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Will they ever make Sat radio sound better then FM?

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Brian Elwood, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. Brian Elwood

    Brian Elwood Well-Known Member

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    I have listed to a number of XM and Sirius units and all of them still have that very high . . . .tinsel sound.

    Sure, they sound better then SOME FM stations but Sat radio still have that unique sound quality.

    I do find it awesome in my car and will never be without it. I can't decide if I should buy a lifetime contract or go year to year.

    Funny thing is - the ONLY time I have had it cut out is in an open space. No problems in my garage or even in the 1st underground floor of a parking garage. What's up with that!!! I thought I had to have line of sight or something.
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Brian,

    I'll try to answer your second question first,
    but it will be difficult because you didn't
    state which satellite radio service you own.

    I find Sirius has a lot more dead spots than
    XM radio. This is primarily due to the fact
    that Sirius satellites orbit higher in the sky
    and can't get under overpasses or any sort of
    roof structure. Sirius was supposed to expand
    the number of repeaters to combat this problem
    but here in Central NJ I still get dropouts.

    That's the only explanation I can give you if
    it is Sirius you are having a problem with.

    As far as satellite not sounding any better
    than FM....

    The problem is available bandwidth. Both XM
    and SIRIUS were only allocated a small amount
    of bandwidth. They went the obvious route of
    offering variety over sound quality. This meant
    that by offering well over 160 channels of
    content they would have to compromise on sound
    quality by compressing their audio.

    Both XM and Sirius have fine tuned their channels
    so that talk radio gets far less bandwidth than
    the music channels. It's more evident on Sirius
    where talk radio sometimes sounds like it is coming
    out of a soup can. However, you'll hear IMPROVED
    audio quality on the more popular music channels
    simply because the bandwidth is being intelligently
    diverted.

    I and everyone else wishes that satellite radio
    would offer High-Definition music. It's sort of
    funny that commercial radio is doing it -- but let's
    face it -- who wants to hear high definition music
    followed with DJ banter and commercials? I would
    much rather listen to commercial-free satellite radio
    with its wider playlists (especially evident on XM).

    Besides, I could see other problems if satellite
    becomes high-definition. Imagine how outraged the
    music industry would be if people could record
    high definition audio right off of satellite.
     
  3. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Well-Known Member

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    Considering I primarily listen to XM in the car, high def radio is kinda a waste for me. I'd rather have the content, and there is plenty of channel ideas not covered by satellite currently for it.

    I'd like XM to upgrade their online stream, but since the firewall has tightened up at work, that's less important than it used to be.

    Jason
     
  4. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Well-Known Member

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    I have XM in both vehicles- soon in the house. I know in the Vehicles FM does not even come close too the sound quality of xm. My XM is almost as good as CD. I cant say anything about Sirus...I have no experience...Just on XM.
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I read people knock satellite radio
    sound quality quite often.

    Here's my take....

    Satellite Radio sounds best in a car with
    a decent sound system that includes a subwoofer. You
    need to tweak the audio output to your liking. I find
    adding bass and loudness helps immensely.

    I burn music to CD on a regular basis from YAHOO
    UNLIMITED. That service provides their music
    downloads at 192kbps. If I understand correctly,
    a CD is around at least 320kbps. The CDs I make at
    192kbps sound a little better than XM or SIRIUS radio.
    For that reason I would estimate that both services
    compress their music below 192kbps.

    This is STILL better than FM radio -- especially
    for the fact that satellite provides crystal-clear
    audio with absolutely no background noise that you
    normally hear on FM broadcast. Depending on your
    car stereo and the way you hook up your unit
    (factory install or direct connect is the best
    solution), it would be difficult for non-audiophiles
    to distinguish between satellite and CD.

    If you are using the FM transmitter to listen to
    satellite -- well, it's gonna sound only like a
    strong FM station.

    Satellite radio also sounds amazingly good on
    boomboxes and through computer speakers. However,
    if you try to push satellite radio through an
    expensive home system, you may not be happy. The
    best solution for home stereo systems is to
    integrate a satellite receiver that has optical
    output.
     
  6. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Well-Known Member

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    Ronald...I'll let ya know when I get my Yamaha Home reciever going with XM here shortly.

    I agree...If your using FM modulator...then what is the point IMO- The sound will only be as good as the FM tuner in your radio.
     
  7. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Well-Known Member

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    The digital audio on CDs is uncompressed and far exceeds 320 kbps.
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Tom,

    Thanks for the clarification
     
  9. Bob_L

    Bob_L Well-Known Member

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    CD rate is around 1400Kbps, quite a lot more data.

    But the important thing in compressed audio is the perceived quality of the playback since psychoacoustics are involved when the compression algorithm is deciding what data to throw away.

    I still wish that XM had a better perceived playback quality than it currently does; but -- as Ron knows -- I'm still a fan of the service for its convenience and the taste and intelligence of its programmers.
     
  10. Brian Elwood

    Brian Elwood Well-Known Member

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    I have a pretty good system in my car (I hope - cost $1400 LOL) and Sirius very very rarly has a dead spot. I just went on a vacation and it really only cut out once or twice.

    I think it's a bandwidth problem. The more I tweak my car system the better I can get it but still, not perfect.

    With all that said - I'll never go back and am considering a lifetime contract for Sirius which I think is way better then XM bang for buck. Just better rock and more of it. (just my opinion).
     
  11. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Well-Known Member

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    Different strokes for different folks. I tried Sirius first, and while initially excited, the lack of depth really killed it for me. Also, there wasn't much beyond the Rock genre that really interested me. There is just more for me to listen to on XM. Not to say XM doesn't have its problems as well, but I much prefer it to Sirius.

    Jason
     
  12. Brian Elwood

    Brian Elwood Well-Known Member

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    I'm basically 95% rock, thats why I picked sirius, plus the fact that friends here in Madsion have big time XM reception problems and also since I have DISH Net I'm familier with it.

    He can't even us XM in the city - maybe it's because Sirius is higher in the sky??
     
  13. Gerard Martin

    Gerard Martin Well-Known Member

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    Brian
    They already have its called Polk XRt12 for in-home use. Check it out if you have an opportunity.
     

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