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Old 03-28-2005, 09:21 PM   #1
vwpilot
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Default Sound Quality?

This may be for those that have both XM and Sirius or have switched.

I just signed up for Sirius today and got a Starmate radio.

I hooked it up and got it activated and immediately was not impressed with the sound quality. Its not due to installation or FM modulation or anything like that since its hooked up through an aux input and my mp3 player through the same input sounds excellent.

It basically has a little high pitched hiss in it surrounding the high freequencies. Sort of like the vocalists having a little lisp or a bit of static around symbol crashes etc.

The main thing I can liken it to is similar to a low quality or highly compressed stream over the internet.

I was expecting a more of a "cd" quality of sound rather than a computer stream sound.

Anyone have any input on this? Does XM sound better? Some folks I have talked to say that the XM quality is a little better than Sirius and it doesnt have that computer stream sound. I went with Sirius because on the surface it looked like the channel linup was better and I had not heard any bad things about sound quality. But while I am not much of an audiofile any longer (still have my stock system in my car) I do like decent sound and what I am getting does not seem to be worth it. Not much better, if any than FM. While its clearer, the high frequency distortion I speak of drives me nuts.

Could I have a faulty system or is that just the way it is?

Thanks.
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Old 03-28-2005, 09:34 PM   #2
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There is no question that it is at best "near CD" quality. Still, it shouldn;t be that kind of a sound except on the high number streams where bandwidth is dumbed sown a bit to allow more bandwidth on the music streams. So in essence, I could expect that computery sound from the stations above 100 but below 100, it should sound more like compressed music sound.

I have both XM and Sirius set up head to head at home. The Sirius equiptment is more elite (DT7000S) than the XM (Delphi SkyFi) and IMO Sirius clearly has the sound advantage but the Sirius is again the more snazzy stuff.

UB
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Old 03-29-2005, 12:34 AM   #3
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Hmm, thanks for the reply.

It is certainly not as good as my compressed mp3s played through the same input on the stereo and it was on the rock stations like Alt Nation.

I'll have to try it out some more this weekend. Will probably be meeting a guy who has a Roady and will be able to compare it directly with XM.

Any other opinions on quality?
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Old 03-29-2005, 03:07 AM   #4
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Yes I agree. If you notice the digital artifacts on Sirius I think you'll hate XM. It has a "tinny" sound I compare to streaming audio or cellular phone-ish with a better audio spectrum.
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Old 03-29-2005, 09:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarleyJoel
Yes I agree. If you notice the digital artifacts on Sirius I think you'll hate XM. It has a "tinny" sound I compare to streaming audio or cellular phone-ish with a better audio spectrum.
That is exactly how it sounds, you did a better job explaining it.

So you think that XM is even worse than Sirius? I'll have to do some comparisons. Unfortunately now its all I hear when I turn it on.
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Old 03-30-2005, 03:39 PM   #6
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You'll probably get used to it eventually. I was very vocal about the sound quality, but now I don't really care anymore. A lot of people agree it sounds like 96 kbps MP3. Sure, you'd never encode an MP3 at 96 kbps (half the recommended bitrate) but at least there's variety.

"Near CD" is still laughable, though. 192 kbps MP3 is near CD quality (and for some even that's not good enough). I'd be happy if they could get the equivalent of 128 kbps MP3 (the actual bitrate that Sirius uses depends on their codec; if it's as good as Ogg Vorbis it may be pretty low, like 50 kbps).

Certainly if you use higher quality audio equipment the flaws will become more glaring. So use crappier speakers/headphones! CDs and Sirius will sound the same.
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Old 03-30-2005, 03:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vwpilot
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarleyJoel
Yes I agree. If you notice the digital artifacts on Sirius I think you'll hate XM. It has a "tinny" sound I compare to streaming audio or cellular phone-ish with a better audio spectrum.
...So you think that XM is even worse than Sirius? I'll have to do some comparisons. Unfortunately now its all I hear when I turn it on.
I had XM before I switched to Sirius and I noticed it on all the channels (some worse than others) but you do kinda get used to it. It was easier for me to stomach the Sirius artifacts. I have a harder time hearing the digital artifacts on Sirius than I do on XM. You might want to go down to your local Best Buy or Circuit City where you can listen to both and see what one you think is better.
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Old 03-30-2005, 04:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: Sound Quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vwpilot
It basically has a little high pitched hiss in it surrounding the high freequencies. Sort of like the vocalists having a little lisp or a bit of static around symbol crashes etc.

The main thing I can liken it to is similar to a low quality or highly compressed stream over the internet.
Not sure if it's the same issue I had or not, but try turning down the output level of the Starmate. I had the exact same sound issues with the two units that I have installed in my car (a Kenwood followed by a Starbase). There should be a level adjustment in the setup menus or a volume control on the remote somewhere. I actually have to turn the level (volume) very low on my Starbase and compensate with the volume control on my stereo. But the sound is now completely free of that high frequency static. At least it's something quick and easy to try.

Note that I'm not referring to digital artifacts, but rather the high freq static that you originally described.
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Old 03-31-2005, 08:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Sound Quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProperModulation
Quote:
Originally Posted by vwpilot
It basically has a little high pitched hiss in it surrounding the high freequencies. Sort of like the vocalists having a little lisp or a bit of static around symbol crashes etc.

The main thing I can liken it to is similar to a low quality or highly compressed stream over the internet.
Not sure if it's the same issue I had or not, but try turning down the output level of the Starmate. I had the exact same sound issues with the two units that I have installed in my car (a Kenwood followed by a Starbase). There should be a level adjustment in the setup menus or a volume control on the remote somewhere. I actually have to turn the level (volume) very low on my Starbase and compensate with the volume control on my stereo. But the sound is now completely free of that high frequency static. At least it's something quick and easy to try.

Note that I'm not referring to digital artifacts, but rather the high freq static that you originally described.
Yes - you're referring to over modulation-type noise. You definately want to have "proper modulation".
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Old 04-05-2005, 04:26 PM   #10
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I actually used it this last weekend on a trip and compared side by side with a buddies XM MyFi unit and now I dont think its so bad.

XM also was obvious, just in a different way. I think the XM was more muffled througout the entire range while the Sirius just has some high frequency artifating (at least that is what I hear). The mid ranges and vocals are definately clearer and sharper on the Sirius than the XM.

Also playing through the FM seemed better in the sense that it was not as accurate as playing through a aux input so the issues arent as noticable.

In the end though, I will use the aux input, I turned down the treble a bit and just come to the realization that its still "radio" and that the benefits are more the variety with lack of commercials than any CD quality sound.

I'm happy with it and will not be returning it for XM as we both played ours for a bit on a 15 hour car trip and in the end he was saying, "lets keep playing your Sirius, I like the song selection better."

So thanks for the input, I guess i was just surprised at first as I was expecting something I didnt get. But what I did get I am happy with and for the amount I travel in the car, not having to constantly search out stations or play the same cds all the time will be more than worth the $13/month.

Now if DirecTV can transmit with CD sound AND video, then Sirius should be able to get thier bandwidth together and transmit at a higher bitrate and it would truly kick XMs butt.
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Old 04-05-2005, 05:01 PM   #11
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Default same problem

vwpilot

I recently switched from XM to Sirius and got that Starmate...

I am having the same problem with quality but I will fix that!
There has to be a plug that goes from the output... I used my Walkman Headphones and it was CRYSTAL CLEAR! Just like it was with my XM... CD Quality! I think theres an Audio Output cord that you can connect to your radio...

The biggest problem I am having right now is losing signal under overpasses, gas stations, and especially on a windy day... have any advice for me?

Thanks
-joe
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Old 04-06-2005, 11:15 AM   #12
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I use an aux input with my Kenwood HU and the sound is near CD quality but unless you play a CD you can't tell it's not CD. I'm using the HU's equalizer and it definatley has a drop off in the upper and lower frequency range but sounds damn good to me.
DirecTv has much more bandwidth that Sirius. They are able to have more bandwidth becuase they share the same frequencies as other satellites therefore you must use a directional dish to receive their satellites. Since Sirius does not require a directional dish to receive their signal, bandwidth has been limited by the FCC.
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Old 04-07-2005, 06:50 PM   #13
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Default Sound quality

I have a new Alpine 9833 deck and the Sir-Alp1 sirius tuner. I was really let down by the sound quality and am thinking of cancelling my subscription. I hear the "tinny" sound and digital artifacts talked about in previous posts. Sometimes you can hear a constant beep-beep-beep in the background when it is cranked up. Cymbal sounds are most noticably bad. I read below that this is something you will "just get used to". I dont feel like the sound quality is better than FM at all unless you live 200 miles from your local radio station tower. Just wondering if anyone has a solution for this or if it is just the way it is supposed to sound?
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:02 PM   #14
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When I got XM 2 years ago, I thought it sounded great back then, not CD quality, neither service will ever be CD quality, and Sirius sounded a little worse than XM. Now to my ears, Sirius sounds better to me than XM does. XM sound quality went downhill last summer which probably lead to the dropping of Liquid Metal, which lead to me joining the dog full-time, instead of just listening to my friend's unit.
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Old 04-08-2005, 12:20 AM   #15
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HOrus, thats exactly what I hear. While I am not as into music as I used to be I still have the ear for it and some of us do and some dont. I try to explain it to some and they dont hear it at all. Also better gear will make it more obvious, when listening through the FM modulator it isnt as noticable as through the aux input, however that also degrades the quality through the rest of the spectrum.

Like I said above, I have come to just deal with it. While I wish it were better sounding, it is what it is and its just radio without commercials and constant stations. Sound is on par with radio and thats what it is.

For the money, the song selections and the constancy of the stations when travelling are worth the money for me. I'll deal with it. If I want the best quality I'll put a CD in the player and listen to that.

You have to decide for yourself whether you can deal with it or not. For some going to sat radio might have been for the sound quality over FM, but as I dont find that the case, going to sat radio for me is not having to constantly listen to the same stuff (cds or mp3) while in the car for 10 hours and not have to constantly try to find good channels.

Someday maybe the sound quality will come.
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