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xm vs HDradio sound quality

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3 replies to this topic

#1 of 4 David Proske

David Proske


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  • Join Date: Sep 05 2005

Posted June 07 2006 - 02:03 PM

I was considering purchasing a XM radio unit to use in both my house and vehicle. Then I heard about HD radio, which is free after you buy the tuner. When XM rolled out I was told that it had good sound quality. But after reading this forum I see the XM people have gotten greedy and sound quality has taken a dive.

I have directv, and listen to the xm channels on it through my home sound system. They sound pretty good through that, just a reduced amount of channels.

So, which sounds better? I have been told that "HDradio" is misleading and doesn't sound all that great anyway. If I am going to pay 15 bucks a month to listen to the radio it had better sound pretty good. Thats where hdradio looks appealing, but there are currently 2 stations in my area that I would listen to though.

#2 of 4 Ronald Epstein

Ronald Epstein

    Studio Mogul

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Posted June 07 2006 - 08:16 PM


Let me begin by saying that I have not personally heard HD radio,
but have done a lot of reading on the technology.

It is my understanding that HD radio is quite good though reviews
vastly disagree on the overall sound quality.

Part of the problem is that the signal goes out analog before
becoming HD. Another problem is that many people are listening
to HD radio on small speakers so it doesn't sound much better
than FM radio. Some hear a HUGE difference over FM, others are
reporting that it falls short of CD quality. Of course, the "garbage
in, garbage out" rule applies here. Who is to know what source
material the music is broadcasting from.

A review I read just the other day states that HD broadcasts at about
64Kb/s quality, which means there's a lot of digital compression being
used. This is the same quality you would hear on XM radio.

It seems that overall, HD radio sounds as good as satellite radio
did 5 years ago before all the bandwidth was squeezed.

Like satellite, many people with HD Radio are just happy with the
fact there are extra stations available to them.

So is the sound quality an improvement over satellite radio?
Based on all I have read, it's unclear. Seems like it's about the same.

The problem is for me is --- HD Radio is, uhm, radio. It has all
the programming flaws of FM radio complete with commercial

Sure, I want HD quality audio on satellite radio, but the bottom
line is that XM and SIRIUS play music catered to a specific genre
without 5-10 minutes of commercial interruption every 30 minutes.

It's a tough call, David. I could see the urge to purchase HD.
The deciding factor will probably come down to sound quality vs.
commercial-free music. You may also end up with the same
compression that satellite radio suffers from.

I'd love to hear from more people who have actually heard HD
radio and can compare the two formats. I'd like to hear it for
myself as well.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#3 of 4 Jeff Gatie

Jeff Gatie

    Lead Actor

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Posted June 08 2006 - 12:46 AM

As a purchaser of 2 Sirius subscriptions, I have absolutely no interest in HD radio. Why? Content. I don't care how clear the sound is, if it has 20 minutes of commercials an hour and plays stuff that's akin to regular FM, I don't want it.

Now, if you've never had Sat radio, you may not know what you are missing as far as content is concerned. However, HD radios are expensive. The $250-300 you initially spend on the HD receiver pays about 20-23 months for Sirius/XM. At that price, it may be worth giving satellite a chance by buying a cheap PnP and using it a few months, before investing in HD. Clear sound is one thing, but just how clear do you want those commercials to be?

#4 of 4 hdradioguy53



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  • Join Date: Aug 19 2010

Posted August 19 2010 - 06:00 AM

I agree with both of these well thought out responses. I feel strongly about this issue because I personally switched from Satellite radio to an HD radio. I actually wrote a detailed account of my experience. In summary, the HD radio simply had better sound and features. The most important thing to me was the fact that the Satellite signal seems to come through a lot weaker than the HD radio signal. So I 'll be listening to satellite radio on max volume, wherewas this is not possible (for fear of a blowout) when I switch to the HD radio. Its ironic that I wrote about this particular topic. Check it out if you are interested:


http://hdradionow.co...– Now-Im-Rollin