Sound quality of XM radio Direct TV vs standalone

How good is the sound quality of XM radio? I have it on my Direct TV and run it thru my Creek integrated and decent speakers. It sounds just "ok" not anything special. Are the sonics better (much better?) with a regular stand alone subscription for the full XM service and using, say, a Polk XM tuner? If it's not much better, I don't think I'll pay the additional cost even though I would get twice the number of music channel offerings. Any help here? Thanks.
We have an XM subscription. I don't have a Polk tuner though so can't give
you a fair asessment of the sound. What I can point out is that, for me, most
of my radio listening is in the car, or on the move, and not sitting and
listening in the sweet spot. One of the advantages of a direct subscription is
that you can buy one of those XM2Go units and use it in your car (via FM
modulator or cassete gizmo), connected to your system via line-out RCA's
(yep, sound is just OK...nothing to write home about), or record up to five
hours of digital programming and play it back whenever/wherever you like
like a walkman/iPod. Don't count on it to work like an iPod radio as it does
not work that way - better to use the digital recording feature and listen later.
My wife and I like the Comedy channels, especially 150, so the high-end
sound doesn't really matter that much. It's great in the car when you are
travelling in East Jesus, Nowhere. You can also run it via the FM modulator
through the tuner in your system (as long as it's digital). Again, sound is fine
for walking around, making dinner, cutting up 2X4's, etc. I'll leave it to
someone else to give you a rundown in the Polk XM tuner, but if you go that
route you are stuck to service through only that radio (unless you spring for
the extra $6.99/month for an additional radio on the family plan). Can't
imagine that the digital stream from a sattelite is much better than an MP3 is

Just looked it up:

XM Frequency 12.5 MHz of S-Band: 2332.5 to 2345.0 MHz can someone translate that into english?


I subscribe to Sirius (Howard Stern ... nuff said) and am using the Tivoli Satellite Radio both as a standalone radio and as a tuner connected through my stereo system. The Tivoli is a more than respectable tuner. The satellite radio sound is OK, but just OK even when played through the stereo. From my initial reading about Sirius technology, I took away that Sirius was playing with the sound just like FM broadcasters are. Also, depending on where you live, satellite strength can be problematic (big cities, like NYC) and relies on additional boosting. My guess is that the XM folks are doing the same as the ultimate technology is the same for everyone.

Regards, Rich

I can not comment on the difference between Direct TV and full subscription sound, but I have a Polk XM Receiver in my home system and am very pleased. I first used the RCA connectors on the Polk unit but now have the Polk receiver routed through a Benchmark DAC. Sound quality on Jazz, Instrumental and Classical stations I find to be very good; good soundstage and clairity, above FM quality but somewhat below CD's. On Rock and similar types of music XM has the same problem (or same theory) as FM as the sound quality is compressed and not very appealing. You could try a Polk unit and full subscription and if you are not pleased return the unit / cancel the service.
Thanks Marco and Rich--You've helped a lot. The more I research XM's sound quality (even afer posting a day or so ago), I hear a lot of folks say it's just OK. My interest in XM is for home use, as a substitute for buying so many CDs. So it looks like I would be disappointed. I don't listen to music much in my car, not even my 6-CD player, and have never given a lot of thought to XM for my car even though I know that's it's biggest market and probably its greatest appeal. But my tastes and interest can change, of course. Heck, I get so frustrated with the incessant commercials on FM radio in my car that I usually listen for a few minutes then press the off button for the rest of the trip. Thanks again.
This past Christmas holiday I bought a Sirius Starmate Plug n Play Radio only because Howard Stern will begin braodcasting there.

I play it through my home theater at home and directly into a pair of Swan powered speakers at work. The sound reproduction is good enough for what I'm using it for. That is, not nearly as good as my 2 channel rig, but good enough to make the music and comedy listening very enjoyable when I'm getting ready for work, slaving away on the job, and when I'm unwinding at home.

I also have DirecTivo running through my home theater and have enjoyed those music channels as well. And a good dose of Ancient Almanac too!

To be honest, the sound is better than I expected. Initially, I didn't have any confidence in the sound quality with either satellite technologies, but surprisingly, it's good enough that I almost never think about it.

One thing though, it seems at least to me so far, that getting a decent signal through Sirius is more difficult than with DirecTV. DirecTV gives you exact coordinates to align your dish, but Sirius only tells me [zone 2] to point it east or northeast. I get good reception at home pointing it southeast, so I don't know what to make of that.

I haven't hooked it up in my car yet, and I've read a lot of war stories in different audio and car forums for both XM and Sirius regarding this issue, so we'll see. Many people say satellite radio reception is very similar to AM reception quality. I'm talking signal and the ability to capture it by maintaining line of sight, not the sound quality. But I don't want to put that little black Silly Putty looking thing on top of my car, maybe I'll get a factory BMW fin instead. However, I did read about one guy in the BMW forums that was able to get great reception by mounting his Sirius antenna UNDER his rear deck lid.

At work, my reception is pretty spotty. I have an east facing window, but finding the sweet spot took some experimenting, and even with that the signal seems to drop out at certain times of the day. It's almost as if the satellites are orbiting the earth at a different rate than the earth is rotating and therefore have to hand off signal broadcast from one to another in my zone. Luckily, so far the drop off periods don't coincide with the broadcast hours of The King Of All Media, so I was able to catch both his live and impromptu equipment checks this week. At the beginning of testing on Tuesday it was funny to hear Howard asking his team not to disparage David Lee Roth or Adam Carola - the guys that replaced him in the New York and LA markets - when they did go live on-air. He didn't know they were already live.

Reception obstacles aside, I'm pretty pleased with the sound quality of my Sirius. I bought it to continue listening to Howard Stern, but I find myself listening to a lot of the classical music stations during the day when I get tired of hearing his Wack Packers. The nice thing about Sirius music channels is that you do have live DJs, but they aren't intrusive at all like on many terrestrial radio broadcasts. And it's nice hearing a human voice now and then giving some background to what I just heard, unlike DirecTV which almost seems like a sterile robotic musical loop. But on the otherhand, having an endless stream of ethereal emanations on DirecTV's new age channel is nice as well.

Have fun!
Anyone have experience with the Delphi XM SKYFi2? I would mostly want XM at home, as I'm only in the car too and from work. This radio model supposedly works well with stereo system and in car.

And the only reason I now want XM is for Dylan's new show that starts in March.
I run my Dishnet feed through my Audio Aero Capitole and the quility is really nice. The Blues programming is really good. Any drop in quality is more than matched by the fact that there are no DJs and no Commercials.
Anyone have experience with the Delphi XM SKYFi2? I would mostly want XM at home, as I'm only in the car too and from work. This radio model supposedly works well with stereo system and in car.

You'd have to buy the optional home kit for that radio. Another optino is one of the XM2Go models which come with both a home and a car kit, and can digitally store up to 5 hours of programming for you to listen back through. I got one of these for my Wife this Xmas. As I said earlier, it works OK, but it's nothing I'd want to count on to actually sit down an listen to music. For walking around, and music in the car, or news, comedy, talk shows, it's just fine. It also can be listened to like a walkman, but in that respect it does not work well - there it depends on its internal antenna and it will cut in and out depending on where you are. In a car the you can either use it with the line-output, or using the FM modulator, or it also comes with one of those cassete tape substitutes to play it through the cassette. The Delphi you mention looks allot better, IMO, uses an FM modulator and external antenna. They were all on heavy sale around Xmas...may still be. Can't really comment on the Delphi reception except to say that it seemed to have very good reviews when I researched it. The advantages of the XM2Go, were the much longer recording time (handy if you can't be there for your Dylan show - though I'm sure that quality goes down even further), and that the kit had everything you need in it for what came to less money. Also it seemed easier (bulkier) to manipulate all the controls.

Marco... thanks for that excellent response and great comments! I'll keep this in mind as I do further research. Best wishes.
I don't have any experiance with Direct TV but, I got the Polk receiver for Christmas and activated it about the second week of January. I had been using a Roady 2 both in my car and at home using the analog out to the pre amp. The sound from the Roady was OK for casual listening but definitely not CD or even FM quality. Of course I live in the mountains of Southern California and even with about 100 FM stations around the reception up here sucks, so FM is not really an option.

Anyway I first ran the digital out from the Polk into my Rotel 976 processor. The quality was considerably better than the roady but noticably harsh. I picked up a Scott Nixon tube DAC on ebay for $250 just for fun and to see if it would be any better though the tube. Just got it hooked up tonight so I'm still fooling with the interconnects and may try a couple of different tubes but so far I'm pleased with the result. The Scott Nixon definitely took the harshness (is that a word?) down a bit and the imagining and sound stage seems pretty good.

I'm starting to think I will need to invest some additional cash into a full on two channel tube system just for fun!! Of course I was looking for a good excuse to do that anyway. Now I have one!