Sound quality on Sirius radio
Mar 30, 2008 at 10:49 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3

Dr. T

100+ Head-Fier
Feb 6, 2008
Last summer I bought a new car which had pre loaded Sirius radio. They asked me if I wanted upgraded "CD quality" sound for a small monthly fee. I said yes. I was frankly a bit disappointed, the sound quality was not that of the CD's I play on the same system. Not horrible but definitely a compressed feel with loss of dynamics and definition. I had meant to complain but never got around to it as I mostly play CD's or listen to NPR in my car.

Then my wife got a new car a couple of months ago, also with Sirius. She did not get the "upgraded" sound. I can barely stand to listen to satellite radio in her car it is so bad. It sounds like you are listening through a tin can. I have played some of my CD's and while it's not quite as good as my car, it's quite capable. So it's not the audio system per se. It goes without saying that neither is anywhere near my home system, but I have a 35 min commute each way, so I live with some sacrifices.

Anyone else with the same experience? Are my ears spoiled? I should say that I have never listened at any length to compressed audio files such as mp3.
Mar 30, 2008 at 10:59 PM Post #2 of 3
I might be wrong about this but when they say upgrade to cd quality sound I believe they are referring to the internet stream. I upgraded and it's an improvement but it's not cd quality. I think it's a 128 stream. I have it in my car and clearly cd is better but I have so much programming available, it's worth the sacrifice in sq to me.
Mar 31, 2008 at 12:47 AM Post #3 of 3
Yes it's difficult to equate the Sirius PAC v4 VBR radio stream (or XMs AACplus implementation) to a MP3 bitrate, but it's below a decent FM signal or midrange MP3. Both companies are broadcasting in 30-70 kpbs range depending on channel (again these are newer technologies than MP3). Like tyrion, I thought the "CD quality" (~128 WMA) is internet streaming only.

I like Sirius, but it's only car use. Certainly headache inducing with headphones. Their history is interesting as it started as the opposite (Sirius had planned about 1/3 the channels when started), but Sirius and XM got in the who's got more channels/content battle early and this is the result.

The radio stays mostly on Stern and NPR for me. I unsubscribed a couple times, but basically I want their talk content (sometimes exclusive) and I think car audio is so compromised anyway that it's fine there.

I would say be careful not to lump high bitrate MP3/AAC/Ogg Vorbis files with the Sirius and XM streams. I'd say the former is closer in SQ to uncompressed than the latter is with the former.

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