1. Guest,
    If you need help getting to know Xenforo, please see our guide here. If you have feedback or questions, please post those here.
    Dismiss Notice

XM Radio Sound Processing

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Rob.melone, Jan 11, 2005.

  1. Rob.melone

    Rob.melone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    I continue to be amazed at the sound quality of XM radio at home. Music recorded in the 60's sounds like I have never heard it before. Contemporary jazz, country and classical music is even better. The sound is full, clear and crisp with unprecedented stereo separation and imagery. Has there been any speculation that XM may be enhancing the sound before it is transmitted? I say this because the sound quality of my CD’s seem to rival that of XM. Since both are digital, how can this be if the sound at XM is not being processed? I also notice that the sound effects that some disc jockeys use also sound processed. This is in no way a criticism of XM. I am just interested in what is going on. Rob
     
  2. Michael St. Clair

    Michael St. Clair Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 1999
    Messages:
    6,009
    Likes Received:
    0
    I find both XM and Sirius to be substantially lacking in sound quality compared to CD, or even 192kbps VBR MP3.

    'Processed' is a dirty word to many of us.
     
  3. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2000
    Messages:
    3,708
    Likes Received:
    410
    Real Name:
    Doug
    I'm with Michael. In my home system the audio quality of XM was generally so bad that I returned my SkyFi2 and Home Kit and canceled my XM subscription. Couldn't live with it. I expected satellite radio to be at least equal to a quality FM analog broadcast, but I got fairly bad, compressed MP3 quality instead. It's a shame because I was really impressed with XM's programming and would have stuck around if it had sounded better. [​IMG]
     
  4. Rob.melone

    Rob.melone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    I can’t understand how there could be such an incongruity with the sound quality of XM Radio in the home. Especially, when considering that those who have responded to my thread, indicating that the sound quality was poor, are experienced audiophiles.
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    44,710
    Likes Received:
    3,679
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Well, I'll be the next to admit that I read
    Rob's testimonial with much confusion.

    I don't know how anyone can say that satellite
    radio rivals CD quality. It doesn't.

    Audiophiles will instantly notice the inferior
    audio quality of satellite radio to CD. Most
    others will probably not unless you play both
    side-by-side.

    Of course, how one hears audio is purely subjective
    and it is usually based on what type of equipment
    you are pumping it through.
     
  6. Bob_L

    Bob_L Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2001
    Messages:
    894
    Likes Received:
    1
    Aside from the cost of entry, I think this is the greatest problem with satellite radio. The sound quality just isn't as good as it should be or could be.

    In an effort to maximize the variety of programming, they've minimized the available bandwidth which, neccessarily, limits the potential quality of the audio.

    Satellite radio seems to have done fine delivering the programming part of their marketing message. However, I think to get to the next level, they need to add a performance quality component to that marketing message. And then deliver improved sound.

    XM is by no means "digital-quality sound remarkably close to Compact Disc" as is claimed on the XM Radio site. As such, it may be fine for in-car listening, but it will never, NEVER gain a foothold among home listeners (even non-audiophile listeners) at its current audio resolution. They need to use their bandwidth more efficiently (or get more bandwidth) and they need to improve their codec.

    I have XM playing in my home office most of the time on a smallish stereo system with bookshelf speakers. After connecting it to my large home theater system once, I put it back in the office. When I want to listen to music seriously on the "big" system, I use CD, SACD or even MP3, NOT XM. I wish I felt differently.

    Detractors shouldn't take this comment as another anti-satellite radio argument. I've been a satisfied XM subscriber for over two years. (Man, hard to believe it's been that long!) I'm impressed with the depth of their play lists, particularly in the relatively esoteric areas of jazz and classical music, and am grateful for some of the more "eccentric" offerings (at least compared to broadcast radio) like radio theater, world music, comedy and the weird Christmas music channel.
    At present, XM Radio is very good. I just want it to be GREAT.
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    44,710
    Likes Received:
    3,679
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Bob,

    I agree with your post 100%

    No argument.

    I fear that satellite radio is going to go the
    way of just about every other medium that was
    supposed to deliver superior quality over the old.

    For example....

    Cable, Satellite TV and DVD were all innovations
    accepted by early adopters for their superior picture
    and audio quality.

    Once these became mainstream, picture and audio
    were compromised thanks to the squeezing of the
    available bandwidth in order to provide more
    entertainment.

    The fact of the matter seems to be that the
    general public seems to be more accepting of
    having more entertainment available to them
    at the cost of reducing picture/audio quality.
     
  8. Rob.melone

    Rob.melone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well guys, I am compelled to defend the fact that I know good sound when I hear it, but I won't. Suffice it to say that XM Radio at my house on my system is very enjoyable with all the attributes that are pleasing to me. They are: fullness with a solid low end, clarity, crispness and imagery. The whole purpose of my thread was to engage speculation as to whether XM is or is not using software to enhance the sound. My guess is they are.

    Here is my system:
    SKYfi2 (Laser Disc in, gain set at full, 6 bars of satellite antenna reception)
    Sony ES (w/equalization at both ends of the spectrum)
    Magnepan (positioned on long wall)
    S-M size room, carpeted, fabric furniture

    Anyone interested in a demo, let me know. Thanks. Rob
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    44,710
    Likes Received:
    3,679
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Rob,

    Listen, everyone hears audio differently.

    We could put a dozen average people in a
    room with your equipment and I would estimate
    that someone would agree with your opinion on
    the sound quality of XM radio.
     
  10. Bob_L

    Bob_L Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2001
    Messages:
    894
    Likes Received:
    1
    Rob:

    My apology. I didn't mean ANY of my post to reflect on your satisfaction with the XM sound. Like you, I'm quite happy with XM.

    Actually, on the XM site, they do specifically mention that they use some kind of processing -- that they call "Neural Audio optimization" -- in addition to the compression. My guess is that this is some kind of psycho-acoustical treatment that modifies the sound to conform most closely to the response curve of human hearing and, therefore, create a more satisfying balance of frequencies.

    In addition, they DO some kind of imaging processing on the sound as well.

    You can read about it all here:

    http://www.xmradio.com/corporate_inf...cts_sound.html
     
  11. Rob.melone

    Rob.melone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the support Ron and Bob and thanks for the info on "Neural Audio optimization." This makes complete sense and is no doubt what I am hearing. Perhaps one day this technology will be available to consumers. If nothing else, I hope those who read this post and are not happy with the sound of XM Radio in the home will do some experimenting with their set-up. It just might make all the difference. Cheers! Rob
     
  12. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2000
    Messages:
    3,708
    Likes Received:
    410
    Real Name:
    Doug

    Rob - I'll echo Bob's comment that I wasn't trying to nix your enjoyment of XM radio by saying that it wasn't up to snuff for me. I'm glad that you're happy with it. However, the reason I responded to your thread was because you stated that "I continue to be amazed at the sound quality of XM radio at home. Music recorded in the 60's sounds like I have never heard it before. Contemporary jazz, country and classical music is even better. The sound is full, clear and crisp with unprecedented stereo separation and imagery.". My impression of XM audio couldn't be any further from your opinion if I lived on Pluto. In my listening room XM sounds flat and compressed with poor stereo separation, muddy bass, somewhat bloated midrange, and clipped highs. How could our experiences be so diametrically opposed? I don't know.

    That being said, I experimented in every way I could with my SkyFi2 and $5K of 2 channel equipment. I came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to transform lead into gold. There's only so much you can do to help improve audio quality when that quality is compromised at the source. What would make all the difference to me, and get me to re-subscribe to XM, would be a substantial increase in what I'm hearing. Since they seem to be engaged in a content war with Sirius I don't see that happening. It's just a real shame that, like so many other things these days, the focus is on quantity rather than quality.
     
  13. Rob.melone

    Rob.melone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2003
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
  14. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2000
    Messages:
    3,708
    Likes Received:
    410
    Real Name:
    Doug
    Interesting indeed, but a press release written by XM's marketing department doesn't change what my ears are hearing.

    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page