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Interesting XM Radio observations........

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Chet_F, Oct 10, 2003.

  1. Chet_F

    Chet_F Well-Known Member

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    I've been test driving the XM radio service(with the PCR module) and have noticed several things:

    1. The "free" preview channels, 5 total, change randomely every 4-5 hours. No big deal there except they keep kicking me back to the preview channel after the first week of previewing. Sometimes takes 6 or 7 clicks to get the interface to change to the desired channel.

    2. The quality is something that is at the very least, worse than radio. Adding on top of that it sounds as if they are using MP3's to play the music. The music has a compressed sound to it and the highs sound EXACTLY like MP3s.

    3. The wosrt one is that they seem to be giving some channels better bandwidth than others. Example - listeing to John Mayer on one channel sounds better than another channel. And this was VERY obvious.

    4. You MUST have a window with a southern view to get signal. And there can be no obstruction in the way of the antenna.

    5. Extension cables are WAY too expensive. $45 - the amount I payed for the entire PCR set with receiver, antenna(20-25 feet long), software, and a slew of cables. If anyone has any cheaper ideas I'm all ears. [​IMG]

    Still undecided on the whole thing due to these issues.

    The one redeeming quality is their variety of music they play. It is unbeleivable the amount of new music I have been exposed to and as a result I have bought more CDs in the past week or 2 than I have over the past 2 years listening to CLEAR CHANNEL - Hey RIAA do YOU GET THE POINT YET!!! I'm sure they don't(they should hire some chimps as they one probably start seeing a profit). It's amazing where your money will go when there is something your INTERESTED in spending you money on.

    Just some observations.
     
  2. SteveK

    SteveK Well-Known Member

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    Chet- I agree that there is an incredible variety of music available on XM. I've been a subscriber for about 5 months now, and I'm completely satisfied.

    I don't have any complaints about the sound quality. Yes, they do play compressed music (not mp3), and as I understand it, there is a cutoff at 15Khz so the high end is absent. But I find the quality to be better than FM but not as good as CD. Sound quality is obviously extremely subjective, but I'm completely satisfied with XM, both in terms of the variety of music styles offered and the quality of the sound.

    I consider XM to be the best entertainment value available today. $10 per month for 100 channels is truly incredible. Of course you won't actually enjoy listening to all of those channels, but you should be able to find a number of channels you really enjoy.

    I hope you'll stay with XM...it truly is addictive after a while.

    Steve K.
     
  3. Joshua Clinard

    Joshua Clinard Well-Known Member

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    I have listened to both XM and Sirius, and I believe the highs are better on Sirius, while the lows sound better on XM. But that is only slightly better. They both sound great, but I give the edge to Sirius. They also have different strenghts and weaknesses. I evaulated both services before I purchased my Sirius system. I have had my Sirius for about a week now, and I have no complaints whatsoever about the sound quality. Some say that XM sounds more compressed than Sirius, and it's probably because Sirius uses something called S-Plex. S-Plex determines which songs need the most bandwidth, and then it allotocates the available banwidth to the streams that need it the most based on which songs are playing. I think that's a major advantage over XM. XM does have a lot of good things going for it, and I want both services to survive. You also should know, that Sirius does not have any commercials on their music streams. It's only 3 dollars more per month for that great advantage. I would reccomend that you go to a Best Buy or Circuit City and give Sirius a listen, and see if you like the sound quality any better. You can also listen online for free at www.sirius.com.
     
  4. David Broome

    David Broome Well-Known Member

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    1) Yep, they rotate what the preview channels are. Don't know why, though. When I was previewing, you just got channel 1 :)
    2) Many things can affect the sound quality. Are you listening to the PCR on your computer speakers and comparing to radio on a nice reciver/speaker combo? Try hooking up the PCR to your receiver to see what it sounds like. Alternatively, the enterprising folks at XMFan.com are slelling a kit to bypass the DACs in the PCR and provide ap ure digital TOSLINK connection for better sound
    3) I think giving some channels more bandwidth is a big plus. Classical music requires more bandwidth than talk radio.
    4) This is not always the case. If you live in an area with a repeater, no window is required at all. And many people have reported great success even without repeaters without windows.
    5) no comment here.

    Best of luck deciding. I thoroughly love my PCR, and if you decide to keep and activate it, be sure to check out the replacement software written by many people for other os's and Windows. I personanly recommend ReplacePCR (the first and still best). But, being the author, I am a bit biased [​IMG]
     
  5. Chet_F

    Chet_F Well-Known Member

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    "2) Many things can affect the sound quality. Are you listening to the PCR on your computer speakers and comparing to radio on a nice reciver/speaker combo?"

    Actually I am comparing the sound of a $50 Phillips boombox(radio) with Yamaha YST-M7 computer speakers. These have been the best computers speakers I have listened to. There are probably better computer speakers out there mind you, but I have yet to see them. I really haven't been looking since I found these though so....

    But thanks for the feedback guys. I'm definately going to check out more of xmfan.com this weekend.
     
  6. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Well-Known Member

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  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    How good XM radio in the car sounds
    depends on your hookup. I first went with a
    FM moulated hookup. That crap lasted about a
    day before I tore it all out and plucked down
    some good money to buy a new XM-READY head unit
    and have the system hardwired.

    I also added a kickboxer subwoofer to the trunk.

    The end result was XM RADIO that sounded
    significantly better than it did before -- very
    close to the quality I was enjoying with CD '
    playback.

    XM (and Sirius) is not CD quality, however.
    The compression is noticeable. You have to play
    the radio at a higher volume level. The range
    of highs are never as broad as CD music. The
    lows are pretty good (my subwoofer kicks at high
    volumes) and yes, sound quality varies from
    channel to channel.

    Also, a song may sound a little different
    than what you may be used to. Many times it
    sounds as if a center channel is missing as
    vocals can drop in level and background instruments
    take center stage, making the song sound sort
    of odd.

    If all of this sounds like a complaint -- it
    really isn't. XM RADIO does exactly what it is
    supposed to do -- replace FM radio. Once you
    start enjoying XM RADIO you realize just how
    bad FM radio really is.

    If I could make improvements to XM Radio I
    would increase the bandwidth to make the music
    pure CD quality.

    I also hate to say this, but I am getting tired
    of the commercials on the decade channels I listen
    to. I wish XM would have charged the $3 more per
    month to get rid of the commercials. I know this
    statement is going to be a big WIN for SIRIUS RADIO
    fans, but I have heard Sirius radio, and I would
    still stick with XM RADIO even with the commercials.
    XM seems to have more personality to it. I also
    LOVE the Cinema Magic channel, something SIRIUS
    has not been able to duplicate.
     
  8. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Well-Known Member

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    I agree with what Ron said above regarding XM Radio. It blows away FM by far. To my ears, Xm sound somewhere in between Fm and CD. I have also noticed differing sound quality amongst channels. For instance, the Decade channels always sound much better than let's say LA. Kiss. That L.A kiss always sounds metalic, and tiny....

    Also I should point out that you must consider the quality of components your using. I found all Xm channels to be Tiny before I completely stripped out the Sucky Bose Premium Sound System (That's an Oxymoron If I ever heard one) and replaced all the speakers, as well as a box Sub on my Z. After upgarding all the speakers, and using a Sony XPLOD head unit, and XM via Direct Inputs, XM sounds a heck of alot more natural, and not as MP3 like... Much closer to CD if you ask me...


    XM Radio [​IMG] [​IMG] I would never own another car without it!!!
     
  9. Chris

    Chris Well-Known Member

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  10. Chet_F

    Chet_F Well-Known Member

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    "The quality is something that is at the very least, worse than radio."

    What I mean by this statement is that a FM station that comes in clear, which is all of the one's I listen to(6), are better quality than the best XM channel that I have heard. The best way I can explain the sound is that it sounds like an MP3 file but not as bad. Highs are WAY compressed. Symbols sound like crap. If I heard a song on XM and then heard the same song on the radio(on a cheap boombox), the radio has better sound.

    Here's another question: does the signal strength effect sound quality. On my PCR software they have a representation of the signal level. Is this TRUE digital radio: meaning it's either on or off?

    I assume it is digital radio and once you get the signal and hear music, that is what you are going to get regardless of whether the signal strength is 75% or 100%. Is this correct?

    CF
     
  11. Scott Wong

    Scott Wong Well-Known Member

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  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Most everyone (with very few exceptions) that
    has XM Radio hardwired to their automobile will
    tell you it is noticeably better than FM radio.

    The only people who could possibly report otherwise
    are those with a unit that is being broadcast to the
    radio via an RF Modulator or a cassette deck (which
    the Delphi SkyFi is in most cases).

    Otherwise, I can't see how anyone could say that
    XM Radio (or Sirius Radio) sounds worse than FM.
     
  13. ChrisClearman

    ChrisClearman Well-Known Member

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    I have a Roady hardwired into my headunit w/ RCA-stereo out for XM.

    It's obviously better then FM.

    Sometimes, on some stations, I can't tell the difference between a song from a CD I own and XM. That is the exception though. Some broadcasts sound "tinny" like it's echoing out of a metal can (especially sports/news). Some are obviously missing the highs, while others seem to be missing the lows (rare).

    My only complaint with the service I guess is that they're not consistent with their compression.
     
  14. Chet_F

    Chet_F Well-Known Member

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    "My only complaint with the service I guess is that they're not consistent with their compression."

    I noticed that right away. Maybe it's the PCR module? That's the only variable that is different. I don't know. All I DO know is that it does sound worse than radio.
     
  15. JerryLA

    JerryLA Well-Known Member

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    I don't know why there would be so many variances in quality on the stations mentioned above. I just purchased a new truck with XM and it is great! The sound is not up to CD quality but compared to the FM choices where I live,(3), XM has them all beat. Like the man said, I'll never own another vehicle without it. It is certainly a welcome treat for those of us living in small towns in the mountains, where "Good FM" is unheard of.
     

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