Sound Quality Slacker vs Sirius XM

DAB

Mod Emeritus
Oct 9, 2008
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Tonight, I was refreshing my G2, then realized I needed to go into town to pick up a few things. I was like oh well no biggie, I'll just listen to Sirius XM on my XpressRC. So, I take off and turn on Pop2K after a few minutes I was like, WFT. I removed the tuner from the dock and redocked it as something didn't sound right. However, it sounds the same even after redocking it. The sound was flat, no real umph and the bass almost didn't exist. So, this time I undocked it and threw the damn thing out the window. No I kid, I kid! I changed channels and was really amazed at how poor the music sounded.

Later I decided to go pick up some food and this time I my Slacker G2 being fully refreshed was ready to go. So, I docked it and selected my 2K Throw Down station and immediately I could tell such a huge difference. The highs were nice, the bass was thumping.

So, you guys that have both Sirius XM and Slacker.... What is your take on the difference in sound quality? Is it as substancial as my ears seem to find it? I am so far from being a audiophile, but honestly I'd have to be brain dead not to tell the huge difference in SQ between these two services.

I tell you I just can't settle for the SQ of sat radio anymore in terms of music. I really want to continue to have strong feelings for and be attached to sat radio, but I am finding it so, so hard anymore.
 

TripHopper

New Member
Feb 3, 2009
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I remember when I told my Dad I had Satellite Radio in my car. He wanted to hear it immediately. I turned on the car to start up the music to let him listen to it. After 10 seconds he turned to me with this disappointed look on his face and said, I thought this was digital, CD quality music. I explained bandwidth and compression to him. All he could muster after that was some mumbling.

It is night and day. I still have SXM in my wifes car and I still listen to Howard. Apart from that I listen to my G2 exclusively and haven't looked back.
 

mrpacs

Well-Known Member
Oct 11, 2008
2,993
78
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Connecticut
Tonight, I was refreshing my G2, then realized I needed to go into town to pick up a few things. I was like oh well no biggie, I'll just listen to Sirius XM on my XpressRC. So, I take off and turn on Pop2K after a few minutes I was like, WFT. I removed the tuner from the dock and redocked it as something didn't sound right. However, it sounds the same even after redocking it. The sound was flat, no real umph and the bass almost didn't exist. So, this time I undocked it and threw the damn thing out the window. No I kid, I kid! I changed channels and was really amazed at how poor the music sounded.

Later I decided to go pick up some food and this time I my Slacker G2 being fully refreshed was ready to go. So, I docked it and selected my 2K Throw Down station and immediately I could tell such a huge difference. The highs were nice, the bass was thumping.

So, you guys that have both Sirius XM and Slacker.... What is your take on the difference in sound quality? Is it as substancial as my ears seem to find it? I am so far from being a audiophile, but honestly I'd have to be brain dead not to tell the huge difference in SQ between these two services.

I tell you I just can't settle for the SQ of sat radio anymore in terms of music. I really want to continue to have strong feelings for and be attached to sat radio, but I am finding it so, so hard anymore.

DAB, do you listen to any Sirius/XM material that you cannot listen to on Slacker like Stern or something else?
 

DAB

Mod Emeritus
Oct 9, 2008
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DAB, do you listen to any Sirius/XM material that you cannot listen to on Slacker like Stern or something else?

Certainly not Stern, I have no desire whatsoever to waste my time with that. But I listen to several talk programs, like the availability of instant news. During football season it comes in handy to listen to college and NFL games when I can't watch them on TV because I am on the road.

If there are music specials then I'll sometimes tune to them, but it has to be something I want to hear mighty bad. Most of the specials and programs I use to record via my SL2 are long gone now with the channel mergers.

Like the previous poster when it comes to music... Slacker is it!
 

styckx

Member
Nov 11, 2008
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The very first time I played my Slacker G2 after its first refresh, I said to myself "Wow, this is what I remember XM sounding like back in 2005" Highs are high, bass is bassy and strong, cymbals crash and sound natural, stereo seperation, S's aren't slurred sounding. It's crisp, has energy to it and soul.

It's amazing how much more radio you will listen to if it sounds good. If the music SQ is bland and flat, well, you'll just turn it off. Music needs to breathe and release its energy, if you muffle and destroy SQ, you are in fact changing the artists interpretation of the song. If the artist wanted it to sound like it was recorded on a Mr. Microphone he would've just done that. Slacker has come as close as you can get w/ compressing the hell out of music without destroying the integrity of it.

Slacker has made me heavily listen to music again, my last months with XM I never touched a music channel cause of the SQ, I stuck to talk, then eventually quit. With Slacker, I easily log in about 6hrs of music listening a day.
 
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snakester

Member
Oct 29, 2008
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The amazing thing is Slacker on the portable and XM are only 8kbit/sec different from each other's bitrates (Maybe 16 at this point, I haven't listened to XM music in a while and I don't know if Uncle Mel is squeezing it even more now) and use pretty much the same exact codec (XM uses an older version, which accounts for some of the difference).

Can I tell the difference between Slacker and a CD? Yes. Can I tell the difference between XM and a CD? HELL yes. Does the difference between slacker and A CD bother me? Not too much. XM and CD? HELL yes. It's not perfect (Slacker), but it's not bad. I agree with you DAB, XM has gotten to the point of BAD.

Slacker has some very audible artifacts IF you know what you're listening for. As I said in other threads, I know what to listen for because of my 2-3 years of listening to XM's slow path to SQ hell. It's almost like it sub-consciously trained me into being able to hear aacPlus' "signature" artifacts, which I really don't want to go into here because I don't want to make you guy's hear them too, because it's damn annoying sometimes. However, unlike XM, these artifacts are not enough to get in my way of enjoying the music. In fact, in my car I can barely tell the difference between slacker and CD because of the speakers being further away. I only really hear the artifacts through headphones (listen to XM through headphones and the stereo phase artifacts could make you barf if you have a weak stomach).

Now I'm gonna get off my soapbox and give the thread back to the common folk with a less discerning ear as I. :bigthumbup:

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a typical audiophile. I do NOT bite. I do NOT have a superiority complex. This is all my opinion.
 

topcats69

New Member
Jan 12, 2009
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I agree with the comments... The only place XM sounds 1/2 way good is on directv. but I think they stream it at 192K on direct. The only thing I noticed with slacker is some of the older songs sound a little muddy. But that could be because of the A to D conversion.
 

DAB

Mod Emeritus
Oct 9, 2008
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I agree with the comments... The only place XM sounds 1/2 way good is on directv. but I think they stream it at 192K on direct. The only thing I noticed with slacker is some of the older songs sound a little muddy. But that could be because of the A to D conversion.

Well that does it, you being the topcat and all, I know I am on the right track with my hearing.

I agree on some of the older stuff and actually there have been a couple of newer songs that sounded terrible. I've reported them, because often times it is just a bad rip or encoding. I've gotten replies on a few of them I reported that they were found and a new rip/encoded version was done.
 

Jon

Well-Known Member
Dec 16, 2008
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Sirius has clearly chosen quantity over quality.

Slacker really has both. It sounds good, and there is a lot of music to choose from. World Music stations you'll never see on XM again, and a lot of the formats that were removed from XM and Sirius for various reasons. Classical is lacking, and no Latin Jazz but I've made requests for both, could be only a matter of time the way they respond to requests.
 

IdRatherBeSkiing

Sherbet is NOT and NEVER WILL BE ice cream.
Oct 11, 2008
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99% of the time Sirius and XM sound find to me. Same as my Zen. They do sound different than each other (Sirius has more bass). But both are acceptable to me.

Being a lowly Canadian, I have no idea what Slacker sounds like. What bit rate are its MP3s stored at? If it is 192k, obviously it would sound better than Sirius or XM or a 128k MP3 (which a majority of mine are).
 

snakester

Member
Oct 29, 2008
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99% of the time Sirius and XM sound find to me. Same as my Zen. They do sound different than each other (Sirius has more bass). But both are acceptable to me.

Being a lowly Canadian, I have no idea what Slacker sounds like. What bit rate are its MP3s stored at? If it is 192k, obviously it would sound better than Sirius or XM or a 128k MP3 (which a majority of mine are).

128k MP3 streaming, 40kbit aacPlus V2 for the portable (XM is run at 32kbit/sec aacPlus v1 and last I knew sirius music channels were ~40kbit PAC)