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XM Quality?


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6 replies to this topic

#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Eric_Connelly

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Posted December 25 2005 - 01:38 AM

My new Yamaha RX-V2600 has XM built in. Just add the antenna and go. My question is, how is the audio quality? I have Defintinitive BP7002's as my fronts and have noticed that so-so produced CD's are pretty easy to point out. Mp3's are totally useless as you hear every single little mistkae not to mention background hiss. Same goes for OTA FM. How is XM? Is it really CD quality or better? Is the majority of the content GOOD renderings or is there a mixed bag deppending on the original? Also how does pricing work also? Since my reciever has it built in thats one unit...my car head unit is XM ready also, just plug in and go. How about the car antenna. My Corvette has the XM ready radio but all the antenna's I've seen are magnetic which doesn't work on a Fiberglass car. I want one of the 'dolphin' antenna's that the OEM's use. The in store antenna's look like crap to be honest. Do I have to pay twice or how does that work? Thanks

#2 of 7 OFFLINE   LewB

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Posted December 25 2005 - 02:12 AM

Some random answers: Getting the XM signal indoors CAN be problematic. Depends on the building you are in, direction facing and so on. I lucked out and get '3 bars' on my Polk receiver with the antenna on top of my HT cabinet. YMMV To my untrained ear, the XM sound is clean, but lacks 'depth'. This may be due to volume differences or GKW. That said, I enjoy it. Pricing: First receiver is $12.95 a month unless you catch some kind of deal. If you have more than 1 receiver, you then sign up for the 'family' package which allows you to have 4 more receivers for a single charge of $6.99 per month (there are 1 time activation fess for both, I believe). As for the car: Try mounting the antenna inside the car. I know it's not the recommended way of doing things, but it does work assuming the glass in the car isn't the kind that can affect radio reception (I think some glass has some sort of metal in it). Just make a loop of masking take and 'mount' the antenna to the back deck and see how it goes. If you like it, then buy some sticky backed velcro and mount the antenna that way.

#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Eric_Connelly

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Posted December 25 2005 - 03:22 AM

I can get it outdoor thats not a problem for the house. Its not too much work. I can put it in the rear hatch of the car. It has a cage in it and I suppose I could mount it on the harness bar, that gets a half way decent shot out the back glass. I need something though I can physically fasten. I road race the car and it as to be mounted solid. We might give it a try. Its $50 for the antenna and I guess I can cancel and EBAY the antenna if we don't care for the sound. If we do I can look into something for the car. Thanks for the info

#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 25 2005 - 06:09 AM

The quality on both XM and Sirius are nearly identical. Both have different methods of compressing and enhancing their music. Though you can actually tell the difference between the two, their inferiorities remain about equal. Let me explain... Basically, the music is MP3 quality. Pending on how you are listening to satellite radio, the quality will be noticeably above FM radio but for audiophiles, noticeably below CD quality. My car has a beautiful stereo system. The unit is also hardwired into the system. With the help of equalization controls and a subwoofer, the music sounds extremely close to CD quality. I would challenge non-audiophiles to tell the difference between XM/SIRIUS and an actual CD. Most people will probably not have their system hardwired and will rely on either FM modulation or a tape adapter plugged into their car radio. For those individuals, don't expect the audio to come close to CD quality. What you will receive is a very clean signal that resembles strong FM. Here's something else to know.... Both XM and SIRIUS play around with their available compression, giving more bandwidth to the popular music channels and less to the unpopular. Since I listen to XM far more than SIRIUS, I can cite a few examples. For instance: THE BLEND, THE MIX, 90s DECADE, CINEMAGIC and the two CLASSICAL channels seem to sound far better that the '50s, '60s or '70s channel. I don't blame XM for giving a little more "umph" to the most listened to channels where sonics are most needed. On SIRIUS, they have given very little bandwidth to the talk channels. This is why many of those channels sound like AM radio. Instead, like XM, the network has channeled the bandwidth to the more popular channels. Yes, we all wish that Satellite Radio would offer CD quality sonics, or even better, HD quality radio. Personally, I'd rather have LESS channels and more sonic quality. You can't blame the satellite companies for looking at things differently. They have very little available bandwidth to play with, and it's certainly more advantageous for them to offer close to 200 channels of programming to a mass audience that probably doesn't care as much about sound quality as most of us that frequent this forum.

 

Ronald J Epstein
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#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Eric_Connelly

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Posted December 25 2005 - 11:47 AM

Ron, Thanks for the balanced opinion. Given the description you gave me I would pass on it. My Corvette has a Pioneer Deck, 1600 watts of Hiphonics amps, MB Quartz speakers, and a Solo Baric sub. In our Jeep I can play any MP3 and not really notice the difference, but the system is stock. In the Corvette if I'm not playing a 256/320 MP3 that has a good encoding to it I can tell the difference. Its not bad and more than listenable, but not CD quality. I'm listening to it over the sound of the exhaust which isn't exactly quiet so I'm sure that helps. I have yet to find a single MP3 on my home system that I find acceptable. My number one criteria is silence....some people obsess about black levels on a TV, to me silence is the same. In between notes or vocals where there is meant to be no sound, I want no sound. Or in quiet portions I want to hear just what was meant to be there not little bits of static and background noise I've found with even my best MP3 encoded files. Thanks again. I know from some of your posts your a big XM proponent and an honest evaluation is appreciated.

#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 25 2005 - 09:52 PM

Eric,

I understand your position.

After all we have discussed it would be hard for
me to now say, Yeah but......

However,

If you are listening primarily to MP3s in your
Corvette, it almost sounds as if satellite radio
would be fine.

When all is said and done regarding sound quality,
these satellite radio services do an outstanding
job of providing entertaining programming.

I love the music channels mainly for the fact that
I never know what is going to be played next -- and
more than often, it's something I haven't heard in
a long time.

At least on XM (since I listen to it more), I find
that the music programming is far better than what
I'll find on FM radio.

I wish that you could test drive satellite radio.
Perhgaps it may be worth trying it for a week with
the option to return the equipment to any store that
doesn't charge a restocking fee.

Best Wishes!

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#7 of 7 OFFLINE   Eric_Connelly

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Posted December 26 2005 - 12:24 AM

The XM would be mostly for the house actually. I do listen to MP3's in my car and find them acceptable. We live a bit out in the woods so FM radio reception is nonexistent and then what we do get is bad quality. XM was going to be for in the house and the ability to have it in the car was a bonus. I work for DaimlerChrysler and our test vehicles mostly have Sirrius so I'm plenty familiar with sat radio. The reason I was looking at XM was my Yamaha has it built in, as does the Corvette. The XM channel selection does seem more to our tastes than Sirrius and when we have a test car for a weekend I find Sirrius gets repetitive over a very short period of time. I guess I'll have to wait for HD sat. We have a few HD radio stations so I might look into that too. Thanks again.




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