XM RADIO comes home: My review

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    You may have seen me talk about XM radio in
    a thread I posted a few months ago in this forum
    area. Many of you were subjected to my raves
    about this fairly new satellite offering, and now
    for a second time, I am going to talk a little more
    about my new favorite toy.

    First of all, I need to make something clear. I
    am not being paid by XM RADIO to write this review.
    I don't own stock in the company. XM RADIO doesn't
    even have a clue as to who I am. The reason I chose
    to write this review is solely based on my love and
    confidence in this product.

    To tell you how much XM RADIO has changed my life,
    I need to start from the very beginning....


    Imagine a radio station that can broadcast its
    signal from more than 22,000 miles away and then
    come through on your car or home radio with
    complete clarity.

    A few years ago I had heard about two companies
    that were about to introduce a revolutionary new
    audio product for the automobile. The competing
    companies, XM Radio and Sirius Radio
    were betting that consumers would gladly pay a
    monthly fee for a hundred channels of digital-quality
    audio delivered to their car. For me, the coming
    of satellite radio was one that I welcomed with
    open arms -- especially for the fact that I love
    listening to music in my car and home.

    Last year's Christmas present to myself turned out
    to be the purchase of an XM RADIO unit for my
    car. Unfortunately, I did very little research before
    I went out to Circuit City and paid $200 for a
    Pioneer FM modulated unit. Once installed, I found
    myself extremely happy with the selection of music,
    but not very happy with the fact that I was listening
    to FM-quality radio.

    After doing research on various XM Radio forums,
    I discovered that the only way to get digital-quality
    music was to buy an entirely new head unit for the
    car and have the system hardwired. This proved to
    be a rather expensive purchase, as I spent $380 on
    an Alpine 7894 head unit (I wanted MP3 playback
    capability), and had XM hardwired in my car. In
    addition, I had an old subwoofer boombox placed in
    my car with a brand new power amp. By the time I was
    done I spent a little over $1,000.

    The end result was pure audio nirvana! I have
    spent the last two months totally engrossed in
    XM Radio. From the moment I get in my car to the
    moment I arrive at work, the radio is blasting
    digital music that sounds so incredibly close to
    CD quality that most people will not be able to
    tell the difference. Since installing XM Radio,
    I have not played a single CD in my car nor turned
    on an FM radio station.

    I'm not quite done with my story yet, but I need
    to break here to tell you about how I turned my
    brother onto XM Radio....

    My Brother gets XM Radio

    While my brother was up for the holidays, I started
    bragging about my new XM Radio system. Since he
    loves music just as much as I do, he was curious to
    see what it was all about. We sat in my car one
    morning and rolled around the dial, sampling
    different types of music from rock to classical to
    jazz. My brother was so impressed with the sound
    quality and selection of music that we ended up in
    Circuit City later that afternoon to buy him a unit.

    My brother opted for the Delphi SkyFi unit. This
    portable unit with its huge display and ease of
    installation was the perfect thing for his Honda.
    He didn't want to spend the money for hardwired
    installation, and the fact that the SkyFi unit
    plugged into his cassette adapter made it the
    perfect choice at a great price of under $200.

    I was a little skeptical about how well the SkyFi
    unit would perform through a cassette adapter, but
    when I heard the crystal-clear audio playing through
    his speakers and saw the smile that lit up on his
    face, I knew that my brother was satisfied.

    XM Radio in my home


    This past week, while browsing through the XM Radio
    website, I saw an offer where XM Radio was allowing
    you to add a second player to your home or car with
    no activation fee and 3 months of free service. I
    thought it would be a great idea to buy a Delphi
    SkyFi unit for my home, since I spend my day
    sitting at my computer listening to music anyway.

    I went out and spent $200 on the SkyFi tuner and
    home adapter kit. It took me a mere 10 minutes
    to set it all up, and soon after activating with
    the folks at XM Radio, I was having digital audio
    pumped through the boombox that sits above my desk.

    The audio quality is outstanding. Through this
    boombox there is no distinguishable difference
    between CD and XM Radio. It would be very difficult
    for anyone to be able to tell the difference if
    both were played side-by-side.

    Now, my entire day is XM Radio enriched. The music
    starts at 4am when I sit at my desk and turn on my
    computer. It continues at 6am when I get in my car
    and drive to work. It continues at 3:30pm when I
    drive home. Finally, I rock myself into the evening
    playing my XM Radio while I sit at my desk managing
    this forum or writing a review.

    Why XM Radio?

    I have heard the argument that any radio broadcast
    that you have to pay for isn't worth the price. I
    dare anyone that is a current satellite radio owner
    to make that claim.

    Let's face it -- broadcast radio stinks. Over the
    past decade, corporate owned radio stations have
    become tiresome to the ears. The stations are more
    interested in commercials and shorter play lists than
    catering to the musical needs of its audience.

    What satellite radio offers is 100 channels of
    programming catered to every variety of taste. No
    matter what your personal taste is, there is a
    station dedicated to it. My favorite station is
    The 70s decade channel. Here is a station
    that plays all the music I grew up with. What's
    great about this station is that the cuts go so
    deep that you'll find yourself hearing music that
    you probably haven't heard in decades. The channel
    has lots of personality playing movie and news sound
    bytes from the era as well as Class Reunion
    countdowns. If I have problems remembering the
    name of a song or its artist, the large display
    on my SkyFi unit spells it all out.

    Whatever era best describes you can be found here --
    there's channels dedicated to the 40s, 50s, 60s,
    70s, 80s and 90s. There's Classic Rock, Progressive
    Rock, New Age Rock, Deep Cuts, Folk Music, Country
    Music (Old and New), Love songs, classical music,
    soul music, disco, Broadway music and so much more!

    Those of you who love film as much as I do will
    savor the Cinemagic channel which plays the
    best movie music of all-time 24 hours a day. There
    are even channels dedicated to old time radio
    programs, CNN & Fox news, weather, Bloomberg Financial
    and even a comedy channel that plays uncensored

    Though many of the channels are commercial-free,
    those channels that do have paid advertising only
    play such advertisements at a rate of 2 minutes per
    hour. Trust me when I tell you that you'll rarely
    even notice the commercial breaks that occur here.

    The cost of XM RADIO is a mere $10 per month.
    Unfortunately, should you buy an additional unit
    for the home as I did, you will have to pay an
    extra $10 on top of that. The most economical
    way to have XM RADIO for both car and home is with
    the portable Delphi SKYFi unit. Unfortunately,
    those with very good ears may not enjoy XM-RADIO
    in their car unless it is hardwired. In that case,
    the Delphi SkyFi unit may not be the best choice
    for the car, but a great choice for the home.

    I hope that through this review that I may be
    able to persuade many of you to think about
    satellite radio and some of the benefits it offers.
    I would bet that every single one of you who owns
    a Home Theater is just as much a fan of quality
    music as I am. If this is the case, satellite
    radio may have a sweet spot in your future.
  2. Michael St. Clair

    May 3, 1999
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    Isn't there a kit to use the portable unit plugged directly into many car receivers instead of using FM modulation?
  3. Brent_H

    Brent_H Second Unit

    Aug 14, 2002
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    I have the same setup as you in my car....started with the Sony Plug-n-Play.....hated it. Got the Alpine 7894....HUGE difference......Anyways, I still prefer CDs, but when the CDs in my car don't suit my mood, XM is always there. Plus, the friends are impressed. [​IMG]
  4. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

    Jan 25, 2001
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    Been wanting XM ever since starting work in the mobile audio dept at best buy. Loved putting it on Cinemagic everyday I worked.
    Havent been able to afford a tuner yet, but for the moment enjoying my Kenwood Music Keg for my car!
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
  6. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

    Feb 27, 2001
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    The Island, Canada
    Real Name:
    Rich Travale
    Does anyone know if XM is available in Canada?
  7. Robert James Clark

    Robert James Clark Second Unit

    Oct 25, 2001
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    Right now there is a tremendous deal going on at one of the XM radio discussion forums that gets you the SkiFi unit (a really incredibly well designed piece of electronics- and from GM of all people!) for $99 dollars!

    XM is absolutely indispensable once you have it, I even have my wife hooked on it, and she originally thought it was silly...
  8. Michael Varacin

    Michael Varacin Stunt Coordinator

    May 24, 2002
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    Have XM or Sirrus made any promises not to raise the subscription rates? What happens if they sell 30 million of these units, then say..."Due to rising costs, we need to up the subscription rate to $20."?

    Cable was cheap once too.

    My hesitation also lies with the fact that I thought Clear Channel (the company responsible for ruining radio in the first place) has a majority hold in one of these companies. That puts a big red flag up in my mind.
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Could you kindly elaborate on that special
    deal? In other words, could you post the
    information about this $99 deal for for the
    benefit of members here that may be thinking of
    purchase XM for their home and/or car?


    No promises, as far as I know, have been made
    about securing monthly subscription rates.
    Unfortunately, like everything else in this world,
    there is no guarantee that what we pay today will
    not be increased tomorrow.

    Let me just say that for the moment, I find
    that my $10 a month (now $20 with my 2nd unit)
    brings me entertainment that I am thoroughly enjoying.
  10. Joe McCabe

    Joe McCabe Second Unit

    May 6, 1999
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    I have to agree with you Ron!

    XM is just awesome. I purchased the Delphi unit in late October, and haven't looked back since. I also have the new Delphi XM "Boom Box" seen here:


    You simply plug the Skyfi unit into the center, and voila, XM anywhere!!!!!

    In closing, next to DVD and HDTV, XM is the greatest "new toy" out there!

    Having ANY kind of music you want at the touch of a button is priceless. (or at lest worth $10 a month [​IMG] )
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Would you mind telling us a bit about the
    boombox? This is something I have been considering
    as my next purchase.

    Give us an overview of what it is, the price, the
    overall power output and sound quality as well as
    (what I am most curious about) what kind of antenna
    it uses.

  12. Joe McCabe

    Joe McCabe Second Unit

    May 6, 1999
    Likes Received:
    The cost is about $100.00, which I found to be reasonable.

    The device isn't too complex. You plug the Delphi unit into the cradle by pushing back until it clicks in place, and push in again to release it when you want to take it to the car. The antenna is the same one you get with The Home Kit, so there's really no difference there.

    The antenna does need to be near a window to get a strong signal, so when used outdoors in the summer, it should pose no problem at all.

    For the price, the sound quality is very decent. Nothing spectacular, but not disappointing in the least. I have noticed that it sounds much better a louder volume levels than it does when at reduced levels. At low levels, it seems to have a slight hiss going on. Oh, and there's a very strange popping noise at power up, so don't leave it cranked up when you shut it down.

    There is a volume knob and headphone jack on the face of the unit, but that's where the features end.
    However, the Delphi's menu system changes when plugged into the boombox. You are able to set bass levels, and there's a sleep timer, which is absent when plugged into the car.

    The remote can also control the volume on the boombox, which again it doesn't do in my car.

    The sleep timer comes in handy for when I go to sleep listening to Audio Visions.

    So, for the $100.00 price tag, and the enjoyment I have had, and will have with it on the deck in the summertime, I feel totally happy with this purchase.
  13. William Laughner

    William Laughner Stunt Coordinator

    May 9, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I have been an XM Radio subscriber for about 4 months now and own 3 Delphi SKIFI Units (Car, Office, Home Theater).

    Concerning the 99$ deal. You can get the Delphi SKIFI receiver and your choice of Car Kit or Home Kit for 99$ straight from XM. The deal was first setup as a Christmas promotional but the offer has been extended twice already. The catch is...you have to have a sponsor that works for XM. I bought 2 units as gifts this way and saved a little over $100 on east set (unit & kit).

    There are a number of companies that make adapters for Car Radios with aux-in/cd changer inputs. With these adapters you can make a direct connection from your XM Radio Car Tuner or SKIFI Unit.

    PIE (Precision Interface Electronics, Inc.)
    Ventura Technology

    For all the information you would ever want on XM Radio visit XMFAN.com. When I started researching XM Radio before I bought one, the information I got from this place was indispensable. It is run by some great and very knowledgeable people.
  14. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    I went to the XM FAN site and started wading through
    messages, but had so little time to do it.

    For the benefit of members here who may be considering
    purchasing a Delphi SkyFi kit, could you explain how
    one gets an XM sponsor to be eligable for the $99 deal.

    In fact, to make it easy on you, just provide a direct
    link to the thread on that forum.

  15. William Laughner

    William Laughner Stunt Coordinator

    May 9, 1999
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  16. David Rubenstein

    David Rubenstein Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 30, 1997
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    I bought the Pioneer FM unit last year and I purchased an adaptor that plugged the modulator directly into the pre-wired jack in my car for a CD changer (so I get digital sound). It sounds awesome and the adaptor was only $125.00.
  17. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

    Jan 3, 2002
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    Thanks Ron! I've been addicted to the noncommercial, non-stop music on my cable run through HT, but it's the only reason I'm keeping the level package I'm on and I just can't see myself listening to regular radio again! XM may be the way to go.
  18. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

    Jun 9, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Can one do an XM install of the Delphi car product himself?

    Or is it best to get installation done at Best Buy, Circuit City, local audio shop - etc.?

    I'm most concerned about the antenna. I don't want any holes drilled into my vehicles [​IMG]

    Will I need to drill a hole to allow the wire (from the antenna) to come inside my vehicles? (2001 Mustang & 2001 Pathfinder)

    Or are these antennas wire-free? I'm hoping this is the case - I want XM radio and I thought maybe my wife would like it in her Mustang as a Valentines Day present. I really need to do some research her - have been meaning to - just never got around to it.

    Thanks for any info on the antenna..

    this would be the setup I would most likely go with on my 2 vehicles:


    XM SKYFi Vehicle Bundle
    Everything you need to receive XM through your existing car stereo's cassette deck.

    Package Includes: · XM Receiver
    · Remote Control
    · Car Cradle
    · Small magnetic roof mount antenna
    · Audio cassette adaptor
    · Cigarette lighter power adaptor
  19. Brian E

    Brian E Screenwriter

    Aug 12, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Are most of the channels commercial free or only a few? I like the idea of commercial free radio.

    I'm about to get a new car, time to see if this is an option I can get on it I think.
  20. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    If you get the Delphi unit w/cassette adapter, you
    can easily install the unit yourself. If you are
    not familiar with car installation, however, a paid
    installer may do a overall neater job.

    As far as commercials....

    The most popular channels do have commercials. As
    I stated, the rate in which commercials are played
    are far and few. I would estimate twice an hour.

    For those having digital music pumped into your
    home stereo system via satellite or cable....

    XM RADIO beats the programming found on Satellite
    or cable music channels. WHY? Personality! XM
    RADIO doesn't just play music -- it brings you back
    to an era itself with sound bytes, news clips and
    Countdown shows (Class Reunion on 70s and original
    Casey Kasem shows on 80s).

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