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Discussion on XM vs. SIRIUS article


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#21 of 97 Chris

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Posted December 03 2003 - 01:31 PM

I've thought about this all day, and launched into a rebuttal right off the bat, but I too tend to agree with the viewpoint that Ron's review ended far too harsh, and instead of evaluating the overall product of both, it played up the "slam-bang" conclusion of "why bother with X" this seems to bely a lot of people who simply have different musical tastes who may be served by a different format.

I talked to two coworkers today, one with XM and one with Sirius (I also have Sirius, as I've noted) about what made it important to us; and we all had, in my mind, very solid reasoning for why we preferred where we were at and would not consider changing. Too much of the programming I desire I can't replicate on XM. Same is true of those on XM in reference to Sirius.

The best advice I could give anyone investigating in satellite radio is that both formats have gigantic advantages over FM radio, and dependant on your musical tastes, have advantages over each other. Pick and choose for yourself. Debate the strengths and weakenesses. Because as it sits, this is really a "coke/pepsi" type debate, both products will have advocates, and I think it's good that we have two competitors in the marketspace rather then one Posted Image
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#22 of 97 David-S

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Posted December 03 2003 - 02:18 PM

Oh, on the "sirius playlist" thing, I've actually been frustrated by where they get some of their music...

At a important time for me personally, they played a very moving song on one of the jazz channels, so I emailed them, asking where I could get a copy... turns out they were using an unreleased master (or something like that) from a collector, and that artist had never recorded that song for release... The programming manager was nice, and asked when i listened, and managed to have it on the next day (next two days actually, because I told him i missed the first day, and he played it again) but i can't buy it for myself Posted Image

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#23 of 97 Chris

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Posted December 03 2003 - 02:59 PM

Quote:
turns out they were using an unreleased master (or something like that) from a collector, and that artist had never recorded that song for release...

Dem do this with Reggae all the time. Dem play a Burning Spear track dat we knew, we knew not a release but rather a "street release" the quality wasn't superb, but it was absolutely a Kingston performance released on a sub-label that there is almost no way dem or me to have. Small little gems like that always make me think of travelling home to visit Posted Image
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#24 of 97 Michael Cucka

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Posted December 03 2003 - 10:51 PM

I think with a title like "XM vs. Sirius", most people would expect a comprehensive analysis and review of both services - but Ron makes clear that these are only his personal experiences and comments based on his initial impressions. Perhaps the only aspect of his review that is truly "biased" is that Ron spent a year with XM and only a couple of weeks with Sirius before posting his comments - but at least he did his homework, even particiapting on the Sirius Backstage Forum board.

If you're a Sirius fan, you probably won't like Ron's conclusions (heck, just go over to the Sirius Backstage Forum and see how the more senior members have responded).

But, you can't argue with the fact that his words represent Ron's honest and thoughtful conclusions - he probably even wanted the outcome to be different himself!

I thank Ron for taking the time to report on satellite radio for us - and eagerly await his follow-up comments...Posted Image
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#25 of 97 BrianAe

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Posted December 04 2003 - 01:05 AM

Good review Ron. Really makes a guy think... However, I think your review should mention one programming issue that many on the forum have shown to care about, which is, the fact that only Sirius has NPR channels. If you are using Sat radio in a big city with a local NPR station then no big deal, but if you are traveling the open road and are an NPR junkie then Sirius is the only way to go.

#26 of 97 Lee L

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Posted December 04 2003 - 01:17 AM

I had XM in my last car but wont have the proper adapter for XM in my MINI for a little while yet and I have been forced into listening to regular radio. In just the last 2 weeks, I was quickly reminded why I went to Sat radio in the first place. I too got occaisionally annoyed at the commercials on some of the XM channels (although many have no commercials at all) but I had forgotten that regular terrestrial radio has 20 minutes or more commercials an hour during drive time. Also, with XM, I've found that if a commercial does pop up, there is always something worth listening playing on another channel. With regular radio, I can jump around from commercial to commercial playing on all the main stations in the area at the same time.
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#27 of 97 Joshua Clinard

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Posted December 04 2003 - 03:31 AM

I think you guys are missing something important here. The repeats are NOT limited to the "Decades" channel. They are limited to the "70's" channel in particular. I very rarely hear any repeats at all, and I spend a lot of time on the "50's" and "60,'s" channel. My brother likes the "80's" channel, and he reports very little repeats as well. If there is a repeat, it will not be in a 12 hour period! I also know that there are very few repeats on the rock channels.

You should also know that Sirius does not just play hits all the time. They do play a lot of hits, I'll admit, which is one of the reasons I like the service, because I can always find a song I know, but I can also find a lot of music I have never heard before: B side cuts. Ron seems to leave that information out, and keep in mind, he has only evaulated ONE or TWO channels for any significant length of time, and even that was less than a week.

#28 of 97 TheLongshot

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Posted December 04 2003 - 03:39 AM

Another thing I forgot about was previewing the services. Sirius has an advantage on their web site, because you can actually stream a live feed for 20 minutes for non-subscribers, so you can actually hear what is played on the station. XM's preview is a prerecorded stream that might not reflect the current playlist of the station.

On the other hand, on the equipment itself, XM offers a better preview from the standpoint that they activate a random group of streams about twice a day. This allows you to check out a subset of streams. Course, this requires actually picking up equipment to do this, so there is a level of investment.

I also think Ron's review, while good intentioned, is rather seriously (Siriusly?) flawed. Him doing an evaluation of Sirius after only listening to it for a week, while listening to XM for months, would be like me doing a review of XM, when I'm not even a paying customer yet.

It also doesn't help when he judges a very small subset of stations, and not even the strengths, which are what niches are covered, and how well. Musical tastes goes a lot into judging those things, tho.

While I have problems with Sirius, I certainly believe that they deserve better treatment than they have gotten by Ron. Most of my problems come with my musical tastes not really matching up with what they provide. That's real frustrating for me, since I like the equipment, and I like a lot of the way Sirius is run, but if the content isn't there for me, there isn't a point in me staying.

Jason

#29 of 97 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 04 2003 - 08:31 AM

Quote:
Ron seems to leave that information out, and keep in mind, he has only evaulated ONE or TWO channels for any significant lenght of time, and even that was less than a week.

This is not true.

I listen to Totally '70s, '60s Vibrations,
Soul Revue
and Movin' Easy.

The station is repeating songs daily on those
channels I have listened to - moreso than XM ever did.

It seems the station doesn't have a wide variety of
music on hand. Can't tell you how many times in the
past few days I heard You are the Sunshine of my
Life, Piano Man, You Are So Beautiful, Maybe I'm
Amazed
and Rare Earth's Celebrate

When you don't dig deep, you tend to heavily repeat
the stuff you have on hand.

Ronald J Epstein
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#30 of 97 Jared Brock

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Posted December 04 2003 - 08:43 AM

My quick 2 cents. I agree with Jason and some of the others that disagree with Ron. While I've never had an opportunity to listen to XM for an extended period of time, I have had Sirius in my car for the past year.
I do think he's spot on about the equipment and sound quality. I have a Kenwood deck with Sirius built in and it sounds excellent, almost like CD quality in the car.
I do think his reviews on the content of Siris stations was a little skewed though. I don't listen to the decades channels mostly because they do have the same uninteresting musics over and over (plus I was born at the end of the 70's). But what he failed to mention is that there are dozens of other stations that cover more spedific types of music in those decades. There are disco and big band stations, Backspin is an awesome old school rap station, there are a bunch of jazz and classical stations. There are almost a dozen rock stations devoted to almost any era you could want. All of these I've listened to for extended periods and none of them exhibit these problems of repetition. I have to say that out of the 60 or however many music stations I listen frequently to at least 20 of them. The only ones I find that are a little repetetive is US hits(which by definition should be repetetive) and one of the rap channels which plays the most current music. I don't really mind these stations repeating music because I can always change to one of the 4 or 5 other stations playing similar music.
Anyway, to make my long story short, I think variety is something that Sirius is definitely not lacking. With exception to those people that are only interested in one very specific type of music.

#31 of 97 Mark Bendiksen

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Posted December 04 2003 - 09:26 AM


Well, I'm now officially a satellite radio newbie. I've had XM Radio for less than 24 hours. All I can say is "WOW". I've only gotten to listen to the "70's" decade channel for a total of about an hour, and already I've heard nearly half a dozen songs that I literally hadn't even thought of in over 20 years (much less actually heard played on the radio). That's a pretty amazing experience.

I'm not going to chime in on the XM vs. Sirius debate, since I'm obviously not equipped, but I can tell you one thing: For me, FM radio is history.


#32 of 97 SteveK

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Posted December 04 2003 - 03:38 PM

Mark - Welcome to the wonderful world of satellite radio! I've had XM since about May, and I still enjoy it more than I ever thought possible. To me, it's like having unlimited access to the world's largest music collection, all for $9.95 per month (or less, if you're on one of the mulit-year plans).

While you're checking out XM, come on over to join the discussion at XMFan.com. You'll find people there as passionate about XM as we are here about DVDs.

Enjoy!
Steve K.

#33 of 97 Mark Bendiksen

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Posted December 05 2003 - 01:34 AM


Thanks, Steve. I'll definitely do that!


#34 of 97 Diallo B

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Posted December 05 2003 - 06:18 PM

I have had Sirius since April of 2002 and would have had to agree with Ron's thoughts when I first got the service. However since then Sirius has changed its programmimg model twice and called me twice to survey me concerning my thoughts on the service. I can say that many of my issues were handled during the two programming switches. I am pretty sure that they are going to do more to improve their programming.

With that said I appreciate the DJ's on Sirius. I have listened to XM and I find many of those DJ's do be instrusive. I pay to hear music not some on air personality. Now don't get me wrong here. On occassion some Sirius DJ's get a little live as well but it is not on the frequency of XM DJ's.

I also know this. For the extra 3 bucks a month the no commercial format is definitely worth it. I could not justify to myself paying for XM with commercials.

Here are the channels I listen to most often. (no decades listening herePosted Image) Also, keep in mind that I listen to a number of channels so perhaps the diversity in programming I hear is a function that I consistently flip stations. If I am not 'feeling' a particular song I just hit the next memory button.

Planet Jazz
Jazz Cafe
Pure Jazz
Swing Street
House Party
The Vortex
The Beat
Hot Jamz
Heart & Soul
Slow Jams
Soul Revue
Hip Hop Nation
Planet Rhyme
Wax
Back Spin
Street Beat
Praise

Ron, how do you like the kdc-x869 performance wise. Why didn't you get the 969. I am happy with my kdc-x817 (external amps..,etc....) but I am considering upgrading to the 969 for the WMA and MP3 capability. Not to change the subject of the thread but I have always thought that the quality of ones satellite signal was in some way effected by their equipment. I have always thought I got good clean sound based upon my choices in system components. Your experience seems to solidify what I thought and why I usually ignore comments pertaining to which service sounds better.

I hope your experience with Sirius improves. I have a blast with mine especially on road trips. (2 hours+)
listen with your own ears...
watch with your own eyes...
make your own decision.
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#35 of 97 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 05 2003 - 10:20 PM

Diallo,

Funny you should ask this question.

I love the Kenwood X869 so much
that I have just ordered the 969
for its improved display.

No doubt this Kenwood kicks the tail out
of anything I have had before.

I am also having a Delphi SkyFi unit plugged
directly into the Kenwood deck (via RCA) so I
can enjoy XM and SIRIUS on the same unit.

As for Sirius.....

Things will get better on that service.

Can't say much now, but expect some MAJOR
changes in the next 3 weeks and by around February.

Ronald J Epstein
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#36 of 97 Jed M

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Posted December 06 2003 - 05:18 PM

Quote:
I'll say this though, for sports junkies, just so you know:
Sirius lets you listen to NBA, NHL, Car races and Rugby (and a month of MLB), so I will definitely give Sirius the edge in live sports coverage.

If you are into sports talk radio, there is no competition. There are three premier sports broadcasting companies in the USA; ESPNRadio, Sporting News Radio, and Fox Sports Radio. XM has all three, Sirius has one. Also, the sports talk shows are much better sounding on XM.

If anyone likes, they can read my mini comparison from last July here.
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#37 of 97 ScottCarr

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Posted December 07 2003 - 02:50 AM

as a sirius listener I am very pleased with my service. For some reason I am beginning to think I am not as critical in my music listening as some of the other posters.

I love the sports, nhl and so on, on sirus. nice to be driving without loosing reception of the Bruins game.

Can someone tell me what channels play edited songs. I would not knock sirius for editing Barry Manilow songs.

One thing I do like about XM is the reception sees to be better then sirius.

#38 of 97 Tom Boucher

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Posted December 07 2003 - 03:16 AM

I recently got a new Audi A4 Convertible. I agonized over the choice of built in Sirrius and built in XM.

I chose XM.

Why? I don't know, thought XM sounded cooler or maybe it was the PLayboy radio offering or maybe it was $9.99 a month was something I could swallow.

Anyway, so far in my daily commute of about 30 min I've discovered two things

A) Their commercials are bordeline SPAM equivilant messaging. 'Incorperate in Nevada to save taxes' and 'buy viagra via mail to save yoruself the embarassment'

That being said I've about wrecked my car listening to the XM Uncensored comedy channel laughing my butt off. Wide variety of stuff on there from old stuff from George Carlin & Eddie Murphy to some new stuff from some comics i've never heard of but are equally funny.

The BPM and System Dance/techno channels are great and are mixed rather well, the 80s channel is a lot of fun but I find myself always on the Comedy channel.

I'm happy with my choice so far. Never having heard Sirrius though I can't say it's for everyone
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#39 of 97 Dave Bennett

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Posted December 07 2003 - 02:55 PM

I went with XM and my major complaint isn't the commercials, it's the audio quality.
I bought an XM Roady and have it connected to the Line Input on my JVC-LH2000(which is powering some Polk car speakers and is connected to a small powered sub) and I'm using it with a pair of small computer speakers at home. Even with a full signal, I notice that the audio suffers from very noticeable compression. The highs sound awful, like internet radio or a poor quality MP3. Very tinny and shrill. Some stations sound worse than others but I'm starting to notice it alot more than I did before. It's really aggrevating when a song that I have on CD or DVD-A/SACD comes on(such as Donald Fagen's I.G.Y.). Normally, I'd leave it on but it sounds so awful and different than what I'm used to I just can't tolderate it and I have to change the station.
I don't think it's a hardware issue with my Roady, though I suppose it's possible. I have a very critical ear for musical sound quality so maybe I'm just noticing it more than others. Anyone else notice this issue? Other than this, I'm really happy with XM. Great variety of music. However, the quality of the audio is really bumming me out.
Regards,
Dave

#40 of 97 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 08 2003 - 12:36 AM

Dave,

With its best connection, satellite radio
will only sound as good as a MP3.

It comes close to CD-quality sound,
but you are most correct that the highs sound
very tinny.

The entertainment value I get from XM or Sirius
greatly outweighs the slightly inferior sound
quality.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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