending on who/where the DJ is. So, one hour it may sound 'ok', another hour it sounds like crap. Frustrating.
-there seems to be a major lack of consistency from one channel to the next.

Some of you may love the variety of channels, but some of them (most of the 'pop' channels) play the same music so often that after a few weeks it's hard to listen to them anymore. Surely there's more artists then Usher and Alicia Keys out there, aren't there? Net result? Less channels I will listen to...

I don't know, not entirely bashing it but perhaps it's just too early for them to do it right... Overall rating 6/10...
post #73 of 110
But XM plays a lot bigger variety than sirius does. I have both. Sirius plays more hits, so you hear them more often.
post #74 of 110
The sound of Satellite Radio in general is similar to those audio only channels offered by directv, Dish, and cable. Great variety, deep playlist, low commericials, little dj talk, but the sound is at best good party background music. I've listened to XM for two weeks in an 05 Acura TL all built in system, and if you really cranked it up, it was definately to compressed, and not as good as the best CD mastering. I found myself enjoying the news, and uncensored comedy channels more thatn anything. BUt, it's the same explanation of the popularity of MP-3 players etc. Lots of people don't notice the difference. DOn't get me wrong, I still want to install it in my car, but it's definitely like the beginning years of CD. Remember rushing out to replace your cassettes and records only to find that alot of it wasn't any better, and in some cases worse.
post #75 of 110
I have been a subscriber for only 10 days; I have my XRt12 connected to two of my three home theaters. First, I am sending the optical signal to my Denon 3803 and on to Infinity tower speakers, augmented by a 12" Klipsch sub.

The analog signal is routed downstairs with standard RCA cables, again into a Denon 3803. The speakers are Klipsch Chorus IIs, big suckers -- no small speaker can touch these babies -- with Klipsch Forte IIs for rears and a 15" Klipsch sub. I have a Klipsch tower speaker on its side for a center channel. The Denon processes the analog into Pro Logic II, producing a matrixed 5.1 output.

This is a long winded way of saying that the equipment you use for playback makes a huge -- huge -- difference.

The sound quality on channels like The Loft is excellent. Maybe not quite an A++++ like was suggested above, but actually better than I hoped for. Surprise! Some channels sound better than others!

Not much can be done to improve the quality of recordings made in the 50s. And I prefer the talk channels be compressed more, giving more bandwidth to the channels that can make use of it. I do not expect "reference" quality; but I have no complaints about the channels I listen to.

I auditioned xm at Best Buy. I was not impressed with the SQ from a standard car radio or hundred dollar boom box. If that is what you guys are hearing, there is a remedy:

Maybe it is the better electronics in the Polk unit; maybe it is $5000 worth of speakers, or the processing of a quality receiver. As with most things in this life, you get what you pay for.
post #76 of 110
Anyone who's interested in the compression algorithm used by XM should take a look at this:


If XM is streaming at a pretty low bitrate, say under 48kbps, this might explain why some of us find the music sound quality marginal. As ingenius as the algorithm seems to be, something is bound to be lost in the process in carving down the music to fit a narrow stream.
post #77 of 110
This thread has already been done to death, but there are a couple of things I'd point out here.

1) Cassette adapters are a notoriously awful connection
2) FM modulation will obvously lose any sound benefits of satellite radio (if there are any) and compound the limitations of FM with satellite radio

Other people have probably made those points, here's a new one

3) Mini-jack cables. Most minijack cables are the equivalent of a piece of string tied between two styrofoam cups. I am not an advocate of audiophile snake oil cables, but this is a situation where a value-added cable would make a signifcant difference. It did for my computer speakers. Monster cable is the only maker I know of that makes a good minijack cable (in their multimedia line), but maybe some people know of others.

Looking at their site - they only have a 4 ft. model now. I have twp 10 foot models, and mine is higher quality looking than the current offering.
post #78 of 110
I found an alternative that looks better than Monster Cable.

post #79 of 110
I'm curious as to why there is such a discrepancy between people who say the sound is crap, and others who say it's better than FM and almost CD quality.

I fall in the group that thinks it's crap. I don't care about if the cutoff is 15k or 17k or 12k, etc.. The end result is that the sound is not even close to CD. I'm going to go as far as to say that it's not as good as FM either. The best I've heard is barely comparable to a 96k mp3. The worst I've heard, well....pretty bad. My MP3 cds recorded at 128 sound ten times better.

The volume levels are all over the place from station to station, there is a strange sibilance thing happening that I'm guessing is caused by the compression scheme they use, and as someone on another forum put it, some stations like Boneyard sound as if they're coming out of a covered shoebox. No bass, no treble, muddy mids, etc.. There seems to be almost no dynamic headroom on many stations, and the stereo separation is very poor.

Have I actually measured anything with any devices?? Yes. My ears. I can easily tell the difference between XM and anything else. I don't need electronics to tell me this, after all, I listen with my ears, not with scopes and meters.

Now, back to the original point, why do some people not hear a difference? I'm not really sure, but is it possible that those who don't hear a big difference and think the sound is close to CD are using their factory system, while others are using aftermarket systems that more accurately reproduce the signal fed to it? In my experience, even a cheap aftermarket system will blow away a "premium" factory installed system. I don't care how great the factory system is supposed to be, a 100.00 pair of pioneer speakers with a 200.00 head unit, and 50.00 pioneer amp and 50.00 walmart subwoofer will sound better than 95% of factory systems.

This is just a guess, but it could very well be a factor. I'd be curious to know what type of system people are using to rate the sound. I may be totally off here, but this is the first thing I could think of to explain the discrepancy.
post #80 of 110
I used to be a person that hated the sound of XM, but I kept it because of my love of music.

I have used a Roady 2 and Skyfi 2 and I thought they both sound terrible. I had them hooked up to my Alpine 9815 headunit via the AUX input. My speakers are mid-line MB Quart. FM usually sound better to me, as the compression, loss of treble, etc were terrible with XM.

Just recently I switched to the Alpine Direct XM unit. Holy cow. I don't know how but XM finally sounds decent. Is it close to CD? No, but it is 10x better than the Skyfi or Roady. I would put it as 128K WMA files for most stations. The treble is back, and somehow a lot of the compression artifacts are gone.

I can only guess as to why the Alpine direct unit is so much better than the Delphi units since they receive the same bitstream. DACs, preamp section, decoding processor..I'm not sure what it is but I am happy.
post #81 of 110
I've had both digital connect home tuners and Sirius has a much better sound. Not even close.
post #82 of 110
While I have not heard Sirius (I picked XM based on the future viability of the company in my opinion), I will say that the radio quality of XM music is far superior to FM - it's the talk stations that leave much to be desired.
post #83 of 110
I think the environment and experieces can hide XM's sonic flaws somewhat.


I think the automobile's environment can mask the worst of XM's flaws. Concentration is diverted and a "white noise" of automobile and external sounds will cover up some of the XM distortion and frequency response issues.


If a generation is raised with MP3 and other compression techniques, the reaction might be "flaws, what flaws?" because that's what music sounds like -- it's certainly a different perspective.

Some people have been raised with it all: *live*, analog (vacuum tube and solidstate), early digital (CD, DAT), middle digital (Minidisc - ATRAC, DCC), and later digital (MP3, Ogg Vorbis, etc.). There are sonic differences between all five. I'm sort of amazed at how much info can get "tossed out" during compression and still have something even remotely resembling the original recording.

As traditional "hi-fi" fades into history, replaced/modified by other concerns (available disk space, portability, compression rates, battery life, "sounds good enough"), the common perception of what "sounds right" is changing.


post #84 of 110
The sound quality of Sirius is much better than XM. At least on an home stereo. It's close enough to 'CD quality' to be enjoyed. At least by me.
post #85 of 110
Neither is CD Quality. From my experience(I have both), the XM sounds a little weaker than Sirius, but possibly clearer(if that makes sense.. clearer, but more "tin can" type of sound. I prefer the sound of Sirius.
When I first for the Sirius, I had just bought a new car. I had thought it was my speakers that sounded "muddy" but after playing a CD, I realized that it was the receiver. Of course, I'm using the FM Modulator, so by this logic, it can't possibly sound better than FM.

As for Content, Sirius winds hands down.. at least for Rock.
Someone said XM was inconsistant... that's true, but on most stations, they love the same artists. I swear that you'll hear U2, Green Day, Lenny Kravitz, 3 doors down, Peal Jam at all times(I'm listening now, and 3 doors down is on 2 channels, I've often seen the same SONG on two channels at once. Both services repeat, and while XM will throw in a song from BFE, it's often out of my tastes. I hate repetition, and I like hearing music I've never heard, but I want some sort of consistancy.. at least to the genre.. and I find this more on Sirius. Sirus Left of Center is good and consistant, they play Indie/College rock... a similar lineup to XMU, but XMU tends to play emerging hip hop, as well as playing a more "the loft" type of Indie Rock.. it's all over the place. As for Classic Rock, you've got more variety on Sirius. I can't stand hair bands... but they are mostly isolated to "Hair Nation" with some crossover to "buzzsaw". It's contained on XM to Boneyard.. good riddence! XM has Top Tracks and Deep Tracks, Sirius has Classic Vinyl(older classic rock) Classic rewind (more recent, late 70's- about 1990), and the Vault, which is like "Deep Cuts". Of course, I'm sick of Classic Rock, but sometimes the mood strikes... usually while surfing the presets.

And yes, the 80's decade channel plays hits.. but who do you think listens to 80's channels? That channel is for nostolgia... You listen to it FOR the hits. Most people who listen to this type of channel aren't interested in some obscure artist from 1982.

I'll also mention Alt Nation, I feel it gives a good mix of New Music, Indie, and hits of the past decade. It can't be more repetative than Ethel... just more consistant.
I also LIKE the DJ's on Sirius, gives it personality(when they don't talk over music). XM has an automated/mechanical feel.

Side note: Sirius has a serious lack of cool receivers... XM2GO is a great little device(though with it's design flaws) at a reasonable price. Sirius S50 has more functiality with MORE design flaws for 3 times the money. I guess we'll have to wait on that. XM2GO lacks sound quality though.. I don't know about the S50.
XM looks to have a stronger signal, also it's sattelites are stationary so if you're setting at home or a camp site, coverage can go in and out depending on where the satelite is at that given time.

It's all personal preference, I would prefer the Sirius content on XM equipment, but that can't happen... maybe Sirius will come up with better equipment. Oh, and as of now, Sirius doesn't have sports/stock tickers... XM does(and I don't really care.. just wanted to mention it)
post #86 of 110
I just want to warn people about the shady practices of XM Radio.
You have to explicitly ask them to not include automatic renewal.
If there is not indication of this (either approved or not approved), XM Radio will keep your credit card number and charge you without warning. When you try to cancel, they will be pretty nasty and sell at you like a used car salesman. Not the type of company I want to deal with. Their product should sell itself and if people cancel they should try to find out why.
post #87 of 110
Originally Posted by Akysten

XM looks to have a stronger signal, also it's sattelites are stationary so if you're setting at home or a camp site, coverage can go in and out depending on where the satelite is at that given time.
Satellites travel at the speed of the earths rotation. They have motors that can be controlled to stay accurately with the speed, also if the satellite get a little ahead or behind the speed of the earths rotation it will make up for it. If your getting dropouts its because of loss of signal from posistioning in your home or campsite. Thats why dishes all point to the south because thats where the satellites are located. And its the elavation and declination where you live where you point them too. Always point your antenna to the south for best posistioning. Also satellite signals hate moisture so trees have moisture in there leafs thats why you have a hard time getting signals through trees. Best is an unobstructed view to the south. ;)
Also I'm a new XM guy with a xm2go and its really nice. :)
post #88 of 110
You news junkies... how is the news coverage on XM? I know the major networks are the same, but...

I'm a huge NPR/PRI junkie. We have a good NPR station where I live, and the local radio reception is great. When I'm travelling, I'd like to be able to get the NPR feeds, but Sirius has NPR. XM just supposedly as a public radio, pri combo channel.

This concern over NPR is the only thing holding me back from snagging an INNO and going with XM.

What opinions can you guys offer?
post #89 of 110
To a lot of people, Public Raido = NPR = Morning Edition and All Things Considered. You don't get that with XMPR, and if that's what you have in mind you will be dissapointed.

You do get Bob Edward's show. It isn't Morning Edition, but it's in that genre. A lot better than Fox-news or CNN. One problem is that it is only an hour, so if you want non-stop NPR-esc news for a long drive, you are out of luck.
post #90 of 110
Originally Posted by oldcband
Satellites travel at the speed of the earths rotation. They have motors that can be controlled to stay accurately with the speed, also if the satellite get a little ahead or behind the speed of the earths rotation it will make up for it.
Akysten meant that the XM satellites are stationary in relationship to the rotation of the earth, which is what you described. However, Sirius' satellites don't work that way. They have 3 satellites that fly in an elliptical pattern. At any given time, two of their 3 satellites are above North America.

The problem with this is that the fact that you can get good reception from a given location one minutes doesn't mean that you will still have good reception an hour later because the satellite has moved in relation to that location.
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