Here is a solution. Get a satellite hookup. You will be pulling your own video and audio from the air. With cable, your signal is degraded because it is being split with thousands of subscribers.
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Johnj has a point about signal quality.
However, having had dishnet for 10 years and now Directv, the sound quality is lame. It is compressed with a lack of dynamics. If you have an average tubed system, you won't be happy with satellite either. If I had to chose, I would stay away from XM-they don't shut up. No ads, bull...they only have ads for themselves every 10-15 minutes.
My solution would be cable with digital output. Run this through a decent D/A and you will get the most out of it possible.
I have to agree with Elevick. I have Comcast digital cable with the Motorola HD box (digital coax hookup into a Sherwood 5.1 Surround receiver) and the sound quality is very good.
On the channels that broadcast in 5.1 surround, the HD picture is better quality than a standard DVD and the sound is every bit as good in every way. On other channels the sound quality is still very good and totally acceptable. Some channels sound slightly better than others, but I haven't found any that sound bad in the ways that you've described.
Over the years in trying for better TV sound, Iv'e had good luck with using MIT T2 interconnects. They seem to do the best job of straightening-out lousy consumer audio sources. Should be easy to find cheap these days used. Also for best TV sound is the same as "real HiFi", need the best power to the TV etc. Some sort of filter on TV helps, I'm using $25 Trip Lite on TV power inlet. This is not best choice for stero components but helps TV alot. Best cheap speaker cable for me was Audioquest CV4 to tame TV harshness. I have since moved on to PureNote speaker wire. GoodLuck and let us know how it all works out. Mike.