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What do you think of XM radio?

  • Love it, worth every penny.

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Discussion Starter #1
How is everyone enjoying XM radio in their new Equinox/Terrain? I guess I am very particular on the quality of the audio sources I listen to, because I think it sounds terrible. Almost all stations sound heavily compressed on par with like a 64-128kbps mp3. I do have the stock stereo system, but with better speakers I'll bet the issues would be even more apparent.

In the age of large capacity and affordable MP3 players and USB drives, you could fit quite a large collection of music to satisfy nearly every taste. Especially those folks with smartphones and streaming audio capabilities, as long as this doesn't eat up your data plans too much I would say this is the way to go.

Ultimately, it's nice to hear the live news coverage and have access to the other hundreds of unique channels, but there are still many commercials! I would rather have 30-50 crystal clear stations than 150 sub-par sounding stations.

OH, I also noticed, during my 1hr drive today (clear skies/normal route/no obstructions overhead), I heard the stations cut out at least three times.

What do you think, variety wins/sounds just fine? Or have others noticed the quality issues and will not be subscribing? Just curious.
 

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Drops near me all the time. Very annoying. If you google XM radio customer service you will see many complaints if you try to cancel.
 

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RNOX said:
Drops near me all the time. Very annoying. If you google XM radio customer service you will see many complaints if you try to cancel.
Exactly why I paid $2 to be invoiced so I could pay by check.
 

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The only problem with XM radio is when I had it before it seems like I ended up listening to maybe 6 or 8 stations which isn't much bang for your buck. As far as music I can load up a 2 gig stick and listen to music all day long.
 

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Will not renew when free subscription ends. I mostly listen to my IPOD or I will play a CD. The only radio stations I usually listen to are local sports or news.
 

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I only subscribe when I can get it for cheap, last year I got for $77 and now I am on the $20 for 5 months deal. Not worth more than $8 a month in my opinion, but I also do not drive much.
 

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I noticed the XM radio does not sound as good as a CD or MP3. It's not as clear and heavy on bass. I know I can adjust the equalizer but other sources sounds fine so I do not want to mess them up. I do have the premium radio.
 

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billslade said:
I noticed the XM radio does not sound as good as a CD or MP3. It's not as clear and heavy on bass. I know I can adjust the equalizer but other sources sounds fine so I do not want to mess them up. I do have the premium radio.
On mine I have eq set one way fro when I listen to XM and have it set another way for when I'm listening to the USB stick and the vehicle remembers the eq setting for each input on it's own.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
GMCdriver said:
On mine I have eq set one way fro when I listen to XM and have it set another way for when I'm listening to the USB stick and the vehicle remembers the eq setting for each input on it's own.
billslade will be very happy to learn of this feature. It kind of took me by surprise as well when I first noticed.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Mrs. MOCHANOX said:
Will not renew when free subscription ends.
Me neither. The comedy stations sometimes help me decompress on my long commute to/from work, but I gotta switch back and fourth between them 6-7 times during a 1 hour drive in an effort to dodge commercials and/or content that seems second-rate (even considering the fact that comedy material is subjective).
 

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I really didn't think that I would use the XM very much since I have been satisfied with my local radio stations for the short time I'm usually driving anyway. But after buying the Equinox and setting a bunch of the XM stations to favorites, I find myself never listening to the regular radio (except a local morning show that I can't stop listening to). If you would have asked me a year ago if I would pay for radio, I would have told you "No way!". Now I'm actually considering keeping it once my subscription runs out...
 

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hirolln said:
I really didn't think that I would use the XM very much since I have been satisfied with my local radio stations for the short time I'm usually driving anyway. But after buying the Equinox and setting a bunch of the XM stations to favorites, I find myself never listening to the regular radio (except a local morning show that I can't stop listening to). If you would have asked me a year ago if I would pay for radio, I would have told you "No way!". Now I'm actually considering keeping it once my subscription runs out...
I've had XM for almost 8 years now. I've had "regular radio" on for less than two hours during that time period. Do I wish I didn't have to pay for it, yes. Would I go without XM, NO. My last vehicle was a TrailBlazer with 85,000 miles. I never did use regular radio in it, and with 27,000 on the Nox, I still have not.
 

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I've had Sat. radio since 2006. Before the Nox, I had a 2002 Craplier (Cavalier). I bought a Sirius radio, you know the ones where you hang it somewhere and have the removable antenna. I never had a signal problem with it. When I got the Nox in 2009, I noticed it would drop for a second whenever I passed a tall tree or building that was to the south of me. I think it's the way they made the antenna for the XM that is messing it up or it could be the way XM makes their antennas compared too Sirius's antenna...
 

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In the long run, Sirius/XM is dead. Internet-delivered 3G/4G mobile data services will eat them alive as soon as the networks catch up. Once people pay for a data plan, they'll be able to access any internet audio that they care for - both for-free and for-fee. Shooting things into space is probably the most expensive way ever to deliver audio.

As far as audio quality goes, Sirius and XM both have the same amount of theoretical bandwidth. All channels are sent down in the same transport stream. Since the transport stream can only hold so many bits, both services compress each of the channels differently. Sirius has historically had lower bitrate streams across the board to fit in more channel offerings. It's probably even worse now that they're delivering video streams (the "Sirius Backseat" video option). XM has often been hit or miss. They seem to either have a horrific bitrate or a pretty good one. They seem to keep their more popular offerings clean and clear, but once you venture into the more obscure stations, the sound quality drops off a cliff. In theory, XM/Sirius could offer better-than-CD streams - however they would have to chop down on the number of simultaneous channels.

The drop-outs happen when your receiver loses the transport stream. The dirty secret with XM is that they employ terrestrial repeaters in a lot of cities. That is, your "satellite radio" may be coming from a transmitter mounted on a cell site somewhere - not from space. If you happen to live in an area with terrestrial repeaters, the chance that you will drop due to line-of-site and weather issues is greatly reduced.
 

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suburbanized said:
In the long run, Sirius/XM is dead. Internet-delivered 3G/4G mobile data services will eat them alive as soon as the networks catch up. Once people pay for a data plan, they'll be able to access any internet audio that they care for - both for-free and for-fee. Shooting things into space is probably the most expensive way ever to deliver audio.

As far as audio quality goes, Sirius and XM both have the same amount of theoretical bandwidth. All channels are sent down in the same transport stream. Since the transport stream can only hold so many bits, both services compress each of the channels differently. Sirius has historically had lower bitrate streams across the board to fit in more channel offerings. It's probably even worse now that they're delivering video streams (the "Sirius Backseat" video option). XM has often been hit or miss. They seem to either have a horrific bitrate or a pretty good one. They seem to keep their more popular offerings clean and clear, but once you venture into the more obscure stations, the sound quality drops off a cliff. In theory, XM/Sirius could offer better-than-CD streams - however they would have to chop down on the number of simultaneous channels.

The drop-outs happen when your receiver loses the transport stream. The dirty secret with XM is that they employ terrestrial repeaters in a lot of cities. That is, your "satellite radio" may be coming from a transmitter mounted on a cell site somewhere - not from space. If you happen to live in an area with terrestrial repeaters, the chance that you will drop due to line-of-site and weather issues is greatly reduced.
I really don't want to be driving around hoping that the data feed can keep up with me. Sat radio is where sat TV was 5 years ago with compression. I pretty much live on the Internet for work, but for radio there are lots of things to work out for main stream competition. Want another dirty secret? Cable tv companies get their signal from sat feeds.
 

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inphoenix said:
I really don't want to be driving around hoping that the data feed can keep up with me. Sat radio is where sat TV was 5 years ago with compression. I pretty much live on the Internet for work, but for radio there are lots of things to work out for main stream competition. Want another dirty secret? Cable tv companies get their signal from sat feeds.
My point of the post above was that Satellite radio will not get any better until the satellite providers either reduce the number of simultaneous programs and up the bitrate on the remaining channels, shoot more satellites into space, and/or use more efficient codecs. The latter two will likely not happen because it will mean new customer equipment all around.

The only reason why DirecTV satellite TV has had improvements is that the shot more satellites into space and switched away from ancient and inefficient MPEG-2 codec to the more efficient MPEG-4. This both gave them a bigger pipe (mainly to carry local channels in HD) as well as allowed for more bits to be crammed into the same stream with less of loss of quality. However, customers had to upgrade their equipment to utilize the new channels - which wasn't a big deal since many did it when the made the jump from SD to HD.

A lot of cable programming doesn't come in via satellite anymore. It's piped in to the head ends over IP or OC-3 private networks. This is far cheaper than leasing satellite time and allows the head ends more flexibility in the services they provide (i.e. video-on-demand). In the next 10 years, all television programming will be switched over to IP networks. In some countries (like Korea), it mostly has been already.
 

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The only reason why DirecTV satellite TV has had improvements is that the shot more satellites into space and switched away from ancient and inefficient MPEG-2 codec to the more efficient MPEG-4. This both gave them a bigger pipe (mainly to carry local channels in HD) as well as allowed for more bits to be crammed into the same stream with less of loss of quality. However, customers had to upgrade their equipment to utilize the new channels - which wasn't a big deal since many did it when the made the jump from SD to HD.

A lot of cable programming doesn't come in via satellite anymore. It's piped in to the head ends over IP or OC-3 private networks. This is far cheaper than leasing satellite time and allows the head ends more flexibility in the services they provide (i.e. video-on-demand). In the next 10 years, all television programming will be switched over to IP networks. In some countries (like Korea), it mostly has been already.

That's where I was heading...I went thru that switch, turning over all of my gear and then waiting for the feeds to catch up to the gear upgrades.
I still don't want to think about driving around with my current IPhone or a new version depending on the data feed keeping up with me thru tower switches and everything else. In the next ten years things across the board will be totally different with all media and feeds, but it's a little moot for the next few.
 

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I got the offer from XM for the five months for $20.00, Two days later I got another letter from them wanting $12.95 per month. I guess they can't make up their minds.
 

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I called in to extend my XM radio after my three month trial and was ready to argue with whoever came on the line with me after being on hold for 10 minutes or so. Once i got on, with someone who must have been from one of their overseas customer service offices, he went through the process with me and was very confused why I didnt have an account yet. I told him it was probably because I was just finishing my three month trial offer after purchasing my new vehicle, but that didn't seem to phase him. After he took down my information (name, address, email, phone #, NO CC info) he said, "OK, sir, you are all set for your three month trial period." I didn't want to ask too many questions, so I quickly checked and my service had been re-activated, so I said thank you, and hung up.

I was ready to pull the trigger on the 5 for 20 deal, but can't pass up another three for free. Thought with all the XM threads on here, some people would find this useful and at least try it. Good luck!
 

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...but it's only worth every penny 'cause I'm not paying for it...

If it were like the cable tv music channels, I'd probably consider paying for it, but I hate :sosad: the chatty dj's and the way they like to step on the songs...
 
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