Dual Subscriber with Sound Quality Question

biergott

New Member
Feb 9, 2009
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Hello,

This is my first post, and while I did do some searches, I hope this hasn't been addressed somewhere else.

I am a dual subscriber. I have a Pioneer head unit and then the two boxes (one for Sirius and one for XM) mounted under my seats.

My Sirius antenna is on the roof, and my XM antenna and NavTraffic receiver are on my dashboard.

I had Sirius first, then got the XM for the MLB. But now that the channel lineups have merged, I am contemplating dropping the Sirius service as I can get everything with XM + BOS.

HOWEVER, my sound quality on Sirius absolutely smokes XM. The XM sounds more like FM, whereas the Sirius sounds like a CD. This is for music and talk stations. Lots of static/distortion feel to the XM.

Could this be antenna location? One other thing, when I go into a tunnel and the services go out, the Sirius just goes silent, but the XM has static. Almost like there is static in the signal.

Should I move my antenna? I would like to keep XM and dump Sirius since I like the NavTraffic, but sound quality is more important to me that the NavTraffic.

Any suggestions would be great!
 

JoeTan

Well-Known Member
Oct 14, 2008
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Static is usually bad FM transmitter. Digital should be all or nothing. No signal should be silence.
 

biergott

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Feb 9, 2009
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I am not using an FM transmitter. These are both hard wired under the seat receivers/tuners that plug directly into the head unit (Pioneer touch screen that is capable of using both services with separate tuners)
 

semipenguin

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Oct 11, 2008
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You're not going to like this, but a lot of less educated people think the sound quality on Sirius sucks...:worried:

It's not going to be your antenna location that will make your SQ go down. You might have a bad XM receiver. Or you might have a bad connection. Try turning off the Sirius and see what happeneds...:)
 
Nov 9, 2008
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SQ

Im crazy about my sound quality and to me sirius blows XM out of the water,yeah its more flat but sirius has less digital hashing to it.Xm has problems with the letter S. Lots of shhhhhhhhhhh in the sound.Where sirius doesnt.
Neither are anywheres close to a good FM but Sirius sounds better,no matter how you hook it up it wont make any difference.The best way is through an auxillary jack not through an FM transmitter.
On the other hand for portables I feel Xm has better reception.
Not knocking my SL2 but XM I can get with No antenna at all....
 

Dragline

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Nov 12, 2008
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You're not going to like this, but a lot of less educated people think the sound quality on Sirius sucks...:worried:
Us dumb folk sure do think the sound quality on Sirius sucks. ;)

Actually, the sound quality on the music channels is horrible. I was listening to Eddie Trunk's show last night on The Boneyard. He played a Velvet Revolver song and I couldn't believe how muddy it sounded. So, I switched over to an MP3 (256kbps ABR) of the same song just to compare. The MP3 blew Sirius away.

The same goes for Octane. I was flipping through the channels and caught Killswitch Engage's "Holy Diver" yesterday. It sounded like crap -- absolute crap. I kid you not, it sounded like the old days of listening to 32kbps clips in Real Audio.

All of this was through a factory-installed receiver. All other components of the system (CD, MP3) sound great. So, it's definitely Sirius and not me.
 
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TSS Taylor

DRC Fan
Oct 9, 2008
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Could this be antenna location? One other thing, when I go into a tunnel and the services go out, the Sirius just goes silent, but the XM has static. Almost like there is static in the signal.

Should I move my antenna? I would like to keep XM and dump Sirius since I like the NavTraffic, but sound quality is more important to me that the NavTraffic.

Any suggestions would be great!
XM works different with this than SIRIUS. With SIRIUS if you don't have enough of a signal then it goes out completely. With XM when the signal is low is has that static mode as if it's not fully there. I first noticed that when I got an Inno, then the XMP3 will do it when I put my hand over it trying to cover the antenna.

The Stiletto by contrast will just go mute with no signal.
 

JoeTan

Well-Known Member
Oct 14, 2008
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The fact that these things are all teathered together 15times is the reason why they put out like 20% distortion or more in some cases.

The closer to "fully intergrated" they are into the car the cleaner the sound will be.
 

snakester

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Oct 29, 2008
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XM works different with this than SIRIUS. With SIRIUS if you don't have enough of a signal then it goes out completely. With XM when the signal is low is has that static mode as if it's not fully there. I first noticed that when I got an Inno, then the XMP3 will do it when I put my hand over it trying to cover the antenna.

The Stiletto by contrast will just go mute with no signal.
The static is nothing more than comfort noise. if the static's there, it means you already lost the signal, and it's trying to fill in the gap by interpolating the last few milliseconds of audio that were left (the "echoing" you hear before the static is this process, it's in effect blending the last part of the signal it got into the static to prevent harsh digital noise that can sometimes occur when you hit the 'digital cliff').

What he's describing sounds like what aacPlus (Xm's audio codec) does when it's run at obscenely low bitrates like XM does to someone with good ears. The mids get a little bit "chunky" (could easily be consider to sound staticy or distortiony) and s and similar sounds get really distorted, and the highs sound almost artificial.
 
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TaylorH

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Nov 17, 2008
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Listening to Sirius last night the sound quality was HORRIBLE. I've been with Sirius from the start and it sounded pretty good in the early days. I'm not particularly picky but lately music has sounded like it was under water. Digital artifact "worbling" is more than obvious on highs, sometimes other distortion in the mids, the sound is flat, there's nearly no stereo separation anymore, and even mid vocals area little distorted. It's obviously very highly compressed.

I think Sirius has over extended it's bandwidth. I don't know what was going on. Were there a lot of live sports games going on that was taxing the bandwidth? Or is this a permanent experience from here on out.

It really started when they added in all of the XM channels. Too much?

Does XM sound this bad? I'm considering switching over now that the channel line ups are almost identical.

Please tell me I'm not the only one complaining about this. I can overlook sound quality to some point for the sake of the convenience that satellite radio offers. But I may have to go back to CDs just to get something listenable. Even my wife noticed and she isn't one to notice these things.
 

IdRatherBeSkiing

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Oct 11, 2008
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Sirius sounds pretty good most days. Last weekend on Sunday morning it sounded dreadful. It was better by the afternoon. Given no sports is on Sunday morning, I assumed it was a glitch.
 

PRentz15

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Dec 7, 2008
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Sound quality is definitely better on Sirius, at least in my case.

I just activated the factory XM+BOS in a 2005 Escalade I just bought. I also have a Sirius Sportster 2 Replay temporarily propped up in the cup holder, with an FM transmitter, and antenna on the dash.

You would think the factory installed XM would sound better than the Sirius transmitted over an FM signal, but that is not the case. The XM sounds harsh and tinny, like a super low bitrate mp3. Some channels are better than others. But overall the Sirius has a much better sound, although the treble levels are much lower than XM. Sirius sound quality isn't perfect either, but I was shocked at how bad XM was.

I also drove a Ford rental car last week that had factory Sirius installed, and the sound quality seemed just fine.

So I ordered a SIR-GM1 to convert my truck to Sirius. I haven't installed it yet, since I have 3 weeks left on my xm subscription. But hopefully the sound quality will improve.
 

geosync

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Oct 13, 2008
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I agree, I recently switched my day to day radio to an Inno (Office, car kit, and belkin boombox) merely because the repeater coverage is so great that it outweighs the SQ issue. In the car kit, the XM sound is very hollow and yes, tinny, and flat. Treble seems like it's jacked up on XM compared to Sirius, and that hissing on any "s" just boggles my mind. I keep a Sirius Starmate in my living room and transmit over FM in my kitchen and bathroom, because Howard and the talk channels just sound so much better. Howard available on XM made the decision easy to switch over, but I'm rethinking my decision, especially if Sirius signal gets better with the geostationary sat.

The Sirius generated channels, like Shade 45 have a lower volume level listening on XM, all the way up on the Inno is about 2 ticks too low now, compared to how the original XM channels sounded.
 

snakester

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Oct 29, 2008
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I agree, I recently switched my day to day radio to an Inno (Office, car kit, and belkin boombox) merely because the repeater coverage is so great that it outweighs the SQ issue. In the car kit, the XM sound is very hollow and yes, tinny, and flat. Treble seems like it's jacked up on XM compared to Sirius, and that hissing on any "s" just boggles my mind. I keep a Sirius Starmate in my living room and transmit over FM in my kitchen and bathroom, because Howard and the talk channels just sound so much better. Howard available on XM made the decision easy to switch over, but I'm rethinking my decision, especially if Sirius signal gets better with the geostationary sat.

The Sirius generated channels, like Shade 45 have a lower volume level listening on XM, all the way up on the Inno is about 2 ticks too low now, compared to how the original XM channels sounded.
My favorite example of the "S" problem was back before the merger... they used to have a segment during breaks on talk channels called "What's On My XM?". Well, when they started stretching their available bandwidth to the breaking point, this started sounding more like "Whatshshshshshsss's On My ExhshshsEm, ExshshshsEm"... anyone who denied the S hiss I'd simply point in that direction and they'd never miss it.
 

geosync

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Oct 13, 2008
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Right right, I have two folks who I've switched over to XM that formerly had Sirius, and neither have mentioned anything about any "s" sound or the general SQ bugging them in any way. I guess we're just pickier. I don't get the same enjoyment while listening to the same programming on XM because I'm constantly thinking about that hiss and the overly digitized sound. :clueless:

Those repeaters though, damn they make it sweet though.
 

IdRatherBeSkiing

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Oct 11, 2008
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My favorite example of the "S" problem was back before the merger... they used to have a segment during breaks on talk channels called "What's On My XM?". Well, when they started stretching their available bandwidth to the breaking point, this started sounding more like "Whatshshshshshsss's On My ExhshshsEm, ExshshshsEm"... anyone who denied the S hiss I'd simply point in that direction and they'd never miss it.
I don't expect any sound quality on a talk or sports channel. If they occassionally get squashed, so be it.
 

ferretwoman

New Member
Dec 4, 2008
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I have a Sirius lifetime subscription and a Sportster 5 model. Had it hooked up via the FM antenna and had it over a year and a half. I thought that sounded pretty good. Hooked it up through the AUX and sounded even better. Unfortunately, it was too many wires running over the car, so hooked it back to FM. Everything was fine with it.

On March 6, I was driving home from a concert with my friend, and we were listening to Octane, and it sounded like music from another channel was bleeding in, making the music sound horrible. It got so bad I changed the channel. Lithium was doing the same thing. I switched around until I found one that wasn't (I think Boneyard). The next day it was back to normal.

Then I bought a new car, and it came with XM built in, so I figured after my free 3 months trial I would subscribe to XM and give hubby the lifetime radio. Well, I want my radio back. XM is so annoying when they talk - the "s" sounds high pitched to the point it almost hurts my ears, the sound quality is horrible. I wasn't sure if it was the radio, XM, or what. But from what I'm reading here, it sounds like it's XM. I need to order another install kit for my Sirius radio then do a simple hook up (ie don't run the wires anywhere yet) and see if it sounds better. I seriously think though that Sirius sounds much clearer - never had the horrible sounding "S" and the music sounds clearer.

Linda