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XM or Sirius, help me out Ron!


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43 replies to this topic

#1 of 44 Quinn

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Posted February 07 2004 - 02:42 PM

All right, after reading everything Ron said about his experience with XM vs. Sirius, I purchased XM for my wife today. I hooked up her Roady (company car, no alterations allowed) in the house and have been enjoying it. Enjoying it to the point that I need to go out and get sat radio for my car. Anyhow, Ronald posted earlier that Sirius was coming out with some big news and I have not heard what. I would like to know if XM sounds like the way to go or if I should really consider Sirius. Has Sirius really boosted contect? Any insight is appreciated.

#2 of 44 Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 07 2004 - 08:21 PM

Quinn,

I cannot talk about the big news concerning Sirius
at this time.

However, I would almost bet that it would probably
have no affect on your purchasing decision.

I am almost inclined to tell you to keep XM in the
home and SIRIUS in the car, but then you'd be paying
for two subscriptions.

Since you already have XM, an additional unit would
only cost you about $7 more per month.

I'm really diggin' Sirius these days and for the
car I think it sounds better (hardwired). However,
XM still has Sirius beat on playing deep cuts on the
channels I listen to.

Ronald J Epstein
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#3 of 44 Quinn

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Posted February 08 2004 - 06:59 AM

Thanks Ron, this site has helped me beyond words with my home theater which is why I come back here for help on everything else!

I meant to say I hooked the Roady up in the house for the time being, but it will be going into her car. As for paying another $7 to XM or $13 to Siius, its no that big of a deal. I just want to make sure I make the right choice for now and in the future (then again, who doesn't). Anyhow, can you disclose what sort of time frame we are looking at on the Sirius news? I can wait a little while if necessary.

Quinn

#4 of 44 Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 08 2004 - 07:30 AM

Quinn,

As far as the Sirius news....

Let's put it this way...

It is has been heavily rumored on SIRIUSBACKSTAGE.COM.
It has nothing to do with music, traffic, weather or
sports.

I estimate June.

I won't even confirm the news if anyone guesses.

Anyhow....

If you can afford both XM and Sirius, by all means
get both. That's what I have. I like Sirius in my
car for the sound quality, and I like XM in my home
for the programming depth.

Here's one more advantage to having Sirius in the car....

If you have broadband accees and an account with
Sirius, you can stream Sirius into your home over
the Internet. In other words, since I have Sirius
in my car, I sit here at my desk and have it pumped
through my computer. So, actually, you get Sirius
in the home for no extra charge.

Ronald J Epstein
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#5 of 44 Quinn

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Posted February 08 2004 - 09:02 AM

That could do it for me. I only run mp3's from my PC to my receiver. SOunds like the added benefit of streaming Sirius is the topper.

Thanks again, your site really helps alot of people out!

#6 of 44 Keith Shaw

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Posted February 08 2004 - 10:32 AM

Quote:
If you can afford both XM and Sirius, by all means
get both. That's what I have. I like Sirius in my
car for the sound quality, and I like XM in my home
for the programming depth.

Having only directly experienced XM to this point, I wonder if this could have something to do with how XM is distributing their available bandwidth. I say this because there seems to be a lot of variability in sound quality between different XM channels. As an example, check out Watercolors (71), which seems to have considerably better fidelity than many of the other XM music channels.

Has anyone seem this kind of info (bandwidth distribution for the variouis channels) published or tossed around the internet anywhere? I'd be curious.
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#7 of 44 Quinn

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Posted February 08 2004 - 10:43 AM

Keith, out of curiosity, are you using a direct connection, tape adaptor, or FM modulation?

Thats the other reason I am attractred to Sirius right now. They have an offer for a free tuner with purchase of a head unit and antenna. I know XM has done this in the past, do they offer this frequently or is that done? I would prefer a head unit instead of tape adaptor of FM mod.

#8 of 44 Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 08 2004 - 10:53 AM

Quinn,

Be careful. The music through the computer stream
is low bitrate. It will not sound as good as if you
ran a PNP unit through the home unit. It does sound
pretty damn good on my small PC speakers.

Keith,

Good observation.

XM seems to be distributing their bandwidth carefully.
The CLASSICAL channels for instance sound much better
than the DECADES channels. I would bet anything they
are giving more bandwidth to high priority music channels.

Take Sirius for instance....

Their talk channels sound very subpar. They have a
"tinny" sound to them, sort of like AM radio without
the static. The benefit is, the bandwidth is given
to the music channels, and in turn, the Sirius codec
sounds noticeably better than XM radio.

I'll go on record as saying Sirius sounds better
than XM. I say this because everyone I have talked
to that owns both hears a noticeable difference
with Sirius.

Ronald J Epstein
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#9 of 44 Keith Shaw

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Posted February 08 2004 - 10:55 AM

Definitely go directly to a head unit instead of a tape adapter or FM modulator if you can. If you're any kind of audiophile, the drop in sound quality with either of those other setups could be quite annoying. The Kenwood free tuner is an attractive option if you're going to buy a head unit anyway.

Quote:
Keith, out of curiosity, are you using a direct connection, tape adaptor, or FM modulation?

So far, I only have it in my house (bedroom system actually). SkyFi with a home adapter, good amplification, and a pair of Polk Audio RT25i's are what I'm basing my fidelity opinions on. I'm planning to add XM to my car in the next couple weeks as finances allow, and my Pioneer head unit is already XM ready.

Edit: Ron posted while I was typing. I could definitely see me getting both Sirius and XM at some point, Ron, just so I try both and see what each has to offer in terms of both programming and fidelity. Just need to finish counting all these pennies... Posted Image
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#10 of 44 Joshua Clinard

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Posted February 10 2004 - 09:48 AM

XM gives each channel the same fixed amount of bandwidth. Sirius uses S.Plex, which gives more bandwidth to streams that need it most. The music channels also have priority over the talk channels.

#11 of 44 Dave Scarpa

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Posted February 13 2004 - 03:32 AM

Tivo is going to be incorporating XM into their Home Media Option this summer, another home alternative
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#12 of 44 kevitra

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Posted February 13 2004 - 05:37 AM

I just picked up an XM Roady earlier this week.

I primarily use it in my office at work, where I pick up the signal via a repeater. The sound quality on my $50 headphones is decent.

In my car (Alpine 9815, MB Quart speakers) it is definitley not anywhere near CD quality (I realize that they don't claim it will be). I use the AUX input on my Alpine so the signal is not being degraded by an FM modulator.
I had to make a new EQ setting on my headunit, and turn on the 'MX' feature of my headunit (it exaggerates the bass and treble). It sounds ok after doing that, but 128kb MP3s still sound better on my headunit.

I love the programming XM provides, but the sound quality isn't quite what I was expecting. I had done a lot of reading online and on most of the other forums people say XM sounds better than Sirius. Now I see on this site (didn't know it had a satellite section Posted Image ) that some of you prefer Sirius for sound quality, but it's programming selection is limited.
Is Sirius' sound quality 'drastically' better then XM in your opinion, or is just a little better? If it is just a little better I'll stick with XM since I really like the programming.

#13 of 44 Dave Scarpa

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Posted February 13 2004 - 05:58 AM

My Boss has XM and it was after listening to his I decided to splurge. Of Course he had a Lexus SUV so consider the source
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#14 of 44 kevitra

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Posted February 13 2004 - 06:02 AM

To reply to myself, at siriusbackstage.com I found a thread where a user post WAVs of both Sirius and XM. The Sirius sound quite a bit better on my headphones. I plan on burning the files onto a cd to try in my car.

Just how repetitive is the programming on Sirius? One thing I like about XM is that they play a lot of artists I am not familiar with.

#15 of 44 Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 18 2004 - 09:44 AM

Kevitra,

The music is so repetitive on the stream that
I hang out on that I am leaving the service in
the next few days.

I applaud SIRIUS for reaching out to its members
in trying to resolve many of the problems with its
music programming. In the end, progress was made
in improving the once-awful music programming into
something that is now still quite short in what
XM radio offers.

My advice is that if you want a service that has
a real vision for what satellite radio is all about
and the music that gets played, go with XM.

Ronald J Epstein
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#16 of 44 Ziggy Szymczyk

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Posted February 18 2004 - 11:37 AM

There are ways you can get anoptical output from your XM receiver. That modification puts to rest any sound quality doubts you may have as to XM not being as good as Sirius - which is a subjective thing for the most part.
Check out www.xm411.com for XM Satellite Radio discussion, help, etc. and www.MyRadioStore.com for all your XM Satellite Radio needs.

#17 of 44 kevitra

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Posted February 18 2004 - 12:36 PM

How is an optical output going to help with their low bitrates and overcompression?

The only thing an optical output would do is bypass the DAC in the receiver, which would probably make some difference but not a lot.

Plus, how many car headunits have optical inputs?

I decided to purchase a Sirius radio to try out. I figured I should demo each for a month and return the 'loser'. I do A/B comparisons with all other equipment that I purchase, so I figured I would do the same for this.

Sirius' sound quality is quite a bit better than XM with both decent ($50) headphones and my car system (Alpine, MB Quart).

The stations on Sirius have been, for the most part, 'hits' stations. The classic rock station played Ozzy twice in one hour. That was very sad.

I've only had it for a couple of days, but so far I do enjoy the programming on XM much more than Sirius. In the end programming will win out over sound quality, but XM should really consider optimizing their CODEC.

#18 of 44 Ziggy Szymczyk

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Posted February 18 2004 - 12:42 PM

I will concede that the DAC in the SKYFI is pretty weak. The Roady and Commander have a much better one. The Optical Out is mostly for the home, but some people have already been interested in it for their vehicles.

The sound quality in a car really cannot be judged as most vehicles have so much road noise it doesn't really matter. That's why in the vehicle... content is king.

For the home, using digital out putting the task onto your home stereo's premium DAC SIGNIFICANTLY improves sound quality over what is put out through the analog out on the skyfi.
Check out www.xm411.com for XM Satellite Radio discussion, help, etc. and www.MyRadioStore.com for all your XM Satellite Radio needs.

#19 of 44 kevitra

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Posted February 18 2004 - 12:57 PM

I can see the analog out of any satellite receiver being a very weak link. Still, the compression would be annoying. It is something I'll have to put up with to get to experience new bands.

I disagree about your car comment. My car system cost me $600 and I can easily tell the difference between a bad recording and a good one, road noise or not.
Now on the other hand my wife's stock system...I doubt I could tell the difference between a casette and CD. Posted Image

#20 of 44 Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 18 2004 - 08:39 PM

Having both XM and Sirius, I can tell you without
a doubt that Sirius sounds better. Their codec is
far better than XM. On the down side, Sirius actually
pulls bandwith away from their talk channels (which sound
like static-free AM radio) to accomplish this task. This
is fine by me.

Kevitra, expect to hear more repetition on Sirius
than on XM. Sirius keeps tight playlists while XM
plays a wider amount of music.

Ronald J Epstein
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