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  1. #1
    Mutant from table 9
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    Three Years Later and XM Sound Quality Still Terrible

    So, I got a new car that has 3 months of XM free (well, free if you buy a car with the $200 XM "whether you want it or not" radio option). Had the same deal three years ago with a car my wife had. We never reupped the subscription when the introductory period ended, in part due to questionable sound quality.

    So this morning I was driving to work and listening to the Top 20 on 20, they happened to be playing Nelly Furtado, which also happened to be in the CD changer. Jumping back an forth between CD and XM with the same song revealed a marked difference between the two. XM the clear loser. I would think that the Top 20 would be a "flagship" channel that they would give alot of bandwith to, but apparently I'm wrong.

    To be fair, the programming is really top notch and much better than I remember. I spent the rest of the morning listening to the "'50s" channel. It was very good and the sound quality issue was less important with the older recordings.

    So, does anyone know what the merger fo Sirius and XM will do to bandwith and sound quality?
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  2. #2
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster
    So, does anyone know what the merger fo Sirius and XM will do to bandwith and sound quality?
    I'm not holding my breath for any improvements to the 64k bit rate. My wife and I, however, thoroughly enjoy using XM in the car (and at home online) as a means of exposure to new music. Or, in her case listening to comedy and radio-book sorts of programs. The car environment will always be severely compromised. Similarly, I don't have an Ipod to wear around jogging because I want to hear what's going on around me traffic wise.

    rw

  3. #3
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    I don't think they really care about the ultimate sound.

    Reason being that only a very low percentage of people care. Most are more than satisfied with whatever vibrates their ear drums, as long as it plays the music they like. Remember, lotsa people are satisfied with highly compressed music formats. We're the minority.

    I see it as the modern equivalent of what AM radio was in the late 50's and 60's. A common denominator that was more focused on content than quality.

  4. #4
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    I read something about XM HD, their new 5.1 surround broadcast. Have you guys heard anything about this? Supposedly, it is going to be lossless and discrete but will only be on a few select channels, at least at first. I'm skeptical to be honest. The sound quality on their two channel stations is barely tolerable as it is, I can't see how they are going to possibly get a decent 5 channel mix. I get XM with my DirecTV anyway, so if they are going to do it, more power to them. I'd still rather they spend the money on bandwidth so all the other stations weren't as compressed. Sometimes, I'll turn it off even if I like the song, just because the sound is so compressed it's like nails on chalkboard to me.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    Time to drop XM, they're having a mass exodus right now thanks to their opposition to free speech.

  6. #6
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    blame the fcc instead..

    Quote Originally Posted by N. Abstentia
    Time to drop XM, they're having a mass exodus right now thanks to their opposition to free speech.
    I wouldn't blame xm too much. Ultimately they are the heavy but they're under a lot of pressure right now with merger talks under way. They don't want to be seen as a rogue or to piss anyone off that's in a position to tank the merger. Ugly but a fact of life unfortunately. If you want to blame anyone, blame the FCC.

  7. #7
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    I found this thread terribly depressing. I recently placed an order for a Samsung XM Helix portable to try. I have been long sick of our local radio and want something to listen to on my commute to and from work on the bus. I was mainly interested in how the reception worked. It sounds like it's easy enough to record songs onto it, I have yet to learn how to do all this MP3 stuff. It seems like more work than it's worth. I'm used to my old cassette deck for recording. Sometimes I wish I hadn't got rid of it and all the tape. It doesn't sound great over the cable or satelite but hopefully not so bad on a portable, it has to be better than FM, right?

  8. #8
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    Three years later, the sound quality is still terrible? You must be insane not to get a new one!


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  9. #9
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    Your cd was better than radio in your car, Did you not know it would and should be, you lot are audio enthusiasts?. come on now
    6 replies to your post, That's 6 more than i got for help that was needed by my post, well done!!

  10. #10
    test the blind blindly emorphien's Avatar
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    If anything the merger with Sirius could make it worse because in my experience their audio quality is even worse. In fact FM with good reception can sound better.

  11. #11
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    Just checked your other post, Fez

    Quote Originally Posted by fezzyo
    Your cd was better than radio in your car, Did you not know it would and should be, you lot are audio enthusiasts?. come on now
    6 replies to your post, That's 6 more than i got for help that was needed by my post, well done!!
    That's quite an involved and highly technical situation you're dealing with and, speaking for myself at least, have absolutely nothing to offer as far as advice. I can offer an arm aroungd your shoulders and a heart-felt "that sucks", and if you were here I'd buy ya a beer.

    Welcome to the forum and don't give up. We generally DO respond (even to newbies) if we have a clue as to what to say, although that's not been known to stop some posters.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to discern the former from the latter.

  12. #12
    Mutant from table 9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I found this thread terribly depressing.
    Don't be depressed. The fact is that the content more than makes up for any sound quality issues. It really will expose you to more and new music. Also the comedy, news and sports channels are really good. I almost crashed into a post laughing so hard at a Bernie Mac bit.

    Fezzyo: I'm sorry no one responded to your post, but you don't have to drop by this thread to pout. Don't be a jaggon... It won't earn you any friends. Just buy a new universal player already, get a nice outboard DAC for your PCM sources, and call it a day. Also, given that XM and Sirius always pushed "CD quality sound," yes I was suprised by the difference.
    ______________________
    Joyce Summers: "You've got really great albums!"
    Rupert "Ripper" Giles: "Yeah... they're okay..."


    "Tha H-Dog listens easy, always has, always will." - Herbert Kornfeld (R.I.P.)

    "I lick the mothra moniters because they pump up the base!!" - Dusty Beiber

  13. #13
    Forum Regular Audioman00's Avatar
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    please step away from the little shiny plastic box...

    Well, it does seem to be true that most of the 'norm' are quite happy with compressed chicken scratches in their eardrums, but then my wife won't eat pineapple in the states anymore because she thinks the fruit in the states is ****e... so to each their own.. but I would much rather remember my favorite tunes the way they sounded on my 50lb yamaha receiver and favorite speakers, rather than hear the songs I love 'slaughtered' in such a way. If my system had the biological ability to vomet.... it would have the day I tried my mothers SIRIUS tuner in my setup, now, in the car with the china made garbage kenwood 6x9's, it sounds just as terrible as anything else I play in the car...lol

  14. #14
    Forum Regular Rock&Roll Ninja's Avatar
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    My wife works for SIRIUS Inc., And yes, XM + Sirius use the same MP3s. The live channels (NEWS, Howard, Race coverage, etc) do tend to have much better sonics, this is where all of their "billion dollar fiber optic super-studio" money was spent. A significant chunk of their music is illegally downloaded from the same websites your dead grandma and 9 year old daughter download their illegal MP3s. But its lack of commercials that is the real selling-point for satellite.

    And yes, analog FM can be much, much better... They can always just hook a CD player to the tower and broadcast the uncompressed signal. But good luck finding a station that does.

  15. #15
    audio/video salesman
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    yea XM does sound like crap. XM uses MP3 files with horrible bitrates, with stagnant sattelites at the equator (although urban areas can benefit from attennas put up around metro areas). sirius uses CDA quality files, with constantly rotating sattelites around north america.

    i dont think the merger is going to bring down sirius, in my opinion. i heard they couldn't merge anyways but thats all rumors from coworkers.

  16. #16
    test the blind blindly emorphien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adam mcd
    yea XM does sound like crap. XM uses MP3 files with horrible bitrates, with stagnant sattelites at the equator (although urban areas can benefit from attennas put up around metro areas). sirius uses CDA quality files, with constantly rotating sattelites around north america.

    i dont think the merger is going to bring down sirius, in my opinion. i heard they couldn't merge anyways but thats all rumors from coworkers.
    Is Sirius really better sounding than XM, because that definitely wasn't the case as recently as a few months ago.

  17. #17
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    I listened to Sirius in my Brother-in-Law's truck the other day, and it sounded like they were playing low-end MP3s. So much so, that I commented on it. It sounded very "tinny".

    For what it's worth, that was the first time I'd noticed it sounded like that (BiL plays Sirius all the time).

  18. #18
    His and Her Room! westcott's Avatar
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    I am hoping that as CD sales continue their downward spiral, and downloading becomes more and more prevalent, that the quality will improve. I also hope that HD video or audio will elevate peoples expectations as they embrace HD video.

    It may not happen over night but I have time. I can still get CD's.

  19. #19
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    I wonder if the satelites Sirius has would make a difference in reception. I tried a Helix portable and didn't get much reception with XM. I just assumed the Sirius Stiletto would be the same case. What led me to try the Helix first was all the bad reviews of the Stiletto on Crutchfield. A lot of New Yorker's wanted Howard Stern and couldn't get reception. I agreed with one reviewer who said, "if you can't get reception in NY, where can you". I took the Helix on the bus to try it and there was one area where it did fabulous but it wasn't worth the time and money for a 10 minute window of reception. What was the deal killer is I couldn't get reception at home. I didn't really want it for home use so I sure wasn't about putting the antenna on my roof etc.

  20. #20
    Forum Regular O'Shag's Avatar
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    I have Sirius through my Dish Network package. It annihilates FM radio. The radio broadcast seems compressed by comparison. I have the Dish Network VIP 622 DVR, and run a toshlink cable through my Musicla Fidelity Trivista DAC 21 whenever I'm going to listen to music. Some examples of excellent channels; 6022 Richard Blade, Swedish Eagle, Dusty (whats her name?), Freddy Snakeskin - all the DJs that used to be on KROQ 106.7 in Los Angeles back in the 80s,, 6051 R&B hits from 80s through present with James DTrain Williams and some other celebrity DJ/hosts, 6033/Area 33 with the best trance music from around the world with sessions from Judge Jules, Paul Oakenfold, Dave Seaman and on,, 6035 is an ambient chill channel,, 6070 through 6072 is all jazz. Quality is excellent, and embarrases my tuner in the RX-Z9...

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