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Old 12-18-2005, 08:34 PM   #1
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Default Sound Quality

Hi everybody! I just wanted to clear something up. I'm not a subscriber yet, but soon will be, and I was wondering about the overall sound quality of Sirius radio. On many store adverstisements, such as this Circuit City ad, it says sirius has "Digital sound - better than CD quality." IS the sound actually THAT good. I've only heard it over the net so far and, you know, the sound through the PC can be kinda iffy. Not that the sound quality is really that much of a deal breaker - it's more of the content that I'm going after, but does digitalreally sound that much better than FM?
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Old 12-18-2005, 08:37 PM   #2
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What your getting offline is streamed compressed audio almost mp3 quality.When you subscribe to sirius...its almost digital cd type quality.Wireless verisons of the plug and play sound great using fm modulation.Having a direct connect using rca jacks sound even better.
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Old 12-18-2005, 09:26 PM   #3
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A pristine (non-mobile with special antenna) mono FM reception will exceed what sirius has in the high end range bar-none. That said, I find the problems I have with FM while in the car (such as shoddy stereo decoupling, or reception fuzz) to be major when compared to what detractions you may hear with sirius. For a setup other then high end equipment all connected with optical equipment with surround sound, you will probably be quite happy with it.

What I suggest is find someone (or go to a store that has one) that will let you listen to it for 10 or 15 minutes across a section of stations. I found this to be the deciding factor in answering this question, and went to a RadioShack to listen for a few minutes before plunking down the cash. "Near CD Quality" is a valid statement in that it isn't defined what "near" means (as it can mean different things to different people). Hope at least something I've writen helps. Take care and enjoy.
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Old 12-18-2005, 09:33 PM   #4
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Please read these threads before you make up your mind. SQ has been highly debated here at SBS.

http://www2.siriusbackstage.com/foru...ic.php?t=31584

http://www2.siriusbackstage.com/foru...ic.php?t=32071

http://www2.siriusbackstage.com/foru...ic.php?t=30957

http://www2.siriusbackstage.com/foru...ic.php?t=31758

http://www2.siriusbackstage.com/foru...ic.php?t=31289

I have no problem with the sound quality, but a lot of people do. Good luck and to SBS.
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Old 12-18-2005, 11:07 PM   #5
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Many debate the SQ for Sirius as the number of threads here attest. But, I find it better than a good FM station. This assumes you connect either directly or via a cassette adapter. I found reception from the FM modulator to be acceptable in a car and pretty good indoors from my A/V receiver and clock radios ( No big challenge with the clock radios however.)

Unless you consider yourself as a sound audiophile I suspect you will be more than pleased with Sirius SQ.
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Old 12-18-2005, 11:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Sound Quality

Quote:
Originally Posted by HBK
Not that the sound quality is really that much of a deal breaker - it's more of the content that I'm going after, but does digitalreally sound that much better than FM?

Absolutely!!!
Buy it!! Today, don't walk, run to your nearest retailer!
I lost a lot of time studying it before I bought and I regret it.
You will love it. I personally guarantee it.
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Old 12-19-2005, 06:16 AM   #7
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The SQ is very good using direct connect to aux in . Also the 3rd generation chipsets help. The starmate replay, Xact Replay (same as starmate reply but has a blinder on left side to help hide the wires making for a cleaner car install) , S50 (a tad pricey) are examples of the 3rd Gen chipset. These 3rd Gen units have better D/A converters and may be able to support newer codecs . The end result is better bass and louder output.
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Old 12-25-2005, 05:45 PM   #8
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the material itself is outstanding. the sound quality unfortunately renders this a moot point. it is absolutely terrible. and when i say terrible i mean it is not even close to regular radio.

I will not be renewing my subscription. evidently the issue is that the number of channels would need to be drastically condensed in order to increase the broadcast rate; in any event I won't be returning until a solution is implemented.

I don't mean to be a downer, I just wish I would have been aware of this before buying it.

(side note - I have tried the AUX IN, cassette tape and FM mod options in my car with no marked improvement).
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Old 12-25-2005, 05:53 PM   #9
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Well, I have no idea where you live or what type of car/audio system you have, but I do not see the big problem with the sound quality at all.

Granted I live in an area that is about 60 miles from any major city. I also have the better sound package in my 2001 Neon than the normal cars get. I listen through a cassette adapter in my car and the FM mod at home. I feel that it's good either way.

In the car the sound is very clear and sounds just like I had the radio on a station that had no interference or even near-CD quality. At home, I listen on 88.1 FM, and there is no background noise or anything...sounds like I'm listening to the radio on a station with no interference there also.

I don't know; maybe I got lucky, or maybe I just don't care about the quality...but on my end it sounds totally fine. Maybe it's because I don't routinely listen to CD's which obviously have the best audio quality of all.
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Old 12-25-2005, 06:23 PM   #10
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I have no reception problems whatsoever (always max bars on my Sportster Replay).

I think the easiest way for a potential Sirius subscriber to evaluate the service is to listen to a 64 kbps (at best since most sirius channels are not even this good) MP3 and determine whether this is for them or not.

Had I done this, regardless of actual content, I would have made a very easy decision not to invest in satellite radio. it makes it impossible to enjoy.

but, like everyone else posting on this board, this is simply my opinion. I just think it is fair to make people aware of the pathetic sound quality before they are enticed by the content.
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Old 12-26-2005, 11:30 AM   #11
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I find the debates interesting. Just because a member personally doesn't have a problem with the sound quality doesn't mean it must be equal to FM or CD (I actually have a friend who thinks the his XM signal is better than CD quality). This is silly. It's not about opinions. Signal quality can be easily compared. That's a different issue than if it's "good enough" for the specific listener.

If we're talking about just the signal/compression (and not the hardware, though in a closed system like Sirius there's no getting around that - except getting a home unit and sending it to an external reference DAC), Sirius isn't remotely close to CD-quality and quite distant from even FM quality (on a decent system that maximizes it). There's a reason Sirius and XM are primarily packaged for car use. The quality isn't necessary there. I really think this is a flawed business model as it only takes about a 25% increase in bitrates (and likely less channels because of bandwidth) to be of decent quality and compete with strong FM. That said it's likely at this point the number of channels that's a bigger selling point in the XM/Sirius battle than sound quality. It's just a shame that it's stuck at this level.

Is it "good enough" (personally)? I don't know. I'm on my third time with a membership. I want the content, but the last two times I cancelled on the third day. I'm a headphone listener (usually with Scott Nixon TubeDAC+ to Emmeline SR71 amp to Senn HD650 phones - though I mention this expected to be ignored as an "audiophile", something done way too often on this forum and probably answers the "quality question" right there) and the SQ is so low on this plane that it gave me headaches after about two hours every time. I'm not kidding. So this business model may not be made for home use and it really isn't for decent headphone home use.

I'm going to give it three months this time. I hope to get used to it eventually and use it through an old receiver and some computer speakers (coupled with a EQ to try to lower the highs easily heard artifacts). Again I think it's a flawed long term business model, but what are your options? Internet streaming isn't there yet and doesn't follow in the car. And if you want multiple NPR stations or PRI or Stern (the talk compression is even more problematic than the music stations) you have no where else to go.

So if you want the content, give it a shot (you really do go through withdraw when heading back to FM). It may be good enough for your listening environment, equipment and ears. If so, great. The programming is certainly worth the monthly fee.
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Old 12-26-2005, 01:27 PM   #12
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

What this guy said!!

Sirius' sound quality is poor, so you'd better really like the content. I'm here for the content, and I'm willing to wait for sound quality improvement. I think I'll be waiting a long, long time... After all, who would want to drop all Elvis Radio, All Bruce Springsteen Radio, All Martha Stewart Radio. Sometimes I wonder how Sirius has stayed in business as long as it has with decisions like this. Fewer channels, higher quality. Simple.
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Old 12-26-2005, 02:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blessingx
I find the debates interesting. Just because a member personally doesn't have a problem with the sound quality doesn't mean it must be equal to FM or CD (I actually have a friend who thinks the his XM signal is better than CD quality). This is silly. It's not about opinions. Signal quality can be easily compared. That's a different issue than if it's "good enough" for the specific listener.

If we're talking about just the signal/compression (and not the hardware, though in a closed system like Sirius there's no getting around that - except getting a home unit and sending it to an external reference DAC), Sirius isn't remotely close to CD-quality and quite distant from even FM quality (on a decent system that maximizes it). There's a reason Sirius and XM are primarily packaged for car use. The quality isn't necessary there. I really think this is a flawed business model as it only takes about a 25% increase in bitrates (and likely less channels because of bandwidth) to be of decent quality and compete with strong FM. That said it's likely at this point the number of channels that's a bigger selling point in the XM/Sirius battle than sound quality. It's just a shame that it's stuck at this level.

Is it "good enough" (personally)? I don't know. I'm on my third time with a membership. I want the content, but the last two times I cancelled on the third day. I'm a headphone listener (usually with Scott Nixon TubeDAC+ to Emmeline SR71 amp to Senn HD650 phones - though I mention this expected to be ignored as an "audiophile", something done way too often on this forum and probably answers the "quality question" right there) and the SQ is so low on this plane that it gave me headaches after about two hours every time. I'm not kidding. So this business model may not be made for home use and it really isn't for decent headphone home use.

I'm going to give it three months this time. I hope to get used to it eventually and use it through an old receiver and some computer speakers (coupled with a EQ to try to lower the highs easily heard artifacts). Again I think it's a flawed long term business model, but what are your options? Internet streaming isn't there yet and doesn't follow in the car. And if you want multiple NPR stations or PRI or Stern (the talk compression is even more problematic than the music stations) you have no where else to go.

So if you want the content, give it a shot (you really do go through withdraw when heading back to FM). It may be good enough for your listening environment, equipment and ears. If so, great. The programming is certainly worth the monthly fee.
Very well stated.
I personally expected much better quality from Sirius (or XM for that matter). My father has a factory-installed XM system, and it sounds "acceptable", but no where near FM quality. I've heard Sirius in many different configurations and different vehicles, from one that has a Sirius-ready Alpine head that's $1500 with another $1500 worth of speakers, to the FM transmitter from my Starmate Replay into a stock 1991 GM radio, to the FM transmitter into a boombox, to a hard-wired home setup with Onkyo components.

Not necessarily audiophile equipment, but enough to give me a good impression of Sirius sound quality. The bottom line? Sirius doesn't compare to live FM, at least the FM in my area (metro Cleveland). Overall I'd say it's on par with XM, although I do think XM talk sounds better, but that's subjective, and I've not heard XM on as many hardware setups.

I am shocked that satellite radio doesn't sound better. I honestly thought you'd get a superior listening experience to FM (at least), if not CD audio. It's a pure digital stream. As Steely Dan sang regarding the upgrade from AM to FM, "no static at all...". I really expected the same kind of upgrade (although I knew from my father's XM system not to expect miracles). Both satrad companies need to stop promoting "remember what cable tv did for your watching experience? satrad does that for listening" because cable brought the end of antennas and poor reception quality. Satrad does not. It adds a ton of content at a listening level that's below what we already had (FM).

I may have a picky ear; I hear obvious compression artifacts in 96Kbps mp3s (LAME encoding) and am not happy to rip at anything less than 128Kbps, and some material honestly requires 196. But Sirius sounds to me to be in the 64-80Kbps range (equivalently, I know it's a different codec) and that's the few stations that use the better bitrate. Some channels are unlistenable to me.

The content is outstanding, and I don't expect to hear audiophile sound in my 1991 car, but I find myself gravitating towards talk on Sirius, flipping over to FM for music. That's not what I expected for $12.95 a month. FM quality should be the standard that Sirius needs to meet, if not exceed. Currently they do not.

I would honestly be willing to give up 25% of the content to receive better quality sound. But then they couldn't advertise "200 plus channels" or whatever it is, and that seems to be one of their key selling points currently.

I think Sirius needs to ditch some content, up the bitrate on the remainder, and then advertise "sounds better than XM" with published reviews to back it up. May be the marketing push they need, although Stern did a good job by himself. Too bad he's likely to sound far worse than he did on local FM.
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Old 12-26-2005, 02:51 PM   #14
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>>I think Sirius needs to ditch some content, up the bitrate on the remainder, and then advertise "sounds better than XM"

now there is a good idea

this whole "sound quality" argument is pointless

if it sounds good to someone .. nothing you can say will change that
and
if it sounds bad to someone ... nothing you can say will change that

I truly think(opinion) that people expect because of the "digital" word that
it is high quality and are dissappointed to find out otherwise ... ..
I also think that if it was high quality very few people would notice the difference
and the number of people complaining would be about the same
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Old 12-26-2005, 02:59 PM   #15
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I have always found these debates to be interesting, just because I do not find the sound to be 'poor'. Poor to me is AM radio. FM radio is average to me I guess, and I have always felt Sirius gives me atleast that.

This was with my old receiver I ot last year too. I just got a new Starmate Replay yesterday and last night I hooked it up to my small Bose computer speakers and it sounds pretty damn good to me. As well as the CD player I have hooked up to them sometimes does. There is a difference between my old receiver and my new one, the new one sounds better to me.
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