Gotta love XM -car AND home!

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Paul Gere, Jul 6, 2003.

  1. Paul Gere

    Paul Gere Second Unit

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 1999
    Messages:
    282
    Likes Received:
    0
    First, I have nothing to gain from this post - just have to share a good thing when I find it!

    Got XM for Father's Day and haven't looked back since. I've basically forgotten my car's CD changer. FM? What's that?! What a great format with outstanding programming and selection.

    I had no idea how good it was, though, until I got the home setup this weekend. I found fidelity to be far better than FM (no hiss) and just short of the finest CD recordings I've got. Source recordings (at XM) are only as good as the originals (listen to older recordings and this is clearly evident), but well recorded tracks sound nearly as good as through my high end CD/ interconnects. If you're looking for background music as you relax, play pool, whatvever, this will exceed expectations for sound quailty!

    Wish I could have a digital out, but understand why I can't...thanks, Napster!

    If you haven't yet tried this great new format, DO IT!!
     
  2. PaulBigelow

    PaulBigelow Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2002
    Messages:
    139
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello Paul,

    I love the format and selection too. In the programming
    department XM is, basically, delivering on its promise.
    It's in the area of sound where, to my ears, XM is falling
    short.

    To me, the audio quality is not nearly that of CD, and is
    not better, overall, than FM -- at least a reasonably well-
    behaving FM station.

    Sonically, XM is quiet -- the lack of hiss is welcome, bass
    is OK and high frequencies seem to be slightly muffled.
    So far so good. The big failing, in my opinion is that the
    vocal region isn't right. Vocals have either a metallic
    sound or siballances ("S") have a nasty sounding quality.
    While certain types of music and loudspeakers and their
    placement can mask the flaws, listening through a variety
    of equipment (inexpensive and expensive) and electrostatic
    headphones (as well as cheap earbuds) tells me that there
    is something wrong with either or all:

    1. My Sky-Fi receiver
    2. XM source material
    3. Underlying encoding algorithm / bit rate

    I don't expect modern quality out of 40's recordings
    (althogh they can sound amazingly good) but well made
    stereo 50's recordings have loads of fidelity.

    For the most part, I'm hearing this vocal problem "across
    the board". Old recordings, new recordings, even the "live
    at Willie Nelson's July 4th picnic" on XM168 had problems
    in the vocal range. To me, neither CD, FM, or even
    Minidisc ATRAC, have this issue.

    I've have written XM to comment on what I am hearing.

    Anyone else hearing what I'm hearing?
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    46,983
    Likes Received:
    4,679
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Hi, Paul!

    I went into XM Radio knowing that the sound
    quality would not equal CD. I went into it
    because I knew the sound quality and programming
    would considerably best FM radio.

    My best analysis of XM Radio is in my car. I
    upgraded to a semi-expensive hardwired Alpine
    head unit and added subwoofer support. Even with
    this very decent auto sound system, I can hear
    the shortcomings in the presentation.

    Vocal highs do get muffled. Many times I'll
    hear songs I am very familiar with, but somehow,
    they now sound slightly different. Instrumental
    may overshadow a vocal or I may even hear a
    particular instrument or synthesized sound to
    be much more prominant than it should be. I
    also find that I have to play XM at louder volume
    levels than I would a CD.

    I think the overall problem is that the bandwidth
    given to these satellite radio services (or perhaps
    what is used) is not as plentiful as it should be.
    To be honest, I'd be happier if they cut 20 stations
    in order to provide the absolute maximum amount of
    bandwidth they could so that the music actually does
    sound as good as CD.

    Overall, I am highly satisfied with XM radio.
    It sounds close enough to CD that I don't even
    listen to CDs in my car anymore. I think the
    element of "surprise - look what's on next"
    overshadows the limitations in sound quality.
     
  4. DaveBB

    DaveBB Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 24, 1999
    Messages:
    788
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just made the drive from Chicago and back (five hours each way) with XM and a ton of CDs. Never once did I open the CD folder.

    Granted XM is not SACD/DVD-Audio quality: that's not what we're aiming for. However XM is great and makes a very boring 5 hour drive go by faster.
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    46,983
    Likes Received:
    4,679
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Dave,

    That's exactly the appeal of satellite radio.

    I find CDs to be...well....boring.

    I never listen to an entire CD unless it really
    is something special. In my CD purchasing days,
    I bought CDs just for the two or three hits on
    it, hoping the rest of the music would be equally
    as good.

    What really makes these services worthwhile is
    that they offer variety. I listen to the 70s and
    80s channel the most, and I am often surprised
    when they play an offbeat song that I haven't heard
    since that era.

    These services make those long distance drives worth
    the effort.
     
  6. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    3,181
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would like to think I run my XM through some very decent
    equipment and to my ears it's certainly not perfect (nor is
    CD...) and while it's not CD quality it's certainly very
    easy to listen to.

    I notice some compression on the high frequencies and some
    digital artifact in the vocal range. But generaly speaking
    Vocals do not come across as muffled on my setup. I do
    however sometimes exeriance what Ron stated about one
    instrument overshadowing another, or a certain sound effect
    more prominant than the rest of the music.

    Could it be the software XM uses that does this to mask the
    deficiencies of the current satelite technology? (I bet the
    answer is yes... They most likely re-eq the signal and run
    it through some sort of processor that tries to compensate
    for the deficiencies they know exist in the current satelite
    technology.

    But with all deficiencies aside.. I haven't listened to any
    CD's since I got XM in the house!
     
  7. DaveBB

    DaveBB Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 24, 1999
    Messages:
    788
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't think XM has ever pushed itself as audiophile quality.
     
  8. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 1998
    Messages:
    3,276
    Likes Received:
    7
    Real Name:
    Steven Simon
     
  9. shivas7

    shivas7 Auditioning

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 1999
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Just want to throw in my support for XM from a slightly different perspective...I put XM in my car with a good Alpine head unit during the first week of June...spent the first day in my driveway in the rain just getting acquainted with the variety[​IMG]..on 7/7, I got hit from behind on a parkway entrance ramp and my car as well as my XM, has been "away" for 5 weeks now...try going from XM to a rental car's FM and CD player...it ain't fun....
     
  10. rick_sullivan

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2003
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  11. John Teague

    John Teague Auditioning

    Joined:
    May 14, 1999
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
     

Share This Page