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Old 08-08-2005, 12:42 PM   #1
bort
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Default Upgrade your sound quality in 3 steps! (high geek content)

How to upgrade your Sirius sound quality in 3 easy steps:

Step 1: Acquire a computer with a good, full-duplex sound card (i.e. SB Live).
Step 2. Install linux. Make sure you also install arecord/aplay (ftp://ftp.alsa-project.org/pub/utils...1.0.9a.tar.bz2) and crystality (http://fanthom.math.put.poznan.pl/~g...in-0.92.tar.gz).
Step 3: Profit.

CD quality? Well, not exactly. But it does help a lot, especially with the stereo separation and the mid/high ranges. I'd say that most channels sound like they've had their bandwidth increased by about 50%. Every music station sounds so much fuller, and you can even improve the talk stations a little by increasing the high ranges and adding a slight echo/reverb to eliminate that flat sound. If you have a Sirius home unit and a spare computer lying around (or if you already use linux), it's totally worth doing this.

My home unit is a Kenwood DT-7000S, which I'm told produces the best sound of any Sirius radio. I'm feeding the output into my sound card through the line-out, as my SB Live doesn't have optical (though now I wish it did...sigh.)

The computer I'm using is an Athlon 3000+, but you don't need anything that powerful (it happens to be my primary PC). Any Pentium-200 or better should do fine. In fact, that's probably overkill. But as I said before, you want a good sound card. Don't use the one on your motherboard. Most of those suck, especially at capturing audio.

Make sure your linux installation is correctly set up (i.e. it can play/record sound, and has alsa-utils (aplay, arecord) and crystality installed). Crystality has an optional (albeit very handy) X interface, which means you'll probably want to either install an X server on the computer, or if it's too slow or there's no monitor then you can just use X11 forwarding to another Un*x machine or download an X server program for your Windows PC or Mac. (In fact, with a bit of tinkering and recompiling you could probably make this whole thing work on Mac OS X, though you'd probably have to find alternative command line utilities for arecord/aplay). Alternatively, if you run crystality with the -g flag, then it won't give you a window and will just load the default settings from the configuration file.

Once you're ready to go, just pipe the recorded input from your sound card into crystality, then straight back out to your sound card again, i.e. "arecord -f cd | crystality-stdio | aplay -f cd -". (If your sound card can do 48khz, change both occurrences of "cd" to "dat".) The configuration window will pop up and let you play with all the settings, allowing you to improve the sound in real time (see screenshot below).



And it's just that easy.

Have fun,
bort.
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Old 08-08-2005, 02:57 PM   #2
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sweeet ill give this a try on my SuSE box in the near future.
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Old 08-21-2005, 10:29 AM   #3
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anyone know if this will work with mac osx or if there is a variant available?
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Old 09-06-2005, 10:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbabooey
anyone know if this will work with mac osx or if there is a variant available?
Never tried it. My only Mac is a Mini. As I posted in the original message, you might be able to compile crystality on Darwin, but you'll still have to find a program to actually pipe the audio in and out of the sound card (in lieu of aplay/arecord). Should be doable. Try downloading X11/gcc and see if you can get crystality to compile on your box. If you succeed at that, you'll at least be able to record wave files from your Sirius radio and play around with them.

Please post your results here.

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Old 09-09-2005, 09:29 AM   #5
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Wow! Then maybe YOU could answer the question that I have had for months.

I am using Suse 9.3 and have never successfully played Sirius. It always sounds real slow, almost like a tape with dead batteries. I have tried using mplayer, vlc, amarok, and some other players to no avail. But, XM's online radio plays fine.

I have the w32-codecs installed and Im using KDE3.3. The system is a P4 1.6ghz with 728mb Ram, Nvidia GeForceFX 5200. Other .asf streams also play extremely slow.

any help?
Thanks,
Mike
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Old 09-10-2005, 05:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hicks107
Wow! Then maybe YOU could answer the question that I have had for months.

I am using Suse 9.3 and have never successfully played Sirius. It always sounds real slow, almost like a tape with dead batteries. I have tried using mplayer, vlc, amarok, and some other players to no avail. But, XM's online radio plays fine.

I have the w32-codecs installed and Im using KDE3.3. The system is a P4 1.6ghz with 728mb Ram, Nvidia GeForceFX 5200. Other .asf streams also play extremely slow.

any help?
Thanks,
Mike
That's strange... the Sirius online stream always plays fine for me through mplayer. And by "fine", I mean that it sounds exactly as terrible as it does through a Windows box, thanks to the ridiculous amount of compression they put on there. Makes my StarMate sound awesome by comparison. But your system should certainly be fast enough to decode it.

On the off chance that some other Linux user is reading this and needs to catch up with us, I'll quickly run through my whole procedure for playing the online Sirius stream:

1. Install mplayer.

First, grab this and extract it.
http://www4.mplayerhq.hu/MPlayer/rel...050412.tar.bz2
Then rename the created directory all-20050412 to /usr/local/lib/codecs.

Next, grab this and compile/install it:
http://ftp5.mplayerhq.hu/mplayer/rel...e7try2.tar.bz2
Note: I use gcc 3.2.3.

2. Log into sirius.com and pick a stream to listen to.

3. When Firefox bitches at you about plugins (which you don't have), you want to View Page Source and find the URL for your stream in the web page. Just do a string search for "FileName" and it should be on that line. The URL looks like this:

http://www.sirius.com/mediaplayer/as...e9a1f222553e28

4. Use mplayer (no GUI) to play the file:
mplayer -playlist "http://www.sirius.com/mediaplayer/asx/classicrewind.jsp?wmcache=0&token=d919c8853ba0ea4b ac1e2cd3b5d04a89&hashkey=bae03a6ad9deb8f0b6e9a1f22 2553e28"

(Yes, you need those double-quotes.)

5. Enjoy listening to Sirius online, until your ears start to bleed (approx. 30-45 mins).

Alrightey then, let's see if we can figure out why your Sirius stream sounds so slow. First of all, if your method differs from the one above, I suggest you try it, as that's what works for me. Also, make sure you're using a supported compiler to make mplayer (gcc 3.x should do fine). If that doesn't fix it, I suggest you rename your ~/.mplayer directory to something else, so that it has to recreate the config file from scratch. If that still doesn't help, try a different audio output driver ("mplayer -ao help" will give you a list).

If none of the above helps, then it's probably something to do with mplayer's (in)ability to decode ASF files, although the latest version shouldn't have a problem. Try this:

mplayer -ao pcm -playlist <stream URL>

Let it go for maybe 30 seconds to 1 minute and then hit q to kill it. It should have created a file called audiodump.wav. Play that and see what happens. If it sounds too slow, then it's obviously a decoding problem, which means that you probably need to install/upgrade gcc and/or your win32 libraries and recompile mplayer. If the wave file sounds correct, then your computer is probably just too slow to decode the file in real time (though I find this hard to imagine on a P4).

Good luck! And please post your results.

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