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Satellite radio - now what do I do?


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#1 of 13 Scott Wong

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Posted November 28 2003 - 05:52 PM

After reading Ron's latest post, now I'm *really* at a stand still. I was hellbent on getting the Alpine CDA-7897. What an awesome deck!! The unique AT&T module that I can add later on, Ai-NET capabilities, plays .MP3's, as well as a ton of other features made this my head unit of choice. It also comes with XM Radio controls. After doing some research (although now I'm not so sure I've done enough) I thought I'd go ahead and get the satellite radio installed when I purchase the deck. Only now, I'm not so sure.

1. I've always been a huge fan of Alpine head units.
2. I'm now not so sure that XM Radio is the way that I want to go. If I'm going to be paying for satellite radio, there's no way in the world I'm going to pay for the commercials to go along with it... which brings me to SIRIUS. Also, I love sound quality (as most of us do) if in fact there *might* be a difference in sound quality between the two... I want the best when it comes to that.

3. I'm not at all keen on getting either a Panasonic, Clarion, or Kenwood deck just so I get the SIRIUS control. Some of the new Kenwood decks don't look *too* bad. I guess I don't know enough about them. Navigation is also something I was planning on adding later on and I don't believe any of the above have that capability except for Alpine.

With that said, I either need to scrap the idea of getting the head unit that I've done so much research on... or scrap the idea altogether in getting satellite radio. I suppose it may just be a matter of me deciding what it is I want most from my system, so here goes:

I just purchased a 40GB Creative Labs NOMAD ZEN Xtra portable .mp3 player. I'm so sick and tired of making .mp3 discs so I don't forsee myself doing that all that often except on occassion. I was honestly planning on using the new deck for 80%-90% satellite radio, the other 10% would be spent listening to the random .mp3 disc that I happen to have lying around. It essentially seems like I now need to get a completely different head unit if I want to go with SIRIUS rather than XM. Suggestions? Comments? I'd appreciate any info.

Scott.


#2 of 13 Thomas_A

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Posted November 29 2003 - 02:14 AM

I've had XM for 1.5yrs and love it everyday. Granted..there are a few commercials...whoopty doo...if they start putting in a lot more..I could see the complaints!. My point..I dont like any of the Hu's that offer Sirus....unless Eclipse is Sirus. I'm not a Kenwood fan or a clarion fan- both sirus related. Both vehicles I have have Alpine XM systems... Untill something extremely better comes along...wich I doubt will any time soon...I'm very pleased with my XM..:b

#3 of 13 Scott Wong

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Posted November 29 2003 - 03:52 AM

Quote:
Granted..there are a few commercials...whoopty doo


Define "few". If it's as frequent as my local FM station, why in the world would I want to buy that? I have that now for free. Granted, the sound quality of FM radio sucks.

Quote:
My point..I dont like any of the Hu's that offer Sirus


Bingo.

Scott.


#4 of 13 Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 29 2003 - 04:26 AM

I'm about 5 days away from writing a huge
report for this forum on my experiences with
XM radio and Sirius. I think
a lot of people will be looking into satellite
radio this Christmas and I hope that I can help
people make the right decision on what to buy.

Unfortunately, as I will point out, neither
service is perfect. I just left XM Radio
and went with Sirius, but I can't say that
I am any happier than I was with the other.

I'll talk more about that next week.

But perhaps I can help you today....

I had the Alpine 7894. I thought it was a
really good head unit until I just replaced
it with the Kenwood X869. In short,
the Kenwood kick's Alpine's booty.

First of all, and perhaps this was a problem
with XM Radio itself (as other listeners had
the same complaints), it always sounded as if
a center channel was missing. The music never
sounded right. The feeds would bring different
instruments to the front that you never heard
before. Vocals would often take backseat to
everything else. Even my partner, Parker, upon
listening to my XM Radio (via Alpine) for the
first time exclaimed "your center channel is
missing
.

Not so with the Kenwood X869. The music
sounds normal -- the way it is supposed to sound.
There is also more defined bass in the music. All
in all, the Kenwood sounds much better than the
Alpine.

Additionally.....

I hated the Alpine display. It would not display
more than 1 line of text information, and even
that was limited. A song like Could It Be
I'm Falling In Love
was cut off after 16
characters. Then, if you wanted to know the
artist of that song, you had to hit a menu
button to go to the next menu.

The Kenwood 869 lets you display the
TITLE and ARTIST on one screen, as the screen
has 3 lines of display. Additionally, there
is no cut-off in how many text characters it
will handle in one line. If it doesn't fit
across your screen, it simply scrolls whatever
doesn't fit.

There's so much I have to talk about when
comparing these two services. I'll do a big
write-up next week.

I just wanted to let you know that as far as
Alpine vs. Kenwood is concerned, I am
far happier with the Kenwood unit than
I was with the Alpine.

As far as XM Radio is concerned.....

It's the BETTER music service, but those damn
commercials will drive you crazy. Though XM claims
only 6-10 minutes per hour, expect your music to
be interrupted every 15-20 minutes with the same
lame commercials from Onstar and Allstate.

By the way, if you haven't determined this by my
statements above, I think Sirius sounds
slightly better than XM. The music sounds more
normalized. Of course, sound is subjective and
you'll always hear different opinions on this.

By the way, here is the Kenwood head unit I bought:

Posted Image



Ronald J Epstein
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#5 of 13 Joshua Clinard

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Posted November 29 2003 - 08:29 AM

Eclispe does manufacture some Sirius headunits, but not all of them are Sirius Ready, so you may have to shop around. JVC has also just signed on with Sirius, so all of their new headunits will be Sirius Ready. Also, the XM service is limited to 16 characters for title/artist info. That is not a limitation of the Alphine headunits, it is a limitation of the service. Sirius has a 36 character limit.

I'd like to address the complaints about the 70's channel. Sirius and XM program their decades channels differently. XM plays all music from each particular decade, whether it is pop, rock, rap, etc. Sirius mainly plays pop on their decade channels, because they fall under the Pop category. If you want to hear 70's rock, you need to be listening to their classic rock channel, or the big rock channel. They just have a different philosophy when it comes to programming their music. Personally, I like it. YMMV.

#6 of 13 Scott Wong

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Posted November 29 2003 - 04:35 PM

Dammit. *sigh* Now you've got me thinking again. I do enjoy knowing and understanding the artist and song title that is currently playing. I often look at this display on my portable .mp3 player. If XM Radio is more limited as far as character display, this is yet another reason to go with SIRIUS.

The fact that Ron's opinion states music is overall more normal, so to speak, with SIRIUS is an enormous concern of mine. I don't care what XM Radio has to offer, if it doesn't sound right, it does me little to no good whatsoever. Can anyone else comment on this?

I really am sort of between both at this point. The only reason why I'd be going with XM at this point is because I want that Alpine deck so damn bad.

*pout*

Scott.


#7 of 13 Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 29 2003 - 08:40 PM

Quote:
If XM Radio is more limited as far as character display, this is yet another reason to go with SIRIUS.

Scott, you misunderstand me.

It's not the XM Radio character display -- it's the
character display on particular Alpine units.

I did look at the unit you wanted to buy and it
SEEMS it has a 2-line display for SONG (TOP) and
ARTIST (BOTTOM). If this is the case, you should
be happy.

I still think the Kenwood X series sounds better
than the ALpine.

Ronald J Epstein
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#8 of 13 Scott Wong

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Posted November 30 2003 - 01:45 AM

Quote:
Also, the XM service is limited to 16 characters for title/artist info. That is not a limitation of the Alphine headunits, it is a limitation of the service. Sirius has a 36 character limit.


Ron, according to Joshua's post, it *is* a limitation of the XM service. Not sure how accurate that is. I did notice the particular deck I am interested in has the two lines on the display for data. I am not sure if that data scrolls across the screen or not. If by chance it does not, then I'd be in the exact same boat you were in, right? I mean, 16 characters is 16 characters. I may just need to check out that particular deck in person to see the display more closely.

Thanks again for the info!! I'm looking forward to reading your review and comparison.

Scott.


#9 of 13 Joshua Clinard

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Posted November 30 2003 - 11:09 AM

I may have misunderstood what Ron was saying. If a unit has two lines on the display: one for artist info, and one for song info, then each line would be limited to 16 characters. Sirius has a 36 character limit for each. I hardly think there is a song or artist out there that exceeds that limit. I am not 100% cetain that it is 36, it may be 32, but either way, it is at least twice the length of XM's capability.

#10 of 13 David-S

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Posted December 01 2003 - 12:18 PM

Quote:
I really am sort of between both at this point. The only reason why I'd be going with XM at this point is because I want that Alpine deck so damn bad.


If you can find the room, look at the PNP units from sirius, they're all available in some way with a direct connection, so you could wire it into the aux in of that alpine (i'd assume it has one from what you've said), then use it to control the sat part, and keep the alpine for everything else...

#11 of 13 Scott Wong

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Posted December 01 2003 - 04:47 PM

As soon as I get some time off from work, I think I've made my decision. I do believe I am going to be sticking with my original decision to obtain the Alpine deck I have wanted for a while now. The other features that the CDA-7897 comes with far outweighs this satellite radio decision. I still have yet to see the other SIRIUS ready head units in person, however, I checked out Crutchfield's website and I really don't see anything I like.

With that said, I am going to give XM Radio a shot. I can get a good deal on the Alpine XM Radio tuner (as well as the deck that I want). I figure I'll give it a shot and if it turns out to be something that just completely makes me nauseous, I'll sell the tuner and perhaps go the PNP SIRIUS route. The other thing that factored into my ultimate decision is programming... I checked out SIRIUS' website, and I just don't see the programming that XM Radio offers. Satellite radio even without commercials means jack squat to me if they aren't playing music that I enjoy. *shrug* This is all relatively speaking since I've not ever seen either product in action. Nonetheless, I think this is the way I'm gonna go.

Scott.


#12 of 13 Joshua Clinard

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Posted December 01 2003 - 06:26 PM

As far as programming goes, you can sample any of Sirius' Music streams live, for as long as you want, before you buy. So give it a chance. Some people don't like Sirius' method of programming. Some do. There are other's that hate XM's programming. Other's like it. But the programming on XM has absolutely nothing to do with why they are ahed. They are ahead because they launched a year earlier, and also because of GM. Sirius is growing at an alarming rate, however.

#13 of 13 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 01 2003 - 08:59 PM

Scott,

You'll like XM Radio. I'm not to happy with
Sirius radio these days. A shake-up in management
over there has caused problems with some of the
music channel programming. I'll post my thoughts
later today.

I would actually go back to XM Radio if not for
the fact that I really love the Kenwood deck.

I found out that the Alpine 7897 does not have the
2-line display (Song and Artist) that the Kenwood has.
You have to go through a menu button to get the
added information. This was a big turn-off for me
when I had my Alpine in the car.

Just to make sure I am giving you the right
information, you can double check it here:

http://www.epinions....nt_107918233220

Also, I don't like the Alpine remote. It doesn't
have numbers on its keypad for direct channel access.

Still, the Alpine unit is rated VERY high by
consumers who bought it.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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