View Full Version : XM vs Sirius Satellite Radio-maybe for me?
08-05-2006, 05:44 PM
Evening gents. Along with pressing world matters, the high cost of gasoline, the infernal heat, and finally getting ahold of some Bombay Sapphire gin(I say old boy, veddy nice)I thought I'd pose another hand wringing question. Satellite radio. Okay, there's only two choices and both cost 13 bucks a month plus tax and you can add an additional reciever to each for 7 bucks a month extra. Okay, the basics are accounted for. What I'm really after is technical reviews. I don't care about the content matter. I know that sounds silliy, content is exactly why you'd ever consider pay radio. What I mean by technical is seat of the pants, reliability, useability, etc.
What brands of radios do you have, ie; plug n play or add on tuner for a head unit(Kenwood, Alpine, etc.)? Do they work every time you hit the "on" button? Any big equipment problems concering a real lemon of a model? How about signal/sound clarity? I ask about this because a cursory googling of these two reveals a slightly different orbit for their sat birds. XM uses a geo-stationary orbit whilst Sirius uses a moving orbit that has been reported to cause some signal difficulties. Opinions please.
Okay, content does matter if only slightly for this topic. I like Celtic music like Chieftans, Cherish the Ladies, Old Blind Dogs(okay, Scotsmen with this one. I don't want to get punched), Dougie MacLean, and well you get the picture. American country music. Country that is, not the bubble gum Britney wannabe stuff that graces the dials these days. In other words Shania Twain posters are fine, her "music" is not to my tastes. I have a budding interest in classical music and really love the Baroque and Romantic period stuff. Hey, I may be a boot wearning westerner(any problem with that boyo?:tongue_sm )but I like refined things too. A smattering of Harry Connick jr., Dean Martin, Michael Buble, Frankie, Bing Crosby(oh yeah!), and others sneak in there too. I don't do rock too often but do enjoy David Bowie's work. Yes, I guess you could say I'm eccentric. Add in some talk radio and I'm ready to go. Okay, what I'm asking is does the clarity of these stations on each service compare equally? I have seen reviews that said that voice programming on Sirius is sometimes very tinny and compressed sounding. That would be a major turn off for me. Okay, this post is long enough. Please fire away gents. I need some real world, users opinions.
08-05-2006, 07:20 PM
I have had XM for over a year now and I use a in-car model that attaches to one of my air vents. I have the wireless package as well.
08-05-2006, 08:00 PM
We received 3 months of XM for "free" when we bought our Honda Pilot. We got addicted to it (good marketing strategy there) and have been using it daily for 6 months, now. I'm heard them both and prefer the XM voice sounds. Some of the voice only stations are still tinny, but not as bad as Sirius. Reception is great in So. CA. I even get a signal going through 30 second tunnels by the airport. Impressive.
As far as equipment, the stock radio (6-disc in-dash model) on has XM built in. The antenna was factory installed.
The other item I LOVE is that XM has the MLB stations, where Sirious has a different sport. I can catch any game and see the score right on my radio.
I have both and I am a huge fan. In the past Sirius had the edge because of better classical music and Jazz varieties but now they have dumbed it down to be more like XM. The talk fidelity is better on XM. Sirius has more NPR--or at least they did.
NFL on one and baseball on the other.
Frankly, I think they are both great if you like music. BBC WorldService is very nice (on both). I believe that it is well worth it. Just make sure that you get a good install.
08-05-2006, 08:24 PM
I have XM built into my Audi, it's fantastic... If I was choosing from scratch I'd *probably* go with sirius but that's only because I like football and despise baseball. Other than that I am thrilled with xm content, regardless content isn't what you are asking about here.
Technology wise, I have had zero problems. Occasionally I find a very thick concrete structure that will cut signal out but the ONLY time I have ever had this happen is in one or two parking garages and NEVER in a major city (I believe they have some kind of repeaters in major metropolitan areas to help deal with the tall buildings)
08-05-2006, 08:47 PM
I get XM from my DirecTV package now. I like the "Chill Out" station. It has "trip hop", IDM, etc....essentially the kind of music I like...which I never expected to actually hear on a radio station.
08-05-2006, 08:48 PM
I have 5 vehicles and xm in all of them. Dollar for dollar satellite radio is excellent entertainment. I have heard that sirius has commercials. With xm most channels have nothing much more than the "you're listening to blah blah. Tun in tomorrow for blah blah" Then more music. Xm has a HUGE advantage in equipment though, which probably came from having their own in house development staff, while sirius outsources. Xm also has more than twice the customers. If you look around you can probably find an equipment deal where you get cheap or even free equipment with a 3-6 month commitment (normally there is no commitment)
08-05-2006, 09:18 PM
but that's only because I like football and despise baseball.
Me too partner. I could sit and watch grass grow and not be as bored. Baseball has just never caught my attention.
I should have included this bit of information in the intial posting but forgot. I do have Sirius channels now. Through DishNetwork. I have 100 channels I think. So I do use them from time to time. My wife and mother in law and two daughters love Sirius 13, the Elvis channel. Hey, Elvis recorded some songs I'd never dreamed of. So yes, I can see the advantage. However, the wife and I both looked at each other like; "do we really need another payment each month?" So I don't know if Sat radio is going to fly or not with us. I have also found some disturbing news financially for both providers. They are bleeding cash(Howard Stern's multi-hundreds of millions of dollars contract anyone?)and I've seen a few articles questioning whether sat radio will survive vehicle adapted ipod/mp3 players. I have to admit, it's a very tempting lure. I was at BestBuy the other day and saw two new in dash CD recievers that had USB ports on them. One was a Kenwood and danged if I can remember the other. Anyway, a fella could grab up one of those 1gig flash drives, chock it full of your CD collection and basically have a commercial free jukebox in your jalopy. Considering that BestBuy now regularly has 1gig flash drives on super sales for less than $35 dollars, I can see how this would be a VERY viable alternative. It would seem I've got a decision to make. Oh, and just to add to the confusion, our Buick Rainier has XM built right into the factory head unit. Trouble is, it stays right there. No taking it in the house and tweaking the presets or lists or whatever it is they have so we haven't subscribed. Even to trial run.
It would also seem for the most part that equipmentwise, XM is the leader in features and reliability. That is important because I have seen quite a bit of net talk about dropped signals and lack of models concerning Sirius but their new Sportster 4 sure looks good. Thanks again guys. Keep those posts coming.
08-06-2006, 05:01 AM
I switched from XM to Sirius about a year ago. I switched because Sirius had the NFL, was getting Howard Stern and had smaller receivers with more features. At the time, I particularly liked that you could pause and rewind Sirius just like Tivo. I'm sure XM has this feature too by now. Some Sirius stations do have commercials, but most of the music channels don't. Anyway, I love Sirius and couldn't live without it. SWMBO has it too, she loves the broadway channel and I'm addicted to the NFL channel. We could not live without it.
mark the shoeshine boy
08-06-2006, 09:43 AM
since i represent the chrysler products here, i promote sirius....however my question is, why are both companies losing money if so many people are signed up with them ?
mark the shoeshine boy
Cause one of them is paying Stern way too much money, and they both need a much larger installed base to start seeing a profit--which I'm guessing is years away for both companies even with steady increases in #s.
Once the iPod attachments become standard equipment, the #s for both of these companies will flatten and start to decrease--IMHO.:smile:
08-06-2006, 10:10 AM
I drove almost 3000 miles in the past couple weeks, out to see my dad in Boston and then back and forth from the condo.. (on the ocean!! :tongue_sm ) to the Spaulding Rehab Hospital in Boston... I spent quite a bit of time trying to find both news and classic rock stations... it was really frustrating going through some parts of the country (un-named) where I could only find country western..... aaarrrgghhh..!
I would have sold my soul for either sat radios during that time...
I am also the proud owner of an enormous RV that I have no idea how to drive...:blushing: Yet. The airbrakes scare the bejesus out of me.... and 40' is a lot of bus.. .but I can't wait to be able to just drive off to Yellowstone or camp on the ocean anytime I want... isn't this what retirement is all about!?
So, my question would be, can you take these out of one vehicle and put them in another.... and maybe even use in the house when not traveling.. or I do have to buy 3 of them!
Sue (Mama Bear)
08-06-2006, 10:42 AM
Hi Mark. I did a bit of googling about this sat radio stuf last night and found that both companies are floating in debt. They both signed big $$$ "stars" to pump up subscriber bases but if you check out some articles on this, investors are banking that this bump will only go so far. They are then left with huge multi tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to pay out to these guys. You'd beter sell a lot of radio packages to make any money on that. The general fear is that ipod/mp3 players are the real "music box" of choice and that as usual, people just don't want another monthly bill. I can think of one vocation where sat radio would be a no brainer. Truck drivers. I would have both services if I were an over the road trucker. If I was cooped up in a truck that long, I'd want maximum variety. I am still intrigued by it but will have to weigh the pros/cons very thoroughly. One of these new USB equipped head units with a 1 gig flash drive chock full of my cd collection presents a very attractive alternative. No monthly bill either. BTW, all the domestic auto makers and good portion of imports are adding ipod integration as de facto interfaces on their factory stereos either next year or very soon. Might be the death knell.
08-06-2006, 10:46 AM
Hi Mama Bear. Nah, you're not stuck with one per vehicle unless you have an add on unit that mates to your in dash stereo. Most of these are plug and play and have little stereo FM modulator that "broadcasts" the sat signal to FM frequency on your main radio. It's selectable in case you're in an area that has a station on the frequency you are currently using. My father inlaw has the Sirius Sportster and wouldn't get rid of it for anything. It's why I'm still intrigued by the whole thing. I'm not sure I want to deal with using a portable device and loading all that music on it. BTW, they have home docking kits for these radios too.
I may be the odd guy out on this one--nothing new there:biggrin: --but the only things I listen to in my car are local sports talk radio (which I wouldn't get on either service) and ESPN Radio--which I probably could get.
My mom offered to get us Sirius of XM for Christmas last year, and we declined. Dumb?
08-07-2006, 04:34 AM
Nah Mitch, you're not the odd one out. I feel like it sometimes too! As a curmudgeonly 43 year old, it's still hard for me to grasp pay radio. Especially when you see the complaints about audio quality. I've perused a couple of XM sat radio forums and there is plenty of complaining going on. Unlike sat tv, radio is one medium that local is better in a way. Most folks aren't concerned with local coverage on the tube. When any big news event breaks out, they are watching a nice, big colour display in the living room. Usually to a national cable news outlet. No one is rivited to their radio for this stuff. Local is where radio is at though I see the neatness of listening to the same station from coast to coast. How many of us drive coast to coast other than truckers?
Agree about the listening habits. I listen to a lot of local sports(go Chiefs), and talk radio. When I do listen to music in the car, which would be more often if the scheduling was better, I like it to sound good. That's why I think sat radio hamstrung themselves with the "everything AND the kitchen sink" method. Sat radio was first grasped onto by audiophiles because they wanted uninterupted MUSIC. When the quality and repetition issues came up, they just dropped it and this happened to coincide with portable digital players and unless someithing happens real fast, sat radio may never make a profit. You know what happens then.
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